Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Come Not Between the Dragons: Continues Ep has the Edg(ley)

Continues has produced its most character-focused episode to date with the release of its sixth instalment.

When the USS Enterprise is hit by an unknown object the crew are placed on high alert but as we discover there's a lot more to what could be an alien attack than Kirk anticipates. Be warned I might drop a few spoilers as we run through this episode!

Guest starring the wonderful Farscape regular (and most recently of NexusGigi Edgley as Ensign Eliza Taylor, this new chapter in the Continues legacy is the first to really utilise the whole cast to their maximum forgoing the usual Kirk/Spock/McCoy premium mix that has featured in the show to date.

So where to start. For those of you who might not know, the episode title is a slight misquote from the William Shakespeare play King Lear (Act I scene v) in which the King (Lear) represents the dragon and his wrath is the banishment of his daughter Cordelia. The character Kent is also banished for suggesting is wrong and therefore the "coming between". This little bit of background will also make a difference in helping understand the relevance of it to the episode and the conclusion of its narrative. 

As for a plot, this is pretty straight forward in that the unknown object turns out to be a space-dwelling alien lifeform right out of the 1960's show. Bearing a rather striking resemblance to the Excalbians from The Savage Curtain, Damien Beurer has his work cut out to perform on screen in a very cumbersome costume while still managing to carry off a subtle vulnerability that provides depth to what could have just been a marauding alien-of-the-week. I think the distinctive hues used to represent the creature's emotional states was a sensible move and makes following the show a lot easier.

Edgely herself is at the very core of the episode, becoming the alien's (Usdi) friend while he is on the ship but its not that simple. It seems that he's in hiding and the Enterprise is being pummelled by what I would describe as interstellar sonar. While it's helping "something" locate Usdi it's having the side effect of dredging up a host of negative emotions from the crew - suspicion, fear, resentment, paranoia - are all rife as Taylor looks to help the timid creature. 

Gigi (who shares the same birthday as me - yay!) carries the episode perfectly, nailing the role with a vulnerability that parallels the timid nature of Usdi. It's as though the two of them develop and become stronger as the episode progresses which is great to watch and leads into the final revelation of the story. Their caring relationship also mirrors the overwhelming negativity that is encapsulating the Enterprise from the space-bourne waves especially (as you would expect) Spock. Seeing the regulars involved in not one, not two but three fistfights plus more than a few left and right hooks was a surprise and more action than I expected but the fight choreography is faultless and avoids becoming cheesy.

Michele Specht (McKenna) and Kipleigh Brown (Smith) are probably the best at it as you'll see from the episode but it's not just confined to those two actors! Seeing Kirk clock a drunk Scotty (Chris Doohan) and phaser Spock isn't something we got to see unless we'd been playing around in the Mirror Universe (which this did on occasion make me think of) but it acted out in a way that works with the story. Oh and watch out for the sneaky couple of cameo shots in there by Rod Roddenberry as a redshirt on the Enterprise bridge!

Once McKenna (Specht) and Taylor have worked out how to deflect those negative emotions using alpha wave inducers the crew start getting back on track to help Usdi rather than hunt him down although repeated phaser fire doesn't seem to work even if its from the rifle Kirk is packing. A big winner for me with the episode was getting to see Specht, Brown and Cat Roberts getting to do more than be background characters with the former two having a great deal of involvement with the drive of the episode. This is a good decision by the production to take the focus off the "Big Three" of Kirk, Spock and McCoy to showcase the talents of the rest of the magnificent and talented Continues cast who have, on occasion, been pushed a little out of the ensemble limelight.

One of the biggest things you'll notice about this bottle show is that it debuts the brand new Engineering set for the series. While its use in the episode does feel a teeny bit forced you can fully understand that Continues would want to blow their trumpet and feature what is a massive investment for the series and it looks flippin' gorgeous from every angle as you can see here. 

On the note of effects too this is a story much more focused in solid filming rather than CG wizardry with a very minimal amount of computer work evident. There is a wonderful sequence very early on following the carnage through the ship which I must tip my hat to but I think this episode is much the stronger for not relying on modern technology too much and keeping the feel on screen very much in the origins of how "they would have done it" in the 1960's. Of course, the space-based sequences are of a top quality and have to be admired but they are nothing on the rest of the episode as a piece of quality storytelling about people.

As to the other crew while they are not at the forefront of the episode its clear that the script has made sure to include them all whether its Lieutenant Palmer at communications or the engineering bridge stations or Sulu and Chekov at their forward console, everyone has been brought into the story and plays a part at either moving the emotional or physical story to its next stage. Nicely the oft (I felt) overlooked Uhura (Kim Stringer) gets some quality time here as part of the initial group attempting to help the meek space alien.

