Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Three Eras for Attack Wing Wave 23

Attack Wing Wave 23 dropped rather suddenly and I wasn't expecting it.

With 21 and 22 only just coming out, I was thinking there might be some breathing space but here we are looking at three new arrivals which cover three very different periods of Star Trek history. It's also the first wave since 19 to comprise of a Federation, Romulan and Klingon trio (in that case Delta Flyer, IKS Rotarran and the RIS Talvath science vessel).

Taking them in time order means we get to go Romulan first with the IRW Jazkal. It's a 22nd Century Bird of Prey with those vicious forward-sweeping warp nacelles but, alas, only an optional cloaking device and no rear firing arc.

Decked out in a fetching metallic green, this miniature game piece is astoundingly eye-catching with only a couple of darker highlights on the nacelles to indicate the warp coils. Wizkids attention to detail here is cracking with some beautiful panel work on a tiny playing piece. It's also well-crafted and potentially one of the nicest game ships I've seen them produce since the very beginning. I actually think the paint job works wonders on this one.

Just another note, I realised this time (and probably missed it last time) that they are no longer including Target Lock tokens with the sets. I'd also consider reducing the number of Time Tokens in the near future as mine seem to be multiplying.

So to the first set of new cards and the Jazkal rocks a rather surprising 14 points out of the box. OK so this is the Enterprise era but woah that's almost Solar Sailor territory. Carrying two for attack and in agility the Bird-of-Prey has only three hull points and no shields so putting this out against the Borg is probably a big no-no. Standard actions here are Evade, Target Lock and Scan with slots open for one Tech, Crew and Weapon upgrade. If you do utilise the Scan action then the ship cannot be targeted by an Elite Action and any Weapon upgrade that attacks allows you to add a defence die - so that'll be one then. Seeing as how you're starting low, even the generic version of the class is at 14 points but sacrifices not just a unique action but also Scan and your Crew upgrade slot.

Movement is getting fairly generic too recently with the Jazkal packing exactly (and I mean exactly) the same set of moves as both the IKS Amar and the USS Montgolfier packs in this wave; maximum of four speed with a full set of turns at three and two, forward and the banks at one plus a red 180 Come About at three. I'll save talking about those again and just refer back to this paragraph for the rest of the wave. Very disappointing set and I would actually have liked to see the Jazkal slower but with a full range of moves at speed one.

Captaining this green goblin of a ship is Vrax. A stern little Romulan, he costs a budget two points for a skill of three. While he is inexpensive, Vrax does allow you to pop the Reman Bodyguards upgrade on your ship for two points less than its cost (five) and you can do so even if it exceeds the ship restrictions on upgrade slots. Bonus. There is of course the generic captain (this time the phased Romulan from The Next Phase in The Next Generation - erm...really?) and just a single Elite Action to add to your pack.

Destabilized Relations costs five points and offers a tactical advantage if you're having a shot right at the edge of your range. If the ship you're aiming for has a friendly ship within range two of it, the target ship rolls two less defence dice. A big opportunity if ever there was one but I still feel that this ship will see limited flight time with its diminished stats unless you're playing a specific game of Enterprise era combat.

Crewing the Jazkal is Nijil, another slightly less stern Romulan who actually costs more than the captain. He does add a second Tech slot to your bar and reduces its cost by one point. Note that the upgrade has to be Romulan however. Secondary to that, Nijil and one of your Tech upgrades can be disabled to provide an additional defence die. Very useful given your starting points and essential to be used with the Scan feature noted on the ship card.

In a rare appearance the Reman Bodyguards crew card lets you trade the card in for the benefit of increasing your primary weapon attack by one die and reducing the opponent's defence by the same number. A cunning little move and one worth adding to any ship in your fleet given the advantage it offers even against the Borg since there are no restrictions. Five points definitely well spent there.

Your singular Weapon card in the Jazkal expansion is Disruptor Banks and it's not just a renamed Photon Torpedoes before you say anything. Yes it does incur the Time Token penalty (three) but it can also be discarded if needs be to force the enemy to roll two less attack dice when you're in their sights. I like the twist here. Double feature cards always seem to excite me a lot more because it. Disruptor Banks can be used up to range three and charges your attack from two to three die at a cost of four points. Again, a fair deal for a double bubble.

Finally and almost the elephant in the pack is Prototype Cloaking Device. Conspicuously absent from the ship cards, its addition as a bought feature reinforces the more simplistic nature of the era. Costing four points the Tech card has to be disabled but it can be used as a Free Action even without Active Shields. However, due to its unstable and basic nature there is a hitch in that you have to roll an attack die when you cloak. A Battle Stations result will cause one point of hull damage. Yucky luck on that which again makes me not too keen on the Jazkal as a part of my fleet.

