Star Fleet Battle Force
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Average Rating: 1 in 1 review
I had high hopes for this game, but unfortunately, it disappointed both me and my opponents in almost every aspect.
SFBF is a strategic card game, where players command a fleet of starships in the Star Trek universe. The ships are represented by individual ship cards and are laid out on the table in front of each player. In their hands, players hold action cards, which allow their ships to fire weapons, take defensive measures, and perform other special actions. It's basically a sci-fi version of the classic naval card battle games like Naval War and Enemy in Sight.
It sounds good on the surface, but we had a difficult time finding a fun game in all this.
The rules are the first problem. Not only are many of the explanations written in the most obtuse way possible, but they are also very poorly organized. One small example: some action cards are mysteriously excluded from the Action Card Reference page, forcing you to dig through the rules to find their explanation. Why?
I've slogged my way through many a hefty rules book, which is totally acceptable when you're dealing with say a squad level combat simulation, but the game that lies at the heart of SFBF is so basic, that one has to wonder why it takes 18 pages of rules to explain how to play.
Another problem is the cards themselves. The artwork, especially for the weapons cards, is actually quite good. The problem is these cards present you with just the bare minimum of information for using them. Special range considerations, possible defensive countermeasures, and other special actions are not included on the cards, once again forcing you to dig through the manual or reference charts to determine all possible effects of the card.
The combat between the ships is rather anti-climactic. Your opponent fires a volley of available weapons from one of his/her ships. You can now play any appropriate defensive cards you're holding. Most of these cards will minimize damage, and some will let you avoid the battle altogether.
Once the damage is tallied, you place the appropriate number of damage markers on your ship. If the ship accumulates enough damage, it's eliminated and your opponent earns the ship's victory points. Now it's the next player's turn to attack, and so on...
There's not a lot of skill involved. Either you have the right cards in your hand at the right moment, or you don't. The advanced rules allow you to place some of your cards in a personal reserve pile, which adds a bit of strategy, but you're still pretty much at the mercy of the draw.
I've only played the game head-to-head. I imagine it's probably a little more interesting with more more players in the mix, but I'm not sure that would be enough to overcome the shortcomings mentioned above.
Also, hardcore Star Trek fans may be dismayed to find that each player's fleet is made up of a mix of any number of ships from any number of races - Klingon, Federation, Romulan, Gorn, etc. Star Trek integrity aside, from a gameplay perspective, this dillutes the unique capabilities of each race by making them available for everyone's potential use. What's the fun in that?
Not recommended, unfortunately.