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Star Trek: Expeditions

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

(WizKids Games, 2-4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 minutes; $49.99)

 

What do you get when you mix a top Euro game designer – Reiner Knizia – with a major motion picture/TV franchise – “The New Star Trek” and the Wiz Kids Hero Clix game system? Well you might get the game Star Trek: Expeditions or at least a game real close to it. Star Trek: Expeditions is a four player cooperative game with the theme of the Star Trek crew helping out a newly discovered planet to join the federation while trying to stop interference from the Klingon Empire.

startrekexped2The game comes with a main playing board, a scoring board, a number of cards and chits and six Hero Clix models: two starships (the Enterprise and a Klingon cruiser) plus four characters Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura. The main playing board has an upper track showing space battles between the Enterprise and a Klingon cruiser, a photo of the Enterprise where characters perform Enterprise-related actions during the game, 15 spaces representing locations and special events which the characters will encounter and a time track on the right hand side to use to keep track of the time remaining in the game (more on this later).

Both starships begin at full strength – the Enterprise Clix on the zero space and the Klingon on the seven plus space. The nine basic location cards (three for each location type – Ecology, Rebels and Politics) are shuffled together along with six randomly drawn event cards to create a Captain’s Log supplemental deck. One of these cards will be put face down on each of the fifteen planet spaces. The discovery chits are randomly mixed and one placed face up on each planet space. These represent items you can pick up and use during the course of the game. Five special gold discovery chits are set aside; these can be claimed if you have the right basic chit or through special events. Now each player selects a character and gets the appropriate character card (showing challenge abilities and a special ability) along with a player aid card. Everyone also starts with two “Energize” cards which are usually cards to help with challenge rolls during the game or to give special one shot abilities to be used during the course of the game.
A marker is placed at zero for each location on the scoring board and the first card (also called Captains Log cards) of each location is turned face up so people know what challenges will be need to be done and by what time when these cards turn up as you explore the planet. Finally you shuffle up the star date cards and the first player will turn over the top card to start the game.

Each card lists the number of actions the player will have during the turn and has three star date spaces. If you play the easy game you only apply the results from the top space, the medium game the top two spaces and for the hard game you play with all three star date spaces. For each star date symbol, advance the time track by one space. If a space notes that the Klingon cruiser attacks, you perform a starship battle action and, after that, any other action listed on the star date spaces before starting your player actions.

In a Starship battle action, the Klingon moves one space closer to the Enterprise (the Enterprise can retreat but this cost points at the end of the game). Then one white die is rolled for the Enterprise and one Black die for the Klingons. This result plus any card or chit modifiers are compared and if higher than the respective ship’s shield inflicts a click of damage (two clicks if 3+ higher than the target’s shields).

Player actions usually involve the exploration of various locations in the planets or “challenge rolls” in order to succeed at various missions and special events. Most other actions are either healing your character or the Enterprise itself or getting more Energize cards.

When you go into a planet space with a face down card, it is turned face up revealing either an event card or a location card. If it is a location card, put it on the appropriate location event in that space. Each location tile must be resolved in order. So the location (i.e. Ecology) Captain’s Log one tile must be resolved before the location two or three tiles. Both event and location tiles show a challenge number and what kind of challenge it is: Command (yellow), Operations (red) or Diplomacy (blue). A character can perform a challenge roll if it is on a planet space with a challenge shown face up on it.
In order to complete a challenge, the character will roll the two white dice and add any bonuses due to the appropriate type of skill level listed on the Clix window of their character figure plus any bonuses due to played cards, chits or other players’ figures in the same space. If the result is larger than the challenge number, then the challenge is successful and the player looks to the bottom of the event/location card to see how successful he was. For example one event card is called the Governor’s Daughter which lists a blue coded challenge indicating it is a science related challenge so a character will be applying his science skill to the challenge roll. On top of that to the right of the challenge number are list bonuses which add to the roll in this case Diplomacy and Stealth. Any characters making this challenge or crew assigned with this character who have these abilities add in bonuses towards the roll. At the bottom of the challenge, the cards shows what happens if you succeed or fail with the challenge (in this case, you get a discovery token of your choice). With location cards, if you succeed, points are added to the appropriate scoring track. However many of these cards have time deadlines by which the challenge must be performed. If you do not succeed in doing the challenge by a set time, you will often have fewer points and end up doing different location missions later in the game. In the case of event cards, if you succeed with a challenge, you often get one of the special chits, points or extra Energize cards. After you finish your actions, the next person turns over the next star date card and proceeds with his turn.

The game can end one of three ways:

1. The time marker goes to the end of the time track in which case the main Klingon fleet arrives and the players lose.

2. The Enterprise runs out of Clixs due to starship combat and is destroyed in which case the players lose.

3. The players complete the three missions for each location type (Politics, Rebels and Ecology) before the other two types of game endings occur. With those missions completed, you add up your points on each track minus or in addition to any points on which the Enterprise ends the game on the Starship battle track. Generally getting a positive score is enough to score a basic win in the game.

The strategy in Star Trek: Expeditions is trying to balance racing to explore the planet and accomplishing location missions while keeping both your characters and the Enterprise functioning. A good degree of cooperation between players along with the occasional bit of risk taking and getting some good rolls are necessary in order to win at this game. However, I do have some reservations on the game as a whole.

First, the energize and location/event tiles are very thin and will wear quickly if the game is played often. Second, Clix themselves seem to vary in quality with some of the bases being very stiff to turn. Third, even though the rulebook is well illustrated, I sometimes found it a little disorganized with some of the rules in odd places. Furthermore, a theme based on a movie or TV franchise also causes concerns as it tend to age quickly as, over time, people forget original material. Finally, a lack of new missions also reduces replayability even though the three hardness levels do compensate for this to a degree.

I liked playing the game and its race against the clock aspect does add some tenseness. I would mostly recommend Star Trek: Expeditions for Star Trek fans or gamers who like cooperative games; for others I would recommend try before you buy.

 


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