Frontier: Enchanted Land Review

Frontier: Enchanted Land is a game by Greg Dyson, published by Jackdaw Co Games. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players will be be gaining resources and building their own fantasy realm in an attempt to gain victory points. In the end, the player with the most points after 8 rounds will be declared the winner.

To begin, the board is placed in the middle of the play area with the Round Marker token placed beside it. Decks of each of the 3 basic resource cards are placed face up in the middle of the play area. There should be one for wood, one for straw and one for stone. The advanced resource cards and building cards are shuffled together to form the draft deck. Once players are ready, play now begins.

The game consists of 2 phases; the Draft phase and the Build phase. The first phase is the Draft phase. In this phase, each player is dealt 8 cards from the draft deck. Each player will then choose one of the cards and place it face down into their personal supply. Players will then pass the remaining cards clockwise. Once again, each player chooses a card and places it face down in front of them, passing the remaining cards to their left. This process is repeated until each player has 7 cards in their personal supply. The final card in their hand is placed on the bottom of the draw deck. Once this is done, 7 new cards are dealt out to each player. Again, the process of choosing a card and passing the remaining ones continues until each player has 13 cards. Once more, the final card in the player’s hand is placed on the bottom of the draw deck. Players should now have 13 cards that they drafted. This becomes their hand for the next phase. One thing of note, a player may look at the cards in their personal supply at any time during the draft.

The second phase is the Build phase. The Build phase consists of 8 rounds that are broken up into 3 stages; start of round, card selection and card resolution. The first stage is the start of round. In this stage the Round Marker token is moved to the corresponding round number. For the first round, it is placed on the number 1 space. If the space has a resource symbol on it, then players are able to take a basic resource card from the supply and place it into their play area. It should be noted, if a player has an advanced resource card in their hand, they may choose to play it into their play area instead of taking a basic resource card. Once this has been done, any other card effects that state that they happen during this stage will now be resolved.

The next stage is the card selection stage. In this stage each player will choose a card or cards from their hand to play, placing them face down in front of themself. It should be noted, a card or cards are only able to be played if the player has enough resources from their resource cards to play them. A player may play more than one card, but they must have the required number of resources and may not use a resource card more than once per round. In other words, 2 buildings can not use the same resource card to build them with.

The final stage is the card resolution stage. In this stage, players will turn over the card or cards that they placed during the previous stage. If a player plays more than one card, the must choose the order in which each card is played. Some cards have abilities that will trigger during this stage. These cards have a trigger number in the bottom right corner of the card. Abilities are resolved based on these numbers, starting with the lowest number and ascending in order. If two cards have the same number then the card with a letter earlier in the alphabet will be resolved first. Once all the cards have been resolved, a new round begins and the round marker is moved to the next round number on the board.

The game continues until the end of the 8th round. At that point, each player will add up the number of points from the cards that they played in front of themselves, making sure to add any bonus points from special abilities. Cards in a player’s hand are worth no points. The player with the most points at this time is the winner.

