Monday, February 27, 2012

Sensibility Takes A Back Seat To Style With "The Trouble With Tribbles" Star TrekCCG Expansion!

The Good: Some great and intriguing images, Great use of material, Powerful cards for players, No significant rule changes.
The Bad: Game continues to get more complicated and less playable, "Tribbles" side deck is lame
The Basics: Despite having a truly lame sidedeck that still annoy players, collectors will like the value of these cards, despite the fact that not all of them are available in boosters!

When Decipher began making the Star Trek CCG with the Star Trek: The Next Generation time frame and characters, it did not surprise many people when the trading card company, SkyBox, popped up with an original Star Trek game called Star Trek: The Card Game (reviewed here!) and given the popularity of Decipher's game at the time, it was no surprise that it quickly went belly up. When it did, fans of the Star Trek CCG began to wonder when characters and situations from Star Trek would enter the game. With "The Trouble With Tribbles" expansion, players got their wish.

Focusing primarily on the events surrounding "The Trouble With Tribbles" and its Star Trek: Deep Space Nine sequel "Trials And Tribble-ations," this set offers collectors and players the first opportunity to have Decipher gaming cards of classic Star Trek characters like Kirk, Spock and McCoy, as well ships like the original NCC-1701 Enterprise!

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "The Trouble With Tribbles" set was the ninth full expansion set of cards sold in boxes created by Decipher to continue the Customizable Card Game. Players saw the game as a strategy game that is like a Role-playing game with cards. The players got to use characters, vessels, and scenarios are all already conceived by others. The original concept was to find a way to make play socially acceptable for an older audience and it generally worked. Collectors saw this as another thing to collect to show their love of Star Trek and while the cards have very different images from the trading card releases, many collectors were turned off by how small the images were and how much space on each card was given to game-related text.

"The Trouble With Tribbles" is a 141 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented involving Star Trek, specifically the experiences of the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise when they docked at Deep Space Station K-7 and discovered Klingon treachery afoot! The set consists of 40 common cards, 44 uncommon cards, 54 rare, bonus rare and rare plus, 2 Starter Deck Premiums, and one Ultra Rare cards with the most popular characters and scenarios being given rare status and the background supernumeraries filling out the more common cards. This set offers a new opportunity for fans and collectors to collect some of the most interesting and significant recurring characters in the franchise and it offers the opportunity to get ships and significant personnel from both Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

The 141 card set features 1 Artifact (cards featuring unique devices, in this case the Orb Of Time), 8 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 1 Doorway (cards representing passages, like the the Storage Compartment Door),58 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like a communicator or VR Headset used by the Vorta), 6 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like the Organian Peace Treaty), 1 Facilities (cards that illustrate originating locations of major races, in this case, K-7), 10 Incidents (cards that feature extended challenges to personnel, like the existence of the Tribble bomb), 5 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like a suicidal attack), 1 Mission (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 4 Objectives (long-standing goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, joining the Council Of Warriors), 56 Personnel (2 Bajoran, 2 Borg, 2 Cardassian, 5 Dominion, 20 Federation, 3 Ferengi, 8 Klingon, 9 Non-Aligned, and 5 Romulan characters mostly from Star Trek), 1 Q-Dilemma, 14 Ship cards (1 Bajoran, 2 Cardassian, 3 Dominion, 3 Federation, 1 Ferengi, 2 Klingon, 1 Non-Aligned and 1 Romulan), 1 Sites (locations on the Deep Space Nine space station), 4 Tactics (cards representing ship weapon's fire), 1 Time Location (cards representing the special places and times, like Sherman's Peak in the 23rd Century), 18 Tribbles (cards representing Tribbles multiplying) and 4 Trouble (cards representing places the Tribbles muck up or ways to dispose of Tribbles cards). This set introduces the original Star Trek crew as well as the Tribble sidedeck, which offered an intriguing alternate time location and its appearance did not alter gameplay significantly.


At its most basic level, this is a board game where one constructs the board and pieces out of a selection of cards. The starting purpose of the game is to get 100 points, points most often are derived from completing missions by thwarting dilemmas using the unique attributes of your ship and crew. The "The Trouble With Tribbles" set continues the game with the thirteen types of cards introduced and revised with the "Deep Space Nine" expansion set. "The Trouble With Tribbles" set also utilizes the the two new card types introduced in "Blaze Of Glory" (reviewed here!): the Incident cards and Tactic cards. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent.

"The Trouble With Tribbles" adds the Tribbles and Trouble cards, which create an entire sidegame for the Star Trek CCG. Most layers adamantly refuse to play this sidedeck because it is distracting from the primary game and often comes across to more mature players as less strategy oriented. Moreover, if one person introduces a Tribbles side-deck and the opposing player does not have one, the side game often disrupts the primary game to the point of distraction. In this way, "The Trouble With Tribbles" expansion lessens the playability.

This is a very complex customizable card game, but it represents a level of gaming sophistication designed to appeal to younger adults and actually challenge them, which is a decent idea given the thematic complexity of the Star Trek universe. The problem, of course, is that most people who would be most stimulated by this game do not have the time or effort/interest to learn to play it. As a result, the mid-teens that basically run the CCG players world seem to have had mixed impressions about this game.

