Star Trek Adventures Utopia Planitia Review


My first steps into tabletop gaming came when I bought the Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator at Waldenbooks. My friends and I loved punching out the chits and figuring out the rules, but I found that I cared more about tossing myself over the couch whenever my ship got hit rather than concentrate on the strategy or the deeper mechanics. Ship books are often my favorite books of any science fiction RPG line. I was excited to get my hands on a review copy of Utopia Planitia for Star Trek Adventures. Did this book named after the famed Starfleet shipyards pass its shakedown cruise? Let’s play to find out.

Once again, Jim Johnson and his team have taken the opportunity to shake things up on the graphic design front. The interiors of the book mark it as sometime during the original movie era with diagrams of ships like the Enterprise refit and the Reliant scattered through the book. It’s also nice to see some art showing the “monster maroon” uniforms of the era. I bought that FASA boxed set because I loved the battles in The Wrath of Khan so the art and design played into my nostalgia a bit.

The main draw are the starships, and the book doesn’t skimp on that front. Even though the Command Operations book expanded ship coverage, this book digs into more ships from multiple eras. Thanks to the partnership with Star Trek Online, each spaceframe, as they are called, gets a lovely two page spread with a full illustration.There are new mission profiles and talents to choose from, with a few ships from earlier books getting updated with these newer mechanics. The one glaring space in this line up was the lack of a write up of the California-class from Star Trek: Lower Decks. They mention the show in the text, but I assume the omission is a licensing issue since it came out after Modiphius expanded their deal with CBS. I can build my own thanks to the expanded rules but I still would love to see an official writeup. Maybe as a gift for April Fools?

In addition to more ships, the main rules also offer construction ideas for space stations and small craft like runabouts. There’s been a little discussion about space stations as a central location in other books but it gets much more love here. For fans who want to debate the merits of different shuttlecraft, different ones from the run of the Next Generation area get written up plus era- appropriate entries. The book really focuses on location as a main character that pervades so much of Star Trek. Consider the differences between Enterprise’s holodeck and the holosuites on DS9 to see how the same equipment can be used and percieved in different ways.

Holodecks get a little love in this book as well. There’s a short table offering some classic holodeck mishaps though I was surprised that none of the mission briefs in the back featured this classic story trope. The book talks about life in Starfleet from the perspective of the crew members onboard the ship. It asks players to consider what they do for fun when they aren’t on duty and who their friends might be elsewhere on the ship. There is some food for thought on emulating the slice of life episodes which are often my favorite episodes in any series.

The book also offers a peek into some of the realities behind the utopian ideal of the Federation. There are still rare elements and resources that need to be mined to make the high tech of Starfleet hum. A section lists some of these resources and lays out how they can be plot drivers for episodes. It’s a nice list for anyone trying to remember the differences between their boronite and their boridium when they are slinging technobabble. The book also offers some brief discussion on technology in the setting which reinforces the basic discussion in the Player & GM Guides. There’s also an expansion of these themes, such as the discussion of when to take a shuttlecraft and when to use the transporter to get on or off a ship.

Utopia Planitia is an excellent Star Trek Adventures book and my favorite ship book for any of the official lines because it provides plenty of ship content and so much more. Highly recommended.

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

Von Ether

Star Trek Starship Tactical Combat Simulator brings back many good memories. That scratched an itch I hadn't felt since Car Wars, would get a little taste of in Rogue Trader and never felt the same level of love again even after Battletech.

Of course being a poor gamer out in Oklahoma, we only discovered that gem after it had been tossed in the bargain bin as a dead game line.

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