Players: 2-4 Playing Time: 1-2 Hours (Depends on the victory point goal) Age: 14+ Publisher: WizKids Category: Strategy MSRP: $99.99
The Box As I have come to expect from WizKids, this box is well laid out and has a place for everything. This is a big box, and it needs to be, as it holds twenty four individual unpainted starship models along with all the other cards, tokens, locations tiles and dice needed to play. The starship models are stored in a tray that is separate from the rest of the insert. This comes in handy when you are drafting your fleet or getting reinforcements (more on that later). There is also a storage diagram included for the starships. Without the diagram you would find it pretty frustrating trying to put them back in the box, which could lead to damaging the models and/or the insert. There are a lot of cards in this game; Mission Cards, Encounter Cards, Starship Display Cards, and Command Cards. There are also a large number of tokens, all of which are pre-punched and stored in a resealable bag. All in all the components are high quality and quite durable. I have only two complaints about the the components: 1. All the tokens (165 total) are stored in one bag, which leaves you with either sorting them all out during game setup, or dumping them in one pile and picking through to find the one you need. As neither option is ideal, I ended up sorting them into smaller bags and then putting the smaller bags into the bag they provided. 2. When putting the starship models back in the insert, one of the ships came off its base. I had read others mentioning this problem and was very careful when handling them, but it still broke. It was not a huge issue, I discovered that a little super glue was all that was needed and I was back in business. On a side note, I had previously purchased the Star Trek:Tactics starter kit and a few booster packs, so when the model broke, I decided I wanted the painted models that came with the Tactics game on the bases for fleet captains. With a little work I was able to swap the models and I now have painted models in the Fleet Captains box.
The Rules A PDF copy of the rules can be found here. The rule book is a whopping thirty two pages long. There is a lot of information in the rule book, and it can appear to be a little overwhelming, but I have found that the rules are well laid out and the book is easy to reference.
This is a Heroclix game, so all the ship models are on custom Heroclix bases that are made specifically for this game. Each ship has a corresponding Starship Display Card that shows all the available power settings for each ship. The settings available are for Weapons, Sensors, Engines and Shields. The power settings for each ship is divided into three “Alert Status Levels.” You start in "Normal" status and as you take damage you progress through "Yellow" and "Red" alert status. One point of damage moves the ship from one status to the next, meaning that each ship can sustain no more than three points of damage before it is destroyed. Each alert status also lowers some of the systems power levels, making them less powerful, and therefore less effective.
The ships that you initially "muster," as it is called in the game, are random. A point value is determined at the start of setup. That point value dictates each player's fleet size, as well as the Victory Point goal. To muster your fleet, you shuffle your Starship Display Cards and then draw them one at a time. Each card shows the ships size in the upper right hand corner, these sizes range from 1 to 6. The point value the rules recommend for the first game is 10. So in that case, you would draw cards until your fleet size equaled 10. This can be any combination of ships, as long as you do not exceed the established point value. For example, let's say you draw ships of the following sizes; 5,2,1. You current total is 8, if the next ship drawn is of a size greater than 2, you have to set it aside and continue drawing until you get a ship, or ships, that bring your total to 10. In the event that you are unable to equal the fleet size, you can either begin the game with a fleet size smaller than 10, or take a Mulligan.
Once your fleet has been mustered, look again to the upper right hand corner to discover what types of missions you will receive. Each ship has a mission type that it favors. You then draw the type and number of missions indicated on each ship cards. These missions make up your mission deck, which is shuffled before you draw your initial three missions. Each mission, when completed, awards you victory points usually ranging from one to three points. This is your primary means of earning victory points.
The next step is to create your command deck. Each faction has one hundred command cards that are sub-divided onto ten sub-decks. The number of cards you can have in your command deck is limited to forty. Based on the number and type of missions you have, you create a command deck from your sub-decks to fit the mission types you are issued. For example, if you have more combat missions, you are going to want a command deck that favors combat. The same holds true for influence and science missions.
