To Boldly Game

To Boldly Game

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Writer_smallerTo seek out new board games . . .

“You’re a bigger Trek fan than I am” is an understatement. I was never much taken with Star Trek. The Next Generation, which was my generation’s Star Trek, passed me by completely. It already seemed to me to be dated by the time it aired, but lacking even that kitsch, novelty appeal of the original series, which also seemed to me to do a better job of the science fiction elements. The drama of the Next Generation always seemed to be set on the bridge, and seemed to me to be somehow distant from the alien life it supposedly explored. Of course, science fiction is just a speculative way of exploring human drama and issues, but the appeal of Next Generation always seemed alien to me (no pun intended). (Actually, of course I intended that pun, how could I resist?)

The only Star Trek series I ever did watch was Voyager, of which I was a big fan. I am given to understand that this is considered an even bigger anomaly amongst real Star Trek fans than not being a Trek fan in the first place.

So while not as excited about Star Trek: Frontiers as Aileen is, I am still excited about it. Because even if you strip away the license, this game is right in my orbit of interest. For starters, it’s sci-fi, so that’s a big plus. Mage Knight always looked amazing, but I just wasn’t willing to invest that much time in a fairly generic-feeling fantasy setting. Sci-fi is closer to my heart, and the idea of flipping hexes to uncover new systems, planets, and alien races seems exponentially more exciting to me than doing so to reveal hills, castles, goblins, and knights.

Eclipse is still a top ten game for me and, as a deep sci-fi strategy game, Frontiers feels close to it. But if you strip it down to its (warp)core, it utilises a wholly different set of mechanics than Eclipse does. Each player controls only one ship, but can still level that ship up with modifications and crew as the game progresses. I think this is where the deck building comes in, as you add to your abilities. Cleverly, if you are dealt damage, this is represented as damage cards that go into your deck. There are 11 scenarios in the base game, and these represent a mix of co-op, solo, and competitive play. The Dice Tower actually did an excellent and informative review you can watch here.

While we intend on going next year, we unfortunately didn’t make it to this year’s UK Games Expo. If you were there, we would love to hear about it. What was the big buzz at the show? What was everyone playing or talking about? What were the events like? Make us jealous!

25 Comments on To Boldly Game
  • wr00t

    This reminded me that i still haven’t watched Tom’s review of it. On to it! 😉 P.S. i’m a bit better trekky than you then, i haven’t watched it at all 😀

    • I find Tom Vasel does do good video reviews, this is definitely worth checking out. Certainly piqued my interest.

  • Paul Gillibrand

    I was at the UK Games Expo! It definitely felt much larger this year, with the expansion into the NEC, and the trade hall was much easier to get around than previously.

    I went to both Shut Up & Sit Down podcast records, which were great fun, and also the Live Pandemic event which is for sure the weirdest and funniest game of Pandemic that has ever been played.

    In terms of the buzz, I think that penguin-flicking game Ice Cool was a huge hit with people. Beyond Baker Street also looked really interesting for fans of Hanabi and I was really excited to try Ghostel. There was loads more open gaming space available in the evening this year, and Thirsty Meeples once again provided their excellent board games library. Good time had by all!

    • Oh, I’m super-super jealous you got to see the live Pandemic. That had Matt Leacock and Tom Vasel, didn’t it? I would love to have been there.
      I did keep seeing pictures of some sort of funky looking ice game, but didn’t know the name of it. I’ll check that out now. Also Beyond Baker Street sounds intriguing.

      • Paul Gillibrand

        There was no Matt Leacock but, yes, Tom Vasel was playing along with Colin Baker, John Robertson and the audience. We also had some interesting ‘dancing’ from ‘the concept of disease’ every time an epidemic or outbreak occurred…

        I got to play Mainframe last night (which I think also sold very well at the expo) and I think it’s now one of my favourite quick abstract games.

        • That Pandemic game sounds so amazing. I really need to make it to the expo next year. I’m not big on abstract games, but Mainframe is in the Android universe, right? I think that’s enough to warrant further investigation.

          • Paul Gillibrand

            My expo tips, for what it’s worth:
            Friday is best for seeing the trade hall and playing any demos you want to as it’s the quietest day. Saturday is the day to see the shows and panels (because there’s most on but also because the trade hall is the busiest). Sunday is the best day for bargains (clearance discounts, etc.). There’s definite haggling to be had at the stalls, particularly if you’re buying more than one thing. And the bring n buy is an excellent way to sell games for a decent price (to ‘invest’ in new games 🙂 ).

