Friday, 27 September 2019

Assimilated Voyager: The Official Starships Collection Bonus Edition

Lurking in the dark recesses of Eaglemoss’ bonus editions is Assimilated Voyager.

Swiftly becoming one of the most featured ships in the collection, this is the fourth variant of the lost Intrepid Class starship following on from ‘normal’ Voyager, Armoured Voyager and Warship Voyager. I think only Nebula and Miranda classes are giving it a good run otherwise!

The core of the model is the same build that we saw way back in issue six with the basic Voyager replica. The shield grid lines, the hull colour and the bulk of the Starfleet detail remains identical to that ship. That being said it means that the jarring errors have also managed to transition across to this edition; the panel lines are washed out due to the colour and it still feels slightly sloppy on execution.

The main attraction on the hull are the Borg upgrades with the sweeping sides of Voyager caked in black and green markings to represent the tech however it just looks a bit blotchy and would have definitely benefited from an XL step up to really allow the detail in the circuitry and glowing Borg equipment to be seen for its full effect.

The cover of the magazine shows all of this in abundance with the tech finely detailed and applied to the hull more than seeming to be "splodged" onto it if you'll pardon the rather untechnical description. Across the primary hull the two sides are a mirror with only slight nuances and the same goes for the Borg tech attached to the top of the warp engines.

Along the spine there is some side-to-side variation but being able to determine any components is a thankless and near impossible task.  From afar this variant looks pretty cool and offers a twist on the basic design but close up it's a much more messy affair.

For some reason even the reaction control thrusters to the rear of the primary hull have lost their rusty red colour for the black of the upgrades and perhaps the biggest faux pas is to leave the bussard collectors unpainted!

On the underside - well, apart from two black Borg tech marks near to the forward RCS thrusters on the primary hull there is absolutely no difference to the issue six edition. Cleverly the whole of the top section - the metal bit - has 90% of the upgrades attached to it while the plastic underside and engines have only a small amount.  Watch out too for the gaping side join around the pylons and shuttlebay; it's a big one and I'm a little disappointed here that it isn't as smoothly concealed as one might have hoped.

The detail of the un-Borged underside is as you would expect and have received from the original and the Warship Voyager variant  - there is zero additional detail although the panelling and two tone grey colour combo is well painted. The phaser strips stand out well against the lighter grey hull which is then finished with twin pennants on the bottoms of the warp engines, curves at the ends of all the phaser strips and a simple black ship registry at the front.

Even down to the red markings around the warp core ejection hatch you can't complain about the detail on the ventral side of Voyager, nor can you be disappointed with the spruced up, lighter blue-backed deflector dish sitting out at the front of engineering. 

From this perspective it does feel like Voyager has received a bit of a tidy up however I wouldn't be planning on displaying her upside down given that the big selling point here should be the fact it's ASSIMILATED Voyager

The stand at least continues with the adjustment from gripping the shuttle landing pad to sliding around the rear of the "spoonhead" hull and balances Voyager amidships in a much more comfortable pose than we first received it.

The bonus edition magazine is split simply into two major sections. The first deals with the events of Scorpion with a leaning more towards Part II since this is when the upgrading of Voyager's abilities were performed so that it would primarily be able to function in fluidic space. 

The images tend to highlight the detail contained within the hull augmentations completed by the Borg and seem only able to take away what little credibility the model had with each page. In fact it also suggests that some of the colour shading particularly in relation to the lifeboats is well off-palette adding to the bland finish that seems to exude from Voyager and reduces its visual effectiveness.

The second half of the magazine focuses on the creation of Species 8472 (the Undine if you're an Online player) and how the creature evolved within the computer from first design right through to being the franchise' first proper CG alien nemesis. There had been other attempts at CG creatures (Macrocosm's parasites) but this was the first attempt at going all out and realising an alien on a larger scale. It's a great read to see how the design evolved and how it was made to be so obviously not a man in a suit even for the facial closeups.

