Fluffy Frontier Preview
Ion Game Design
Action programming with some chaos
Space, the final frontier…for our pets? In Fluffy Frontier, the terrestrial animals you know and love are actually aliens that secretly run our space agencies. And in 2061, the return of Halley’s comet has prompted some of these intrepid animal astronauts to head into space to gather resources and conduct experiments.
But to maintain the ignorance of us humans, these various aliens are sharing a single spaceship, and they’ll be stepping on each other’s paws as they harvest valuable resources and engage in groundbreaking research.
Will your furry astronaut come out on top? Find out in this Kickstarter preview of Fluffy Frontier!
We were provided a prototype of Fluffy Frontier for preview, with the option of requesting a completed copy. We weren’t otherwise compensated. All images are either of that prototype or from the Fluffy Frontier Kickstarter campaign page.
Fluffy Frontier is an action selection/programming game, where the goal is to score as many points as you can over the course of 5 rounds. These points come from completed experiments, either your own or those done using your home nation’s resources. But you’ll want to be considerate with taking on projects, because each incomplete experiment loses you points at the end of the game.
Each of the 5 rounds happens in 2 phases, the Comet phase and the Ship phase.
The comet phase is all about planning your actions and gathering resources as the players explore the comet’s surface. Now, like we mentioned, this is a stealth mission, so one of the unique things about Fluffy Frontier is that all players will be sharing a single Lander craft that they’ll move around the comet’s face to pick up the resources they need to complete experiments and earn those precious points!
At the beginning of the comet phase, a new comet tile comes out and gets seeded with resources. Then each player secretly selects their actions for the round. These actions revolve around moving the lander, using it to gather up resources, drawing new experiments, and reserving the precious lab space that you’ll use in the Ship phase.
Once everyone picks their 4 tiles and locks them in, players take turns revealing tiles and taking actions. Since everyone takes their first action, then everyone takes their second, and so on, you don’t have a tremendous amount of control over where the Lander is, so part of the strategy of Fluffy Frontier is doing the best with your actions with the understanding that you won’t always get to do exactly what you wanted.
After all players have taken all their actions, we move into the Ship phases. Here, players will try to do experiments using the resources they gathered. Experiments come in 3 types, but there is only 1 lab facility of each type on your very cramped ship, so unless you booked a lab during the Comet phase, you’ll need to spend knowledge to gain access to the general lab. If you don’t manage to book or pay for a lab, you’ll at least gain some knowledge for use later on.
Conducting experiments means revealing what you’re working on to the table, committing resources to it, and then rolling a die to try and meet or exceed that experiment’s target value. You can also add additional knowledge to lower the threshold of success, but keep in mind a 1 always fails. That’s just science, baby!
Successful experiments get you points, and some of them even give you resource income every round. You will also tag your successful experiments with ‘alien supplies’ which is to say marking them with a player’s home nation for bonus points. This isn’t optional, so you’ll ideally have gathered alien supplies of your own nation so that you aren’t giving those bonus points away to other players.
Failing an experiment isn’t a disaster – you get your resources back to try again next round – but any knowledge you spent is lost, and now your opponents know what sort of experiments you’re working on, meaning they might just book that lab you need ahead of you if they can, to make sure you either have to pay extra knowledge to do your experiment, or not be able to do it at all. Hey, no one said science was nice!
After 5 rounds of exploration and experiments, each critter cosmonaut tallies up their points from completed experiments, as well as bonus points from any experiment that was sealed with their nation’s supplies, no matter which player completed them, and then losing points for any incomplete experiments they’re still holding. In the end, the alien astronaut with the most points wins!
In the end, we found Fluffy Frontier to be an interesting mix. We enjoyed the action selection gameplay core, but didn’t love some things about the experiment completion and the general claustrophobia of higher player counts. But for players who think they might enjoy a strategic game with some chaotic elements tossed in, then we suggest heading over to the Fluffy Frontier Kickstarter page and checking it out for yourselves!