Star Trek the CCG

Another CCG that I dabbled in when it came out and then sold off. Some other ZOCo readers went into this pretty heavily when it was released. I have the letters still gentlemen, you may want to make a donation to ZOCo funds or I might consider publishing them. I am sure that Mr D_ has now got over buying all those cards. The original tin of cards has since been turning up at dealers for well below the £80 label. I caved in when it dropped to £38.50. I saved a few more bob by visiting a player and getting a wad of useful common cards that he had a biscuit tin full of. I noted that these cards had been played with and some were looking pretty scratched and bent. Moral the Carta Mundi quality does not last long. I next had to spend nearly as much as I had spent on the cards to buy little plastic houses for them. Hopefully this will keep them neat should I try and get some cash back. I have noticed that my kids can be pretty destructive towards cards even during normal play.

Since the original set Decipher have brought out Alternate Universe, Q Continuum and Borg sets that are only sold in boosters but have the usual mix of common rare and uncommon cards. This makes getting the full set way too hard so I will stick with the basic tin and a few extras. The Alternate Universe set includes a lot of cards that exist in parallel timelines and are brought in through door cards. There are also new regular cards that just expand the ordinary deck. I have added a few of the new ordinary cards to the collection as they were free. Q Continuum is a whole new deck that is brought into play through a Q special card. You have the main deck and include a few special Q cards that allow use of the separate Q deck allowing more than the 60-card maximum to be played. There is also Qís tent that is another stack of Q cards to use with missions. Frankly I have kept away from all this and will not comment. The Borg set is based on the latest film and is sold in 12s for £1.50. There are 40 rares, one in each pack. Naturally there will not be an even distribution of rares, 40 packs will not get you the set. Again I have kept away from Borg for reasons of finance.

Back to the game, I have played it twice, the chrome is good, the gameplay way below that from SPI and such. The crux is building the deck, finding 60 cards to use from the hundreds that you have. There are many web pages on this sort of thing and it ids obvious that a good deck is the key to winning. Multiple use of rare cars is fine; at least one set for each player is assumed. This deck selection requires much more thought then the game, you have to pick 6 mission cards and then choose personnel that can solve those missions. The peopleís skills are matched to the mission skills. Dilemmas and events are chosen to slow up the opposition or offer some boost, some of these are way more useful than others, the benefits of owning a lot of cards. Of the 60 cards in a playerís hand, 6 must go on missions, 1 to an outpost, 18+ dilemmas. Add some events and ships and about 10 cards are left for personnel.

Frankly I canít be bothered with all this I just want to slap them down and get on with the game. The best compromise is to give every player 1 of each card, remove the cards that are not relevant to their chosen affiliation (Feds and such) then go for it. Everyone now has a more or less equal draw pile of some 200 or so cards (pretty hard to shuffle); after missions are chosen the remaining 150ish in each hand can be shuffled and used for play. I am not planning to buy another tinned set so have only 1 of most cards. Some cards are the antidotes to others; a random mix and shuffling into 2 of all the cards could give one player the damage card and its antidote. Some of these cards are very strong and will end the game in a few turns. I have played with the shuffle the lot method, it works but games can go on for a bit as players wait for the right skills to crop up to accomplish the missions. Oddly this method works rather better if missions are chosen that both players can accomplish. Both players can race for the "easy" missions with the possibility of solving a mission after the other side has removed most of the bad dilemmas. Restricting mission choice to those that both players can solve does restrict the number of available missions for play and hence the repeat value of the game.

Another solution is to take all the cards (400+ in my case) and build up 4 decks (2 of Feds as they have most personnel) to be used as required. Naturally these will become dull after a few games and require pooling and starting again. What has put me off here is the thought of sorting out the whole lot into these balanced decks. The pro and anti cards will have to be matched so that if an affiliation have the Borg they must play against someone with the antidote (Hugh Borg), in such a case the other 2 affiliations will have to put up with the Borg as I have only got 1 Hugh. This is not high on my agenda but given a lot of time (better put to other use) would pay off. Incidentally there are 2 ready to play packs, Klingon/Federation and something else. These include some missions that are not available anywhere else (probably) and save the trouble of searching the deck for the best cards. This is probably the best way to start and stop playing Star Trek CCG although the deck will not win you any competitions. I find the concept of playing this competitively quite frightening and suspect that many "players" only get the cards because of the Trek pictures and the hope that this will make them worth a few bob in the future.

