Review – Star Trek Expeditions from WizKidz
Designer – Reiner Knizia
Graphic Design – Ed Repka and Chris Raimo
Many thanks go to BoardgameExtras for providing this game for review purposes.
Captain’s Log Stardate 2259.26 – The Enterprise has entered orbit around Nibia, responding to an invitation from the Nibian government to open discussions about the planet joining the United Federation of Planets. However, now that the Enterprise has arrived, we find the President of Nibia less happy to see us than the invitation , suggested and Mr. Spock has detected evidence that another starship mat have recently been in orbit. I’m beaming down to begin negotiations, and find out what’s changed the Nibian’s attitude towards the Federation.
So Reiner Knizia sets the scene for their first Star Trek game, Star Trek Expeditions, a “cooperative” game for 1-4 players age 14+. You and the other players work together as Captain James T. Kirk and his fellow officers as you investigate why the Klingons are so interested in Nibia.
Note, this game is based around the re-imagining of the Str Trek universe from the most recent film.
I am a fan of cooperative games as I enjoy working as a team to defeat a common enemy or solve a common challenge. I am also a fan of Reiner Knizia‘s earlier cooperative game, Lord of the Rings so I was immediately drawn to this game. Added to that was the Star Trek theme is really cool so I was very excited to play.
WizKidz has great production values with awesome miniatures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura as well as The Enterprise and a Klingon Starship. All of these have Clix bases which are used to show the currents levels of abilities. These are all really excellent and attractive to play with. The board is serviceable although it is meant to be covered in cards so no matter. The artwork is really nice and fully brings out the Star Trek theme and adds to the feel of the game. My only issue with the quality of the components is the thin cardstock for the cards. This is the same problem found in Star Trek Fleet Captains. Its a shame really as everything els about what you get in the box just says “quality”. I assume that the thin card stock is a cost saving measure but I think it actually detracts from the experience rather than at least having a neutral impact.
Open up the box and you will find –
4 fully painted Clix figures – Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Uhura on a Clix base which is adjusted to reflect their current ability values (unlike the problems with the Star Fleet Captains figures, these clix bases worked fine)
4 Character cards – which display each character’s skill (needed to complete missions) and special ability
2 Clix Starships – The U..S Enterprise and a Klingon D7 Battle Cruiser – NICE!
1 Game board – with Time track, Starship battle track, Image ot the Enterprise where the players start the game and the Nibia planet surface with spaces to place Captain’s Log cards and Discovery tokens
21 Captain’s Log cards – each with details of each mission challenge. There are 3 mission types – Rebels (yellow), Political (purple) and Energy(green). The cards have 3 sections – what is actually happening (flavour text), skills that give +2 to winning the challenge for each occurance and the Challenge level you must meet or exceed to beat the challenge. There is a lot on these cards but its all laid out well and accessible. Basically to complete these missions, you need to do them consecutively and the better you score on each level, the more advantageous the next level will be to your overall score and chances of winning.
25 Captain’s Log Supplemental cards – which are standalone missions which include location cards (for placing the Captain’s log cards) and event cards. The game starts with these cards laid out on the planet, face down.
14 Stardate cards showing 3 levels of difficulty for the events listed (blue, yellow and red) – it is recommended that playing at the red level is best as it is a more tense, challenging experience. These cards also usually indicate the passage of time. These
3 Special dice – 2 Federation, 1 Klingon
4 Rules Summary cards – very handy to keep the game moving and avoid refering to the rulebook
Brilliant stuff really. I love the way the game and components look. The cards are laid out well, reasonably easy to read although the print is a bit small.
The instructions for setting up the game are easy to understand with very useful images to illustrate. Easy peasy.
You will –
Prepare the Planet with Captain’s Log Supplemental Cards and Discovery Tokens
Trigger the Crisis by organizing the Captain’s Log Cards and Mission Tracking Board
Ready the Crew by setting up the Character Cards, Stardate Cards and Energizer Cards
Enter Orbit by placing the Starships
You will beam down to Nibia and attempt to complete all three missions, scoring as many victory points as you can before time runs out. You will also need to make sure that the Enterprise can stay in a favourable position in orbit or you will lose victory points. At the same time you will need to protect the Enterprise from Klingon attack or you will lose the game.
