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Jan212013

Star Trek Catan Review: “To Half-Heartedly Go Where No One has Gone Before”

star trek catan

Licensed games can be hit or miss. You might come across games that are genuinely good like a Game of Thrones or one of the myriad Star Wars games.  On the other hand, the game can seem like a cash grab that leaves fans with a feeling of disappointment and lost opportunity.  Unfortunately, Star Trek Catan falls into the latter category.

For those unfamiliar with the original Settlers of Catan, the game feels like Risk and Monopoly had a baby.  That baby then grew up to be cooler than either of its parents. In fact, those who play it often call it cardboard crack.

In the game, you play the role of a colonizer of Catan.  You collect resources and trade with your opponents to build roads and settlements. Part of the strategy comes in trying to prevent other players from getting resources they need while making sure you get your bases covered. The goal is to get 10 victory points and settle Catan.

So if it has such a well regarded pedigree, where does this game go wrong? It seems like little thought went into bringing the Star Trek license to the game.  Take, for instance, the pieces representing the players.

Roads in this game are replaced by a load of Enterprises while villages and cities are replaced with Federation starbases.  The swap seems like the obvious one to make at first.  A little more thought would have seen each player in control of a different alien race like the Romulans, Klingons or the Gorn instead of all players in the role of the Federation.  In fact, that arrangement would make much more sense in the context of the game.  After all, why would the Federation compete against each other to colonize the galaxy?

foodThat same carelessness to details creeps into other aspects of the game.  I seriously have to question whoever thought that dark blue is a good choice for a player colour when the entire board is mainly black.  Then there are questionable artistic decisions such as the art for the food resource card. It looks like two Big Mac boxes.

There even seems to be a lackluster attempt to tie members of the Enterprise to the game.  You’re given a card each with a different character on it.  These characters will provide you with certain bonuses.  The problem is that their effect on the game is so negligible that there really is no point having them there.  The game is actually better if you ignore them completely.

That’s not to say that there isn’t anything positive to say about it.  The entire set seems to have a higher build quality to it.  In almost all games of the original Catan, the board never felt solid.  At any point, you were certain it would break apart.  That isn't the case with this version.  Everything snaps together solidly making the board at least feel like it’s of a bit higher quality.

That said, this game has a whole host of problems that prevent me from recommending it to anyone.  It’s more expensive than the normal Catan.  In fact, in most cases it can be at least $20 more.  There’s nothing in this game for a Catan player to warrant paying that much more for a game that is basically the same thing but with a pallet swap.  The lack of detail tying it to the Star Trek universe means it’s hard to even recommend to Star Trek fans.  The only group I can see this appealing to are collectors due to its limit availability.  If that’s the only appeal, than unfortunately it’s a poor one since it means it won’t be played often if at all.  Isn’t that the point of a game, after all?

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    Its excellent as your other articles : D, appreciate it for posting . "For peace of mind, we need to resign as general manager of the universe." by Larry Eisenberg.
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Reader Comments (1)

Raff, your journalistic abilities are growing steadily. This was a well thought-out, carefully worded, and deeply insightful review. It was even formatted well and contained links to wiki articles of potentially confusing terms. Good job man. I'm thoroughly impressed.

January 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Spectacular

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