Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Trio of Unexpected Twists: Attack Wing Wave 21


Well here's a threesome that isn't the regular set you'd be expecting from Wizkids.

First to be pulled from its plastic box is the Cardassian ART-4107 otherwise known as the Dreadnought misleading featured in Voyager's second season. As far as I'm aware there are no other replicas of this vessel in existence and not even a suggestion that it'll be dropping onto the Starship Collection anytime soon. 

The model is pretty good. A metallic broke sheen covers the whole surface which is nicely detailed with a fair amount of panelling across the whole body. She's also quite large given the nature of the beast and I'm sure that in the episode the missile wasn't on this scale. Perhaps it could have done with being a little bit smaller as it nearly dwarfs the Attack Wing Voyager model. But the enjoyment is not just in a decent recreation of the deadly space weapon but in the joyous pack of upgrades that come in the box. 

The Dreadnought itself starts off with a standard 30 points as its base which places it quite high on the ship stats. Carrying a six in attack, zero defence, four hull points and four shield points she's a killer but not immortal by any stretch. The Dreadnought also carries the Evade, Target Lock and Scan actions along with slots for one Tech upgrade and three weapon upgrades - it is a big explosive after all. Her unique action allows you to discard up to two of your own upgrades to cancel out an equal number of your opponent's attacking dice. Certainly this mirrors the advanced weapon and defence capabilities of the Dreadnought which we saw in the episode. The standard version drops points to 28 losing a shield point and also the Tech upgrade. 

The missile is a fast little bugger maxing out at five with red hard right and left manoeuvres at speeds two and three. There are no 180 turns available on the Dreadnought with only forward available at four and the top five plus slight right and lefts only at speed one. Again it does mirror the missile origins of this expansion with the weapon being quick since it would intentionally be directed at a specific target and let go. Being a flying bomb the Dreadnought bins off having a captain making it one of the rare craft, along with the fighter wings, that doesn't have a commanding officer slot. In its place is a simple Dominion faction pennant with a Captain Skill of just one point.

Ok, so let's start with the Tech upgrades first. Lowest costing is the four point Kinetic Detonator. Providing an attack at the Action stage of the game, you can discard this card and one of your weapon upgrades in order to inflict one damage point to ALL enemies within range one. Big issue is that you'll receive one point of damage yourself but it'll be one heck of a bang. The other two Tech cards included here cost a slight bit more at five points. Evasive Attack Route offers a further chance to escape during the Modify Defence Dice step. Rather than having to preempt the possibility of getting a whooping you can discard a weapon upgrade (plus disabling this card) and gain two Evade tokens. 

Counter Measures, again a discard, lets you roll two additional defence dice  but then immediately perform a two dice attack against the very ship which targeted you. If it's attached to another Cardassian ship other than an ATR-4107 then it does cost five more points. Interesting that all three of the Tech upgrades are all focuses around self-preservation to ensure it reaches its target. I would immediately have Counter Measures provisioned just to add that single layer of defensive capability given the ATR-4107 starts with nothing. 

The pack includes four Weapon upgrades starting off with Plasma Wave. Unusually working only at range one and using only three attack dice you might initially be put off due to the perceived low ability however it works on all targets within that range. Brilliant - an outstanding option to perform multiple attacks at short range and potentially cause all of them damage. Also it nicely counter balances the Kinetic Detonator function. Also costing five points is Thoron Shock Emitter. A discard option operating between ranges one and three, it costs a Target Lock to work and fires with a reduced five dice over the Dreadnought primary weapon value of six however it allows you to re-roll any number of attack dice into the bargain, making that attack, hopefully, a little bit more destructive. 

Also dropping your attack dice number from six to five is the Quantum Torpedoes upgrade. The standard option spends the Target Lock and incurs the Time Token penalty players will be familiar with from the last few waves. For me this has made the older disable versions of Photon and Quantum Torpedoes pretty much redundant.  Also a point to recognise here is that this is the only rear firing option that comes with this expansion. Finally the only upgrade cars which increases the number of attack dice in the pack is the "purpose" of the Dreadnought if you will, the Matter-AntiMatter Warhead offering seven attack dice but only at the distant range three. 

As with the torpedoes it's a Target Lock trade off but if it hits then everything within range one of the ship you're firing on  will receive an Auxiliary Power Token.  While only forward firing it's a beast of a weapon with added bonus effects. In fact looking at this pack more carefully its very different in a lot of ways, providing the chance to inflict damage on multiple targets in one hit as well as counter-attack options when someone takes a pot shot. What you start to appreciate about the Dreadnought expansion is just how expensive the upgrades are. 

Finally there's Maintenance Crew. An upgrade that doesn't require a specific slot and also lets you add another Crew position to the ATR-4107. This card gives a hint of the self-preservation and consciousness that were part of the missile featured in the episode as you can discard it and one Crew upgrade to repair up to two damage. Again it also reminds you that this piece of technology will keep on going rebuilding itself and beating off any attack - or just anything that gets a bit too close.