Big note too for Todd Haberkorn's psycho Spock verging on going Full Hulk in Sickbay early on in the episode. Following a vicious attack on Usdi, the Vulcan realises his emotional state is out of control allowing Haberkorn an unusual bit of freedom for the reserved first officer. While totally out of character for the Vulcan its a great scene very reminiscent of many a classic Star Trek moment with big bug eyes and screaming vocals to match. Todd is as excellent as ever in this episode but being a much more ensemble piece he is treated very equally and this subtle cast balance works in favour of the overall result. Seeing an angry Kirk pull a phaser on him is another of those moments I didn't see coming but it's super-effective as emotions run in uncontrollable overdrive.

There is a moral to the story which is where the bond between Usdi and Taylor has its base and only really becomes clear towards the end of our story. While this allegory is made fairly plain and obvious in the way it is related through the script it is touchingly played by Edgley and is one of the strongest themes focused on by a fan series that I can remember. Certainly the Farscape actress does a masterful job to treat this subject with the decency it deserves on screen. In fact it delivers in much the way that The Original Series did with many a controversial theme in that the sci-fi story often held a much darker and down to earth moral for us all to learn by. For that inclusion, I have to say a well done to writer Greg Dykstra.

In terms of their work so far this marks a much simpler concept than Continues' previous entry which took the show out on location for its Civil War epic. Back on the ship with the spanking new Engineering set this is still a strong and highly character driven episode that ensures this is still one of the finest fan film series out there. Come Not Between the Dragons is unquestionably the episode which has utilised the cast most effectively to date and once more shows how this series is developing every time new material is released and is attracting top quality guests to strengthen these well written and produced episodes. Although I personally would say Fairest of Them All is my favourite of those made, this sixth instalment is one that I will be very happy to revisit in the future. Top marks for your efforts Star Trek Continues!

All images from Come Not Between the Dragons available now on YouTube

What were your thoughts on Come Not Between the Dragons - how strong an episode do you think it is? Drop your comments below!

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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Missing Persons: Timelines Updated

Try as I might I can't pull myself away from playing the addictive Star Trek Timelines

My Trekkie friends play it, we follow the vids, discuss useful characters, pointless traits and just who did you get when the portal threw up the choice of Old Bashir, Seven of Nine or Captain Scott?

Yes, it's become an obsession within an obsession as  I've collected characters completed missions and acquired starships since the initial launch in January. Y'know what, it's even managed to get me to part with a little bit of cash each month to get some daily dilithium (really makes a difference!).

But Timelines has never sat on its laurels with multiple changes to the starship combat levels, updated screen layouts  for traits and skills plus new additions such as the Dabo Wheel and most recently the new Shuttle Boosts. Impressively there are now missions which cater for your one and two star characters that you might have binned off as useless to use their spots for three, four and five star crew.

The biggest addition has been the events with three so far taking us into the monochrome world of Captain Proton, the 30th anniversary episode Trials and Tribbleations homage mashed up with Klingons and most recently the Mirror Universe offering Kirk and Uhura prizes. Utilising the shuttle missions players have had the chance to win limited time characters and get them maxed up in a few days which certainly helps on some of the harder difficulties and later episodes.

One of the biggest draws for me has been the characters and there are new ones very regularly. Even just this week Disruptor Beam have added ten new crew options including Captain Kurn, Fencing Barclay, Chief Engineer Geordi (it's taken this long for this option?) and Carol Marcus but chatting to Ian Kimmins from the Irish USS Cuchulain group the two of us came to realise that there were still some big players missing from the game.

Ian and I have been chatting about Timelines for a while now, comparing crews and helping each other out with questions and trying to work out if using that Dabo Wheel is actually worth the risk; but we thought it would be cool to pull together a list of ten characters we think should be added to the Timelines Hall of Fame in the near future. So here's Ian and my choices in no particular order...

Gorn Captain ***

Skills: 31 Command, 41 Security
Traits: Gorn, Resourceful, Duelist, Veteran
A truly classic character that needs to be in the game - and I mean the original version not the CGI one from In a Mirror Darkly. One of my favourite aliens ever and thoroughly deserving of a place in the game.

Admiral Kirk ****

Skills: 72 Command, 39 Diplomacy, 68 Security
Traits: Human, Federation, Starfleet, Resourceful, Tactician
Either with antique glasses nose-perched or that blood stain across the open uniform flap for the image. We do have a "movie" Kirk already in his Nexus version but there's no Admiral option to date. This could make an awesome The Wrath of Khan event if he was introduced then as one of two possible prizes. This Kirk's skills would sit somewhere between the two versions from the five year mission (Captain Kirk and Command Wrap Kirk) and that Generations Nexus one.

