Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Final Star Trek CCG Full Set Is A Treat For Those Who Love "The Motion Pictures!"

The Good: Some intriguing images, Good use of material, Characters are good - especially villains
The Bad: Annoying dual-affiliation rarity, Minimal Next Generation film support
The Basics: In the final full expansion, Decipher pulls out the stops to recreate all the playability and menace of the Star Trek feature films for the CCG!

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game came to a rather abrupt end with its first edition when the series "The Motion Pictures" was released. While it would be followed by a limited edition boxed set ("All Good Things . . ."), "The Motion Pictures" represented the final set of first edition Star Trek CCGs available in packs in boxes. Beefing up the game with some killer (literally) villains as well as presenting a bevy of Federation personnel from the film franchise of Star Trek, "The Motion Pictures" became a celebration of the neglected era of Star Trek history as far as the gaming cards went.

Decipher, Inc., who made the game, had created an increasingly complex game and while there were still loose ends to close up, a full reboot seemed necessary and as a result, "The Motion Pictures" became something of a supplemental set, beefing up the existing game as opposed to altering it. In this way, it was very friendly to collectors, fans and players.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "The Motion Pictures" set was the fifteenth 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 Motion Pictures" capitalizes on the thrill fans have from the various characters from the Star Trek films, making it a very fan-friendly set to collect because the subjects are so interesting. "The Motion Pictures" is a 134 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented in the first nine Star Trek films (less Star Trek: First Contact, which was covered in its own expansion earlier)! The set consists of 40 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, 53 rare and rare plus, and 1 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 a full command crew of characters from Star Trek in their more mature, "Motion Pictures" appearances.

The 134 card set features 1 Artifact (cards that feature unique items, in this case the Genesis Device), 9 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 1 Doorway (cards that depict passages that allow the playing of side decks, like the Nexus), 2 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like transport inhibitors and transporter drones), 5 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like the Vulcan Fal-tor-pan ritual), 2 Incidents (cards that illustrate alternate actions and goals, like controlling enemies using Ceti Eels), 7 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like asking god a question), 4 Missions (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 2 Objectives (long-standing goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, like getting revenge on another player for past plays), 77 Personnel (36 Federation, 22 Klingon, 1 Neutral, 16 Non-Aligned, and 2 Romulan characters), 6 Ship cards (7 Federation, 7 Klingon, and 5 Non-Aligned ships), 3 Tactics (cards representing specific weapons or maneuvers, like an Isolytic Burst) and 2 time locations (cards representing a location in both time and space, like the Cetacean Institute in the mid-1980s). This set only strengthens existing affiliations and offers an alternate way to play some very popular characters.


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 Motion Pictures" set continues the game with the fifteen types of cards introduced and revised with the "Voyager" expansion set and the basic rules from that expansion apply. The basic idea is to assemble a sixty card deck (for beginners), lay out the board (spaceline) and play against an opponent. This expansion allows one to play missions that present a lot more direct conflict between Klingons and Federation players or those playing Non-Aligned vs. Federation decks.

"The Motion Pictures" adds quite a few personnel and ships to the Federation, Klingon and Non-Aligned affiliations, and is entirely a set that supplements existing rules and players. Sticklers for the rules will note that those in the movies time period are intended to combat only one another, but the cards featured from Star Trek: Generations and Star Trek: Insurrection can be used to combat anything in the modern Trek game time (24th century cards).

Outside that, the playability is enhanced with warp speed playability. This is a "get on with it" game mechanic that tries to move the game along quicker by allowing one to even up their hand quicker than usual so the turns turn over quicker. This is a player's choice type mechanic that many purists will find more annoying than beneficial. When playing with "warp speed," the non-Borg affiliations mix as if everyone were non-aligned and that severely weakens the strategy of assembling a clever deck and sacrifices it for speed. The full Warp Speed rules are covered on the rules supplement in the boxes of "The Borg" CCG. Again, sophisticated players who enjoy playing the game and getting the most out of it pretty much loathe "Warp Speed Play," but it is an option with this expansion.

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.

Rule Changes

The basic rules for the Star Trek CCG were revised in the "Voyager" expansion and are covered in my review (pending).

There are no rules changed in "The Motion Pictures" and there is no rule supplement in the box. This means that anyone who has played the game before is good to go right from the pack to the table with "The Motion Pictures!"