The Kinetic Detonator is the least expensive at four points with the Warhead costing a chunky seven. Still it's a great expansion and one that is very memorable because of its multiple differences. Rounding out the pack is Planetoid Alpha 441 - your mission is to destroy the munitions base or the Maquis fleet before you get a pasting. Note to players that the Independent/Maquis ships can't have a hull value higher than three in this encounter. 

Ok, ship two in this wave is the commandeered Jem'Hadar attack ship from Deep Space Nine's The Ship and later A Time to Stand/Rocks and Shoals from the sixth season. As the named version, the Robinson is classified as a Federation craft with a points total of 22. She attacks with three, defends with two and has both a hull and shield value of three. As with most Federation ships her action options include Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations and there are four crew slots to fill - but no Weapon or Tech gaps as the Robinson.  

As the standard Jem'Hadar attack ship you do lose a shield point to bring the cost of the vessel down to 20 but nite that this version does allow you to add a Crew, Weapon and Tech upgrade rather than just four crew slots. The model is one of my favourites in a purple with some cracking surface detail and a tight paint finish to top it of. The accuracy on this tiny replica has to be among the best of the series and just looks the pat from every angle. Her unique action is a little on the suicidal side with the chance to ignore red damage being inflicted to instead suffer a Warp Core Breach from the critical damage deck. Quite an escalation if you ask me! Her moves are pretty decent too with a full range including the super-useful come-about at speed three. 

The Robinson does max out at four but the variety of turns balances that out adequately. We have just the one captain option along with the Generic one-pointer and its, unsurprisingly, Benjamin Sisko. Standing strong with an eight point captain skill, Sisko allows you to bite back and each time you suffer one or more hull damage points you can roll an attack die. It does result in you taking on an Auxiliary Power Token but a critical or normal damage result from the roll will damage the opponent as normal while a Battle Stations symbol will allow you to place a token of the same next to your ship. 

Sisko will also let you field the only Elite Action included in the pack, Infiltration. Instead of offering some form of attack or defence rolling options, it offers a safety blanket where you are within range one or two of an enemy but not within the same range of any friendly ships. No one can attack you and it provides the chance to slip past enemy lines and maybe try attacking from a different angle. Cool move and not bad for a five point discard. Lowest scoring of your crew options is Elim Garak for three points. Here classified as Federation character, Garak can be disabled at the beginning of the Combat Phase to increase your Captain Skill by two or can be binned off to re-roll either three attack or defence dice. 

For such a low price having the dual purpose is a big bonus especially as Garak will give you an advantage in battle two different ways. Nog, Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir all cost four points each on the other hand. The Ferengi cadet, here classed as Federation, can be disabled to spend a Scan token beside your ship and change it to either an Evade or a Battle Stations. Neat huh? I thought so since there have been a few occasions I've wished I'd chosen a different token during the Action phase and paid the price heavily. So is this the fourth or fifth Jadzia floating around the game?! Not sure, however she does offer the benefit of gaining an Evade token if you use a red manoeuvre. 

Bashir's re-roll of any die for the cost of a discard is also just as standard and a bit of a let down after such an interesting start to the expansion with some genuinely exciting upgrade options being introduced. Most expensive of your new crew choices is Miles O'Brien. Deep Space Nine's Chief of Operations lets you disable any remaining shields to target a ship at ranges one or two which isn't cloaked with no active shields and inflict one point of damage to its hull. 

It's been a while in Attack Wing since we've seen such a situational card as I've come to term them. For one point of damage you need a lot to happen. I would have raided the cost here and offered at least two points of hull damage because a lot of bits need to fall exactly in place for this to work. Five points is hefty for just one blip of damage I think. With no Weapon or Tech upgrades to speak of it's not the most exciting of packs overall but there are certainly some highlights in there worth stripping out. Finally the mission sticks with the opener of the sixth season and is named A Time to Stand

Requiring two players, a planet token and three mission tokens, the job is to take out a ketracel-white facility while facing off against two Dominion ships (with a hull value no higher than three). Surely a no win scenario if ever there was one? That brings me to the third offering from Wave 21 and the Denorios

Jeez, this isn't going to see a lot of action I can tell you. To date I have just the two Bajorans craft including this one and the other is the Ratosha scout craft. I think if I turned up to play against anyone with that fleet they'd beat me in about a two rounds. Costing a rather pitiful 12 points this might be one of the most unattractive ships to purchase for the game so my big question after seeing the pack was - what is its redeeming feature? 

