Star Trek Ascendancy
By Ray Snyder
A lot of new games have released at Gencon are are appearing on store shelves or will be soon. Of all the new and exciting releases, the one I’m most excited for is Star Trek Ascendancy, a new 4X space game by Gale Force 9. 4X games are games where you eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate your way to victory, leading a fledgling civilization from humble beings to galaxy spanning Star Empire . Gale Force 9 has created several popular board games based on popular media, such as Firefly, Spartacus, Sons of Anarchy, and other TV series. These games are know for thematic designs, fantastic components and great art design. Now both Star Trek and the 4X genre get the Gale Force 9 treatment.
Star Trek Ascendancy, is a 4X game at heart, but all the reviews and research I’ve seen suggests it’s less about combat and more about exploration, growth of your sciences and Culture. You can win a game of Star Trek Ascendancy in two ways, you gain 5 Ascendancy Tokens or taking control of all other players home worlds. You gain Ascendancy tokens, by spending Culture, a common resource you will gain from some planets you control. However controlling everyone’s home planet for a military victory is reported to be very difficult to achieve, but does give any self styled Space Warlords a chance to just win by galactic conquest.
Most 4X game have a reputation of being “Long” games, sometimes with set up taking up to an hour or more, before launching into a 3-6 hour epic game. Ascendancy Aims to lower that time commitment. Setup for the game is 5-10 minutes, once playing the game is 2-3 hours. Ascendancy is a three player game, and while advertised expansion will add more races and the option of more players, I’m really excited to have a game like this that’s designed to play with three players. Often big 4X games with about a half dozen players can have 15 – 20 minutes pass as the turn goes around the table, but with three players that should largely mitigate that issue. Additionally and more importantly, it will be much easier to gather two other players for a game then it will be to get everyone to commit to the game with larger groups.
This game appear to have a ton of replay-ability, the factions, planet layout, exploration cards, sciences researched, and dice rolls all lead to a different game each time you play.
The Three Factions included in the game are Federation, Romulan, and Klingons, however Ferengi and Cardassians will arrive in the next few months. Each faction plays differently and and have unique strengths and weaknesses and a faction specific sciences deck that is large enough that it will take many play thoughts to explore fully.
Also the first print run has extra set of exploration cards based on The Original Series. They will be marked with a 50th anniversary Sticker, so if you’re interested in getting this game pick up or preorder a copy to make sure you get your copy of The Original Series Explorations cards.