I'm an inveterate Trekkie so I'm always excited to see a new Star Trek game even when, like this one, you can't really claim that it goes where no one has gone before. In Star Trek: Missions, designer Bruce Glassco has reworked his popular card game Fantasy Realms (WizKids); a game that also strongly influenced the design of Red Rising (Stonemaier).
Tho' it's described on BoardGameGeek as a 'reimplementation' of Fantasy Realms, Star Trek: Missions is no mere reskin. This isn't just Fantasy Realms with Star Trek iconography pasted on in place of the ersatz-Medieval imagery of the earlier game. This new card game uses the core mechanics of Fantasy Realms: you're drawing a card and discarding a card each turn in order to optimise your hand of cards to maximise their score, and the size of the discard display heralds the end of the game. However, Star Trek: Missions introduces some distinct changes...
In Fantasy Realms, all the cards have a core value in addition to the conditional value generated by the presence of specific other cards. That's not the case in Star Trek: Missions. Cards only score in relation to other specific cards in your hand; so, for example, Dr Beverley Crusher scores 8 points if she is present with Sickbay and 8 points with Wesley Crusher. She has no base value on her own.
Rather than just a single deck, the game is made up of a deck of 50 'Galaxy' cards (personnel, locations, equipment etc) and a separate deck of 24 'Mission' cards. The cards use photos from Star Trek Next Generation and the movie Star Trek Generations, but stylised by applying a rainbow filter over a black & white shot. It sounds odd but it works, and certainly better than the photos used in WizKids' The Expanse.
Players start with a hand of five Galaxy cards and two Mission cards. You can draw and discard either category of card, but you can't end your turn with more than two Missions or with none. The Galaxy cards each have a 'type' (Captain/Personnel/Civilian/Location/System/Equipment/Artifact et al) and will also have icons and text indicating one or more Specialty (Command/Combat/Science/Engineering/Medical etc), Lifeform (Human/Vulcan/Klingon/Ferengi, Android/Hologram etc) and Affiliation (Federation/Klingon Empire/Romulan Star Empire etc). You'll need to keep track of all these because the card texts refer to the various Specialties and Lifeforms that you'll need to score.
It's the Missions, tho', that make the real difference. Like the Galaxy cards, these set out what you need to score. You'll usually need several Galaxy cards to rack up big points for a Mission, which is why you probably wouldn't want more than two in your hand even if the rules allowed. What the Missions do tho' is give more theme and 'storyline' to your hand so you feel you are completing an episode of Star Trek Next Generation. With the Missions and this game's use of icons, we were fondly reminded of the Star Trek Collectible Card Game (Decipher).
Even tho' you only ever have a hand of seven cards, you can't easily read the all-important card text when cards are fanned in your hand, so this is a game that's best played using card racks. That's especially the case for left-handed players as the Galaxy card icons are all on the left-hand side.
Star Trek: Missions is a filler-length game that you can expect to play in around 20 minutes. It takes 2-6 players but, like Fantasy Realms, we thought it was at its best with two or three players, not least because the rules determining the end-game condition don't offer any concession to player count: the game ends when there are either eight Galaxy cards or 12 Mission cards in the discard display. With six players, you could hit that before your second turn came around! We'd like to have seen the discard display scaled for the number of players. The Board's Eye View team expect to be playing a lot more of Star Trek: Missions tho', so we'll probably Make It So with our own house rules. And let's hope we can look forward to standalone but combinable expansions for the original series, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks...
(Review by Selwyn Ward)