Published on March 4th, 2015 | by Nicole Jekich2
On a Galactic Mission For Peace and Galactium
Far Space Foundry Review
Far Space Foundry brings an innovative challenge to board games. Its rondel-centric gameplay and multi-piece modular board are at the cutting edge of board game design.
We had the pleasure of previewing the latest game by Dan Manfredini (Burgoo, Island Siege) and Terra Nova Games (Ophir, Guile). The game is set in the far, far future where the Far Space Federation is leading the way on an ongoing mission of peace around the galaxy. To help fund the front lines, the federation has created various foundries used for warehousing, transporting and production of supplies. You as the commander and logistics manager of your fleet must efficiently manage the movement of these supplies which include raw materials, additional pilots and manufactured technologies.
Far Space Foundry begins with setting up the play area for the Space Foundry Alpha. The “board” is composed of unique pieces that fit together like a puzzle. Players attach these modules to the main foundry centerpiece. The final board is a gorgeous representation of a station in space: there are 8 docking stations for shuttles, up to 4 warehouses (depending on the number of players), the dockmaster station and the docking ability module. These pieces then are sandwiched between the cantina and the product module which are places players will access throughout the game.
You have to stand back and admire how this game looks before even playing it. The visuals, individual components and composition of the final board shows every player and intrigued gamer that walks by that you are about to embark into space on a crucial mission. Far Space Foundry is pushing the assumptions that games need a rectangular board by incorporating a visually striking setup while not losing any key or symbol reference information needed in a worker placement game and I like that a lot.
To prepare, Far Space Foundry is divided up into two halves with gameplay starting first in Space Foundry Alpha and the second half at Space Foundry Beta. The Alpha half consists of mining and transporting of raw materials from nearby asteroids, processing raw materials into valuable Galactium, selling Rubion to the Galactic Traders for credits and visiting the cantina to acquire more experienced pilots and their freighters. Players can take these different actions by carefully planning which docking bay to use on their turn. Each docking bay has one action that a player can perform a turn.
Players begin their turn by utilizing their starting crew. Each crew member will have a number in the upper left hand corner. This number dictates which docking bay that crew member can access to either transport items to or from the foundry. Acquiring new pilots at the cantina and using your commander are vital to the overall strategy as all of these pilots are not limited to a specific docking bay number–their placement is luck-based and relies on the current number on the d8 in the center of the board.
Far Space Foundry uses a unique rondel mechanic in the docking stations to determine the number of items a player can transport on their turn. The number on a crew card determines what docking station that player can visit that turn. If, however, that docking bay is in use the player moves to the next available docking bay, moving clockwise around the foundry. For each docking station a player passes, including its final resting station, the transport capacity of their shuttle increases. What this means is as the shuttle moves further away from the target docking station, the more items that shuttle can transport.
In the Alpha stage, moving shuttles to the foundry means transporting raw materials (skyrite and rubion) from the nearby asteroids to your warehouse. Moving shuttles from the docking bay means a player is transporting these materials from their warehouse to their awaiting freighter in orbit. These freighters will transport all items into the second half of the game at Space Foundry Beta. In the Beta portion of the game, transporting shuttles to the foundry means bringing goods from your freighter to your warehouse and moving shuttles from the Beta foundry means transporting items from your warehouse back to your freighter.
In writing, it is difficult to portray the rondel gameplay and the amount of planning involved during a single turn. After a couple of turns, understanding the rondel mechanic is a lot easier. Far Space Foundry is a constantly changing board which means planning a complex plan from turn one will only lead to disappointment and frustration. It is best to plan your turn while the player ahead of you is going.
Once the Alpha half is complete, players will flip the center tile and appropriate modules over and construct Space Foundry Beta. The Beta half will focus on bringing items from your freighters into your warehouse and using those materials to construct tech products. These products range from Ion Cannons to Batteries and Ray Guns to Deflector Disks. The products to each game are selected randomly and there are multiple products to chose from.
The Beta half is always a panicked scramble to unload your freighters, upgrade them while they’re empty and quickly load them back up again with valuable products. There are a lot of options on the Beta Foundry but the number of actions and spaces in your warehouse are more limited. This is the time of the game where players start to feel the pressure. Once every player has played their last crew member, the final scores are tallied. Any empty or non-upgraded freighters result in negative victory points.The player with the most points is the winner and proved themselves to be the most efficient crew for the Far Space Federation.
Far Space Foundry is a challenging game because it rewards the most efficient player, which is no easy task. There are a lot of factors to consider but the options aren’t overwhelming–the gameplay is more about working within restrictions and limitations. How good are you at planning and adjusting to changing strategies? For me, that question was a fun challenge. As someone who has worked in multiple warehouses previously, balancing inventory, meeting quotas and managing space and time is a real world challenge as well.
Going for the most ambitious strategy is fine, but if you are unable to make good on those risks, your final score will suffer. On our first play through, Luke and I went for the largest freighters and the most expensive products but in the end, were left with a much lower score due to our inability to properly manage all that freighter space. Sometimes it is best to go with more safe strategies to ensure that you can deliver at the end of the game.
If somehow after this glowing review you still are hesitant about FSF, then please try the game for yourself. Terra Nova Games is also offering a free full-art print and play for everyone. Just follow the Kickstarter link below and please help Fund The Federation!
Included with the prototype review copy was an personalized introduction letter which contained all the social media links and information for Terra Nova Games. I want to see more designers including that information with their prototypes. When I post reviews, I want to be able to share it with the creators. Hunting down Twitter profiles and Facebook pages isn’t fun. Also the large print out of the final box art was a great piece to place at the end of the table. Gamers who were passing by could easily write down the name of the game and gather all the information to look up the Kickstarter when it launched. Future indie designers take note of this great way to make an impression!