            I’m not generally a fan of abstract games, either. In fact, I can think of 3 that I like (including Mainframe) and I own a grand total of zero. But Mainframe is light, quick and fun. If you ever played boxes/squares as a kid then it’s sort of like making that into an actual game. It *is* set in the Android universe, but in honesty the theme could be basically anything (I think it’s actually a re-themed older game). They’ve tried, and include character bios for the hackers and so on, but it doesn’t really affect the gameplay. The design and the pieces are really nice, however.

  • David Montgomery

    Keep an eye out for Star Trek Ascendancy from GF9. It’s a 4X game, but it’s looking really good.

    • Oh, another Star Trek 4X, that’s interesting. I’ll always check out a sci-fi 4X, or almost any kind of 4X, really. Thanks for the tip!

  • Rob

    Hah! Also: Synchronicity! Mine is a Star Trek comic today too! 😀 (Apologies on ST:TNG)

  • Stephen M. Schaefer

    This is the part where I recommend Deep Space Nine. The first season or two are a bit of a slow burn but it finishes VERY strong. Ron Moore basically cut his teeth on this series before reviving Battlestar Galactica.

    Anyway, as far as Frontiers is concerned, sign me the heck up!

    • DS9 is definitely the one that gets recommended to me the most. I keep hearing it has an amazing overall arc. Having said that, though, I actually wasn’t a fan of the BSG remake either. The feature length pilot thing was amazing, but it slowly lost me from there.
      HOWEVER, Bryan Fuller is the showrunner for the new upcoming Trek series, and I am a big, big fan of his. So I’ll be watching that alongside Aileen for sure.

  • Dexter Ó Thuithear

    I was always a Trek fan, and never really took to Star Wars in the same way. The latter was just a movie with interesting ships to me, where the former was full on intrigue and high stakes. You can’t open a movie by destroying a planet and expect to go bigger, where in Trek there was always a building tension from somewhere. Q putting Picard on trial for humanity, Dominion wars, Romulan insurgents, Hirojan hunters, the inimitable Borg…

    This is why I wish FFG had the licence for Trek. I’d love to see an Armada style Trek game. I haven’t jumped onto Armada yet (the temptation is serious), mainly because of the cost vs time, vs my X-wing habit, but if there was a Trek version I’d be on it in a hot second because it has always been my first sci-fi love. Attack Wing has too many flaws I can’t overlook (yet another bad Trek game).
    I’ve seen Frontiers and I don’t think it’s for me either, though. While I would play it, I wouldn’t get any other takers simply because it’s a deep game. Interest here trails off most games if they last more than an hour, with minor exceptions.

    • I must say I was amazed when I saw the ships for Attack Wing. The quality is so poor in comparison to X-Wing. That’s Wizkids as well, who I’m learning actually have a reputation for poor components, which is my single worry when it comes to Frontiers, it being a Wizkids game.
      An Armada game would actually make more sense for Trek, wouldn’t it? The main ships (that I know of) are not exactly dog fighters, definitely more in an Armada class.
      On another note, pretty sure I’ll be in The Gathering this Sunday, getting in some games before regionals.
      If I can decide on a list…

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        Wiz-kids have a history of making poor decisions with any game that has rolling expansions. I mean, X-wing is up to wave 9 announcements now, and showing very deliberate thought on balance and mitigating power creep. Meanwhile, Attack wing is up to wave twenty-something (despite only being a few months older as a released game), and has lists that are entirely based on how many “special” crew/ship/upgrade cards you have accumulated from championship wins.
        There’s also no faction requirements. Borg ships can fight alongside Federation (apparently one of the most overpowered combinations for a long time was Picard captaining a Borg Cube), Cardassian can fight alongside Jem’hadar. Basically, everything breaks you out of that feel of the Trek universe, or even the feeling that the game is fair or balanced at all.

        I definitely think it would work with the Armada system. If you had something like the Enterprise the size of the Gladiator class in Armada, you could really get some great scale games going, as there’s always ships bigger or smaller than that. Both the Gladiator and the Enterprise are kind of the average overall size, and then just hold the scale. It’ll look great, the system lends itself well to capital ship engagements, and it’d feel fantastic (especially if the factions were kept in line properly). I was never a big DS9 fan, but the Dominion war was always a plot I thought would lend itself perfectly to a game.

