I’m pretty picky about Star Trek-adjacent material, and I will say that I enjoy the hell out of Star Trek: Missions, though I am not convinced it is a game I would recommend to non-ST-nerds. Were it not for the clever layering of the subject matter over the game, this is not the kind of thing I dig.
However, if the phrase “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra” means anything to you, this game might be for you.
This was an instance where the right framing of the thing made me delight in the thing. For me, the best way to enjoy Star Trek: Missions is to pretend that you are constructing an episode of Star Trek, complete with A, B, and possibly C plots.
This is a variation on the previously published Fantasy Realms, a game that I loathe, which can be loosely described as a drafting game. Basically, you have a seven-card hand, with two Mission cards and five Galaxy cards that are randomly drawn at the outset of the game, and you’re trying to adjust that hand over a variable-length game to score the optimal amount of points from those seven cards combined.
Cards synergize with other cards, multiplying their points, doubling them, removing point possibilities until certain cards are together, etc. It’s pretty simple. Get the Riker card, pair it with Deanna Troi, and boom, you’ve got some points and space romance.
The game has three actions, all of which are variations on “draw one or two cards, discard one or two cards” and there is a discard pile from which players try to snipe the cards that work best for their hand. Once the discard piles hit a certain size (different depending on the type of card) the game is over.
The fun is entirely in building zany combinations where a meddlesome Q collaborates with Picard to create a holodeck malfunction. The score-totaling at the end can be onerous unless you’re one at a time announcing your cards while everyone has a nice little chuckle of nostalgia.
The game performs better at lower player counts, and while I wouldn’t recommend it to a non-Star Trek obsessive, I’ll be keeping this one around to enjoy at my dork parties.