The weather has turned and cooler temperatures are drifting in. Start of the inexorable march towards autumn or false dawn? Only time will tell. 

Wednesday saw the gang come round for some hot gaming action. I successfully inflicted Star Trek: Five Year Mission on them and it went down rather well, I thought. ST:FYM is a dice rolling game for 3-7 people whereby each player takes on the role of a member of the Enterprise crew (either NCC-1701 or NCC-1701-D) and they attempt to resolve events, scoring a set number of points before five events fail. At least, that’s the official explanation – I cooked up a far better back story in my head.

So, the game is played over a season of TOS or TNG and in order not to get cancelled, you need to complete a set number of good episodes. If there are five stinkers, the show is cancelled and no amount of letter-writing will save the show this time.

Whichever explanation you prefer, here’s how the game is played: Each player draws an alert card (blue = easiest, yellow = middling, red = hardest) at the start of their turn, rolls their dice and attempts to place the dice on the cards. To make the game more challenging, the dice come in three colours and sometimes the dice have to roll a particular way. Dice that cannot be placed have their scores frozen and carried over to the next turn. If a card is completed, it is either scored, given to the player if a particular reward is on offer or just set aside. It’s here that the scoring takes place. Some cards have additional symbols such as “Prime Directive” where that card has to be cleared before any other otherwise it’s an automatic fail. And the speed round where you have three minutes to resolve a card before it automatically fails (timer provided in the game.

Each of the characters has a unique power which can be used once per turn, this power can be useful or useless depending on which way the game is going. And finally there is the Enterprise herself – cards can cause damage to the Enterprise and certain dice rolls can help to restore the shields of the vessel. If the Enterprise takes six “hits”, it’s game over.

With both the original crew and Next Gen crew, there’s a good amount of variety for players and a large number of cards that can be played through giving each game a lot of variety although the basic principle remains the same – roll dice and score. To cut down on the randomness of the dice, the reward cards can allow modifications of die results and players when the refresh their dice from the pool can choose from whatever is in the pot rather than being stuck with the same five dice total.

We played our first game on Lieutenant difficulty (12 points to win) and our second on Lieutenant Commander (14). However, we found this kind of easy once we got in the flow of things so experienced gamers might want to start at least at 14 points for victory before working their way up the difficulty track. That said, the speed rounds and some of the truly nasty cards (we seemed to draw blue cards which spawned yellow cards which spawned red cards) keep things interesting as dice games have the problem of waning interest given the (overt) random-factor. All in all, it’s something I’ll definitely be taking with me on Sunday.

After ST:FYM, we had a quick game of Boss Monster which I won although several expansion pack cards were lodged in the main deck with no obvious identification marks that they were expansion pack! Kind of ambivalent about Boss Monster these days. It just seems to be missing something. Oh the expansion is a nice addition and I admit to not having played BM2 but compared with similar-ish games, it just lacks that je ne sais quoi. Minions, I suspect, the game needs minions. And not the Weetabix-Men rip-off.

No other real gen to impart as this week has been pretty peaceable. I guess my bank balance will thank me for my thriftiness. Until I get the urge to splurge and end up with an armful of debt because I just couldn’t say no. This weekend is going to be a gaming heavy experience. Planning some GTA time this evening, Borough market (this might be where the spending comes in) & Joey’s tomorrow for games and Griffin on Sunday (weather looks miserable so it won’t be a repeat sweat-fest like last month).

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