The magazine does provide a lot of background material around the introduction of Species 8472 and precisely how Voyager was upgraded by the Borg to take on this new and powerful threat from outside our universe.

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Sunday, 22 September 2019

Aron Eisenberg

We awoke this morning to the tragic news that actor Aron Eisenberg had died at the age of just 50.

Taking on a variety of roles since the late 1980's it would be the dawn of Deep Space Nine in 1993 that would probably bring the most attention with his casting as a young Ferengi thief in Emissary.

Unnamed at the time and referred to only as "my brother's boy" by Quark, Nog would be named during the first season and be a recurring character right up to the finale in 1999.

Of all the main and recurring cast, Eisenberg's Ferengi arguably had the biggest character arc from that young thief to schoolboy, to Starfleet cadet and finally ensign before experiencing the trauma of war and losing his leg at AR-558 in the final year of the show.

It's virtually impossible to discuss the distance that Eisenberg took Nog - only a recurring character - with out mentioning The Siege of AR-558 and then his coming to terms with the incident with It's Only a Paper Moon. In fact it's rare to find episodes where the recurring cast were given the A storyline to run with as we saw in this instance; rare and a demonstration of how much those behind the scenes believed in Eisenberg and Nog.

But Nog was not just about this moment from the seventh season but also about the humour he brought to the show plus the key relationship that was developed between Nog and Jake Sisko (Cirroc Lofton with whom Eisenberg hosted the 7th Rule podcast) and the negativity they faced for a Ferengi/Hoo-mon friendship. Truly, Nog was one of the great roles that evolved on Deep Space Nine hence his frequent return to the show and the love of the character from the writing room who wanted to do more and more for the first Ferengi in Starfleet.

I was fortunate enough to see Aron at both the First Contact Day 2016 event and also at Destination Star Trek in 2018. He remained an engaging personality on the stage, bouncing off J G Hertzler at the former event and then mixing it up with his Ferengi co-stars Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik and Leeta actress Chase Masterson during the Friday press conference and then again in full makeup over the weekend.

At First Contact Day I had the chance to interview Aron Eisenberg and was amazed at the passion he had for the series and the franchise in which he had also played a young Kazon in Voyager's Initiations as well as the voice of Nog in Star Trek Online. The stories he related about the effect he had seen from his work in It's Only a Paper Moon especially with veterans is something that has stayed with me. Even though he had potentially told the story many, many times, he made it feel like it was the first time he'd related it and is to this day one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure to talk to about Star Trek since I started this site. 

It's a great loss to this world and to Star Trek that we will not be able to see Aron again at events and hear about his memories and exploits on set and in the years since Deep Space Nine ended. 

RIP Aron Eisenberg - you will be missed.

You can read the full Aron Eisenberg interview from April 2016 here.

At time of writing, the GoFundMe page started to help pay funeral expenses had already surpassed its $10,000 target

Friday, 20 September 2019

The Core: News and Opinion September 2019

It seems like an age since I've dropped a piece on Some Kind of Star Trek just to have a good old chat.

Y'see there's been a lot going on in the news, a lot of things to review, read and test out which has meant that in recent months the site has been a tad overloaded with product and not with discussions on the Star Trek universe.

However, in a week that's seen the franchise win it's first ever Emmy for Outstanding Makeup and three Saturn awards - Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action and Fantasy Series plus Best Actress in Streaming Presentation for Sonequa Martin-Green and Best Supporting Actor in Streaming Presentation for Doug Jones it seemed like a good time to just drop thoughts onto the page.

The internet is constantly alive with rumour. Twenty-five years ago you would have had to scour a magazine for news which would be 80 - 90% accurate but with YouTube channels pumping out all sorts of spoilers and rumours it's good to know that Star Trek is flourishing better than ever with these awards and is certainly nowhere cancellation or in dire trouble as we might be led to believe.

