Sunday, 19 May 2019

Well Settled: Star Trek Catan

Catan isn't a new game, it's not a mind-blowing revelation but for us Star Trek fans the reissue is more than welcome.

In simple terms the objective is to reach a ten point target by building the longest supply route, the most outposts/starbases while wisely trading and collecting to make the most of your expansion opportunities.

Ideally played with four, the Stoke on Trent Star Trek Club were willing volunteers, fielding four teams of two for a 90 minute session on the classic board game.

The layout of the board can change with every game since the 19 hexagons (planet tiles) can be rearranged into any formation within the six border pieces. Each of the 18 planets receives a number which, indicated by the font size, indicates the larger likelihood of that being rolled.

Each player in turn gets to pick where their two ships and outposts get to start, are provided with a number of resources from where their second (of two) base is placed and you're off. Each ship needs to be linked to another and another to create a chain along which you can then use collected resources to build bases or get development cards allowing you extra flexibility and opportunity during the game to dominate the sector.

Players take turns to rolls two die which indicates a particular planet and any players with an outpost or starbase located next to said planet receive the appropriate resource be it dilithium, tritanium, water, oxygen or food. But beware, roll a seven and that player gets to send in the Klingons and steal resources and you can always play one of the crew cards each player can select to activate a bonus action that can turn the tide of the game in a second. Different combinations of the resources allow you to invest in different things.

The key is to keep control of the rounds so ideally get one person to keep track of where you're at and ensure that all trades and builds are kept to the end of the round or it gets confusing. It's a lot of fun and player trades with four commanders is a lot better since you aren't restricted to trading 4:1 and can genuinely barter for items. You will no doubt be short of something in the initial few rounds when you're restricted to just the two outposts and are scrabbling round to build one ship and extend your trade route. Making friends early will be a big benefit later!

Now since the initial club game I've played this game a lot and every time it's come out differently in not just score but the way that the board evolves over time and the length it can take to get started properly let alone win. I'm more cautious as a player, choosing to expand slowly, collect and build bases as I go whereas I've seen others go for a long supply line then work on establishing bases further on.

There's a ton of ways to attack the game and it can get very strategic to block another
player's route off to strike out further from your own staging point. 

From a presentation perspective the game looks fantastic in its box and is themed around the classic movie era with Kirk and crew in their monster maroon uniforms. Each of the ships from the four colours - red, orange, white and blue - is modelled on the refit Constitution Class with the starbases resembling Space Dock when in their upgraded forms. The quality of the playing pieces, the cards and the game board is all excellent with minimal assembly required that you can do during your first run through. You also get a reassuringly thin rules book that also carries a quick start layout and a reference guide to all the terms in the game. The rules are fairly straight forward but there might be a few terms you need clarity on which this second book will help with and I keep to hand during any games.

I guarantee a lot of very entertaining and competitive evenings with Star Trek Catan. Yes it is basically the original game and might not gel too well with any of the Catan expansions for the original but for pure enjoyment based around your favourite franchise it's worth the price. Be prepared for this to last for at least an hour if you're playing a full four colour game. Variety is superb and every time there's something new; heck, I had a game last week where every other roll seemed to send the Klingons to another system. Another time I had more dilithium than I knew what to do with but no tritanium (wow, if only life were this easy...) - so you can't plan a solid strategy that will work for all situations. Just deal with what you've got and go from there!

Star Trek Catan is available now from all good games retailers. Check the Asmodee website for further details of stockists local to you!

You can also find out about the Stoke on Trent Star Trek Club (and follow them!) via their Facebook page.

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