Thursday, 21 November 2019

Drawn Out Game? Attack Wing: The Animated Series Faction Pack, Part I

If the Borg weren't exciting enough for you then this should get those fires burning.

Wizkids have already pulled the unexpected with the Kelvin Timeline pack just over a year ago but now they're gone and spun in another brilliant move to keep the game alive with a foot into the little explored/mined Animated Series from the mid-1970's.

Featuring the USS Enterprise, Starfleet are fairly heavily outnumbered with three opponents included here in the form of two Klingon and one Romulan D7 Battlecruisers. 

Packaged as resplendently as ever, the Faction Pack also comes with the usual array of tokens, dials, stands, upgrade cards and missions to be able to launch a new group of ships into the game straight from the box (as long as you have the Starter Set!).

Starting out, let's tackle the USS Enterprise. Costing two points less than the "regular" version, this ship still carries up to four Crew ]and a Weapon slot plus the standard Actions of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations. It also has three dice for attack, one for defence and four hull and three shield points which again matches the previous version. 

Aside from the point difference of 20 here to the 22 of the original the Enterprise can repair up to three shields as it's Unique Action. This will keep you going for a much longer game through the ability to rebuild the ship. 

The generic Constitution version removes two Crew slots and a shield point plus that Unique Action for a 16 point cost. Without the features of the legendary starship though, this one does seem little more than cannon fodder.

As for movement, it's fitting given the ship's point in the timeline that she tops out at speed four with full banks and turns at speeds two and three. One's forward and banks plus forward and banks at two offer green maneuvers. At least for the sacrifice of speed she can turn a bit however there s a noticable absence of reverse so you'll only be boldly going forward. 

Captaining the USS Enterprise in animated form can be either James T Kirk or the first commander of the legendary starship, Robert April. Both cost five points, bear a skill factor of eight and have the chance to field an Elite Action.

Usefully, Kirk lets you place a Scan or Battle Stations token next to your ship and perform the Action on a Crew card as a freebie. The chance to play a Battle Stations and then something else does take some pressure off your ship and brings in even more defense than just one die.

Robert April can be fielded as an Admiral as well as a Captain. As a further benefit, April will up his skill to nine if he's put in command of a Constitution Class starship. April will also take one for the team so to speak, allowing you to transfer any Time Tokens on one of your Crew upgrades aboard his vessel to be transferred to him. As part of the Action, you can then use April to "activate" that Crew member's Action. The chance to transfer Time Tokens is very useful. Double-hitting with a decent Crew upgrade in less turns than expected could well spin the game around and means the chance to utilise a feature potentially while n opponent is still within range.

Five new Crew cards will help fill out those four slots on the USS Enterprise. Stalwarts Spock (four points), Christine Chapel (three points) and Montgomery Scott (three points) are joined by their animated buddies, M'Ress (three points) and Arex (two points) with Sulu and Uhura oddly absent from this line up.

Spock provides a storming opportunity to cripple the enemy by spending an in-play Scan token attached to your ship so that an attack cannot be defended against nor can you be stopped from attacking. It's one more element to make the seemingly underpowered Enterprise a real force to be reckoned with in this game.

Scott does what you would expect with his card being disabled to repair up to one Hull and one Shield point on your ship, again increasing your chances of survival. Chapel is well worth using in conjunction with virtually any Crew upgrade that needs disabling since she can herself either be disabled or Time Token-ed to remove either a Disabled Token or all Time Tokens from your chosen card. I love the point that there's no specification that it's like for like or which you have to do with this - it all depends on your strategy - do you need that upgrade next go or are you prepared to wait?

Then we have two classic Animated Series characters. M'Ress is another that could line up nicely with Chapel as she can remove a Disabled Token from a Crew card when there's a Scan in play. This isn't specified as an Action either nor does it lead to discard or disable meaning that you can utilise her again and again. 

Arex is perhaps not quite as useful but still could be effective if you're moving later in the Phase. He gets disabled to allow you to change the type of move you're performing as long as it's at the same speed as the one you revealed on flipping your Maneuver Dial.  It is also specified to be a white or green move to qualify.

Arex will at least provide a chance to get yourself out of the way and could be well used in conjunction with Chapel or M'Ress should you end up in a critical situation.

