Game Review: Star Trek Panic
Captain's Log, stardate: Monday evening. The Enterprise has encountered a derelict ship floating in space. We are attempting to investigate but our shields are in tatters and bits of the hull are falling off. The klingon battlecruisers that periodically warp into the sector are an on-going problem but we will get underway as soon as we can ditch this damn Thorean.
Star Trek Panic is a fairly slight but fun co-operative game that succeeds in capturing much of the feel of the original Star Trek series. Each player takes on a role from the show, each with a special rule that applies to only them (Scotty can repair part of the ship each turn, etc). The board represents the Enterprise and the space around her. Players use their turns to fire phasors at the various threats that warp in while also working towards completing an on-going mission before the time-limit expires.
The board is easily the best part of the game. The cardboard Enterprise with its plastic shields is neat by itself and receiving damage is actually fun because you get on slot on damage markers or destroyed sections of the hull. After a few missions the Enterprise starts looking pretty beat up and the game turns into a race for survival.
This is a game that prioritises theme over mechanics. The mission descriptionssome taken directly from memorable episodes and artwork do a good job of making what could be a dry abstract game into an experience that invokes the stressful few minutes in a Star Trek episode where the Enterprise is outgunned and the shields are low. Things can get a bit tense once the damage starts piling on.
Star Trek Panic is purely co-operative, there are no hidden objectives, intrige, or backstabbing. The flip side of this is that player interaction is very low and there is almost no strategy apart from immediately dealing with whatever threat seems most dangerous at the time. Turns are quick but there is little to do or think about while you wait for other players. There is so little interaction between players that Star Trek Panic makes for a funif a little sad, socially speaking one-player game. The game is supposed to last for 5 missions but you can shorten it by just playing fewer if you get bored.
Fond memories of the original show smooth over the simplistic nature of the game, I can imagine players unfamiliar with Star Trek would be mystified by some of the goings on. I wouldn't want too many games like Star Trek Panic but I am glad I own one social and co-operative game like this for when I want something a little less competitive. If only it came with a CD filled with the original Enterprise background noise.