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Star Trek: The Enterprise^4 Encounter» Forums » Reviews

Subject: They Boldly Went Where Nobody Else Wanted to Go rss

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Michael Debije
The Netherlands
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The Enterprise4 Encounter was designed by the team of Peter Olotka, Bill Eberle, and Jack Kittredge and was published in 1985 by West End Games. It plays from 2-4 players and is completed in about an hour.

What You Get

The game comes in a bright red, somewhat feeble box (typical for West End) with a nifty picture of Kirk, Spock, and Scotty ready for action. Inside is a countersheet of somewhat dull counters, but a few have images of the main characters from the original Star Trek series, a deck of perforated, all-text adventure cards and battle cards that must be separated. The adventure cards are different in that there is usable text on both sides. You get one reference card (note text on BOTH sides: this would have saved us some pain), folding ‘bridge racks’ to hide the identity of your counters, a four page rulebook and a four page intro story by Doug Kaufman. Finally, there is a foldout, garish, and somewhat ugly map. Oh, and a die. Overall, the components are a bit below average, but standard for the company. The cards are tough to shuffle doe to the jagged edges, and the cards are colored but blandish. Not the best presentation. I’ll admit to not having yet read the story.

What You Do

You start with an Enterprise and two chits which represent crew members, each of which have a role: navigation, communication, command, and three others. The goal of the game is to assemble a complete complement of crew types and return to ‘home base’, and thus prove you are the real Enterprise. Or something like that. All players start at a base, and receive three battle cards, which are either attack cards like ‘phaser’, defense cards like ‘shield’, tractor beams, warp, and a few others. The map starts empty but the players distribute the rest of the crew counters on the various planets in the circular path, maximum one per planet. You are set to start your mission…..

On your turn you roll the die to move. If you land on an empty space, you draw an ‘adventure’ card. The cards give a title and the briefest synopsis of the adventure, then usually provide an event that happens to the party. For example, Patterns of Force allows you to ask one player for a specific battle card which they must give you if they have it. However, each card usually is tuned to a specific character in the game: for example, the card just mentioned is keyed to a medic. If the player who drew the card is willing to admit they have a medic, he gets the improved ability of asking everybody for a card. Some are keyed to roles, some to specific characters (Uhura, for example). Once the adventure is complete, it is placed on the board. If any characters are on the space, you can add them to your rack. If the space you land on has a card already but an empty space next to it, you move to an empty one and have a new adventure. If there is no such open space, you are forced to have the adventure you land on.

Some cards and some board spaces allow you to start a battle. To battle, you challenge an opponent and both players place their ship on opposite ends of the seven space long vortex. The goal is to reach the ‘mind meld’ space in the center of the vortex before your opponent, or just defeat him in battle. Each turn you move one space closer, from space 6 to 5. There are cards allowing you to move faster. In a space you can play a card to attack an opponent: a phaser 2 gives you two dice to roll, and you need roll higher than the space you are in: thus, in space 4 a 5 or 6 inflicts a hit. A hit can be blocked by a shield: if not blocked, the hit will end the battle with the victor getting to pull a chit from the opponent and sending him to one of the exit locations of their choice. If you win by entering the middle space, you get to look at the rack and choose a chit instead.

That is pretty much it. Once you have one of each role, return home and survive assaults by your opponents for a full turn to win.

What I Think

I sought out this game because of the design team: they are well known for Cosmic Encounter, Dune, and less-well known for games like Quirks and Darkover, all of which I enjoy. What sets their games apart are their unusual mechanisms and approaches. This one is no different, although it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of some of their other titles.

The game does look pretty ugly. I admit to not having read the intro story yet, so the theme of the game is only a guess at the moment.

Actually, I should not like the game at all. Die roll movement, random chit draw, combat affected by random card draws: what control does one really have? But for some reason, I had fun with it. Just plain, silly fun. It is not a serious game whatsoever, it is a quick, one hour romp in a pseudo Star Trek universe of silly encounters, reminiscing about the characters, and screwing your friends. If the game forces a few extra turns because the one who has collected six roles loses their defense, the game could start to drag, and drag badly. However, we played with three serious gamers, and while we ridiculed the game from every angle, it seemed everyone had a fun time, although they might not play again.

We got it played as a type of 50th anniversary tribute. I would not suggest someone go hunting for this game. If it falls in your lap and you are a tiny bit of a Trekker, then maybe it will be worth an hour of zany play and a few bad Scottish accents.
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