Friday, 23 June 2017


The date is set, the audience prepared and the excuses(!) are in for Star Trek Discovery.

We will finally get to see the latest interpretation and vision of the Gene Roddenberry-created franchise on September 24th for the US with the Netflix premiere taking place the following day, September 25th. CBS announced the date with a shot of the Discovery shooting up the screen to reveal the date while Netflix received a pic of a Starfleet officer in a spacesuit (probably Burnham) standing on a rocky surface marked out as the Starfleet Command emblem.

CBS have also been quick to back up this nine month delay stating that due to the scale of the project and the care with which they have been taking with Discovery the initial launch date was extremely optimistic. The bridge set for the USS Shenzhou alone (noted to be an older ship than the Discovery) took six weeks to build. That's just one set from, I would guess, several that will have been required for the first episode. On top of that there's the sets for the Discovery which we haven't even seen yet - everything has been about Captain Georgiou and the Shenzhou. It's all about getting the look and the new universe right. Noting that this craft is older than the Discovery also crosses off one fan theory that the two are the same starship. 

We also got to understand a little more around Michael Burnham's background in that Sonequa Martin-Green's character is 100% human but raised by Vulcans which is a new twist and might even add some weight to the reason there is an uneasy relationship between Sarek and Spock by the time of The Original Series. Also it does mean that some of James Frain's comments within the teaser trailer make a lot more sense when applied to this relationship. 

Perhaps even bigger news from the Discovery camp were the two photos revealed from Entertainment Weekly featuring Jason Isaacs, Martin-Green and Michelle Yeoh. 

The first out was Isaacs as Captain Gabriel Lorca - a master tactician from the info - on the bridge of the Discovery herself. It's our first look (be it out of focus and in the background) of the new lead starship and it also emphasises just how blue the new uniforms are. In the darker, older, light of the Shenzhou bridge the colour didn't seem that striking but here the colour is electric enhanced with the command gold braid and captain shoulder pad epaulettes. Lorca looks ready for action (tense?) in this shot and I expect Isaacs to have a strong presence on the bridge. We have nothing to gauge his relationship with Burnham so far.

As to the bridge it's a lot brighter, cleaner and silver echoing the fact that the Discovery is a new ship and potentially a brand new craft at the time of the series. Now all we need to see is a few more shots of the rest of the cast main Discovery cast...Anthony Rapp where art thou????

Talking about the ship the promos for the launch date have included the title ship with much more surface texturing than we saw in that short tease over 12 months ago. I don't think this will be the final visual version for the show and is more a representation used for the purposes of the graphic. Does seem that the warp nacelles have been lengthened a little however.

Secondly we have a cracking shot of Burnham and her commanding officer, Captain Georgiou, on the transporter pad of the Shenzhou. I have a sense that a lot of the first episode is going to be set up and we'll be spending a good period of that story on this craft. Indeed, it's not unlike the original concept for how Enterprise might have started with the intention of the first season to lead up to the unveiling of the NX-01.

There's a gallon of stuff to love about this pic from the transporter room. For starters it's a massive departure from previous designs with a more linear nature to the pad and some very unique backing panels. The transporter seems a lot more openly mechanical rather than the smooth finish we might expect from the Enterprise-D. Are the big circular items behind the actors there for look or do they have a more practical involvement with the workings of the transporter? Here's another thing - is that some sort of heads up display screen infront of Doug Jones? 

Contrast this look to the pic of Isaacs on the Discovery and you can clearly see a huge difference in the quality of the tech involved. The title craft is a lot smoother with Captain Lorca having touchscreen controls on his armrests. They do seem to flip up too much in the style of Picard's in the early early days of The Next Generation.

The bigger interest in this transporter room pic is that away teams are finally getting their own armour *and not that we get a rear view of Doug Jones' alien makeup). No more redshirt deaths perhaps(!) the armour seems to look not too dissimilar to police riot gear and bears the Starfleet emblem on its left side. Also note the two pouches on the belt. The one sitting to the front might well be for a tricorder as it looks a little large for a communicator and those devices are usually rear slung. The second, which includes a thigh strap is the phaser. It's our first - murky - look at the iconic Star Trek weapon and this one definitely bears the hallmarks of the classic phaser. Will it bear any resemblance to the lasers from The Cage or not?

September is a strong month for Star Trek premieres with only Deep Space Nine and Voyager premiering outside it. Both of those had shortened first seasons and premiered in January. In the case of Enterprise and The Next Generation, both of these opened their accounts with fans the same week as Discovery will begin on 26th September 2001 and 28th September 1987 respectively. It in some ways seems fitting that the new show should kick off almost 30 years to the day since Picard and co took the Enterprise-D out for its first spin. 

