Sunday, September 3, 2017

Playing Star Trek: Ascendancy with old friends like it was 1985 all over again

These last couple of years, my friend Craig has been visiting my friend Jim and I from out of town on Labour Day weekend, a once a year happening only.

The three of us over 30 years ago were avid players of FASA's Star Trek RPG and were well immersed in the pre-Next Generation Star Trek universe. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan made a great impression on us as teenagers. So naturally with Craig in town, we decided to play Star Trek: Ascendancy by Gale Force Nine.

What is commendable is that Craig immediately played after driving for nearly 6 hours straight to come see us on Saturday afternoon.

We were actually supposed to play Ascendancy with Craig the previous Labour Day, but it came out, despite promises to the contrary, days after Labour Day last year, so we played Star Trek: Attack Wing with him instead last year.

Jim and I have played Ascendancy with other friends since then, but the funny thing is, we kept telling ourselves since last year's Labour Day that when we'll play with Craig this year, we'll add the Ferengi and Cardassian expansions to make up for last year's lost opportunity. Well, after months and months of delays, the expansions for these two hit the store shelves literally at the last minute, on Friday night, at least here in Toronto, less than 24 hours before Craig was to arrive in our fair city.

So, we just barely got the expansions in line with the core game to play Ascendancy with him for the first time. Very strange timing for both years.

None of us played the Ferengi nor the Cardassians, but we did use their planetary tiles, which was what we wanted all along for the variety.

I played the Romulans, Craig the Klingons and Jim the UFP.

I won't elaborate too much on game play, as I have done it elsewhere (such as here, for example).

What I enjoyed about the game with Craig and Jim, was that got into our old routine, and there were times playing we lapsed back into the world view and terminology of the old FASA Star Trek universe. Craig and I are big fans of the John M. Ford Klingons, who were a big part of the FASA Star Trek universe. (I talked about John M. Ford's Klingons in an earlier post.)
We used terms easily like we were 15 years old again.. Craig for instance, didn't like the game's terms for the Klingon home world, Kronus (or whatever it is now called), but called it the old FASA term,  Klinzhai.

But we ribbed each other with other old FASAisms like:

federazhon - United Federation of Planets
komerex zha - the perpetual game
kuve - servitor or slave
straave, straav' - slave
tokhe straav' - willing slave - worst insult one can call a Klingon

to add to the game play, which has enjoyable mechanics that don't feel bolted on.

The map got filled up as this game is wont to do quickly.

Poor Jim kept running into space hazards like nebulas and pulsars, not getting too many resources in the process. What he did was research a lot, while Craig and I focused on quantity, as were getting resources to build vast cheap fleets, all the while hypocritically and tongue-in-cheek ribbing Jim for his Federazhon's aggression and threatening moves that risked galactic war.  All in good fun of course, like it was 1985 again, and we were RPGing a FASA Star Trek session.

On top of that, the three of us kept cracking jokes, such as for instance, offering to jokingly sell Horta meat and eggs as part of our trade deals. When I encountered the Horta, I jokingly screamed "NO KILL I" at Jim and Craig, as well.

And to unnerve the other two players and make a joke, I played on my smart phone Kirk's "risk" speech and blared Uhura's "Beyond Antares" song when Jim, as the UFP, discovered new planets.

We were a bunch of old guys reliving the good old days as it were, when we were teenagers in the early 80s, a time when we really loved Star Trek and the old FASA Star Trek RPG universe.

Anyways, both Craig and I were determined to attack Jim as he was getting close to winning with 5 Ascendancy points. Craig fired the opening shots of the war, attacking Jim at Bajor..

and I lunged deep into Federazhon space taking over the planet Kurl..

However, Jim was building up a sizable tech advantage in shields and he counter-attacked, forcing me to retreat..

Craig and I realized our attacks on Jim were uncoordinated, and after Jim sent me reeling, Craig was too far away to help and thus, Jim got his 5 Ascendancy stars and won.

That's okay though.. It was nice to immerse myself with my original teenage gang in our original setting, the Star Trek universe, making it the FASA Star Trek universe, at least verbally when we played.

An enjoyable time was had by all, and I hope we can keep the three of us this tradition at next year's Labour Day.


  1. The Three Amigos playing the game we've been trying to play for a year. Good times!

  2. Good times indeed ! The game plays smoothly and the mechanics are easy to learn. I liked it.