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OVERVIEW
Star Trek: Five Year Mission is a light cooperative game where players assume the roles of the crew of the USS Enterprise, rolling dice to deal with the alerts revealed every turn in the hopes of resolving a sufficient number before they are overwhelmed.

COMPONENTS IN BRIEF
A bunch of dice in 3 colors, alert cards in 3 colors, 1 timer, 7 double-sided character playmats, 1 double-sided enterprise board.

GAMEPLAY IN BRIEF
Each player receives a character card with a unique special ability and 5 dice: 1 yellow, 2 red, 2 blue. Your turn consists of 4 phases:

1) Draw Alert Card - flip a card from one of the three colored alert decks and add it to the table, possibly triggering negative consequences. If this is the fourth alert of that color on the table, the oldest alert is automatically failed.

2) Replenish Dice - Take dice from the center to draw your total dice back up to 5.

3) Roll Dice - Roll any dice taken from the center, as well as (optionally) any dice you choose from your action bar. All rolled dice are now placed on your action bar.

4) Place Dice - You may place any dice from your action bar onto active alerts on the table, following each card's placement rules. Any completed alerts are resolved, possibly granting a victory point and/or one-shot special ability.

The players lose the game if the Enterprise takes lethal damage, or if 5 alerts are failed, or if all players are incapacitated. Otherwise, victory is achieved when a specified number of VP are scored.



GOOD POINTS

*Options for Original Series and Next Generation. I have enough friends who feel strongly about one or the other that if I said, "I got a new Star Trek game!", I can rely on some people being disappointed whether it's Kirk or Picard. Sensibly, all the components of Five-Year Mission are double-sided, so you can play as the TOS or TNG crew, who have some different special abilities. Even the Enterprise board is double-sided, although that is purely cosmetic.

*Accessible to Non-Gamers. With a brand like Star Trek, the game may intrigue people who otherwise would be unenthusiastic about modern boardgames. Such players will not be overwhelmed, as the play is much simpler than many co-ops: You roll a bunch of dice, and try to get specified sets of numbers. Although the gameplay is somewhat different, you can describe it as "vaguely like Yahtzee" to a non-gamer and draw them in with something reassuring and familiar.

*Game moves fairly swiftly. There's not too much downtime in this game, and it doesn't lend itself to lengthy discussions of how best to carefully strategize allocations, &c. You roll the dice, you place what you can, and then it's the next person's turn. One of the faster co-op games I've played.

*Jump-in, Jump-out option. The rulebook suggests that crew members can join or leave the game at will without disrupting gameplay. This is always a very useful feature for a large game that might be played at social gatherings, and not too many non-party-games have it.

*A few special cards keep things interesting. In addition to the various dice specifications such as "you must place these 3 dice at once", some card specialties include Priority Alerts which are failed if any other non-priority mission is completed, and Timed Alerts which receive the timer when revealed, automatically failing if time runs out. Some alerts automatically trigger damage to players or the flipping of an additional alert, which is nice to add some challenge in a game where players are otherwise easily tackling each alert as revealed. (Damaged players receive fewer dice to roll until healed. The Enterprise can also be damaged, and healed.)

*Differing special abilities nudge players towards different roles. Whoever is playing the Doctor character will naturally focus more on healing others, while the engineer does most of the ship repairs, the counselor helps others have a stronger turn, etc.

*Basically plays with any number. Works as well with 4 as it does with 6. And although the box says 3-7 players, we played it 2p before our first game to be able to teach it better, and it worked perfectly fine. There's no real reason it couldn't work solo either.

BAD POINTS

*Theme is somewhat pasted on. While some of the character abilities make sense (e.g. doctors heal, engineers repair), the alerts never feel like you're fending off a Romulan warship or solving a Tribble problem. The alerts are an endless stream of cards with random dice requirements which you roll and complete.

*The gameplay is fairly flat. Your turns are basically the same whether you are on the first turn of the game, halfway through, or the last turn of the game. You flip a card, roll some dice, and put them on cards to resolve alerts if possible. While you may be more interested in avoiding a failure once you already have 3, for the most part every turn of the game is the same.



CONCLUSION

Star Trek: Five-Year Mission is a casual, light co-op game. I'd describe it as "pleasant enough", which is to say that I'd generally be willing to play if asked, but would rarely suggest it if I had access to the rest of my game library. While it has a fun theme to draw in potential players and is easy enough to teach them, I tend to prefer games with more "meat on the bones". I foresee myself bringing this game to gatherings with Trek fans who aren't big gamers -- definitely including my New Years Eve party -- but not bringing it to a regular game night.

IS IT FOR YOU?

Five-Year Mission is a light little co-op that might be just the thing to bring out with people whose eyes glaze over when you try to explain the rules to your favorite complicated game. If you're looking for a friendly game to play with folks who aren't big gamers (or kids) -- especially if they're Trek fans -- this could hit the spot. Fast turns, easy to learn, and lots of fun dice-rolling.

Conversely, if you're used to playing other co-ops with heavier decision-making and more influence of one turn over the next, this one may feel like it lacks substance. Gamers looking for a meaty strategic arc should look elsewhere.

*Review copy provided by publisher
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mfl134
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Osirus wrote:

*The gameplay is fairly flat. Your turns are basically the same whether you are on the first turn of the game, halfway through, or the last turn of the game. You flip a card, roll some dice, and put them on cards to resolve alerts if possible. While you may be more interested in avoiding a failure once you already have 3, for the most part every turn of the game is the same.


