One of the great things about Star Trek: Away Missions is the variety of away teams and the different ways you can play each away team. However, that means your first games can be chaotic. Sometimes one player discovers a strategy that works and the cards to match, so scores well, while the other doesn’t and scores poorly.
Don’t panic! This is normal for your first game or two while you’re learning how the game works and how your away team plays. Don’t worry too much about the score for the first few games until you get a handle on what you’re doing.
Once you’ve got the mechanics down, start going through your cards and try to get a feel for what’s there. Your core missions will give you a hint as to the best ways to play your away team, as the cards are designed to make those core missions an achievable goal, so focus in those directions.
Start by looking at your mission deck to see where your points are. There is usually a mix of simple missions for low points and more complex, but higher scoring ones. You’ll need to score some of the big missions to get a high score, but don’t ignore the little ones — you can usually pick them up on the way to scoring the big ones. Knowing which missions you have in your deck allows you to beam down into the right places to start scoring as early as possible.
The events and equipment in your deck help you score missions directly and keep scoring by keeping your characters alive and moving faster. Once again, knowing what is available will help you immensely.
Since the game is only three rounds and you don’t know precisely which missions you’ll face, you’ll need to stay flexible. Don’t spend too much effort on trying to get the perfect combination, there isn’t time for that. The game is more about chaos management, seizing opportunities, and scoring while preventing your opponent from doing the same.
One of your key tools for managing this chaos is the opportunity to ‘reverse polarity’ after drawing their first hand. This lets you discard any or all of the cards you drew and shuffle them back into your deck before drawing replacements. This is helpful if you find yourself with a handful of cards that may be useful later in the game, but aren’t going to help you at the start. Try and get missions you can score easily and event and equipment cards that will help you right now.
Another powerful tool is the ability to discard a card to re-roll any or all of your dice. This comes in handy all over the place: when you’re trying to score a mission, when you’re attacking an opponent, or when you’re desperately trying to fend off an attack. You can do this as many times as you want, at least until you run out of cards! Since you will get a whole new hand of cards at the start of the next round, it’s usually a good idea to do so when you need it.
It’s tempting to keep throwing cards at a problem until you pass the test or block the attack, or whatever, but this can also be a trap as you need those cards to score points. Sometimes it’s better to fail and preserve a better opportunity for your next action, rather than lose a whole round’s scoring just to gain one success.
On the other hand, don’t hold on to too many cards. Hanging on to a card at the end of the round prevents you from drawing a better one. So, if you don’t have a plan for how you’re going to use a card, you may as well use it for re-rolls.
Once you know what you’re doing, you can also customise your deck with the extra cards to favour your preferred play style or counter your opponent’s tactics. As you start playing with your deck like this, don’t get too fixed on finding the ‘best’ deck. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to change things up and surprise your opponent by doing something radical they aren’t expecting.
Finally, if the play style of your current away team isn’t working for you, try another. They each have a very different approach to the game, so you will find one that is a perfect match for you.