3. Alien Frontiers (w/ expansions)
Alright, now we are up to the top three, and we are starting with a game that definitely grabbed my interest (and money) and has yet to let it go. Alien Frontiers, now known as the game that “shaped gaming’s use of crowdfunding,” was not produced by a very large publisher nor designed by a very famous designer. None the less, it is now one of the most talked about worker placement games on the internet, and it has really brought a lot of attention to the designer, Tory Niemann.
For a sci-fi fan like myself, this game is certainly a blast to play. You roll dice and use them as workers (representing ships in your fleet) to collect resources, discover alien technology, and form colonies on the planet, Maxwell. In addition to bringing strategy and player interaction to the forefront, this game also provides brilliant artwork. I cannot think of many other games that have such boards and cards that are so fascinating to look.
Nevertheless, after playing this game time and time again, I have noticed some flaws in the replayability. With just the base game, I soon felt like I was using the same strategies again and again. Luckily, the Alien Frontiers: Factions expansion really helped to solve this problem. By giving each player a unique faction, this helped to really personalize the gaming experience for each player and provide some new strategic ideas. Furthermore, the additional agenda goals provides a great option of going somewhat out of your way to gain points through other means.
Additionally, after getting a chance to play test this game with the Outer Belt expansion (which is expected to officially come out at the end of this year), I was pleased to see how the addition of more options through the expansions truly prevents the game from becoming too dry.
Overall, this is still one of my favorite games, especially among the category of 2-3 hour games. However, I will acknowledge that this is actually a tough recommendation to make in that it is not widely available and truly shines with the expansions (which require a larger investment). Still, I would highly recommend giving Alien Frontiers a play through.