Sunday, June 22, 2008

Star Fleet Missions

Star Fleet Missions is a card game by Amarillo Design Bureau, the people who produce the Star Fleet Battles game. It is a simple game, where each of the players has a hand of cards that represents various starships, and each round there is a mission that requires different capabilities to successfully complete, such as combat ability or diplomacy, or something else. The players then select ship cards to play, and (usually) the highest rated ship wins. Play continues like this until all of the mission cards in the game have been won. So, it's like the card game War, but a bit more involved.

The only thing that saves this game from being lame is the variety in the missions. Many missions ask for one of the ratings (Space Combat, Diplomacy, Science, Cargo, or Marines), but some of them ask you to combine ratings, or take on rating and subtract another, or use two cards and combine them, or not allowing cards of some specific race to count, etc. Each mission puts a different spin on the basic rules, and keeps things somewhat interesting.

The ship cards themselves represent 18 different ships each from 6 different races (Gorn, Star Fleet, Klingon, Romulan, Tholian, and Orion Pirates) which will be instantly familiar to anyone who has played Star Fleet Battles. The variety in ships not only gives the variety in the ratings on the cards, but also some visual variety, as each ship is pictured on the cards. In fact, one of the rules variants has each player only having ship cards from one or two of the races, which can make it feel more like you are actually playing for a particular side, as opposed to the basic game which just mixes all of the different races together into one big pile that all players draw from.

In the end, this game is average at best, and probably a bit below average when taken as a whole. It is really simple, and may appeal strongly to a younger audience that likes the Star Trek universe, but for a more experienced gamer, the game doesn't provide enough strategic variety to really make it feel like the player's skill let her win; it's just too random.

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