Saturday, October 15, 2016

Star Trek Ascendancy is an enjoyable 4X romp in an old beloved universe..

I sat down with my friends Jim and CB to play Gale Force 9's Star Trek: Ascendancy today..

Jim and I grew up with the original Star Trek, and we've been fans for at least 40 years, so getting this game is a no-brainer. Jim bought a copy, and after today's play, I might get one myself. Much like Star Wars: Rebellion, this game has great mechanics and a theme I love.

The object of the game is to be the first to collect 5 Ascendancy points, achieved through collecting cultural points, which can be done in several ways.

The game has all the 4X trappings, fleets, resource management, a map to explore..

There is no board but planetary as well as space lane / corridor tiles that can be played on a mat. I started off on Romulus, with Jim on Earth and CB on Klinzhai (or whatever the Next Generation name for the Klingon home world is nowadays).

The space corridor lane mechanism allows you to shift the position of planets being explored up until two corridors are touching it, locking it in place afterward. It's a great little mechanism that allows the map to change a bit as we are all exploring the galaxy.

The galaxy starts new and explored, but soon, it is teeming with discoveries as planets are discovered.. This is very much keeping with the exploration theme of Star Trek, as opposed to kill-the-enemy incentives seen in some 4X games.

We started off fresh as the morning dew, but them space lanes started to pile up..

The best part are the event cards that are really nods to episodes from the TV shows, including thankfully from my beloved TOS show.. Star Trek fans will love this aspect especially.

Every time I discovered a new planet, there was some adventure..

Some examples:

Encountering diseases..

Meeting primitive people (and then conquering them)..

Encounter at Farpoint

Xeno-archaeology goodies..

Virgin planets to be annexed..

The Horta

Apollo the "God"

etc, etc.

There were way more encounter cards in the game than planets, so we only scratched the surface of possible encounters. I think this really adds to the replayability of the game in the future.

The game emphasizes exploration as I said, and the three of us were curling our space lanes back into each other to avoid contact with the other early in the game, to allow gathering some resources and prevent attack.

The game has a trade deal mechanism, like you see in the TV shows, but there is always the spectre of war in the game. It's on the horizon and once all the space lanes are mapped out, an enemy using warp can be on your doorstep before you know it.

I was suspicious of Jim from the beginning. He seemed to be headed in my direction at first..

then curled away until we inevitably connected space corridors in the middle.

Then boom, boom, boom, Jim invades me, taking one planet and besieging another of mine..

I heroically rallied and attacked with a quickly built-up fleet of 13 ships (4 in Fleet # 2 and 9 in Fleet # 3)..

I beat Jim back two planets before the game was drawing to a close..

I got 5 Ascendancy points, but so did Jim. In case of a tie, it is the player with the most worlds. I had 8, Jim had 9.. CB only had 3 points.

A close game indeed..

As I said, I enjoyed the simple mechanisms and the theme especially, and will likely pick up the game myself. Lots of variety and ways to go.

Thumbs up!


  1. Oh man that looks like fun. :) Sadly back where I'm at more people 'get' Star Wars than Star Trek. Me, I love both but if push comes to shove, I prefer the latter.

    1. I like this game and Star Wars: Rebellion, but my first love has to be the Star Trek Universe.. but it's so hard to decide. :-)