Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Great For Fans, Still Problematic For Collectors, Lame For Players; "Holodeck Adventures" Is A Mixed Release

The Good: Some intriguing images, Good use of material, Some fun character presentations!
The Bad: Some VERY weak characters in this expansion, Annoying Dual-Affiliation rarity, Playability issues/interest
The Basics: Very much a supplemental expansion, "Holodeck Adventures" is a character heavy set that pleases fans but is a mixed bag for collector/investors and players

From the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, some of the most intriguing episode of the series involved adventures in the holodeck, a limited space made into holographic worlds through transporter-style technology, tractor beams and sophisticated imaging technology. While Star Trek: Deep Space Nine largely ignored the "holosuites" outside a fun James Bond spoof, Star Trek: Voyager returned to a dependency on stories involving the magical holographic worlds that could be presented in the holodeck whenever the ratings struggled.

But regardless of their quality, adventures in the holodecks or holosuites in the latter Star Trek series' netted some of the most popular and enjoyable episodes. The actors tended to enjoy them because they stretched their acting talents, the fans liked them because they were a great boon to the merchandising which they collected and the critics tended to be kinder to them, despite the fact that many of the holodeck-centered episodes utilized recycled (badly) plot devices and/or almost no character development. But, for the Star Trek CCG, it was a generally neglected space in the series's and with "Holodeck Adventures," that oversight was rectified.

Basics/Set Composition

The Star Trek Customizable Card Game "Holodeck Adventures" set was the fourteenth 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.

"Holodeck Adventures" capitalizes on the thrill fans have from the various characters from the holodeck-centered episodes, making it a very fan-friendly set to collect because the subjects are so interesting. "Holodeck Adventures" is a 141 card set focusing on characters, ships, alien races and scenarios presented on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager involving the many exciting hours spent with characters playing in the holodeck! The set consists of 46 common cards, 40 uncommon cards, 54 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 some of the more fun alternate characters from the modern "Trek" series'.

The 141 card set features 1 Artifact (cards that feature unique items, in this case the map to the City Of B'hala), 11 Dilemmas (cards featuring challenges the crews faced), 1 Doorway (cards that depict passages that allow the playing of side decks, like the Holodeck Door), 3 Equipment (cards featuring generic, mass produced devices in the Star Trek universe, like a '45 Dom Perignon or Ablative Armor on a starship), 5 Events (cards featuring long-standing challenges or concepts in the overall Star Trek universe, like a Ferengi pursuing Oo-mox), 1 Facilities (home bases for various affiliations, in this case the Borg), 12 Incidents (cards that illustrate alternate actions and goals, like specific holodeck programs), 6 Interrupts (cards featuring phenomenon that quickly turn events, like a sabotaged weapon eliminating an enemy), 6 Missions (cards featuring basic plots from the series', these are used to create the "board" for the game), 3 Objectives (long-standing goals for players which establish alternate goals of the game, like forming a Bajoran Resistance Cell), 82 Personnel (3 Bajoran, 9 Cardassian, 2 Dominion, 11 Federation, 9 Hirogen, 1 Kazon, 4 Klingon, 40 Non-Aligned, 2 Romulan, and 1 Vidiian characters), 3 Q-Icon cards, 6 Ship cards (1 Ferengi, 1 Hirogen, and 4 Non-Aligned) and 1 Site (cards representing a location on Deep Space Nine, in this case the Holosuite). This set strengthens existing affiliations and offers a way to play a wide range of alternate characters from holodeck scenarios.


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. "Holodeck Adventures" 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 is a side deck heavy expansion that allows players to add more than just the standard sixty cards and create more side adventures than the direct 100 point game goal.

"Holodeck Adventures" adds a ton to the Non-Aligned affiliation, and is mostly a set that supplements existing rules and players. The dual-affiliation cards add a great deal to the Hirogen Affiliation that was introduced in "The Borg" and that finally makes the Affiliation strong enough to play so long as one loads up their deck with portable holoemitters and holographic characters. This makes the game more and less playable, completely dependent on the flexibility and nature of the players one is playing with. Those who like the straightforward strategy game tend to be irked by loopholes like holographic characters and all of the cards that must be expended to introduce them and sustain them. Those who like to have fun and not take the game seriously will enjoy being able to play with a slew of Datas or pit Dixon Hill against Dr. Noah (or have a crew where they work together!).

