I’ve been vaguely aware of Deep Space D6 pretty much since it first showed up. I even downloaded the app. But it took trying to play a different dice games for Dicember 2021 for me to actually try it.
So, I decided to look at the tutorial… and then played the game five times in a row.
While the title implies that the game is themed around Star Trek Deep Space 9, it’s really one of the space ship wandering around the universe versions of Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off. And, as a Doctor Who fan who hasn’t watched a lot of Star Trek and thus isn’t the best guy to judge, I feel like it really nails that feel.
The game consists of a spaceship playmat, a stack of encounter cards and some dice. Well, you also have to have some tokens to track hull and shields. Honestly, the spaceship, with its separate hull and shields and stasis beam, is what makes the game a spaceship game and not a dungeon crawl with a different skin.
The dice are the crew and you assign them to different tasks each turn. Each pip is a different kind of crew member. Each one does something different and I think it succeeds in being immersive and thematic.
One thing that makes the game both great and nightmarish is that encounters don’t go away until they are resolved. (Most of them are enemy ships and you resolve them by blowing them away) If the dice don’t let you manage them, you end up fighting an armada while terrible things go wrong on board.
And, yes, the lack of control the dice can give you is the biggest issue with Deep Space D6. You have to manage your hull, your shields, your dice pool and the encounters. If you don’t roll what you need to do at least part of that, you will get buried. I’ve had games last six turns.
There is some dice manipulation… through the commander pip. So you have to roll a specific pip in order to manipulate the dice :D
That said, after you get an idea how the game works, it seems like you tend to win or lose by the skin of your teeth as opposed to massive swings one way or the other.
In short, I can see why some folks don’t like Deep Space D6 but I’ve been having a barrel of Klingons worth of fun with it. At some point, I want to make the fan expansions and maybe even look into the published version.