The model itself certainly isn't with one of the smaller sails a bit lopsided and the micro-scale definitely not working in the favour of the struts that support most of the vessel. It comes across as a bit blobby and lacking any visible detail due to the scale. But that's not all. With an attack of just one, two for defence and three hull (no shields here), that redemption isn't coming from its basic stats. The Denoris also only has slots for two Tech upgrades alongside the standard Evade and Scan options which I suggest might be seeing some extremely heavy use. In the instance that someone does attack you (come on...this would be your first target to eliminate), you can place an Auxiliary Power Token next to your ship to cancel out one of the Critical Damage results. 

Given a hull value of three I'm not sure how much use that will be. Adding insult to injury, the Solar Sailor can only max out at speed three and at ranges one and two it has a full set of moves including the ever-useful but Auxiliary Power Token earning Come About. Whether it's useful or not, the generic Solar Sailor has exactly the same stats and cost as the Denorios but does lose one of the two Tech slots plus the unique named craft action. Why would you pick this over the Denorios and in anticipation of questions, why the heck are you fielding more than one of these things in your fleet????!!! 

The false Emissary Akorem Laan comes in as your captain with the option to let him field up to two Bajoran Elite Actions. His skill is only a two and he costs just the single point. The generic captain included drops a point from the skill and cost. So talking of the Elite Actions, there are three to choose from and all cost five points individually. D'Jarras (the Bajoran caste system) is a discard letting you target a friendly ship at range three which can, in turn, perform one of its own crew upgrade actions. The cool twist is that if the upgrade on that ship is Bajoran it classes as a free action for that round. Bonus (has that redeemed the pack?)!!! Emissary lets you renewable all your disabled upgrades at the beginning of the Activation Phase not just on your ship but on any Bajoran ship within ranges one to three. That's a great option to have and could turn the game around if you're in need of that photon torpedo launch or a regeneration of a hull or shield point. 

Being specified as Bajoran ship I can see this being a winner if you're not playing faction pure and have the Ratosha, for example, fully tooled. Keeping with the theme of Accession from Deep Space Nine's fourth year, the Legendary Hero Elite Action does help when it comes to keeping your head above water in combat. Chucking this card in will add not just two defence dice or two attack dice but BOTH for the whole of the round. It's Bajoran captain and Bajoran ship specific so both of those criteria need to be met to use this but having three attack and four defence dice at your disposal will certainly come as a surprise to any opponent. 

The Denorios has three Tech options too starting with Solar Sail Powered for three points. It turns any manoeuvre green after its revealed so those Come Abouts won't incur the tragedy of an Auxiliary Power Token. It's also a disable rather than a discard meaning it can be kept for use during the whole game and not just for a one off. Providing an extra layer of defence and possibly very useful in conjunction with Legendary Hero, Mainsails (four points) lets you place two shield tokens onto that card and these get hit first before your ship receives any further damage. It does state it can't be used with any other ship feature or upgrade but to have a buffer on the ship will be welcomed to anyone who considers flying this into a hail of phaser fire. 

Third and last is the five point Tachyon Eddies. Remember that the Solar Sailor can only trundle along at speed three? Well this means you can add up to another three to your revealed manoeuvre's speed. Yay! But I'll stop you there because adding two or three to your speed will incur either two or three points of damage to your ship and the latter could effectively see you blasted out of the game on your own actions. Be warned because it does seem to sound better than it is! The scenario here, Ion Storm is, for those of us with no friends, a single player mission. Unfortunately it's virtually a mirror of the mission included with the Pegasus a few waves ago. Get from A to B in one piece while a ton of asteroids move around. It is good fun but as I said back then it takes a long time to set up and then to move all the blips each round. If you've not played a lot of Attack Wing I would say this is a good starting scenario to help understand some of the fundamental actions within the game.  

In answer to my question on the Denorios, it does have some redeeming features which do see its defences increased and have a remote chance of outrunning an enemy. Cleverly though it's going to be a difficult ship to run given that it can actually damage itself so I would be tempted to run this well behind the lines offering to help out larger craft and re-enable their disabled upgrades. 

Wave 21 is probably one of my favourite selections to date even though the Solar Sailor is a bit naff. Wizkids have thought outside the box here and for once there are a lot of new and different upgrades which I would seriously consider using. The Robinson was a bit of a surprise to me with its unusual features plus the chance to fly a Jem'Hadar attack ship in a Federation fleet. The Dreadnought is very cool, unique and horribly dangerous given that getting anywhere near it could result in some painful consequences. It does cost a lot but then you are getting a lot in return from the package and not just in terms of standard out-of-the-box firepower. 

Recommended? Perhaps not all three but certainly the Dreadnought and the Robinson are ships I would urge you to consider. If you're just looking for something to fill up a few points then I might point you towards the Solar Sailor.... 

Thinking of investing in Wave 21? Would you add a missile or the attack cruiser to your ranks? Am I wrong about the Denoris?!

Up now is our review of Wave 22 - you can find it HERE

Wave 21 is available now with all ships recommended to retail at £11.99 each. You can track down your local stockist HERE


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