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Note: I am somewhat new to deck building games. In fact, this is the first DBG game I've bought and owned. I'm also not a Trekkie fan. I watched some shows when they were on and saw some movies... but my Trekkieness ends there. It's also my first review. Keeping that in mind...

The box and the components
The box comes with plenty of space and foam dividers for future expansions. It contains 300 cards and five plain 20-sided dice used to keep track of damage.

The cards, in my opinion, are well done. I heard others saying that the cards have a bit of a VHS look since it's shots taken from the show... but it seems fine to me. In fact, I would probably find it weird if the images looked too clean or polished. I really like the way the cards are as is.

The game
I won't go too much into detail of the gameplay.

The game contains 3 scenarios: Exploration (free for all), Borg War (coop) and Civi War (2vs2 or free for all). Each scenario has it's own Space Deck with different missions, ships and events, so they all feel very unique from each other.

Explorations is mainly a free for all game, where the first person to reach 400 points wins. Each player has 1 action to explore and 1 action to search. The players explore the space deck, hoping to find ships that they can beat to make it their new flagship, missions to complete and events that will help them out.

Borg War is a coop game where everyone faces the 'deck'. It seems to become easier with more players, but still challenging enough even with 4, I find. It's also possible to play it solo, which is what I did at first to familiarize myself with the game. Though while it's possible to play it solo, I don't think it's possible to win it solo... It's just a good scenario to learn the game or to experiment with it by yourself, I find. As for the proper way of playing it... it definitely has a challenge. With every enemy (borg cubes) you defeat, every enemy becomes stronger. And with every enemy you fail to defeat, you get a borg card in your deck, which also makes the enemy stronger! And if the borg card deck runs out (5 cards + 5*number of players), it's game over. Though it's possible to trash the borg cards(put it back in the borg deck) it's not easy as it requires for you to have the proper cards in your hand. You usually end up gaining them faster than trashing. The victory condition is to find the Locutus card in the exploration deck and satisfy its goal (failure means it gets reshuffled back into the deck and everyone gains more borg cards!). Overall, it's a very fun scenario and a good one to play if the other players aren't used to boardgames/DBGs.

Civil Wars can be played in teams (2vs2) or a free for all. It plays a bit similar to the exploration scenario, except the victory condition is to find the Arbiter card in the exploration deck and satisfy its goal (have 2 or more ally ships than all other teams and 200 or more mission points), and the scenario is heavily based on combat. There will be a lot of attacking between players.

What I like
-As mentioned before, I like the way the cards feel and look
-The game starts quickly: you can get into action from the first turn, the starter deck doesn't feel too weak to a point where you're afraid to explore
-The scenarios. As previously mentioned, they feel very different to each other
-The theme. I'm not a huge trekkie fan, my wife is not a fan at all, yet we both enjoyed the game and the feel of the game.
-Ability to customize. Things like borg cubes having mission points values when mission points aren't used in the Borg scenario is great. This lets you mix and match cards to customize your game. We've tried adding some borg cards or civil war cards to the exploration scenario and it worked great. And while I haven't tried this yet, but I am sure that the civil war and borg scenario can be mixed nicely as well. Imagine trying to fight a civil war and get interrupted by a borg invasion!

What I don't like
-The dice to keep track of damage. Putting a die on your starship to keep track of the damage isn't the best way to go about it, I find. Tokens would've been much nicer. I've actually ended up stealing some tokens from my Arkham Horror game to keep track of it till I find something better. Also, some tokens for the XP would've been nice. While the XP counter resets at the end of the turn, it would still be nice to keep track of it with tokens as you could play a card that gives you XP, then play something else that will upgrade/trash that card and do several other actions before wanting to spend your xp at the end of the turn.
-The rule book. While the game is simple enough, I still found it a bit hard to understand and had a few things unanswered after reading the rule book. It might be because I am new to DBGs, but I think the rule book could've been better.
-The balance. While I find it's balanced overall, there is still some advantage to whoever is the first one that's lucky to find a ship that they can upgrade to, as it becomes significantly easier for them until others are able to upgrade as well.

