Review: Farlight

 

Game Name: Farlight Published Year: 2017
Game Publisher: Gamesalute Player Scale: 2 – 5
Game Designer: Nick Sibicky Run Time: 45 mins

In Play

In the not too distant future, you’ll be able to pop off on your jollies to visit the Sea of Tranquility instead of Lanzarote if what Mr Branson is selling comes about, in the meantime, you can conquer that pesky atmosphere and go boldly into that void with Farlight. Much like Branson, Musk and Bezos, you’ll be running your high tech aerospace company in a tight, and faced paced race, attempting to outmanoeuvre, outwit and outclass your competitors.

 

 

Farlight is an auction and tile placement game in which each round players will bid on parts for their ship, to then connect those parts before attempting one of the all-important missions. This is as simple as it sounds, in turn, each player will place two of their 5 bidding tokens – ranked from zero to four – on any ship upgrade or facility at Farlight Station, with the option of adding one of their scarce and valuable crew to the bid to increase it by one. Once all bids are placed, the winner of each is revealed, losers who bid more than zero gain one additional crew for their trouble and then parts are added to the ship.

 

Ship

My super-cool spaceship with big meaty engines!

 

 

This is a victory point game, with only one real way to gain points (there are also bonus points and as the name suggests, the bonuses are just that, they’ll make the difference between finishing second or third, they won’t win you the game). At the top of the board, there will be a selection of Mission Cards, arranged into three columns, and missions ranked from lowest value to highest and then the game ending Climatic Mission.

 

Bonus Tokens

Bonus Tiles – three of which are used each game

 

These missions form the focus of each game, and there is a nice assortment of them, as missions can vary with their requirements as a mixture of, or a sole requisite of Science, BioTech and/or engines. And it is here that we encounter the most interesting, and most frustrating aspect of this game: getting the right parts at the right time. At the beginning of the game the board is filled with parts, and then at the end of each round, anything that was ‘sold’ is replaced.  However, since there is no seeding of the deck, nor a separate deck for each part “type”, the draft is very random.  So, important, game-necessary cards, like, I don’t know, engines, for example, don’t appear quite as frequently as one would hope

 

Engine Dice

Engine dice – these dictate how powerful your engine is.

Now kids, remember getting into space is really difficult because you have to break away from the Earth’s gravitational pull. Which is really, really hard. In order to do that you need really powerful engines. So when only one appears in Farlight Station, it becomes very highly sought after. Even Two engines mean that most players are going to be bidding on both of them, and probably bidding high, this essentially creates a bottleneck of bids, since only empty slots are replaced, you can end up with only two or three cards being drafted. So the “issue” is not only exacerbated but is self-serving.

 

 

Mission Bidding

Not every Mision requires engines, these few are easy pickings for Science & Biotech ships

 

 

Is it really a problem? For me, it’s not a deal breaker, it is frustrating, and I think there are some easy ways around it, or even a little House Ruling to make it flow a little better. But, for others, this could be too much. It does create an individual economy per game, in the same way that a scarcity of one resource in say, Splendor does alter how everyone plays, but unlike Splendor, there is no way to get around not having an engine on your spaceship (although you can get around Science and BioTech, which is odd). And if you ever hope to achieve one of the Climatic Missions then you need engines. At least two, but more likely three.

 

Climatic Missions

So let’s do the maths. In a five player game, each player is going to really want/need three engines, so that will be fifteen engines in all. Of a possible sixteen, and to me that seems pretty tight, and in the games I’ve played, it has been.

 

Missions

Missions aplenty for your would be tech companies to attempt

 

The Climatic Missions themselves also present their own quirk, and that is a linear narrative. These missions almost force the game to move in a specified direction – which really does feel like your choices are being stricken off as you advance through the game.  Normal missions are stacked in front of these, so the Climatic Missions can’t be attempted until the stack is clear, meaning that as soon as two of the normal missions are resolved, all players now focus on that column, making the others more or less redundant, since winning a climatic mission will pretty much bag that player the win.

 

Winner

Winning the game comes with a little winner card – which is nice

 

Since these missions are so high scoring that in some cases it can be the only mission a player accomplishes and they still end up winning.  Obviously, this does sour the milk a little for everyone else playing.  That being said, you can stop a player running away with the lead,  you can outbid them as rarely will an opponent just need one part.  It is within every player’s power to stop and hinder that winning bid, but again, by doing so, this limits your choices.

 

In Play Close Up 2

He really wants that piece…or are all of those low bids, it could be 4, or 11

 

You could argue that the game is broken, or that it isn’t balanced, etc. and I could argue with you, but I wouldn’t argue particularly hard or for very long. However, and it’s a big HOWEVER, the game is really good fun. I’ve really enjoyed playing it, each and every time. Unlike Steampunk Rally (which has a similar feel, and tile placement mechanic), where all the players are building at the same time, in Farlight you have time to take stock and see what everyone else is doing. You can bluff and inflate the cost of a valuable piece for your opponents that you know they really, really want while you pick up that other thing. And there is a great sense of satisfaction when you win a tile on a low bid because you’ve misdirected everyone. Or when you bid here, and then there, to do that, so that next turn you can do the other thing. It’s a game that wants you to plan and more importantly to it wants you to scheme. It creates a wonderful market conflict and for a game with only indirect player interaction, there is usually a lot of trash talk too.

 

In Play Close Up 1

Enter a caption

 

Farlight makes for a very enjoyable experience, perhaps a little too random and linear for some gamers, but I’ve found it to be just the right amount of fun to counterbalance those failings.

The Good

A thought-provoking economics game

Really good fun to play

With the right crowd, it will have some great player interaction

The Bad:

Doesn’t feel very balanced,

Can suffer from a runaway leader

Has a linear and predictable conclusion

This game was purchased/ backed on Kickstarter so some of the contents may vary from retail editions of the game

Box

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s