Monday, November 25, 2013

"Live Long and Prosper" - A Review of Star Trek Attack Wing

Star Trek Attack Wing Miniatures Game
  • Designed by Andrew Parks and Christopher Guild
  • Published by WizKids Games with the flightpath license from FFG
  • For 2 players, but you can really play with any number, so long as the fleets are balanced.
  • Playtime depends on what you're doing, most core set matches will take 45 minutes, larger games run longer, it depends on how large you make it. Figure 60-90 minutes for most matches.  Organized play is exactly 60 minutes.

Part of my painted fleet
First off, this is a miniatures game, but don't let that scare you off.  Attack Wing plays a lot more like a board game than a traditional miniatures game.  That being said, if you get into this game, you will spend money buying expansion ships.
Players make moves, take actions, fly around in space, all with the goal of shooting the other guy down in flames.  It may not be an accurate space combat simulation, it may not even feel accurate to Star Trek, but it is an engaging experience.

Review Note: I have a whole lot of ships, so it's almost impossible for me to discuss only the core set.

I have everything organized in a Plano 5231
Core Set: 3 ships (1 Federation, 1 Klingon and 1 Romulan), and all the components you need to actually play the game.  This includes movement markers, special tokens, attack and defense dice, ship cards, and a few upgrades.
Each Expansion: 1 Ship, a movement dial, 1 or 2 special captains, some upgrade cards, assorted tokens. For instance, the Defiant expansion comes with most of the main federation characters from Deep Space 9.
Quality wise, all the tokens are good to great, while the cards are ok.  I have all my cards sleeved to protect them, and give them a little added rigidity.

A Federation and
Romulan logjam.
Here's how turns work. All players select a movement on a movement dial for each of their ships.  Starting with the lowest captain skill and going up, players reveal their move, use the movement guide to execute the maneuver, and then select an action to perform.  After all ships have moved, the highest captain skill, and going down, makes an attack if they can.  Attacking is simple, roll dice equal to your attack value, 1 extra if you're at close range, while the defense rolls defense dice equal to their defense value, 1 extra if they're at far range.  If the attacker rolls more hits than the defense can evade, the defending ship suffers damage equal to the non-evaded hits.  When you've taken damage equal to your hull rating, your ship goes boom.

The game offers a handful of scenarios, which I've yet to try.  I've been playing last man standing, and the Organized Play campaign, which I'll talk about shortly.

A close up of Picard in
command of the Defiant
Attack Wing is full of interaction.  It's a game of out-thinking your opponent, trying to get the tactical edge, and exploit it.  It's a little slow at first, but the game quickly picks up and turns into a knock-down, drag-out fight.

Attack Wing is Star Trek combat.  It is far from perfect, but it is easy to play.  Each captain brings their own unique ability, and each ship has its own unique ability, so it seems to work well.  The game mostly makes logical sense, aside from a full stop move.  The game does allow for some weird stuff, like being able to assign Captain Picard to a Dominion or Romulan ship, but that caries an added point cost for your squadron.

Learning Curve
The difference some paint makes.
Left is out of the box,
Right is after a base coat of grey,
a wash, and some custom touches
There's a medium learning curve.  There are intro rules, but they are very basic.  Still, if you've never played advanced boardgames, the intro rules give you a great jumping in point.  The full rulebook is involved.  There are a lot of things to understand, so it's best to take it step by step.  It may take a couple of games to start to understand what's going on, but you'll get there.  After you understand the core concepts, you still have squad building to work through, which can take a good deal of time.

Why I like Attack Wing
I've played X-Wing, and I love Star Trek.  I was skeptical for a long time about getting into another minis game, but the support from WizKids and the variety of ships have tipped me over.  The game is easy to get into, but also very challenging to master.

Why I don't like Attack Wing
Price point.  Core sets are reasonable, ~$25 online for 3 ships plus a whole lot of cardboard isn't bad at all.  After that though, each miniature is $10-$12 online, $15 MSRP.  Now, I know that hand-painted minis are pricy, but it can get expensive to have a large game, particularly if you don't have fellow players investing.  I'm currently in this game for around $200 with another $40+ every two months for new ships.

Organized Play
I've added this section for Attack Wing because it's worth talking about.  WizKids started this game off with a bang.  A 6 month campaign focusing on 6 of the biggest moments in the Dominion War from DS9.  Each month you get something just for showing up to your local store.  If you win, or get the fellowship prize, you get an exclusive ship with some new captains and various upgrade cards.  At the end of the 6 months, the overall winner takes home a "mini" Deep Space 9 which is over a foot in diameter.  They've also announced a couple of one-off events focusing around the Tholians and Gorn episodes from TOS, as well as a "Resistance is Futile" campaign which means Borg.

