WDYPTW: Star Trek Chrono-Trek Review
Star Trek Chrono-Trek
Designer: Andrew Looney
Art: Kevin Hill
Publisher: Looney Labs
Let's start by acknowledging I'm a pretty big Star Trek fan. I grew up watching reruns of The Original Series (TOS). Having seen them so many times, my sister and I would have contests to guess the episode title before it came on screen. Later when The Next Generation (TNG) was on it was 'must see' viewing for my wife and I. We threw watching parties with Trek themed food and drink. We continued to enjoy the movies and later series. Most recently we went on a Trek themed cruise where we got to hang out with other fans like the designer of this game, Andrew Looney, and play some of his games, including a prototype of this one. So, I was excited when Looney Labs reached out and offered me this review copy of the final version.
I'd have to say this game is heavily steeped in Star Trek time-traveling lore, and crosses most of the genre including the cartoons and movies. You have to be a hardcore fan to remember every card reference, but I think that is the point. The game is based on an earlier Looney Labs game I have called Chrononauts. The game 'board' is an array of cards that represent time events can be flipped through card play, and this causes ripples in the timeline flipping over cards further down the timeline. Perhaps Picard doesn't get in a fight with a Nausicaan and doesn't get stabbed in the heart, and later captain the Enterprise, so that card flips… You remember that episode right? Each player has a character whose win condition is to have the timeline in a certain status, either original timeline or flipped, often contrary to the other players. Players may also need artifacts in play such as tribbles, or humpback whales.
Another added twist is a timer of event cards taken from the last TNG episode, with an explosion at the Devron station traveling back in time, getting larger and larger with each card flipped. If all of these cards flip, Q wins. There are fractures in the timeline which require multiple events to occur to be able to play. These are required to win in the higher difficulty levels.
Game play is a quick 15-30 minutes, depending on the difficulty level. The characters have pips on them, representing difficulty allowing you to mix with players of different ability. Play is a simple -- draw one, play one from a large deck of cards. If you don't draw something you can play, you can draw another card. There are also a few cards that let you dump your hand, so there always seemed to be options. The game is only cards -- a small box split into two with several characters at each of the four levels of difficulty, four reference cards, and the timeline deck.
As a game, it can be a little tedious waiting to draw the card you need as well as the back and forth card flipping of opponents. Fortunately there action cards other optional mid-game challenges that give you something to do while you wait. Also, the added complexity levels add to the challenge. Don’t expect anything too heavy — this is a Looney Labs game after all. But know that you are going to have some fun, especially if you are a Star Trek fan. You will be talking about the shows and thinking about how they tie together. What would happen if Edith Keilor didn't die? What if Enterprise C didn't come through the wormhole? What if Benjamin Sisko didn't take over DS9? If you want to know the answer to these questions, this game is for you.
Footnote: The game is not listed as a solo game but there really isn't a reason why not. With the event cards acting as the timer you can try to beat the game before Q wins. You will need ignore the cards that impact other players. I decided to give it a try and played a card to the discard pile in between each of my turns to act as the the other player and push the possible events out. The game loses some of the tension of your opponent flipping over your cards but someone asked me about the possibility so I thought I should share my thoughts.
See my review of Looney Labs’ Star Trek Fluxx games.