A wormhole to an unknown sector of space has been discovered. The United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire send their research ships and build space stations. When communications to the sector are lost, the Federation and the Klingons send their best captains to find out what happened and regain control of the sector: Captain Jean-Luc Picard on the USS Enterprise D, Commander Benjamin Sisko on the USS Defiant, General Martok on the IKS Negh’Var and the Duras sisters Lursa and B’Etor with their Bird-of-Prey.
Star Trek: Frontiers by WizKids is a semi-cooperative strategy and deck building game for one to four players. Depending on the number of players and their level of experience, the playing time is two to four hours. The game was released in June 2016 and is currently only available in English. It costs around €80.
The game is an expanded and changed re-edition of Mage Knight 2011. Here, the fantasy world of Mage Knight has been replaced by the Star Trek universe.
The rulebook is terribly extensive: a 20-page walkthrough booklet, a 24-page main rulebook, and a deck of rules reference cards. The walkthrough booklet is meant to guide players through the first game, but it doesn’t do a particularly good job of it. It is still very extensive, often refers to the main rulebook and you have to flip back and forth a lot. The information is often scattered across both booklets.
This kind of division of the rulebook into a main rulebook and a newcomer rulebook – usually with a special newcomer scenario – has become very popular, but has been seen better in other games (e.g. Legends of Andor).
But once you’ve finally made it through the first game, you realize how elegant the game mechanics are at the core. The actions and connections are stringent and run through the entire game, so that the processes quickly seem familiar. All game materials have helpful symbols that quickly tell an experienced player what cards or tokens do. Reference cards allow you to quickly see which game event requires which setup without having to consult the rule book.
Each player gets their respective spaceship, a deck of action cards and skill tokens for their captain.
The game board consists of hexagon space tiles that are randomly laid out and revealed as the spaceships advance deeper into the sector. The playing field looks different from game to game. Planets, enemy spaceships, friendly and enemy space stations, nebulae or asteroid fields can be depicted on the individual fields. Most of them are known from Star Trek, e.g. B. Romulan Warbirds, Dominon Starbases and Borg Cubes.
The game comes with ten different scenarios, some of which can be played cooperatively, some competitively, and some solo. In addition to the number of players, the scenarios also determine the type and number of space fields used and the aim of the game, e.g. B. find and destroy the Borg cube, liberate research stations or occupy most space fields.
The selected scenario determines the number of rounds to be played. A round ends when a player has exhausted their deck of action cards. Until then, all players take turns taking turns.
In each turn, each player may move their ship and then interact with objects on the field, such as recruiting new crew cards on a space station or attacking an enemy spaceship. Movement and interactions take place via hand cards, crew cards and skill tokens. The playing strength of the cards used can be increased by the so-called Data Core Dice (the only dice in the game) and data crystals. Here it is important to use the right combination of cards, dice and tokens in order to master the sometimes really difficult challenges that the game presents.
By successfully completing interactions, more cards can be acquired, which have better properties than the initial action cards. In this way, you can specialize your own deck of cards (deck building) and develop your own style of play.
The game works with an experience point system. The players receive experience points (e.g. for discovering further space fields, destroying enemy spaceships and interacting with foreign civilizations and planets) and can thus advance to higher levels. Higher levels in turn bring better cards, special abilities and a higher number of cards in your hand.
The game material is solid. Cards and tokens are of decent thickness. The print quality is good, but the images often appear a bit dark and some of the symbols are printed very small, making them difficult to see from across the playing field. The miniatures are okay; not particularly eye-catching, but look nice on the field.
If English is a problem, stay away from the game. The rules are complex and the playing cards full of text. The game’s distributor in Europe says there are no plans to release the game in German at the moment.
Conclusion Sebastian: First of all for Star Trek fans: Star Trek is mainly used here as a name and photo giver. The mechanics of the game are clearly in the foreground and the actions of the players are driven by them and not by background or character motivations. This is how the game z. For example, if a Federation player attacks peaceful planets or destroys starbases unprovoked to gain a gameplay advantage, they are not penalized. One should not expect a particularly atmospheric gaming experience from Star Trek: Frontiers.
For me, the strength of the game clearly lies in the game mechanics. Thinking about it and trying out which very special combination of cards, skills, dice and tokens you can use to overcome the sometimes really tough challenge of the game is just fun for me and has provided some triumphant moments in the game.
If you’re looking for a tactically challenging game with space/Star Trek flair, this is the place for you. If you are more into fluff, story and atmosphere rather not. The purchase price is high, but the game also offers a lot of scope and has a high replay value.
Conclusion Lotte: Star Trek: Frontiers has the pleasing packing dimensions of 36x25x8 cm and therefore doesn’t take up any more space than a pair of pink ankle boots. Out of the box it fits pretty snugly on the kitchen table, so there haven’t been the usual complaints about not having an eight-person dining table – like we do when there’s a new game in the house. In contrast to many other games with spaceship miniatures, no additional material (such as self-made space simulation base or “asteroid fields” made of lava rock) is required, so there is no need to tinker, the apartment remains largely undestroyed. Also pleasing: It is a complete game, for which nothing more has to be bought, at least I don’t know anything about accessories or expansion sets at the moment.
On the minus side: The game material comes already punched out, so the additional hour of “fun” of preparing and sorting is unfortunately lost. This is otherwise a much-celebrated highlight of the game preparation and a pleasant buffer zone between pride in ownership and initial despair about the misleading set of rules – a period that is usually sufficient for a face mask and a pedicure. On the plus side: The game material comes already punched out and therefore definitely fits into the box provided, so the tiring standing around in hardware stores while looking for storage options for tokens, which never happen anyway, is no longer necessary. Time for at least a face mask and a pedicure. Hooray.