Saturday, 27 February 2016

WeWantWorf? Apparently CBS might Want Kurn

Still ten months away but here's our first hint of what might be.

Veteran Star Trek actor and Candyman Tony Todd is rumoured to have made the short list for the series. What exactly the role he's up for could be is just as much a mystery as the rest of the show however just this one trickle of possible info does indicate that the wheels are in motion and this really isn't some massive 50th anniversary prank.

Todd's, who has also worked on series such as Babylon 5 and 24, has an association with Star Trek that crosses three series starting back in 1989 with his first of four episodic appearances as Worf's brother Kurn in Sins of the Father followed by the two part Redemption and later Sons of Mogh over on Deep Space Nine.  In addition Todd played a Hirogen Alpha Hunter in the Voyager story Prey and the role of Older Jake in one of Deep Space Nine's finest,  The Visitor.

It is odd that with Bryan Fuller on board we're now starting to see other 'familiar'  Star Trek names being bounced around. I'm still not thrilled with that Angela Bassett rumour that appeared the other week but I suppose the Rumour Mill is only just powering up and who is to say that Tony Todd will make it onto the show at all. Heck, if he's on the short list just imagine who else might be...

The history of Star Trek is littered with rumours and casting possibilities - remember that Wesley Snipes was on the list for The Next Generation and Nigel Havers could have been the captain of Voyager. Todd is a big name to have associated with the show even at such an early stage but my thoughts go in two directions here. One is that having such a big, recognised name is sure to draw the publicity and news lines to keep the show in the limelight. Todd would need to be one of the main characters for it to be worth his while even mentioning the fact and I can't see Fuller and co relegating him to a second player. Saying that he could just be in the pilot and we might never see him again...I'm thinking even Game of Thrones/Walking Dead kill off potential early on.

However, is having a big name associated such a good thing? Look at the reboot movies which went for fairly "unknowns" for the crew. Ditto with Deep Space Nine and Voyager - would it be better to get some fresh faces in there to kick it off as I don't think it's going to require a major player to draw attention.

Alongside that news, showrunner Bryan Fuller yesterday announced that Star Trek II director Nicholas Meyer will be joining the show as one of the writers. Simply WOW. It's another sign for me at least that there is a major concern that this new series needs to align itself with the core values. Meyer's record in Star Trek may only stretch to three movies but the impact he had with directing the second, co-writing the fourth and co-writing and directing the sixth movies is near legendary in the fan community. 

Now unbelievably 70 years old, Meyer's credentials stretch to, surprisingly, only ten directing credits but 29 writing credits for both movies and TV including three series in the last two years. I think we can say there is a wealth of experience there which Fuller, Kurtzman and Kasdan can use to the maximum. Just on that point has anyone else noticed how this news has come from Bryan Fuller with no hint of a word from the other two execs on the show? While Alex Kurtzman did announce Fuller's involvement, Heather Kasdan has been strangely quiet/absent from proceedings thus far. Will those two be deferring to Fuller's judgement on the day to day proceedings of the show?

I was genuinely excited by the news that such a huge figure from the franchise's past would be involved and it did increase my confidence that this is going to be the series that fans have wanted since 2005 (or maybe earlier if you didn't like Enterprise). Between The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country, Nicholas Meyer had a varied experience with the franchise and can diverge between serious drama to more light hearted escapades. 

So now we have three franchise alumni connected in some way with Star Trek 2017. Those fans who berated and immediately dismissed the project may well be having second thoughts as there seems a distinct desire to do this the right way giving a mix of new, JJ and classic both on screen and behind the scenes. 

It also suggests that we're going to see more recognisable names coming on board. Meyer and Fuller's attachment could be a big draw and I for one think that the future of this upcoming series is looking brighter by the second.

How happy are you that Star Trek 2017 is drawing on the rich past of the franchise? Should it be totally fresh or are the decisions to bring recognised faces onboard good moves?

All images in this article from Google Images

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Thursday, 25 February 2016

Scouts, Cadets and Andorians: Attack Wing Wave 22

Wave 21 packed some great new surprises and I had to wonder if the following trio of ships could compete.

Wave 22 brings the USS Valiant, the Romulan scoutship Pi and the Andorian Kumari cruiser. 

The Defiant Class Valiant is the third retail version of the ship to be released if you include the Mirror Universe edition and this time there's a significant increase in the accuracy of the model. The engines on the original were horribly blocky and lacking any fore or aft detail but here Wizkids have managed to feed in some detail marking out the bussard collectors (in yellow?) and the warp coils where once was blank plastic. For some reason the addition of this detail must have had an effect on the cost since the Starfleet pennant has disappeared from in front of the sunken bridge.

Aside from that omission the increase in engine detail does improve it considerably showing that Wizkids are looking at improving their standards with each new release. I hope this is going to be maintained for Frontiers now due out in May 2016.

