Each of the four characters has a ranking for three different attributes: command, science, and operations. The values for these, as well as battle damage, are tracked by the “Clix”-style rotating base for each miniature. Attempting a mission seems easy enough: simply roll two dice, add in the appropriate attribute value, and any modifiers. But there are many, many modifiers that affect your chances, including crew cards, skill types, and the presence of other players. Keeping track of all these factors can be a bit confusing, and the game feels a bit “mathy” as a result.
Of course, as with any good co-op, the game itself is working against you. Star Trek Expeditions is constantly threatening your odds of success. Each turn, a Stardate card must be drawn, and these keep track of time as well as detail bad things that happen. You might lose crew member cards in play, take clicks of damage, or have to discard from your hand. One particularly nasty element is the branching progression of missions. If you fail a mission, or barely meet the minimum requirements, this affects which mission comes next, making it slightly harder. To top it all off, the Enterprise crew must complete all the missions within thirty days before the Klingon starfleet arrives and the game is over. It can be very tough, but thankfully there are three levels of difficulty available if you are struggling too much to win.
There are a few downsides to the experience in Star Trek Expeditions. Perhaps the biggest issue is replayability. There are no new planets to visit, and no new foes to overcome. The crew must assists the Nibians on each new game. The replayability of the branching mission paths helps, but still, it gets repetitive and certainly doesn’t emulate the explorative elements the franchise is famous for. Another issue is the blandness of the Stardate cards. You might be instructed to take two damage, but there’s no flavorful or thematic explanation as to why. These reservations aren’t game breaking, by any means, but they certainly deserve mention.
If I were writing a Captain’s Log report about Star Trek Expeditions, it would be generally positive. The components are nice, and the theme is mostly right on target. The mechanics are solid, if a bit ponderous, and the cooperative aspects are fairly strong, with two or three players required to work together in order to overcome the most difficult missions. If you are a fan of the new movie, and don’t mind a bit of calculation to go along with your phasers and tricorders, Star Trek Expeditions is worth a try.