Talking anniversaries though, it's fitting that at the time we are marking the 35th anniversary of The Wrath of Khan, it's director and now Discovery producer/writer Nicholas Meyer is reportedly working on a new Star Trek project. 

A lot of muttering seemed to immediately jump to suggest this might be another TV series - perhaps one post-Nemesis - but I'm more inclined to believe that he's working on the next movie. After all, Star Trek movies are something of a Meyer forte with him being directly involved with II, IV and IV with the classic cast. If your movie franchise was a little troubled then wouldn't you call in the experts? Not that Beyond was a bad film, it just wasn't received as enthusiastically as it deserved. Flip side to that would be if this is something he is working on for CBS and not Paramount as the former only holds the TV rights for the show; the other the movie rights.

Certainly the effort can be seen on the screen and now it's making sense just why it took so long for Discovery to become a reality. The Alpha Quadrant wasn't built in a day y'know...! I am absolutely behind this series and cannot wait to be writing about it and reviewing the stories.

What have you been most impressed by in relation to Discovery? What's been the big win so far?

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Friday, 16 June 2017

Titan Time: Orion's Hounds

As we continue our voyage through the post-Nemesis reading list, Ian Kimmins takes us back on-board the USS Titan under Captain Riker. 

Orion's Hounds is written by regular Star Trek writer Christoper L Bennett and features the "star jellies" from Encounter at Farpoint. If you cast your mind back to that episode (has it really been 30 years?!) you will remember that they communicated via telepathy so you know this is going to be a Deanna Troi story and Bennett doesn't disappoint. 

As we kick off the novel, Titan has been given orders to explore the Gum Nebula - a region of space still unexplored by the Federation. As they arrive to begin their mission they discover the star jellies under attack by the Pa'haquel. Titan decides to intercede to resolve the issue but soon realises the issue is far more complex than they could ever imagine. 

The character work in this novel is excellent. Riker and Troi's relationship is moved on well here with first officer Christine Vale still struggling with having Riker's wife on the command crew. We even get excellent characterisation for some secondary characters such as Tuvok's wife T'Pel who fits seamlessly into the story. Tuvok also comes across as a much more interesting character than he did for most of Voyager. The only one I feel that suffers is Riker as outside of his relationship with Deanna he seems very like a "generic Starfleet captain". 

In short Orion's Hounds is a well written story and while not the best one in this continuity it is the best Titan book by far. 

Google Image of USS Titan from Tobias Richer's Lightworks.

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Thursday, 15 June 2017

100 - Our Top Ten Regular Issues and Looking Ahead

With the Eaglemoss Starships Collection hitting its 100th regular issue we decided it was time to club together and come up with our definitive top ten starships from the ton of models to date. 

Be ready for a few curve balls as we pick out the ones that made us smile and a few that didn't...! Welcome back to Tiff, Chris and Rob to help pick out our selection.

Enterprise NX 01

Everything that came after issue 4 was rated against the quality of the NX-01. The Aztec panelling, the lines, the clean finish and the beauty of the thing all worked harmoniously together to create Eaglemoss' most near perfect model. Whacking a Terran Empire sticker on her was just a blatant excuse to get it again. 

Armoured Voyager

"A daring and radical choice for Eaglemoss." says Chris. Too right because it was the first time the collection had effectively duplicated a ship (issue six being the original Voyager). This one came from the end of the show's finale, Endgame with the starship covered in ablative armour to shield it from the Borg. A beautiful if simple finish and a good tester for future modded issues such as the Rhode Island also from Endgame!
Another Enterprise winner which benefits from gorgeous finishing detail on such a small and thin frame. An utter surprise at how great this was on arrival have etched it firmly into our top ten ships from the collection. 

The Runabout

"Bit clunky but spot on." says Rob while Chris comments; "Great size, solid as hell and they really nailed the detail. It also had the torpedo rollbar which was effing cool."
Very cool indeed and the size of the model really played to the collection offering the chance to get a fantastic replica. 

A real stunner that benefited from being a regular issue rather than being crammed into an alien shuttle set of four. Popular from the moment it made its one and only appearance during In the Pale Moonlight, Eaglemoss crafted a replica that had to be bought. Well made, well finished and a classic stand out issue.

Romulan Drone

I'd say this is the most intricate model the regular editions have produced with antennae sticking out all over the place and a body that is split into multiple armoured sections and then covered with various holographic projection points. While it's not one of my favourite ships, the model here was spell-binding and a real work of art. She displayed well and was intriguing from every angle. A true collection masterpiece if not one for everybody.

