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.

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