Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation
Overview – Welcome to Star Fleet
Star Trek: The Next Generation had seven successful seasons on television and won 18 Emmy awards – so naturally it has inspired hobby games of all sorts for decades. It introduced a whole new Generation (ahem) to the world of Star Trek. It’s in that spirit Bandai produced a striking deck-building experience based on the travels of Jean-Luc Picard and crew. The game is rich with Star Trek Next Gen images, references, missions and enemies. If Trek is your thing, permission granted to come aboard and learn more!
Game play – Mission Briefing
Your goal out here in unexplored space is Mission (Victory) Points. In the basic game, the first to 400 wins the game. And like other DBGs, the basic mechanic is to begin with a hand of 10 Basic cards and purchase new cards to build a deck. The card use and game play structure in this game alter that course, and take game play to a new frontier. (See what I did there?)
The key difference is 4 Statistics or “Stats” on the bottom of each player’s Flagship that allow players to accomplish missions, defeat enemy starships and engage other players in battle. These Stats are: Speed, Attack, Diplomacy, and Defense – which can also be bolstered by Shields. Two unique decks are used in the game and these control the Trek experience like a well-tuned warp engine. (ok, ok, no more obvious Trek references).
The Starbase Deck contains all the cards players will purchase and add to their hands. Cards are purchased using Experience Points (this game’s resource), usually given by Character Cards. There are two other card types in the Starbase Deck besides Characters, they are; Maneuvers and Setup cards. For the most part these have bonuses on the bottom of each card that add to the Flagships key stats listed above. Only nine individual and random Starbase cards are available for purchase at any one time in the Starbase Search Area. During their turn, players can “Search” the Starbase, discarding an upturned card and replace it from the Starbase Deck. This is a unique mechanic that cycles available cards, discarding duplicates or strategically keeping powerful cards out of your opponents’ hands.
During their turn, players may “Explore” by flipping the top card of the Space Deck, facing whatever peril awaits them. There are three card types that make up the Space Deck: Missions (that earn players Mission Points) Starships, (that players must battle or capture) and Events (that initiate special circumstances or effects). Depending on what card is flipped, the player must assemble the best crew from their hand of cards, play them to their bridge and try to meet the goal of the Mission, defeat the enemy Starship, or face the effects of the event.
There are many finer points to the game: special card effects, rewards from completing missions, using diplomacy to capture new flagships, and even all out war! But the flow game play is as streamlined as a Romulan shuttlecraft (oops) and provides a great variance of experience that recreates the feeling of going “where no one has gone before!” (Dang it! I just can’t help myself!)
A standout feature of the Star Trek DBG is the creative use of “Scenarios.” Three 25 card sets that, when shuffled into the Space Deck, create a very different game play experience.
Exploration Scenario: This is the basic scenario where each player is on their own facing various missions and encounters featuring…who else? “Q.” First to 400 Mission points wins!
Borg Invasion Scenario: Players play cooperatively to stop a Borg invasion and must face and defeat the Locutus of Borg to win. Features a unique hand-filling mechanic where unwanted Borg cards add to your deck and grant bonuses to Borg attacks.
Klingon Civil War Scenario: Team Play. Players must use influence to gather as many allied starships as possible. The team that wins will convince the Arbiter they are the best qualified to lead the Klingon Empire.
Components – Fully Functional
Obviously, the cards are the main component of the game and the graphic work and image-pulls from the many seasons of Star Trek are striking. Spread out on a table they provide a feast for the eyes.
Learning Curve – No need for a Tricorder
The mechanics and game matrix are elegant and will be learned easily. Learning card effects and strategies will take continued play. The rulebook however, contains a lot of superfluous decoration and could have made better use of that space for game instructions and illustrations.
Who would enjoy this game?
Final Thoughts – Boldly go…
Let’s face it; Gamers are now very well acquainted with the Deck Building game genre. Launching a new DBG is a daunting task. In addition, Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation is one of the few deck-builders that’s based on a famous licensed property that has a huge fan base. Bandai had their work cut out for them! But Designer Alex Bykov and the rest of the design team have cleanly incorporated the key elements of Star Trek TNG into the familiar deck-building game matrix.
Star Trek Deck Building Game: The Next Generation offers reasonably fast game play, a unique starship and character stat-based game matrix and a creative use of scenarios that change the entire intention and feel of each game. It also has a unique game play quality in that late in the game, almost every card is useful and not just taking up valuable space – eliminating the need for card trashing. This game has many elements that create a true challenge for good deck-building with a real CCG feel, and it is great immersion into the Star Trek universe. So turn on the inertial dampeners, hold on to to your Klingon Targ and Engage!
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