USS Centaur

Explains Rob; "The greatest kitbash! Right down to the spindly nacelles and the tiny greebles!" 
Yep, a very popular ship from the latter 50 to date and one that opened up a whole new range of possibilities for Eaglemoss and hope for collectors that a lot of ships would get variants. Step forward Saratoga et al...

USS Appalachia

Steamrunner Class

One that Chris and I agree on is this classic from First Contact. "...unlike the Akira Class it has epic tattoo effect aztecing despite the rubbish deflector. It's a tough ship and looked badass."
Yep, I'd still have to class this among the best of the collection not just because I love the class but because it's a well-crafted tank of a starship. Gorgeous to the tip of its nacelles.

Jem'Hadar Fighter

Another early issue but a good one nonetheless. A simple two-tone silver and purple paint scheme highlights an incredible level of hull detail from bow to stern. The "bug" aesthetic really shone through on the model for the Dominion starship and made it an essential for all collectors. 

USS Horizon

Rob is all over the 100th issue, adding it straight into the top ten; "It's a model I never thought I would get to own. It has origins right back to the creation of Star Trek and is a fantastically simple design that Eaglemoss has managed to improve with the addition of sensor palettes, hatches, weapon points and the deflector. It fits right in!"

And the Worst...

Malon Freighter

Hilariously referred to in certain circles as the "poop ship", the Malon Freighter is just, well, brown and dull. Modelling-wise it has some fine detail in there but it's a brown slab from front to back that packs all the excitement of an empty chocolate wrapper. Uninspiring but necessary.

USS Enterprise 

NCC-1701 Refit

Or "How to Disappoint Your Collectors in One Move", the second issue of the collection was a bit of a disaster. The NCC-1701-D was gorgeous and a treat for starters but this was awful. Bad joins, wonky engines, a terrible paint job with no aztec scheme and a badly stuck on deflector dish. Not up to scratch in any way and the "A" variant 70 issues later only corrected a few of the blips.

Federation Holoship

If the Malon Export Vessel was the "Poop Ship" then this is the TV Remote. No offence to the John Eaves design but this is essentially two pieces of plastic stuck together. Best they could have done? Quite possibly but it's a real oddment from the series that sets course for Boredom.


Now onto the next few issues and our usual glance to the future of the collection - what are we looking forward to...?

Klingon D5

One for the Enterprise fan among us but no question this will be a high detail extravaganza as any of the prequel models are. Always good to see the Klingons but not one that many will really remember even though it is a lovely design.
Anticipation Level: 2/5

Vidiian Starship

Looks weird, flies weird, it's pink. The Vidiian starship is a big chunk of kit and we are promised that the Voyager baddies' ship will carry a subtle aztec paint scheme. Personal opinion this one should have been done a lot earlier. Now, which way round is it....
Anticipation Level 3.5/5

USS Jenolan 

One more for the kitbashers with the ship from the brilliant Relics. Formerly an executive shuttlecraft in The Undiscovered Country it got flipped and nacelled up to become the Sydney Class NCC-2010. Very much wanted and very much looking forward to this one. Model looks good from the preview pic.
Anticipation Level: 4.5/5

Smugglers' Ship

Previewed recently in its full model mockup, the ship from Unification makes a wanted appearance and ahead of any news on the much-used craft from The Next Generation's Gambit. One of those briefly seen ships, this craft has been on a few must have lists I've seen dotted around. Early shots look good.
Anticipation Level: 3/5

Kazon Warship

Another one as with the Vidiian starship that should have appeared some time ago BUT saying that it would mean that we were just getting oddballs every issue. A very distinctive shape, the Kazon vessel will keep a lot of Voyager fans happy but seeing as this and all the other versions are virtually identical except for size I doubt we will see any others.
Anticipation Level: 3/5

Klingon Bird-of-Prey 

(attack formation)

Waaaaaaaaaaay back in issue three the Klingon's most distinctive starship appeared in its cruise configuration with wings up and open. Now we have one of the rare variants within the series following on from the likes of the Reliant/Saratoga and the standard and armoured versions of Voyager.  One I have seen requested but I don't think we will get a 'landed' option anytime soon. Should be well detailed and will be interesting to see if the modelling has moved on much since those early days.
Anticipation Level: 3/5

Cheyenne Class

The second of the infamous Wolf 359 collection kicked off with the New Orleans Class USS Kyushu in issue 95. More compact, this kitbash is sure to be a huge success when released because we all love a good Federation starship especially one that doesn't get much press. Love the styling with the quad-engines here and those pencil warp nacelles.
Anticipation Level: 4/5 

