Review: Star Trek Fleet Captains – entire universe lies at our feet
And here it is. At the border of quadrant, Borg ship appeared. The cube look, as if it had always been there. No movement. But looking carefully on its surface, small waves can be distinguished, as activity inside increases. The moment of attack is approaching and with it also attempt to assimilate the entire human race. Enterprise must intervene now!
And because the Star Trek universe is a big, the appropriate size of box itself is a must have. Maybe you´re ready for all the characters and heroes inside the box with a portrait Enterprise hiding, but as we, you are not ready for its next content!
Main attraction and breathtaking components themselves are ship miniatures. In total, there are 24 of them and they are half divided between both sides in the conflict. Each ship carries some famous name, but also has its basic combat settings on a wheel, that can be changed simply by turning. This is the so-called Clix mechanism, that fantasy fans may know for example from great Mage Knight (review).
But the ships of course are not everything and that is, why even box so big is overflowing with other components. In the first place, it is literally a flood of cards – two hundred commands (divided into decks, all with portraits of the characters and their abilities), 76 missions with tasks for both warring sides, fifty encounter cards and one card for each spacecraft. Of course, there are also dozens of different tokens to watch some statuses and events.
For playing, you will also need a map of the universe, which will consist of hexagonal parts of sectors and planets. They then are neatly aligned to player´s own navigation bridge, which is a rectangle with a hexagon, that rises from its upper side.
At the beginning of the game, each player chooses one side and follows instructions to jointly draw up map of the universe, which is located in approximately five times five box between players. From both sides, it is surrounded by command board (actually of card thickness). Besides maps are placed also two tiles to offer special missions (science, influence and fight), but also encounter card and new exploration tiles.
And when you know for whom you play and where it will all be happening, you can finally prepare your ships. At the beginning, players get a random ships, whose strength corresponds to the number of victory points set as match target. Both players simply draw cards from shuffled deck of their fleet and put one after other to his bridge until sum is equal to that amount of victory points. Then, miniatures of these crafts are placed in docks, ready to embark on a journey. All others will be able to enter the game later.
Boats also bring mission cards to their owners, which are drawn at the beginning. Its all based on ship statistics: research, influence and combat (the sum corresponds to power of the ship) – each brings a card from the corresponding deck.
Now, only personnel to manage spaceships is missing. Each side has its own set of cards, that first have to be split into small piles by type. Each player can choose only four piles, that will be used for this game. Final set of cards is shuffled and first four cards are added to the hand.
Now, everything is ready for combat. Players take turns, when they can move all their ships and many more. The movement itself is governed by one of three numbers directly on the base of the space vessel. Distribution of these three numbers, which are printed on the dial, can also be found on the card. This setting can be changed once per turn and within same background color. This screen shows basic state, red alert or cloaking.
Movement points do not correspond to number of sectors, which ship may shift. On the contrary, each location on the board has its own size needed to cross it. So many points player needs to spend to cross this place in one turn. If he does not have enough points, he must remain at his current position and wait until the next round. Most of the pieces of the universe starts the game undiscovered. Exploration of new sites also carries the risk of encounter (turning encounter card) and possibly dealing some of the immediate effects.
But vessel also cannot so easily escape from the position, where enemy vessel is located. At that moment, must perform evade test. This is the first in a series of tests (fight, missions), that await players. They always include summing up the numbers from ship base, together with card from hand, crew bonuses and dice roll. These values are compared with some prerequisities of objective and success or failure is evaluated.
In addition to moving, players can also play command cards from their hand. These can not only add some more actions, but also help to populate their ships with the right crew for the upcoming task. One of the cards in their hand can also be discarded and drawn from a new package. Space generals may also give up one of their missions (because it is for example unnecessarily heavy in their current state) and replace it with a random new one.
Skippers may also distribute special event among their fleet of ships. There is eight of them in total. Three of them can always be used in one round and with any vessels. They give players opportunity to influence the playing area via their ships. These activities are not only about battle, but also ability to scan neighboring sectors and reveal their identity or hide from the eyes of the players by cloaking (ship is replaced by a counter and can confuse the opponent by adding echoes in future turns. A cloaked ship has limited abilities, only to blue background Clix base). Cargo or crew may also be moved between ships. Actions may be used also to build bases.
