Star Trek Expeditions
I was thrilled when this one came in the mail early…I just couldn’t say no to a cooperative Star Trek board game. With all of the board game reviews I’ve been doing lately, I’m starting to think that I might have a problem. Nahhh…
Star Trek Expeditions is a four player cooperative board game that pits the players against both a ticking clock and ever-growing issues that are developing on the planet Nibia. Players pick one of four characters: Kirk, Spock, McCoy, or Uhura. They can choose to play as multiple characters if they are flying solo or playing with a friend. Each of them have their own strengths that help them complete missions in the form of Captain’s Log cards on the planet surface. Your goal is to complete the three main missions while staving off a mean looking Klingon battle cruiser in orbit. You’ll also be able to complete side missions on the planet that provide various bonuses.
This game is sharp looking…I was really drawn in by the high production values. Each figure is painted in detail and has a Clix base that moves / rotates to show different stats, depending on how damaged or injured a ship or character is. The Enterprise will slowly lose values to its shields and weapons while characters will lose how many points they can put toward missions that pop up on the planet surface. Luckily, there are cards and abilities that allow all involved to heal or repair in some way, shape, or form.
Out of everything that came in the box, I was really only disappointed with one thing…the manual. In some places it can be very vague and I had to watch a few YouTube videos to understand some of the mechanics. I’ll include the basics below for your reference to give you an idea of how the setup and gameplay works.
On the top of the board going left and right is a numeric track that goes into the negative as you go left and positive as you go right. On this track, the Enterprise and Klingon vessel will be battling throughout the game and jockeying for position. The Klingon vessel starts on the +7 value on the far right of the track and has powerful short-range weapons, so players may opt to move the Enterprise to the left from its starting point on the “0″ value into the negatives. This keeps the Enterprise out of range from short-range attacks but players lose points at the end of the game if the Enterprise is on one of the negative spaces. As players draw cards and perform missions, the Klingon ship will move toward the Enterprise and attempt to destroy it.
On the right side of the board going up and down is the Stardate track. As players draw Stardate cards, they may be prompted to move the Stardate token along the track. Once the token reaches 30, the game is over, signaling that Klingon forces have arrived. Players must attempt to finish all three main missions / quest lines before this happens.
Players take turns performing actions on both the ship and on the planet surface. Since this is a cooperative game, players may suggest actions or inform others on what they plan to do. The number of actions players can take on their turn depends on the value listed on the Stardate card. A Stardate card is drawn once at the beginning of each turn and is resolved before players take their actions. The Stardate card not only lists how many actions a player can take, but lists events the players must resolve such as a Klingon attack or a character taking damage. Further, there are three difficulty colors on the card…players decide which level of difficulty they will be facing at the beginning of the game. Players only resolve the blue event on easy, yellow and blue on medium, and red, yellow, and blue on hard.
To win the game, players have to beat the three main challenges / missions. The three main challenges actually split into their own mission tree, branching off in different directions depending on how well you do. Crush Yellow Mission 1A for example and you will head to Yellow Mission 2A…pass Yellow Mission 1A by the skin of your teeth and you may end up doing Yellow Mission 2B next. Those two, in turn, split into four “C” missions…which reward players with points upon their completion. There is a separate board off to the side which tracks your point progress on all three of the main missions. Some missions are better suited for certain characters…for example…a science mission with bonuses to any officer or crew with the analysis trait might be more up Spock’s alley than Uhura’s. Uhura could still do the science mission, but it will be much harder for her to complete it if she didn’t have a lot of support behind her.
Challenges are assigned a colored point value, listed on their cards. To see if you beat a challenge / mission, you’ll roll both dice, add your Clix value for that color (listed on the base of your character), add your skill bonuses, add any crew card bonuses, add any token bonuses you’ve picked up, and add points for any other officer(s) occupying the same space as you. You can also play action cards or sacrifice certain tokens for a one time bonus. You’ll be doing a lot of simple math in this game.
Overall, the game is solid. The side missions are shuffled and randomized with some discarded before game start, so you’ll have a variety (somewhat) on the kinds of side missions that pop up on the planet. The three main missions are always the same with the exception of how the missions branch out based on performance. After about ten playthrus, you’ll probably have seen them all. The game has an expansion which bumps up the game to five players instead of four. Joining Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy are Sulu, Chekov, and Scotty…all with varying skills that add a little variety to the game. I would not be surprised if more expansions came out that added more missions…the game is certainly built to accept new content with ease.
I played the game with my eleven year old son Vinnie and he said he enjoyed the game…saying that it reminded him a little of Pandemic. Pandemic is a cooperative game where players try to cure four diseases before the world suffers a horrible fate…but that’s a review for another time and place. Vinnie also mentioned that he enjoyed the starship battles and working together to do the missions. We both took on two core characters and separated their hands of cards so as not to destroy the balance. It took us roughly an hour to play it, though I imagine it will go faster next time now that I know what we’re doing.
If you enjoy Star Trek, board games, and cooperative play…you can’t do wrong by picking this (and the expansion) up.
Final Verdict: 8/10