Borg Queen's Diamond

Wow. The preview pic on this looks absolutely gorgeous. Without even a blink of an eye this has to be the best Borg ship to date and is based on the design used in Voyager. Fingers crossed that the preview is the finished item with this one!
Anticipation Level: 5/5

Springfield Class

Straight from Ben Robinson on his birthday came this new shot of the USS Chekov; a curvy screen-filler that is the third of the Wolf 359 quartet. Nothing seen of this one except those lovely original model pics but promises to be a stunner from all angles. There's clear echoes of the Nebula and Galaxy Classes here but I'm most intrigued about those back end lines - one of the more bizarre Federation starship designs if ever there was. Glad I held off posting this up until this shot appeared!
Anticipation Level: 4/5

Captain Proton's Rocket Ship

Another one we've had a shot of recently in all its monochromatic glory. Have to admit this wasn't one I was expecting at any point in the series namely because, technically, it doesn't actually exist being only a recreation on the Voyager holodeck. If nothing else that fact alone makes it unique. The Rocket Ship will most certainly stand out from the other ships because of its distinctive '50's paint-job and styling. Really excited for this one just because it's different!
Anticipation Level: 4.5/5

USS Phoenix

These issues after 100 are sure supplying a lot of variants with this being one more on the pile. The big difference between this and the USS Bonchune Nebula Class from issue 23 will be the AWACS style read pod that adorned this, the first of the Nebula Class ships to appear in The Next Generation. I'm not gagging for the arrival of the Phoenix but the collection would feel incomplete without it. Just need a USS Bozeman now and everyone's happy.
Anticipation Level: 2.5/5

Lokirrim Fighter

A modified Akritirian warship, the fighter and the warship versions of the craft were not dissimilar in the Voyager episode Body and Soul. One of the more random alien craft from the show it makes me wonder when things like the Vaardwar fighters might make an appearance. Am I bothered about this one? Only to complete the set. Possibly my most unanticipated ship of the series which means it'll be an absolute blinder.
Anticipation Level: 1/5

Challenger Class

Just when you think they're all done along comes the fourth and final ship from the Wolf 359 fleet. This one has some weird lines - just look at the nacelle angles on this Rick Sternbach kitbash photo. Admittedly it was a quick fix for the graveyard scene in The Best of Both Worlds, Part II and whether Eaglemoss make adjustments will be interesting...
Anticipation Level: 3.5/5

Tellarite Starship

The Lokirrim fighter is one thing but this is another entirely. While they are an oft mentioned race it is again one of those that won't be on many - if any - must have lists. A reuse of a season two Enterprise guest craft (Arkonian Destroyer) it would see action again as the Xindi-Arboreal ship. Bit meh in my opinion and again an issue filler. Best pic I could find is this rendering from Reddit
Anticipation Level: 1.5/5

Shuttles Pack Three

We already know that pack three will contain the Observation Pod from the classic movies, the Work Bee alongside the Type-11 shuttle from Insurrection and finally the Argo from Nemesis. The first two have already been teased and look stunning so I can only believe that the latter pairing from The Next Generation movies will be just as damn gorgeous. While the pod will have a blanked out windscreen, the Work Bee WILL have clear plastic to show off the interior. Definite plus points and a first for the collection.
Anticipation Level: 5/5

USS Aventine

One from the ever-continuing novel series and under the command of Ezri Dax, the Vesta Class starship's arrival is the result of The Trek Collective's online petition to have her and the USS Titan included. The recent preview pic has given us all hope that this will be an awesome model and one that will be quickly snapped up by collectors. I'm impressed!
Anticipation Level: 4.5/5

USS Titan

Riker's command after the end of Nemesis is a big fan favourite from the novel series and the Tobias Richter designed Luna Class is another ship destined to be in the online shop soon. The preview pic here to the left looks a lot lighter than the model we saw on Ben Robinson's desk a few weeks earlier so I'm anticipating that this has been photo-shopped down a couple of shades as it looked better in the darker grey. 
Anticipation Level: 4.5/5

And that's your lot! A good range of ships to come and now that we can say these are the ones due out between issues 102 to 115 plus the two "novel" starships I'm happy to preview with some certainty! What are you excited about?

USS Horizon image courtesy of Rob Gibson

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Friday, 2 June 2017

Completing the Xindi: Attack Wing Wave 29

Wizkids continue to refresh older releases and add in another Xindi ship with the 29th batch of expansions for their Attack Wing game. 

