Reviews

Review – Star Trek Chrono-Trek (Looney Labs)

ID cards and victory conditions
ID cards and victory conditions

Take a Trek Through Time

Star Trek Chrono-Trek by Looney Labs is a Star Trek version of their 2000 award-winning game of time travel, Chrononauts. Players take on the identity of one of 32 different Star Trek characters to try to alter history to restore a specific timeline.

Star Trek Chrono-Trek box cover
Star Trek Chrono-Trek box cover

Designer Andrew Looney focused in on all of the Star Trek time travel stories throughout the series to create the foundation of the game. The goal is to manipulate the timeline to match the ID card of your character. This may include changing the timeline of events, collecting artifacts, or a combination of win conditions.

The Story

In Star Trek Chrono-Trek, a time-travel game similar to Chrononauts but set in the Star Trek universe, each player becomes a Star Trek character with a unique identity and a secret mission. During the game, players travel backwards and forwards through history, doing all those things people have always dreamed of using time travel to do: Visiting the great moments of the past, peeking into the future, collecting up artifacts, coming to grips with the paradoxes of time travel, and of course, changing pivotal events and altering the course of history itself.

Explore the history (and alternate history!) of the entire Star Trek universe in this version of Chrononauts. Try to alter history to restore your specific timeline! Maybe you need to ensure that the Federation gets founded, or just retrieve the Orb of Time and some tea. Earl Grey. Hot.

Gameplay

You are a Star Trek character trapped in an alternate reality. The current state of the Timeline of Star Trek history is before you. Collect Artifacts, such as Porthos or Tribbles, and Inverters, which ripple reality and change the outcome of pivotal events. Your secret ID card tells you what parts of the Timeline you must change or preserve to win. Your opponents are also completing Assignments, performing Actions and collecting Artifacts along the way, so who will alter their reality to claim victory first?

Set-Up

Chrono-Trek Timeline
Chrono-Trek Timeline

Star Trek Chrono-Trek comes with 3 decks of cards: the Timeline deck, the ID deck, and the Main deck.

The Timeline deck consists of cards representing events in the Star Trek timeline. Place the cards in sequential order in a 9×4 grid, with their blue and purple sides face up. In the corner of each card is a Time Index—a alphanumeric number from A1 to D9 that indicates its placement along the timeline. The timeline consists of Linchpin events and Ripplepoints they control, representing specific occurrences in the Star Trek timeline. There are also 5 Anchorpoints along the timeline. These are only changed by the anomoly in the Devron system that, as it grows, it works backwards from the year 2395 to 3.5 BYA. If the anomaly reaches 3.5 BYA, the game ends with no winner.

From the ID deck, randomly deal one Star Trek character to each player. This ID card is kept secret, as it has the unique win conditions for that player.

Shuffle the Main deck and deal 3 cards to each player. The Main deck is now the Draw pile and a discard pile will form next to it.

Card Types
Card Types

Player Turn

The first step in a player’s turn is to draw a card. Players then have an option to either play a card, or draw an additional card to end their turn.

When playing a card, this may trigger actions that flip cards in the timeline, discard cards, play additional cards, force opponents to complete an action, etc.

Playing Cards

There are 7 types of cards, each with a different purpose:

  • Actions – single-use card, simply perform the Action on the card and discard it after completion.
  • Artifacts – place in front of player, becomes “in play”. Certain Artifacts may need to be in play to complete an Assignment, an Action, or to complete a Victory condition.
  • Assignments – can offer a reward to the player if they have both Artifacts listed on the Assignment in play at the time of completion. Players can also simply discard an Assignment to draw two cards from the Main deck.
  • Events – mandatory play cards that a player must resolve immediately upon drawing, and then draw a new card. Playing an Event does not count as an actual turn.
  • Fractures – damage the timeline at a specific point. Fractures are only playable if the conditions at the bottom of the card apply. If not, just discard it. These Fractures override specific Ripplepoint events with more severe alternate realities along the timeline. Moreover, they are difficult to eradicate and may prevent a player from achieving their Victory condition until it is removed.
    Removing fractures requires that the Linchpin that the Fracture depends upon to flip back to the original, unaltered timeline.
  • Inverters – flip Linchpins along the timeline. When flipping a Linchpin card, all Ripplepoints controlled by that Linchpin are also flipped. This represents the altering of the timeline and future events.
  • Power Actions – extra powerful Actions, but also require certain restrictions to play.

Victory Conditions

Victory Conditions
Victory Conditions

Players can only win during their turn. All Victory conditions on their ID card must be met to declare victory. Players are working hard to set up these Victory conditions. But in the unpredictableness of time travel and altering timelines, it is not always easy to keep these conditions in place until the turn order comes back around again.

 

 

Overall Impression

To be fair, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to play this game. I’ll confess… I’m a nerd but I am not a Trekkie. I have watched a handful of the original series and maybe a few episodes of the spinoffs. So my knowledge on the subject is sparse.

However, I quickly got over the intimidation once I was playing. The mechanics are enough easy to follow along with, even though the gameplay can get a little chaotic. But in a good way… like a typical Fluxx game. If you are familiar with Fluxx, then the gameplay for Star Trek Chrono-Trek will come easy to you.

Action and Assignment examples
Action and Assignment examples

Much like Fluxx, players may play cards with actions that may trigger cards along the timeline to flip, or opponents to discard Artifact cards. But on the next turn, that player may play a different Action card that will allow them to sort through the discard pile and retrieve that Artifact back, or flip that Linchpin and its corresponding Ripplepoints back. Then they are back in the game again. There is tension with the back-and-forth gameplay, and it is really anyone’s game from start to finish. And, no two games are ever going to play out in the same way.

Scalability

There is scalability and adjustment of difficulty with each game. ID cards have a code that indicates the difficulty level of that character. If there are characters with different difficulty levels in a game, the number of cards in each player’s starting hand is adjusted accordingly. This does help with leveling the playing field with players of different skill levels.

Components and Artwork

Components are the same as any Fluxx game. Cards are of decent quality and will hold up to multiple plays. I recently found out that Looney Labs prints all of their games in the United States. Which proves that producing quality games and components stateside is possible.

The art by Kevin Hill is comparable to any other Looney Labs game. The rulebook (which is a large folded sheet of paper) is easy to follow. There are multiple examples of player turns, which is very helpful.

Chrono-Trek Comopnents
Chrono-Trek Components

Theming and Integration

Fans of the Star Trek franchise will certainly enjoy this game. Andy Looney put a lot of work and research into the events and timelines of all of the Star Trek movies and series. The thought put into alternate timelines based on the altering of specific timeline events brings out the theming of this game perfectly. Even as a novice Star Trek fan, it is still fun to play and imagine these scenarios playing out. So the real Trekkies are certainly going to enjoy this one.

Game Statistics

  • Release Date: August 1, 2019
  • MSRP: $25.00
  • Playing Time: 15-45 minutes
  • Age Range: 11+
  • Player Count: 2-6

 

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About the author

Shanon Connelly

(a.k.a. “Super Muffin Girl”) is an avid board gamer, cosplayer, and all around nerd girl. She has been cosplaying for over 10 years, attending several conventions every year. She recently started a YouTube gaming channel, "Time to Play!", which previews and reviews board games. Follow Shanon on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram (@supermuffingirl).

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