So to the pack. The Valiant runs with identical stats to the USS Defiant at three in attack, two for defence, three hull and four shields along with the options to slot in three Crew, one Weapon and one Tech slot. For your initial spend of 24 points you also get the Federation norms of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations. Stepping down to the standard version of the ship you will lose one shield plus your upgrade options will change to one Crew, two Weapon and one Tech.

The class still isn't the fastest in the fleet, topping out at four but with full maneuoverability at speed two, the full range of motions at three plus that Come About. Range one offers just the forward and left/right banks.

It's another low skilled captain to add to your selection with the cadet-come-commanding officer, Tim Watters. Able to field an Elite Action, Watters also provides an additional crew slot for your ship and can remove all the Disabled Upgrade tokens from your crew cards. Not too bad for just three points cost considering the double benefits. The Elite Action linked with Watters is Red Squad. Mentioned and seen in both The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, the elite cadets here allow you to amass a number of Scan, Evade or Battle Station tokens equal to the number of crew upgrades you are fielding on the vessel (four maximum). 

Before performing an Action in the Activation Phase you can remove one of those tokens and drop it by your ship, effectively giving you a series of free actions to help anticipate upcoming dangers. Costing five points, I quite like this and once again it's a twist on some of the gameplay basics. It's also something that will upgrade your ship for more than just one round of the game.

As the Defiant is the only ship of the class with a cloaking device you won't find one in this pack nor will you find any Tech upgrades which did surprise me a little. There's also only one Weapon upgrade which is the always included Photon Torpedoes. It is the new standard version utilising the Time Tokens just for reference and is priced at five points.

Valiant's crew are the rest of the cards in this pack. Dorian Collins comes in at a very affordable two points offering the chance to immediately repair a shield should you suffer any hull damage. Being a disable on such a feature is unusual as they tend to be discard actions and for the price it's very reasonable to get the chance to restore your ship and fight another day. One point, as I've discovered, can make all the difference. Doubling up in expense takes you to the Valiant's first officer, Cadet Karen Ferris. 

I think this is a wonderful card to have available. My thoughts with it would be to disable Ferris, roll your torpedoes and then use the Target Lock for a re-roll if required. Please let me know if this is against the rules but I don't see that it is and makes those Quantum Torpedoes a much more enticing upgrade to link with this crewmember.

The last cadet included in the pack is Riley Aldrin Shepard. Costing five points for a disable is a reasonable price to perform an additional green "one" maneuovre. As a little bonus Shepard will also remove any target locks on your ship and stop it from being locked during the same round. He might be the final cadet option but Wizkids have also popped a new Nog card into this expansion too and he provides the chance for one of two Actions to be completed. Not can be disabled to repair one point to either your shields or hull or he can be disabled when performing a Red Maneouver to remove an Auxiliary Power Token after skipping the Perform Action step of the phase. Nothing new here in the avoidance of power tokens but having another dual purpose card and one very well priced is a good move.

The Battle of El-Gatark is the scenario for players this time round and there's a twist with this two player game seeing opponents taking the choice to repair either their engines or their weapons first. This is done through the removal of mission tokens from two piles for each ship determining which feature will come back on line first. Is it more important to get some distance or take out the other player...?

Another month brings another "core" faction ship in the form of the Romulan Imperial Starship Pi. A scout vessel, ths the pack is loosely built around the third season of The Next Generation, namely The Enemy
The Pi will never be a front line choice with a starting points score of 16 and stats of one in attack, three in defence (that will come in useful) , two hull and two shield points. She carries only two upgrade slots for a Tech and a Crew option so you won't be adding torpedoes here any time soon. As well as those two slots the Pi has the standard Romulan actions of Evade, Scan, Cloak and Sensor Echo.

The unique action available here lets the scout ship perform a free Scan during the Activation Phase but will incur the usual Auxiliary Power Token penalty. As usual the generic scout ship option loses the unique action plus one shield and the Crew upgrade for 14 points.  As for movement, the Pi does benefit from zero red maneouvres and a full range of turns including the 180 come about at speed two. She tops out at four with just the bank turns available at speed three and everything except that 180 spin lined up at speed one.

Bochra comes with the expansion as your captain selection but I suspect that you'll already have some stronger command options in your Romulan faction if you're going by captain skill since he pulls in at just two points. Bochra does offer benefit to the scout ship though when linked to the Scan action. He'll let you roll an extra attack and defence die which is pretty good and combines with the Pi's unique action.

So to your loyal Romulan Crew upgrades and highest cost goes to Pardek. Eagle-eyed fans will immediately recognise him from Unification so how he fits with this pack is anyone's guess. Could this have not been Command Officer or something? Anyhow, Pardek's action allows you a breather with a ship at range three being stopped from attacking you and vice versa. I think in regards to cards like this it would be beneficial in some instances to just have the opponent blocked from attacking and perhaps your ship being able to attack at a reduced number of dice. For a discard it's a costly five points given it probably won't assist you that much.