Along with these more than welcome Crew additions, the set offers up one Weapon upgrade (twice!). Full Power Phaser Barrage costs a hefty five points and is good to use at ranges two and three. Taking the Enterprise as the base ship, this card would mean that it would roll five dice in attack just to begin with. If there are two uncancelled Damage and/or Critical Damage you get to roll another THREE attack dice to add to your already decent roll. 

Hold up - because not only does this give you a potential eight dice attack from a Constitution Class ship but it's only limited by Time Tokens and NOT a disposal. In three turns this could be active again. Now, if you could add in a Target Lock for a re-roll...?

Even if you don't use this card with a Constitution Class vessel, the uncancelled element will still operate and the enemy ship will also receive an Auxiliary Power Token which in turn will have effects on future rounds. This is a behemoth of a card - who wouldn't add this one?!

The first of two Elite Actions is Legacy of the Name which can only be attached to a Unique Named ship and can effect an Evade or Battle Stations as a Free Action with the penalty of three Time Tokens. If it's the Enterprise (and there's no specific version) then ANY Action can be completed as a Free Action which would mean that this could be very effectively used alongside Full Power Phaser Barrage by activating a Target Lock and all for the cost of three points to your fleet!

One more thing with this pack...Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Ok...this is a long winded one so here we go. Costing thee points and effective only at range one, Mudd gets disabled so that you can use his Love Crystal feature. This means that you can place a Crystal Token onto two Crew upgrades on an enemy ship.

Cleverly mixing in the Mudd element from The Animated Series, Mudd's reference card details that if one of those upgrades marked with the Crystals are disabled, the person who placed the token gets to disable another Crew upgrade of their choice - the same applies in the case of Crew upgrades discarded or disabled with Time Tokens utilising those features on another Crew card. 

With no faction penalty for equipping him, Mudd is a fine nightmare of a card to add to your ship since his actions will inflict double the trouble and prove just as annoying as the original character was in his three classic appearances (yes, I'm including The Animated Series).

With the second half of this pack review we'll be focusing on the Romulan and Klingon options plus overall impressions of how the pack plays out.

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Friday, 8 November 2019

Tying Up Those Threads: Section 31: Control

Ahead of the rise of Picard in January, I've managed to cram in some reading and that's included the rather brilliant Control.

Section 31 have played a huge part in the franchise since the late 1990's. Entwined with the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine we thought we had explored some of their origins with Enterprise, were a little befuddled when they turned up in the Kelvin Universe for Into Darkness and have stamped a firm foothold in the second season of newbie Discovery.

Lo, the novel series likewise has paved a dark path thanks to the dealings of one Julian Bashir especially in the last couple of years since his involvement with curing the Andorian people and then working as a double agent to get to the heart of the organisation through The Fall and then Section 31: Disavowed.

Now we've reached an impasse and Control finally takes us to the very beating heart of Section 31 in the 24th Century and also back to the very spark of its origins in the 22nd Century.

Not to give too much away but this is a must read in every sense and I kind of kicked myself for not having read it a lot sooner. Section 31: Control slips the story back into key Federation moments from the foundation of the galactic organisation and how it became a key component of the Alpha Quadrant.

David Mack is an unquestionable master of the Star Trek literary universe penning many of the finest instalments of the franchise but my god has he ramped it up again. What it doesn't feel like is that the stories are being over stretched and with the impending Picard and Discovery time jumping there's a palatable feeling that we are reaching the end of a journey - and that's very real in another sense that we will no doubt touch on in a future post.

Control maxes out on its tying of loose ends with the return of Sarina Douglas plus assistance from the resurrected super-Data and his daughter Lal in finally attempting to shut down the secretive/disruptive organisation.

The action here is brilliantly free-flowing and by keeping the story to a minimal amount of characters we aren't lumbered with anything excessive. I would warn that you will need to have a decent knowledge of the existing literary Star Trek universe to get a good hold on events. The paralleling of the 22nd and 24th Century stories does help to remove some of the potential confusion but there's a lot of "inside" Star Trek information you'll probably need to be at least aware of to truly appreciate the impact made by Section 31 and not just inside the Federation.