First up is the USS Excelsior. One of those release that eBay sellers have been mining at ridiculous prices for a couple of years now it's finally back in the hands of gamers and at a significantly more realistic price. It's one of the packs I've wanted to add since I first opened up the Starter Pack because it's such an iconic craft if nothing else.

I missed out on the Enterprise-B recently due to crazy demand for it and this more than makes up for the disappointment. 

Starting with the model the biggest difference to the original is the new shiny silver paint job that covers the whole ship. It does make the craft more distinctive and is a big departure from the matt finishes of earlier ships. Notably the USS Venture, the USS Enterprise (original configuration), the Nebula Class and the Sabre Class have all made appearances in silver and it allows the hull detailing to shine through a lot more easily. 

Now I might be wrong here but for some reason the Excelsior saucer is slightly eliptical and I'm 100% convinced that it's supposed to be round. On the model here there does seems to be a slight lengthening front to back and while it's noticable I don't think it will interfere with your game play. Most of the remaining ship detail is OK given the small scale that Wizkids has to work with but the rear shuttlebay area does look huge and nowhere near the slim hull hugging fit that we saw on the screen. It may just be easier to mould this way but it does look oddly oversized. 

Even given the couple of model challenges this is still one of those "must have" starships and the re-release in Wave 29 means that a lot more players will be able to enjoy captaining the experimental Excelsior. She's not too badly equipped either for a 23rd Century craft sporting a three attack, one defence, five hull and four shield stats out of the box. This provides a cost of 26 points for the starship leaving lots of room for handy upgrades.

As with all Federation ships the standard Target Lock, Battle Stations, Evade and Scan Actions are available but you can boost the scope of the ship's abilities with three Crew slots as well as singular Weapon and Tech options. If you are using the named USS Excelsior you can also take advantage of it's unique action that allows a free Scan action if you're not within range one of an enemy vessel.

Choosing the generic Excelsior Class as usual loses you a Shield point and a Crew upgrade slot for 24 points. I was hoping that there might be a bit more speed in the experimental vessel but she tops out at a four with the hard right and left turns at speed two and three incurring the Auxiliary Power Token. The one surprise here is the ability to reverse at speed two which is a cheeky little move to save your bacon.

Captaining the Excelsior out of the wrapper there are two obvious choices. Your higher skilled one (six) is Hikaru Sulu with a cost of four points. He'll let you disable a Crew upgrade to remove an enemy Target Lock which is something I find I'm constantly battling. Sulu is neither a disable or a discard so this is one that can be used and used and used again during your mission. As an alternative commander in the set we have Styles who oversaw the Excelsior's test runs. With a skill of three and a cost of two points he's a cheaper option and will allow you to add a second Tech slot to your upgrades bar. Nice touch as this keeps in with the experimental stage of the ship's life during The Search for Spock.

Keeping with the Federation faction trend, the Excelsior comes loaded with Crew options. Dmitri Valtane costs three points and lets you re-roll two attack dice if you have a Scan token next to your ship. Certainly one to equip on the Excelsior with the ship's unique action involving a freebie Scan that will allow you to use more options in the initial phase of the round. Secondly there's Lojur, seen as the helmsman of the ship in Star Trek VI this guy can be disabled to avoid disabling your Weapon upgrade. Perhaps a bit redundant in the days of Time Tokens but a good call if you're stuck with the older Photon Torpedoes cards which do require disabling to work. Two points is ok to spend if you have the latter but otherwise he's utterly redundant.

Finally we have Janice Rand. Making one more appearance in Star Trek, the former Enterprise yeoman allows the captain to perform his Elite Action as a free Action. For a two point discard this is a cheap price to pay to be able to use and can be combo'd in with the ship's Unique Action and  Valtane for a super round.

Positron Beam carries the only photo directly related to the Excelsior or of the Excelsior with a shot from Deep Space Nine's Tears of the Prophets. Another inexpensive discard, this feature lets players drop an Auxiliary Power Token onto an enemy craft at range one. Crucially again there's no specific that this can be the only card used in a round so the Excelsior certainly packs a wallop when it comes to being able to use multiple cards in one turn.

The other Tech option in the pack is Transwarp Drive. Promoted heavily in Star Trek III, the experimental drive system pushes a four or a five manoeuvre into a six when revealed during the Activation Phase.  At a price of three points this is a steal to give you a boost of speed without incurring any penalty. Great concept and a nice tweak although I think it should be given limited use as with the quantum slipstream drive. 

Photon Torpedoes come as standard here with the original disable feature and rounding out the set is the Elite Action, Feint. Targeting a ship at range two or three it is forced roll two less defence dice. Two ways I can see this going - either handy to knock out larger opponents or to give you an easy shot at a weaker opponent. Either way it's used is going to place you in a better position.

