Monday, 17 August 2015

WizKids Proposes New Frontier

As regular readers will know I've become a bit of a fan/obsessive over Attack Wing.

Which made Friday's announcement from Wizkids somewhat worrying. At least initially.

It appears that in February 2016 the game manufacturer will be delivering us Star Trek: Frontiers, offering a whole new spin on the franchise through roleplay and strategy. According to the promo material that landed this weekend, it will offer something new with players beaming away teams to planet surfaces and getting a different game each time.

Apparently it's going to be a bit of a spin on Mage Knight which is not a game I'm familiar with in any way so for myself it'll be a great, unexplored experience to dive into. I suspect for those people who have played that game it's not going to be a big deal. The Venture Tile System is the piece which will probably be key in making this stand out from Attack Wing and is the element borrowed from Mage Knight. This means that every game is constructed effectively at random and therefore totally unique. 

Designed by Andrew Parks (who I believe was involved with the creation of Attack Wing) and Vlaada Chvatil (Mage Knight) it seems that the game will be played out over a series of scenarios with commanders planning out away teams to further their reputations, gain experience and make fascinating new discoveries out on the final frontier. 

Fortunately for those players who can't get a regular competitor to face off against the game is designed for between one and four players. Certainly a little more limiting than Attack Wing but more inclusive for anyone who wants a bit of secret practise!

Mage Knight - which is about to receive a major expansion - has been a winner for Wizkids so it's understandable that they would use its formula to create other games. In fact I think that the Venture Tile System is a really exciting prospect - just a few bits worry me if I'm honest. What also raised the Vulcan eyebrow was the backstory that players will be forming a Federation/Klingon fleet as they head through a wormhole and into battle against Romulans, Borg and whatever else WizKids choose to throw in.

For those of us that have invested in Attack Wing it seemed that January's wave could well be the last. It's probably not a co-incidence that we knew all the releases right up to the month when Frontiers will be released and nothing else. Fortunately this weekend I uncovered the news that releases are planned for at least February and March 2016 giving us waves 23 and 24. These two will give us the Sabre Class USS Montgolfier, the K'T'Inga Class IKS Amar and IRW Jazkal Bird-of-Prey followed by the USS Raven, IKS Klothos and the Warbird IRW Davoras (info via Ikon Collectibles).

All of these models have been previously available in other wings or as OP prizes over the last two years. It will be the first time that the Sabre Class and the Raven are available as retail expansions. It does appear that these later wings are recycling models with the new time token rules and we're seeing less first run ships. Not a problem really unless you're starting to develop a complex that D'Deridex Warbirds are haunting you as there have been about five variants of this one now since the starter set. At least with the announcement of these two waves, Wizkids have assured us that the two games can co-exist - at least for two months.

Have to say I'm excited by the Sabre Class, the Raven and also the Amar which will have some cool associations with The Motion Picture I suspect. The Raven is reported down as an Assimilated Vessel which indicates Federation/Borg upgrades perhaps? I have no idea what the Montgolfier will be coming with although duplications of cards from OP prizes are showing up a lot more which might suggest the well is drying up. While those competitive players won't be too thrilled, the more casual acquaintance with Attack Wing will be happy they haven'y got to spend a fortune on eBay for that elusive and essential upgrade if they do head into that territory.

Not knowing much about Mage Knight I have this strange feeling we're going to be seeing some of the miniatures from Attack Wing all over again in this new game. From images I've seen it'll also feature a lot of cards very similar to the current headline Star Trek tabletop game but how all this will pan out and be a change from Attack Wing we have yet to see as this is pretty much all we know about the next game. Could we also be seeing mini-versions of our favourite captains, first officers and engineers? Certainly the initial layout for the game seems high weighing in at $79.99 (£51.13 at current exchange rate) so there needs to be a fairly impressive launch pack to justify the cost which is double the outlay for the starter set for Attack Wing and I would surmise that additional miniatures and board pieces would be reason enough.

I have become a big fan of Attack Wing and do kick myself for coming to it later in it's life and with the announcement of Frontiers it seems like it will all be over. The forums have shown that there has been a lot to learn from WizKids current Star Trek title particularly in more appropriate costs for upgrades dependent on what they do as well as how to handle the Borg correctly among many other things. I hope that these have all been taken into account to make their next a big success.

Then again I could have this all wrong and be making a mountain out of a molehill. Frontiers is going to be more board-based than Attack Wing so the two could co-exist since the latter operates on the FlightPath system and can be played anywhere you have a large enough area. Frontiers will need specific items setting up as you can see from the image and seems a lot more "land" based which could mean we're not going to be doing a lot of space battles here. Maybe there's hope after all.

Perhaps more interesting to see is how Frontiers will fare against the Gale Force Nine hobby-themed Star Trek board game(s) that are planned to arrive in Summer 2016 and are promising (as told to that it will give "...a compelling gaming system that will explore all corners of the universe and bring gamers and fans alike into the world of Star Trek like nothing that’s come before."

You can sign up for updates on the Gale Force Nine titles here.

Have to say that from the gamers perspective, 2016 is looking to be very lively and the competition will be fierce. Frontiers does have the advantage of time being released in February but playability will be the ultimate factor deciding the fate of each - which one will we still be playing come New Year's Day 2017...?

Think that Attack Wing will survive a bit longer or are its days numbered? Will you be playing Frontiers? Let us know below!

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