Boldly go where no one has gone before. In Star Trek: Ascendancy — a board game of exploration, expansion and conflict between the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, and the Romulan Star Empire — you control the great civilizations of the Galaxy, striking out from your home worlds to expand your influence and grow your civilization. Will you journey for peace and exploration, or will you travel the path of conquest and exploitation? Command starships, establish space lanes, construct starbases, and bring other systems under your banner. With more than 200 plastic miniatures and 30 star systems representing some of the Star Trek galaxy’s most notable planets and locations, Star Trek: Ascendancy puts the fate of the galaxy in your hands.
The great unknown lies before you; with every turn is a new adventure as your ships explore new space systems, encounter new life forms and new civilizations, make wondrous discoveries, and face challenging obstacles, all drawn from the vast fifty year history of Star Trek. Will you brave the hazards of Rura Penthe to harvest vital resources, race to develop Sherman’s Planet before your rivals stake their claim, or explore the mysteries of the Mutara Nebula on an ever-growing, adaptive map of the galaxy. With an infinite combination of planets and interstellar phenomena, no two games of Star Trek: Ascendancy will ever play the same!
I love me a good asymmetrical game, from something as small as a single player ability to full blown different game genres for different players. And each of the races in Star Trek felt nicely unique. And mine was the best. Their rules even said so: “If you have the highest weapons or shields at the start of your turn gain culture because you’re the best.” Sadly my team was supposed to do more sneaky combat manipulation tricks with its small recon fleet, and then swap out for a different fleet to reap the benefits and murder everyone with our superior culture and weapons and stealing their ships to spend as research. But I had a hard time getting into fights early in the game. That still didn’t stop me from sitting on 3 different home worlds at once and almost winning the game! Still had all the punchy goodness of superior firepower and defenses. Apart from the great variety in factions, I really liked the map creation system. Any time you want if your planet still has capacity for a space lane you can just fly off into space looking for more planets. And if that planet just happens to be your allies undefended home world creating a backdoor past all their defensive lines when they thought they were safe? So be it! The map was incredibly dynamic, never letting you feel safe. I had a Borg system 2 planets from my home base capable of spawning Borg cubes every round, since my second turn in the game! And a Borg was chilling on the first planet I ever found! No one is safe. Except me, other players got events calling the Borg cubes to them, and they never rolled enough to spawn on me again. My ally fought like 4 cubes though. I didn’t win, but I still felt powerful and cool, and that’s a win for me.
For the unilingual readers, once again in English:
I’m probably most well known online as a Doctor Who fan. But Star Trek is, and always will be, my first sci-fi love. In fact, the original TNG Customizable Card Game was probably my first big non-Magic foray into gaming. I haven’t often had the opportunity to play a lot of Star Trek games since then, so when Pawn & Pixel asked me to join in on Ascendancy I was all in. Of course, being a proud member of KAG and the I.K.V. Swifthawk, I could choose no other faction than my Klingons.
The actual play area is 3×3 but when you factor in space for the player’s stuff, plus the Borg AI expansion, this game is pretty huge. We played on 4’x6′ worth of table space and it felt about right. It’s supposed to run about an hour per player, which also worked out about right. Well, it WOULD HAVE worked out about right, if I hadn’t intentionally disregarded my chance at a “cultural victory” with the intention of decimating the Romulan Empire and wiping them off the map. Unfortunately, being six feet across the table, I underestimated their planetary defence powers and the game went another two hours thanks to my Klingon arrogance. In the end, we decided that the Cardassians had met the victory conditions to win as of their turn so if no one else was able to win before then we would concede even if they no longer met eligibility. That final round could have seen the Andorians, Cardassians, or Klingons win. But with a warrior’s skill and honour, there was really no doubt that I would come out victorious.
Until last that few hours, the time seemed to fly by at near warp speed. If you are a player who suffers from “analysis paralysis” please avoid this game. Not because you won’t enjoy it, but because everyone else is likely to want to murder you. But other than that the game mechanics are tight, the factions are well designed, and most importantly it FEELS like some of the more battle-heavy story arcs. Bonus points for how they included Wolf-359 in the Borg expansion.
Let us start with and get it out of the way: I am SOMEWHAT of a Star Trek Fan. Sisko is the best captain (don’t @ me) and Deep Space 9 the best series (again… don’t @ me). With this in mind, I set out playing the Cardasians with a fresh galaxy infront of me and 4 players to Conquer.
Hearing word that the Borg had been spotted on the other side of the galaxy, I proceeded to expand my Empire (Using the neat space way system and unfolding galaxy) by taking worlds and advancing technology (Another nifty mechanic handled fairly well). I had Romulans to the left of me and Klingons to my right and knew if they wanted to fight (rolling d6s and trying to beat a target number) I’d have a tougher time, so I tried my best to stay neutral. The Andorians and Federation had their hands full with the Borg, and soon did the Romulans, so I felt it would be easy to cruise to a victory. Pushed out, befriended some klingons, attacked the klingons, became friends again…. Then got invaded by the Romulans (They took my home world and prevented me from winning the game). Before I could take it back, the Klingons (after having victory in their hands and choosing not to pounce on it) decided that adding 2 hours to the game length was enough and snatched victory from my ever clenched fist.
Overall, love the game (minus the extended overtime) and look forward to playing it again.
Star Trek Ascendancy is a phenomenal game from a flavour perspective. Despite all sides playing close to symmetrically, the art and specific techs each playable race brings to the table, as well as unique minis and player boards, sells it really hard. I had the pleasure of playing Romulan and got to experience every bit of that sneaky, strike and fade, xenophobic playstyle. As well, the expansion addition of the Borg, helped to alleviate a lot of 4x games problems and gave players a big combat threat off the hop. It does a lot to disrupt optimized resource allocation and forces players to be used to swingy combats and out of nowhere threats. Something that pays off in the endgame, when players know what to expect, how to defend and how to rebuild. My only real complaint is that the length of games is hugely variable and it’s hard to pencil in another game for that day. All in all, super engaging, fun and worthwhile experience for me.