SLDWeb Masters Note: This is purely before the fact information. Many, if not ALL of the Star Trek: Red Alert! disks and game mechanics discussed below will be changed completely in the final versions released by LUG. It is place here on the SLDWeb Page solely for the interest of those who are interested...
DATE: Thursday, May 25th, 2000
TO: Tammie Webb <firstname.lastname@example.org> Marketing Manager at Last Unicorn Games
FROM: Salt Lake DiskWarriors ( -Mike Bialecki -Cooper Cazedessus -James Hunt -Dan Morath)
RE: CONduit 10 Pre-Release Demo & Feedback (Star Trek:Red Alert!)
At CONduit 10 (Salt Lake City's yearly Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention) last weekend, we had the opportunity to playtest and demo two new games based on the DiskWars game engine; "DoomTown: RangeWars" by Fantasy Flight Games (and Pinnacle Entertainment Group) and "Star Trek: Red Alert" by Last Unicorn Games. Before we go any further, we want to give kudos to both FFG/PEG and LUG for, although using the very basic DiskWars mechanism, creating games that are far from simply being a remake of "DiskWars in the Old West" or "DiskWars in Outer Space". Both games have the "beer and pretzels" simplicity that makes DiskWars so great, while maintaining unique flavors and ingenious designs that should appeal to all gamers.
STAR TREK : RED ALERT!
We finally got a chance to play Star Trek: Red Alert! by Last Unicorn Games. As with Doomtown: RangeWars, we had our reservations about another disc-based game, but Star Trek: Red Alert! is far from being "DiskWars in Outer Space". In fact, we feel that ST: Red Alert! is even more divergent from DiskWars then DT: RangeWars.
In ST: Red Alert!, there are 3 main types of disks, Starships, Crew and Tech. Starships are circular disks that have two sides chopped off so that there are two opposing flat spots on an otherwise circular disk. The disk is flipped in such a way that one of the flat spots is always on the table. Thus, you can only flip a ship in a straight line to simulate warp speed in space. We thought this was extremely clever.
The crux of the game is a little "control panel" that you set in front of you. This is a rectangle of cardboard that has diagrams for speed, shields, hull damage and orders along with space for your crew and tech. Not to mention your torpedoes! Spell sized disks labeled like a clock are used to keep track of the various (and variable) aspects of your starship by placing them on the "control panel" in the correct position. The game proceeds by turns. Each turn consists of 3 "orders" or "commands" from the bridge crew, with five different orders to choose from; Change Speed, Change Heading, Raise Shields, Attack, and Activate Crew/Tech. The "orders" of a turn are predetermined by each player before the first command is give on any one ship, so that you may have programmed an Attack when there are no targets around. We love this part of the game, trying to outguess your opponent standing orders.
Another feature that we like about the game is that LUG tried, as much as a "beer and pretzels" game is capable of, to simulate space flight. That is, once you are moving, you are always moving. The only way to stop (or slow down/speed up) is to order it via one of your three "orders." The first game is always entertaining to watch as people's ships go flying past each other over and over again, making full use of the ENTIRE playing surface. However, after a few games, people get the knack of "space travel" and eventually get pretty good at space warfare with Beam Weapons and Torpedoes. (Watch out for those Mark III Torpedoes that the Federation gets to use sometimes.) As with DT: RangeWars, there are many other clever differences between ST: Red Alert! and DiskWars, but we'll refrain from revealing them all.
After playing several ST: Red Alert! demos, we all quickly learned how useful good commanders (aka bridge crew) and advanced technology were on your starship. Specifically, most commanders let you override your predetermined "orders" and take advantage of the situations that present themselves throughout the game. It also proved quite useful to have someone who could fix things that had been damaged. Many a time one player was pressing the attack when some lucky hit took out their shield generators. After that, they can no longer raise shields, and it was only a matter of time before they were blown into space dust.
CONCLUSION (Score 1 -10)
9 - All in all, ST: Red Alert! proved to be a stupendously
fun game and yet very different from DiskWars, but still with
very similar mechanics. (PS We also enjoyed the fact that both
of the "Captains" for the two largest Star Trek Fan
Clubs in the 7th Fleet (SLC area) were able to enjoy numerous
demo games of ST: Red Alert! at CONduit 10.) It is a simple but
clever "space battle" game. You are in command of a
starship fighting other starships in space. We've always loved
the idea of commanding starships and developing strategies and
tactics, but we found that most "wargames" take far
too much time to play and learn, but not ST: Red Alert!. It is
very important to note that LUG sent one of their Official Representatives
(Thank you Don Mappin, you were a great asset at the con) to attend
CONduit 10 and help out with the Demos. We have a feeling that
Star Trek: Red Alert is going to really appeal to lots of people,
not to mention all of the Star Trek Fans world wide. Give it a
try yourself...it should be release some time after Origins 2000
and GenCon 2000.