Monday, 10 August 2015

Star Trek Attack Wing Wave 16: All Sides But Starfleet?

The dust from trials of the Wave 15 ships has barely settled and Wave 16 is upon us.

These releases are suddenly coming thick and fast with waves 17 to 21 confirmed and arrival dates pinned until January 2016. One thing you do notice with the latest trio is the lack of a Federation vessel. Well...sort of.

Out of the box first is one of my favourite starships of all time, the USS Dauntless. Indeed a Starfleet ship that turned out not to be a Starfleet ship in a great Voyager episode. It's also the first expansion where you can get away with not applying a captain and instead using the Auto-Navigation option. 

As with the episode, Hope and Fear, your only captain option otherwise is sneaky vengeance-seeking Arthuris. Should you stick him on the Dauntless then you get a captain skill of eight but if you drop him onto any other ship he's a three. While the Doctor on the Prometheus relied on your die rolling to up his captain skill, this one sticks at that figure for the game duration making the Dauntless one to watch. Also Arturis allows you to target a ship within ranges two to three and disable either their captain card or two crew upgrades. Definitely one to have packed if you're going up against a Federation fleet.

Big point to note with the Dauntless is that it only has tech upgrade slots. Four if you're playing the unique class ship and three if you're playing the generic "class" ship and they are pretty cool in fact I'm looking at combining her with the Krenim Timeship as part of an independent fleet. She's also quick with a forward of five and some nice tight turns which might help you out in the pack's scenario.  

Those tech upgrades kick off with the unusual Auto-Navigation. It does bottom your captain skill out at two but once you reveal your maneuver you can change it over to one of the four green maneuvers available. Beyond that there are another five in this pack. The four point Navigational Deflector isn't new, being used in the game before most notably with the USS Equinox and works exactly the same, allowing you to discard the card to cancel a damage result or be disabled to roll a defence against obstacles and minefields. Costly for a discard but useful if you get someone who likes to drop a few surprises if you're in pursuit. Power Distribution is a turn on Arturis' skill allowing you to change your maneuver and perform a hard right or left turn (speed of three only) which are of course red and will incur an auxiliary power token. Being a speedy little thing I'm not sure if you'll need this however with very little defence it might allow you to get out of trouble quickly - although not as quickly as Quantum Slipstream Drive

As the most cost heavy upgrade with the Dauntless you know it's a serious piece of kit and certainly keeps with the theme of the Hope and Fear episode. If you're in danger of heavy damage this tech allows you to step out of the game and then go back onto the board out of range of any other ship. It is a discard and doesn't rid you of auxiliary power tokens but might allow you to regroup especially if coupled with Particle Synthesis which allows one hull damage or up to two shields to be repaired if you disable the card and discard one of your tech upgrades.Probably an essential for the ship and one that can only be used on a Dauntless Class vessel. I'll certainly be sticking that in my selection. 

Rounding out the tech options is Force Field giving players the chance to defend against an enemy attempting to disable or discard one of your upgrades. It can be used at the cost of additional five SP on another vessel type but most players will keep it on the Dauntless and avoid that waste. 

Just so you don't feel short changed on the options here you do get two new Elite Actions. Emergency Shutdown is neat for a discard to allow you to ignore your chosen maneuver and stay still at the cost of your round. It's OK but Lure is pure genius and one that I've heard a lot of players out there wanting to use in various combinations as it lets you change an enemy ship out of your range and change their chosen maneuver. It will backfire on you if that move takes them off the board or into a collision. In a one-on-one scenario you'll be lucky to get the chance to use this unless your opponent is super-slow but it means you could drag that ship into range and then hit it with an attack from yourself or another ship in your fleet or push it away to buy some regeneration time. Combine it with Quantum Slipstream Drive and Particle Synthesis and you could be back to full strength pretty quick.

The season four finale also provides the scenario for the pack named Revenge which I have actually played (yay!). A straight-up chase to Borg space the Federation player must save two crew from the Dauntless before it's too late. I chose Voyager and stuck Janeway, Seven and Harry Kim onboard. You do need a quick ship to keep up with the Dauntless but nothing that has a hull value higher than a four - hence my choice which it kinda indicates you should use since you also can't have any upgrades of five SP or higher. A nice introductory mission where you can play about with upgrade combos and also change the distance you have to cover to Borg space which will increase or decrease the difficulty of the game. 

You can also see this ship reviewed over on our YouTube channel now.

This ship has made me consider switching my fleet plans from Federation (good starter for anyone) over to the Independents. While they are last on the initiative scale, there is some serious hardware available and much less leaning on the crew upgrades bag which has made me think a little more about how to create an effective fleet. Think it's also pushing me to purchase either the Borg Soong, Vidiian Fina Prime or the Hirogen Hunter.

