Tabletop games are a great way of gathering together as a family or group of friends, and enjoying a communal experience away from screens. Thanks to their reliance on strategy and thinking over fast, impulse reactions, they're particularly great when you need something that appeals to a wide range of age groups.
If you all happen to be massive Star Trek fans, what could be better than getting involved in some Star Trek tabletop gaming? There are some great Star Trek themed board games out there that are sure to make you feel part of the Star Trek universe, while also giving you all a great challenge.
Here's a look at ten of the best tabletop games for capturing the Star Trek spirit.
Risk: Star Trek
There are plenty of Star Trek themed tie-ins of popular games but they don't always do a fantastic job of making you feel part of Star Trek. Risk: Star Trek bucks that trend. Released for the 50th anniversary, it brings together Captain Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, and Archer with each player getting to choose their favorite era.
The rules are similar to regular Risk but with some key tweaks that it's borrowed from other Risk games. It's a shrewd strategy meaning that it's far from imposing for those not used to tabletop gaming but it's also reasonably complex too. You assemble a crew before taking them on away missions with each character providing a specific skillset. There are quests to complete too as you aim to control all the territories.
It's a good bet for a challenging family gaming experience, but it also works well as a two player title.
Star Trek: Fleet Captains
Designed for two or four players, Star Trek: Fleet Captains is a more adversarial tabletop game than most. You choose to take the role of either Klingons or the Federation before competing for dominance. While that sounds aggressive, success can also be gained through completing various missions and the decisions you choose to make.
Various decks of cards play an important role here, with each deck offering unique bonuses such as the Klingons' ability to have larger ships while the Federation is more shrewd. Each ship also has strengths and weaknesses which tie into their ability to complete missions and become stronger over time.
Some of the Fleet Captains can be quite complex but it's consistently entertaining because every session is different from the last. That's helped massively by random encounters which typically correspond to a single episode of the show, such as one encounter centered on Tribbles. It's been described as a game that's like playing out an entire season of Star Trek due to its story arc and varied missions. Who could resist that kind of experience?
Star Trek: Five-Year Mission
Star Trek: Five-Year Mission is a co-operative dice game for three to seven players. You take on the role of crew members on either the U.S.S. Enterprise or U.S.S. Enterprise-D. Together you have to solve a series of alerts in order to score points before the Enterprise is eventually destroyed.
Each crew member has a different ability so you have to work together in order to complete the tasks. It's important to adhere to the prime directive, avoid injuries as well as ship damage, and (of course) fix the alerts.
It's the kind of game that takes minutes to learn so it's ideal if you're not experienced in tabletop gaming. Being able to work together as a team feels perfectly in keeping with the Star Trek ethos too, so it's a lot of fun with family or friends.
Star Trek Panic
Based on the family game, Castle Panic, Star Trek Panic is a light cooperative tower defense board game. While the original game had you working together to defend a castle, this time round, you must defend the U.S.S. Enterprise from enemy attacks.
It's a fairly simple game to learn and ideal for all the family to gather around, no matter what the age range. Based in The Original Series universe, games can take between 45 and 90 minutes depending on what you choose but it's a fun ride throughout.
Star Trek Panic includes some exclusive mission cards and unique challenges based on the original series, as well as character cards so you can assume the role of all your favorites from TOS. Best of all, it won't take too long to learn so it's a good introduction to tabletop gaming.
Star Trek Frontiers
If you're keen for a highly involved and complex Star Trek tabletop experience then Star Trek Frontiers is the game for you. The average playing time is a couple of hours with that easily extending to three or four hours depending on how things unfold. It's pretty complex stuff too but highly rewarding.
Like many tabletop games, you command your own ship, recruit new crew members and use your skills and experience to confront a series of challenges. The space map is randomly built using a tile system so each session is different from the last.
Designed for one to four players, there are numerous different competitive, cooperative, as well as solo scenarios to work through. Also in keeping with the Star Trek nature, not all require aggression. Expanding your knowledge and using leadership skills is often just as crucial to your success. Star Trek Frontiers isn't a great option for newbies or young players, but for those who know what they're doing, it's a rich universe out there.
