Saturday, 21 November 2020

Other Side of the Mirror: Retro Review of Attack Wing's ISS Defiant and Regent's Flagship

While we still await the news that Alliances is finally getting a confirmed release date, there's probably a final chance to grab the smatterings of expansions packs still left on dusty game shop shelves to complete your Attack Wing collection.

Now a few/several/many years old, I managed to secure three expansions for just over a tenner including the ISS Defiant and the Regent's Flagship, both featured in Deep Space Nine's Shattered Mirror.

In sealed condition they were a steal and while a couple of the pack models are repeats of previous editions, it's more about the cards than anything else. Indeed, the Defiant model is a straight reuse of the USS Defiant from Wave Zero and the Regent's Flagship is nothing more than a rebox of the Negh'Var (check out those reviews for details on the models themselves).

The ISS Defiant statistically isn't a straight copy of the Prime version either, running four attack, two defence, three hull and three shield versus the original's three attack, two defence, three hull and four shield noting a more aggressive stance on the flipside.

Still costing 24 points, the warship carries two Weapon and two Crew slots plus the obligatory Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations but there's no sign of a cloak in the box - that's reserved for the other Defiant. If it does suffer damage however you can place an auxiliary power token beside the ship to reduce the damage by one - could end up with a stream of these by the end of the game! As for movement, it's a carbon copy of that original pack so take note of the 180 red turn at speed three. 

The generic Defiant Class Mirror Universe Starship loses one Shield point, one Crew slot and the Unique Action but still inexplicably costs 24 points...surely it should be 22?

Aboard her as your Captain options we have Miles O'Brien with a skill of five and cost of three or Benjamin Sisko costing two points with a skill of four. This might seem the wrong way round but O'Brien outlasted Sisko by a country mile in the show so he's the more skillful of the two. Both Captain options have the slot to add an Elite Action of which there are two included in the set.

O’Brien adds an upgrade slot to his assigned ship and as an Action he can repair one Hull or one Shield thus extending the lifetime of your vessel. Sisko is a little more complex and bizarrely the cheaper option, allowing you to discard up to two upgrades from your ship during Roll Attack Dice to gain an extra attack die for each card removed from play. The option to go offensive or defensive in your choice of captain is a sound choice but I would probably take Sisko just to up the aggression!

The ISS Defiant also comes with an absurdly large number of Crew options ranging in cost from two points up to four. Most expensive is Ezri Tigan (four) who allows you to target a ship within range three and steal a Tech upgrade as long as it costs less than five points. It’s immediately attached to your ship even if it goes over your restrictions however it will need to be re-enabled as an Action before you can utilise it in the game. Three point Jennifer Sisko adds a Tech upgrade slot (if you have the points) and works right off the bat. If you want to really nark off an opponent this is the card to use - target an enemy ship and immediately disable two of their upgrades (any upgrades). One that might work to your advantage if you keep that hostile busy enough but you'll need to be quick and make it count.

Jadzia Dax (two points) can be discarded to reduce hull damage by a point, potentially only giving you a fragile last gasp attempt to survive. Bit of a meh card and you're better spending those two on Julian Bashir who draws the attack of a ship within range three and forces that craft to roll two less attack dice. I like this move and for the cost (although a discard), I think it's a more effective use of Crew than the Dax card.

The final two point Crew card is Rom. For the cost he's definitely useable especially since his ability to disable two Tech upgrades on a ship within maximum range can be used even if the ship is cloaked. Not too many of those abilities out there so always a good chance to snap one up if you can if you're taking on Klingons or Romulans!

ISS Defiant also comes with two Weapon choices with Quantum Torpedoes and the Aft Phaser Emitter. The former costs six points to add to your ship but isn't limited to the Defiant Class. Operable at ranges two and three, the torpedoes require the spending of a Target Lock and for the card itself to be disabled but do unleash a massive five attack dice AND add a further Damage result to your roll. It's a massive card to utilise making the Mirror Defiant a serious force - perhaps even against its own Prime version! 

Aft Phaser Emitter is a bit of a let down after that but the cost of one point tells you that before you even read the script. While both it and the Torpedoes can be fired from your rear arc, this one only hits with three attack dice but does cover ranges one, two and three making it at least effective if you've swept past an opponent and want to ensure you're inflicted the maximum damage possible. Tragically it does need disabling which, for the cost and firepower is somewhat measly.

But the Defiant pack keeps on giving with its curveball options. The sole Tech upgrade, Multi-Targeting Phaser Banks is deliciously good since you can disable the card and acquire a SECOND target lock on a different ship within your maximum firing range. The cost of five points is steep but given the chance to mark two enemy craft does allow for more chances at maximum damage infliction.

Closing out the card additions we have a duo of Elite Actions which, if you're playing only with this expansion, can be equipped to both O'Brien and Sisko. Rebellion (five points) works against those larger opponents with greater Hull Values. In this case you can discard the card and force that ship to attack with two less dice and once that has been defended you then gain a free attack on that self same craft. It's blinding move that gives in two ways, defending your hull and shields from destruction while giving the neat chance to pop off a shot in retaliation.

Strafing Run (five points) does something along similar lines as long as you've performed a move with at least a speed of three. This time though you can strike at a ship in maximum range but it can't be in your forward firing arc. It comes into play as an Action rather than in the battling section of the round and will hit out with four attack dice. It's a one time only of course given its immense power in the game.

The included mission, Sabotage, sees the Defiant taking on a larger opposition craft but don't fear because Mission Tokens will reduce the effectiveness of that vessel to begin with and disable all of the upgrades assigned, uses two less attack dice and can only move at speed two maximum. As you would expect, these assists do reduce as the game progresses so be quick to take advantage!