Dathon ***

Skills: 70 Diplomacy, 60 Command, 
Traits: Child of Tamar, Inspiring, Diplomat
Jalad, Tanagra; we all know the stories but once again it's a classic guest character who's been overlooked for some perhaps lesser main character versions and less memorable guest stars. Also this then begs the question will we get a Captain Terrell since both are played by the late Paul Winfield.

Icheb **

Skills: 24 Engineering, 34 Science
Traits: Innovative, Civilian, Brunali, Astrophysicist
If we've been granted the future version of Naomi Wildman surely Icheb - and we mean the Manu Intiraymi version - isn't far away. If memory serves this is the only other major guest crew character from Voyager that hasn't made his way into the game as yet. I'm almost certain you'd get Manu to record some new lines too!!! 

Guinan *****

Skills: 100 Diplomacy
Traits: El-Aurian, Diplomacy, History, Bartender
No-brainer. I could suggest a couple of versions but I'd plump for the one from Night Terrors carrying her big gun from Magus III. I'm very surprised that we've not had the Enterprise's bartender yet. Could this be due to image rights? Honestly I don't know but she's got to be an essential addition. I think having Guinan as a super rare character would also make this a highly sought crew addition.

Generations Sailor Worf ***

Skills: Klingon, Federation, Starfleet, Duelist, Costumed 
Traits: 43 Command, 50 Security 
We rarely get to see the The Next Generation crew out of uniform so this is a unique version of Worf from his time on the show. After all we've had Tommy Gun Dixon so other variants must be coming! The current Worf characters in game follow a fairly similar path, having a costumed version will add an extra trait to his character here and an extra dimension to the Timelines universe.

Gary Seven ****

Skills: Human, Crafty, Resourceful, Civilian
Traits: 21 Command, 42 Diplomacy, 50 Engineering
Gary Seven is a slightly enigmatic character from The Original Series. Even though he appeared only in one episode he left a major mark. To add a character of this quality to the game will only enhance the playability and with his unique skills and traits he would be a must have! Cat Essential.

Zhian'tara Odo (Facets) *****

Skills: Diplomat, Changling, Bajoran Constable, Cultural Figure
Traits: 67 Diplomacy, 51 Security, 52 Command
Odo and Jadzia Dax are both great Deep Space Nine characters. This particular combination version of them makes them one of a kind. Fusing a two star Jadzia and a three star Odo would be the logical way to the five star experience and offers a new Easter Egg just as we had with the recent Tuvix combo.

Vic Fontaine *****

Skills: 31 Medicine, 73 Diplomat, 57 Command
Traits: Hologram, Federation, Inspiring, Gambler, Counsellor
Vic is a great character in Deep Space Nine. He keeps the whole crew entertained and even manages to counsel Nog in his spare time! Vic was a significant additional character in the final season of the show and certainly added a new dynamic that we weren't expecting. He's a great character to add another unique dimension to the Timelines universe!

Erika Hernandez ***

Skills: Human, Starfleet, Pilot, Explorer
Traits: 43 Command, 26 Diplomacy, 16 Security
As captain of the NX-02 Erika Hernandez was one of the first female captains in space and an important character in Enterprise. Hernandez will add an exciting alternative to the existing Enterprise characters and also to the overall game.

Honourable Mentions

Honestly we could have gone on for a much longer list but confined ourselves to a core ten we would love to see. Other considerations that came in were Leeta, Vedek Bareil and the baseball versions of the crew from Take Me Out to the Holosuite from Deep Space Nine plus Voyager's resident killer-come-saviour Lon Suder and thanks to Ian for those additional "bubbling under" suggestions. However, I then realised there's a massive gap in the game once I'd considered a Tholian, Tolian Soran and Ru'afo - where are all the variants from The Motion Picture?

Not only am I thinking of the crew options, Kolinar Spock, Drafted McCoy but also V'Ger Ilia for instance? It just seems there's a very obvious hole that's not yet been plugged unless Disruptor Beam have something up their sleeve! Seems very strange we've not had any from the initial movie but then it might be an adversity to grey one-piece uniforms...What's the score on that Mr Gallup?!

Overall though we can't fault Timelines because it is constantly changing, the team give us constant updates in-game and via their brilliant YouTube channels and their game tutorials have come in handy to get new starters thoroughly immersed in the multi-verse. Keep it up team, we're loving what you're doing!

Who do you think HAS to be included in Star Trek Timelines? What essential characters are still missing from this ever-expanding mobile game? Let us know below!

NOW check out and subscribe to our monthly podcast. You can find us on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher by searching "Some Kind of Star Trek". Episode one is live and ready for you to listen!

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Saturday, 28 May 2016

That Young Ferengi: FCD Interview with Aron Eisenberg

I'm going to kick off and say that Aron Eisenberg is one of the nicest and most accommodating people I have ever interviewed. Fact.

