Fleer has been a sports trading card titan for a long time. Maybe not titan. When I was a kid I thought Fleer cards were crap, especially compared to Bowman and Upper Deck. At any rate, Fleer decided to jump into gaming and this Star Trek CCG was apparently thought to be a good idea during a time when there were CCGs for just about ANY property.
Deck building! (In the original sense, not this newfangled Dominion-inspired board-game-mechanic sense) The best and worst part of CCGs. In high school this was fun, nowadays I ain’t got time for this shit but it’s necessary in order to get a good game in. I tried to build two evenly matched decks with their own sets of episodes. Sets of episodes you say?
Right, so this game isn’t your traditional themed CCG where you play within the theme world, instead you sort of play on top of the theme. You put your crew through episodes, plots and resolutions, like 3 acts of a tv show. It’s a cool idea and honestly I’m having a hard time finding thematic holes to tear apart. The Original series is campy already, and when the game is to put your crew through an episode of TOS and see if they survive, well that seems about as thematic as you can get.
Attention everyone, Kirk here.
We’ve been ordered to run the crew through several mission simulations. In order to accommodate this I’m splitting the crew into two groups. Spock, McCoy and myself will be available for both groups but awards will be presented to the team who can survive through the most episodic simulations.
Oh and there’s currency for you to spend.
Oh and currency acquired by Spock, McCoy and myself is shared between both teams.
And if you guys blow up the Enterprise, we all lose. Like, for real hella seriously we all lose because we’ll be dead.
That is all, Kirk out.
The three main characters in the game are not rares that you have to collect and put in your deck, instead Kirk, McCoy and Spock (and the Enterprise herself) are basic cards that start the game on the table shared between both players. It makes sense, since there weren’t many missions where the three most important crew members DIDN’T put themselves in danger. Didn’t make much logical sense but for a 60’s TV Show it worked out well.
The basic flow of a turn is; draw cards, play a crew to your personal complement, select the crew who’ll participate in the mission, face the 3 parts of an episode, collect XP. Once a player hits 25 XP (XC!) then they win.
The interesting part is that the 4 basic cards (the aforementioned main characters and the Enterprise) are shared, so while you can always select them to participate in the mission, any XP they gain is shared as well. So it doesn’t benefit you at all to send all 3, or even 2 of them since a mission success means your opponent prospers as well. Also, say your opponent already has Sulu in his personal complement and you play your own copy of Sulu, one of the cards gets removed from play and Sulu gets placed in the shared area with the other basic cards. It’s a cool idea that I don’t think I’ve seen before.
The crew selection technically happens after you’ve selected the “mission” card (the first 1/3 of the episode), then your opponent can lay down the first “challenge” card. Then you’d play a “plot,” then they’d play a “challenge,” then finally you’d play a “discovery” to wrap up the episode. There are some other interesting little details about the default versions of these cards that I won’t get into right now.
If you succeeded in passing the challenges and meeting mission requirements, you gain XP/C. If you managed to play a mission/plot/discovery all from the same TOS episode, you get a bonus. I really liked that idea and it encourages you to build your deck to include matching sets from specific TOS episodes.
In our game, my wife challenged my episodes very effectively. My redshirts characteristically failed miserably, while Spock managed to pass any sort of Logic challenge that was presented.
The real storyline unfolded late in the game when we were both fairly close in points. She had used McCoy on a mission and he was the lone survivor after passing a feminine TEMPT challenge. We found it quite humorous that McCoy was not interested in the exotic women down below.
A few turns later she had a chance to win, and chose to include McCoy in her away team in a questionable strategic move. I thought for sure he couldn’t withstand a second tempting, so I tried again. And again McCoy proved he is a crotchety old man, one could even say just a old country doctor with no interest in such things.
Well he’s a jerk because my wife won on McCoy’s resilience.
It’s a CCG from the 90’s, it’s not revolutionary or particularly strategic. As with most CCGs it usually comes down to deck construction. In our game I built the two decks to be as comparable as possible with little to no shared cards so that we’d see the most variety. I had to leave out a lot of unique cards simply because as with any CCG you need to keep deck size around 60-70 to make sure you cycle through things you need. The card play is very basic, and the challenges are typically just check your stats, add up some numbers and see if you pass.
In some strange way this is pretty immersive. Not in the sense that you feel like you’re in Star Trek, but in the sense that you feel like you’re WATCHING Star Trek. It’s like a choose your own adventure card game. Ever wanted to see if Dr. McCoy could handle the pressure of being the seduced away-team member? Well we tried it, and he handled it… twice.
Do I Care?
I have too little free time to build decks anymore, but these decks are fine for one on one play. I’d try it again for sure.
My wife for some reason loved this game. I haven’t seen her actually want to build her own deck since we started playing Magic a long time ago, but after we played she said she’d like to build some decks and come up with some house rules to make it more interesting. I’m obviously down for any Star Trek gaming, especially if it means my wife is going to come up with house rules. Sounds like fun to me.
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 Deck Building Game: The Next Generation – The Next Phase
BGG: 7.2 | ST: 5.5 | blogpost
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
BGG: 3 | ST: 3.5 | blogpost