Monday, 23 May 2016

Introducing a New Faction: The Xindi Arrive

Man is it difficult to find a Xindi Weapon Zero.

Selling out like hotcakes I suspect that a lot of Starships Collection fans are grabbing these up for display purposes rather than for use in Attack Wing. For me it fits both categories very, very nicely.

Appearing in the third season of Enterprise, the Xindi Weapon Zero could have spelled the end for Planet Earth if not for the actions of Captain Archer, the crew of the NX-01 and a few renegade Xindi.

This is the third of Wizkids "oversize" playing pieces for the tabletop strategy game, the others being the Borg Cube and the mindbogglingly stunning Deep Space Nine. Smaller than both and bigger than the Borg Tactical Cube, Weapon Zero is in essence a big ball. Measuring an impressive 10cm diameter just the physical presence in the game might be enough to make your opponents weep however if you're looking to play as the Xindi faction pure you're gonna have to wait a while since this is (as of mid-May 2016) the only ship available with more promised although there have been a few tweaks in the next couple of expected waves.

As for this one, you can't help but be impressed. As far as I'm aware it's the only one available and reflects the ship from Enterprise perfectly. OK, the preview images were a lot cleaner, more crisp and brighter in colour than this finished item but that in no way detracts from the finished playing piece.

Coming in its own box as with the Cube and Deep Space Nine before, Weapon Zero has an incredibly detailed and varied surface covering with a black "web" effect running all the way round sporadically interrupted by a "glowing" green energy blob. Sadly the two external halos don't rotate but there is the weapon focusing circle at a jaunty angle to complete the image.

So to the pack and there are a minimal amount of tokens with the Big Ballistic Ball - just the base card, manoeuvre a couple of upgrade reminders and the four captain heads which has to be a record for the least packed. For note there's also a reference card to show that the Xindi will sit eighth in the order of initiative after the Kazon and before the Bajorans. 

In the cards there's a lot of fun to be had in this first Xindi expansion. Weapon Zero lands in at a solid 30 points for the basic ship which is less than the Tactical Cube but does line up as though it's from an early era. She offers a hefty six in attack, zero agility (defence), eight hull points and no shields. Those stats might put you off but hold fire to see the rest of the pack. You also have the standard Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations as well as slots for one Tech, three Weapon and one Crew upgrade. The generic version costs 28 points but retains the same basic attack, aility, hull and shield stats however it loses the Battle Stations action, the unique action and one of the Weapon upgrade slots.

As for its moves, Weapon Zero takes a fairly standard set into battle with a top speed of four however there are some big restrictions. There's no Come About and the hard left/right turns at speed three incur the Auxiliary Power Token handicap as does the forward four and the reverse one speeds. Only the forward and banks at speed one plus the forward at speed two will remove those tokens by "going green".

As only he could, the Xindi Reptilian Dolim is your captain option. Operating with a skill of eight and a cost of five points, I feel sure he's going to be the strongest of the faction commanders. Offering the chance to add in an Elite Action, Dolim allows you to disable any remaining shields and target a ship at range one/two that is uncloaked with no active shields. You can then relieve it of a Crew upgrade but your captain skill does plummet to one for the remainder of the round. Having no shields to begin with would mean this could get a lot of use off the bat but there's that risk that dropping the captain skill to one will put you at a huge disadvantage during the combat element of the round. Pros and cons? As always but against a crew-heavy opponent this will have its benefits over and over again since there's no suggestion to disable or discard.

Sole crew choice lands with Degra the Xindi sympathiser. He offers the ability to get a one point discount on all your Xindi upgrades plus, for a four point cost, you can discard him to Target Lock another ship within the one to three range during the Combat Phase as long as you haven't locked on to another ship already. Very, very useful and lets you see how the round is playing our before selecting who you need to focus on.

The first of two Tech cards is Self-Destruct. You get to target all ships within range one and when you destroy your own vessel each of the nearby vessels suffers one point of damage and loses an Evade, Scan, Battle Stations or Target Lock token they have enabled. I reckon it would be interesting if such a card actually disabled the feature on the ship for the remainder of the game given how big an event Self-Destruct actually is. This one can only be deployed on a Xindi ship and costs a reasonable five points.

Next is Subspace Vortex. A classic we've seen used in various guises on ships such as the USS Dauntless and the Krenim Timeship allowing you to drop off the game board, discard all tokens except Auxiliary Power Tokens and put yourself back in play outside the range (one to three) of any enemy vessel. It does remove the ability to attack but will take you out of the danger zone pretty damn quick. Six points for this upgrade is actually a good price given its single use big bonus.

There's also two Weapon upgrades to fill your three slots (think about it...). Rotating Emitters is a four point disable card so there's multiple use opportunities. It does rely on you being at range one to operate but should that all go a bit wrong there's always the fallback option to Self-Destruct. Very basic attack function and it's a big risk given the distance. Not something (again) I would want to try against Borg or even any of the capital ships. Certainly not Deep Space Nine!

If that's not your forte then how about Destructive Blast. Using five attack dice this one-time use targets all ships in a straight line from your ship. Given it's an orb you're in luck whichever way. Hitting at up to range three I think the way its intended to be used is in a single straight line but that will depend on your enemy/enemies being nice enough to line their ships up so neatly. As you get further away each ship attacked loses one of the five attack dice and so on and so on. Very situational to use and costly for such a big gamble at six points.

Last out of the pack is the Elite Action, Arming Sequence. Super-expensive at eight points I'm almost convinced the cost is just for the number of words used to describe the ability. Each round (to a maximum of three) you can place a Mission Token on this card however you are stopped from performing actions or going faster than speed one.

It works in combination either with the primary weapon (six dice) or Destructive Blast (five attack dice) so that you can add up to three dice to the attack. It's just a one-time wonder but could effectively give you a nine dice punch if required which would be one of the most powerful rolls in the whole game.

Unlike Deep Space Nine we do get a mission scenario here called Destroy the Earth. Simple enough its 120 points of Xindi taking on 150 points of Federation ships with the attacking force looking to inflict 16 points of damage to obliterate the Earth. If you're happy to mish-mash the Xindi fleet then you can play this one right away. If you're waiting to have a proper fleet you'll have to wait a few months.

As always with the Attack Wing range the promo pics do look markedly better than the final model however this is still a top quality replica of the deadly Weapon Zero. As a piece it's going to be a big points sapper if you're running it in your fleet but it will make the Xindi more appealing to play once released.

It's good to see that even with the wave releases now in the mid-20's and with Frontiers only round the corner, WizKids are still backing Attack Wing with some force - enough to bring in a new faction at this stage. For long term players it gives a chance to mix things up and for those people who haven't been with it too long there's the opportunity to get hold of all the faction ships since some of those early waves are damn hard/near impossible to locate (anyone seen an Excelsior to buy recently...?!) 

We know there's that new Borg Cube to come as well so the future for the game is certainly not grim. What features and abilities will make the Xindi an enticing option have yet to be revealed but Weapon Zero has certainly given them a formidable - and large - introduction. 

Have you been using the Xindi Weapon Zero in your fleet? How's it been running? Do you think the Xindi will be a good faction in the game and what advantages do you think they already have? Drop a line below!

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