Birth of the Federation is easily in my top five games. Made during Microprose's golden age, BotF managed to capture the spirit of Trek, while also delivering a bloody fantastic sci-fi 4X. While I've yet to find a video game that has the same feel, an upcoming board game, Star Trek: Ascendancy, might just do it.
Images: Gale Force Nine
My reasons for being excited about Ascendancy are two-fold. First, it's designed by Gale Force Nine, the same people behind the Firefly board game. This gives it an excellent pedigree. The fear with these licensed games is that they'll be mass-market, uninspired junk. But after seeing how well GF9 handled Joss Whedon's baby, I have nary a concern.
Secondly, GF9 has just released the rule book. While reviews will help eventually, being able to read the rules now makes it all the more easier to decide if the game is for me. Or you.
Spoiler alert: it's for me. I mean, look at the board for Darmok's sake:
It's not all fairy floss and dilithium though. I own Eclipse, another 4X board game and it's been gather dust for a few years. I really like it, but it's the sort of game that has "setup inertia" -- the mere thought of getting everything out and ready is enough to make you swivel to something a little simpler (usually Pandemic: The Cure, Roll for the Galaxy or Seasons).
I'm hoping Ascendancy can provide a good balance between complexity and time investment so it stays in the regular rotation with my game-playing friends. From what I've seen so far, it looks the goods.
The game will make it's GenCon debut in August, but won't be available for widespread consumption until September. I'll be counting the stardates.
Star Trek: Ascendancy [Gale Force Nine]