Players, collectors and fans of the latter Star Trek series' will appreciate the image quality of the characters, the wonderful use of weapons and the scenarios involving the more villainous characters in the Star Trek universe. "The Motion Pictures" capitalizes on the brutal villains like Kruge, Khan, Soran, Ru'Afo, General Chang and Klaa. Primary characters appear in their film forms which gives a great opportunity to finally get a Captain Spock, Captain Scott, Dr. Chapel, Ambassador Sarek, and, of course, Captain Sulu! As well, this set is wonderful for fans of the starships. There are the dual-affiliations U.S.S. Reliant and HMS Bounty as well as the U.S.S. Enterprise-A, -B, and the refit from Star Trek: The Motion Picture! There is also the U.S.S. Excelsior, the Klingon flagship Kronos One, the beefed up I.K.C, Kla'Diyus (General Chang's ship), and Ru'Afo's battleship the Li'seria!

The obvious selection for a highlight would seem to be the James T. Kirk Ultra Rare card, though the annoying six rare plus dual-affiliation cards are decent again with two dual-affiliation ships and Dr. Gillian Taylor getting the honors, and having a Kirk Ultra Rare to chase after is wonderful. The Ultra Rare is James T. Kirk from Star Trek: Generations, so it has a very special place in the hearts of many fans and players.

But, for me, the best card would have to be Kruge. Kruge is often overlooked because he follows on the heels of Khan, but most fans forget that while Khan taunted, Kruge killed! The image on the card is a good one, it is a rare plus, so it's not the easiest to get and it's a great card for playing and collecting, even if it's not the most expensive.


"The Motion Pictures" is an easy set for collectors outside of the 6 dual-affiliation alternate border cards. The dual-affiliations are somewhat annoying to collectors. From the second set, there have been characters who have had multiple affiliations (like Major Rakal being able to be played by either Romulans or Federation players). With "Voyager," "The Borg," "Holodeck Adventures," and finally "The Motion Pictures" - made worse by many of the dual-affiliations being rare plus cards each - the dual affiliation personnel and ships come with a card for each affiliation they maybe played as. So, for example the U.S.S. Reliant is 125R (Non-Aligned/Federation yellow border card) and 125*R (Federation/Non-Aligned, blue border card) and the printing difference is not truly a great incentive to chase after the same card twice. At least with "The Motion Pictures," the dual-affiliation cards have cool, easily recognizable and integral subjects to fans!

Unfortunately, each single dual affiliation that is technically only a rare plus ends up effectively being an Ultra rare turning up about one of each in every five to six boxes. The result is a true master set takes an average of an entire six-box case to complete.

That said, the emphasis on characters makes this a great set for the fans, even if it is an annoyance to the collectors.

Decipher did not overproduce the "The Motion Pictures" product and it remains fairly strong in the market because it offered new ways to play recognizable actors in alternate characters. The cards come in packs of 11 cards that feature one rare (or rare plus or ultra rare card), three uncommon and seven common cards. This means that with a box of thirty packs collectors should be able to assemble even 2-3 common set and usually one uncommon sets. A full master set takes about six boxes and that would leave collectors with a lot to sell off!

"The Motion Pictures" cards were never reprinted or re-released, making them one of the more valuable sets on the market!


This is Decipher rewarding everyone on its way out of the first edition. Players are excited about the lack of rule changes and the power of the various characters, even if there was technically a new native time to be attentive to. Collectors found it bothersome but worthwhile as the set remained very popular and many fans tend to like so much from the Star Trek films that it simply became worthwhile to invest in a master set.

And this set is fun and it makes the game more fun in a lot of ways. And that's what the game ought to be! It's refreshing to play the game and have the freedom to have Khan match wits with Kruge or pit Ru'Afo, Soran and Khan against Admiral Kirk! There are some scenarios even getting the whales can't save Earth from! And in its final by-the-pack expansion, the Star Trek CCG pretty much rocks!

This set culls material from the Star Trek: The Motion Pictures Collection, reviewed here!

This set was preceded by "Holodeck Adventures" (reviewed here!) and followed by the limited edition repack Star Trek CCG expansion "All Good Things . . . ," reviewed here.

This is a set of gaming cards I proudly sell in my online store! To check out my current inventory and make purchases, visit my store’s category for these cards by clicking here!


For other card set reviews, be sure to visit my Gaming Card Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the card reviews I have written.

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