Life recently has not been easy for the Nog actor as he explained on stage at First Contact Day 2016. He underwent a kidney transplant in December last year and it really has been a very emotional rollercoaster of a time. But he's fighting back and keen to work. Judging by the seemingly endless queue of people looking for an autograph, he's as popular as ever although it didn't quite start out that way as I discovered.

A part of the show from the first episode and almost the first scene, Eisenberg had no idea that his then-unnamed character (referred to as Quark's nephew only in Emissary) would become a recurring role; "I honestly didn't know how long I was going to be on the show or how long they were going to keep writing Nog in. Every episode, I thought, might be my last so even up to the seventh season I thought I could be done at any time. 

"That's probably my own insecurities thinking this  could be it. Once I got to the last episode of season seven I thought that's it I'm in it for the long haul and I was finally able to mellow out a little bit. I was always worried that I would get a script that would have me flying out the airlock if I didn't keep myself at the best level I could."

For seven years Eisenberg challenged himself with each story he was given; "The script dictates what I had to do so I couldn't change anything. The challenge never went away because they were always giving me new stuff to work with and it was always wonderful and exciting because they gave me such great stuff to do with Nog. Such a great arc with the pinnacle being Seige of AR-558 and It's Only a Paper Moon which was really the story of Nog. There were more stories done after the show that I would love to explore but I don't know if I'll ever have that opportunity."

Even in the novels Nog has been a major character such as in the latter stages of The Fall series for example. "I always hoped that some show would bring him back," continued Aron, "but I kinda lost hope with the new show when I heard that it was going back to the original timeline."

Whether that jump back to The Undiscovered Country is purely for ethos rather than the setting is still speculative of course but Aron is realistic that his character won't be returning given one speculative idea about the proposed time period.

One of the things that always struck me with Deep Space Nine was just how strong the supporting cast was and Aron appeared to agree; "It was such a large cast of people and it needed to be that way because it was on a space station so they had to bring stories to the station rather than The Next Generation that was going to the stories.

"Since the station was there they needed people constantly coming in and out...but they still kept everything connected to the story they built the foundations with and we had such a wonderful group of actors that were all immensely talented." Aron is quick to name Marc Alaimo, Casey Biggs, Jeffrey Combs and of course JG Hertzler among the  amazing cast that joined the show in recurring roles and made the show the unique Star Trek experience it became.

It was a very wonderful show and one of the reasons that the show was so good was because Paramount really didn't care about it. They jumped onto Voyager because it was their sendoff for [the] UPN [network]. We were the black sheep of the family which I think gave a lot more freedom to the writers to tell the stories that they wanted to tell without someone else saying they couldn't do things and got left to their own devices."

Deep Space Nine certainly went against the formula when it came to how it used the cast, even giving Nog his own episode in the final season; "They entrusted that episode to me (It's Only a Paper Moon) and I feel I did a god job and I've got many compliments especially from veterans and hats off to the writers for telling that story. At first I was the B story and they couldn't seem to fit enough of what they wanted to into it so they tried to make it the A story with a B story and they still couldn't make it work. They looked at it and asked "what is the story we want to tell?" They wanted to tell the story of Nog, a young officer dealing with the effects of war and that's what happened."

"I was so honoured they trusted me and a few years ago I asked one of the writers why they kept giving me stuff for Nog and he said it was because they knew I could handle it and I kept proving I could do it. I pushed myself to do the best I could and cared about every episode, every scene I was a part of and it paid off because it kept giving me more work. I wish it could have given me more work after the show!"

Eisenberg's passion and love for Deep Space Nine is evident in spades as he talks about his experiences which saw his character develop from the thieving nephew of the bar owner to a respected junior officer over the course of the series. In my personal opinion and something I put to the actor, was that Nog actually had one of the best and most encompassing story arcs of anybody in the show.

"Max and I had some of the best character development," recalled Aron, "We did! Sometimes you hear actors talk about their show - and not just in Star Trek - and they don't want to talk about the show that made them famous and brought their celebrity to them. I have the complete opposite point of view on that. I loved that show. I was so blessed to have what I have and if I never work again at least I have that. It's more than a lot of actors can say. I will always be a part of Americana. 

"During the (FCD) panel we were asked about how it felt to be immortalised [by TV] and when you're asked that you sometimes don't talk about what you want to discuss because you don't want to monopolise other people but the truth of the matter is its amazing to be part of something."

So did Star Trek go above Aron's expectations? Was it more than he had hoped it to be?