Considering how the onscreen Star Trek universe is about to take onboard a big jump and the return of Jean-Luc, it does feel that the literary series is beginning to tie up some of its more ongoing loose ends as well as perhaps explain some of the bigger TV elements of the franchise which fans have been asking about for many years, especially the increasingly popular Section 31.

Mack's characters too continue to be believable with Bashir a far cry from the stuttering youngster of Emissary and a fair distance away from the more arrogant "superman" of the latter Deep Space Nine years. His experiences since then as part of the books series has had a great impact on him as has his relationship with Sarina turning Bashir into even more of a torchbearer for the upkeep of Federation standards. 

Nor is he vehemently against Section 31; his visible distrust of the organisation seen on screen has become more channelled and focused to resemble a more tangible plan but one he will sacrifice all to complete.

Data on the other hand continues to be something of a mystery. His rebirth in the android body used by Noonien Soong to escape following his critical assault by Lore in Brothers has been a bone of contention with me for nearly six years. It was one of the first stories I read (the Cold Equations trilogy) back in 2013 with Data's resurrection seeming to be an unavoidable part of the Star Trek story whether we wanted it to happen or not.

Here he and Lal are more human than ever and almost unrecognisable from their TV personas. Lal is perhaps excused since her appearance was limited to one 45 minute story but Data's journey to become more human is more complete than ever with him distinctly different to the being we knew. For me, however this character is written he is not "that" Data. For better or worse the original wasn't brought back exactly the same instead with some significant character trait leaps which even now are fairly jarring.

Section 31: Control however must be viewed in the bigger scheme of things and perhaps not have as much drawn from it to parallel to upcoming franchise events. Whether I'm a fan of Human Data or not, this is one of those Star Trek novels that you have to get hold of and is well worth a read. While Deep Space Nine: Gamma might have taken a long while to get through, this was a page turner without doubt. 

One more winner from David Mack. Looking forward to seeing how his upcoming work from the franchise pans out!

Section 31: Control is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £7.99 

What's been your favourite part of the novels story? What do you think will happen going forward into 2020?

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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

We Are Borg: Faction Pack Part Two

The first part of our look at the Borg Faction Pack checked out half of the ships, the captains, Crew and Elite Actions - so now let's analyse the two new pack vessels and the rest...

Trekking out into this new set are two updated Federation/Borg starships in the form of Assimilated Target Prime and USS Voyager.

Voyager is the more expensive of the pair so lets start out there. Costing a chewy 34 points, the Intrepid Class ship is one of those craft that seem to have been forgotten in the later waves of the game - but it's still awesome. Attacking with five dice, defending with two, hulled up with four points and raising six Shield points, Voyager can join a Borg or a Federation fleet with its dual allegiance although it doesn't field a Regeneration Action. This ship carries the expected Target Lock, Battle Stations, Scan and Evade you would find on a Federation ship plus can accommodate two Crew, one Weapon, one Tech and one Borg upgrade. 

For its Unique Action, Voyager can perform a Target Lock as a free action if a green maneuver is performed that round. There seem to be a lot of free actions bobbing about in this set with a fair few cards in the first half of our review providing this option.

The generic Intrepid Class ship (or Federation/Borg Starship...) loses a Crew slot and a Shield point but switches the Scan Action out for the Regeneration Action and is stripped of a unique action for 29 points - that's a big drop in cost to offer up a more Borg inspired starship. It also benefits from having no red speeds, punching to a top of five with bank turns at speeds one, two and three. Certainly this one can get around with hard left and rights at speeds two and three although there are no reverse moves available meaning you'll need to run and turn rather than being able to immediately able to change direction.

As for the model it's a straight silver respray of the Voyager from Wave Six with additional circuitry decals across the surface to display its assimilation. The finish overall seems a little grimier with an apparent dirt wash running into all the panel and shield grid lines. The detail shines through a little stronger against the silver hull with the lifeboat hatches and RCS thrusters in particular standing out.