Your mission to accept with the Excelsior is Operation Retrieve named after the plan devised to rescue Kirk and McCoy from Rura Penthe in The Undiscovered Country. Federation ships start out at one end of the gameplay area opposite Rura Penthe while the Klingon ships start on the west and east sides. Kirk and McCoy are represented by a mission token which can be beamed aboard with your shields down as an Action.

The Federation player wins by retrieving the officers and escaping while the Klingons must prevent the escape or destroy the starship attempting the rescue. These earlier missions were definitely a lot more intricate than some of the later options and had more variations to be played out. This one and the one for the bioship are great examples of quick-fire scenarios to play out which are great for testing your abilities and also learning the game.

Second of the three from Wave 29 is the Species 8472 Bioship Alpha. I already have the Beta bioship from Wave 18 so I'm looking forward to pairing these two up against a worthy adversary...probably the Borg.

First thing's first. The model is a huge improvement and actually looks organic. Howe they've managed it I'm not sure but when you put it beside the Beta there is a distinct improvement. The final edging, the panelling - everything just seems to have come together here and produced one of Attack Wing's better ships. It looks really respectable and the paint job doesn't look rushed or heavy handed. 

The definition of the fin detail is precise and it's good to spot that different sections have been coloured differently. What does amaze me is the lining between the fins and the forward weapon where we have four colours all representing different pieces and all blocked out very carefully. Eaglemoss should take note.

As with the "B" ship, the Alpha craft is a point-sucking demon starting out of the dock with 38 points just for the hull. It's insane six for attack, two defence, five hull and six (six?!) shields make it a formidable opponent before you consider what to do with the remaining points available for upgrades. You can also add on a further three Tech options and two Weapon abilities. As for standard Actions there's Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Regenerate to keep you going. Bioship Alpha is capable of inflicting an Auxiliary power Token on its enemies should they be hit with at least three damage making any offensive move from this ship above the standard levels of lethality!

The regular version of the ship costs 36 points, removes one shield point and takes away a Weapon upgrade slot. Still stupidly overpowered though.

Movement options mean that while this isn't a fast ship she's good to try everything available and is exceptionally nimble with full left and right turn sets plus a come-about at speed three. Only the speed three sharp left and rights (plus the come-about) will incur an Auxiliary Power Token if used. No reverse here so once you're in the action be prepared to get stuck in. Not that I see that being a problem with such a high powered craft.

Captaining the ship is Bioship Alpha Pilot costing six point and offering a skill of seven plus an Elite Action option. Frankly the unique action he provides is a nightmare. Once all the other players have selected their manoeuvres you can then choose a ship at range one, take a look at its dial and then adjust yours accordingly. It does class as your Action for the round. I'd take that chance any day because this is going to mean you can target each ship specifically and pick enemies off one at a time. It also means your opponents might want to travel in pairs....

The generic version of the captain - Species 8472 - costs a single point, has no action option nor does he cost anything. 

Using the ultra-enemy's catchphrase, The Weak Will Perish is this pack's Elite Action at a cost of five points. Imagine coupling this with your ability to shadow an opponent with the Bioship Alpha Pilot and it's a brilliant if controversial combo. Discard the card and then disable your captain to re-roll any number of attack dice not once but twice. If used on anything apart from a Species 8472 it costs five more points but this could be a true opponent killer and certainly one to employ against the Borg.

As you'd expect from this beast of a pack, there are three additional Weapon choices varying in cost from expensive to ridiculous and then bats-arse. Costing just five points is Biological Attack. It's one of the more original ideas to be used on an upgrade requiring your ship base to be touching an enemy ship base at the end of the Activation. You also need to disable your captain card to drop one critical damage point on your enemy even with shields up. If that's not bad enough then it also allows the Species 8472 player to disable a Crew upgrade. Wowzers.

Shell out six points and Energy Blast becomes your next choice. Using five attack dice as standard it increases a Species 8472 ship's firepower up to seven but does require a Target Lock and has to be disabled to activate. Again another way to overload the firepower of this little ship and you don't have to get particularly close as it'll only operate over ranges two and three. 

Last but not least there's the ace in the pack with the Energy Focusing Ship card. Costing a brain-numbing ten points and again as with Energy Blast, operable at ranges two and three, it effectively pools nearby ships to slam home a massive attack. Your friendly ships at range one are unable to make a normal attack and each gets an additional two dice to attack with for that round. 

