Star Trek, the ultimate space soap opera and pop culture icon, might have hit our screens fifty years ago, but its impact is still being felt today, evidenced by the many movies and games that have been released in the wake of the original TV show.
One game, in particular, is causing a stir because it’s a board game/TV spin-off of epic proportions. You guessed it – I’m talking about Star Trek Catan.
Evidently, I’m not the only person who wishes they could join Captain Kirk’s crew aboard the Starship Enterprise! The fandom is still very much alive.
Exploring the universe in a spaceship might be nothing more than a pipe dream – at least for the moment – but this themed edition of Catan offers an alternative way to enjoy and celebrate the legacy of Star Trek.
By now, I’m sure you’re eager to learn more about the game, so let’s take a closer look.
Star Trek Catan: A Quick Overview
- Players: 3-4
- Recommended age: 10+
- Playing time: 75 minutes
Star Trek and Catan both have millions of fans worldwide; it isn’t difficult to see why Klaus Teuber, creator of the original Catan game, saw the potential for a crossover.
In Star Trek Catan, players explore the Final Frontier, building Starships to connect different regions in the galaxy. Points are earned by building starbases and outposts, but beware of Klingon ships which can stifle resource production and increase taxation in a heartbeat!
The Aim of the Game
As a player, your mission is to earn as many victory points as possible – the future of space exploration depends on it! To do this, you’ll need to travel far and wide, building starbases and outposts to connect far-flung corners of the universe.
The fact that this edition of Catan is set in outer space makes it so much more thrilling (at least in my opinion, but I am a die-hard Trekkie, so I’m slightly biased). Either way, there’s plenty of fun to be had.
How to Play
You’ll be exploring the Final Frontier in no time.
If you’re a Star Trek Catan newbie (don’t worry; we all have to start somewhere), I’d recommend assembling the game board using the Game Overview illustration.
Once you start to get the hang of everything, you can use the variable setup, but in this guide, I’m going to stick to the basics.
- Put two outposts of each color next to the game board as a reserve
- Hand out one building costs card to each player
- Each player needs the rest of the game pieces of their color (five outposts, four habitat rings, and fifteen starships)
- Put your two starships and two outposts on the board, keeping the rest of the game pieces in front of you
- Position the support cards side-by-side next to the game board, with the “A-Side” up. In a four-player game, the oldest player gets the A4 card (Sulu), the player on their left gets the A3 card, and so on
- Put “Largest Star Fleet” and “Longest Supply Route” next to the game board, along with two dice
- The resource cards should be sorted into five decks, then placed face-up beside the board
- Place the development cards face down in a stack beside the board (make sure you shuffle them first!)
- Finally, take your resource income for the outpost marked with a star – you earn one corresponding resource card for each planet sector bordering this outpost
Taking a Turn
Each turn, you can do the following (in order):
- Roll for resource production
- Trade resources with a border or your opponents
- Build outposts, starships, and/or buy development cards
The oldest player goes first, and play continues clockwise.
Roll for Resource Production
Start by rolling both dice. The sum of the dice dictates which planets produce resources.
All players with an outpost bordering a planet sector with a corresponding number take one resource card of that planet’s type.
You get one resource card per outpost if you’re lucky enough to have multiple outposts matching these criteria (this seems to happen to everyone but me!).
There are two kinds of trade you need to know about:
- Federation trade (with opponents)
- Border trade (with the “Bank”)
You can trade at a ratio of 4:1 during your turn by putting back four resource cards in exchange for one from a different stack.
When you first play Catan, this might seem like a harsh trade-off, but having valuable resources is far more important than having lots of resources you can’t really use for anything – trust me, I learned this strategy the hard way.
Fortunately, having a starbase or outpost that borders a trading post allows you more favorable trading conditions of 3:1.
Building is one of the most important parts of Star Trek Catan. Got it? Make a note now because that little snippet of information is something you’ll want to bear in mind.
You’ll need to pay specific combinations of resource cards to build, after which you can take the corresponding number of outposts/starships and put them on the game board.
Starships require 1 dilithium and 1 tritanium. They are always built between two space intersections.
Here’s where the rules get a little complicated. You can only place a starship adjacent to a space intersection bordering one of your own starships. Alternatively, you can set it adjacent to an intersection occupied by one of your outposts or starbases.
Creating a continuous supply route of at least five spaceships will earn you the “Longest Supply Route” card, which is worth two Victory Points.
Be careful not to get too confident, though – another player could take the card off you by building a longer route.
Outposts require 1 food, 1 dilithium, 1 tritanium, and 1 oxygen. They have to be built on an intersection adjacent to at least one of your starships, and you can only build one if all adjacent intersections are unoccupied (yes, even if they’re yours!)
An outpost is worth one Victory Point. You can receive resources from the adjacent planet sectors for each outpost you build, one card per sector when the correct number is rolled.
Starbases require 3 water and 2 oxygen and are worth two Victory Points. They are built by upgrading an existing outpost. For each one, you receive two resource cards from each adjacent sector whose number is rolled.