Star Trek Adventures
A roleplaying adventure, Star Trek Adventures is a lot like Dungeons and Dragons - Star Trek style. It's hard to resist anything that's packaged up in a Borg type cube. Inside that cube is a wealth of dice, figurines, maps, and other things that are sure to excite you the moment you unpack it.
And it's a pretty great experience. It feels like you're living through scenes from actual episodes, while crossing the generations so you can be part of whichever Star Trek lore you prefer. It's a really enjoyable way to work together to seek out new worlds, while being exactly what you want to be courtesy of the extensive character creation made available to you.
Don't expect this to be a brief experience as there's so much going on, but do expect to enjoy many fun evenings gathered around seeing where you can go next. A fine way to share winter night in particular.
Star Trek Ascendancy
Another weighty game, Star Trek Ascendancy works best with four players. Capturing the spirit well, it's all about exploration as well as expansion and some conflict. That conflict is varied given that Star Trek Ascendancy involves the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Empire. The game comes with more than 200 miniatures so you get the idea of just how far reaching expansion can be.
There's the option for peace and exploration but few will be able to resist challenging opposing players too. After all, there are 30 different star systems to check out, and each represents some of Star Trek's most memorable locations.
With a chunky rule book, and a plethora of decisions to make, Star Trek Ascendancy is a bit intimidating at first but it feels suitably in key with the theme. You'll enjoy mastering it.
Federation Commander: Klingon Border
Combat is everything in Federation Commander: Klingon Border which explains why it's a fast-paced game that typically takes under an hour to complete. Loosely based on Starfleet Battles, a much longer experience, Federation Commander: Klingon Border is a more welcoming time.
Via a mixture of using cards well and rolling dice just so, destroying competing starships is all you're aiming for here. Planning out your power distribution well, however, is where strategy becomes a crucial part of the game. Your ship needs to be moving fast while still steadily producing energy and, of course, firing at enemies effectively. If you've ever wanted to feel a key part of Starfleet's tactical wing, this is the game for you.
It can be a little tricky to juggle all the different elements of ship management at first, but you'll soon find yourself embroiled in massive fights that feel like the climatic scene in a war. If you're keen on wargaming, this is a good route to pursue.
Star Fleet Battles
One of the older Star Trek themed board games out there, Star Fleet Battles is a little unruly for newbies. Expect for it to take a few hours to play through, and much longer still if you're figuring out the rulebook.
At heart though, it's a ship to ship warfare simulation game and a lot of fun. A hexagonal map guides you around with cardboard counters to place where you are, as you choose to work as a fleet or work against each other. Ships represented include the Federation, Romulan Empire, Klingon Empire, as well as a few Star Fleet Battles exclusives such as the Hydran Kingdom.
Interestingly, while its focus is squarely on The Original Series, it also includes some elements from The Animated Series, which is a great coup for anyone who loved that much underrated show.
Just don't be surprised if it takes a long time for Star Fleet Battles to truly gel. It's not for the casual board game player.
Star Trek: Expeditions
Star Trek: Expeditions is based in the universe of Star Trek that we've seen in the 2009 movie and onwards. It's a cooperative four player game where you work together to beat the game effectively.
Players take the role of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Uhura, as they attempt to defuse the threat of civil war, deal with a Klingon threat, as well as help a planet join the Federation. It's peak Star Trek with a suitable mixture of diplomacy and strategy.
It's also a fairly speedy game as all of this has to be achieved in roughly 30 turns, meaning you won't be stuck for hours on end. A scoresheet tracks your progress with the decisions you make vastly affecting how well you're doing.
The only downside is that replayability is a little limited but it's great to see a game based on the newer Star Trek universe.
Jennifer Allen (she/her) is a freelance journalist who has written for Playboy, Mashable, and Eurogamer amongst others. She lives in South Wales with her three guinea pigs and cat. Find her on Twitter @jenjeahaly.