Now second up is Assimilation Target Prime. The named version can play as either Mirror Universe or Borg and out of the box it's equipped with the Regeneration Action alongside Scan, Target Lock and Evade. Two Crew, one Weapon, one Tech and one Borg upgrade can be outfitted onto this craft which is definitely a more powerful version of the Galaxy Class with five Attack, five Hull and four Shield points although the one Defence stat is a little concerning and might mark this ship out for an early exit. The stats also outweigh the rather feeble Unique Action allowing you to equip anything to this ship and that the single Tech upgrade allowed will cost one point less. I wouldn't be adding this to a fleet for that ability - definitely the stats.

The generic version can be Federation or Borg with a loos of the usual Shield point and a Crew slot. As with Voyager it costs a lot less at only 24 points placing this also as a damn good option for any Borg or Federation fleet. The top speed of this one is a decent six although it will incur the dreaded Auxiliary Power Token as will the reverse one move and the hard turns at speed three.

The bank turns at speed one plus the forward speeds at one to three are green and for one I'd say this is a big step up from the truck that was the Starter Pack USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. Shame that Assimilation Target Prime can't be a Federation starship but the generic version might just carry a little favour with the stronger firepower and Borg options.

Again this model's received a shiny new silver coat of paint with painted on Borg circuitry details top and bottom. On both this and Voyager the silver doesn't overpower the hull detail and the lifeboat hatches again standout against the hull. I think these two are a great couple of ships and a step up on earlier finishes but the Borg detailing should be added onto the hull not just painted. I can understand it's down to keeping costs low but there's a sense of disappointment once you get it out of the box to find it's not really much different to the originals.

We've covered the Captains and Crew already so let's load the tubes and discuss the Weapons. The Advanced Proton Beam (Borg faction only) costs three points and can be utilised on a full 360 degree arc at range one. Using the same number of dice as the equipped ship's primary weapon, this ignores Shields and goes straight for the hull, potentially inflicting Critical Damage in the process. Two Drone tokens will be used up and the card will be discarded but it does allow for a rather - cutting - attack early on. I do like this one a lot and it's a unique result for an attack.

Costing the same as the primary weapon of the ship it is equipped to is also the case with Bio-Molecular Torpedo. Able to be plugged into either a Borg or Federation starship, the Torpedo can be reused and attacks with the same number of dice as the carrying ship's primary weapon (same as its cost). Notably this one doesn't need to be discarded or disabled due to the token cost and if it hits then the opposing Captain and Crew onboard receive two Time Tokens each. If it's a Species 8472 ship then all of the cards on that craft are hit with the Time Tokens. 

I'd play this one if I had a captain with the maximum Drone Token amount just to use this as much as possible and close down your opposing fleet as soon as possible. 

There's a lone Tech upgrade with Integrated Borg Technology (Borg faction). The one point cost lets you drop another Borg upgrade onto your ship and with this pack there are five that can be packed onto your ship or fleet.

The five point Borg Multi-Adaptive Shields let you cancel a Damage result when defending and is only discarded when you run out of Shields. Best application for this has to be on one of the Borg craft without the ability to defend. Technological Distinctiveness (three points) is powered up with Mission Tokens which can be added once per round as your Action. These can be traded in to add attack dice to your turn. It doesn't specify if you have to use all in one go however the point that it rolls one extra for each Mission Token on the card does suggest this. Nor does it suggest discarding after use - potentially you could have a huge amount of tokens on here - and then add in a Target Lock...boom.

Assimilation Tubes gets discarded but for three points you do get to steal a Crew upgrade from an enemy ship up to range two and there are no restrictions to add it on to your own Borg vessel. Note this is one of those hugely situational cards requiring you to target a ship that has no Shields or a Cloak in operation.

Interlink Transceiver is a classic card for the under-defended Borg by increasing their defence by one - as long as they are within range one. Two points is a menial cost for this upgrade and I would have this onboard alongside the Integrated Borg Technology to add in another Borg option. 

Annoyingly these Borg upgrades are damn good and even a one point Distribution Nodes card is a winner. During Activation you can target a friendly ship at range one, deal a Damage point to that vessel so that one of the Hull points on the card carrying vessel is repaired.

The Borg Faction Pack comes with two new missions to play out as part of an Uneasy Alliance arc. Part One sees each player in this two player scenario picking a Federation ship and a Borg ship each. The Federation ship of each player is out to collect mission tokens from the planet while the Borg ships are there to try and prevent their opponent's Federation ship from getting within range two to complete scans (and thereby gain mission tokens). The winner either destroys their opponents ships or gets the most mission tokens when they are all collected.

