Star Trek Deckbuilding game: next phase
Now, what's different between the two games? Well, after a little searching on Board Game Geek (currently participating in the SOPA protest, BTW), quite a lot. Next Phase definitely seems to have a focus on the later episodes of the series, and I even spied a picture from First Contact (shown after season 3 of Voyager)! There's certainly plenty of focus on the Federation in both games. The first game has plenty of Klingons & Ferengi. This game has only 2 Klingons (though there is an extra Klingon scenario to use with the original game). This game has a focus on Romulans & Cardassians. I remember I managed to take a largely Cardassian deck to a decidedly large victory. There's nothing in the rules about combining the two Borg attacks, but I'm pretty sure you'd be able to figure it out.
Before I wrap this up, I just want to point out something. Look at how much picture space is on these cards! They chose to overlay a bunch of things on top of the pictures. I've gradually gotten accustomed to increasingly less picture space on cards, especially with Dragon Ball GT. By choosing to go with a smaller font, overlaying a bunch of things on top of the picture, and making the borders extremely minimal (albeit making it a bit harder to understand at first), there's a lot more picture. That right there goes a long way toward improving the appeal. Star Trek TNG fans are going to see these cards and reminisce without having to squint. By taking up 3/4 of the card, it allows me to relate much more easily what the theme is to what the effect actually does.
This seems like a nice game. I can see myself getting plenty of good games in with this thing. This game effectively works because it's a license that's old enough for most of us to know well. If you don't know TNG, you'll probably have some difficulty understanding why things are happening the way they are. For that reason, if I made a point of rating games by numbers, it couldn't possibly be any more than 8. The game is solid, but it would seem to lose a lot if you're not familiar with the franchise. Any game that requires you to know the license in order to enjoy it has a serious problem there. With the Gears of War board game, everything I've heard actually suggests that it deviates significantly from how the video game plays, so lack of familiarity can actually work in your favor. Again though, Star Trek is pretty easily known with a wide audience, so play on Trekkies! This definitely beats that horrendously designed (but wonderfully produced) VCR board game we got when the license was active.