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GC ’15: Star Trek: Five Year Mission

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Hey Wolfie, I finally watched Star Trek. Live long and phospherous!

What? That’s not the right word…

Live long and preposterous!

What are you doing?

Just messin’

Boldy Going Somewhere

 

Who it’s for: Families who watch Star Trek together and play games together

Who it’s not for: Someone looking for a game that really brings the Star Trek, someone looking for a challenge

These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...
These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise…

I’m a big Star Trek fan. No, seriously. I love it. My wife and I watch it all the time. I have a bunch of action figures and model ships. I used an image of Captain Picard ordering the ship to warp as part of my proposal. So every time I see a new Star Trek game coming out, I have to take a look.

And I heard about Star Trek: Five Year Mission before the show, so I had to check it out. I mean, it seemed a neat enough idea; a cooperative dice game in the Star Trek universe, where you take on the role of iconic characters to complete various missions.

It plays like this: on your turn, you flip up an Alert card. It can be blue, yellow, or red, the red of course being the tougher end of the spectrum. The catch is, if you already have three missions of a single alert type active, adding a fourth will fail the top mission, and too many failures is how you lose the game. You also need to complete at least one of each alert type in addition to the points you need to win.

A five year mission to roll a darn yellow 5
A five year mission to roll a darn yellow 5

Also, if the ship has taken damage, it can limit which alert cards you can draw.

After you flip up an alert and resolve any effects (which might damage the ship, injure a player, add a timer to the mission, or even force everyone to be silent because communications are down), you can refresh your dice pool from the central board (so you have five dice to roll). Then you roll your dice.

Each mission card has a set of dice depicted on it. There are colors and numbers, although certain slots can be any color, and other slots have a range of numbers. You have to place your dice on matching slots, and when all the slots are covered, the mission is complete. You can also use your red dice to repair the ship if necessary.

If you can’t use all your dice, you can save them in your action pool, and on your next turn you can either keep them as they are or re-roll them.

Each player has a special ability. These abilities include re-rolling certain dice, using dice of one color as if it were another color, or even healing other player’s injuries. Players can choose between Next Gen and Original Series characters.

That's CAPTAIN Sulu to you. I mean, I wish.
That’s CAPTAIN Sulu to you. I mean, I wish.

Finally, certain missions grant bonus abilities upon their completion – such as modifying a die value, using another player’s ability, or using dice as another color.

Okay, so if you’re reading the description of this game, you might think that this doesn’t seem to have much to do with Star Trek. And you’d be right; it’s really an abstract dice game with a pasted-on theme. Which is really too bad.

It’s not a terrible game, although I wouldn’t say it’s a great one either. It felt like it was missing something; either time pressure for the whole game, as in Escape: Curse of the Temple, or more goofiness like the “no one can speak to each other” card. There were hints of some of those elements in a few of the missions, but there was just so little of all that it felt off. I never felt any sort of pressure as we were playing; a few times we had stacks of three, and we failed a mission or two, but we could have probably doubled our points if we wanted to. There’s just not a lot of tension. And you can’t really control your dice; here and there you get a power to do something, but you only get one roll per turn, and you just have to hope you roll something usable. You do have a few choices – what colors of dice to retrieve, which Alert to draw, which mission to place your dice upon. It doesn’t feel extremely substantial.

But, on the other hand, it’s a pretty simple game that is pretty family-friendly, and that right there might be where this game finds its groove. Not every co-op needs to be as tough as Pandemic, or require as much thought. Families, especially star trek fans, might enjoy pulling everyone together including some kids to play a casual dice-rolling game. There aren’t a TON of decisions, but enough to keep it relatively interesting, and if you’re a Star Trek fan it’s fun to catch all the episode references on the mission cards.

But if you’re hoping for an engaging, strategic dice game or something thematic tied to the Star Trek universe… you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Futurewolfie loves epic games, space, and epic games set in space. You'll find him rolling fistfuls of dice, reveling in thematic goodness, and giving Farmerlenny a hard time for liking boring stuff.

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