Part Two follows a similar vein with each player once again fielding a Borg and a Federation ship. This time your objective is to collect Mission Tokens from the Objectives set around the board which are set as wrecked starships.

Again either destroy or conquer in order to find out who has been destroying these craft. For those with some background knowledge  you'll spot that both of these scenarios are loosely based around Scorpion!

Federation ships can collect tokens by rolling five defence die and achieving at least two Evade results. Borg ships can target the Federation ship of their opponent to steal away those tokens as long as a five defence die roll includes two Evade results.

The Borg Faction pack might not be the most impressive when it comes to new models but the cards, especially the captains and Borg upgrades are extremely useful. As always the Borg are ridiculously overpowered and under defended but you can at least face off Federation Borg versus Borg Borg with some level of fairness on the table. I tend to use the Borg more for practice in one player set ups and now there's a decent spread of options to set out.

Playing straight from the box the two missions are a little too samey although they do offer some new gameplay elements with the defence rolls and use of Objective tokens. In the deck there aren't any revolutionary new moves however the inclusion of Locutus outside of the oversize Cube will keep fans happy - perhaps more surprising is the choice to put three high skill captains in one pack. 

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Friday, 1 November 2019

We Are Borg: Faction Pack Part One

Deadlier, stronger and with some new twists, the Borg Faction Pack returns one of Star Trek's greatest foes to Attack Wing.

This time, of course, it's personal with one of the most ferocious line ups of all time - a Scout Cube and a Sphere now joined by a Borged USS Voyager and Assimilated Target Prime, a Borged Galaxy Class starship both of which we'll cover in Part Two.

First up lets tackle the updated Borg Scout Cube 609. Carrying screenshots from I, Borg, the ship packs three dice for attack and defence alongside two hull points and four shield points. Its basic actions are Evade, Scan, Target Lock and Regenerate while the four upgrade slots provide one for each of the available categories - Weapons, Crew, Tech and Borg. Offering some form of defence for the horribly under-defended Borg ships, the Scout Cube can regenerate one shield and one hull point as its Action. 

It can perform this when at Range one and might be a big help to the Sphere as a support craft since it has no dice to roll in defence.   As for speed and movement, the Scout Cube can punch up to speed four along with a reverse pace of three. As with all Borg ships it can only perform right angle turns at speeds one to four with all moves at four or reverse three incurring an Auxiliary Power Token. Given the size of ship this is pretty impressive maneuverability to be offered up especially from the Borg which already have significant advantages.

Also note that the cost of this ship for your fleet - 22 points is not double the total of the four ship stats. The generic Scout Cube is also a bargain at a mere 17 points offering strong upgrade possibilities sacrificing a Weapon upgrade and a shield point for the price.

In terms of the model, it's a slightly lighter shade of grey than the solus edition we have reviewed previously and carries exactly the same details; no big improvements here and nor are there any changes when it comes to the model of the Sphere - even down to the idiotic way it's been orientated. The Sphere is still 90 degrees incorrectly aligned with the panelling running front to back rather than top to bottom. With a minor adjustment, some filler and a drill you can have the Sphere the right way up in about ten minutes...

Sphere 634 packs a bigger attack loading up six dice on the offensive although there is nothing to counter an assault with zero for defence (so keep the Scout Cube close to hand). 

Additionally, the Sphere bears seven hull and seven shield points so its going to last a little longer than the Scout Cube. It only has built in Actions for Target Lock, Scan and Regenerate which could leave you desperately needing some assistance.   As for cards you can equip up to two Borg, one Weapon, Crew and Equipment upgrades onto the Sphere to make even more of this dangerous ship.

During Combat, Sphere 634 can spend a Target Lock to discard a Scan, Evade or Battle Stations token from an enemy craft within range two, thus depriving it of means of additional defence or attack. I've always felt this is one of the criminally overpowered ships in the game and one that is a hard target to eliminate. Even the generic version losing a Borg upgrade and a shield point barely has an effect on its dominant presence in the game. 