Your main ship does incur an Auxiliary Power Token but the benefits for that single round (it's a discard) could outweigh the ten point cost if used well. It will need you to have certain pieces in the right place to be most effective - maybe one to use once you have mastery of this ship and it's other abilities.

Bioship Alpha might be Crew-lite but there are more than enough Tech upgrades to go round. Extraordinary Immune Response (five point cost) actually offers something on the defensive angle. Nor is the usual lose a dice and gain an Evade. Instead this gives an additional extra defence die for every damage card you have. For me that's a totally new concept but one that does mean you become stronger for a round when you really need it and want to avoid "game over". Quantum Singularity for six points is one of those cards which helps reset your game.

By discarding the card, removing all your assigned tokens except any Auxiliary Power Tokens, you can put your ship back into play at the end of the round but not within range three of another craft. There are a fair few variants of this one around the game but they do all tend to be specific to that race. 

Then there's Bio-Electric Interference. Unsurprisingly it's a discard. In fact that's the big negative with this pack. There are some really juicy options but they are all single use so pick wisely and a lot of them are only available for this faction.

This once costs six points and targets all other ships within range three. All tokens except Auxiliary Power Tokens get binned off. If cloaking tech is deactivated then that ship can raise shields and in addition it means you avoid being target locked. This and the other two Tech upgrades are all faction specific meaning that you're going to need to be Species 8472 to reap the benefits of these powerful cards. However, as with the Borg these ship itself will dominate your points tally so pick carefully.

Your mission with Bioship Alpha is Scorpion. A two player game it's a single Federation ship (maximum 50 points) against a single Species 8472 ship (maximum 70 points). Four objective tokens are randomly placed by the players to represent debris while six mission tokens are placed on the Federation ship card. These represent the time it will take to prepare a Class Ten High Yield Torpedo and when three have been removed (one per round), then the weapon is prepped. The torpedo requires a target lock and uses ten dice but is a single use weapon so ready wisely. 

Cleverly if it's fired at close range (one) then the Federation ship has to defend against it as well. This game is designed to last six rounds with the final three mission tokens being removed over subsequent turns. Either the Federation player wins and destroys the bioship or the Species 8472 player wins by destroying the Federation ship, escaping or by having the Federation ship blow itself up with the torpedo. Great concept, simple execution, brilliant mission to play out  and one that is time restricted so you won't get bored.

Last up and it's the jewel in the crown of Wave 29. The third and final Xindi regular scale ship, the Muratas. A Reptilian warship, the 22 point craft isn't quite as impressive as I had expected, leaving your fleet potentially reliant on Weapon Zero to hold the fort. Problem is that the Xindi fleet is p**s poor when it comes to defence. This and the Aquatic Cruiser, the Calindra only have one die for defence as does the bigger Weapon Zero. If you come up against anything that's post-Enterprise era you're screwed. I put those three Xindi ships up against a fleet of the Enterprise-E, Voyager and the Phoenix and Weapon Zero didn't even last one round. Yuk.

Anyway, to the Muratas; I digress.

Offering four in attack, that lone die for defence with four hull and two shield points (cringe) I find this one hard to like at first glance. She carries standard Actions of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations with slots open for two Weapon, one Tech and one Crew upgrade. If you do want that additional edge then you can disable an active shield and re-roll up to two of your Attack Dice. Used with a Target Lock you could have the chance to re-roll twice in a single go. For the unnamed variant you'll lose a shield point, the unique action and one of the Weapon slots reducing your ship cost to 20 points.

She's also less manoeuvrable than the larger Calindra with no reversing move although it's traded for that ever-useful 180 turn at speed three. Indeed as with most ships there are a full set of motions for ranges two and three while only banking at speed one is included and speed four is only a forward move.

The model of the ship is actually damn good and far less flimsy than the larger Eaglemoss variant from the Official Starships Collection. The purple and sandy-brown colour scheme is in full effect with the former highlighting sections of the pointed tails as well as some of the front-end features of the craft. It does look a little basic in form and the line work isn't all that clever but on the most part it all lines up and things that are supposed to be parallel are, well, parallel. The surface detail is a nice finishing piece here giving depth to the Muratas and is, as said, a tad bumpy in places. At least there is depth and texture to the craft and it's as near as you could wish for in something mass produced in this scale. After all it's really just there as a representation. I'm sure keen modellers will be more than able to add in more at their leisure.

