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Star Trek Catan: Federation Space – Exploring the Explored Galaxy

 
August 15, 2013
Gero Zahn

As promised in our last blog post and also in the Star Trek Catan: Federation Space Almanac, we would like to provide an in-depth look into the creation of the game maps, with special emphasis on the planets and the other objects that we used, where we put them, and why.

 The Explored Galaxy

After we had made the decision to transform the “Explored Galaxy” map, we tried to rebuild the map with hex tiles – each representing one of the listed celestial bodies – in such a way that each tile's position was as close as possible to the corresponding celestial body's original position on the “Explored Galaxy” map. When creating such a scenario map, the first question is usually: Should the hex tiles be aligned horizontally or vertically?

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In our first attempt, the tips of the tiles were aligned vertically, which led to a number of “gaps.” In our second attempt, however, when we had aligned the tips horizontally, the “Explored Galaxy” map's topography fell into place much more harmoniously.

 Federation Space – Tips aligned vertically, tips aligned horizontally

 Federation Space – Map 1 & 2

Afterwards, with a little bit of bending the “real-world” distribution of planets and systems on the map, everything was pretty much where it belonged. As a result, you will find all the celestial bodies listed on the respective Memory Alpha page occupying roughly the same positions you see them in on the original map.

The Patriarchy Planet

The only exception is a planet that we could not use due to license issues – we couldn’t even use the planet’s name as mentioned in the TAS01x14 episode. After a bit of research, we did what others had done before: we renamed the respective planet “The Patriarchy.” If you like, you can search Memory Alpha for further information about this name. This way, the planet is where it belongs, and its name matches the name it was given in Geoffrey Mandel’s book “Star Trek Charts” published in 2002.

Star Trek Charts – Front Cover

This book was actually one of the most valuable resources to place additional planets and objects on our map. Albeit, due to the fact that the “Explored Galaxy” map and the “Star Trek Charts” were created at different times, we encountered certain discrepancies that were hard, if not impossible, to reconcile. For example: On Geoffrey Mandel’s 2002 map, Vulcan and Andor / Andoria are close to each other, with the P’Jem monastery nearby; this is necessary for a storyline in Star Trek: Enterprise. On the old 1991 “Explored Galaxy Map,” though, Vulcan and Andor are anything but neighbors. So we were sometimes forced to use a bit of “creative interpretation” when deciding where to put planets and objects.

Planet Colors & Planet Resources

Of course we tried to color the planets of our Star Trek Catan: Federation Space maps according to their original appearance on the TV show, so that they produce the kind of Star Trek Catan resources that are most likely to be available for harvesting on those planets.

You probably wouldn't hesitate to agree that

  • EarthEarth has to be a blue planet,
    thus producing water, while
  • Sherman's PlanetSherman’s Planet has to be yellow,
    thus producing food, i.e. Quadrotriticale.

Beyond that, we had to compromise on the colors and resources, as we had to strike a balance between what we could find in Memory Alpha and what we needed to make each of the boards balanced and playable as a Star Trek Catan expansion. So please forgive us if some of the planets have the “wrong” color.

Additional Planets

These are the eight planets that were not shown on the “Explored Galaxy” map and that we added to our Star Trek Catan: Federation Space maps:

  1. Sherman’s Planet / Deep Space Station K-7 from “The Trouble with Tribbles”

  2. Cestus III from “Arena”

  3. Coridan from “Journey to Babel”

  4. M-113 from “The Man Trap”

  5. L-374 from “The Doomsday Machine”

  6. Tellar from “Journey to Babel”

  7. Miri’s Home World from “Miri”

  8. The Gateway Planet from “The City on the Edge of Forever”

We added them because the respective episodes seemed crucial to us in the context of telling the “these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise” story. Luckily, they fit perfectly into the gaps that were present on the original “Explored Galaxy” map and, therefore, were also present on our hex map adaptation.