Showing what a black wash can do
Depends on what you have.  The core set offers 3 scenarios, plus dogfighting and some customization with captains, crew, and various other upgrades.  This is a great amount if you play it as a 2 or 3 player game and just as an occasional Star Trek fix.
Once you add in extra ships, the replayability grows exponentially.  First, you'll want to play more often because the game just feels that awesome. Secondly, there are new challenges with fleet construction and point matches to keep things interesting for a long time.

The rest of my Federation fleet
and a comparison between
boxed Defiant (R) and painted (L)
I think Star Trek Attack Wing is a good design.  It uses the Star Trek license to full effect and has me, and many others, eagerly anticipating future ships.  It built on a solid set of mechanics using the Flight Path system.  The models are ok, they really need at least a wash, probably a full paint to really look good.  The gameplay is solid, though a bit random at times.  The game plays quickly, but allows for longer matches if players desire.  It really is flexible to whatever you're looking to get out of a skirmish game.  Ships die quickly in this game, which can be both good and bad depending on what you're looking for.
Box (L) and washed and painted (R)

Also, the future is bright with this game.  As of posting, there are 12 expansion ships, plus the 3 in the core set released.  There have been 3 months of Organized Play adding an additional 3 ships.  4 more ships are scheduled to come out in early December, 4 more in February, and 4 more in April.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jack Vasel Memorial Fund Auction

I know that I'm late posting about this, but the auction is still going on, so here we go.

Every year there is a gigantic auction on boardgamegeek that benefits the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. The simple explanation for the fund is that it helps gamers in their time of need, whatever that looks like.

There are some amazing items up for auction, so if you can bid, please do so, but even if you can't, know that something like this exists.

Here is the link to the auction -

You have until Nov. 25th to bid on items.

On a personal note, I put up the chance to write an article on the site, and there was an opening bid of $10 which I thought was amazing.  Then someone bid $15.  Then someone bid $20.  At that point I decided to open up a 2nd opportunity, and offer it to the top 2 bidders.

The generosity of the boardgame community amazes me at every turn.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Article 27 Review

Article 27: The UN Security Council Game
  • Designed by Dan Baden
  • Published by Stronghold Gales
  • For 3-6 players, ages 10+ though I recommend 4 or 5 player games, with the occasional 6.
  • Playtime is around 7 minutes per player. (5 for each negotiation round plus bookkeeping)
Have you ever wanted to find out how you'd do in international politics?  Do you think you can convince your friends to do what you want even if it's not in their best interest?  Do you like negotiation and frantic back and forth?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Article 27 just might be the game you're looking for.

Player board after drawing issue tokens for the round.
At the start of the game, each player is given a secret objective such as Power or Social Justice.  At the end, that objective will score points based on how many times it is part of a successful bill during the game.  In each round, one player is the Secretary General, which means they are in charge of crafting a bill and maintaining order to some degree.  Each player will draw 5 tokens and place them (in order) on their player board.  If the color is part of a successful bill, then the player will gain, or lose, points based on the position.  Once all players have drawn their tokens, the Secretary General places an bill on the table, bangs the gavel, and starts a 5 minute timer.

Most of the components in the game.
This is were the madness kicks in.  Players have at most 5 minutes to bribe others to do what they want.  Some bribes can be simple, such as, "I'll pay you 1 to put red in the bill." or "I'll pay you two to take blue out."  Other bribes can get much more complicated like "I'll pay you 4 to put yellow and blue in, take green out, and you only get it if the bill passes."  Typically the complex bribes don't work, but they can be worth trying.  Only the Secretary General may alter the bill, so those are all examples of a bribe to the SG.  A player could bribe someone by saying "I'll pay you two to vote 'yes' on the bill." or even, "I'll pay you 2 to veto."  Your own creativity is your only limitation in how you bribe others.

The rest of the components in the game
At the end of 5 minutes, or when the Secretary General stops negotiations, all players vote on the bill.  A player has 3 options - 1) Approve 2) Abstain 3)Veto.  If any player vetoes, they pay 5, and the bill fails.  If there is no veto, then a majority of the table must approve in order for the bill to pass.  If a bill is approved, then the Secretary General takes 5 points, all players take points equal to the sum of their positive and negative tokens, and the issues that were part of the successful bill are placed face up in the proper row, while issues left on the table are placed face down.

