Saturday, 27 July 2019

Cards are Dealt: Hirogen and Borg Attack Wing Expansion Packs

At the same time that the Federation Attack Fighter pack arrived, there were another two card expansions waiting in the wings.

Providing a new slant on the Hirogen Hunting Vessel, this Independent faction card set includes not just the cards but the tokens to supplement your Attack Wing game - just make sure you have a Hirogen ship before using since this pack doesn't include the movement dial or card (nor the ship or stand for that matter). 

Totalling a cost of 22 points, the vessel attacks with four, defends with two and carries a hull value of three and raises four shield points. The additional slots here are well-mixed with two for Tech, two for Weapons and one for crew - which sort of makes sense since Hirogen vessels usually only had a commander and one other on board; nice touch Wizkids if that was intentional.

The Action bar has the standard Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations features available while the unique action works when the ship doesn't succeed in an attack. Effectively it's something for nothing with the defending ship being Target Locked and the attacking Hirogen craft receiving a Battle Station token. Good move which means even the worst turn could end up with a positive result.

The generic version of the ship loses one shield point and a Weapon upgrade as well as the Unique Action for a cost of 18 points - still a decent ship even with some teeth removed.

Captaining this new vessel offers two alternatives with the Hirogen Hunter costing more (four points) and packing a skill of five. A reusable card, it allows Tractor Beam to be used as a Free Action as long as it is equipped to the same ship. The Hunter also has the option to add on an Elite Action. Surprisingly Idrin, the named captain, costs only two points with a skill of three. During the Activation Phase Idrin can be Time Tokened to remove disabled or Time tokens from either Tech or Weapon upgrades attached to the same ship. He too can add on an Elite Action of which there are two included with this card expansion.

Beta Hirogen kicks off the two new Crew cards. Costing three points he's worth the punt given that he increases the Captain Skill by one and doubles up on Scan tokens whenever one is played on the ship he's equipped to. I really like this one due to its double use and benefit to the overall playability of the ship - especially if you're fielding Karr from the Alpha Hunter pack.

Donik, a character from Flesh and Blood, is also damn useful as he stops any upgrades fired from a Secondary Weapon arc having any effect on your ship. This is a MUST to equip and rules out being hung out to dry with torpedo attacks launched from the backs of many a ship. His cost of just two points for such a huge blocking move is a steal - I'd have doubled the price for this one.

Ok. We mentioned earlier the Tractor Beam card and now let's get to it. It's one of the two Tech upgrades provided in this expansion and costs a rather appetising three points to equip. Activated in the Action stage of the round, Tractor Beam has the bizarre ability to swap the green and red maneuvers meaning that green moves would incur an auxiliary power token while the red ones won't. Active at ranges one and two this could well slow down potential prey and leave them in range for that one further turn. 

Stealth Mode (three points) allows your vessel to perform a Sensor Echo move even if not cloaked at the cost of two Time Tokens. A nice defensive move for a pack which is very offensive in it's nature and does allow the player a chance to regroup if necessary.

Talking of offensive capabilities it's perhaps a shock to find that there is only one Weapon upgrade included with this card expansion. Subnucleonic Beams costs three points and operates at ranges one and two. Acting with the same four dice as the Primary Weapon in the pack, it lets you fire and then disable as many Crew upgrades on the opponent's vessel as there are uncancelled Damage or Critical Damage icons. A double hitter here that could take out some potential big guns and clever combos. It will incur two Time Tokens however which limits its activity during the game.

Optronic Data Core functions as either a Weapon or a Tech upgrade (hence the question mark emblem) and can be used as a free Action at the cost of three Time Tokens OR it can be disabled to remove a disabled token from another "?" card attached to the ship. Now, I wouldn't think that second one will happen very often so you're probably not going to be using this card very often!

Closing out the set we have two Elite Actions. The first, the three point The Lone Hunt, is active at ranges one and two but only if there are no other friendly vessels within that zone. It's notably neither disabled or discarded and so can be reused over and over giving your ship an additional die in attack - and I always have a fear of five dice rolling ships which could make this one more than a handful given the other useful upgrades included here.

Last up is the four point Relics which can only be attached to Karr or a Hirogen Captain (isn't that the same thing?) and has two stages to its use. The first part sees you drop a Mission Token onto the card for each time you make a successful attack (once per round) up to a maximum of three tokens. These can then be spent during the Activation Phase to perform a free Action from the ship's Action bar. Fairly useful but not quite as dynamic as the other features in the pack and I'd pick The Lone Hunt over this one every day of the week.

With no Mission cards in this pack we can jump straight across to the other card expansion pack - Queen Vessel Prime aka the Borg Octahedron. As part of the Borg faction this is one of those ships that you love to play given its firepower and capabilities but is an absolute b*****d to take on because of those exact same reasons. This pack will only solidify your thoughts further.

