Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Star Trek: Attack Wing

I’m a big time gamer. Video games aside I am a board/card game fan. I’ve tried out and realized, after spending way too much money on Magic: The Gathering and the recently abandoned World of Warcraft CCR, that I’m not that big into that type of card game. However, put a copy of Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre or Munchkin in front of me and I’m good to go.

One genre I’m definitely not into is the miniatures tabletop game. You know, like Warhammer 40K, Space Hulk or Malifaux. I don’t mind Hero Clix, but the aforementioned examples are way too expensive to be a feasible source of entertainment. I mean, seriously. You have to spend hundreds of dollars to put an army together to even begin playing the game, and I’m not made of money (I also don’t have the patience to paint them).
So when Fantasy Flight Games, makers of such card based gems as Elder Sign, Call of Cthulhu, A Game of Thrones and Netrunner, released a miniatures game based on Star Wars, the collective gamer community went apeshit for it. I recall the Fantasy Flight booth selling out of their stock of core sets and certain expansion packs each day at GenCon 2012 where it debuted. The miniatures were pre-painted in detail, the rules seemed simple enough and the expansions weren’t super expensive (although the Millennium Falcon is upwards of $50 in some outlets). Still, I wasn’t interested. Not only do I have a middling interest in Star Wars to begin with, but I wasn’t going to start a new habit when I own so many games already (I have yet to play Last Night on Earth… and I purchased it in 2007!).

And then WizKids Games decided to release a similar miniatures game that appealed to my own geeky sensibilities – Star Trek: Attack Wing. I resisted at first, but after watching a few demonstrations on YouTube and playing a demo at a friend’s house I was hooked. Sold ‘Murican as it were! What applied to the Star Wars game does here as well and it was extremely entertaining. So needless to say I ended up purchasing the entire first wave of expansions (including the Deep Space Nine scenario package given to retailers for competition events).
Here are my thoughts on the game:

Star Trek: Attack Wing is a lot of fun. The rules, while taking about 30 minutes to get used to, aren’t overly complicated and aren’t bogged down in needless details. There are four factions (currently): The Federation, the Klingons, the Romulans and the Dominion. Basically you have 100 points allotted to each player to form their fleet. Each ship has a point value and every crew member, weapon and special ability does as well. You have to combine these to fill out a ship’s compliment, hopefully being thrifty enough with the points to be able to squeeze two or three ships into your fleet that are stocked to the gills with what you need to make it a formidable battleship. Once that’s done each player sets up their miniatures on the playing field, usually a 3x3 foot area of table. Each player takes turns moving their ships according to the maneuvers each is able to perform. Once in range of an opponent’s ship the battle begins through dice rolling. Ships can attack, dodge, cloak, absorb damage with their shields, return fire and more depending on the abilities of each ship and the assigned crew.

I’ve played the Star Wars: X-Wing version of this game, and that is basically all Pew! Pew! shoot first and ask questions later type of game. Attack Wing is virtually the same, but the addition of crew members and abilities give the battles more strategy and a naval battle type of feel. This approach makes sense since Star Trek has always been about the Navy in outer space. Games are paced well and aren’t over too soon, and since some ships have the ability to fire from their aft you need to constantly be on your toes as to where you're being attacked from. This is a nice touch because the opposite was the issue I had with X-Wing; ships are always flying in circles just trying to face an opponent because their firing arcs are always at the fore.
If Star Trek : Attack Wing has one issue it’s the variety of ships currently available. There’s three Federation ships (Enterprise-D, TOS Enterprise and the Reliant), three Romulans (Warbird, Valdore and a scout), three Klingons (Vor'Cha Class, I.K.S. Gr'oth and I.K.S. Negh'var) and only two Dominion (a Cardassian and a Breen ship). The third Dominion ship is a Ferengi cruiser, but you have to win an official competition to get that one (or buy it online at an exorbitant price). I was hoping for a more varied selection of vessels to start off with to pique the interest of not only the Trekkers, but casual gamers as well. I mean, how can you not have a Klingon Bird of Prey as one of the first wave of expansions?! Or a Borg Cube?! Seriously!

Another goof is that some of the ships have the exact same abilities as the others in their faction. For instance, the Romulan Warbird has an ability card that allows for a massive photon torpedo spread (you get to roll more attack dice than normal), and the Valdore has the exact same card. WizKids couldn’t come up with something different and exclusive for the Valdore? Basically it makes the Romulan fleet overly powerful since they can always inflict more damage than the other factions.
Plus, from what I've seen of the upcoming expansion waves I am disappointed by WizKids' reusing of the same molds with a different paint job. For example, the first expansion wave featured a classic style Klingon ship (just like the ones seen at the beginning of Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The second wave has the exact same ship, just colored differently, has a new name and a couple of new cards. WTF?! And from what I've seen of future waves the same problem applies to them as well. When you have nearly 40+ years of starship designs to choose from you decide to just reuse the same molds over and over again? Get with it WizKids. This is lunacy and an embarrassing cost cutting move on your part.

Anyway, I digress. This is a phenomenally fun game that I can’t recommend enough. Even people who aren’t big gamers can find some enjoyment in this pleasant little diversion. Sure there are some balance issues and standard problems that plague an expansion heavy game like this, but outside of that it’s a winner. Check it out!

4 out of 5

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