Monday, 30 March 2020

Gang Mentality: The Kazon in Attack Wing ( Expansion Review)

Not a faction I was too bothered about, the Kazon do have some redeeming features.

Managing to get hold of an early wave Predator Class as well as a Kazon-Nistrum Raider, I now have a bit of a fleet going on and it's a good base to test out some more outlandish ideas I might think up.

The Predator Class was first spied back in Voyager's Caretaker pilot episode eventually succumbing to a suicide run from the Maquis raider commanded by Chakotay. This is the powerhouse and flagship of the Kazon fleet with the Ogla-Razik sect being in control of this vessel. A 26 point cost is on a par with a Sovereign Class starship so that tells you this isn't a ship that will be easy to mess with and its minimal shields and defence are strongly countered by a roasting attack and hull points. You'll be rolling four to strike at your enemy with one to counter while there are three Shield and five Hull points on the sheet.

A standard array of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations fill up the Action bar with two Crew, two Weapon and one Tech slot available to bolster your resources for the upcoming battle. If you're allying yourself with a few Raiders, the Unique Action allows all Kazon ships within a maximum of range two to gain an additional defence die. Theoretically this would mean your Raiders would defend with three dice if you're using the Named versions.

This all looks great on paper initially because the Predator Class can repel attacks as a capital ship and also provide assistance to its smaller associates - but it's a right git to turn with the full right and left moves at speeds two and three requiring the placing of an Auxiliary Power Token when used with banks at speeds one through three and only forward at speed four. The ship does provide the option for a speed one reverse but again you'll be incurring that annoying Auxiliary Power Token to interrupt your Actions.

You'll be fine initially but if there's a need for sharp, evasive moves to get out of fire then this could be difficult and leave you either Actionless or open to assault.

The generic Predator loses a Shield point and a Crew slot as well as the Unique Action and will cost just two points less to purchase for your fleet at 24.

The model to represent the starship is a chunky piece and also, thanks to the news that the Official Starships Collection is closing after 180 issues, this is about the only way you'll be seeing it in miniature form. The paintwork is fairly basic with a mustard finish highlighted with brown callouts. The surface detail isn't overly impressive with the ship coming off as a bit of a blob - however if it kicks arse I'm not fussed what it looks like...

There's a standard generic Captain too with a skill of one and a zero cost but players will be wanting to stick either the six skilled Razik or five skilled Jabin onto the base of their ship. Razik does give an "either or" option to disable a Crew upgrade and reroll an attack or defence dice or discard a Crew upgrade and reroll any number of attack or defence dice. Effectively a card that can be reused through the repeated disabling of Crew or as a last chance to go all in.

Jabin is perhaps the better constant though, offering to increase defence by one dice permanently during the game. Certainly with a single dice at the base level this card does step the Predator Class ship up to become a more serious threat that can take some punishment. Two Crew options are available in the expansion with Haliz (four points) and Karden (three points). Haliz can be used to cancel an attack but that will come at the cost of your existing Captain. This Crew member then becomes the captain and gains a skill of three. I'd have him as a backup but if your Captain was Jabin then removing him might put you in a worse place. 

However, Haliz will mean that a combo or large dice attack will be cleared immediately. Karden can be reused through the disable feature and adds two attack dice at the cost of two defence dice for the round in which he is activated. Karden (originally played by the late Aron Eisenberg) is only applicable for a Kazon ship and bear in mind that boosting the aggression may have consequences later. Along with the Crew duo there's a pair of Weapon cards that could come in useful. Photonic Charges operates only at range one and costs four points to put on your ship - but it costs a additional four points if not applied to a Predator Class starship.

Utilising four attack dice, the same as a standard attack, this will not just incur damage but also drop an Auxiliary Power Token onto your opponent as long as there's an uncancelled damage or critical damage result on your dice. This one, as it seems to many of the cards here, offers more than one effect and will slow down the opportunities of your enemy. Particle Beam Weapon steps up your number of attack dice to five and costs four points again. The big benefit here is that not only do you get more punch from the attack but it will work up to range two. This one is even operable front or back and I would put this as an essential weapon for the Predator Class offering a larger firing arc and with the ability to disable and not discard, it again can be reused.

The final upgrade in the box is Tractor Beam. Costing a low two points, this one does rely on certain conditions being met early on in the turn. An enemy ship within range one needs to reveal a maneuver of speed three or higher to which you can then discard this card and reduce that speed by two, effectively placing this enemy firmly in range and you've certainly got a few options available to deal out damage.

First Maje is a bit of an oddity as it doesn't need an upgrade slot to be equipped to a Kazon ship with a Kazon captain. I'd put this as another essential even though there's a significant five point cost to stick this on your ship. The additional Tech slot might not be a big draw but the increase of Captain skill by two will make a difference during the Combat Phase of the round. Potentially this would give you a maximum of eight if you were to use Razik in conjunction with it or seven with Jabin (makes him a bit more attractive an option!). Convolutedly you can end up chucking this card in during the Planning Phase to disable a Tech upgrade on an enemy ship at range one and use it on your own ship. I'm not one for using a lot of Tech upgrades but with the cost and the options already available with it, it could dial down the threat posed to your fleet so choose wisely if you decide to go with it.