Conclusion
As you can see, my dislikes aren't anything big.

The different scenarios already give quite a bit of replayability, and being able to mix the cards from different scenarios with minimum effort gives this game a lot of replay value before an expansion would be needed.

There were also some typos (like the shields cards have 'SHEILDS' written on it in big and wording like 'You can diplomacy a ship' (as in, use your diplomacy to gain that ship without a battle... we've just decided to use the word 'influence' instead) that made me hesitant at first when I heard about this, but having the actual game made me realize that it's no big deal. Someone might crack a joke about 'SHEILDS' the first time they see it, but you don't really notice it afterwards.

Overall, I really like the game. I give it an 8/10.
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Jan Horinek
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Nice review. I agree with everything but the dice. I like the dice for some reason .

As for the runaway ship problem - this seems to quite matter in two player game. With more players, i suppose they shall gang up against the leader, so he/she can't get the easy 50 points for a war events.

In two player game the early 25 point ship sucks and the other player may want to concentrate on attack heavy cards and sneaky cards to keep the leader from war events and 50 points ship. Once the leader gets 50-75 points ship early, there is nothing much to do, but there again - just in 2 player game. More cards with sneaky effect like "subtract X from stats when your opponent fights a ship" would help to keep the balance for sure.

The rules are pure 80's style, but once you get it, you don't have to bother with them any more - as you say, the game is simple enough.
 
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Jan Horinek
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Actually after about 5 more two player games i have to declare that the often mentioned run away leader problem is really annoying. If your opponent gets a 50 point ship, and you have just the basic one, the game is over.

To have permanent 4-6 speed, attack and diplomacy early in the game is ridiculously overpowered. It is enough to get whatever you explore. I think they should move at least the diplomacy number to the ship effect field to avoid this.

I am thinking about a house rule - ignore the flagship diplomacy when you play 2 player game. That may help to balance it.
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Enjoyed the review. Your thoughts on the game are quite similar to mine. There is one thing I'm curious about:

ekster wrote:
Note: I am somewhat new to deck building games. In fact, this is the first DBG game I've bought and owned. I'm also not a Trekkie fan. I watched some shows when they were on and saw some movies... but my Trekkieness ends there. It's also my first review. Keeping that in mind...

This being the case, what made you pick this game to be your first DBG to own over something like Dominion or Thunderstone or any of the other "mainstream" DBGs?
 
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yeeshkul wrote:
I am thinking about a house rule - ignore the flagship diplomacy when you play 2 player game. That may help to balance it.

Yeah, we've been trying to experiment as well. I am thinking of trying to add house rules to when your flagship is destroyed. If your ship is 25 points or less, instead of gaining an ensign, gain a commander. If it's more than 25, gain an ensign. That might help people to catch up. We'll have to see how it works.

AdmiralACF wrote:
This being the case, what made you pick this game to be your first DBG to own over something like Dominion or Thunderstone or any of the other "mainstream" DBGs?

I looked at Dominion and honestly, despite it's popularity and praise, it just didn't seem to appeal at all to me or my wife. So we've skipped it. I also took a look at Thunderstone and ordered it, (along with Rune Age, figured it's time we have a few DBGs in our closet for some variety...) and just received it a few days ago. But I've found Star Trek DBG at a store across the street from my work on sale for $20, so I figured it would be great to get it during the holidays while I wait for the rest to slowly arrive by mail. The game looked interesting enough and it was hard to say no for this kind of price. Definitely not a disappointment!
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Jan Horinek
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Actually, we were playing tonight with my wife with all the 50 and 75 points flag ships removed. It worked well.
Your idea sounds actually interesting. I was thinking about other changes and i've come up with these different approaches so far:

1. No 50,75 starships in the exploration deck. Here, you can add one more rule - when you destroy an opponents starship, it moves to his/her victory point area.
Loosing a 25 points ship doesn't hurt, and it may raise the tense - however i have to give it a try first.

or

2. Ignore the diplomacy on flagships (my first idea)

or

3. Players cannot diplomacy a flagship, that is more than 25 points above the other player's current flagship - such a ship goes to the victory point area instead. This assures that the flagships promote in 25 points steps. If you destroy opponent's flagship that is worth more points than yours, he has to swap it for a 25 points weaker ship from his/her victory point area.