Non-Romulan ships can use the cloak but it'll cost nine points and when active you can also activate the Sensor Echo feature.

Closing out with the mission we Escape the Minefield in a two player game which sees two 50 point Romulan ships chasing a 35 point Federation ship through floating explosives. A neat scenario where the Federation player has two things to worry about in order to win and survive.

Second and taking us forward from Enterprise into the classic movie era is the IKS Amar which has the notable fact that it was the first starship to be seen in The Motion Picture and welcomed the arrival of the "bumpy forehead" Klingons that paved the way for their look for decades thereafter. Now in the past I've lambasted the model-makers over the K't'inga Class because either the bridge module has been aligned correctly or the warp engines have been the wrong way round. 

I'm not sure what they're drinking at Wizkids this month but this model is a big improvement with all of the issues fixed and a sexy new paint scheme to match. I did fear we might get a translucent cruiser but those can be set quickly aside. I really like the work here. It looks clean, well painted and "realistically" presented in more franchise-relevant colours not some of the bright shades we've seen in their "pimped up" attempts of the last few waves.

Firing a four in attack, one in defence, four hull points and three shields it's a breath of fresh air in comparison to the Jazkal and man, would I love to see those two head to head (bit one sided?). The Amar has the usual loadout of Evade, Target Lock, Cloak and Sensor Echo plus two Weapon and two Crew slots for a respectable 24 points. Why choose the Amar? Well, she allows you to drop an Evade token if you fail to make a successful attack and hey, that's happened a lot especially against my Dad. Problem is that he's usually playing as the Klingons which means I'll never get a shot at using this.

As per previous versions the standard K't'inga loses a shield and a Crew slot plus the unique action for 22 points. Note also that standard movement formation I mentioned with the Jazkal.

Captain here is Barak as played by Mark "Sarek" Lenard in the movie. A rather torrid three points for this captain's skill and a lowly cost of two which is not in keeping with the majority of the Klingon command options and did surprise me a little. His action is fairly useful but it does mean unusually chucking your captain away to gain an additional die on your Photon Torpedo attack. No note of what happens to your captain skill should this take place. Quick note too that Barak does not have an Elite Action medal on his card nor is there one included with the Amar.

I've berated other expansions in the past for their propensity to avoid using "generic" crew cards but in this one we get three (must be making up for the last few waves). The two point Klingon Navigator lets you ignore your chosen manoeuvre during the Activation Phase and choose any other with a speed of three or less but it will be treated as a red manoeuvre and the crew card will be discarded. It's a bold move and really one that will only pay off if your captain skill is a lot higher than Barak otherwise you'll be pre-empting others and that might be counter-productive.  Linked with a captain skill of seven or above this could be effective in pulling the right move at the right time against a lesser opponent. With Barak it's just finger in the wind guessing.

For three points Klingon Helmsman is also a discard but lets you perform a Come About at either speeds one or two. Not one we see very often - if ever - and offers the chance t put some distance between you and a pursuing craft before turning to blow her away. 

Luckily this isn't a Klingon exclusive card if you're a fan of playing mixed fleets although it will cost five more points (eight) and can't be put onto a ship that can't already do the Come About move. Finally there's Klingon Tactical Officer who helps out when it comes to bettering the battle scores. Costing three points, this crew option is only a disable but lets you spend an Evade token to convert a Battle Stations into a damage result. Very unique and would work well with a captain or feature that offers Evade as a free action during the Activation Phase.

All three of the crew upgrades in the IKS Amar pack are well thought out and very different. It seems the levels of imagination really picked up this time round. Even the Weapons cards have a new spin with Stand By Torpedoes as a bolt on feature to the now-standard Photon Torpedoes included here.

Stand By Torpedoes can be disabled instead of using the Target Lock which effectively gives the chance to use that on your primary weapon straight on the next turn and fire off those five dice for Photon Torpedoes. For just three points its a good card to have ready if the chance for a double assault comes to hand.

After the one player mission disappointment of the Bajoran Solar Sailor, the Amar handles the first encounter with V'Ger from The Motion Picture a heck of a lot more successfully. Instead of straight copying the scenario included with the refit movie Enterprise pack, here you get to command three Klingon ships as they attempt to scan a strange oncoming entity. The plan is to scan the entity and then do a runner but once you attack/scan it gets to fire back and the amount of dice it can use dependant on distance to your ships ranges up to 12! Very excited to try this out asap and I'll let you know how it plays out.

