Sunday, 8 September 2019

Can't Keep Her Down: Attack Wing's USS Equinox

Once the toast of many a Federation fleet, the USS Equinox expansion for Attack Wing isn’t getting as much love these days.

Launched as part of Wave Three (there are now 31 plus a ton of card expansions, unpainted miniatures, faction packs...), you can see how subsequent ships and sets will have built on the learnings from these early phases to advance Attack Wing over the years.

As someone who came to the game midway through the launch of the expansion waves (15) I missed out on some of the earlier ones and I am now finally tracking down a few that were on my hit list.

It's definitely been a gruelling challenge to do so with the early ships now scarce and prices for them proving to be near what it would cost to build the real thing. Lucky there was an Equinox going for original retail price at the end of a long search!

As it goes, the model for this starship - originally seen in Voyager's fifth and sixth season cliffhanger - is one of the best especially when you consider the quality that the game was launched with. The light blue hull colouring sets off the contrast against the well-detailed sensor emplacements, phaser strips and lifeboat hatches to a point where you wonder how the hell the game fell off such a cliff face when it came to the quality of its products at some times in the game's lifespan.

Even the warp engines have some sensational colouring when it comes to the bussard collections and warp grilles, even down to the Starfleet pennants streaking across the top of the nacelles. It's a lovely little piece of work from all angles and Wizkids have done a stunning job of translating the original into such a small piece of plastic. My god, they even included the RCS thrusters and painted in the impulse engine...take note Eaglemoss...take note.

That said, her stats are a tad on the underwhelming side, meaning you can add this ship into your fleet for a measly 20 point cost. This named Nova Class vessel attacks with two dice, defends with two and has three shield and hull points. The Action bar carries the standard Federation setup of Evade, Target Lock, Battle Stations and Scan plus slots to include up to two Crew, one Tech and one Weapon upgrade. 

What is great about the Equinox is its Unique Action and you can see here why she was so popular "back in the day". By disabling an Active Shield in the End Phase you can repair all of your damaged shields thus keeping her in the game for a fair while. 

The generic version drops one of the Shield points as well as a Crew upgrade to cost 18 points and loses that key Unique Action which turns it straight into cannon fodder for a decently powered mid-20 pointer or above. Nor is the Equinox the speediest of starships. As a science vessel her pace wouldn't have been required so she'll push a forward four tops with full sets of bank and hard turns at speeds two and three. The three speed hard turns as well as the one speed reverse will incur the pains of an auxiliary power token but that can be eliminated by subsequently playing a forward two or a one forward or bank as all four are green. Certainly the range of movements is good to help stay out of trouble but if she's in the thick of it then there's probably no quick way out. 

Rudolph Ransom heads up the Captain selection for the Equinox with a skill set of four and a cost of two. We know that Ransom wasn't a military commander and Janeway explains he was a scientist and it's fairly reflected in his ability. It also comes across in his own Action. Ransom will add two defence dice to your roll if there's an Evade in play which would mean this ship could defend with four dice. Effectively with Ransom and the Unique Action in play you could be going longer than the Duracell Bunny.

Maxwell Burke, Ransom's exec is the second named Captain and costs one point. His skill is equally low at just two and Burke is a polar opposite to his captain allowing you to discard him to add in two attack dice for the round. Question is, if you discard him...who's in command?

USS Equinox comes with three Crew choices as per the named officers in the TV story - Noah Lessing, Marla Gilmore and the Emergency Medical Hologram. 

All three cost two points so this is a very inexpensive set of upgrades right out of the box. Lessing can be disabled alongside a Tech upgrade to target a ship in range one or two and then deactivate a Shield. Reactivating will take up an Action in a subsequent turn while guaranteeing a "hit". Does seem a lot of resources to use to complete so not one for me I'm afraid. 

Gilmore is a little more complex. Her Action allows you to disable all your shields and target a ship within ranges one or two with no active shields. Again it requires both this card and a Tech upgrade to be disabled but this time the latter is on the opponent's craft. The brilliant twist is not only do you stop that card being used by the enemy ship but it can then be used as a Free Action by your ship that round. For two points this is a solid winner of a card that can keep on giving since it's only disabled. It's quite conditional and I would expect this to used fairly late in the game to close out a big hitting ship.

The EMH card however might well come in handy with your Navigational Deflector as that has an option to be disabled and not just discarded. 

Navigational Deflector (five point cost) is another of the big wins for the Equinox and adds to its legacy as one hell of a hard ship to eliminate since you can discard this card to cancel out a Damage result. If the damage is caused by a minefield or an obstacle then it can be disabled (this is where the EMH could be used) so you can roll in defence against this attack. Combining with the EMH or with Lessing will open up your options with the Equinox and extend it's lifetime even more . I wouldn't be shocked if it might be the last survivor in many cases!

Last upgrade is the ever present Photon Torpedoes (five point cost) and being from the earlier waves you still need to spend a Target Lock and also disable the card to perform the attack.  You get to convert a Battlestation over to a Critical Damage and point it, as usual, either fore or aft. It will up an Equinox offensive up to five dice from the standard two plus it works at ranges two and three. 

The included mission, Under Attack takes its lead from the Equinox two-parter with the inclusion of the neucleogenic lifeforms Ransom and his crew were experimenting on. It does evolve into a 40 point versus 40 point battle however each round both ships will lose either a Crew upgrade or suffer a damage point. This will certainly even the odds and determine the ultimate length of this fight. It's a basic ship to ship combat mission although there's the risk that it might not be your opponent that takes you out first but the lifeforms you have been testing...

USS Equinox is an "oldie" but a goodie. One of the more defensive packs on the market, the starship is nimble, small and regenerative. No big weapon options aside from the Photon Torpedoes card but that's not necessarily the way to win the game. The Nova Class here shows the chance to spin your tactics to play a long game and wear your opponent down, possibly from behind the lines and your larger ships. I've been using her in conjunction with the Enterprise-E and the Defiant mainly supporting the larger Sovereign Class and her apparent lack of threat seems to work a dream against the Klingons - at least so far!

USS Equinox might be available somewhere but I'd take a good look around first - prices certainly vary!!!

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