the Little Red Reviewer

This is the most beautiful boardgame ever made. It fried my brain.

Posted on: August 30, 2013

what a board game map usually looks like:

  • it has places on it.
  • sometimes a road, or a line, between those places showing paths you can take
  • it has barriers or hazards you have to go around

Except if you are Phil Eklund, a boardgame map looks like this:

cropped map small

my photo doesn’t do it justice. This is seriously the most beautiful game board map I’ve ever seen.

it still has all the things a game board map should have – places,  lines between the places, barriers and hazards.  High Frontier is a game about developing technologies to travel to the solar system.   Figure out which thrusters or engines and robonaut your ship should have. Take a crew if you want. Water is the only currency. If you take enough resources you can build a factory wherever you end up, maybe a colony. But don’t make your ship too heavy, this game uses real physics and the heavier your ship is, the more fuel it needs to escape Earth’s gravity. And yes, there is a solar sail. All the techs in the game are real.  Makes you wonder why we’re not already using them.

Some more close up photos:

We used the sun's radiation area to store our extra water tokens

We used the sun’s radiation area to store our extra water tokens

I really don’t want to go to Mercury.

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth

Everyone starts on Earth. Once your mission is ready to go, you can boost your components in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and then High Eccentric Orbit (HEO), and the Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). Each of these movements costs you burns of fuel, cuz we’re using real physics.  those “L” spots are Lagrange points, where it doesn’t cost you any fuel to change direction. you can just fly right through them and be on your way!

A great way to learn how the game works is getting a crew to the moon, and then getting your crew home alive.  You’ll learn how your different ship components work, and how much fuel it costs you to move around.

just follow the road signs!

just follow the road signs!

Moon, Schmoon! I wanted to go to Mars! to make my life easier, I followed the suggested path (but you don’t have to). Looks like it’ll take me at least three burns, there’s some aerobraking, and I’ll probably die. or that skull and cross bones could mean there are Martian pirates. hmmm.. or not.  aren’t signposts helpful?


but I made it there in one piece, see?  there was only a little death involved.  we also cannibalized my crew to make a factory. I sure hope my crew were androids. We later found out that you can’t do that. this is a good thing, I still feel bad for the not-real androids that I took apart to make a factory.  they didn’t even know they were androids until we got to Mars and I told them they weren’t coming home. 😦  my melodrama isn’t part of the real game.

the gameboard is beautiful,  the mechanics are elegant, there’s not that many pieces to keep track of on the board. Now I just need that master’s degree in astrophysics so I can understand what the hell I’m doing.

also, Jupiter looks really scary:

jupiter flyby

18 Responses to "This is the most beautiful boardgame ever made. It fried my brain."

I need to now find a way to play this…..


We ordered the game from Amazon (and I think it’s available to buy on Board Game Geek too?), and got the super huge beautiful map from Zazzle, then paid and arm and a leg to have the not-to-expensive zazzle map mounted.


You can play it online, using Vassal.
Email me at,
if you want the files (if you can’t find them).


I know my other half plays some games on Vassal, not sure if he’s playing this one on there yet.


Wow..A new game for our game days! At the moment we are all hooked on Ticket to Ride. Have you seen Firefly the Game?


oh, I am SUCH a Ticket to Ride girl! Have you tried the new Africa map? I’ve only had a few changes to play it, it’s got this great new “terrain card” dynamic. The Europe Map kills me every time, and China-teams is pretty cool. Ok, so I’m just a little obsessed with that game!

I had heard they were working on a Firefly boardgame, but that’s all I knew. Is it out? is it good? is there snark? 😉


For anyone who shows interest, I highly recommend you travel over to and check out High Frontier there. I’m currently moderating a play-by-forum game of HF, so you can see how the advanced game plays.

There’s a terrific community of High Frontier players on BGG. We love this game. It’s beautiful, deep, and no two games are the same. Be warned: It also has a learning curve like a cliff!


my husband and I LOVE Board Game Geek! we’ve learned a lot about gameplay, since there’s plenty that can happen that isn’t in the rulebook. There are some really humorous play throughs, I recall something about devil-dice?

yes, the learning curve is KILLER, and it’s such an organic game that you have no idea where to start when teaching it. It’s not something you can just dive into, and the cards have so much detailed info. I’m not used to games of this complexity, so i had to keep remembering all the data I needed to pay attention to. I’m hoping to get another game in this weekend. hopefully my crew won’t get cannibalized, or worse, abandoned on Mars.


I get a feeling that my husband would kill to get his hands on this…


This looks awesome. The kiddies probably won’t enjoy it much though. 😦 (Fortunately, they are hooked on getting their own boats in Puerto Rico, so no CandyLand at our house.)


yeah, this one might be too complex for the kids, even the smarty pants kids. complexity wise, I compared it to Arkham Horror, but with ten times the data points to keep track of. same quantity of fiery painful death.


Perfect! I want this game, even though my younger, PhD holding brother will just win at this one too.


Mmm, fried brain, did you have that with some fava beans and a nice chianti! Sorry. I couldn’t resist. This game looks amazing although I think I would have to sit and study for about a week – otherwise I would get grumpy with everyone for constantly having to stop and start whilst we discuss the rules!
Lynn 😀


i love you Lynn because you are completely demented! 😀

Hubby spent a few hours playing solitaire and studying the rules before he taught me how to play. Once you know what you’re doing, a full game should only take 2-3 hours. we played for 2 hours, and omgosh, we only got through a few turns, because I was asking eight hundred questions.


And so, you see, I’m demented, but right! Still looks impressive though. Just need to play it a few times to get the hang of it I suppose.
Lynn 😀


My husband loves board games like Catan and Ticket to Ride, I have to check this out. AND I now have to check out the Firefly game!


Oh wow! This looks both overly complicated and like it would be a lot of fun. I think it might scare my friends though. I finally got them into D&D, but that took years of buildup. What’s the fewest amount of people that can play this and still have it be fun?


You can play this with 2 people, but playing with 3 or 4 is much more fun. There are cards that get auctioned off, and how fun is an auction with only 2 people?


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