"When you start out as an actor you don't know what the road is going to be. You just want to work and do something you love, be part of shows, to grow, to excel and do the best you can just as anyone in any job; to go up the ranks and do better and something you love to do. That's all I wanted and then to get Star Trek and all these great things and great stories from Heart of Stone to Valiant to It's Only a Paper Moon and to be able to do what I love and have this range - I couldn't have asked for more.

Thinking of all those big Nog episodes of which I would also include Empok Nor, Eisenberg had the chance to star alongside such luminaries as Andy Robinson and James Darren. "It was a blessing and to go head to head with these amazing actors was incredible."

Eisenberg actually got a call from casting that James Darren wanted to rehearse with him. "I was like wow!" Said Aron who was invited to go over to Darren's house to run through the script for It's Only a Paper Moon

"It led to a stronger relationship with James that I think came through on set and in the episode. With Avery Brooks it was the same. Avery has a very strong personality and it comes across on the screen and it comes across when you're working with him. It's a wonderful feeling working with Avery because he's right there with you and I mean right there."

His most memorable experience with the Sisko actor came during the third season of the show just as Nog's Starfleet journey was beginning; "In doing Heart of Stone I remember we rehearsed it with the line "Tell me Nog, what is it you want?" he never grabbed me and in the first take we got to that scene he grabbed me and pulled me into him and I remember thinking "This is awesome, right here, right in the moment!" and I remember telling myself very quickly in a heartbeat that I can either go "holy s**t what's going on?!" or I can run with it. I made the right decision and went with it and it was such a wonderful scene to do because he's right there with you. He throws the ball, you thrown it back, he throws it again and you throw it back."

While Aron offers a lot of praise to Brooks for that scene, he's most complimentary in relation to all who were associated with the show; "To be honest you feel that way with everybody. I couldn't have had a better show to work with. The crew was awesome, the production was awesome and the cast was awesome. Sometimes I don't think I can ever get something as good as that ever again."

So what's ahead for Aron Eisenberg? Well, he's just out of recovery after his kidney transplant and now trying to find his way back. During his First Contact Day talk, Aron talked emotionally about his kidney transplant, how the first kidney had seen him through the birth of his sons and the seven years of Deep Space Nine, willing that it would stay healthy and give him that bit more time before requiring a replacement.

"I put acting on the back burner because I was raising my boys," explained Aron whose sons are now 17 and 19. "I really want to get into production and make movies and I miss acting so much. I'm trying to figure out how to get back."

Recent news from the Star Trek lines is that Eisenberg will be returning as Nog in the upcoming second instalment of Renegades. "But it's not just about Nog." he's quick to point out, "I would love to play him again, even in the new TV show but I don't think that's going to happen."

So for Aron Eisenberg the future offers a lot of possibilities and it was great to see him looking well and captivating the crowd at First Contact Day. I wish him all the best for the future.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

Introducing a New Faction: The Xindi Arrive

Man is it difficult to find a Xindi Weapon Zero.

Selling out like hotcakes I suspect that a lot of Starships Collection fans are grabbing these up for display purposes rather than for use in Attack Wing. For me it fits both categories very, very nicely.

Appearing in the third season of Enterprise, the Xindi Weapon Zero could have spelled the end for Planet Earth if not for the actions of Captain Archer, the crew of the NX-01 and a few renegade Xindi.

This is the third of Wizkids "oversize" playing pieces for the tabletop strategy game, the others being the Borg Cube and the mindbogglingly stunning Deep Space Nine. Smaller than both and bigger than the Borg Tactical Cube, Weapon Zero is in essence a big ball. Measuring an impressive 10cm diameter just the physical presence in the game might be enough to make your opponents weep however if you're looking to play as the Xindi faction pure you're gonna have to wait a while since this is (as of mid-May 2016) the only ship available with more promised although there have been a few tweaks in the next couple of expected waves.

As for this one, you can't help but be impressed. As far as I'm aware it's the only one available and reflects the ship from Enterprise perfectly. OK, the preview images were a lot cleaner, more crisp and brighter in colour than this finished item but that in no way detracts from the finished playing piece.

Coming in its own box as with the Cube and Deep Space Nine before, Weapon Zero has an incredibly detailed and varied surface covering with a black "web" effect running all the way round sporadically interrupted by a "glowing" green energy blob. Sadly the two external halos don't rotate but there is the weapon focusing circle at a jaunty angle to complete the image.

So to the pack and there are a minimal amount of tokens with the Big Ballistic Ball - just the base card, manoeuvre a couple of upgrade reminders and the four captain heads which has to be a record for the least packed. For note there's also a reference card to show that the Xindi will sit eighth in the order of initiative after the Kazon and before the Bajorans. 