My issue with this statement is you miss one of the most important decision points of the game. It is flip a card, CHOOSE DICE, roll dice, put them on the cards.

The choosing dice is generally key to success and one of the biggest strategic points of the game. (Making sure to not spread your dice out too much on alerts is the other key to success.)

I agree the game can be repetitive though and feel flat.

When you get near of the end of the game and you start running out of blue alerts, the dynamic of the game starts changing though.
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mfl134
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Osirus wrote:




also, looking at this picture you played wrong. the alert with the timer requires all dice to be placed simultaneously. (Because they are in the black area together)
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Paul Sauberer
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mfl134 wrote:
Osirus wrote:




also, looking at this picture you played wrong. the alert with the timer requires all dice to be placed simultaneously. (Because they are in the black area together)


And the first blue alert should be in the lineup. If it wasn't counted as one of the maximum of 3 that would have an impact.

EDIT: Maybe that was the first discard.
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Seth Brown
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mfl134 wrote:

My issue with this statement is you miss one of the most important decision points of the game. It is flip a card, CHOOSE DICE, roll dice, put them on the cards.

The choosing dice is generally key to success and one of the biggest strategic points of the game. (Making sure to not spread your dice out too much on alerts is the other key to success.)

I agree the game can be repetitive though and feel flat.

When you get near of the end of the game and you start running out of blue alerts, the dynamic of the game starts changing though.

Both seem fairly intuitive though; your goal is to complete alerts, so you tend to both pick and place dice in order to maximize completed alerts (absent one of those Prime Directive or Timed ones).

We never even got close to running out of blue alerts; perhaps that happens more playing on the higher difficulty levels. All 4 times I played were with new players each time, so we only played to 12.

Psauberer wrote:
mfl134 wrote:

also, looking at this picture you played wrong. the alert with the timer requires all dice to be placed simultaneously. (Because they are in the black area together)

And the first blue alert should be in the lineup. If it wasn't counted as one of the maximum of 3 that would have an impact.

This was a hastily-assembled pic because we didn't remember to take any during the actual game, so it's a bit thrown-together. But yes, during the actual game we started with the opening mission and played with the boxes correctly, as alluded to in the review.
 
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mfl134
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Osirus wrote:
mfl134 wrote:

My issue with this statement is you miss one of the most important decision points of the game. It is flip a card, CHOOSE DICE, roll dice, put them on the cards.

The choosing dice is generally key to success and one of the biggest strategic points of the game. (Making sure to not spread your dice out too much on alerts is the other key to success.)

I agree the game can be repetitive though and feel flat.

When you get near of the end of the game and you start running out of blue alerts, the dynamic of the game starts changing though.

Both seem fairly intuitive though; your goal is to complete alerts, so you tend to both pick and place dice in order to maximize completed alerts (absent one of those Prime Directive or Timed ones).

We never even got close to running out of blue alerts; perhaps that happens more playing on the higher difficulty levels. All 4 times I played were with new players each time, so we only played to 12.


Perhaps the issue is that the game is generally not incredibly hard playing for the 20 point limit so playing for less is really easy. Usually it starts get tense later in the game where things really need to start happening.

You need to grab dice that not only maximize your chances of helping out, but you might need to save certain dice based on the leftover dice of others.
 
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Bobby Warren
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mfl134 wrote:
When you get near of the end of the game and you start running out of blue alerts, the dynamic of the game starts changing though.

When we played, we focused more on the alerts that scored points for you, so we were pulling yellow or red ones most turns, usually pulling blues when the other rows looked a little tough.

Like I said elsewhere, the game was too easy for our group and I suspect others might not find it challenging enough. It's too bad, because many of the ideas -- like the timed cards -- are really cool.
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Daniel Blumentritt
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I find when playing with 2 players it's best to each take 2 characters.
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Seth Brown
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Statalyzer wrote:
I find when playing with 2 players it's best to each take 2 characters.

We did this when we first got the game!
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Jeff L.
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mfl134 wrote:
Osirus wrote:

*The gameplay is fairly flat. Your turns are basically the same whether you are on the first turn of the game, halfway through, or the last turn of the game. You flip a card, roll some dice, and put them on cards to resolve alerts if possible. While you may be more interested in avoiding a failure once you already have 3, for the most part every turn of the game is the same.


My issue with this statement is you miss one of the most important decision points of the game. It is flip a card, CHOOSE DICE, roll dice, put them on the cards.

The choosing dice is generally key to success and one of the biggest strategic points of the game. (Making sure to not spread your dice out too much on alerts is the other key to success.)

I agree the game can be repetitive though and feel flat.

When you get near of the end of the game and you start running out of blue alerts, the dynamic of the game starts changing though.


One way I've found to make the game more challenging is to choose your dice BEFORE you flip the next card.
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Darryel C.
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Thanks for the review. My plays of the game were enhanced by my love of the theme (yes, I did the voices in my head). I can't imagine playing the game, and liking it, if I did not have that.
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P.D. Magnus
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SpideyMan63 wrote:
One way I've found to make the game more challenging is to choose your dice BEFORE you flip the next card.


I see how that would make the game harder, but it would do so by taking away some of the strategic choices. In a sense, it would be less challenging -- that is, it would make the choices easier even thought it would increase the probability of the players losing.
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