You can also find this review over at rpg.net and boardgamegeek.com if interested.
Star Trek: Fleet Captains is a thematic strategy game put out by WizKids that is set in the Star Trek universe where you can play as the Federation, Klingons, Romulans (expansion), or Dominion (expansion).
- Players: 2 or 4 (2 – 8 with expansions)
- Time: 1-5 hours (players choice)
- Complexity: 6 out of 10
Point of view of Reviewer
I believe it is very important to know the point of view the reviewer has, so you can better understand how that relates to yourself. That being said, this reviewer is a big fan of Star Trek. This reviewer is also a big fan of boardgames. This is the only Star Trek boardgame the reviewer has ever played (though he has played the Star Trek card games). This reviewer also mainly enjoys boardgames that are thematic or tells a story. Keep that in mind while reading this review.
If you like components, you are going to love Star Trek Fleet Captains. I am not going to go too in depth, but just to give you an idea, this game comes with these items for each side:
- Cards to represent ships
- Deck of cards (includes actions and characters you can place on ships)
- Tokens to represent your team
- Tokens that represent changes to your ships
- Tokens to represent cloaked vessels
- Tokens to keep track of score
The game itself has many components that are independent of whatever team you play:
- Tokens to keep track of score
- Tokens for bases
- Deck of cards for random encounters
- Deck of cards representing missions
- Tiles for space locations
- 2 d6
Setup for this game is almost a game itself. In this portion of the game you get to choose:
- Size and layout of the Space tiles
- Size of your fleet (how many ships you get and how many points you are playing to)
- What kind of player deck you are going to have
The setup for this game is where you decide if this game is going to last 1 hour or 5 hours. The size of your fleet also determines how many points to win, so this is directly tied to the amount of time you want to play.
Once you have picked your fleet size and decided on the size of the board, you will randomly pick cards representing your ships until you have a number equal to your fleet size. This guarantees randomness each game. Once you have your ships they will tell you how many of each mission type you will receive. There are 3 mission types (4 if you include the expansions)
These mission types are:
- Science (green)
- Influence (yellow)
- Combat (red)
- Espionage (green) from the expansions
You do not get to see exactly what the missions are, but you do know how many of each type you get. This will give you an idea of what type of deck to build for game play. Each team gets 8 ten card decks to pick 4 card decks and mix together into their own deck to use during play.
The title for each 10 card deck gives you an idea of what type of missions and situations each deck would be good at. Knowing what type of missions you have the most of, you can use that information to pick 4 of these decks and make your own in game deck. These decks have cards you can use during actions, and also characters you can place on any of your ships.
Now that you have your fleet, your deck, and your mission cards, you are ready to go.
I don’t want to spend too much time on the mechanics, but instead focus on the flavor and feeling the game gets across. That being said, each turn basically breaks down to you having a set number of actions (3-6) and each ship only being able to take 1 of those actions, and 1 movement per ship. Some examples of actions you can take are (but not limited to):
- Transporter actions: to move people or items from ship to ship, or ship to planet, or planet to ship.
- Attack actions
- Cloak your ship: if able
- Scan actions: To either look at a location tile to see what is there, or scan an enemy cloak token to try and get through their cloak.
When you move through space you flip over space tiles and find out what is in that sector. Whenever you go into a new space location you may also have an encounter that is very similar (most often just something that happened in the TV show).
This being a HeroClix game, each ship has a dial with different settings for Weapons, Shields, Engines, and Sensors. You can change these settings once a turn to complement whatever mission or actions you are doing. You get points by building StarBases, blowing up enemy ships, completing missions, and completing encounters. The first person to get points equal to the starting fleet size wins the game. It may sound easy, but the mechanics of the game make this both more complicated, and more interesting than that.
This is what I really wanted to talk about. The flavor of this game is drenched in Star Trek. The subtitle of this game “Fleet Captains” is very apt. You don’t so much feel like the captain of a vessel, but instead an Admiral leading a fleet of ships into a sector and having a battle for control. Whatever story you want to make up for that control is yours to make, and usually the game makes that flavor for you. The different encounters and interactions with the opposing players feels like the adventures a ship has over many seasons of one of the TV series. Many different tactics can be used to ensure victory, and the same tactic does not always work from game to game. Each team has certain aspects of the game they excel at:
- Federation: Exploration and Science
- Klingons: Combat and Espionage
- Romulans: Espionage and Influence
- Dominion: Combat and Exploration
For your average boardgamer, this game may be a little too clunky and full of flavor you may not be interested in. For a Star Trek fan, you are going to love the versatility and excitement that comes with exploration and combat in your favorite fictional universe.