      • Dexter Ó Thuithear

        Oh, and enjoy Sunday! Unfortunately I’ll be tied up in work, so I won’t make it, but I’m hoping to get some game time at regionals, depending on whether the other project that I may be doing there goes ahead or not. Luckily, I have my list sorted for the event one way or another. Partially out of a lack of play time with anything else of late.
        Always happy to talk theorycrafting if you still haven’t figured out a list yet!

        • I put together a PTL, advanced sensor, mangler & HLC Brobot list with the intention if running it at regionals. Aileen put together a Kanan/Ghost, Biggs and Zeb/Attack Shuttle list to play against me for practise, and she’s been beating me regularly. Now I’m tempted to just run her list…
          Honestly haven’t flown enough of either, but have a little bit more experience with the Bros. Even if the Ghost list is probably better in the meta right now. I think… What are you gonna be flying? (if you’re flying)

          • Dexter Ó Thuithear

            Honestly, the Ghost hasn’t been lighting the meta on fire really, since there’s a lot of ordnance out there that can pull it down. Brobots have fallen out of favour for similar reasons, but I think they’re still reasonably ok. I ran something similar to yours at the SC in Limerick last year and did fairly well with it (after making it back from “the emergency”…), though I had Predator and Glitterstim on B, and Crackshot and Inertial Dampeners on C, and that was all before the current wave arrived.
            I’ve come against a the Ghost/Biggs combo before. It suffers by Biggs essentially being dead points right out of the gate. He *will* die, no matter what. The Ghost becomes very vulnerable after that.
            If you’re thinking of switching up though, have you considered Dash? His maneuverability in the ordnance/ace heavy meta has put him somewhat back on the map. I theory’d out a list for a friend a while back with him, and he’s been doing some serious damage with it since. He’s taking it to regionals, and it got him to 3rd in the Kilkenny SC.

            Personally, I have a double Jumpmaster with a HWK-290 list. It’s nothing close to the standard build, and very much feeding to the idea of Scum’s dirty tricks. I’ve never had the chance to run it against other Jumpmaster lists, but it’s done well against pretty much everything except swarms.

          • Don’t have Dash, I’m afraid. I think I’m leaning towards Brobots. I’m not yet experienced enough at X-Wing to have a fighting chance with any list, so might as well take the one I have more experience flying, so I can at least avoid making really silly mistakes with it.
            Unfortunately there is still no X-Wing scene down in Cork, so I still haven’t flown against swarms, or aces, or triple jumps at all. So it’s going to be an interesting learning curve…

          • Dexter Ó Thuithear

            When in doubt, take something you know over something you think might work. Meta doesn’t trump experience.
            Have you considered Attanni Mindlink on the Brobots? I’ve been toying with the idea of using that alongside FCS on B and D combo, instead of the usual B and C. Opens the dial a lot in terms of actions, and gives those fantastic hard turn S-loops that can be so useful, especially when your s-loop option is blocked.

  • Rob

    Hah! Also: Synchronicity! My recent comic (unlikely as it may seem – the Beekeeping one we previously discussed) is a Star Trek comic too! 😀

  • Evan

    I’ve never played it, but I keep hearing good things about Fleet Captains.

    But personally, I like Attack Wing much more than X-Wing. I find the tactical and fleetbuilding decisions much deeper and more interesting, and the scenario play is just vastly superior. Yes, it had a rocky start: the first few models were shoddy repurposed Heroclix minis, and there were some initial balance issues, but I think its biggest problem is just that it’s a Star Trek game made by the company everyone loves to hate, competing with a Star Wars game made by the company with the world’s most devoted fanbase (which includes myself). The amount of trolling and vituperative hearsay one encounters is actually kind of shocking.

    • I do keep coming across mention of Fleet Captains as well, actually. That and Ascendancy seem to be ones to watch out for.
      Interesting to hear another point of view on Attack Wing. I can honestly say I’ve never played any of the scenarios for X-Wing though, we just go for a standard 100 point scrap every time.

      • Evan

        Oh, you should definitely try some if you get the chance. The classic dogfight is fun and all, but where I think the Flightpath system really shines is in how readily it adapts to such different play modes as recon and escort and boarding parties and co-op missions and obstacle courses and nebulas and and and 😀