As with the Scout Cube its movements top out at speed four and bottom at reverse three. The left and right turns at speed four and reverse three will lead to an Auxiliary Power Token while forward speeds one, two and three are ranked green. The movement plus high attack make this a difficult option to ignore in a Borg fleet.

The pure named Borg captains in the faction pack are just as hardcore as the two ships. The Borg Queen and Locutus both pack a nine Captain skill with the former costing five points to the latter's four. Looking at the abilities of both it's clear why one is more expensive. Both are set up with nine Drone tokens however the Queen can be any other captain ability in your fleet that requires spending at least one Drone Token. 

That's a bonkers ability giving you the chance to play any Action in your fleet wherever that ship is on the board since it's not range limited. The Borg Queen is also able to field am Elite Ability. Pick wisely...

Then there's Locutus. A much wanted card since he's only appeared in the original Oversize Borg Cube pack in retail stores but don't get too excited for to see his visage. His abilities aren't as useful as the Queen as he only provides the chance to add an extra two Crew slots on your ship and cannot be equipped to a fleet that also has Picard onboard. No faction penalties are caused when equipping Crew upgrades here so it's a good card to let you take full advantage of your collection. Picard will also allow the addition of an Elite Action. Bit of a downer in my opinion and should have had some form of ability to predict movements if the opponent was Federation.

Kathryn Janeway (Borg or Federation faction) starts off with a Captain Skill of eight with a cost to your fleet of five points. Each time an opposing ship within range two performs an Evade, Scan or Battle Station Action, one of the Drone tokens can be used and the opponent ship can be targetted. The Action it performed can then be completed as a freebie and leads to your opponent gaining the joys of an Auxiliary Power Token - so a win, win situation for your team. 

The final captain option is the Operations Drone costing a more affordable/reasonable three points. Initially working with a skill of six, the Drone can target a ship at ranges one or to during the Planning Phase of the game and lumber that craft with an Auxiliary Power Token at the cost of one of its Drone Tokens. 

All of the three would be a good punt to team up with the Borg Queen although my personal choice out of the box would be to link up the Queen and Janeway to nullify any Action effects across the board.

If you've got the Elite Action slot in play then the pack provides three new options to play with. The five point Collective Consciousness is effective between ranges one and three and incurs three Time Tokens to target all Borg captains. The result is pretty hardcore especially if it's coupled with Crosis and/or the Borg Queen/Locutus meaning potentially all your Borg commanders could be punching with a skill of up to nine allowing for some early attacks.

Root Command is our first look at a discard feature in this pack with a cost of four and useful up to range two. Initially it's not the greatest but for the chance to select which one of your ships gets attacked could well extend the life of your fleet - however it will rely on there being another ship in range to use to take the heat off your ailing ship for instance. I can get the use but it's very selective when it could be played - maybe one for those who fancy a good bit of close combat.

Third up is another Elite Action costing four points with Ocular Implants. Offering up the chance to spin out a free Scan Action when you perform Target Lock it's one that can be played every single round and if you can twin it with a Target Lock Action this could being a nice series of combos.

Crew slots on your ships can be filled up with five possibles - Three of Nine and Tuvok cost five points a piece with Crosis and B'Elanna Torres costing three points and finally Seven of Nine costing two. 

Three of Nine Is well worth purchasing for your vessel as his ability means the Regeneration function will repair a Hull and a Shield point at the same time plus there's no loss of attack from using the Action and it's neither a discard or a disable. For five points you can't do any wrong with this card as it'll certainly provide lasing benefits for any Borg ship especially those with zero natural defence ability - we're looking at you Borg Sphere.

Tuvok can be equipped either as a Federation character or a Borg crewmember. During the modifying of your attack dice step of an attack you can use the assimiliated Vulcan to spend a Drone token from your captain stopping the opponent from rerolling any dice and if the attacking ship carries any Federation Weapon upgrades it will flip a Damage or Critical Damage result over to a blank. Wow - Tuvok is rather useful and moreso to the Borg than the Federation in faction pure situations.Utilising the Drone tokens does mean this becomes a multiple use card over, potentially, consecutive rounds to beat down heavy attacks from Battle Station use in particular.