Now whoever created this pack isn't aware of the Klingon language it seems since "Patahk" is a Klingon insult but here gets used as the name for a Romulan crewmember. Whoops. At least he only costs one point to equip and offers the chance of an extra die on attack. Patahk is a discard but with the low cost it's not a bad option perhaps on a larger craft.

The Tech upgrades are a little more exciting to discuss with Gravition Field Generator letting you rebuild a shield during the Deal Damage stage as long as you're not cloaked. Very useful especially for a small ship such as the Pi which is likely to be an easy target early on in the game. Two points and a discard is well worth the investment but having only one Tech slot available does mean you'll be carefully weighing up the options. 

Also a two point discard is Distress Signal. A little bit more complex to get your head round, it allows you to roll two extra defence dice but only if there is a ship within a maximum of range two with a hull value higher than your own. One of those situational cards but it would, in the case of the Pi, increase your defence for one round up to five. That's an impressive strategy given the nature of the craft looking at its basic stats. The final Tech upgrade is your last stand - Self Destruct Sequence. A certain last gasp Action it allows you to destroy your own ship and deal one damage point to every ship within range one. I am still very undecided whether these are a good option to equip given their finality but I guess it could make all the difference if you know that your ship won't be surviving into the next round. Best ensure you're well positioned for full effect. It goes without saying that you can only equip one of these per ship.

Although Bochra can't technically field an Elite Action, the RIS Pi does contain one in the form of Covert Mission. Why? Because even if your captain doesn't have the emblem on his card this ability can still be provisioned but will cost six instead of five points. To use the ability, the player places a mission token onto the card at the End Phase up to a maximum of three. You can then discard the card to gain an extra attack die for each mission token you have amassed. That would, at best, increase your firepower on the Pi to four which is comparable to something like the Defiant.

The enclosed two player scenario is also entitled Covert Mission and sees the Romulans encountering a Federation starship close to Galorndon Core. Two Romulan ships take on a single Federation craft here with the objective to collect data (mission tokens) from the planet and escape. The Federation ship can only attack once a token has been picked up and is tasked with destroying the scout ship before it can escape. The card does indicate a Galaxy Class starship for the scenario which keeps it linked back to the third season of The Next Generation.

For Enterprise fans Wave 22 is completed by the introduction of the Andorian Kumari battle cruiser. Classed as an independent craft its stats are much better than I expected since those ships from the prequel era tend to have lower figures. 

The model is once more a good representation of the TV ship even if mine has a slight lean left to right across the wings (as you can distinctly see here). The colour and paint job are first class here and WizKids have done a decent job at recreating the cruiser in such tiny proportions. Admittedly its not one of my favourites they've produced but the work on it isn't to be knocked - there have been far,far worse (Defiant engines, Enterprise-E....)

Rolling in with a respectable 22 points, the Kumari offers three in attack, two in defence, four hull points and three shield points. The Andorian ship enters the fray with slots for two Weapons, one Tech and one Crew upgrade plus the usual Evade, Scan, Target Lock and Battle Stations actions. As for the Kumari's unique ability she can still perform an Evade or Scan even with an Auxiliary Power Token applied. That really is flipping useful and means you're not hand-tied during the action stage. Brilliant option and very, very different. If you choose the generic cruiser, you lose the customary shield point, the unique action and one of the Weapon slots for 20 points.

As for speed, again as with the Valiant and the Pi she tops out at four but does incur the Auxiliary Power Token  penalty for 90 degree left and right plus the Come About at speed three. Speed two offers a full range while one offers just forward and the left/right banks in green. In conclusion, pretty maneouverable but just not super quick.

So to captains and as with the previous two packs we only have the one "decent" choice plus the zero pointer. This time it's Thy'lek Shran as it could only be. An average skill of six with a cost of four is middle of the road plus he can field an Elite Action. Playing on the Scan and Evade action of the Kumari, Shran then allows you to target a friendly ship at range one and pop either one of those tokens (Evade or Scan) next to that ship while you take on an Auxiliary Power Token. It seems even here that this pack has been tightly planned with the cards playing well against each other for maximum combos.

Shran's option of Elite Action with the ship is Diversion which will redirect an attack on a friendly ship onto the ship fielding this card. That attacking ship must be in range one and you must also be within its forward firing arc. That's once again relying on a lot of things to fall precisely into place for a one-shot discard at five points. Bonus enticement though is that this card also forces that attack to be played with two less attack dice. Might come in useful against the Scimitar's Thaelaron Weapon for example.