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 here!

The rule supplement that comes in the box is VERY limited as there are no significant rule changes with "Holodeck Adventures." The rules supplement clarifies how to play holographic characters and defines them as their own sub-affiliation with the ability to take traits of the affiliation of the character they represent - so for example, holographic characters derived from the Star Trek: Voyager episode involving the Children Of Light may act both like the race they represent (for example a Jem'Hadar hologram acts like a Dominion character) and a Hirogen character (which allows them to act like they are programmed to).

The only other rules reflect the reprinted version of "Holo-projectors" and clarify that the new rules on the new card ought to apply to all gameplay. As well, the problematic issue of Ketracel White deprivation Jem' Hadar is once again revised (without a virtual deck of "Ketracel White" cards, Dominion players were finding themselves crippled when their Jem'Hadar would go off and kill one another from white deprivation!). Now deprivation only occurs when that incident is in play.


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 colorful alternate holodeck characters in the Star Trek universe. "Holodeck Adventures" capitalizes on the very popular alternate versions of primary characters. Primary characters appear in alternate forms from their more traditional appearance, like Data appearing as Sherlock Holmes, Carlos (his character from "The Big Goodbye"), and Frank and Eli Hollander, Worf as the sheriff and Duchamps, and Tom Paris as Captain Proton! Even the non-holodeck characters are altered in this set, like the appearance (finally!) of a Klingon-affiliation B'Elanna Torres and The Holographic Doctor as The E.C.H. (Emergency Command Hologram).

The obvious selection for a highlight would seem to be the Dixon Hill Ultra Rare card, because the annoying eight rare plus dual-affiliation cards are pretty lousy and weak that one wonders why Decipher bothered to make them the dual-affiliations, and Picard as Dixon Hill is FINALLY a wonderful Ultra Rare to chase after.

But, for me, the best cards in the set are the two new Deep Space Nine characters that finally appear in their prime appearances. "Holodeck Adventures" introduces Ezri Dax - from the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - and Vic Fontaine in his standard lounge singer appearance. Both had been introduced as alternate universe versions back in the "Mirror, Mirror" expansion (reviewed here!) and their new primary versions are highly sought after because of their rarity and playability.


"Holodeck Adventures" is an easy set for collectors outside of the 10 dual-affiliation alternate border cards. The problem here is that the cards one is forced to chase after to complete a full set are hardly interesting. The dual-affiliations are 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" and now "Holodeck Adventures" - 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 Iden is 51R (Bajoran/Hirogen violet-border card) and 51*R (Hirogen/Bajoran, navy blue border card) and the printing difference is not truly a great incentive to chase after the same card twice.

Yet, that's what collectors do. 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. The common set is in some ways more infuriating as the cheapest of sets is made more expensive than an uncommon set because of the six "common" dual affiliations which average one of each per box, making them effectively rare!

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 "Holodeck Adventures" 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 1 common set and usually one (almost two) uncommon sets. If one does not include the dual affiliation common cards, it is perfectly possible to complete three common "sets." A full master set takes about six boxes and that would leave collectors with a lot to sell off!

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


This is a true crapshoot of a set that appeals to the fans of the three major modern Star Trek series's and is great for those who have specific characters they love. Players are less enthusiastic about the import of so many holographic characters and the limitations of playing that whole side of the game. Collectors found it annoying and while many fans had favorite holodeck characters it seems they were more likely to pick and choose their favorites rather than buy master sets, making it one of the more awkward investment sets.

But the truth is, it's fun and it makes the game more fun in a lot of ways. And that's what the game ought to be! As a result, I'm opting for the "recommend" because the game (and its players) tend to be overly serious for this thing that ought to be more enjoyable than most people treat it as. And how often can one play a game where Professor Honey Bare, Sigmund Freud, Sherlock Holmes and Arachnia control a ship and thwart missions to earn points? That's just crazy fun . . . but it's fun.

This set culls material from the various episodes of the three modern Star Trek series' that featured holodeck adventures, most notably:
"The Big Goodbye"
"Ship In A Bottle"
"A Fistful Of Datas"
"Our Man Bashir"
and “Bride Of Chaotica!”

This set was preceded by "The Borg" (reviewed here!) and followed by the final full Star Trek CCG expansion "The Motion Pictures," reviewed here!

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


For other card reviews, be sure to check out my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!

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