Let's discuss each of these planets, one by one, in decreasing order of certainty about their locations:

  • Sherman’s PlanetSherman’s Planet is supposed to be somewhere near the Klingon Neutral Zone on Map 2. The “Explored Galaxy” map shows “Kling,” an alternate name for the Klingon home world Qo'noS, in the lower right-hand corner, which matches its position in Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts.” So we placed Sherman’s planet in the gap near Organia and the Klingon Neutral Zone.

  • Cestus IIICestus III is located close to the Gorn Hegemony space. According to Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts,” the planet is supposed to be far below the Klingon Empire and, therefore, would not be visible anymore on our map. So we took the artistic liberty of moving it up toward the Klingon Neutral Zone, while still keeping it in the bottom right-hand corner of Map 2. Its vicinity to Sherman’s Planet, however, is nothing but the result of the fact that we had to shrink the deep space distance to accommodate the planet on our map.

  • CoridanCoridan was quite easy to locate: it is said to be close to Orion. Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts” depict it slightly to the right of and below Orion, where both the “Explored Galaxy” map and our hex Map 1 showed a gap that we could easily fill with this planet.

  • M-113M-113 was a bit tougher to place. According to Memory Beta, another name for this planet is Regulus VIII. This positions the planet close to the Regulus system shown on the “Explored Galaxy” map and, thus, also on Map 1, where we conveniently had a gap to fill.

  • The L-374 systemThe L-374 system was attacked by the same “planet killer” (see below) as the L-370 system that had been totally destroyed by it. It is supposed to be near Rigel. We didn’t have space for it right there, but we had another gap to fill just one hex field away, in the upper left-hand corner of Map 2.

  • TellarTellar, Andor, Vulcan, and Earth originally founded the United Federation of Planets; hence, they shouldn’t be far apart from each other. But as stated before, when it comes to these core planets, the “Explored Galaxy” map differs significantly from Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts.” In the latter, Tellar is located close to Earth, Altair, Tau Ceti, and Alpha Centauri. Unlike Vulcan and Andor, this places Tellar on Map 2, where we had a gap to fill near Tau Ceti.

  • Miri’s home world – OphiucusMiri’s home world doesn’t really have a verified location. However, according to Memory Beta, another name for this planet is 70 Ophiucus IV. Spelled as “70 Ophiuchi,” in Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts” it can clearly be located not too far from Earth, in the vicinity of Memory Alpha and Altair, which would put it on Map 2. Unfortunately, since we really didn’t have room for it on Map 2, we … well … we cheated. We spotted other celestial bodies with the name “Ophiuchi”; at least two of them can be found in the vicinity of “The Patriarchy” on Map 1 (see above). As we had a gap to fill in that area, we decided to put the planet there. … To quote Worf: “We don't discuss it with outsiders.”

  • Gateway PlanetWe were convinced that our game should definitely include the Gateway Planet, also known as the Time Vortex Planet, and home of the “Guardian of Forever” time portal. This planet’s position is vague (if not unknown): some sources mention it as being located within the Hromi system, which according to Geoffrey Mandel’s “Star Trek Charts” is close to both the Klingon Neutral Zone and the Romulan Neutral Zone; some implicate a connection to the Romulans which might have used the “Guardian” for the purpose of time travel during their history. At this point, we made an educated guess and placed the Gateway Planet near the Romulan Neutral Zone on Map 2, where we had room for it. … To quote Spock: “Ah. Then, I will try to make the best guess I can.”

Additional Objects

As listed in the Star Trek Catan: Federation Space Almanac, we have added a few tiny objects on our maps, which should remind you of famous plot events in different episodes. We put many of these objects near the VP sites to further enhance the “storytelling” aspect of the board. There are a few others scattered around just for fun.

We added the following objects:

  1. Deep Space Station K-7The Deep Space Station K-7 from “The Trouble with Tribbles.” You can see it in the lower right-hand corner of Map 2, near Sherman’s Planet (see above).