With Crosis, this character pumps your Captain Skill up by a point (useful if you have an opponent throwing another nine out there) but also means that a Borg Captain can go up three skill points which can make this a very cost effective addition to your fleet. The extra benefit with Crosis is that he can take over as captain if your ship's commander is discarded and starts out with a skill of five.

Certainly a good and multi-use card in this but B'Elanna can operate as either Federation or Borg. Not too hot an option initially but consider this - she'll let you add a Borg Tech slot to your ship and for each unused slot it'll cost a point less. Now here's a thing - if you're playing faction pure this is a non-starter since Borg upgrades are always Borg faction. B'Elanna is one of those specific use cards if you're chucking in anything to make the perfect combos but will be of more benefit on a Borg pure ship to reduce your outgoings.

The surprisingly low priced Seven of Nine is cheap for a reason - she adds a Borg Tech upgrade to your bar and reduces the cost of all your Borg upgrades by a point.... and that's it. Very direct use but really one that you'll be leaving in the pack unless you're really, really really desperate to fill a slot.

In the second part of the Borg Faction Pack review we will be taking a look at the two new starships plus the Weapon, Borg and Tech upgrades...

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Sunday, 27 October 2019

Pitch Black: The Official Starships Collection Issues 160 and 161

Stepping out of Enterprise is this time's first Starships Collection edition; the Sarajevo Class.

A striking delta design, the swept form of the Sarajevo Class is a silver arrowhead with a rack of stunning detail on the surface. The metal upper section not only has a two tone metallic finish highlighting the panelling (and it's not symmetrical) but there are differences in surface texture from smooth to ridged to grilled which gives this craft a very tactile impression.

Eaglemoss have done a sterling job of capturing this early Earth ship from all angles with the larger scale here allowing for more depth and bizarrely better window alignment across the sides of the craft. This is very much about the bold thrusting shape and the panels are well defined with the metallic finish managing not to detract from the undulations in the Sarajevo Class hull.

Decals are kept to an absolute minimum on the ship with the topside adorned by just two small "NC-27" registries either side of the central island. The middle part of the ship draws the eye back to the structure and it's here that there are a couple of uncomfortable details. 

The pod-like centrepiece is plastic and glued on to the hull, continuing the two tone silver paintwork all the way to the top.The smaller detail here - especially the docking port right at the back on the top piece is a welcome surprise. However, the window ports here - encompassing the front of the two upper pods are poorly painted in with the white seemingly flaking away at several points. I'm hoping mine is the exception rather than the rule as it's the biggest negative about the finish. 

Perhaps the most noticable feature of the Sarajevo Class are its in-board warp engines. Fixed at the very edge of the ship, the bussard collectors curve almost fully to the contour of the hull and are separated into two pieces cleanly by the hull. Given that the split of metal to plastic happens right where these translucent pieces slot in means access to set them is easy with a great final effect. 

To the rear the electric blue exhausts strike out from the hull again nicely curved to the lines of the ship. Either side of them are four little decalled grilles - an unusual addition even with this larger scale in play. 

Underneath it's a familiar story with the grilles and silver paintwork continuing on every possible surface, The toned scheme covers the whole hull and again, holy hell, the windows are actually aligned to the recessed holes. It truly is a miracle and one one we've had to wait many moons to see...but it's well worth it.

At the centre is a smaller, less protruding structure than the one topside. With more of that tactile grille-work, it's topped by a white opaque dome - and for a second time there are signs of chipped and thin paintwork which definitely 100% detracts from the otherwise brilliant qualities of the Sarajevo Class. 

While I might have been pushed to remember it initially, the work - as expected from Enterprise is second to none and the CG once again proves that it provides a better result and a more complete replica since all 360 degrees were created. The surface textures and variations on this one really stand out and it's a fine recreation from the seldom seen Earth ship.

As to stand positioning, this one's in a firm grip with the plastic holder grasping the rear end rather firmly top and bottom. It's not getting out of there in a hurry.

Detailing the role of the Sarajevo Class, the issue 160 magazine offers up a series of facts and figures around the role of the ship type plus what role it played within the four seasons of Enterprise turning up on more than a couple of occasions in a supporting role. 