The Kumari has one Crew upgrade available with Talas for three points. The Andorian officer offers support to another ship in your fleet should it be targetted for attack. If Talas' ship has a Scan or Evade token that can be transferred and used on the ship under attack. Note again that use of two core actions as part of the pack - very specific and you'd be almost tempted to run this ship as the pure expansion just to reap the benefits.

Two Weapon upgrades offer a little more than just torpedoes this time. Particle Cannon Array will boost your attack by one die to four if deployed on the Kumari and is available between ranges one and three. It is only forward firing and will incur two Time Tokens to be re-enabled. For three points though it's a good reusable option to increase your offensive capabilities. The more powerful Advanced Weaponry is also only a forward firing option and incurs three Time Tokens when used. Using five attack dice and again available across all ranges from one to three it has one big draw. If you inflict Critical Damage then you can select Weapons Malfunction or Munitions Failure from the damage deck and cause a few serious headaches for your opponents. This has to be an essential card to use if you're a lover of the Independent faction and for five points it's one I would immediately pick just because of the devastation it can inflict.

Tractor Beam is one we don't see too often but here there's another twist to the pack with this action allowing you to discard the card (four point cost) to target a friendly ship at range one and let it perform an extra green maneouvre at speed one plus gain a defence die for the round. Double bonus and does hint that the Kumari is a superb option to have as a backup vessel working to support larger front line craft. Long Range Sensors for three points is the last of the upgrades here and lets you take one final advantage of Scan by disabling the card and rolling an extra defence die for a single attack. 

The Battle of Andoria completes the set and can be played at varing levels of difficulty depending on your abilities with Attack Wing. A solid two player scenario you have to defend Andoria until reinforcements arrive indicated by the increasing number of misson tokens per round. I tend to enjoy the time limited scenarios more purely because you have to think about the game a lot more and be a heck of a lot more perceptive in your moves so as not to waste any time. 

OK, so Wave 22 is a lot more solid that 21 and I really can't complain that much. There's something for everyone here - a Federation addition (and not a bad one either) and two good support options with the Pi and the Kumari. If you were mixing and matching this could be a decent little starter fleet with each ship offering some real varied options and styles of play. I know that all three will definitely see some action given their features and I would recommend these to a lot of players. At first I would have said the Valiant is the real star of the trio but after a good read through the Kumari nails it on the way the pack has been constructed around two basic features.

Looking forward we have Wave 23 focusing on the "core" Federation (Saber Class), Klingon (K't'inga Class) and Romulan (22nd Century Bird-of-Prey) factions followed by 24 which will see the SS Raven, a Klingon D-7 cruiser and a D'deridex Class Warbird for the Romulans. Highlights there? The Raven, Sabre Class and potentially the Enterprise era Bird-of-Prey - but I have been wrong before!

How did you find Wave 22? Any stand out features you need to use?

Check out the Attack Wing Wave 21 review HERE

Wave 22 is available now with all ships recommended to retail at £11.99 each. You can track down your local stockist HERE

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

A Trio of Unexpected Twists: Attack Wing Wave 21

Well here's a threesome that isn't the regular set you'd be expecting from Wizkids.

First to be pulled from its plastic box is the Cardassian ART-4107 otherwise known as the Dreadnought misleading featured in Voyager's second season. As far as I'm aware there are no other replicas of this vessel in existence and not even a suggestion that it'll be dropping onto the Starship Collection anytime soon. 

The model is pretty good. A metallic broke sheen covers the whole surface which is nicely detailed with a fair amount of panelling across the whole body. She's also quite large given the nature of the beast and I'm sure that in the episode the missile wasn't on this scale. Perhaps it could have done with being a little bit smaller as it nearly dwarfs the Attack Wing Voyager model. But the enjoyment is not just in a decent recreation of the deadly space weapon but in the joyous pack of upgrades that come in the box. 

The Dreadnought itself starts off with a standard 30 points as its base which places it quite high on the ship stats. Carrying a six in attack, zero defence, four hull points and four shield points she's a killer but not immortal by any stretch. The Dreadnought also carries the Evade, Target Lock and Scan actions along with slots for one Tech upgrade and three weapon upgrades - it is a big explosive after all. Her unique action allows you to discard up to two of your own upgrades to cancel out an equal number of your opponent's attacking dice. Certainly this mirrors the advanced weapon and defence capabilities of the Dreadnought which we saw in the episode. The standard version drops points to 28 losing a shield point and also the Tech upgrade. 

The missile is a fast little bugger maxing out at five with red hard right and left manoeuvres at speeds two and three. There are no 180 turns available on the Dreadnought with only forward available at four and the top five plus slight right and lefts only at speed one. Again it does mirror the missile origins of this expansion with the weapon being quick since it would intentionally be directed at a specific target and let go. Being a flying bomb the Dreadnought bins off having a captain making it one of the rare craft, along with the fighter wings, that doesn't have a commanding officer slot. In its place is a simple Dominion faction pennant with a Captain Skill of just one point.

