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Risk: Star Trek 50th Anniversary Edition» Forums » Reviews

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Dave Shapiro
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It is possible to make no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.
-Captain Picard

There are two companies that produce Risk games in North America - Hasbro and USAopoly. While Hasbro tends to release new Risk games at a slow, almost random pace, USAopoly introduces a new version every year. (The new game is usually released at GenCon.) The USAopoly games are always themed with some popular license. In most cases, they do not attempt to ‘reinvent the wheel’; they assemble the game from existing mechanics and very often the games are based on a previously successful game. Plants versus Zombies was based on Balance of Power. Halo Wars and StarCraft are versions of the classic game with the maps shifted and a few minor additions. Walking Dead is based on the Avalon Hill Wizards Quest game and Game of Thrones employs the mechanics from Nexus Ops. Note: in each of these games, the standard, classic game can be played.

Star Trek does not break this tradition. Risk Star Trek uses the Black Ops version of Risk as the base and then adds, the character mechanic from Game of Thrones, an expansion (virus) element (Tribbles) and an event deck. The map is split into two quadrants and (as in Halo Legendary) there are wormholes that players can use to move quickly from one side to another.

The components are typical of USAopoly which is above the norm but does not reach the level of components by Fantasy Flight or Cool Mini’s. For example, each player receives units that are different in color and design (exception all single units are the same mold) but lack the detail found in those produced by a miniatures company. The Tribbles are basically colored puff balls which is a nice touch as they could just as easily been cardboard counters.

All of the mechanics have worked without a problem in other games but that is no guarantee that cobbling them together will result in a satisfactory gaming experience. So the question is: is this a good game and is this a Risk game. In recent years games have been released with the Risk branding that resemble Risk only in that dice are used in the game; Battlefield Rouge and Star Wars for example.

Anyone who follows Star Trek knows that the captains from the five different series never fought each other. The setting for the game is that Q has brought all five together on the holodeck in order to determine who is the best of the five. Prior to the game, each player selects a captain (Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sisko or Archer) and then assembles a crew of four (selected from six characters from the series). Each character provides some sort of benefit at a cost. This expands the mechanic found in Game of Thrones you can tailor your crew to sync with your particular strategy within limits. None of the crew members exhibit game breaking or game changing abilities; this is tweaking your strategy - it is not Cosmic Encounter. There are six crew cards for each Captain and only four can be used in any game so there is a great deal of variety in the starting crews. (Should this prove insufficient, you could always deal out the crews randomly.)

Alien forces (neutrals) are distributed randomly over the board. What is unusual is that players begin with only one territory and expand from there. A territory card can only be gained if there was a combat involved in taking an area. Some areas on the map will not have any units, of any type, when the game begins however, once a territory has a single unit, it can never be an ‘empty’ territory again. Various events in the game can increase or decrease the number of aliens and ships in a territory.

On each player turn, a Q-vent is drawn which is simply an event. Some of these are specific to the player and some apply to the game itself. For example, a few increase your reinforcements if you control X while others may cause every territory in a given sector (continent) to lose a unit including the Tribbles and aliens. There are 50 different Q-vents in the game. As these events alter the game, it is unlikely that games will begin to feel repetitive. Of the 50 Q-vents, only two introduce Tribbles so their appearance is not guaranteed. As it is a random draw, I am certain that some groups will encounter Tribbles in nearly every game while for others it will be a rare event. Obviously the probability that Tribbles will appear increases with the greater the number of players. (Tribbles act as a virus and can expand to other areas.)

So what does a game feel like while playing? For me the game feels very much like playing a cross between Black Ops Risk and Small World. There are a significant number of random factors that move the game especially the Q-Quests and Q-vents. In Small World you attempt to maximize the number of points you can score each turn; this can result in massive sweeps in different directions each turn. The same type of thing occurs with the variety of Quests that are available. (There are always six available and you only need three to win.) As one is accomplished and a new one appears, you may swing across the board in order to accomplish it.

This is not a game of expanding empires as is the classic game. Like Small World you are attempting to maximize your efforts for only a few turns and then your strategy changes. There is combat but like Small World, it is specific with the intent to accomplish a Quest (mission) not to weaken another player. Some of the Q-vents can introduce radical changes while others provide some small alteration. For example, one event may provide you with a few extra ships while another reduces the ships/aliens in every territory adjacent to the nebula (printed on the board). In one game I played, a single player happened to control each of those spaces (adjacent to the nebula) with a single ship in each territory. All of his ships in those territories were replaced with a pair of aliens.

Risk Star Trek is to classic Risk what Small World is to Vinci - a lighter, more random, strategy game. Classic Risk and Vinci are serious strategy games; any surprises in the game is the result of player actions. Risk Star Trek and Small World require similar strategies but there are surprise elements generated by the game itself. This is not to suggest that winning Star Trek Risk is an easy task - it is not. You must plan and execute well but those that abhor the introduction of random elements in a game (especially devotees of the classic version) will be disappointed. The game is intended to be played for fun (and it is enjoyable); it will generate laughs and surprises rather than a shouting match - it would work well in a mixed group.

Two Player Version

The two player game is an adaptation of the main game. It plays very quickly; almost too quickly. In the standard version of the game, if you are dealt one of the Q-vent setbacks, it is usually possible to ‘come back’ - in the two player version, this is unlikely. Though the two player version removes a portion of the Q-vents, some of the remaining one’s may be too powerful to permit a repair, a regrowth. There is significantly less combat and less challenge in the two player game as it is played on the full map so many of the Quests required for victory, can be accomplished without any conflict with your opponent. We have actually played the two player version in under 30 minutes. This plays so quickly (as a two player game) that it could almost be considered a filler. Balance of Power and Plants Versus Zombies are much better two player experiences.
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
The setting for the game is that Q has brought all five together on the holodeck in order to determine who is the best of the five.


A weak premise that displays a lack of respect for the original TV series that started all of this and a lack of imagination on the game's development team.

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Chris Strabala
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Hiawatha
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With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
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Thanks for the review! I agree with Pete that the premise is weak; but I must admit the various starship minis are keeping this game on my radar....
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Brett Pierotte
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Might have made more sense for a risk-type game to have factions, federation/klingon/romulan/dominion, etc., instead of captain vs captain. I guess for marketing they wanted a box cover with all five captains on it.
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I legally own hundreds of polyhedral assault dice!
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I'd kinda given up on RISK. I may give this one a shot. Was kinda hoping for a five or six player with the Feds, Roms, Klings, Dominion, Mirror, and/org Borg,
 
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adam wilson

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BradyLS wrote:
I'd kinda given up on RISK. I may give this one a shot. Was kinda hoping for a five or six player with the Feds, Roms, Klings, Dominion, Mirror, and/org Borg,


You might also like 2210 A.D. or Europe. They are both very conflict oriented. 2210 is closer to "regular" Risk but is limited to 5 rounds.
 
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