The Array mission replays the end of the Caretaker pilot with a 100 point Kazon fleet taking on an 80 point Federation contingent. The aim is for the Kazon defend the defenceless Array and eliminate the opposition while the Federation need to destory the Array and leave the play area with at least one ship in tact. Now that I’ve added the Maquis Raider to the collection it’ll be good to run this as per the episode itself.

Alongside the Predator Class capital ship we have the Nistrum Raider. In a previous review we’ve touched on the Kazon Halik Raider and this one isn’t disimiliar when it comes to the basic stats. For 20 points you’ll get two attack and two defence coupled with three Hull and three Shield points. Basic Actions available are Evade, Target Lock and Battle Stations  so you’ve not got the Scan feature of the larger ship.

The Raider model isn't as contrastingly painted as it's bigger brother opting for the darker brown panelling still with a slightly lighter shade for the base coat. The detailing on here is much better with grid lines and lots of raised elements and even window ports. As a small model it's weird that this one looks much better than the Predator and putting the two side by side just makes the Raider look even more impressive for its size.

As for upgrades, you can snap on up to two Crew, one Weapon and one Tech card.  The Unique Action of the named Raider adds an extra two dice to your attack as long as the target ship has a Scan token in play. That’s very conditional but does offer a huge advantage should the occasion may arise in the game, giving your Raider the same firepower as the Predator Class and also having better defence in place from the off. Even better than that has to be the notion that this isn’t a feature you have to disable or discard and so can be used over and over again!

For 18 points and the loss of a Shield, a Tech upgrade and the Unique Action you can ship out on the generic Raider but at lower prices, those lost features make a big difference.

In comparison to the Predator, the smaller Raider does have more flexible manoeuvrability. I wouldn’t say better as you don’t get any reverse moves although she still provides the full set of turns and banks at speeds two and three. Both the full right and full left turns at speed three incur the Auxiliary Power Token penalty. There’s a bit more green on here at lower speeds to counter the red and the 180 come about at speed three does provide the chance to flip the game around in terms of attack.

As for captains, you might be using Jabin or Razik from the Predator Class since the top skill here is a lowly four for Culluh.

I would have expected him to be higher up the specs but given that the Nistrum were one of the lesser sects it’s understandable that he isn’t head honcho for the Kazon. The small cost of two points might sway you to give him a chance and for the discard of one Crew upgrade you can perform an Action from the Action Bar as a freebie. For half the price and half the skill though, I’m actually more in favour of using Rettik. 

Without a discard or a disable mentioned, this captain will allow you to reroll one blank defence dice each time you defend. Multiple use, fairly flexible and the only drawback is that you need to get a blank result - if needed - to roll again. Perhaps the two Actions here should be swapped with this being the more expensive?

Turning to Crew, the Kazon Raiding Party works in a slightly similar fashion to Tractor Beam on the Predator Class. If you cause at least two points of damage you can discard this upgrade to reduce the damage to one Critical Damage that affects the Hull and ignores Shields plus you can disable and then steal a Tech upgrade from the enemy ship. Five points isn't cheap but the double bonus of an extra upgrade unrestricted by your own loadout and hull damage can't be under appreciated.

Classed as a Kazon Crew upgrade (and not a Cardassian one?), the four point Seska allows you to target a ship at ranges two or three and the disable one of their Crew. It's not spectacular BUT you can even use this on a ship that's cloaked which is a good bonus. Seska herself is also disabled meaning this can be used again and again on multiple Crew/ships.

Finally there's Tierna whom you might recall was the Kazon who "self-destructed" and kicked off the Nistrum assault on Voyager in Basics. For three points Tierna is in keeping with his onscreen persona as he is discarded to roll two attack dice as an Action against an uncloaked and unshielded target who in turn doesn't defend. Tierna's ship itself cannot be cloaked and its Shields must be deactivated to work the Action. This does leave you open to direct Hull attack so realistically is this something as a final act of the game?

Photonic Charges offers an attack of three (same as the base Raider score) but what makes this a better choice than just blasting with your primary weapon? 

Operating at ranges one and two, this card gets disabled and drops an Auxiliary Power Token onto your opponent's ship should there be at least one uncancelled Damage or Critical Damage result. Honestly here I'd not bother with this one due to a three point cost for something that depends on a damn fine bit of dice rolling that you have to commit to before you roll!

The solo Tech upgrade comes as Masking Circuitry for three points. It's one I would immediately add on to any Kazon ship, perhaps more so the Predator than the Raider since it gives the ability to Cloak and while cloaked perform the Sensor Echo move. Three points is an absolute steal for this massive advantage even if it does incur the dreaded Auxilary Power Token. If equipped to anything other than a Kazon ship though it will incur a five point penalty - but if you're clever you'll have a ship with the ability to steal Tech...enough said!

To the mission and you'll be utilising the Kazon Raiding Party to steal Tech from your opponent and then leave the play area. Alternatively you can just obliterate your enemies and still win. For the opponent, they need to destroy the Kazon ships and manage to retain at least one Tech upgrade between them or it's counted as a loss.

The Kazon faction might now be able to be included within the Independents yet even as their own group, there are some cool options and abilities going on. I can see this working well as the Predator Class flanked by the two Raiders picking off Tech upgrades and Crew left, right and centre. Movement isn't the winner here, it's tactical planning of wearing down your opponent and giving them less things to play with before dealing a killer blow that they can't defend. If there's a faction I might have totally underestimated, this might well be it.

Have you used the Kazon? What are their big advantages in the game? Is there a more underappreciated or underestimated faction around?

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