Collectable Card Games

Having sold off my stash of Star Trek cards at the Manchester Auction I can now officially condone the craze as a waste of money. I have to admit to liking Star Trek and having seen all the episodes at leasrt once although I have missed the odd DS9. This prompted me to shell out on Star Trek The Collectable Card Game when it ihit this country.

For those still in the dark this game is based on a set of (alegedly) 366 cards, 1 of which, Whoopie Goldberg does not exist. Not surprisingly these cards are graded as common, uncomon or rare which reflects how easy they are to get hold of. Cards are only sold in sealed starter packs of 60 (£7) or boosters of 15 (£2), the rules are included in each starter pack. A starter pack should contain 2 rares plus a few uncomons, a booster 1 rare and 3 uncommons. At least 60 cards are required to play of which 6 must be (different) mission cards, at least 6 dilemmas and 1 outpost. Other cards are ships, personnel, events and interrrupts (another type of event). Cards are also rated for species, Federation, Klingon, Romulan or neutral. To play a game the 2 players must each have a hand of 60 cards apropriate to 1 species or an alliance of species, the neutral cards can help anybody but it is not possible to play as neutrals.

It is not possible to get enough cards to build up the required hand in 2 starter packs because each pack contains a mixture of card types and racial alignments. At least 3 starter packs will have to be bought and split into Federation, Romulan and Klingon hands. With luck the races' missions and dilemmas (which are played on missions) will enable 2 hands of 60 cards to be built up with the rest as spares. In practice it will need a few more boosters or another starter pack to give a playable mix and allow for some changes between games, say £28 to get the system in a playable condition.

To play the game both player lay thier 6 missions in a line, 1 of yours 1 of mine. Missions are rated for distance from the next mission so the missions become a line of planets in space. Under each mission bothg players may place dilemmas. Missions require certain skills to solve but are visible to the players, personel move to the planet or region of space by ship and if they have suitabkle skills can solve the mission. Before solving the mission the crew members must also solve any dilemmas hidden under the mission. Dilemmas also require skills to be solved but unlike missions they are not revealed until a the missiomn is attempted. The aim of the game is to set up dileemas whuich will be hard for the opponent but will pose no problems for your own side. With only 60 cards allowed per player it is the initial mix of cards that will govern play, the more cards you have to pick from the more choice of missions and dilemmas, it also helps to have some good ships to get the boys to where the action is and the odd event or interrupt to foul up the opponenty to give yourself a boost. Apart from the mission, dilemma and outpost cards which are set up to form the playing area each player's remaining cards are kept as draw piles. These piles are shuffled before play and each player draws 1 card from his pile per turn. There is thus some random element in when cards come out, personnel may have to hang around an outpost until a suiitable ship turns up, if they later get into trouble they may have to hang around in space until a rescue team can be drawn. Points are earned for accomplishing missions and the player with the most points when 1 player's cards run out wins, 1 card must be picked up every turn so the game is unlikely to last long.

Naturally some of the rare cards are rather powerful, Enterprise crew are rare as are important ships and high rnking members of other races. To get these rare cards you will need to spend money, this is where the problems start. Boster packs are sold to retailers in displays of 36 packs, each with 15 cards, 540 cards total perhaps £40 to £50 wholesale. An advert in Dragon magazine sells collectable cards in booster displays but will this number of cards get the set? Will it heck? I refer to Mr D. (name withheld for legal reasons) who paid for £200 worth of booster displays and opened the lot, he was still short of the set by 22 or so cards. Another booster display rushed up from Esdveium yielded no new cards. It sems that Mr D. now has a set partly due to buying individual cards from a dealer. It is clear that Star Trek is unreasonably expensive.