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Although the components for Gale Force Nine's Star Trek: Ascendancy are generally pretty exceptional (and the expansion components are also quite high quality), I did have one major disappointment with the package: the game does not include plastic figures to represent the various faction's starbases. Instead, the game uses cardboard tokens to represent starbases. These are functionally fine, but they just don't have the presence on the board to match their strategic importance within the actual game, and it's easy for them to kind of disappear into the background of the game's map. The individual cardboard tokens don't even have art specific to each faction; all five factions have pictures of Federation starbases on the top.

The manufacturer was apparently aware of this, and, in addition to selling "expansions" containing additional ships and control nodes for each faction, they also sell a set of three plastic starbase figures for each faction.

All factions use carboard tokens for starbases, all of which have pictures of Starfleet starbases.

Since I really like the Ascendancy board game, I wanted to support the manufacturer and designers. I had already purchased all three of the game's expansions (the Cardassian faction, Ferengi faction, and Borg: Assimilation expansion), and I'll be playing and reviewing them soon. I also went ahead and bought the starbases. GF9's storefront wants $12 USD for each set of a faction's three starbase figures. That's a pretty steep price for components for a game that already costs $100 without any expansions. $12 times five factions comes to $60 (almost two-thirds the cost of the core game!). The core game's components are all pretty nice, as are the components for the Borg expansion, and the pictures of the bases looked pretty nice (even though they are unpainted). So I went ahead and made a purchase.

I was excited to have the new toys to play with -- I always like getting new games and toys. But when they showed up, a lot of that excitement was dashed. The product that had been delivered was substantially sub-par.

These are definitely not ready to be played with out-of-the-box...

Defects and poor quality

The Ferengi and Klingon bases were attached to plastic frames and had to be torn off, and the remains of the frames had to be cut off of the starbase figures in order for the figures to fit into their bases and stand on their own. One of the Ferengi figures snapped and broke while I was removing it from its plastic frame. I had to super-glue it back together.

Ferengi starbase broke while unpackaging it.

The Federation and Ferengi bases included manufacturer defects that made them unusable. All the sets had minor issues such as warped or deformed bases, but most of them were at least functional. The Federation and Ferengi bases, however, wouldn't even stand on their own bases.

Two of the three Ferengi stations were warped significantly, and one of them (the one that had snapped) was so lopsided that it wouldn't even stand on its own base. The Federation bases were also similarly bent and leaning, but they also included weird plastic pegs protruding from the bottom of the base. These prevented the bases from sitting flat. The most lopsided starbase would tip over due to being so lopsided, and one of the others wouldn't stand because these pegs on the bottom were so uneven.

I had to take a pair of scissors to cut these pegs off, and then use a kitchen knife to file off the stubs so that the figures would stand up straight.

I had to cut the pegs off the bottoms of the bases and then file them down so they'll stand.

Some assembly required

All but the Federation starbases also needed some assembly. The Klingon, Romulan, and Ferengi figures all came in two pieces. The Klingon and Romulan starbases had a top portion that had to be slotted into a peg on the bottom half, which was already molded into the standing base. These top halves did not snap or click into place and had to be glued together so that they wouldn't fall apart. The Ferengi figures were in one piece, but they were not molded onto the standing base. They had to similarly be glued into their bases.

Some assembly required...

The Cardassian starbases, however, was a box of eighteen separate pieces! Each Cardassian starbase was split into six pieces: the central disk, the three docking spires, and shaft that connects the figure to its standing base, and the standing base itself. Each of the central disks also had a weird plastic peg sticking out of one of the opening that the docking spires were supposed to slot into. These pegs had to be torn or cut off and filed down to allow the spires to fit into the slot. The shaft that connects the figure to the standing base also does not snap or click into either the figure or the standing base, and so needs to be glued in order to stay together.

Save your starbases with hot water

Even after gluing the starbases together, some still seemed to be warped or bent to the point of not being usable. The Federation and Ferengi were the worst, but every set had at least one figure or standing base that was bent or lopsided.

On the advice of a fellow user of the Board Game Geeks forums (Darth Coupon), I ran the bent and warped figures under hot water for ten seconds or so. This apparently melted the plastic enough to be able to bend it back into shape. I had to run at least one figure from every set (except the Romulans and Cardassians) under water in order to make adjustments. In the case of the Federation and Ferengi bases, this made them usable.

Running the starbase under hot water allowed it to be bent back into the proper shape.

The mushroom dome of one of the Federation starbases also was bent in several places, and the hot water allowed me to bend those back into shape. It's not perfect, but it looks a lot better than it did before.

Need some tender, loving care to be usable

In the end, after about two hours of work, I was able to get all the starbases to a point that they were usable. It required reshaping many of them with hot water, cutting off excess pieces, filing down the remains of excess pieces, and gluing the separate pieces together. They look fine now. Some are still a bit wobbly because the bases are uneven or need to be filed down some more, but they all stand on their own without tipping over. I haven't bothered to paint them, and I doubt that is something that I will do. From a gameplay standpoint, having them be a neutral color (gray) emphasizes that they can be seized by any faction.

The Klingon and Romulan starbases seemed to require the least work. One Klingon starbase was lopsided and needed to be run under hot water. Other than that, the only work that was needed for these was to glue the tops onto the bottom of the station figure. I recommend using either a hot glue gun with a very fine applicator, or use super glue with a brush applicator. That way, you can get into the small holes that the pieces are supposed to slot into, without getting glue all over your fingers.

Hopefully, they hold up to actual play and storage with the rest of the game pieces...

After two hours of cutting, filing, gluing, and running under hot water, the starbases are in playable condition.

Star Trek: Ascendancy is a very solid game that I enjoy playing and highly recommend to any board-game-playing Trekker or space 4-x fan. Gale Force Nine definitely deserves to be supported for this product. The components that are packaged into the actual game are of very high quality (aside from a few misprints on some cards, and the cardboard starbases). Had these plastic starbases been anywhere close to the quality of, say, the Borg Spires in the Borg expansion, then all would have been good. But they aren't. Whoever GF9 contracted out to create these miniatures did a pretty poor job.

I really should not have needed to put in so much work to get these things playable. At $12 a piece, I expected something that I could take out of the box and immediately use, and I expected them to be in good shape. Had I seen these in a store (rather than online), I would definitely not have bought them for the asking price. Maybe $5 a piece would have been a more reasonable asking price, and even that would have been a stretch for the ones that were clearly bent and defective.

If you can find a set of these at a cheap price on eBay or in the bargain bin of your local game/hobby store, then they may be worth picking up. Just remember that they need some tender, loving care to become usable. Don't plan on just pulling them out of their boxes and using them immediately in a game.

Comments (1) -

10/23/2021 15:43:54 #

You say the starbase tokens are the same for all factions. Did you try looking on the other side?

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