Third and finally, bringing us to another movie and the battle sequence at the beginning of First Contact is the Sabre Class USS Montgolfier. The wah? OK, this is a non-canon, totally made up ship and the first time this type of vessel has been available in retail. The Yeager was an OP prize some time back but for those of us who rely on hitting the shops, this is our first time of getting to grips with the chunky little craft. I'd seen some stuff which indicated it had a shoddy paintjob but that wasn't to be. I'm not a lover of the metallic silver Federation ships seem to be coming in these days but it does mean they are a little more interesting than the bland (but more accurate) duck egg blue for example. The model is a little clunky and oversized against some of the ships which are supposed to be bigger than it by some distance but it's OK and certainly playable.

Lining up with three attack, two in agility, three hull and three shield points, the Montgolfier is a fairly bog standard mid-range Starfleet ship carrying the usual actions of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations plus one Tech, two Weapons and one Crew slot for 22 points basic. It does carry a cunning litte unique action that allows it to move your Target Lock onto another in-range ship during the Activation Phase. I'm impressed with this because there are times when something you have locked gets away and you can't remove the lock. This removes that obstacle and keeps you very much in the game.

Generically the Sabre Class ship loses that brilliant action, a shield point and the Tech upgrade slot to cost players just 20 points.

The issue I have with the Montgolfier is how much of a mish-mash this pack is when you get into the bones of it. The captain option of Orfil Quinteros was an officer featured in The Next Generation's first season episode 11001001 and was never seen with a captain rank. Somehow he's been availed of a captain skill of five for a cost of three points. Orfil lets you roll three defence dice as an Action and for each Evade result you get to repair one hull point. However that does in turn mean accumulating one Auxiliary Power Token for each point recovered. Useful to get you back into a strong place in the game but it will remove a lot of your options aside from move and fire.

Having avoided a Wesley Crusher option for many, many waves we now have a second in only a short period of time. The last was with the Hathaway but now this five point Wes has a double action option which makes him a darn sight more charming to players.

Considering that Orfil will be stacking up your Auxiliary Power Tokens and therefore stopping you from performing any actions full stop, deactivating Wesley will let you perform one of the standard actions from the Action Bar if that situation occurs. Even better his second option means you can use an Action listed as a Tech upgrade as a free action again if he's disabled. Wow - double disable? For five points? Winner.

Wesley is your only crew option but what a great one to have around huh? In the case of Weapons we have ol' faithful Photon Torpedoes for the standard five point cost and five die attack at range two to three plus a new option with Heavy Graviton Beam.

On first glance it's nothing special - three attack (same as the primary weapon) and only effective at range one to two. Look more closely at the detail though and you find that this one time use card reduces the defence of your opponent by one die but also is mega, mega, MEGA useful against the Borg, adding three dice to your attack nor can they defend against it.

How good is that? Maybe more effective on something like the Defiant or Voyager but heck this is a real game changer against the biggest elephant in the game. For a cost of four points this is a real must have if you're going against the Borg otherwise I wouldn't get too excited. Stick with torpedoes.

The Montgolfier also comes with two Tech upgrades. The three point Thruster Array allows you to perform a reverse one or two speed move with apparently no requirement to have any reverse motion already available. A nice to have but not an essential if you're point limited. Last up is Subspace Transmitter which lets you drop a Scan token next to both your ship and a friendly ship within range three. You are stopped from using Scan as a free action for the round. The card is a disable hence the five point cost but comparing its usefulness against the five points of Wesley Crusher it's a bit puzzling. Again a nice to have but not a big advantage.

The scenario for the Montgolfier is just as cobbled together as the pack which takes its leads from The Next Generation's first season on a ship from First Contact that actually never existed. This time its from Deep Space Nine as you fight to destroy an orbital weapons platform a la Tears of the Prophets and the battle in the Chin'toka system. In essence a standard two player "objective destroy" game. 

Sadly this really is the first pack where there hasn't been a consistent thread running through it and although this is a better wave overall the Federation expansion is a little bit deflating. Both the Jazkal and the Amar are superb additions for your fleets and I can see my Klingon-playing dad loving some of the features he'll be able to use going forward.

Almost a perfect return to form I would say with just a tinge of disappointment in some of the Montgolfier elements - really looking forward to seeing how wave 24 measures up.

Invested in wave 23? What did you think to the new arrivals in this "core" trio?

Wave 23 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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