Anyone who has played the initial game will have no problem incorporating the new cards into their deck, outside the wholly separate "Tribbles" and "Trouble" cards. Outside that, "The Trouble With Tribbles" is a fan favorite because it offers a lot of options, including a whole new time period and enhancements to the 24th century decks, like the addition of the Breen to the Dominion affiliation! But because of the temporal requirements, there are some difficulties with playability (solved in future expansions as more characters are added). So, for example, there is only one 23rd century Klingon ship, and only 8 23rd Century Klingon characters to staff it with, making it very difficult to play a 23rd Century Klingon deck (it's even harder as a 23rd Century Romulan!).

Rule Changes

The basic rules for the Star Trek CCG were revised in the "Deep Space Nine" expansion and are covered in my review here!

There is an entire rule book that comes in the starter decks and is basically the same as the rulebook to the "Deep Space Nine" expansion but it also adds the rules for the Tactic cards and the Tribbles side game, which becomes a side game with the introduction of the Storage Compartment Door. When that card is played, the side deck comes into play that forces Tribbles to multiply and a side game commences involving escalating the number of Tribbles or trying to eradicate them. The rules make it clear, but no more appealing than it initially seems.

The only other significant rule is the use of the staffing icon for the 23rd Century, which basically dictates that unless other cards alter it, crews from the 23rd Century (Star Trek) may not mix with crews from the 24th Century (Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc.).


Players, collectors and fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek will appreciate the image quality of the characters and scenarios from episodes featuring the "Trials and Tribble-ations" arc because it allows so many great cards to be played. "The Trouble With Tribbles" is a wonderful set for anyone who likes the Deep Space Nine or original Star Trek crews as this offers all the main cast from Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in the personnel cards as well as some very significant guest characters. Even Quark appears as his female alter-ego "Lumba!" Dominion fans will like Weyoun's Warship and the introduction of the Breen, making them virtually invincible!

But with popular choices like Captain Kirk, Lt. Dax and Odo and Worf as traders, it's hard to say what the true highlight of the set is. In fact, this whole set seems like highlights, as it even includes a cool Borg character - Third of Five (better known as Hugh from "I, Borg," reviewed here!). The common wisdom would be that it is the Ultra Rare, the Dr. McCoy card featuring the good doctor; the set was released shortly after DeForest Kelley's death, so this was a great tribute at the time. It's a cool card, to be sure, but I'm not sure it's the true high point of the set.

For my money, I'd go with the Kira card. As the final arc of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began, Kira found herself impressed with the mission to aid the Cardassians in defeating the Dominion and had to appear as a StarFleet officer to do that. The Kira card is a tri-Affiliate card! With a great image of Nana Visitor as Kira, the card works in Cardassian, Bajoran or Federation decks. It's a pretty powerful and underrated card.


"The Trouble With Tribbles" is a challenging set for collectors because of the Ultra Rare Dr. McCoy card, which averaged one in every six-box case. It's a tough card to find and it is usually the one that prevents collectors from assembling a complete set. In addition to the tough chase of the Ultra Rare, the fact that most of the best cards (in terms of the rare ships and personnel) are actually "Rare +" cards, which are each about a third more rare than the standard rares. As a result, and with thirty-three of the fifty-four Rares actually being Rare Plus cards, what could have been a two-box (save the Ultra Rare) set becomes a three to four box set with a lot left over.

As well, collectors cannot even assemble a master set from booster boxes alone! Instead, they have to collect the two Starter Decks to get one Premium card out of each deck - a card of Lt. Sisko in one and Captain Koloth in the other! This may infuriate collectors, though the starter decks are inexpensive enough when one is able to find them.

While Decipher did not overproduce the "The Trouble With Tribbles" product, much of the set was dumped as collectors simply tore through cases looking for the Ultra Rares (they still average a healthy $30 - $50 in the secondary market!). The cards come in packs of 9 cards that feature one rare (or rare plus or the Ultra Rare!), three uncommon and five common cards. Some of the packs feature one of the three Bonus Rare cards which replace one of the uncommons. This means that even with a box of thirty packs collectors should be able to assemble even 2 - 3 common sets and often one uncommon set. A full master set takes about six boxes (plus the two starter decks, which are sold separately) and that would leave collectors with a lot to sell off!

"The Trouble With Tribbles" cards were never reprinted or re-released in any other forms (save one card as a foil boxtopper in the "Reflections" set). Because of the very popular subject matter and the difficulty in completing sets, this continues to be one of the best Star Trek CCG expansions.


This set has some wonderful images, and it is a rare thing to have a set so wonderfully focused that offers two entire command crews, which makes it a highly prized set for collectors and players alike. Players will enjoy the chance to branch out with their favorite characters with different affiliations, despite the problematic side deck with the Tribbles that was pretty quickly cast aside, collectors will enjoy the images that cannot be found anywhere else and investors will be generally pleased that this is one of the more solid Star Trek CCG investments, despite having to track down multiple boxes to assemble a full set!

If it were not for the lame side deck side game, this would have been an excellent release that would have been well above average.

This set culls material from Star Trek and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, most notably the episodes:
"The Trouble With Tribbles"
"Trials And Tribble-ations"

This set was preceded by "Rules Of Acquisition" (reviewed here!!) and followed by the Star Trek CCG supplement "Enhanced Premiere" and full expansion "Reflections," reviewed here!

This is a set of gaming cards I proudly sell in my online store. Check out my current inventory by clicking here!


For other card reviews, please visit my Card Review Index Page by clicking here!

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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