In the cards there's a lot of fun to be had in this first Xindi expansion. Weapon Zero lands in at a solid 30 points for the basic ship which is less than the Tactical Cube but does line up as though it's from an early era. She offers a hefty six in attack, zero agility (defence), eight hull points and no shields. Those stats might put you off but hold fire to see the rest of the pack. You also have the standard Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations as well as slots for one Tech, three Weapon and one Crew upgrade. The generic version costs 28 points but retains the same basic attack, aility, hull and shield stats however it loses the Battle Stations action, the unique action and one of the Weapon upgrade slots.

As for its moves, Weapon Zero takes a fairly standard set into battle with a top speed of four however there are some big restrictions. There's no Come About and the hard left/right turns at speed three incur the Auxiliary Power Token handicap as does the forward four and the reverse one speeds. Only the forward and banks at speed one plus the forward at speed two will remove those tokens by "going green".

As only he could, the Xindi Reptilian Dolim is your captain option. Operating with a skill of eight and a cost of five points, I feel sure he's going to be the strongest of the faction commanders. Offering the chance to add in an Elite Action, Dolim allows you to disable any remaining shields and target a ship at range one/two that is uncloaked with no active shields. You can then relieve it of a Crew upgrade but your captain skill does plummet to one for the remainder of the round. Having no shields to begin with would mean this could get a lot of use off the bat but there's that risk that dropping the captain skill to one will put you at a huge disadvantage during the combat element of the round. Pros and cons? As always but against a crew-heavy opponent this will have its benefits over and over again since there's no suggestion to disable or discard.

Sole crew choice lands with Degra the Xindi sympathiser. He offers the ability to get a one point discount on all your Xindi upgrades plus, for a four point cost, you can discard him to Target Lock another ship within the one to three range during the Combat Phase as long as you haven't locked on to another ship already. Very, very useful and lets you see how the round is playing our before selecting who you need to focus on.

The first of two Tech cards is Self-Destruct. You get to target all ships within range one and when you destroy your own vessel each of the nearby vessels suffers one point of damage and loses an Evade, Scan, Battle Stations or Target Lock token they have enabled. I reckon it would be interesting if such a card actually disabled the feature on the ship for the remainder of the game given how big an event Self-Destruct actually is. This one can only be deployed on a Xindi ship and costs a reasonable five points.

Next is Subspace Vortex. A classic we've seen used in various guises on ships such as the USS Dauntless and the Krenim Timeship allowing you to drop off the game board, discard all tokens except Auxiliary Power Tokens and put yourself back in play outside the range (one to three) of any enemy vessel. It does remove the ability to attack but will take you out of the danger zone pretty damn quick. Six points for this upgrade is actually a good price given its single use big bonus.

There's also two Weapon upgrades to fill your three slots (think about it...). Rotating Emitters is a four point disable card so there's multiple use opportunities. It does rely on you being at range one to operate but should that all go a bit wrong there's always the fallback option to Self-Destruct. Very basic attack function and it's a big risk given the distance. Not something (again) I would want to try against Borg or even any of the capital ships. Certainly not Deep Space Nine!

If that's not your forte then how about Destructive Blast. Using five attack dice this one-time use targets all ships in a straight line from your ship. Given it's an orb you're in luck whichever way. Hitting at up to range three I think the way its intended to be used is in a single straight line but that will depend on your enemy/enemies being nice enough to line their ships up so neatly. As you get further away each ship attacked loses one of the five attack dice and so on and so on. Very situational to use and costly for such a big gamble at six points.

Last out of the pack is the Elite Action, Arming Sequence. Super-expensive at eight points I'm almost convinced the cost is just for the number of words used to describe the ability. Each round (to a maximum of three) you can place a Mission Token on this card however you are stopped from performing actions or going faster than speed one.

It works in combination either with the primary weapon (six dice) or Destructive Blast (five attack dice) so that you can add up to three dice to the attack. It's just a one-time wonder but could effectively give you a nine dice punch if required which would be one of the most powerful rolls in the whole game.

Unlike Deep Space Nine we do get a mission scenario here called Destroy the Earth. Simple enough its 120 points of Xindi taking on 150 points of Federation ships with the attacking force looking to inflict 16 points of damage to obliterate the Earth. If you're happy to mish-mash the Xindi fleet then you can play this one right away. If you're waiting to have a proper fleet you'll have to wait a few months.

As always with the Attack Wing range the promo pics do look markedly better than the final model however this is still a top quality replica of the deadly Weapon Zero. As a piece it's going to be a big points sapper if you're running it in your fleet but it will make the Xindi more appealing to play once released.

It's good to see that even with the wave releases now in the mid-20's and with Frontiers only round the corner, WizKids are still backing Attack Wing with some force - enough to bring in a new faction at this stage. For long term players it gives a chance to mix things up and for those people who haven't been with it too long there's the opportunity to get hold of all the faction ships since some of those early waves are damn hard/near impossible to locate (anyone seen an Excelsior to buy recently...?!) 

