The Star Trek VCR Board Game – A Closer Look At An Artifact of the Past

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Every Friday at 4:00 PM PT, a talented crew roleplays their way through the galaxy to fulfill a mission: to boldly go where no one has gone before. Follow the adventures of the USS Sally Ride on  Shield of Tomorrow on  Twitch.

Technology often propels gaming to new heights. Video streaming allows us to bring the adventures of the Sally Ride to fans around the world. PDFs allow electronic copies of upcoming  Star Trek Adventures books to instantly appear in the hands of fans that have pre-ordered books. But sometimes, technology goes in a strange direction and produces an artifact that leaves fans wondering what happened.

As video games grew into the home marketplace, board game manufacturers started to feel the pressure. What could they provide that video games could not? A few companies took advantage of another piece of home entertainment technology; the Video Cassette Recorder. VCR games became popular in the early 90s thanks to the success of games like Atmosfear. Decipher, Inc., who would go on to create the Star Trek Customizable Card Game and the CODA  version of the Star Trek RPG brought a Star Trek VCR Board Game to market in 1993.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Interactive VCR Board Game – A Klingon Challenge stars Robert O’Reilly as the Klingon Kavok. He sneaks aboard the Enterprise while it is docked at Starbase 74 for repairs. The crew has disembarked for shore leave, leaving the players behind as the repair crew. The only Next Generation crew member that shows up in the game is Commander Riker, and he’s only there as a log entry at the beginning of the tape to set the scene. The players have 60 minutes to stop Kavok from his plan to warp to the Klingon homeworld and start a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Most of the video is a countdown clock showing the players how much time they have left.


The players need to move around a board that represents the ship to collect isolinear computer chips. The player that collects the chips first is the one that takes down the rogue Klingon warrior. Much like the Atmosfear games, Kavok occasionally shows up to taunt the players by yelling at them through the TV and mess with their progression by punishing players with random losses of resources. If the players don’t finish the game in time, there’s a cutscene featuring a short battle and the destruction of the ship.

O’Reilly is more famous for playing Gowron in The Next Generation, so watching him as an entirely different character here is a bit surreal. The game is a pretty basic board game but the video is a campy delight for any Star Trek fan. For those fans who have never seen it, or for ones who have a copy but have long since decommissioned their VCR, we found a full copy of the video to watch below.

Did you play this game when it was released? Tell us in the comments! And be sure to tune into our Star Trek RPG show,  Shield of Tomorrow on Geek & Sundry  Twitch and  Alpha every Friday starting at 4 PM PT, followed by our aftershow on Alpha, Behind The Shield, where the crew discuss the episode and debate topics like this one.

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Image Credits: Milton Bradley | Decipher Inc.

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is  here, where he is currently reviewing classic  Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is  here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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