Dolim is back again after a first appearance with Weapon Zero. He's still a Captain skill of eight and costs five points. What he does bring to the game is an action which could be a stroke of brilliance or a way to get annihilated right out of the gate. Dolim allows your Weapon upgrades to cost a point less too so you can properly max out the firepower on the Muratas

Captain option number two is Degra. Costing three points with a skill of four, he also provides more attack force for the Xindi. Joined with a secondary weapon, Degra he adds an attack die and two if it's used in conjunction with a Xindi upgrade. Both of these captain cards offer very unique advantages to the player and make the faction quite enticing. It also attempts to overlook the fact that you might be able to dish out a beating but you're unlikely to take much back.

Dolim can also field an Elite Action and he's lucky to get a one  in the warship box. Patience for the Dead furthers the "attack madness" that packs this expansion. It disregards the Captain skill and allows you to attack first that round. You do forgo the chance to defend against any attacks but if you're tempted to throw this into the ring I would suspect you know you're either on the way out or it's the last gasp of a dying ship to take something down with it. Suicide? Possibly, but with a bonus.

The Reptilian Analysis Team is a solo Crew upgrade. It allows you to add a Tech slot on, which could be advantageous if you're maxing out on Weapon upgrades with Dolim as captain. It acts as a "buffer" to be disabled rather than disabling the card in play. This upgrade also means that your main card can be reactivated in three turns as you can drop some Time Tokens on it rather than having to use an Action to flip the switch. An unusual one since Time Tokens have been fairly exclusive to the Photon Torpedoes upgrades to this point. Added bonus for the Xindi? Only two Time Tokens if you're staying faction pure. Good offering again here that makes this new faction a real stand out choice.

If you did want to slip four Weapon upgrades onto the Muratas with Dolim you'll have to dig them out of other packs because this ship only comes with two. Particle Beam Weapon costs the same as your Xindi ship's primary weapon value (four here) and adds an additional die to your attack (which would make a five dice attack with the Muratas). Fairly standard but as with Species 8472, there aren't a lot of cards here that you can move onto other non-Xindi ships.

Xindi Torpedoes still offers a four dice attack from a non-Xindi ship and a five dice attack if fired from a faction vessel. This card utilises the Time Token feature and is effective at ranges one to three. It reactivates after three rounds.

Closing out the pack we have two Tech cards both costing three points. Thermal Chamber is an Action card that removes all your disabled tokens from Crew upgrades and increases your Captain Skill by four points for the round. Nicely it's reusable and there's not even the need to re-enable the ability. Definitely a card to add to your ship if you have a low skill factor to begin with but the double bonus of removing disabled tokens has to make this a no-brain addition to your ship. Finally this is a card not just unique to the Xindi but to this class of vessel. Kind of makes the Muratas your go-to Xindi craft.

The final card in the pack is Sensor Encoders and you benefit from an re-roll of a defence dice for disabling this feature. A second option here is that the card can be discarded if a friendly ship is destroyed and the warship (and it is a card for use only with a Xindi-Reptilian craft) gains an addition defence dice for the remainder of the game!!!

The Muratas scenario is Damage and is time limited to just four rounds. Following events from the Enterprise third season, this tale sees a Federation ship (40 points) negotiating with the Xindi. This ship starts out next to the planet token which represents Azati Prime while the Xindi ships (70 points to play with) can set up anywhere else but not within range three of each other or the planet. The Xindi have four rounds to destroy the Federation ship before they are recalled while the Federation player has the same time to either last out the negotiations or eliminate one of the Xindi craft.

For a more recent scenario this one has a lot of promise and certainly more than some of the standard one on one player fights that have marred later waves. Along with Operation Retrieve and Scorpion from this wave it's a good set of games to play if you're stuck for a way to go. Has to be an upside to this set.

Honestly with this pack I don't know how you could resist playing as the Xindi since there are a ton of new and unique options to take advantage of. Everything screams of difference but there's still that issue of putting this ship and her brethren up against anything from the later eras of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine or Voyager. Good but sadly just not powerful enough to be a genuine threat. 

For me, Wave 29 is a godsend. I missed both of the original releases on their first run in the early waves and can now tick them off the list especially the Excelsior which was a must have from day one. I need to get more time now to get to grips with the finer points of the Xindi faction and to get hold of the Xindi Insectoid fighter.

Wave 30 is out shortly in the UK and will return us to three ships from days past. There's the Klingon Bird of Prey, IKS Koraga a K'Vort class ship destroyed in the Dominion War (Penumbra from Deep Space Nine), the IRW Valdore Warbird from Nemesis and one that you just have to have, the USS Reliant complete with Khan captain option. Cracking selection and certainly the latter two are very exciting to see back. Not too sure if I need another Bird of Prey but I'm sure it can't hurt.

Fan of the Xindi? Are there key cards you must play as that faction?

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