We know there's that new Borg Cube to come as well so the future for the game is certainly not grim. What features and abilities will make the Xindi an enticing option have yet to be revealed but Weapon Zero has certainly given them a formidable - and large - introduction. 

Have you been using the Xindi Weapon Zero in your fleet? How's it been running? Do you think the Xindi will be a good faction in the game and what advantages do you think they already have? Drop a line below!

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

The Second Trailer Has Gone Beyond

After what seems like an eternity the second trailer for Star Trek Beyond has landed, premiering at a fan event in the US in the early hours of Saturday morning, UK time. 

Initially my thoughts on the new footage is that there has been a distinct move away from the action adventure and big explosions feel that pounded through every frame of the first trailer released many moons ago.

This is much more about character, about the crew and about a story than the first and the more subtle soundtrack works a treat to emphasise the direction.

"My dad joined Starfleet because he believed in it. I joined on a dare. You joined to see if you could live up to him...You spend all this time trying to be your father now you're wondering just what it means to be you." - McCoy

So the trailer opens on McCoy giving a heart to heart with Kirk about his position in Starfleet and what has led him to this point.  There's a stunning little sequence of the Enterprise at warp as it pushes through the universe like never before and Kirk framed with the glow of a red alert hinting at the danger to come. From there we get a glimpse of what might be some giant starbase structure which resembles a city and the USS Enterprise docking with it. This is overlaid with a voiceover from Shoreh Agadashloo who only joined the cast during reshoots. We do get what may be an interior shot of that structure too and keep your eyes peeled for the Federation and Starfleet pennants that are at the bottom of the screen.

"It isn't uncommon you know. It's easy to get lost in the vastness of space. There's only yourself, your ship, your crew." - Shoreh Agadashloo

Insert shot of Kirk, McCoy and Spock looking up at what I can only surmise to either be the  Enterprise repaired or its replacement with the doctor asking "So you really want to head back out there huh?". Given their outfits this definitely has to be from a later stage of the movie either the end or when they are (possibly) given the Franklin to rescue the crew. I'd plump for the former as they look way too happy for the latter!

Cue shot of Enterprise (from a rather unusual angle) heading out from what might be that starbase structure we see a few times in this trailer. You can just see it in a fraction of a second in the background. Suddenly though that calm is shattered by a sudden and seemingly unexpected attack on the Enterprise by a horde of ships that turn the starship into Swiss cheese in a matter of moments. Shots of Kirk, Scotty and Uhura declaring they are being boarded snap between flurries of starship destruction which push home the no-coming-back for the NCC-1701.  We get our first look here at the alien armour worn by Krall's army as they board the starship firing as they go and just watch how that door is ripped open as they get onto the Enterprise. These guys are serious. Deadly serious.

We're treated to shots of Sulu, Chekov and McCoy making good their escape in one-man escape pods although Sulu's pod is picked up by one of those attacking ships. Looking at the fact we have most of the crew captured it could indicate this is how a lot of them are captured either before planetfall or while escaping.

Going from there we're shown the barren wasteland which is where the Enterprise crew are apparently marooned and it looks like a starship graveyard full of crumbling wreckage so the arrival of the Starfleet ship may not be unexpected to Krall.

"I know why you're here; why we are all here." - Jaylah

This brings in Jaylah (Sophia Boutella) as seen in the first trailer. She appears to team up with Scotty during her initial appearance and knows more than the trailer is letting us see. There's a reason everyone ends up on what I'll term as Krall's World and no one leaves it alive. There's a repeat of her combat skills from trailer one as well as a couple of nice character shots. The two aliens that she's fighting - of you freeze-frame - are the two that were pictured with director Justin Lin in one of the first promo shots for BeyondHer scene with Scotty is revisited later when he reminds her that they can't be leaving his friends behind and also notes (on the Franklin bridge) that "everyone who goes there he [Krall] kills."

It does seem that the movie is being marketed with Jaylah very prominently part of the promotion at Cannes as well as on a limited edition poster given out at the fan event where the trailer was launched (which has close similarities to the poster for The Motion Picture). Spot later in the trailer where she's taking on Krall within the structure at the centre of that quarry-like prison camp. It's also the same one that Krall is examining data on Kirk on a matter of seconds after about 1:48 into the trailer. Minor reference that the Kirk in the holopic is wearing a uniform from the first two reboot movies with the lower collar. It also has his full name on there

Jaylah also gets the "last laugh" in the trailer, dropping herself on the captain's chair of the Franklin with no apparent respect for the chain of command. For note it's interesting how many comments I've seen that are getting excited about an NX Class ship being in the trailer. Similiar yes but not that class, the USS Franklin was unveiled (almost by accident) on a poster donors could receive for the competition to walk on the set last year. How that dynamic with Jaylah/Kirk will work has yet to be explored since any dialogue she's had has been with Scotty. 

