Star Trek: The Boardgame Generation – Episode one

Leonard_Nimoy_William_Shatner_Star_Trek_1968As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Star Trek franchise, “Trek-ifiying” things is rampant and the world of boardgaming is no exception. While there are probably Star Trek versions of Monopoly, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit, I intend to take a look at Star Trek versions of games popular with boardgame hobbyists. These games, sometimes called Eurogames (since they are popular in Europe) or designer boardgames (as the game designers are recognized for their efforts just like authors or directors) are popular as they emphasize player interaction and minimize luck and player elimination.



Star Trek: Catan


star_trek_catan box3-4 Players
Time: 60-90 minutes
Rating: Family Friendly
Star Trek Catan is a retheme of Settlers of Catan, the most widely distributed eurogame to date. In Catan (as it is simply known now), the board is laid out as a grid of hexagons representing different terrain. Each hexagon displays a number 2-12. Players claim locations on the edges of the hexagons (where 2 or 3 meet.) Players then take turns rolling two dice which trigger an award of resources for any player adjacent to tiles displaying that number. After awarding resources, the active player can purchase new buildings (for more resource income), roads (to build out to new building locations), or powerful cards that give various benefits. If a player does not have the right combination of resources, the active player can trade resources with other players or (very costly) with the bank. It is this trading aspect of the game that keeps it interesting. SInce one can earn resources and trade with the active player at any time, it keeps all players involved throughout the game (there is no player elimination.) A player rolling a “7” provides no resources for anyone, and any player holding too many resource cards must discard some of them. As play continues, players continue to build up their “empire” until someone earns 10 points (most points are earned through constructing buildings.)




The Star Trek theme changes most of the basic keywords in the game (resources are now dilithium, food, water, etc… and buildings are outposts and starbases) and brings one unique aspect to the Catan game. Players start the game with a special ability card based on a classic Star Trek character. Players can keep using that special ability, or trade it in for one of the unclaimed cards next to the board. These “helper” cards can give a nice boost if used at the right time. Catan is an excellent family game (a parent can even “help” younger players by giving advantageous trades) and the Star Trek “helper” cards provide a bit of strategy and variety to the game. The theme and extra ability cards of Star Trek: Catan makes the fun basic game, even more entertaining.



Star Trek Panic

star-trek-panic-3d-box-left-382x4201-6 Players
Time: 60-120 minutes (depending on the scenario)
Rating: Family Friendly
I love cooperative games, and Star Trek Panic is high on my list of fun, family-friendly co-ops. In the original boardgame Castle Panic, players attempt to fend off attackers approaching a central city by playing cards to eliminate the attackers or rebuild the city wall. Star Trek Panic adds in a Star Trek theme, with the central city now represented by the Enterprise. City walls are now the ship’s shields and hull plating and the players always have a “mission” card to fulfill during the game. Players are also given a (Star Trek) character card with a special ability in the game. Good use of the players’ special abilities are key for doing well in the game. Every turn, players draw two new enemies to threaten the ship. These enemies start out in in the outermost ring of one of the six sections of the board. At the end of each turn the enemies move inward another ring (and usually firing a weapon.) Weapons fire damages the shields and then the hull when when shields are gone. If a ship gets to the innermost ring (of 3), it can board the ship to cause even more problems. Every turn, a player gets to play cards in order to shoot the attacking ships, rotate the ship (usually to spread out any damage), play a card’s special ability, or play cards on the current “mission” to complete it. Cards have multiple uses so a given card could be used to combat aliens or be played on a mission card, so sometimes there are tough choices. The game is played until the ship is too badly damaged, or the players manage to complete the required number of missions (more missions are required if playing the game at a higher difficulty level.)




The game has a nice story arc, starting slow and getting more precarious as play continues. The range of difficulty allows gamers to play a fairly easy game with less experienced players or a tougher game for those wanting more of a challenge. I have not played the original “Castle Panic” much, but even with a few plays I’m finding Star Trek Panic to be the superior game, and not just for the theming. Of the Star Trek games I’ve reviewed, this is the best candidate for younger gamers. The rules are easy to grasp, and because it is cooperative parents can help clarify options if a younger one gets overwhelmed.




Star Trek: Five-Year Mission


5 year mission box3-7 Players
Time: 30-45 minutes
Rating: Family Friendly
Star Trek: Five-Year Mission is a cooperative game (everyone is wins or loses together.) It is a unique game and not a retheme of another title. In the game, players (up to 7) are given a character from Star Trek universe (cards with classic characters on the front and next generation on the back for a total of 14 different characters) with unique powers. Players draw missions from three decks (easy, medium, or hard.) They then try to complete the missions by rolling dice to match the matching symbols shown on the mission cards. Failures can damage players, removing one of their dice (which may be healed later.)


5 year mission


Some missions are considered “Prime Directives” which have to be completed before any others. Only 3 missions of each difficulty can be present, if a fourth is drawn it damages the ship (forcing players to pull from the more difficult missions in the future.) The team of players score points by completing missions. The game can be set up for a wide range of challenges, based on how many missions need to be completed. In a beginning game, players need to score 10 points (at least one mission of each difficulty), while those wanting a harder game can play for 19 points (and at least 2 of each mission difficulty.) Because of the style of play, the game can even handle players dropping in or out of the game without much disruption. It is a relatively fast, fun game but is best enjoyed when played with fans of the series.



Next time, on Star Trek: The Boardgame Generation,  Trek games for the strategy gamer….

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