Ok, so let's start with the Tech upgrades first. Lowest costing is the four point Kinetic Detonator. Providing an attack at the Action stage of the game, you can discard this card and one of your weapon upgrades in order to inflict one damage point to ALL enemies within range one. Big issue is that you'll receive one point of damage yourself but it'll be one heck of a bang. The other two Tech cards included here cost a slight bit more at five points. Evasive Attack Route offers a further chance to escape during the Modify Defence Dice step. Rather than having to preempt the possibility of getting a whooping you can discard a weapon upgrade (plus disabling this card) and gain two Evade tokens. 

Counter Measures, again a discard, lets you roll two additional defence dice  but then immediately perform a two dice attack against the very ship which targeted you. If it's attached to another Cardassian ship other than an ATR-4107 then it does cost five more points. Interesting that all three of the Tech upgrades are all focuses around self-preservation to ensure it reaches its target. I would immediately have Counter Measures provisioned just to add that single layer of defensive capability given the ATR-4107 starts with nothing. 

The pack includes four Weapon upgrades starting off with Plasma Wave. Unusually working only at range one and using only three attack dice you might initially be put off due to the perceived low ability however it works on all targets within that range. Brilliant - an outstanding option to perform multiple attacks at short range and potentially cause all of them damage. Also it nicely counter balances the Kinetic Detonator function. Also costing five points is Thoron Shock Emitter. A discard option operating between ranges one and three, it costs a Target Lock to work and fires with a reduced five dice over the Dreadnought primary weapon value of six however it allows you to re-roll any number of attack dice into the bargain, making that attack, hopefully, a little bit more destructive. 

Also dropping your attack dice number from six to five is the Quantum Torpedoes upgrade. The standard option spends the Target Lock and incurs the Time Token penalty players will be familiar with from the last few waves. For me this has made the older disable versions of Photon and Quantum Torpedoes pretty much redundant.  Also a point to recognise here is that this is the only rear firing option that comes with this expansion. Finally the only upgrade cars which increases the number of attack dice in the pack is the "purpose" of the Dreadnought if you will, the Matter-AntiMatter Warhead offering seven attack dice but only at the distant range three. 

As with the torpedoes it's a Target Lock trade off but if it hits then everything within range one of the ship you're firing on  will receive an Auxiliary Power Token.  While only forward firing it's a beast of a weapon with added bonus effects. In fact looking at this pack more carefully its very different in a lot of ways, providing the chance to inflict damage on multiple targets in one hit as well as counter-attack options when someone takes a pot shot. What you start to appreciate about the Dreadnought expansion is just how expensive the upgrades are. 

Finally there's Maintenance Crew. An upgrade that doesn't require a specific slot and also lets you add another Crew position to the ATR-4107. This card gives a hint of the self-preservation and consciousness that were part of the missile featured in the episode as you can discard it and one Crew upgrade to repair up to two damage. Again it also reminds you that this piece of technology will keep on going rebuilding itself and beating off any attack - or just anything that gets a bit too close.

The Kinetic Detonator is the least expensive at four points with the Warhead costing a chunky seven. Still it's a great expansion and one that is very memorable because of its multiple differences. Rounding out the pack is Planetoid Alpha 441 - your mission is to destroy the munitions base or the Maquis fleet before you get a pasting. Note to players that the Independent/Maquis ships can't have a hull value higher than three in this encounter. 

Ok, ship two in this wave is the commandeered Jem'Hadar attack ship from Deep Space Nine's The Ship and later A Time to Stand/Rocks and Shoals from the sixth season. As the named version, the Robinson is classified as a Federation craft with a points total of 22. She attacks with three, defends with two and has both a hull and shield value of three. As with most Federation ships her action options include Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations and there are four crew slots to fill - but no Weapon or Tech gaps as the Robinson.  

As the standard Jem'Hadar attack ship you do lose a shield point to bring the cost of the vessel down to 20 but nite that this version does allow you to add a Crew, Weapon and Tech upgrade rather than just four crew slots. The model is one of my favourites in a purple with some cracking surface detail and a tight paint finish to top it of. The accuracy on this tiny replica has to be among the best of the series and just looks the pat from every angle. Her unique action is a little on the suicidal side with the chance to ignore red damage being inflicted to instead suffer a Warp Core Breach from the critical damage deck. Quite an escalation if you ask me! Her moves are pretty decent too with a full range including the super-useful come-about at speed three. 

The Robinson does max out at four but the variety of turns balances that out adequately. We have just the one captain option along with the Generic one-pointer and its, unsurprisingly, Benjamin Sisko. Standing strong with an eight point captain skill, Sisko allows you to bite back and each time you suffer one or more hull damage points you can roll an attack die. It does result in you taking on an Auxiliary Power Token but a critical or normal damage result from the roll will damage the opponent as normal while a Battle Stations symbol will allow you to place a token of the same next to your ship. 