"Our captain will come for us. Mercy will be the last thing on his mind." - Uhura 

"I'm counting on it." - Krall

Uhura's encounter with Krall and her insistence that Kirk will come back for those he has left behind is very striking and emphasises that Zoe Saldana is still recognised as a major asset to the reboot. As with Jaylah she's been a strong component of the early marketing campaign and her romance is still on with Spock telling from the lingering kiss at 1:54. What race Krall is has not been announced. Suggestions so far have included Reman but I am inclined to suggest he's something new specifically for this movie. Good makeup though as I'd never guess it's Idris Elba under all that!

Follow that up with an attack by (what must be) Krall's armada on a Starfleet facility which could be that same starbase from earlier. It would tie everything together nicely and if you look in the background there are some rising structures that would support that theory. It's also see n later as a big space structure with what I can only describe as an atmosphere bubble as the Franklin approaches. That bubble might burst or be damaged which is why Kirk is airborne. That would hold up as if you look in the background of that scene there's a yellow shirt also flailing around in the sky. Result of an attack by Krall's ships? Definitely. I also think that the reason for his attack is that this starbase has encroached into territory that Starfleet have "claimed" and offers a secure position away from Earth for deep space explorers to return to rather than heading back to the home planet.

The situation is once again grim but luckily we're not needing the Beastie Boys not too much motor bike quarry jumping to heighten the excitement of this trailer. What is that effect that happens to Kirk on the bike though? Is that a time warp or is it a funky transporter? While it remains fairly scarce in detail and certainly chops around the sequence that the movie will come in there are some huge payout moments and a couple that are well worth rewinding and watching again.

Check out for instance the parts where Kirk is seemingly flying through the air to clutch at some sort of device above a cityscape. Is this Starfleet HQ? Is this also the same cityscape we see shortly after? Would that again be the same that we saw earlier in the trailer and if so, check out the logo at the top centre because it's embossed with the name Yorktown (credit to TheIrishTrekkie for noting this beauty!) Now that's a blatant homage to the original name for the Enterprise but I'd go as far to say it's the name of the space station structure that the Enterprise is docking with. 

"Death is what keeps us alive." - McCoy

Next up some brilliant shots of Kirk and Chekov escaping through the viewscreen of the crashed Enterprise saucer which we then get to see on fire as the pair have a sliding phaser fight down the primary hull.

Now here's a thing. Another shot of that cityscape has something being built above it and I'm going to make a bit of a leap here. Look at the angle of that arm. It seems like a white version of the Vengeance warp engine? Could the new Enterprise be something similar to that behemoth vessel from the 2013 movie? Maybe. It would also make sense that McCoy, Kirk and Spock are looking at it in that "get out there" clip right at the beginning of the trailer. How else would they pick up a ship so quickly?

"Unity is not your strength it is your weakness." - Krall

Also as the trailer runs to its end we have a planet fall of a circular object which could either be the Enterprise saucer on its way down or potentially the Franklin going atmospheric. Anyone else reminded of Generations with that part of the trailer?

The Franklin shows up quite a bit at the close of the trailer following a group standoff in the quarry (has to be the rescue since Spock is in his Franklin jacket and he's a slo injured) and we get to see the small starship skimming through the atmosphere and making its escape.

Close to credits and spot the fact that only Simon Pegg and Doug Jung are credited with writing this movie. Looks like all of the previous input was totally ditched then.

So, a great trailer that's more about Kirk finding himself and fully understanding his role as a captain rather than being the fish out of water we've had in 2009 and Into Darkness. From what I've see reaction to the trailer has been very positive and I think that the fan event that premiered it and 15 minutes of footage was key to build that belated excitement.

The event welcomed fans to a session where they were an audience to JJ Abrams, Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Justin Lin. Plus at the even we discovered that the lawsuit against Axanar is being settled not dropped with some pushing from the Beyond director to make it happen. There will be consequences and conditions going forward however. Also the event saw a street at Paramount Pictures named after Leonard Nimoy and closed with the reveal of the first official Star Trek Beyond poster. Wow. What an event and certainly different to the overkill we received for the 2013 Khan reboot.

I'm definitely optimistic after this trailer as opposed to my feelings after trailer one. Good but still not blowing my mind. It seems to be heading in the right direction so with all the 50th anniversary announcements and our first teases of the 2017 series this is going to be a real big rollercoaster of a year for Star Trek and its fans.

What did you think to the trailer? What did you spot?

All images taken from Paramount Pictures trailer

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