How to Fix Near and Far With a House Rule

Updated on February 26, 2020
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy enjoys gaming when not working as a chemist and business manager.

Near and Far by Red Raven games
Near and Far by Red Raven games

What Is Near and Far?

Hit board game Near and Far captivated many gamers, myself included, with its strategic and unique gameplay. Gathering supplies in a hub town before adventuring into the wild, players compete to gain the most journey points, undergoing choice-based quests along the way.

With numerous maps, play modes (including an overarching campaign mode), Near and Far has something for everyone and rightfully deserves its reputation. That said, its balance is disrupted by the first player's significant advantage: let's examine how.

Near and Far first map
Near and Far first map

Advantages of Going First in Near and Far

Unlike some games, everyone will always have an equal number of turns in Near and Far, which helps balance the experience. However, the first player enjoys undeniable advantages that can really make it hard for later players to catch up, even with smart decisions. The first player enjoys:

  • First pick of the five adventurers at the Saloon (almost always your best opening move)
  • First chance to reach the closest quest on the map (which give big early-game rewards)
  • First chance at fighting weaker threats

Most experienced players begin the game by buying a character at the Saloon, then heading out for an adventure. Thing is, not all characters are created equal, and nabbing the best of the opening five can really put someone ahead. Once the other players have made their moves (likely taking the sloppy seconds at the Saloon), this gives the first player a good chance to explore, especially if there's a quest within reach.

Plus, since bandits on the map gradually increase in power, it gets more and more difficult to defeat them. The first player to fight one only has to deal with a strength check of four, but (assuming they succeed) anyone following will face bigger and badder foes.

Near and Far components
Near and Far components

Advantages of Going Second or Later in Near and Far

Perhaps the only benefit of moving later is if the first player places a camp on the map (likely on their second turn, after buying a character at the Saloon), meaning that space will no longer cost any hearts to move over. However, this only helps other players if the first player only moved one space (players start with two movement); if they utilize their full traversal, there's little incentive to follow their path since you won't have enough initial movement to reach the next space anyway.

Basically, playing second or later has little to no pros and surrenders the perks of going first. I'm surprised that designer Ryan Laukat let this slip considering he balanced gameplay in previous game Above and Below (which I also recommend) by giving the last-moving player an extra coin. Thankfully, we can even things here with a similar fix.

Potential adventurers in Near and Far
Potential adventurers in Near and Far

House Rule: Give Stragglers an Extra Coin

Players start with three coins each, and they're especially valuable early on since you need them to purchase adventurers. Adventurers in turn help you explore the map, fight threats, and generally improve your chances of winning.

So, to compensate for not going first, try giving non-first players an extra coin, having them start with four instead of three. This should counter the first player's quick start. If you think an extra coin is too big a reward, you could instead substitute a less-valuable food token, but I often find myself wanting to go first even knowing I'm missing out on that extra coin, showcasing just how advantageous it is.

Near and Far player board
Near and Far player board

Near and Far Review

Admittedly, I can be a "rules lawyer" who prefers to play games as printed, so it's telling that I consider this house rule a must for balance. But don't let one easily-fixable gripe dissuade you from an otherwise fantastic experience; Near and Far admirably blends strategy, storytelling, and a little luck into one of gaming's premiere packages.

With over ten maps, four play modes, and numerous artifacts, the game has more than enough replayability to justify its $50 price tag. Plus, its double-sided characters can also be used as expansion add-ons to Above and Below, further increasing the game's value. But for now, vote for your favorite Red Raven experience and I'll see you at our next gaming review!

Which Red Raven game do you prefer?

See results

© 2020 Jeremy Gill


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)