Finally, there is the board. The board consists of a number of hexagon tiles that are shuffled and then placed face down in between the players. The number and configuration of the board is entirely up the players. The rules, however, recommend a 5x5 board for your first 10 point game. The tiles provide two of the most interesting aspects of the game. First, they dictate how far each ship is able to travel. Second, they provide a random element to the game; the Encounter.
Let's talk about movement. Each ship has an engine power setting that indicates how far it is able to travel, while each location tile has a size value which indicates how much of the ship's engine power that tile will "consume" in order for that ship to cross the tile. The first movement from any tile, including the command post (which is each player's starting point), costs 1. For example: say your ship has a power setting of 9, regardless of the tile size, in order for the ship to move from that starting tile it costs 1 point. You would now have a remaining engine "balance" of 8. If the next tile you enter has a size of 4, you may continue traveling through that tile to the another adjacent tile. Your remaining engine score would be 5. If the next tile is size 5 or less you could continue until you had progressed as far as the ship's engine power setting would allow. The other important feature of the location tiles is the encounter. Each tile has a number range (ie; 1-2, 1-4) that, with a roll of the dice, will determine if you face an encounter or not. So, upon entering an unexplored location, the first thing you do is to roll for an encounter. Let's say the range for your current tile is 1-3, if you roll a one, two or three, you will have to draw an encounter card and resolve that card before proceeding with your turn. Many encounters have victory points that are awarded when complete, this is your secondary means of earning victory points.
There are many more details to the rules, but as I've said before, my goal here is not to repeat every rule, but to cover the rules that are important and interesting, to give readers a glimpse of what the game entails. If you want to read the complete rules, see link above.
Be warned, the setup for this game takes some time. The first time you play expect to spend no less than twenty minutes getting everything setup. After having played several times now, I can set it up in fiv minutes or so. There are just a lot of things you have to get ready.
The game play is pretty straight forward. The back cover of the rule book spells it out nicely.
Each turn you may:
• Move each ship in your fleet.
• Make one Power Adjustment with each ship in your fleet.
• Take three Actions.
• Play Command Cards.
• Cycle a Mission Card (discard an uncompleted Mission Card for a new one).
• Discard one Command Card.
The actions you can take are:
• Cloaking Actions—engaging Cloaking Devices to make your ships undetectable.
• Combat Actions—attacking opposing starships.
• Influence Actions—taking control of locations and building installations.
• Reinforcement Actions—replacing lost ships in your fleet.
• Repair Actions—removing damage from a ship at an installation.
• Scan Actions—examining unexplored Location Tiles.
• Transporter Actions—moving crew or cargo between ships and planets.
• System Tests—when voluntary, such as when completing a mission.
Regardless of how many ships you have in your fleet, you can only take three actions, and each ship can only take one action each. So, if you have five ships in your fleet, you may only take an action with three of them. If you have only two ships, each ship can only take one action each, so although the rules state that you can take three actions, you are limited to two because each ship can only take one action.
Each player begins their turn in their respective command posts, and they begin their very own exploration into the unknown. By maneuvering your fleet, making necessary power adjustments, playing command cards you are able to complete missions and defeat your enemy. How you play is entirely up to you. You can play cautiously and attempt to avoid your enemy ships at all costs, or you can charge right in and take the enemy head on. Or even somewhere in between. It's entirely up to you. I have played games that involved no combat, and there have been games where all I did was run away from my friend's overwhelming assaults. Each game is a unique experience, and will provide its own challenges and excitement.
The Bottom Line I had the opportunity to talk to a Wizkids rep at a gaming convention earlier this year, and he compared this game to an entire season of Star Trek, and I couldn't agree more. Each mission, each encounter card, and each conflict with your opponent are like mini-episodes, but the game as a whole really reflects a season-like feel to it. I absolutely love this game. I have done my best to drag every one of my friends who I think would even like it a little bit to play this with me. I have even been the one to sit out, just to give other people a chance to play. All I did was watch, which was a lot of fun as well. If you like Star Trek or strategy games or both, go get this game, it is so worth the big price tag.