Sisko will also let you field the only Elite Action included in the pack, Infiltration. Instead of offering some form of attack or defence rolling options, it offers a safety blanket where you are within range one or two of an enemy but not within the same range of any friendly ships. No one can attack you and it provides the chance to slip past enemy lines and maybe try attacking from a different angle. Cool move and not bad for a five point discard. Lowest scoring of your crew options is Elim Garak for three points. Here classified as Federation character, Garak can be disabled at the beginning of the Combat Phase to increase your Captain Skill by two or can be binned off to re-roll either three attack or defence dice. 

For such a low price having the dual purpose is a big bonus especially as Garak will give you an advantage in battle two different ways. Nog, Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir all cost four points each on the other hand. The Ferengi cadet, here classed as Federation, can be disabled to spend a Scan token beside your ship and change it to either an Evade or a Battle Stations. Neat huh? I thought so since there have been a few occasions I've wished I'd chosen a different token during the Action phase and paid the price heavily. So is this the fourth or fifth Jadzia floating around the game?! Not sure, however she does offer the benefit of gaining an Evade token if you use a red manoeuvre. 

Bashir's re-roll of any die for the cost of a discard is also just as standard and a bit of a let down after such an interesting start to the expansion with some genuinely exciting upgrade options being introduced. Most expensive of your new crew choices is Miles O'Brien. Deep Space Nine's Chief of Operations lets you disable any remaining shields to target a ship at ranges one or two which isn't cloaked with no active shields and inflict one point of damage to its hull. 

It's been a while in Attack Wing since we've seen such a situational card as I've come to term them. For one point of damage you need a lot to happen. I would have raided the cost here and offered at least two points of hull damage because a lot of bits need to fall exactly in place for this to work. Five points is hefty for just one blip of damage I think. With no Weapon or Tech upgrades to speak of it's not the most exciting of packs overall but there are certainly some highlights in there worth stripping out. Finally the mission sticks with the opener of the sixth season and is named A Time to Stand

Requiring two players, a planet token and three mission tokens, the job is to take out a ketracel-white facility while facing off against two Dominion ships (with a hull value no higher than three). Surely a no win scenario if ever there was one? That brings me to the third offering from Wave 21 and the Denorios

Jeez, this isn't going to see a lot of action I can tell you. To date I have just the two Bajorans craft including this one and the other is the Ratosha scout craft. I think if I turned up to play against anyone with that fleet they'd beat me in about a two rounds. Costing a rather pitiful 12 points this might be one of the most unattractive ships to purchase for the game so my big question after seeing the pack was - what is its redeeming feature? 

The model itself certainly isn't with one of the smaller sails a bit lopsided and the micro-scale definitely not working in the favour of the struts that support most of the vessel. It comes across as a bit blobby and lacking any visible detail due to the scale. But that's not all. With an attack of just one, two for defence and three hull (no shields here), that redemption isn't coming from its basic stats. The Denoris also only has slots for two Tech upgrades alongside the standard Evade and Scan options which I suggest might be seeing some extremely heavy use. In the instance that someone does attack you (come on...this would be your first target to eliminate), you can place an Auxiliary Power Token next to your ship to cancel out one of the Critical Damage results. 

Given a hull value of three I'm not sure how much use that will be. Adding insult to injury, the Solar Sailor can only max out at speed three and at ranges one and two it has a full set of moves including the ever-useful but Auxiliary Power Token earning Come About. Whether it's useful or not, the generic Solar Sailor has exactly the same stats and cost as the Denorios but does lose one of the two Tech slots plus the unique named craft action. Why would you pick this over the Denorios and in anticipation of questions, why the heck are you fielding more than one of these things in your fleet????!!! 

The false Emissary Akorem Laan comes in as your captain with the option to let him field up to two Bajoran Elite Actions. His skill is only a two and he costs just the single point. The generic captain included drops a point from the skill and cost. So talking of the Elite Actions, there are three to choose from and all cost five points individually. D'Jarras (the Bajoran caste system) is a discard letting you target a friendly ship at range three which can, in turn, perform one of its own crew upgrade actions. The cool twist is that if the upgrade on that ship is Bajoran it classes as a free action for that round. Bonus (has that redeemed the pack?)!!! Emissary lets you renewable all your disabled upgrades at the beginning of the Activation Phase not just on your ship but on any Bajoran ship within ranges one to three. That's a great option to have and could turn the game around if you're in need of that photon torpedo launch or a regeneration of a hull or shield point. 

Being specified as Bajoran ship I can see this being a winner if you're not playing faction pure and have the Ratosha, for example, fully tooled. Keeping with the theme of Accession from Deep Space Nine's fourth year, the Legendary Hero Elite Action does help when it comes to keeping your head above water in combat. Chucking this card in will add not just two defence dice or two attack dice but BOTH for the whole of the round. It's Bajoran captain and Bajoran ship specific so both of those criteria need to be met to use this but having three attack and four defence dice at your disposal will certainly come as a surprise to any opponent. 

