In 2020, publisher WizKids Games released a roll and write game called Super-Skill Pinball 4-Cade. It was met with critical acclaim and designer Goeff Engelstein wasted no time in giving us a follow up 2021. It was the first stand-alone expansion, which was titled Ramp it Up, leading reviewer Brian to immediately dub it as his favorite roll and write franchise.
2022 has arrived, and with it, the newest iteration of this pinball-themed roll and write. This time, we are boldly going where no one has gone before. Star Trek Super-Skill Pinball is the newest stand-alone expansion, coming at you with four new tables to enjoy. Set phasers to fun!
I’m not going to spend too much time rehashing how the game is played as the core concepts remain mostly the same. You can check out Brian’s review of the original game if you want the full rundown. But the basics are: roll two dice, choose one of the dice and move your ball based on the die chosen. If the move scored points, record the points earned.
All play is simultaneous, and all players use the same dice roll. If a player loses a ball, they start their next round. In other words, players can be on different rounds, depending on their decisions (and luck). A player’s game ends (usually) after they have lost three balls.
Since the core concepts haven’t changed at all, I’ll mainly focus on what’s new or unique here. Star Trek Super-Skill Pinball comes with four tables, each based on a different Star Trek theme.
If you’ve never played a game of Super-Skill Pinball, this table is the place to start. Overall, there is nothing too difficult about it, and it’s the most like the core game ones. There are a set of bumpers, drop targets, and a few other scoring areas. The most interesting thing with this table is the Kobayashi Maru zone of Star Fleet Academy fame. For those not familiar, this is the unwinnable mission the academy makes recruits go through that James T. Kirk famously cheated his way to winning. In the game, you can’t get the max points by using a die roll, the highest value is only achievable by using a reward from a drop target bonus. I thought this was a clever use of mixing theme and gameplay.
The Trouble with Tribbles:
Tribbles are cute little furry creatures from the original Star Trek series. They are slow-moving and lovable but reproduce very rapidly. This table embraces that chaos. For scoring, there are the usual bumpers, drop targets, and skill shot areas. The spinner has made a return after not appearing in the last expansion, and scoops are new as well. The most unique thing with this table though has to do with the tribbles. The back glass has a chart to track your tribble count. Every time doubles are rolled you fill in boxes on the track equal to the value of one of the dice rolled. The chart goes up to 30 points before dropping down, causing penalties and finally a space to end your round. This introduces a push your luck element to the game.
However, the only way to score your tribble chart is via the drop targets. So you should try to time your drop target reward when your tribbles bonus is the highest. The game also gives you ways to adjust your tribble value outside of the die rolls. For example, every time you score a scoop, you can increase or decrease your tribble count by the die used. Or better yet, the transporter bumpers. If you fill in all six boxes in that zone, you can beam any number of tribbles out of your game and into your opponent’s board. This adds a nice little bit of player interaction to a game that is mostly multiplayer solitaire.
Based on the animated series on CBS All Access (which I’ve never seen), this table is quite unique. While it has the usual bumpers, scoops, and drop targets, the game is played only over a single round. That’s because the gravity generators have gone haywire on the ship. The table is divided in half, and you can only hit the ball to the center of the table. But every time you score 10 points, the table flips 180 degrees and you play from the other side (there is a set of flippers on both sides of the table). Each side also features two characters from the tv show and whenever you move through that character’s inlane, they grant you their special power (until you change characters).
Overall this table was solid with some clever ideas, but probably my least favorite of the group. While the gravity mechanic was neat, the scoring goals felt a tad repetitive as you are aiming for similar types of targets on each side.
Finally, the most complex of tables that probably needs no introduction as the Borg episodes were some of the most iconic of the Next Generation series. This table has a lot going on, with six pages of the rulebook dedicated to explaining how to use it. The main thing to know is that it’s actually played in two parts. The first two rounds have you using the main table as normal, but round three is only played on the back glass. For the first two rounds, you’ll be hitting the usual scoops, drop targets, and bumpers. The main focus here (in addition to scoring points), is to prep Star Fleet for the incoming Borg invasion. You’ll be focusing on getting ships to arrive, arming them with photon torpedoes, and stocking up on shield modulators. You’ll also be rescuing civilians, but this is a pretty straightforward banking system that’s just there to earn you points.
Once you hit round three, the gameplay changes up pretty significantly. It’s an attack on the Borg cube which will also fire back at you. Each round, you’ll use one of the two dice rolled to try and hit the Borg ship, while the other one will be used to attack your fleet. Each ship you earned during rounds one and two will be used here. Ships offer you an attack position and can fire their single proton torpedo (if earned) to hit bonus targets on the cube. Once all your ships are gone though, your game ends. Or, if you are lucky enough, you can destroy the Borg cube, earning you boku points.
While I’m not as big a Star Trek fan as I am of Star Wars, I still find it enjoyable. The designer could have easily pasted on a theme here and called it a day. But he actually did a great job of tying the theme to different areas of the gameplay. The tables all feel unique, and the first table works well as an intro to the game for new players. I’ve played all three versions of Super-Skill Pinball so far and this one is easily my favorite. Unless you are a Star Trek hater, this is the one I’d say to get. It offers a jumping-on-point, and some unique, thematic tables with lots of variety.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – Easily the best version of Super-Skill Pinball yet and an easy buy for fans of the Star Trek series.
• The Lower Decks table can feel a tad repetitive