Second into the line of fire is the Ferengi Marauder, the Kreechta. Whoopy! For those of us who can't get to competitions it's the first retail release for the big-eared latinum lovers and will soon be followed by the Quark's Treasure which I suspect will include Quark, Rom, Nog and Odo as your crew and captain options. It also looks damn tiny. Anyway, drifting here. 

The Kreechta unique named ship costs a few points less than the Dauntless (26 versus 22) but not having a huge number of ships to pick from does mean it may be sitting in your storage box for a few months waiting for some friends if you're a Faction Pure kinda player. If not then it's a low cost option that's certainly a little cheeky. If you choose the generic Marauder you will lose a shield and a tech upgrade as well as the unique action as always.

Foregoing Battle Stations, you only get three options with the ship - Evade, Target Lock and Scan and it does give a slight nod to the Ferengi's less than combative nature. She also lets you re-roll the number of dice up to the amount of damaged shields (if applicable) on your opponent's vessel during the Modify Attack Dice step. Seeing as the Kreechta only has one defence die, knocking the opposition down quickly is going to be a good option here.

The Marauder does have four hull and three shields to remove before she's eliminated with a steady three for attack and your options aren't quite as limiting as the tech-heavy Dauntless we've already looked over. She's also no slouch with the reverse maneuver giving you the chance for a sly escape and hard turns at both speeds two and three giving you good opportunity to evade any hard action. 

For one there's also three captain options; one being the generic zero SP-er and then too low skill choices of Bractor who lets you add an extra attack die if you're attacking a ship with an auxiliary power token and Tarr who gives you a better chance to survive an attack from a ship coming at you in your forward firing arc by popping on a Battle Stations token and not using your Action. Tarr is certainly a useful defensive option but Bractor is a little too situational for me and not something you're going to see very often I suspect. Nice cock-up by WizKids in using a picture of Letek from The Last Outpost rather than Tarr for his card. Probably just so they could have Armin Shimerman show up twice.

There are two weapon upgrades available to your Ferengi brethren in the form of the almost always present Photon Torpedoes which work in exactly the same way as they always do but here they do mean you are gaining an extra two attack die which is a big jump for such a vessel. Missile Launchers is perhaps more useful letting your ship punch out two attacks from its forward firing arc  with critical results going straight to the hull. A big upgrade this one even though it costs less than the torpedoes there's something a lot more agile about it.

Your one crew upgrade comes in the form of a rather slimy little weasel of a Tactical Officer  whose ability lets you perform a three or four forward maneuver at the end of the Activation Phase. Certainly a benefit to either put you close to a target and pound them with a target lock and Missile Launcher or get the hell out of there before you end up as a debris field. Slimy yes, arse saving; absolutely.

Three tech upgrades have your interests covered and let's take Maximum Shields first. I reckon this could be good alongside that Tactical Officer as you can add two more shields onto your ship which will soak up damage but are only available for one round as they have to be removed in the End Phase and this is a discard not a disable. Ferengi Probe offers a "jackpot"-esque double bubble on your combat range bonuses if you chose to scan as your Action so that could - as I understand it - mean more dice at range one and less at range three? If I'm wrong here, please let me know but I think that sounds about right...?!

Both that and EM Pulse come with their own reminder tokens for your game with the latter letting you drop an auxiliary power token onto a ship within range one/two that's not in your forward arc and also forces it to use two less attack die in the round. Further proof right there that the Marauder is a ship worth dropping into a fleet just to mess up the opposition tactics and play around with their attack and defence rolls if nothing else.

Closing out the options with the Kreechta we have two Elite Actions. The less expensive is Marauder giving you Battle Stations as a free action only for a Ferengi ship with a Ferengi Captain. Very generic and I'm sure I've seen something very familiar in other expansions. The one which is more useful is Acquisition which allows you to discard the card and steal a non-Borg or weapons upgrade from an uncloaked and un-shielded ship at range 1-2. Nice because you can have anything even if it exceeds ship restrictions and there's no specification that it has to be an enemy ship so you could effectively trade upgrades between your fleet (Ferengi only ships can carry the card though).

The mission included in the pack follows the overall theme of The Next Generation's second season episode Peak Performance in that your Ferengi Marauder takes on two Federation ships which are unprepared for its attack. As the Ferengi commander you have twelve rounds before the Federation ships' weapons come back on line to take the opposition out. Should be a synch. Not tried this one yet but I think it'll be a lot of fun to try the odds. You can check out the vid on the Kreechta here.

Finally there's the USS Pasteur - a Starfleet ship! Yep - but here that's totally ignored and she's firmly added to the ranks of the Mirror/Alternative Universe faction. Why this couldn't have had a dual faction option as with the Soong Borg ship or the Krenim Time Ship I'm a bit puzzled because a lot of fans will want to play this as part of their Starfleet squad.