The variant 1 and 3 add the penalty for a ship having been destroyed, which feels right and it is missing in the original rules (for the balance sake i'm sure).
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Number 1 sounds interesting. I should give it a try.

I think I will also to try and play it that a destroyed ship is shuffled back into the Space Deck and the player picks a starship from their victory points area to replace it (or if I'm feeling really mean, the player starts with the basic starship and has to skip 1 turn if they want to replace it with a better ship from their victory points area.)
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Jan Horinek
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That way the defeated player looses his flagship and 25 pints. That is kind of mean devil ... but fun. Downgrading a 25 flagship to the basic flagship is not a big deal, especially later in the game. The additional 25 points loss may still be a good idea. We have to give it a try first.

By the way - the option 3. wouldn't work as described, because the defended player doesn't have to have a 25 points ship in his victory point area. Thus another option for 3.:

If you destroy an opponent's flagship that is worth more points than yours, the opponent has to swap the defended flagship for a 25 points weaker ship from your VP area. This way, the weaker ship becomes his flagship and the former (stronger) flagship goes to the opponent's VP area as a bonus for the remarkable victory. If the condition cannot be met, then the defended ship must be swapped for a 25 points weaker ship from the defeated player's own VP area. If this condition cannot be met, then nothing happens.
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I tried playing with giving a commander if the ship is 25 points or less and an ensign if it's more. It balanced it out fairly enough, but we both had a bit too much buying power early on in my opinion, as the commanders appeared pretty often in the beginning.

Not using the 75 and 50 points ships worked pretty well, but I like those ships and want to use them!

Another variant we tried is everything plays as normal with one exception: if you use diplomacy to influence a ship, it cannot become your starship, it simply goes directly into your VP area. If you want it to be your starship, you have to defeat it in combat. There is still an advantage to the one who is able to upgrade first, but it takes a bit longer than when you just use diplomacy, and has some risk of taking damage, which gives the other person a bit more time to catch up. We took it as 'you cam befriend the captain with diplomacy, but he'll only hand over the ship over his dead body." And while it's probably not as balancing as the others, I seem to prefer this one the most so far.
 
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Getting a ship by fighting sounds like a good idea. I have to give it a try. I have played few times with all big ships removed and it went really smoothly.

By the way there have been some very detailed explanations of the rules posted at the Bandai forum.
http://www.bandaicg.com/startrek/forum/forumdisplay.php?4-Ru...
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Thanks for the link. I did go there to read some of the questions and it definitely helped.
 
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yeeshkul wrote:


1. No 50,75 starships in the exploration deck (that is what Alex from Bandai suggests, so it is sort of a semi official rule).


I was just curious where this was mentioned, if it was online? Not that I don't believe you, I just am curious to read the dialog that led up to that decision. I think I'll try it next time I play against my wife as well!

Cheers!

Jacovis
 
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Jan Horinek
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Honestly i can't remember now, and i can't find what forum it was, i guess i shall take my words back, just in case i am wrong . However I played about 10 games this way against my wife and it was working grat - very tight final results, almost exhausted Exploration deck as well as the Star Base Deck.
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I saw Alex mention it over here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/714217/how-long-to-play/page...
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Yeah that was it, i interpreted it wrongly. I'm sorry. I recommend leaving the 200 Q in the deck though. He is fun.
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Thanks guys!
 
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maybe an idea is to only gradually add the 50/75 points ships to the deck
ie start off without them, after x number of turns (not sure which nr is best) you shuffle the 50 points ships into the exploration deck
and after yet another x number of rounds, you shuffle the 75 points ships into the deck.
 
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