Last Thursday the guys at the local boardgame club wanted to play High Frontier, a space exploration game by Sierra Madre, a European publisher of educational and family games. In High Frontier, each player heads a near future consortium trying to develop spaceships to explore Earth's solar system.
I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to play High Frontier, but it probably doesn't hurt. I confess, the game fairly quickly made me head hurt. In building a spaceship, players need to acquire various technologies, such as thrust, power plant, coolant, and guidance systems, choosing from various types. Each component has a tradeoff, whether in power or weight, and the heavier the spaceship, the more it costs to go anywhere.
Once you put a bunch of bits and pieces into low Earth orbit, you bolt it all together, and then try to go somewhere. If your brain isn't taxed by building your spaceship, it will probably be taxed once you look at the map and try to plan your route:
I only had a finite amount of time, since I had to go to a late night hockey game. I stayed long enough to throw some bits and pieces together and blast off, with the cry "I'm a goin' to Mars!" Once I got out of Earth orbit, I went through a radiation built and something important failed its rad safety roll. Then I went through some sort of gravity braking zone and failed another roll, and my ship kinda fell apart. "Houston we have a problem".
Well, as I said, I'm not a rocket scientist, but this game made my head hurt. The hockey game later made me hurt too, but it was more fun. I can see how this would be a great game to teach people how complicated and challenging space exploration will be, and for a certain kind of player, this could be a fun game, but I, alas, am not one of them.