Daily Archives: March 28, 2014

The (Board) Gamer’s Guide to Supply Management Part III: Star Trek Catan

Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the interstellar supply fleet. Their interstellar mission: to find new sources of raw materials, to build new outposts and new star-bases, to build new supply routes where no supply routes existed before!

So, it’s been a while and you’ve progressed to the point where you’re now Master of Catan. Always the first to build outposts, transform them into cities, build new supply routes connecting them, and amass the largest armies to protect those supply routes, you think you’re a master of supply as you deftly conquer the ports to secure the trade advantage, always outsmart the pirate, and never allow your rivals to secure a longer route. Maybe you are the Master of the lonely isle of Catan, but are you ready to supply the final frontier?

In Star Trek Catan, you’re settling the final frontier – space. You are a merchant selected by the Federation to build supply outposts to supply the different federation members. Instead of building roads, you are building starships; instead of building settlements, you are building outposts; and instead of building up those settlements into cities, you are building those outposts up into star-bases. Just like roads, settlements, and cities required resources that could only be collected from regions that neighboured your existing settlements and cities, starships, outposts, and star-bases require resources that can only be collected from nearby planets. (Wood and brick are replaced by dilithium and tritanium, and sheep, wheat, and ore are replaced by food, water, and oxygen.) You still have development cards, but instead of soldiers that build your army, there are star-fleet interventions that augment your security, and the progress and “victory point” cards have been appropriately updated as well. But the biggest difference is the introduction of support cards. In regular Catan, all you could do was build, trade, or play a development card. In Star Trek Catan, you always have one support card which gives you a unique advantage and the choice of when to play it (which is important as any given support card can only be used twice).

The support cards, which are, of course, modelled after original Star Trek characters, give you special abilities on your turn or in certain circumstances. Eight of the abilities can only be activated on your turn:

  • Uhura:Forced Trade You have the upper hand and can force up to two players to give you a resource type you desire in exchange for a resource type you do not.
  • Scott:Starship Building Miracle When building a starship, you may replace 1 dilithium or 1 tritanium with any resource of your choice.
  • Sulu:New Heading You may move any starship on the board at the end of one of your supply routes to the end of another one of your supply routes.
  • McCoy:Development Specialist When buying a development card, one resource of your choice can be replaced with another resource of your choice.
  • Chekov:Klingon Decoy Move the Klingons to the asteroid field and take 1 resource of the type produced by the planet the Klingons left.
  • Rand:Free Trading Outpost Receive one resource of your choice and perform one or more border trades with that resource type at the 2:1 trading outpost for that resource type.
  • Chapel:Liberate a Resource On your turn, after the production roll, take one resource of your choice from a rival with more victory points than you.
  • Sarek:Swords to Plowshares You may discard one Starfleet Intervenes card to build an outpost for the same cost as a starship.

The final two abilities are activated on production rolls:

  • Spock:Resource Compensation On any non-“7” production roll where you receive no resources, you still get to take one resource of your choice.
  • Kirk:Protection from Klingons When a “7” is rolled, if you have more than 7 resources, you may use this ability to prevent resource loss or, if you have 7 or less resources, to take a resource of your choice.

These abilities, which encapsulate some of the different skills deft supply managers may possess, can completely change the game dynamics. Think you’ve done a good job acquiring a monopoly on water or air? Think again. An opponent with the Spock or Uhura support card can still acquire those resources from you or the main supply. Or use Scott or McCoy to substitute another resource for that resource. And it changes the dynamic for you too! Once you’ve deftly placed those star-bases and are acquiring resources faster than you can build, if you can secure it, you can use Kirk’s special ability to keep those Klingons away and achieve victory even faster.

And if you play your cards right, you’ll always score two (of the needed 10) victory points for the Longest Supply Route.

Could there be a better game for a budding Supply Manager to cut his teeth on as he takes up the art of strategic board-gaming to refine his supply mastery skills? the doctor, who believes we should all be preparing for Extra-Planetary Supply Management, thinks not!

The original Board Gamer’s Guide series:
Part    I: Ticket to Ride
Part   II: The Settlers of Catan
Part  III: Munchkin
Part  IV: Castle Panic
Part   V: Small World
Part  VI: Zombie Dice, Tsuro, and Get Bit!

… and the new Board Gamer’s Guide series:
Part  VII: Upon a Salty Ocean
Part VIII: Agricola
Part    IX: Small World Part 2
Part     X: All Creatures Big and Small
Part    XI: Agricola Part II-A
Part   XII: Agricola Part II-B