“The Great Experiment”
Star Trek and I have a checkered past. I’m fully aware that to the non-nerd variety Star Trek is a campy, niche Sci-Fi franchise whose entertainment value varies greatly depending on which series or movie you’re watching. I can’t disagree with that. But I grew up watching TNG, then later fell in love with DS9 and for all it’s faults I still feel some sort of responsibility to the franchise. You know, like Riker feels a responsibility to visit all female guests aboard the Enterprise.
I never got rid of the toys I had as a kid, and after college I even picked up some more stuff, turning the toys into a “collection” and my passing interest into a “hobby.” There were a couple board games among them, namely Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge, which at the time made me think “WOW! A VHS TAPE FOR A BOARD GAME! WTF THIS IS AWESOME”. Then I played it. Yeah, almost stopped playing games forever there.
Admittedly, I did play several CCGs growing up, so to me those were the only “complex” forms of offline gaming entertainment. Though playing Star Trek: Customizable Card Game (first edition) caused all my paychecks from my job at the local pizza place to disintegrate trying to chase a Future Enterprise (I got one! Then sold it. sadface), but I gave up the game upon entering high school (Apparently the high school ladies weren’t into CCGs for some reason). I was mostly game-free for a long time as I went through college and pursued my career.
In 2011, my wife bought me Battlestar Galactica and everything changed. The possibilities of a board game blew wide open and I branched out and soaked up as much printed cardboard as I could. Eventually this led me back to my original interest which was Star Trek. Why had all the Star Trek games I played sucked so badly? Surely I’ve just been playing the wrong ones and haven’t looked hard enough?
I’ve spent the better part of the last 2 years searching for all the Star Trek games out there, trying to find one that truly immerses me into the world while still being a fun, rewarding and challenging game experience. So far, the verdict is out. This blog is my quest to find THE ONE game that answers my question: Is there a mechanically good and thematically satisfying Star Trek game out there?
This blog will serve as documentation of my internal dialogue as I check Star Trek games off the list. I won’t be “reviewing” games so much as injecting biased opinion to form a leaderboard of sorts. The goal here is to find THE ONE TRUE game that I can say satisfies my desire to have fun in the Star Trek world. Several of these were given to me as gifts and I’m not actively seeking EVERY Star Trek game that’s out there, but I have amassed a decent percentage of the ones available. My areas of attention will be:
What did this game do well given it’s mechanics and gameplay style? Does the theme matter? Is it better than Monopoly? (I have a really low standard for Star Trek games) Worth noting is that VARIANTS MATTER! Especially since a lot of these games are older, any variant that increases warp-fun-factor will be considered.
Theme: Immersion into Star Trek
Really, the most important of criteria. How well does the game use the theme to it’s benefit, to make gameplay better? Does it suck me in and make me regret sending redshirts to handle a complicated task?
Do I Care?
Do either of the above points even matter? Will I ever play it again?
The current queue of games for this experiment are listed below in no particular order. Feel free to mention any Star Trek games that should be added to the list (assuming it’s possible to acquire said game):
Star Trek: The Next Generation – Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge
Star Trek: The Game
UNO: Star Trek
Star Trek Scrabble
Star Trek: Catan
Star Trek: Starship Tactical Combat Simulator
Star Trek: Customizable Card Game (first edition)
Star Trek: The Next Generation Collectible Dice Game
Star Trek: Attack Wing
Star Trek: The Card Game
Star Trek Game
Star Trek Customizable Card Game (Second Edition)
How to Host a Mystery: Star Trek – The Next Generation
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Scene It? Star Trek
Star Fleet Battles: Captain’s Edition Basic Set
Federation Commander: Klingon Border
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Tribbles Customizable Card Game
Star Trek III
Star Trek: The Adventure Game
Star Trek: Fleet Captains
Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation
Star Trek: Expeditions
Space Cadets – Will consider since it’s relevant
Good god, just reading this list makes me shudder in fear. My wife is in for some miserable evenings.
Also, if anyone has any suggestions on games that are basically Star Trek games but couldn’t afford or didn’t want to apply the license then please throw those names at me as well. For example, Space Cadets is basically a Star Trek game. The promo figure for the ship is an exact copy of the USS Defiant and the theme is heavily influenced by the show.