Sticking with my theme of Star Trek games from my last post a couple of weeks ago I thought I’d talk about the latest addition to my gaming collection; Star Trek Fleet Captains by Wizkids. I came across this game a few weeks ago whilst sailing around aimlessly on the internet, it grabbed my like a well placed tractor beam and I duly sent the appropriate subspace communique and latinum deposit to purchase it. It came last weekend and like a kid a Christmas I very quickly unwrapped it and started making “pew-pew” phaser noises with my new little ships.
So what’s in the box? You get everything you need to up to a 4 player game. You have two fleets; Federation & Klingon, each containing 12 ships. The Federation come in a grey plastic, the Klingons green. I have since started painting the miniatures, and so they no longer look like they do in the box, but here’s some pictures.
The Federation fleet consists of a wide variety of vessels all of which should be familiar to fans of the show and are named; Enterprise E, Enterprise A, Excelsior, Voyager, Defiant, Venture, Yosemite, Prometheus, Yeager, Sutherland, Reliant & Equinox.
The Klingon fleet has less variety in the models (as Klingons seem somehow unable to come up with as many ship designs as Humans & Vulcans – must be something to do with all that bloodwine). But they’re all from the shows; 1 Negh’var, 2 Vor’cha, 4 K’tinga, 3 Birds-of-Prey and 2 Raptors, and are also named from ships in the show – the Negh’var, the Rotarran, the Bortas etc. Each ship in the game is unique and has its own stats on both a ship card and on its base. The ship’s stats are Weapons, Sensors, Engines and Shields. In each case the number is the bonus to a D6 roll that the ship gets, with engines also being how far it moves in game. The wonderful little Heroclix bases allow you to alter where you allocate power by twisting the bottom of the base around. Each ship has 12 different power settings with different numbers on each of the 4 stats. They are also colour coded (blue, white, yellow & red). Blue is used when cloaked, white for undamaged, yellow when your ship has taken 1 damage and red when your ship has taken 2 damage. After 3 damage your ship is destroyed.
Each ship also has a stats card with all of the power settings on it. The card will also have any special rules the ship has (e.g. both the Enterprises have the Nine Lives special rule – when ever it was going to be destroyed roll 2D6 and if you roll a 12 its not destroyed and placed at your command post [deployment zone]) which adds some nice flavour to the game. The ships also have a Size Stat, and 3 mission stats – Science, Influence and Combat that are used to determine the number & types of missions you get in the game.
In addition to the ships you also get 50 location tiles, 200 command cards, 50 encounter cards, 76 mission cards and a whole bunch of tokens.
So how does the game play? Well after reading through the rules I have managed to play (and lose) a game. Your victory goal is to collect victory points (VP) and all players decide before the game starts to the limit from 6-38. The first player (or team if playing a 4 player game) to reach that number wins. The rules recommend starting off with 10 VP as a standard game. Once the VP is decided, you then lay out the ‘board’. This uses the location tiles and are placed out in a hex-board like fashion. Again the rules recommend a 5×5 pattern for the board. The tiles are placed face down and are only revealed if when a ship moves to it or scans it from an adjacent tile. Some tiles have a ‘types’ such as star & planet classes as well as special effects. They all have a size showing how much movement it takes to cross the tile and an encounter number which is the chance of having an encounter when you first move into the tile. The encounters are a mix of god and bad events that can happen to your ship. Some grant you VP if you survive/succeed, others are just one-off events. Once you’ve placed the tiles you shuffle the Ship Cards and draw ships equal to the VP of the game based upon their Size. For example the Enterprise E has a Size of 6, whilst the Equinox has a Size of 1. If you exceed the VP, you replace the card and draw again until you get to the VP. As said each ship has 3 mission stats; Science, Influence and Combat, and once your fleet is selected you add up all of these to give you a total number of mission cards, then you draw the appropriate number of mission cards to create your mission deck. You then draw the top 3 mission cards and place them at your command post as your current missions.
Whenever you complete a mission or discard one, draw another. Completing missions gains you VP (unsurprisingly). You also gain VP from some encounters and, for the more aggressive players amongst you, you gain 1 VP for each enemy ship you destroy.
Once you’ve sorted out the mission cards you organise your Command Deck. This deck contains cards that provide your ships with bonuses, or your enemy’s with negatives and can be played as the situation dictates. This deck contains 40 cards chosen from 10 sub-decks available to each faction. These sub-decks each contain 10 cards and are themed (Captain Kirk Deck, Klingon High Council Deck, Science of War Deck etc.), so you get to choose 4 sub-decks to make your Command Deck. You always have 4 cards in your hand, replacing each card when you use one.
Now that that’s the set up out of the way, its game time. The game uses an ‘I go, you go’ system in which each player can move all of their ships, adjust power once on each of their ships, play command cards and use up to 3 action points. Actions include cloaking, combat, influence, reinforcement, repair, scan & transporter actions. The game has a very strategic theme to it. Due to the size of the board you cannot make a line of ships that your opponent cannot push through, so you really need to think about where your ships go, what power settings you put them on and where to gain influence and build colonies. Many missions (especially science ones) require you to pass Sensor checks which means you need to put more power in the sensors, but this reduces your shields & weapons, making you move vulnerable to attack. So you have to think about where you’re going and what you’re doing. The ships can be grouped into fleets so you can put science vessels with a combat vessel to protect them. In short, once the game gets going there are a lot of ways to win depending upon your fleet; building starbases, completing missions, turning your opponent’s ships into space dust. And if you’re annoyed you didn’t get your favourite ship out, when one or yours is destroyed you can replace it with reinforcements. Cloaking is fun with your ships being replaced by tokens and allowing you to place echoes to fool your opponent. With the missions being tailored to your ships, each player is going to be after different things and with the abilities of your ships being different, it requires you to take on different gaming styles to win. This all combines to give the game a lot of replay-ability so you’re not going to get board with it any time soon.
My thoughts on the game…9.5 out of 10. A fantastic miniatures-board game. The miniatures are nicely made, with a decent amount of detail and are good reproductions of the ships from Star Trek. The cards are thick and of a good quality. The images used on them are taken from all 5 TV series (not including the animated OS) as well as all the films from the Motion Picture to Nemesis. The game play is fun and creative, not overly complicated yet allowing you to play out different styles & strategies, as well as forcing you to think tactically. The rule book is nicely made, and the rules themselves are very comprehensive and full of examples, leaving little for uncertainty about what it means.
To be honest this game ticks all of the boxes; its classic sci-fi theme, miniatures that can be painted for those miniature gamers, a changeable board for the board gamers, plenty of strategy, uncertainty as to what your opponent is doing and multiple ways to win. A game I’d recommend to fans of the show as well as miniature and board gamers alike. What would I improve upon or like to see different? . . . urm . . . just trying to think of something . . . well for some reason there’s no Captain Sisko card, despite there being Kirk, Picard & Janeway (no Archer I can understand as the game is set more in the NG time), and with Odo & Quark in there. More expansions. They’ve done a Romulan one (which I’ll probably get next month), and Wizkids Heroclix already do Cardassian and Dominion ships so it shouldn’t be too difficult to come up with a Cardi/Dom expansion. My only real disappointment is no Borg . . . guess you can’t have everything. . . that and how they’d work in game I have no idea. All-in-all worth getting.