Now I didn’t WANT to play this trivia game right after the TOS trivia game. My wife recommended it. And I’ve got to say I’m glad she did, because now it’s done and out of the way and I never have to open either of these up again.
The game requires a moderator “Starfleet Command” who keeps track of the positions of the players’ ships as well as the planets for which they’re looking. I love hidden movement games with Escape from the Aliens in Outer Space being a favorite of mine, so I perked up when I read through the rules for this one.
You have shields, weapons and two levels of engines like the TOS trivia game, but they actually serve a little bit of purpose here since there’s a Borg Ship on the loose that’s being piloted by the Starfleet Command player. There’s not really “combat” per se, more of a systems check against a ship. If you have weapons armed, you disarm them and nothing else happens. If you don’t have weapons armed, you lose the first system that is active in order from shields to primary engines to secondary engines.
It’s at least better than the TOS trivia game in that you can’t simply pilot around the bad stuff and you never know if you’re going to get jacked by the Borg ship or not, so there’s a little bit of exploratory suspense there.
The goal in this game is to locate all the planets in the selected scenario and return to starbase. Only Starfleet Command knows the exact number of planets in the scenario, so if you go back and report early you could be letting your opponent know how many planets he still needs to locate. In concept this seems like a pretty fun idea. Unfortunately, it’s not.
We venture forth anyway, and I’m pretty excited about this one at first. TNG is my show. If anyone is going to win in a trivia game based on TNG it’s going to be me. The only thing I have to worry about is keeping it close so that it’s not boring for everyone else. We’re given our starting co-ordinates by Starfleet Command and my wife and I exchange stink-eye glances before I announce my heading and speed. My mom notes my new position and asks the first question.
Which arm does Picard have replaced by a prosthetic during his transformation to Locutus?
Shit. Maybe I should’ve waited to start drinking until I had already built a comfy lead. I bomb the first question, one that’s basically a gimme. My wife takes her turn. She gets her question correct and continues moving. We have a good laugh about that one and she answers another question correctly. And another. And another. She reels off 13 in a row while I’m staring at my board. I’ve moved once. She finds her first planet and eventually her second before I even get my first. I’m eventually able to close the gap and tie her once I sort out my presumed co-ordinates with Starfleet Command. Our boards didn’t line up which was causing some confusion when I tried to circle my first planet.
There wasn’t really much more to report during the game. It became so tedious that I didn’t bother taking any in-game photos. You’re basically poking around at warp speeds of 5 or less, because anything from warp 6-9 warrants harder non-multiple choice trivia questions. You try to plot your course in some logical symmetrical path, but it’s impossible to keep track of your own movements not to mention your opponents’ or the Temporal Flux (wormholes) locations because you’re marking everything with a CRAYON. Yeah. A yellow crayon at that. I guess wet-erase markers weren’t accessible when this game came out, which is unfortunate because being able to see your plotted course is pretty important in a game about plotting your course to search for things.
This photo is actually unfair in that it’s EASIER to see the crayon markings. In person it’s impossible to see where you’ve marked your spot unless you look at the board at a steep angle. Several times throughout the game my mom (Starfleet Command) and I disagreed about my current coordinates, mostly because she has to track 2 player ships, a borg ship, temporal fluxes and planet locations all on one board with some crappy crayons. This inevitably leads to some smudged markings and false coordinates.
I really wanted to give this entry the same energy and flavor that the last couple have had, but this game really sucked the energy out of me. It was another one with a promising solution to the “trivia game” problem, but in the end it falls just as flat. We only played a 1-sector game, which is 1/4 of the playable board area to a 4 planet total, and we didn’t even finish after 2 hours. We just gave up and called it a draw. They did make a major improvement in the trivia questions themselves though, in that when you travel speeds 1-5, all the questions are multiple choice, and only speeds 6-9 are exact answer. It gives everyone a 1 in 3 chance of getting a question right if you keep your speed down which is what we did all game.
Well, like the last game this one is heavy trivia. If you can’t answer the questions then you’re going to be miserable. I will say though that making everyone’s location and course secret made the overall gameplay much more entertaining. There were a few times that I was SURE I had my wife’s location pinpointed, only to discover later that I was way off. Unfortunately there’s not much else to it and in the end it’s still a trivia guessing game.
This game at least features Q (well not really) and a Borg ship. Both of which are pretty abstracted but it does help to bring you into the universe a little bit. Your weapons and shields don’t do much, but thanks to the Borg ship they at least do SOMETHING, which is to protect your engines. Due to the difficulty of the questions though, you’re unlikely to ever go faster than Warp 5, so who cares if your primary engines go out?
Do I Care?
This game is only marginally better than the TOS game. It’s the stronger game, but it still lacks anything drawing me to it that would entice me to ever play it again.
Overall ranking of “strength” of each as a board game. This does not factor in my overall desire to play each game. That assessment will come at the end.
BGG=How I’d rate on BoardGameGeek’s rating scale.
ST=How it rates as a “Star Trek Game” relating to the strength mentioned above.
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
BGG: 3 | ST: 3.5 | blogpost