You will need to choose the difficulty level that you wish to play. Experienced gamers should definitely choose RED or I think that they will find the game not enough of a challenge.
By the way, you can now get an expansion pack with Sulu, Scotty and Chekov which allows you to play with up too 5 players!
The game process is very straightforward.There are 2 steps per player turn.
1. Stardate – Turnover a Stardate card and resolve any events up to and including the difficulty level chosen.
2. Your character can take a number of Actions shown on the Stardate Card.
There are 3 types of Events
Stardate – Each Stardate symbol moves the time marker one space
Klingon Attack – The Klingon Battle Cruiser attacks the Enterprise (the rules are very simple comparing dice rolls to see if damage is caused, meaning you reduce a Clix level)
Special Event(as indicated)
You may choose from the following Actions up to the limit given on the Stardate Card (plus extra Actions added from some Energize cards)
– visit sickbay – to heal Clix levels for characters
– Enterprise Attacks the Klingon Battle Cruiser
– Either Beam down to the planet or up to the Enterprise – don’t neglect beaming back up to Enterprise to heal at the sickbay and repair damage from the Klingon attack
– Move one space on Nibia
– Make a discovery (pick up a discovery token)
– Take a special character action
– Draw 1 Energize card – these can add new crew, or provide other useful benefits
– Transfer 1 crew member to another character
– Attempt one challenge – Completing challenges are ultimately what gives you victory points and are necessary to help you complete missions. Its really a case of bringing together enough resources in terms of abilities of your characters (based upon current Clix value for the appropriate ability), crew members and other Energize cards and Discovery tokens to help you roll the dice for a high enough total to beat the challenge.As you beat each level of challenge, you will gain victory points. Depending upon the roll of the dice, you will also be pointed to the next level of the 3 challenge levels for each of the 3 Missions.Each of the Missions will have a High Success path with more victory points, and a Low success path.
The rules give you very helpful examples to illustrate how to play and it took me very little downtime to understand and get playing.
Winning the Game
There are 3 ways for the game to end –
1) If the Time Tracker reaches the last space on the Time Track, the Klingon fleet arrives and conquers Nibia – You all lose!
2) If the Enterprise is destroyed, the characters are stranded on the planet and will eventually be captured by the Klingons – You all lose!
3) If you complete all 3 Missions the game ends. Now it’s time to see how well you performed your duties!
The rules for Star Trek Expeditions are pretty well thought out and physically organized to aid in learning. Experienced gamers will be up and playing in very little time. New gamers will take more time and the illustrated examples will be very helpful in learning how to play.
Did it work for me?
I don’t understand some of the negativity around this game. I think that there must be an irrational anti-Knizia thing going on. Nevermind. The reality for me is that Star Trek Expeditions is a terrifically fun game. It feels like you are playing episodes from the Star Trek franchise. The heart of the story is about the Missions the away team have to complete. Working together cooperatively works very well as the system is simple, but with a number of varied choices that must be made with a view towards what’s best for the team, not necessarily the individual. The tension and pressure is high if you play the Red difficulty level but it can be very rewarding if you can win.
The system is very well designed and doesn’t get in the way of the narrative story and theme. The process is in the background and allows the theme to shine. Very nice indeed. The tactile feel of the game, the images and art, the miniatures all add to a brilliant experience, especially if you are a Star Trek fan. The balance of choices adds to the tension… when do you go up to Enterprise to heal and/or repair damage? How far do you push your luck in pressing to get the Missions done? Marvelous stuff. The game plays pretty fast and moves along nicely. Each turn, it will be a case of making the best choices to maximize your ability to work together to complete missions before time runs out or the Enterprise is destroyed.
If you are a Star Trek fan, you have here a relatively easy, yet challenging game and as a cooperative venture, you will have a great time struggling to complete the Missions with your friends.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 9 out of 10
Yes with older children, especially as you can play at easier levels of difficulty.
For more information go to – http://wizkidsgames.com/startrek/star-trek-expeditions/