Star Trek Expeditions is a board game that has many appealing elements. It is based on the revamped Star Trek movie universe, and was created by Reiner Knizia, one of the most successful board game designers of all time. Expeditions includes detailed miniatures for the crew of the Enterprise, as well as the ship itself, and even a Klingon vessel. These minis use the “Clix” system for tracking damage and changing stats. Best of all, it is a fully cooperative game!
Reiner Knizia is a prolific game designer, having had a hand in dozens if not hundreds of board games. Among his best are Ra, Tigris & Euphrates, and Ingenious. Though successful by any measure, Knizia is often derided for creating mechanically heavy games with a pasted-on theme. He would seem an odd choice for a game based on Star Trek, then, particularly one produced by a company famous for highly thematic games like HeroClix, Mage Knight, and Quarriors. But for the most part, Expeditions does a good job of marrying mechanics with theme and thus immersing players in the Star Trek setting.
One major reason for this immersion is the graphic design of the game. The components are high in quality, more than adequately depicting the characters and technology of the new Star Trek movie. The character miniatures are highly detailed and well-painted, but don’t look much like their on-screen counterparts. Both starships miniatures are very slick, and fun to use in the game. The board represents a planet with the Enterprise in orbit, and looks like it could be a shot from the movie itself. Cards and other components in the game use the classic Star Trek font, with photographs from the film as illustrations. The design of Expeditions’ components is pure eye candy for fans of the franchise.
The main premise of Star Trek Expeditions is that the Enterprise has been sent to the planet Nibia to assist the planet in joining the Federation. However, the Nibians are dealing with several issues: the threat of civil war, an energy crisis, and a political debate that seems to be tied to Klingon involvement in the Nibian government. Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and McCoy are to manage these three types of missions, all the while defending the Enterprise from attack by a Klingon Battlecruiser. Mission cards of three types (political, energy, and rebels) as well as other side missions are all shuffled up and placed on the planet, where they can be explored and (hopefully) overcome in order to successfully complete the game.