You Daily High Frontier
Had a free afternoon and an unemployed friend, so we snuck in a quick two player go: same rules as before (everything but Warfare and Endgame), but just the two of us — the most experienced of us, too — meant the game would be over fast.
I ran with NASA and he went with B13, which starts in power, a political thing we weren’t sure about ’til it mattered then oh wow we’re in trouble.
My initial set of cards aimed me pretty squarely at the asteroid belt and his was a total fluke draw that supported industrialization of Mars. There’s like 1 set of cards that makes Mars not-suck and even though he drew it, it was still pretty dicey.
Now that I’ve got a half-dozen games under my belt, mission planning is getting pretty easy as long as we don’t go any further than the asteroids. I know how to get everywhere, and I’m smart enough to know nothing else in space is as profitable as the asteroids in almost all cases.
I was sailing toward an easy win when my missions were plagued by glitches and space debris and every other fuckin’ thing. I had forgotten to account for my final mission’s reactor, which has a solar component and therefore is sensitive to distance from the sun. Well, asteroids are pretty far away! So I had made the trip out there and then discovered I didn’t have enough thrust to land safely with my fuel-efficient engine and not enough fuel for the high-thrust guzzler I also had along (it’s part of the NASA crew card). That’s one weird thing about the game: you’re prone to player errors that are hard to imagine happening when there are billions of dollars on the line and years of preparation.
I was able to assemble a rescue mission of sorts, setting up a piece of my thruster and its required generator to head to one of my other factories in the area, grab some fuel, and bring it back to the main mission. I had some money in the bank so I was very happy to spend it on the “Failure is Not an Option” option rather than rolling a die to see if I could survive the emergency landing (a thing you can do to/from factories — I think they assume there’s some kind of mass driver on hand to fling shit into space).
Meanwhile, my Iranian refugee engineers hired by NASA died in a freak space debris disaster, cutting my available actions in half. Sorry engineers! You will be remembered.
So the following year/turn, I engorged the remote lander with shittons of fuel, more than enough to make a safe landing at a prepped site, build a factory, and win the game. Then the generator on the lander glitched out, because there weren’t any humans there (humans in your stack of cards protect you from glitches). Remember what I said about Murphy?
Meanwhile, B13 has slowly, slowly industrialized Mars and flown its Bernal station into LMO, where it could start receiving the factories’ products in orbit and ship them back to Earth for mad money. He had had a similar stretch of bad luck but had returned human astronauts from Mars, which is one of the victory point card things. (Nobody cares if your human crew comes back from the flipping asteroid belt, I guess. >:( ) He was sure he’d lost the game, but now saw he had a five or six year window in which he could drop one more factory on Mars while I fumbled around building a rescue mission.
NASA’s human crew was stranded at the outer edge of the asteroid belt, not only unable to fly anywhere but unable to be just shut down. Only the PRC can decommission its crew card straight up murder-style. I mean that was the crux of the whole thing! I couldn’t just forget about the crew, which was babysitting the factory equipment. I couldn’t get fuel up to them. So everything I owned got turned into outposts and I built a brand new rocket out of spare parts back on Earth.
Depressing final few years of the game was B13 triumphantly slamming down the last factory while I did nothing but scrape together reaction mass back home to save my poor astronauts.
Still, we were only 1 point apart! I had a more varied array of factory locations and had surveyed more spots, while he had really nailed down Mars but didn’t diversify.
I think we’re both ready for the Endgame events, which are super elaborate but also give the game enough time to breathe. The two of us cranked through the game in about 2.5 hours (last time 3 of us played it was more than 8 hours).