COMPONENTS
This game is adorable. There aren’t a lot of pieces to it, but it just looks and feels fun. The game comes with 45 basic resource cards, 12 advanced resource cards, 73 building cards, a board and a dragon round marker token. The round marker token is this cute wooden dragon meeple that is painted bright purple and it’s my favorite shade of purple to boot. This thing is so CUTE! I love it. The board looks like an amazing fantasy dream with so much going on that you’ll have to just see it to understand it. I will say, I wish that the resources on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 6th and 8th rounds had been bigger and/or clearer to see. As it is, it tends to fade into the artwork of the board making it hard to remember when to play resource cards. The cards have the same style of artwork as the board and look great. They are a decent thickness and have a good finish to them. Granted they aren’t linen finish or premium thickness, I think they’re quite good actually. There are lots of different building designs with very easy to read iconography. The resource cards do seem a bit bland, having a colored image of the resource that they represent front and center with a black and white background of where this resource came from, such as a mine for stone or a forest for wood. I think that these could have been replaced with wooden or cardboard tokens for the basic resources and a wild token for the advanced resources. If this had been chosen instead, then each player could simply place their tokens on the card that they wished to use to pay for it. Of course I’m sure that might would have increased the production cost, so I understand not going that route. As it is, I feel that the cool artwork is hidden on these cards and simply wasted. One last thing that I want to mention is the box insert. Inside the box is this really nice cut foam insert that has space for everything. The board sits down on top of that and keeps everything together…mostly. With so many cards, the top ones do tend to move around a bit beneath the board. Still, I think that the game looks really great and is an amazing piece of work from this designer. I really enjoy the look of this one.
8 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game isn’t very long. It only contains about 6 pages. The first couple of pages explain the details of each card type and symbol. It also explains how resolution order works. The next couple of pages go step by step through the process of how the game is played. The last pages include a section of frequently asked questions and a variant for the first play through of the game. It also includes a replica of the artwork that graces the board. The book contains plenty of pictures and examples of gameplay. It’s very quick and simple to read through. It does contain a few typos and misspelled words here and there, but it’s not anything that should cause you any problems. The cover has a nice finish and another great looking piece of art on the cover. Overall I think the designer did a really great job on the rulebook. It was very easy to understand all of the rules. This is definitely well designed.
8 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
Card drafting is one of my most favorite game mechanics. I truly enjoy looking through my hand of cards and picking what I hope will benefit me the most later in the game. Never knowing if that one card that I passed on might come back to haunt me later as my opponent uses it against me in a way I’d never thought of. It’s this thrill that brings me back to these types of games. This is one of those games. You start off working through 2 separate drafting phases which will provide you with a hand of cards that you’ll be playing during the second half of the game. The ones you choose can make things better for you or can possibly even hinder you from completing that building you thought that you’d be able to get completed in time. During my plays I found several times that I just didn’t have enough time to get everything done that I’d wanted to get done. That just makes me want to come back again and again to see if the next time I’ll be able to do more. For me, wanting to play a game again and again is the hallmark of a good game. This is a good game because it gives me that feeling each time I play it. One thing that stood out to me is how the different icons play off of each other based off of the abilities of certain cards. For instance, some cards like the School of Magic provide extra points at the end of the game for each set of certain symbols that you have in play. Others like the Welcome Sign provide extra resources for having certain symbols. Making the best use of each card and knowing when to play each one can be a big boost to your strategies. It took me a game or two to really get dialed in to those card synergies. Needless to say, this is a game that I have really enjoyed. It bears some striking similarities to another game that I enjoyed quite a bit, Town Builder: Coevorden. For anyone that’s every played it before, this one feel very familiar. I had a similar reaction to it myself. A lot of the same things that I liked about that game were present in this one. That’s why I think fans of that game would really enjoy this one. It definitely scratched the same itch for me. I also think that fans of deck building or card drafting games will find a lot to enjoy about this one as well. The game has a lot of depth to it, even though it’s simple to play. Fans of strategy games may find a lot to love about this one too. As it is, this is a game that I would highly recommend.
8 out of 10

OVERALL
Frontier: Enchanted Land is a game of card drafting and hand management in a fantasy world. The game isn’t very long. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The game looks really nice and the artwork on the cards is very unique and fun. I do wish that it was a bit easier to see the resource icons on the board, but that’s one of the very few minor complaints that I had about this one. Overall I like the look and feel of the game. The rulebook is well designed and is easy to read through and understand. The game itself is a lot of fun and reminds me a lot of Town Builder: Coevorden. Even so, this is one that I really enjoyed playing. I do think that fans of Town Builder: Coevorden will enjoy this one as well. I also think players that enjoy card drafting games would like it too. This is one that I would highly recommend. It’s one that can be enjoyed by the whole family, with just a little bit of instruction. Players can expect a great quality game with this one.
8 out of 10

 

For more information about this and other great games, please check out Jackdaw Co Games, at these sites.

https://www.facebook.com/JackdawCoGames/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/JackdawCoGames

About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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