Star Trek is amazing. full stop. The Trek universe is vast; containing a rich history that hasn’t stopped expanding since the first television episode launched way back on September 8, 1966. Since then, we’ve had movies, spin-offs, cartoons, comics, parodies and a reboot that unsurprisingly divided fans. Oh, and of course, let’s not forget the board games. Fans and game developers have been finding fun and creative ways to bring Star Trek to the gaming scene since the early 70’s and the fun hasn’t stopped. Let’s take a look at some more recent additions to the Star Trek board game universe. To boldly game where no man has gamed before!
Star Trek: Expeditions
Wizkids has been at the helm of pretty much all Star Trek game releases for at least the last decade. Released in 2011, Star Trek: Expeditions is a cooperative game for 1 to 4 players set in the new Star Trek universe. Players get to step into the shoes of Kirk, Spock, Bones and Uhura as they attempt to deal with multiple threats against a ticking clock of imminent disaster. The core of the game begins with The Enterprise arriving in orbit around a planet on the cusp of civil war. Adding to the tension is the discovery of a Klingon battleship already in orbit around the planet.
It’s a race against time as the crew tries to defuse the potential civil war on the planet and convince them to join the Federation of Planets. You only have 30 days (in-game this is roughly 30 rounds) to get it done. Failure to do so means a Klingon battle fleet warps in, forcing you to withdraw and leaving the planet in the hands of the enemy.
This game not only measures success by tackling the major objectives but also by how well players interact with each other. It’s nice as this gives incentive for everyone to actually cooperate. Star Trek: Expeditions has also released an expansion, including new missions and the addition of iconic characters, Chekov, Sulu and my personal favourite, Montgomery Scott. Having more pieces to play with adds a nice dynamic in the event you’ve played through the initial game a few times.
Star Trek: The Game
Released in 1999, Star Trek: The Game is a game of trivia and exploration. Not to be taken lightly, the trivia portion of this game can heavily impact gameplay as answering questions correctly lets players take more turns. What this effectively means is that a REALLY well-versed Trekkie could win this game without ever relinquishing their turn! That being said, you don’t have to be a Star Trek expert to play, it just means you get a single turn instead of several. The trivia questions cover the original television series and the first three movies so you’ll need to buff up on your early Star Trek lore to be able to play this game.
Up to 6 people can play which is nice as 6 player games aren’t all that common. Players or Captains begin at Star Fleet Command, which is located at the centre of the board. The goal is to be the first to visit all the planets which are found at the four corners of the board. As players visit planets, the trivia questions become more difficult, helping to slow the game down. Movement is determined by dice rolling and the board contains some tricks to add some surprise and strategy to the game. Gravitational wells, time portals and attack spaces all help to add fun dynamics to Star Trek: The Game. Expected run time is roughly 60 minutes but depends entirely on how well you know your Star Trek Facts.
Star Trek Ascendancy
If exploration, expansion and conflict are something you’re looking for then look no further. Star Trek Ascendancy pits the Federation, Klingons and Romulans against each other in an all-out brawl for space superiority. Take command of starships and create your own space lanes. Along the way you’ll build starbases and take control of new star systems. The game comes with 30 star systems and 200 plastic miniatures! As you grow, you’ll inevitably need to confront your enemies as they try to wrestle and destroy what you are trying to build. It is time for you to ascend!
Since the inaugural launch on Star Trek Ascendancy in 2016, there have been several expansions including Ferengi, Cardassian, Andorans and the ever-dreaded Borg. While the initial game calls for 3 players and has an average run time of just over 2 hours, there’s no limit to the amount of expansions you can add to the game. If time isn’t an issue, there have been games with up to 7 players all clashing, making temporary alliances and just generally having a great time. This Star Trek game is balanced well and plays very smoothly once everyone gets the hang of it.
Star Trek: Fleet Captains
Star Trek: Fleet Captains takes place in the Prime Universe (meaning television shows and movies up to Star Trek: Nemesis) and has more of a combat focus than the other games reviewed here. Designed for 2 OR 4 players, this is a pit fight from the start between the Federation and the Klingon. The size of your fleet depends on the victory points required to win so the length of the game varies. Who are we kidding though, unless you’ve got somewhere to be you’re going to choose a massive fleet with a huge point total.
Each player shuffles their own deck of cards containing unique themes and focuses on a major character. These characters and themes help players create a strategy to win. One of the Klingon decks has Gowron as its main character and revolves around domination and larger ships as a means to win. As mentioned earlier, games are won by accruing victory points. These points can be won through combat, exploration, influence or just downright destruction of something like an opponent’s starbase or ship.
Star Trek: Fleet Captains is a fast-paced, back and forth game complete with loads of miniatures of all your favourite starships. Since the original release of Fleet Captains, there have been two expansions to include the ever insidious Romulans and the Dominion, who would like nothing more than to enslave th entire Alpha Quadrant. Both expansions help to grow the game and add new flavour but the core game plays really well on its own.
Star Trek: Alliance
Star Trek Alliance builds on the very popular Star Trek Attack Wing which has been around since 2013. If you’re new to the game, here’s a basic rundown of what to expect: players fly ships around on a 3×3 play area, using movement dials to decide how their ships will move. Each ship has its unique attack and defence stats. Most games are won by destroying the opponent before they destroy you. While Attack Wing is more of a player vs. player space deathmatch, Alliance shines as a campaign, story-mode game where cooperative play is encouraged. So wait a minute, if this is a co-op game, then who’s controlling the enemy ships? Great question!
Star Trek Alliance uses a sort of “artificial intelligence” to determine how enemy ships move and choose their targets. Enemy logic cards are included with the game and are vital to playing Alliance effectively. Ship bases have a series of “arcs” which are used to tell the enemy when to turn, blast forward at full speed, or take attack actions against players. It’s an ingenious game mechanic that feels pretty natural during gameplay.
In campaign mode, each player starts with a stripped-down ship. As missions are completed, players gain XP which can be used to buy ship upgrades such as weapons, crew or ship utilities. Missions vary from controlling objectives, securing and escaping with cargo and, of course, winner-take-all death matches.
If you’re looking for a fun and casual Star Trek game with a fresh style of gameplay, Star Trek Alliance is for you. The miniatures look great, the game mechanics are sound and fairly easy to learn and the enemy threat feels real. So far, Star Trek Alliance has been met with positive reviews so look for upcoming expansions with new missions, new ships and new enemies!