Title: Star Trek Catan
Release Date: 2012
Publisher: Mayfair Games
Age: 10 and older
Pros: Based on Settlers of Catan, an awesome game, pretty pieces.
Cons: Some assembly required, much more Catan than Star Trek.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 90/100, A-, **** 1/2 out of 5
If any single game is responsible for the Eurogames phenomenon, it’s Settlers of Catan. There are dozens of products based on this great game (including a vaguely religious themed Settlers of Canaan), so I suppose it was only a matter of time before the game was crossbred with a very identifiable license.
Star Trek is a funny license, however, it’s been broken up into various eras associated with television series. In this case, Star Trek means the old ’60s show starting “The Shat,” something of an odd pick considering the recent movie reboot basically negating the old series.
Captain Kirk will not have wood for sheep, not even a green one.
The greatest thing about Catan games is the randomness: The board is a hex map, build anew each game. An additional layer of randomness assigns a production number to each hex. Production of resources is determined by a roll of two dice each player turn. Hexes that produce on a “6” or “8” are vastly more productive than those that only produce on a “12”. Each game players very differently and key to victory is adapting a strategy to the current board.
Resources allow a player to build things, mostly. Fans of Catan will pick up the new game quickly. Instead of roads, settlements, and cities, players will now build starships, outposts, and starbases, respectively. Resources likewise have translated from wood, grain, sheep and stone, to more Star Trek-like substances like tritanium, dilithium, food, and oxygen (although it’s a funny universe that has as much dilithium as oxygen in it). It’s almost impossible for a player to get his outposts built in a way to get all the resources he needs, so on his turn he’ll try to trade with other players, by announcing something like, “I have tritanium, for food.”
In addition to building, resources can be used to buy Development cards, which randomly give some small bonus. These are a bit of a gamble, as most bonuses are small (less than the resources spent for the card), while other bonuses (such as victory points) can be game-winning.
Victory is determined by points with ten points winning the game. Each outpost is worth a point, a starbase is worth two, and there are a few other ways to get points in a game that usually takes an hour or less to finish. It’s a great game to play multiple times a night.
The only nod to Star Trek in the game are support cards. Each player begins the game with such a card, which grants a single-use bonus. After use, the player can flip the card (allowing a second use), or exchange it for another card. The bonuses are all things that fit well within the Canan set of rules, but nonetheless the cards add an additional level of strategy to the game, as the player picks what kind of bonus he hopes to exploit net. The artwork on the cards is nice, except for Chekov, who seems to have developed a somewhat larger forehead than what I remember.
Overall, Star Trek Catan is great game, and anyone not familiar with Settlers of Catan will find it extremely enjoyable. Fans of Settlers, however, might be a bit disappointed at how little the Star Trek license influences the game, though I’ve seen my share of license games that have done less with a license.