If you're a fan of mix-and-match it won't matter too much as you're going to be more interested what the benefits of using her will be. Tactically the Pasteur is a nippy little thing with a forward of six and a reverse of one plus some hard right and left turns at speed three. While the Marauder has a fair spread of stats across attack as well as hull and shields, the Olympic Class medical ship is limited in its offensive capabilities out of the box with some sturdy basics to keep her in the action for some time. Unusually she also loses Target Lock as an Action, has no weapon upgrade slots and has just two crew and two tech slots available for personalisation.

So to the pack and once we discount Captain Generic there are three new options. First you have Beverly Crusher. In All Good Things... she is referred to as Beverly Picard but I can understand that keeping the Crusher surname will stop players from having two versions of her. Although, with this being the mirror version that might not even be a consideration as you can field a Prime and Mirror version of the same character in the same fleet.

Beverly takes advantage of your green maneuvers in that if you use one you can convert a Battle Stations into an Evade should you need to defend - and you'll be doing a lot of that given your fairly decent hull and shield values versus your poor number of die for repressing attacks.

The only actual captain in the pack, Crusher comes with the lowest skill of five with Worf fielding a six and Riker a seven. Why we get Worf as a captain I'm still wondering but he does make your attack and defence a little more impressive for the sake of an auxiliary power token and he doesn't need discarding or disabling to use.

However, he does cost the same as William T Riker who gives you one more Captain Skill point. The future Riker gives you a Scan token and then either Evade or Battle Stations as a free action. This captain can also be flipped to act as your fleet Admiral allowing other ships on your team to benefit from his action.

Two new crew join your ranks here with the Parallels version of Alyssa Ogawa letting you remove a disabled upgrade token and then perform the Scan or Evade actions for free. Nor does she need to be disabled to do so which means this card could be invaluable. Cleverly you can't re-enable any weapons upgrades with this one. Secondly there's Nell Chilton who was the helm officer for the Pasteur in All Good Things... . Her action gives you the chance to escape with a green maneuver if you suffer one hull damage. This does recognise the rather fragile nature of the Pasteur and the likelihood that she'll be an opponent's first target.

One option for tech upgrades here is the Impulse Drive. At first it seems a bit "meh" however on closer inspection it does mean you can perform those red right and left moves and not receive an auxiliary power token and if you choose a white maneuver at speeds one, two or three they act as a green maneuver. Good choice to make this a disable rather than a discard so you can keep on using it making the Pasteur super-nimble.

The other tech choice comes directly from The Next Generation's finale in the form of the Inverse Tachyon Pulse which forces your opponent to defend with one less die should you have the Scan token active. Not too bad and probably more effective against smaller ships than your 30 or 40 pointers which will still have a chance to cancel out your minimal hits.

The Pasteur does seem a bit of a lame duck if I'm honest with low costs and fairly low return. Potentially this is going to be your first ship to go boom given her light armament and low to medium defensive capability. Her saving grace is the movement but I wouldn't want to rely on that too much if you last to the later stages of a game. Continuing this sense of avoiding doom is the Elite Action, Yellow Alert. While not important enough for a Red Alert, the Pasteur can discard this card and drop an Evade or Battle Stations token next to the ship even if there's one already there. Effectively it's a free action but one that might help cover your retreat. Starfleet Intelligence allows you to re-roll either any number of attacking or defending die at the cost of the card and it just doesn't get me away from the sense that this pack is all about covering yourself from damage.

Not a bad thing as there are ships which will provide you with ample attacking ability and it's nice for a switch to one which isn't weapons reliant but I still have that nagging feeling this is cannon fodder from the first move.

Finally, if you're looking to test out your medical ship before taking her into a more competitive situation, try out the Anti-Time Eruption scenario. Using the Pasteur and A. N. Other ship you get to take on two Klingon ships in a 70 point squadron with your second ship slightly delayed on arrival a la USS Enterprise-D from the finale. The overall idea is for your Mirror/Federation fleet to establish a tricky static warp shell while repelling those grumpy future Klingons with the whole game timed to six rounds. A dangerous mission? Given the stats on the Pasteur absolutely and one that will get players thinking about best tactics.

OK, an interesting trio of lighter ships this month. No 30+ pointers and certainly each with its own specific theme be it  tech, defence or evasion in the case of the Marauder. Would I play them? Yes to the Dauntless without question and would use a lot of the upgrades she comes with. Just need to add a ship or two to my independents! The Pasteur is a possible if I went Mirror Universe but I wouldn't be jumping to select her. With the Ferengi it's going to be a wait and see what comes with the Quark's Treasure and beyond. My biggest disappointment is that with the arrival of future Riker and future Worf we may not see the triple-engined Enterprise-D in this series. However...we still have Picard, Data and Geordi to mine if it does happen.

Wave 16 is available right now from numerous retailers but what's your take on these new ships? Are they worth adding into your fleet?

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