We get to see the design path of the starship from creator John Eaves over a double spread which explains it's form and why the upper sections were conceived as such. Finally there's a decent read on the best season of the prequel series which touches on the work Manny Coto did for Enterprise with mentions going to the story arcs that were developed as well as the trip to the Mirror Universe, the arrival of the creator of the transporter and that finale. 

Now, we go to a distinct opposite with the rather fugly Void Ship from Voyager's fifth season opener Night.

I don't quite know what to make of this one since it's one of the most unusual vessels to grace the collection and the franchise. Flying on a vertical axis rather than the more horizontal plane we would see in a Federation starship, the Void Ship has a somewhat organic feel.

The more lumpy than usual surface unfolds in a hue of purples from top to bottom with a series of impressive recesses cut into the surface and coloured light blue against the dark hull. These features are probably more impressive when seen against the starless "Night" sky if you will although in Eaglemoss' replica it does miss out on having a more luminescent quality to these parts.  What's also a little odd here is the choice to go one half metal, one half plastic vertically meaning one side of the ship has that distinct colder feel to the other when your brain is expecting them to feel the same and it to be the "stick on" parts which will be in the lighter material.

At the back of the hammerhead section the only translucent piece slips around either side of the craft and looks rather obviously glued in place. The touch is different with this being a larger, green plastic element however it's not incorporated and more a stick on.

The shape of the ship is reminiscent of both the Alien films and Species 8472 with the curves in shape and coloured recesses - indeed the connecting pieces to the engine unit even look like the neck of an 8472 pilot. 

That rear section is as non-descript as the rest of the ship, with two dipped exhaust ports set back into the rear. At this point it's clear that the vertical joining of the two halves makes sense since it does give each side a smoother flow across the surface which joint lines would ruin. 

As with the Species 8472 bioships, the organic look is more a miss than a hit and struggles to work in replica form. The material itself also suffers from having been in an episode where the nature of the story itself meant we failed to ever get a decent look at it which in turn means that our opinion on it isn't ever going to be fully correct.

It looks unusual and with the more unconventional stand position, it will be one to cause a bit of starship conversation in that there are very few craft within the franchise that have such a distinct silhouette and for which we know so little - and at least it's better than the Malon ship...

Issue 161 tells the story of Night and the part these ships played in the encounter with Voyager and also how they assisted in repelling the Malon who were polluting their natural spatial habitat. 

The magazine finishes out by discussing the fifth and perhaps most bleak year of Voyager's journey home with the mood set right from the very first episode. This article, if brief, does make you question and look back at those 26 episodes n a slightly different and more analytical manner especially when confronted with episodes such as Dark Frontier and the finale, Equinox.

The two ships this month are a step up over recent offenders but we really are mining the bottom of the barrel with some of the choices. All of the big hitters are long gone with these more extreme options being fished out. I personally find a lot of them fascinating one offs that we will never see again but there are some genuine head scratchers or missing ones that still haven't appeared. The Sarajevo Class just nudges ahead on the quality from these two - there's more distinction in the metal work with more precise markings . 


Ok... an unusual extra bit but this week's Destination Star Trek event in the UK has confirmed that not only will the Busts and Graphic Novel collections be coming to an end but that The Official Starships Collection will complete at 180 issues.

Confirmed issues from the event for the collection are:

166. Tamarian Cruiser
167. Axanar Cargo Vessel
168. Suliban Freighter
169. Kes' Shuttle
170. Tsunkatse Arena Ship
171. Denobulan Medical Ship
172. Xindi Insectoid Fighter
173. Arcos Freighter
174. Young Archer's toy starship
175. Pakled Freighter Mondor

On the Bonus Issues we will also receive:

20. USS Conestoga
21. Enterprise Klingon D4 Concept
22. Cardassian Weapons Platform
23. Friendship One
24. USS Reliant Concept
25. USS Enterprise from The Cage

And for Specials...

20. Gold USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
21. Vulcan Long-Range Shuttle
22. T'Plana'Hath

Eaglemoss have confirmed they will be continuing the XL starships with:

Klingon K'Tinga Battle Cruiser
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-J
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D All Good Things... variant

A new line from Star Trek Online will be forthcoming and the Discovery series will continue.

What do you think of the collection coming to a close? Too soon or not soon enough? Any ships we'll miss? What should be issue 180?

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