The Denorios has three Tech options too starting with Solar Sail Powered for three points. It turns any manoeuvre green after its revealed so those Come Abouts won't incur the tragedy of an Auxiliary Power Token. It's also a disable rather than a discard meaning it can be kept for use during the whole game and not just for a one off. Providing an extra layer of defence and possibly very useful in conjunction with Legendary Hero, Mainsails (four points) lets you place two shield tokens onto that card and these get hit first before your ship receives any further damage. It does state it can't be used with any other ship feature or upgrade but to have a buffer on the ship will be welcomed to anyone who considers flying this into a hail of phaser fire. 

Third and last is the five point Tachyon Eddies. Remember that the Solar Sailor can only trundle along at speed three? Well this means you can add up to another three to your revealed manoeuvre's speed. Yay! But I'll stop you there because adding two or three to your speed will incur either two or three points of damage to your ship and the latter could effectively see you blasted out of the game on your own actions. Be warned because it does seem to sound better than it is! The scenario here, Ion Storm is, for those of us with no friends, a single player mission. Unfortunately it's virtually a mirror of the mission included with the Pegasus a few waves ago. Get from A to B in one piece while a ton of asteroids move around. It is good fun but as I said back then it takes a long time to set up and then to move all the blips each round. If you've not played a lot of Attack Wing I would say this is a good starting scenario to help understand some of the fundamental actions within the game.  

In answer to my question on the Denorios, it does have some redeeming features which do see its defences increased and have a remote chance of outrunning an enemy. Cleverly though it's going to be a difficult ship to run given that it can actually damage itself so I would be tempted to run this well behind the lines offering to help out larger craft and re-enable their disabled upgrades. 

Wave 21 is probably one of my favourite selections to date even though the Solar Sailor is a bit naff. Wizkids have thought outside the box here and for once there are a lot of new and different upgrades which I would seriously consider using. The Robinson was a bit of a surprise to me with its unusual features plus the chance to fly a Jem'Hadar attack ship in a Federation fleet. The Dreadnought is very cool, unique and horribly dangerous given that getting anywhere near it could result in some painful consequences. It does cost a lot but then you are getting a lot in return from the package and not just in terms of standard out-of-the-box firepower. 

Recommended? Perhaps not all three but certainly the Dreadnought and the Robinson are ships I would urge you to consider. If you're just looking for something to fill up a few points then I might point you towards the Solar Sailor.... 

Thinking of investing in Wave 21? Would you add a missile or the attack cruiser to your ranks? Am I wrong about the Denoris?!

Up now is our review of Wave 22 - you can find it HERE

Wave 21 is available now with all ships recommended to retail at £11.99 each. You can track down your local stockist HERE

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Thursday, 18 February 2016

The 2017 Series: Still Fuller Beans

Seven days  on from the news that Bryan Fuller will be joining the 2017 series, Matt Goddard takes a breath and looks back at the announcement without all the furore...

It's been a week since that most eagerly awaited of news hit: Bryan Fuller is actually, positively, no doubt going to be co-creator of the new Star Trek series. I don’t want to tempt fate with a good year until the new show premieres, but Fuller as show-runner really works. 

Set to bring back the colour of the
flora and fauna of alien worlds.
So seldom that happens. A pipe dream of that perfect someone getting that gig they’ve always wanted, that they’re made for – especially in the savage world of American television. And Fuller knows all about that. This could so easily have been one of those dream unions that fall to nothing; like Gilliam getting lost in La Mancha, Burton never getting Superman of the ground or for a heart-wrenching few weeks, Lynch being a donut short of joining the Twin Peaks reboot. Sometimes they in that poetic nobility of ‘creative difference’- one of the best understated shorthands in Hollywood. But without a shred of information beyond the main players, Fuller and Star Trek – that’s just irresistible. At the very least it demonstrates that Fuller’s pitch for a reboot from a few years ago didn’t put the network off him. And sadly for him and us, his diary is wonderfully empty at the moment.

His forthcoming show American Gods, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s sublime and challenging 2001 novel is set to debut on Starz in the near-future, leaving the prolific producer and writer with relatively free time on his hands compared to recent years. And the depth of American Gods, let alone the devout Gaiman fan base and a run-in with small screen adaptations of Preacher and Lucifer any adaptation has to deal with, is further proof that Fuller is a past master at adapting, distilling and deflecting when required.

