Round 7: Milton Bradley’s Take

You better believe there's some roll-and-move in this rulebook!
You better believe there’s some roll-and-move in this rulebook!

I saw this in the used section at my FLGS for $10 and I bought it without hesitation. The artwork alone looked great, and when I checked out the back of the box I saw that it had a modular board. Whaaaat? Even if the game sucked at least the artwork on the board was cool. Very 70’s sci-fi in style. But after all this is Milton Bradley. Before I read the rules I just assumed there’d be some roll and move and zero thematic integration. But I held out hope that I’d be wrong.

A modular board? In a Milton Bradley game? In 1979?
A modular board? In a Milton Bradley game? In 1979?

Gameplay is indeed quite simple, but I think the theme is actually all over this game. We’re all captains of ships trying to accomplish 3 of our 4 assigned missions before the other captains. Okay, maybe that’s not that thematic, but I love that we’re attempting missions and not trying to blow each other up. The mission cards have some cool “events” that at first threw me off because of their wording. Things like “Go to a Red Giant Star and have Mr. Spock take sensor readings.” I looked in the rules for how to take a sensor scan action until I remembered, oh yeah this is a Milton Bradley game, it’s not that complicated. After that I quite enjoyed the flavor text nature of the mission cards. They all involve you simply visiting a star and placing your control marker there. The marker can be replaced by another player’s marker though, thus giving control over to them and some missions require you to go to one star to “pick up” someone and deliver them to another star. All in all, a very simple game.

Hostile alien attack. AND a late night baby freakout. DRAMA.
Hostile alien attack. AND a late night baby freakout. DRAMA.

My wife, mom and father-in-law were down to try this game after a late dinner and drinks. At first my mom and pops-in-law were a little apprehensive since we had all been drinking, but I reminded them that it’s a MB game from 1979, how hard can it be? They both perked up a little and we got underway. Roll and move, roll and move. I LOVE the look of these cards. So 70’s Star Trek. My wife begins exploring the stars in her sector, but later transits across the board. She gets the Hostile Alien Attack card and is not pleased when I inform her that she must return to her Starbase immediately. She’s also not pleased that our son won’t go to sleep, but that’s another matter.

My mom is quietly exploring seemingly random locations while my wife’s dad is mopping up all the stars in his sector. Both of my missions required me to visit Vulcan, which is on the opposite side of the board, so most of my turns are spent moving.

The winner crash lands at his starbase having controlled all stars in his sector.
The winner crash lands at his starbase having controlled all stars in his sector.

There’s really nothing else to write. About 10 minutes later pops has won by revealing that he completed his third mission and returned home. My mom had completed her third mission also but hadn’t reached her starbase yet. Total game time, 28 minutes (a guess). The elders really enjoyed the game. There wasn’t any deep thought and there was no need for any player aids or complicated round resolutions. And oddly enough, my wife and I really liked it as well. I do wish there was a little more player interaction. It doesn’t have to be combat, but something other than moving someone else’s ship when you roll doubles would be nice.

I like it as is, but I LOVE what it could become with a few additions. Using cards from Star Trek: Customizable Card Game (first edition) you could give everyone their own Constitution class ship, with shield and range ratings. You could give everyone a pool of crew cards to choose from, and every star you visit you could draw another crew? When you complete a mission you could require the player to pass a Dilemma (an easy one, like a stack of Commons or something). With the weapons ratings of the ship cards you could even include some basic combat rules if there’s a player that’s feeling particularly frisky that day.

So many possibilities, and I think they’re worth pursuing based on the general feel of the game and the artwork alone. And the cool modular board! The STCCG cards chosen would definitely have to be TOS themed and not TNG just to keep them in the same era, but it could all work.

Mechanics star_yellowstar_yellowhalfstar_whitestar_whitestar_white

As it is here, it’s a very basic game. Although the premise is what really sets it apart. There’s no combat, it’s all about exploration and that seems like the minority when it comes to Star Trek games. It’s a roll and move game that’s pretty heavy on luck determining whether or not you find the planets you need or are close enough to them to move and control them.

Theme: Immersion into Star Trek star_yellowstar_yellowstar_yellowstar_whitestar_white

I love the text on the mission cards. And if you could somehow incorporate actual actions to reflect the text on the card then you have added complexity to the game that matches the story and theme of the game. The art is great, the board is not very thematic in that it’s just a bunch of dotted lines strewn across the galaxy, but I like the rest of it so much that it didn’t really bother me during gameplay. Now the premise of the game isn’t THAT thematic, but I can buy into it enough to warrant making improvements via variants.

Do I Care?

I love the potential that this game has. As it’s printed, this game isn’t THAT great but for a casual family get together it is fine. It could really shine by adding some STCCG cards as I mentioned earlier, or just by increasing the requirements for victory. Maybe complete all 4 missions instead of just the 3, change the way movement works so that it’s not solely roll and move, I don’t know. For some reason it just feels like a game that’s WORTH improving. It’s so close to being the perfect light-medium Star Trek game that focuses on exploration instead of combat. Unfortunately for the leaderboard, I have to rank it based on it’s as-printed rules. And while it’s fun, it’s lacking challenge or any strategic difficulty. I REALLY wanted to rank this at number 2 on the current list. It feels more like Star Trek to me than the deck-builder, but because mechanically it needs a little tweaking I have to place it lower on the list. Ugh, I’ve looked at this several times over the last few days trying to find some way to justify bumping up higher on the list, but I have to leave it where it is. I like this one better than Catan, but I have to concede that Catan is the better game.

Current Leaderboard
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.

1.
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Star Trek III

BGG: 6 | ST: 6 | blogpost

2.
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Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
BGG: 7.2 | ST: 5.5 | blogpost

3.
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Star Trek: Catan
BGG: 6.4 | ST: 5 | blogpost

4.
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Star Trek Game
BGG: 6 | ST: 4.5 | blogpost

5.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
BGG: 3 | ST: 3.5 | blogpost

6.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation
BGG: 4 | ST: 3 | blogpost

7.
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Star Trek: The Game
BGG: 4 | ST: 2.5 | blogpost