Saturday, November 26, 2011

Star Trek Deck Building Game- not a big hit

In the years following the release of Dominion I've been on the lookout for a deck building game that was a well crafted and also carried more of a compelling theme. Up to now I've been pretty unimpressed by what's on the market. When the Star Trek Deckbuilding game was released I thought this could be the game to purchase. I got a chance to play it recently and I walked away happy to not own it.

In the Star Trek Deckbuilding Game you start the game with a small starship and a few crew members. Over time you can add functions to your ship, add crew, and eventually replace your ship with a more powerful model. The game has several scenarios- we played a cooperative one in which we had to defeat the Borg. Most of the game mechanics were familiar enough and we started play quickly. I'm going to skip the mechanical details and just move to my impressions.

My chief concern with the game is that I never felt like I was able to steer how my deck was developing. Players have a good assortment of cards to choose from but the abilities of the cards are often so specific as to make them of limited use when they crop up again in the game. Further, the game "currency" ran out midway through our game and on about one third of our turns we found we couldn't buy any cards even if we wanted to. That felt very odd.

The designers certainly tried to add theme to the game. Players can "explore," they can upgrade their ship's crew or engage in space battles. Sadly, little of this is easily directed so it all feels a bit random. I never felt like I was choosing whether to have an "exploring" deck or a "combat" deck. Each turn just seemed to be "well, what can I afford?"

The entire experience reminded me of Ascension. Both games feature "factions" and in both cases cards within a faction will help other cards of the same faction. And in both games I rarely was able to string together useful combinations of cards or use faction abilities in synchronicity.

I was pretty disappointed with the Star Trek Deckbuilding game. I had hoped for a good combination of theme and gameplay and this game does not deliver. Unlike Fleet Captains I can't even imagine Trek fans enjoying this game simply for it's Trekishness. I suppose the one perk to this game is that it makes me want to try Fleet Captains again.

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