Carrying a six Attack, zero Defence (and why would you need that...), eight Hull and seven Shield points, the diamond ship costs a stinging 42 points with slots for two Borg, one Tech, one Weapon and two Crew. Standard Actions for the Borg are Target Lock, Scan and the ever popular Regenerate. If all that's not enough, the unique Action for the pack means that this one could well be virtually unstoppable since the End Phase of each round can see you add a Drone token to the Captain. Now, stupidly that doesn't specify up to the starting amount...? Could you go over?

The generic version of the Octahedron loses that vague unique action plus a Shield point and a Crew upgrade slot to rock in at a 38 point cost. 

The Tactical Drone starts out with a Captain skill of six and if there's an enemy ship within ranges one or two during Combat then spending a Drone token will allow you to add a Battle Stations token to your vessel and therefore give you a smidgen of defensive possibilities. While this is a good card the lack of defence overall for the Borg is a significant challenge so always go in prepared - even if it costs!

First costs four points to the Tactical Drone's three and starts out with the same six Captain skill as dictated through the number of Drone tokens assigned to it. His functionality is much more attractive, allowing you to spend a Drone to remove two Time tokens or one disabled token from any upgrades on the ship - this will have you back up and running at full tilt almost every round.

This pack offers up four Crew upgrades which are a mixed bunch to say the least. Neonatal Borg adds a further Crew slot to the ship and also lets you fill Tech or Borg slots with Crew. For a two point cost it does provide a lot of flexibility on a Borg ship so you can pick out the very best opportunities. Mezoti (also two points cost) nullifies the effect of a Crew upgrade being used against the Borg ship and is discarded once it's been effectively deployed. As a suckerpunch to the enemy ship the Crew upgrade used in the round is then disabled and its effects cancelled out. Having this ability in your stack will definitely improve the longevity of your time in the game and is another sterling defensive move to have available.

One and Second both cost four points to get aboard your vessel. The futuristic One from Drone is discarded after use and causes Shields to be disabled rather than destroyed for each hit. No shields however and it's pointless to use as there is no effect. Another chance to add some defensive options to the Borg fleet. I'd be more tempted to stick this on the Sphere or the Tactical Cube where there are a higher Shield totals and give yourself even more time to make the killer blow.

Second is a costly card and that's being easy on it. For four points you get to perform a free Action, drop four Drone Tokens onto this card and remove the existing Captain. Second then becomes the Captain. For the chance to use a free Action this comes across as massively OTT but then you think about it - if you've used up all or most of the Drone Tokens off the existing Captain, this gives you another four goes so y'know what - it IS worth the risk!

Only one additional Weapon upgrade in this set and trust me, with six in Attack you don't need much more. Tractor Beam (not the same as the Hirogen one) fires at ranges one and two with the same number of dice as the ship's Primary Weapon. For the whopping five point cost you expect fireworks and this does deliver - to a degree - and there is more risk and gambling than actual certainty since it switches Critical Damage hits into the ability to steal Tech or Crew upgrades from the opponent regardless of defensive status. 

It's a big cost and quite a chance to take although there's no stipulation of when you can play this card either before or after your roll to attack. Nor does it specify if you equip the stolen upgrades to your ship even if they exceed the points limit you may have imposed. Little bit vague again from Wizkids and this certainly needs a little clarification going forward.

There's also a singular Tech upgrade slipped in here in the form of Technological Analysis for four points. Active at all weapon ranges it leads you to discard a Drone token to then remove a Battle Stations, Evade, Scan or Target Lock from the target opposing ship. Useful if only to take the punch out of your opponent’s attack or render them a little more susceptible to retaliation. 

Last up is the solo Borg upgrade; Threat Analysis. Costing a minimal one point, this allows you to disable this card with two Time Tokens to be able to play Battle Stations. What’s the great thing? Well the Borg ship here can’t play this for its Action bar so this provides both an offensive and defensive advantage particularly if things aren’t going too well. 

The Elite Action included costs two points and is entitled Neural Transponder. This card seems to be an enforced Action as whenever a Battle Station, Evade, Scan our Auxiliary Power Token is played then the card is discarded and any  friendly ship at ranges one or two receives the same token as long as one isn’t already there. It’s a bit wishy-washy as an upgrade so you can use your points more wisely elsewhere. It’s likely to be the weakest card in the pack where there are much stronger cards for a slightly higher price. 

The Borg pack seems to be very average in the style and type of upgrades included for your already overpowered fleet. The Hirogen pack is one of my favourite expansions, possibly one of the best packs in the game. There's lots of new spins on gameplay in here and gambles to select just the right upgrades to make the most effective ship. This has made me want to get hold of more of these card packs as there seems to have been a bit of thought outside of the Attack Wing box that we haven't seen since initial launch. Definite thumbs up for these and fingers crossed there are more in the near future - but let's see those Borg and Animated Series packs first please...

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