Picard itself has now finished principal photography and is months from arriving on our screens. In fact, today is the 32nd anniversary of the first airing of Encounter at Farpoint and where the franchise is now is at least a quadrant away from the synth-tracked, spandex days of that pilot episode. We will of course be getting to see Riker, Troi, Data, Seven and Hugh Borg all back on screen but there's no Michael Dorn for season one even though his signature was on a clapper board marking the end of the shooting schedule.

Whether he'll drop by in season two we don't know although I'm 100% convinced now that the Worf series will not be happening because of the choice to head in directions new with Picard. What has come to light via a cast jacket is that the new ship for the series might well be called the La Sirena and that Riker and Troi's daughter could even be appearing - but hey, conjecture, conjecture, conjecture.

What has been taking up some time while I'm waiting for Picard is Attack Wing. Rumours of its imminent demise seem to have been far too early with a trickle of card packs over the last year and now the arrival of two long-awaited faction packs highlighting the Borg and The Animated Series

My love for the game has continued unabated for some time now and any chance to grab some of the earlier wave releases has to be taken - so far my best picks have to be the USS Equinox and the Hideki Fighter Squadron. Both have been played to some sort of success as part of larger Federation and Dominion fleets although I seem to end up on the losing side more often than not. Even a test run using the Borg pack utilising the included first part of a two part scenario ended in a rather crushing defeat for my Scout Cube and USS Voyager against a significantly more weighty Assimilated Target Prime and Borg Sphere - please bear in mind that my opponent was seven years old...but does that make it any better or worse a defeat...?

Playing Attack Wing does mean that on occasion you do need some extra players and for the last year I've encountered a few of them through the local Star Trek group. Born from the will of James Smith, the Stoke on Trent Star Trek Club has gone from strength to strength if you will allow the age old cliche.  Funnily enough the article I wrote over five years ago in regards to the death of Star Trek groups in the UK is still one of the most popular pieces on SKoST. In there I bemoaned that there seemed to be a lack of groups especially in the Stoke area but now that's quite the opposite and with more Star Trek on the horizon this could well just be the beginning.

Running memorabilia nights, the odd Attack Wing battle, quiz evenings and mini-screenings, the club has near trebled in membership in just over 24 months with a lot more to come. I've even managed to drag my dad down a few times and it looks like he'll be a regular soon enough if only to serve as Chief Engineer to any ailing AMT model kits or Eaglemoss Scimitar's that need some care and attention - and a dab of superglue. That said, the group now has its very own club starship in the shape of the USS Reginald Mitchell named after the Supermarine Spitfire designer who was born locally.

Now meeting monthly, the club is thinking a lot more about what to do in the coming months and for 2020 - any groups out there that have some good meeting ideas let me know because it's definitely growing!

We will be attending Destination Star Trek next month in force and a report on that event plus some chats with creators, bloggers and more are planned. Fingers crossed this year that time is kind to us!

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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

First Ones In: Attack Wing Hideki Class Attack Fighter Squadron

One more long sought expansion comes in the tiny triple form of the Cardassian Fighter Squadron.  

Comprising of three Hideki class ships this is one of the three fighter squadrons available for the game and the last one up for review.

Given these are the smallest items in a range of small ships, the detail on the trio is pretty decent. Each is recognisably a Hideki Class ship with a sandy base coat and a darker brown top coat to pick out the ridges and finery. Again given the size the painting of the highlights is surprisingly clean and defined with all three looking identical. Credit to Wizkids, these could have been abysmal however they've managed to pull off a good result to start us off.

The 1st Wave Attack Fighters initially operate with a six for attack, no defence, one hull and no shields. As with the Federation and Romulan fighter wings, these stats alter as a hull point is eliminated changing both the way the fighters play as well as when due to the decrease in the skill score.

Basic Actions are Evade and Battle Stations with the chance to field up to three of the included Fighter upgrades. During the roll Attack Dice step one of those upgrades can be disabled to increase your attack by one die. Useful to use early on when you can pound in some seven die Combat sessions and cause serious damage quickly. 

