Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Star Trek Deck Building Game - well worth the price

Why review this after one play?

Now I don't normally toss a review of a game up after only one play. There are often rules that are missed, you spend half the game looking stuff up and the game play takes twice as long due to everyone trying to figure it out. I'm making an exception for this one though. The reason why is that this game is available dirt cheap right now and that deal may not last.

In Windsor you can pick up any of the three versions of this game (The Original Series, The Next Generation or The Next Generation Next Phase which is the one pictured), at either of the Entertainment Deals locations in the city. A single box costs $17 or you can pick up two at once for $30. The MSRP is $40 so this is more than half off. For people not in Windsor you should be able to find these at this price at liquidation outlets, half price books and other deal centers.

My thoughts on the Star Trek Deck Builder after one play:

The version of the game I picked up is the one in the picture up top there. It's the Next Generation, Next Phase edition. From what I can tell online all of the games are compatible but are stand alone as well.

The rules are some of the worst I've read so I'm not even sure we played right. The set comes with a bunch of different cards with different colours on them. They also come in a box that wins the "the most wasted space possible" award. I'm assuming this was done so that you could fit any and all expansions released into one box, but man I've never seen so much extra space in one box.

Once ready to play you pick a mission type, which determines which cards go into which decks and which cards are set aside. Some cards are common no matter what mission you are playing. That's right you don't use all the cards every game, you swap out what cards you use based on what scenario you want to play. It took a bit to figure out what was what but I think we got it right in the end. We played the standard Exploration II scenario which is PvP. There's also a Borg scenario included that is Co-op and a Romulan unification one that is a team game. The other versions of the game come with different scenarios like the Klingon Civil war and more.

Like every deck builder you get the same 10 cards to start. You use those to buy better cards from the starbase which has 9 random cards up at all times. This is all standard deck builder stuff, with ways to buy new cards, change what cards are up etc. Each card has a lot of stuff on it though. It's not nearly as simple as most deck builders with some cards having a paragraph of special rules. You really have to read them all and that takes a long time the first time through.

The really cool bit is that added to this is a space deck. Each turn you can explore this. In it are ships, missions and events. Ships you have to fight. Events effect everyone and in the game we played often meant we all fought each other in a war, and missions give you tasks to complete. By 'beating' these things you get victory points that range from 25 to 100. You need 400 points to win.

The whole mission thing reminds me of the awesome old decipher CCG. You get things like you need a ship with speed 3 and 2 characters with diplomacy of at least 1. Or you need an attack value of 6 or more on your starship. If you beat the mission you get some kind of bonus. Some of the missions also do horrible things if you fail. Here everything really feels like Trek even referencing specific story arcs. The first time someone found Lor and failed to impress him and he summoned the Crystaline Entity which destroyed the players flagship it was epic.

The ship combat is pretty simple, you add up the stats on the bottom of all your cards and add that to the stats on your flagship. Ships with the highest speed attack first and do damage equal to their attack value. Shields soak some of this. When facing a ship from the space deck you can choose to 'diplomacy' it instead (yeah that's what they call it in the rules, you diplomacy a ship). If you are fast enough and your crew have high enough diplomacy you can take the ship. Then you can either just cash it in for points or actually make it your new flagship.

We tried the game with four players none of who had ever even seen the game before I cracked it open. All of us have had experience with other Deck Builders though. The game took a bit under two hours. We all agreed it would be much much quicker the next time around. We also all agreed we really wanted to try it again with a different scenario so that's one good thing for the game.

Overall impressions:

I'm not disappointed at all with this purchase especially at the price I found it for. I will be heading back out to one of the Entertainment Deals locations sometime soon to see if I can pick up the other two boxed sets to add to the options in the game. It's not the best deck builder I've played but it's good and the Star Trek theme is done well  and really does add to the fun. I've already received facebook messages from a couple of the players who played last night noting that they want to play again or are picking up their own copies of the game.

An update - two more plays, one time co-op

I drew a hand of 5 Borg cards and got assimilated :( 
Well I broke this one out again tonight. My opinion on the standard Exploration mode of play hasn't really changed. It's a bit slow, there's a lot to read but the theme is fun. In addition to trying that again we tried out the co-op vs. the Borg version. Now that was fun! It was much more intense than the core game. The game played much quicker. The fact each player's ship has an ability that can help the other players really has you working as a team. Characters like Data who are only so-so in the regular game really shine in the co-op game. This changed this game from a, well worth the cheap price to worth it at full price to me. It really was fun, one of the best co-op games I've played. It didn't have the 'multiplayer solitaire' feel that I find Pandemic and Forbidden Island often have.

So yeah if you dig Star Trek and like co-op games I can really recommend this one. In addition to a great co-op game you also get an okay PvP game.

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