  2. Class-F ShuttlecraftA Class-F Shuttlecraft, shown in various episodes, e.g. in “Let This Be Your Last Battlefield.” You can see it in the upper right-hand corner of Map 2, near Ariannus.

  3. The CompanionThe Companion from “Metamorphosis.” You can see it in the left-hand corner of Map 1, in the region of Gamma Canaris N, near Berengaria VII.

  4. Nomad probeThe Nomad probe from “The Changeling.” The Enterprise was on its way to the Malurian star system in the vicinity of Regulus when it picked up Nomad. You can see it in the upper right of Map 1.

  5. Planet GothosPlanet Gothos from “The Squire of Gothos,” a rogue planet drifting through space. You can see it in the center of Map 1, near Beta Portolan.

  6. Space AmoebaThe Space Amoeba from “The Immunity Syndrome.” You can see it in the lower right-hand corner of Map 2, roaming the galaxy near Organia and the Klingon Neutral Zone.

  7. Planet KillerThe planet killer from “The Doomsday Machine.” You can see it in the upper left-hand corner of Map 2, in the L-374 system (see above).

  8. Tholian AssemblyThe Tholian Assembly from “The Tholian Web.” You can see it at the bottom of Map 1.

  9. The AntaresThe Antares from “Charlie X.” You can see it on the left side of Map 2, close to Sirius.

  10. First Federation BuoyThe First Federation Buoy from “The Corbomite Maneuver.” You can see it in the upper left-hand corner of Map 1, near “First Federation.”

  11. SS Botany BayThe SS Botany Bay from “Space Seed.” You can see it in the lower right-hand corner of Map 2, in the Mutara sector, close to Pollux IV.

  12. The Yonada “Asteroid”The Yonada “asteroid” from “For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” originating from the destroyed Fabrina system. The remnants of Fabrina can be found in upper right-hand corner of Map 1, while you can see Yonada in the center of Map 1, close to the planet Daran V, which it was originally heading for.

We hope that you enjoyed this rather geeky behind-the-scenes look at the creation of this Star Trek Catan scenario. If we did it right, and we sincerely hope that we did, you might have as much fun visiting all those planets as Captain Kirk and his intrepid crew had during the voyages of the Starship Enterprise.

Gero Zahn (with Ron Magin)


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Comments

Looks great, when will this be available in the Store.
Gero Zahn
@Erik The game premiered at GenCon Indy last month. It should be available real soon now. Amazon.com already lists it as “in stock”. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DEXDVCE/
@Gero, thanks for the info, I was actually able to find it at one of your partners, Mayfair games which sell in Canada where I am. Thanks.
Any chance we'll see Star Trek Catan on the PC?
Gero Zahn
@Chris Loretz Unfortunately, this is not very likely. Sorry!
There are a 10 to 12 tiny planets on the Maps that are numbered 342 to 353. What are they? How do they relate to the game?
Gero Zahn
@Don None. They are listed on Kirk's “Explored Galaxy” map, and so we added them to our hex map as well at the approximately correct locations. But they don't have any function in the game.
There is an unnamed Green (10) planet on Map One, in the Upper Right Corner, next to Nomad. Is it meant to be unnamed? What planet is it? Maluria, perhaps?
Gero Zahn
@Don You are very sharp-eyed, Sir. As a matter of fact, if you look at the original “Explored Galaxy” map (e.g. on en.memory-alpha.org), you will see these two celestial bodies labeled “352 / 353” outside the grid of known space sectors. When creating the prototype, I labeled a hex field with “352 / 353”, not knowing if it would end up on the final expansion map. If you look closely, in the upper left of map 1, you will see “347 / 348” (also in the original star map); in the upper left of map 2, you will see “348” and other numbered, yet unnamed planets in its upper right. — When it came to balancing the game in terms of statistical resource output and consumption, we realized that we needed that planet up there, and it was a great way to implement the tiny little Nomad probe on our map. So it went in, unlike the other unnamed planets that are on Kirk's “Explored Galaxy” map.

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