All this is done in order to gain victory points, which decides about length of the battle. Most points are obtained from carrying out missions, in which ships (they can join forces) must succeed in a given test. But more can be get from fighting or some encounters. Players keep earned points on their command centre and thus have an easy overview. Once one of them reaches a predetermined value, he is declared as winner.
Star Trek: Fleet Captains is a spectacular game, that has everything a true game based on the famous series like this should have. It´ll guess at first glance, but only a few introductory you playing this assumption confirm with absolute certainty.
Given the number of gaming components and vastness of the game, it would certainly not hurt, if they offer a way to monitor ships with which the player move and actions already performed. It would be better to avoid confusion between the rivals.The first of these two objections can be easily workarounded by using several cubes, which each player puts on a ship cards upon activation.
The game manages to tell a true story. Thus for those, who want it and who are at least somewhat versed in Star Trek. But even without this knowledge of sci-fi universe, atmosphere is excellent. Since the beginning of the game until its very end, you will become absorbed. In addition to its size and comprehensiveness, game somehow does not take too long.
Game time can be easily set. The shortest recommended six-point game takes only half an hour to finish! Preparation is not quite the fastest, but you get to a very reasonable time with practice. If you want a greater battle, simply add the target points and you immediately get to almost two hours of entertainment full of exciting moments. Moreover, it is excellent not only in two, but also in more opponents. Although, its basically meant for two without expansions.
Length of the game is closely related to size of the board. Quantity of pieces affect, how much conflict will you experience and its basically decided by how much you enjoy scouting missions. Rules again recommend some minimum and maximum dimensions and settings distinctly alter gameplay.
Offer of activities in the game is huge and you will initially have a little problem with getting your head around all of them and choosing the right one. For example, players can also produce their influence on individual sectors through buildings. Not only does this allow you to repair the ship there (as well as in your home base), but their highest level also gives you victory point!
The only thing the game lags a bit (and this is a surprise given publisher and looks of ship miniatures), is processing. All efforts have been made into beautiful and detailed pieces of ships, but everything around is not as well as it should have been. The main problem are very thin card to manipulate with and are susceptible to damage. Even sectors are made of cards, which constantly shift on table, making experience a little uncomfortable. Also, rulebook would deserve a completely different arrangement, because reading of long text is in front of you before your first game. Additionally, searching it later is really a pain.
Some players also have problems with rotating bases, but we did not observe this shortcoming on our copy. Bottom part of the box holding ships is far too tight, so miniatures are not easily removed. Often you almost feel, that you will damage it, while pulling hard. Unfortunately, this means that together in at a game for more than 100 dollars, you only get average components. And this is a true unpleasant surprise!
Star Trek: Fleet Captains makes up for everything, when you play. Any complaints about the components and rules are set aside, when you start exloring the universe and completing missions. This game offers tremendous opportunities, not counting already published expansions. For every Trekkie, owning this game is an obligation. But this may already be too late, because all of them have it. For everyone else, we have good news – this game is really excellent sci-fi entertainment for all lovers of battles. Star Trek: Fleet Captains is simply great 4X game.
Review: Star Trek Fleet Captains – entire universe lies at our feet
Star Trek: Fleet Captains is a game of cosmic proportions. From start to finish, you will experience a story, that has both depth and atmosphere. Players take command of an entire fleet of ships, that always look a bit different. Each such vessel has its own crew and perform some missions in space. Stunning variability ensures, that you will come back to this game even after years to come. In what possibilities provided, it does not necessarily need to take long and you can decide for yourself, how much time do you have to spare in the world of Star Trek today. In the world of Fleet Captains, there is so much to experience, that you will want to return again and enjoy new and new adventures. Despite several complaints about processing, Star Trek: Fleet Captains is board game so absorbing, that we decided to give it the highest score. If you are sticklers and mind minor deficiencies in quality or high price tag bothers you, then lower our rating only to excellent.