Not Morgan Bateson. 
And not trapped in a temporal causality loop yet.
He’s one of the most progressive and creative minds working on American TV. Creating what fans call a Fullerverse of interconnected shows since he left Star Trek: Voyager, he’s often carried actors through productions and engendering industry loyalty of Joss Whedon proportions. His work over the last two decades has verged from horror to whimsy to comic book to psychology. Black comedy, the darkness, hope and hidden depths of man set against domestic comedy or parody and all carried along with a supreme sense of style. While it’s difficult to find a large depth of fandom that crosses all of his shows there’s little doubt that Fuller’s writing, and excellent writing it is, is powered by character. Monumental themes, life versus death, the comedy and the dark. Deep down that’s what man should be encountering on the Final Frontier.

Indeed it was Trek that set him on that path, and something he’d never been shy of saying. But when Fuller landed in The Next Generation time-frame, it was very next. He’s talked at length about that more clinical future of Star Trek while lamenting the loss of the original style and colour that first brought it to TV. Although he’s spoken of that real unknown, the intriguing fate of The Next Generation in the now rebooted Star Trek universe, it’s doubtful any new series would leap forward. Star Trek Into Darkness showed little willing to expand the beats of destiny packing out this new timeline while it tried to have its cake and eat it.

The Darkness and the Light - Fuller's Deep Space Nine 
stories showed us a lot.
A mere nearly-three films into a whole new universe there’s simply no need for any TV show to be slavish to a Franchise that’s already branding itself in the sweeping intent of Into Darkness and  Beyond. And with an arduously slow release schedule of three years per film, there’s little pressure to tie any series into the overarching film universe in the way Marvel has on the big and small screens. And with mixed results it must be said. Shared universes may be all the rage, from Universal horror to Transformers, but Star Trek can afford to sit back as the godfather of it all.

Still, in sticking to the Kirk and co era, there’s huge scope to mine that re-established continuity, resetting history from the beginning with the vibrancy and frontiership that Fuller’s long admired.

So what’s the downside? Well, frankly there isn’t one. Obviously, the Klingon monster dog in the room is that for all of Fuller’s long CV of brilliantly conceived and produced shows, most have been cut short. His most recent show, Hannibal, was a huge feat. With it, he managed to take the themes and impetus of Thomas Harris’ original novels and steer them through three seasons of incredible television, most of it inspired by brief references to back story in the books themselves. 

Behind the scene stories of that show are yet to be fully told, but there’s little doubt that Fuller had to forge through many rights issues, let alone the reputation of the heavyweight film series carved from the same source, to spin out the wondrous storytelling of those years. Oh, and not to forget that his casting was once again superb.  While Hannibal attracted relatively few viewers on NBC, a major US network who are not afraid to experiment with and then swiftly chop down horror, that uncompromising show somehow managed to stretch boundaries for an unbelievable three years. 

There’s every reason to think that in the Star Trek brand, Fuller has found a vehicle that can finally allow him to align his vision and major ratings. And the potential for him to shape elaborate, fresh and ground-breaking television for long time to come. 

What happened last time Star Trek had a small screen lay off?
The quality of his work on Deep Space Nine and Voyager are cause for hope of course. But the real question may be if Fuller has enough of a link to that past to add a shot of legitimacy to modern a Star Trek that is still fledgling four hours in. The continuity of personnel that propelled Star Trek through its last four series and 18 years threw up the brilliant, but was also undoubtedly a factor in its prolonged difficulty to overcome the sheer weight of hundreds of hours of storytelling set in the same universe. In that way, be it a step back or forward in time, Fuller is more akin to the great man Roddenberry returning the show to the small screen in 1987. That was a time to reinvent, highly successfully if from a slow start, and as Fuller has made it clear in recent years, Star Trek needs to reinvent to retain its spirit and freshness.

Fuller has the breadth and proven ability to reinvent in ways that can surely benefit the show and keep die-hard fans guessing like no other writer could. It’s likely to break his long extending Fullerverse all for the benefit of the four quadrants. And having built a reputation among those in front of and behind the camera in the 19 years since his first Deep Space Nine story aired, there’s no doubt that other talent will flow in with him. Just perhaps, with contributions to those two ‘other’ space shows under his belt, there’s hope that American Gods will lay the way for Neil Gaiman to pen an episode.

The flip-side of those great lost opportunities I mentioned earlier, from Gilliam to Lynch, is when the end product proves that there really wasn’t a dream union there at all. Unfortunately, once again, Mr Burton can step up as an example. But there can be no doubt that Bryan Fuller and Star Trek are a great fit for each other and hope that all temporal or space distortions stay well clear for the next year.

And whatever happens, it’s certain that Fuller will power ambitious and bold storytelling, as daunting as the task of reinventing the saucer section is. 

As a great man once said, “risk is part of the game if you want to sit in that chair”. And man, did Bryan Fuller want to sit in that chair.

Thanks again to Matt for dropping his thoughts on the announcement here on Some Kind of Star Trek!

So has your opinion changed since the news broke? Do you still think Fuller is a good choice?

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