Leading the fight for the opposition is the massive Regent's Flagship, more recognisable as the Negh'Var in the Prime Universe. A large 32 point cost awaits you on this one with three Crew, one Weapon and one Tech slot open for you to customise.

The Flagship boasts five dice for attack but runs foul of a single die for defence, has a high Hull score at seven but woeful Shields for three. As stats go it's very uneven but displays the more aggressive nature of the Mirror Universe perfectly. The Unique Action is also another good one, making the Mirror Universe a great faction option. Here you can hit two ships at range one with four attack dice with your Primary Weapon. It's unquestionably encouraging some close quarters combat but would you want to take the risk of incurring six Critical Damage cards?

As for moves, well you can top out at a max of five forward, take full right and left turns at speeds three and two (but they are red!) and bank at that level with green options at forwards one and two and banks at one. Should get you where you need to go nicely especially combined with its near suicidal Unique Action.

The generic Mirror Universe Starship retains the Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Station Actions of its named counterpart but loses the Unique Action, a Crew slot and a Shield for 30 points.

The captain choices shouldn't be a shock but I would have expected Worf's skill to be the four and Kira Nerys to be the three rather than vice versa. Both cost the same (two points) and can equip an Elite Action if required.

Kira stops an Action performed by an opponent’s ship at ranges ones or two being activated and also blocks that ship from crossing to do something else instead. It only disables however so if the card would have been discarded, your enemy still has the opportunity to reactivate it and use it in another round. Probably slightly infuriating as you’d hope that it would be gone and buried but you can’t have everything I suppose. 

Worf is just as aggressive as you would hope, offering his Action to another friendly ship within range two and provides that craft with a free attack from its primary weapon as well as its standard attack that round. It’s one of those annoying conditional cards though so your chosen ship will need to have a hull value less than 3 and the ship from which this Action is played will incur an Auxiliary Power Token - but if you’re in the right place at the right time this could offer the double hit to win the game.

Filling out your Deep Space Nine set of Mirror Universe reprobates, we have another four Crew lining up to man your starships.

Three point Odo might have only lasted Crossover before Bashir shot him but here he lets you use a disabled Crew upgrade’s Action but then that card has to be discarded. There’s no condition for Odo to have to follow either which means you can keep playing this one as  any times as you require in the game.

Elim Garak is also a three point card, and his significance in the Mirror Universe is recognised since when he is assigned to a ship he increases the Captain’s Skill by a further two points. Doubly busy, Elim Garak lets you disable the Captain card on the  vessel to which he is assigned to add an attack die to your roll. Mixed feelings on this one because it could mean you’re moving earlier in the round and firing later which isn’t necessarily a useful thing as later movements mean you get a better handle on where ships are likely to land.

Given more points cost than he deserves is another one-episodes, Bareil Antos. Now even in the Prime Universe I found him unbearable so  more evil and twisted version was always going to grind my gears. The card is the same with two points for the cost being double what I would have expected. 

Lastly there’s one point Brunt. Simply he slows a ship down by putting an Auxiliary Power Token into the start of the End Phase. Another feature to help mess up your opponent's best laid plans plus for a discard to cost only a single point it's not too much of a hit to the wallet.

For weapons on such a big ship it's a surprise to find only Photon Torpedoes. It;'s the older style too with the card disabled (rather than the later Time Tokens) as well as the spending of a Target Lock. Offering a five attack from the forward or rear firing arcs of the ship, this upgrade operates at ranges two and three but there is an additional benefit to the Negh'Var Class in that if used on that type of vessel then you can up those dice to six.

Two Tech options offer up a Tractor Beam (three points) and Cloaking Device (four points). The second of those had to be expected and is disabled to activate and is used instead of an Action. It does then enable the Sensor Echo feature and is designed to be used on the Negh'Var Class with any others needing to spend an additional five points. Tractor Beam only hits ships within range one and does so with two attack dice as an Action. Now, knowing how I tend to play, this kind of close combat option would probably suit since I like to get in amongst the opposition fleet and for every Damage or Critical Damage rolled it means they will end up with an Auxiliary Power Token per result. In turn this then either forces a long term slow-down or the choice to abandon the use of Actions.

Offsetting the lack of Weapons we do have three Elite Actions. The lengthily titled I Will Deal With Them Myself (card just fits that...)  for five points is an expensive discard (aren't they all) to disable up to two Crew upgrades to roll an additional die for each one. As usual I'm not a fan of expensive discards unless they pump out a ton of damage so this one will be sunk to the back of the queue.

Three points might be more wisely used on Make It So! or two on Intendent's Orders but neither has me totally convinced here. The first is a discard to disable a Crew upgrade to in turn perform a Free Action which seems overly longwinded and surely you could just make sure you pick decent cards for your fleet before the game so you don't need this kind of ability.

Intendent's Orders does however save you a bit of time, letting you disable it in order to unlock two other disabled Crew cards. Certainly one to open up your options again but less than spectacular for an Elite Action. 

Maintaining its links to the darker parallel Universe, the mission here is Shattered Mirror which sees the rebel ships (including a Defiant Class) take on the Negh'Var with two escort vessels. Cleverly there's a targeting error on the Alliance ships which means that after a Rebel ship moves with a speed of two or more it performs a Sensor Echo move as a freebie even if not cloaked. Otherwise this is a straight-up fight to the finish - will the Alliance make it to Terek Nor or will the Rebels repel the attack???

Follow all our other game reviews including multiple expansions for Attack Wing HERE

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