Development cards require one water, one oxygen, and one food. You must draw the top card from the deck when you purchase one.
Some unique rules add to the fun of the game.
Activating the Klingon Battle Cruiser by Rolling a Seven
Nobody receives any resources whenever you roll a seven (you will be temporarily hated by everyone in the room, but don’t worry, they’ll get over it).
Players with more than seven resource cards need to select half of them and return them to the pile (in the case of an odd number, round down).
Now it’s time to move the Klingon Battle Cruiser! *Bites nails nervously*
- Move the Cruiser to another planet sector
- Steal a resource card from one opponent who has a starbase or outpost adjacent to the sector where the Cruiser is positioned
- Continue your turn
Playing Development Cards
You can play a development card any time during your turn, even before rolling the dice! But you can only play one per turn.
I’ve always viewed this as a ballsy move, but playing one of these cards before rolling the dice can be highly beneficial, especially if you’re not in a powerful position. My advice is to just do it!
Victory Point cards must be kept secret. Only reveal them when you have ten.
When a Starfleet Intervenes card is played, you must move the Klingon Battle Cruiser. Once that is done, leave the card face up before you.
The first player with three cards in front of them receives the “Largest Starfleet” special card, which earns them two Victory Points. I always try to win this card because those two points can make a big difference in adding up the final scores.
As always, another player could take this victory from you, so aim to get as many Starfleet Intervenes cards as possible.
If you decide to play a progress card, simply follow the instructions and discard the card after.
Support cards are helpful because they provide you with a specific advantage. The first time you use this advantage, you can either return it to the display and choose another card or flip it over to use the advantage again next time.
You can only use each advantage a maximum of two times.
I’ve learned over the years that you shouldn’t be afraid to reuse an advantage. Swapping for a different card could put you in a worse position, so if you think the advantage is serving you well, keep it for a second use.
End of the Game
The game concludes when a player reaches ten points. They are the winner and can brag for eternity about being crowned the “Starfleet Admiral of Catan” (yes, I still bring up my one victory from last year, obviously).
How Many Pieces are there in Star Trek Catan?
You will find the following components in the box:
- 19x sector tiles
- 60x starships
- 28x outposts
- 1x Klingon Battle Cruiser
- 95x resource cards
- 25x development cards
- 10x support cards
- 18x number tokens
- 2x dice
- 1x instructions booklet
- 1x almanac
Alternatives to Star Trek Catan
Here are some other games I think you’ll enjoy.
Game of Thrones Catan
If you’re interested in Star Trek, you clearly have impeccable taste in TV shows, which is why I’ve no reservations in recommending Game of Thrones Catan to you. Apart from the final season, which we don’t talk about for obvious reasons, GoT is one of the best shows to come out of the last decade, and it works well when translated into a game of Catan.
You can find out more in our Game of Thrones Catan guide.
- Players – 3-4
- Recommended age – 14+
- Playing time – 60-75 minutes
Catan Settlers of America
From the depths of space to the Wild West, my next recommendation is a lot more down-to-earth, that’s for sure. Catan Settlers of America is the perfect spin-off for history buffs and fans of the great nation that is America.
Intrigued? You should be! Learn more about Catan Settlers of America in our guide.
- Players – 3-4
- Recommended age – 12+
- Playing time – 120 minutes
Cards Against Humanity Star Wars
Star Wars is another epic sci-fi series that has gripped the hearts and minds of millions. The creators of Cards Against Humanity, also known as “the card game for horrible people,” have transformed it into a hilarious card game. Get ready for endless lightsaber innuendos; that’s all I’m saying…
Check out our Cards Against Humanity Star Wars guide for more information!
- Players – 3-20
- Recommended age – 17+
- Playing time – 30-90 minutes
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is Star Trek Catan a Standalone Game?
Answer: Yes, it’s a standalone game rather than an expansion pack, so you don’t need the base game to be able to play.
Question: Is Star Trek Catan a Family Game?
Answer: Just like the original Catan, it makes a brilliant family game. Though it might be a little complicated for younger children, it has a broad appeal that makes it suitable for moms, sons, grandmas, uncles, cousins…basically everyone!
Question: Can I Play if I’ve Never Seen Star Trek?
Answer: First of all, what on earth have you been doing with your life? That’s practically a crime you just admitted to!
You can definitely play Star Trek Catan even if you’re unfamiliar with its concept, but it’s more fun if you understand the references that appear throughout the game.
Question: Is there a Strategy Involved in Catan?
Answer: What I love most about Catan is that you can make it as complex or as simple as you want. You can play an easy game, following the rules in their most basic forms, or you can play competitively, developing clever strategies to outwit your friends.
As you’ve probably guessed, I do the latter.
There are loads of strategies you can use to get ahead in Catan – check out this guide where we explain them in depth.
Question: What Catan Expansion Packs are Available?
Answer: Catan is an immensely successful game that has been around for a long time; so many variations and expansion packs are out there.
In this guide, we cover the best Catan expansion packs available today.