This process repeats until every player has had a chance to be the Secretary General once, twice in a 3 player game.  Then players reveal their secret agenda, take points for it, and reveal their total score.  High score wins.

The artwork on the 6 country boards
Since Article 27 is a negotiation game, there is a great deal of interaction. Most of the interaction is with the Secretary General, but when you get a bill you really like, you have to make sure that no one is going to veto it, so you have to gauge other players and perhaps bribe them to make that happen.  Article 27 is founded on negotiation and interaction.  Without it, the game is rather dull.

Article 27 does a decent job of incorporating it's theme into the game.  I rarely feel like I'm a country negotiating with other countries, but the theme is there for people who want it.  Some people will start talking in accents, which is often hilariously bad, but it adds to the game.

The final issue board.
Money gets 3 points, Prestige gets 6 points,
Justice gets 10 points, Peace gets 6 points,
Innovation gets 6 points, and Power gets 6 points.
Very simple components here.  Everyone has an approve and reject token and 6 country tokens.  The issue tokens are well done, though white on yellow was not the best call, so I had my sister use a sharpie to outline the pictures.  The player boards are well designed, though I wish that the screens were less prone to coming undone.  All the components are good quality, the artwork is well done, even if not to everyone's taste.  The gavel sends it over the top though.  It has to be one of the better components in any game.

Learning Curve
I think that Article 27 is the kind of game where you need to play it, or at least see it played before you truly grasp what is going on.  It's not that the game is overly complicated, it's that the game has several things going on that everyone needs to track.  It helps immensely if someone has played it before.

I've played Article 27 13 times in the past several months.  However, it's been played less often.  I'm always up for this, but not everyone else enjoys it.  I think that might be because you're essentially playing the same thing every time.  Sure the secret agendas change, and the way issues come up, and the tokens you draw, but really the game is fundamentally the same every time.  I don't think that being the same is a terrible thing, but I wonder how much more I can really play it.

Why I like Article 27
Negotiation is fun for me.  Having to compromise, yet knowing when to flex your veto muscle is a great challenge.  You have to read people, try to figure out who wants what, and you have to maximize your points.

Why I don't like Article 27
The lack of variety as mentioned in replayability doesn't help.  If people aren't engaged, the game can fall flat.  It does take a group who's willing to work together but also mess with each other to bring out the fun in the game.

A Screenshot of the free timer app from Stronghold Games.
It also makes gavel noises at the start as well as every minute.
I like Article 27, but I can't love it.  It's a solid game, but after the first 10 or so plays, the shine is gone.  I'll still play it any chance I get, but I'm not actively seeking it out.  If you're into negotiation, this is a great game to try.  I'm happy I own it, I think it fills that negotiation niche in my collection.  I'd love an expansion, but I have no idea what you'd do in an expansion for this game.

Would it be a good game for Tabletop?
Perhaps.  BGG's Gamenight played this, and I enjoyed watching that.  I'm not sure Tabletop would be right since they edit a lot for time.

Friday, November 1, 2013

October 2013 Recap

Another 31 days and a new month.  I hit 2000 life time game plays which I'll detail in another post.  #2000 was X-Wing for any curious people.

I played 50 games in 31 days, which hits the 365 game play total for the year! That total now stands at 389, so my stretch goal is 500.

I played 7 games for the first time this year, which brings me up to 89/100.

Just a quick list of what I actually played in October

9 Times
  • Resistance: Avalon
4 Times
  • For Sale
  • Incan Gold
3 Times
  • Love Letter
  • Pizza Theory
  • Resistance
  • Star Trek: Attack Wing
2 Times
  • Forbidden Desert
  • King of Tokyo
  • Nefarious
  • Pandemic
  • X-Wing
1 Time
  • Dominion
  • Get Bit
  • Hanabi
  • Mystery of the Abbey
  • No Thanks
  • Phase 10
  • Rattus
  • Small World
  • Star Trek: Expeditions
  • TransAmerica
  • Word on the Street

I acquired 3 new games, and several expansions this month.  I picked up the 4 new Star Trek Attack Wing wave 1 ships, as well as a couple B-Wings for X-Wing.  I also bought Forbidden Desert which is a very fun and challenging co-op game.

For November, I have my Article 27 review done, just need to take pictures.  I will also get out a review on Star Trek Attack Wing.  Not sure what else I'll get to, but I'll try to write more than I have the last couple of months.

Also, please vote in the poll.  I want to know what you guys want to see for my top games list.

Until next time, thanks for reading.