That might suggest that the speed four maneuver is going to be pressed into service early to make the most of this opportunity. The squadron can tap into a full set of banks and sharp turns at speeds one and two with banks available with speed three and just a straight on with four. The Come About 180 degree turn is available at the cost f an Auxiliary Power Token at speed two. 

Thinking of their effectiveness early rather than later, the Hideki wing are a first strike weapon to be utilised early and potentially sacrificed early too for the sake of the larger, stronger ships that should be backing them up.

The generic version of the fighters retains the two basic Actions but drops a Squadron Token (starting skill of four) and costs 20 points versus the named option priced up at 24.

For two points you can equip Photo Lock-On which lets you Target Lock during the combat phase of the game if you've not already locked on. Effectively its a very late played free Action benefiting from knowing where your opponent is going to end up before locking on. For two points it's worth a shot early on.

Second and for just three points comes in Flanking Attack which operates at the extremely close quarters of range one. Its one of those situational ones that will happen if you plan it out. Flanking Attack can be used if you have a friendly ship attacking a ship that is also in your forward firing arc. If you’ve not unleashed hell you can add the amount of attack dice equal to your amount of squadron tokens left to that friendly ship’s attack. Potentially that's up to five extra dice from the squadron which could easily take one attack into double figure dice rolling.

Three cards offer upgrades for your Dominion/Cardassian fighters for a cost of four points. Cover Fire balances the pack nicely providing a defensive bonus to add the number of dice equal to your current primary weapon value to counter an attack. Now its apparent that a lot of these cards are at their maximum effect right in the opening gambit of a game - high attack, high defence early on.

Second in this little group is Support Ship which adds the usual benefit for these Fighter Squadrons of cheating death one final time. Acting as an additional life, it adds a chance to get even or get out of there. Understandably you can only have one equipped!

Third is Escort which is disabled to target a friendly ship within range one. Sacrificing the fighters' attack, the chosen ship can defend with the same number of defence dice as the Fighter Squadron has ship tokens on it's card. Good to see this is reusable as, along with the Flanking Attack you would want to be using this to its full ability early on to support your larger ships in battle.

Two five point cards kick off with Break Formation which means you can disable the card and immediately attack during the Action phase of the game but only if you are not within range one of a friendly starship. This free attack will let you roll up to three attack dice although it does also specify that the attack role must be one less die than your normal attack. Both of these points will need to be considered but this gives you the chance to stick in an early attack which might come in handy later in the game as your points start to fall.

Aft Disruptor Wave Cannons  lets you fire the main weapon backwards for another disabled card cost. Only one of these cards can be equipped to your squadron although it's something that can be reused. Problem here would be what would you want to reactivate and what to use because so many of the upgrades carry this feature.

Finally in this pack we have the incredibly expensive Galor Class Phaser Banks. This one costs a whopping seven points and benefits from being continuously in use during the game with no discard or disabling restrictions. Only available for the fighters and only allowing for one set to be placed on your fighters, the power this upgrade adds is of major benefit. Able to target ships in the full one to three arcs, it also adds a die to your primary weapon attack from the word go transforming that initial six dice attack up to a seven. 

The included mission scenario, Break Formation is a two player, 200 point battle with one player having to field the Hideki squadron equipped with the Break Formation card. The opposing Federation/Klingon force is attempting to activate the minefield in front of the wormhole (as per A Call to Arms from season five's explosive finale of Deep Space Nine). Each round a mission token is added to their pot to indicate the speed the minefield is being closed off. Both players can win the tokens with the Cardassian/Dominion player picking them up for attacking an enemy ship when not within range two of his or her own fleet or performs the Break Formation ability listed above.

The fight for the tokens can end in one way - total dominance by a single power.

The 1st Wave Fighters pack is an incredibly opportunistic set of upgrades which can, tragically, only be used with these ships. It also seems to suggest that a lot of these upgrades need to be used early for maximum effect virtually signalling that flying these is a suicide mission into the unknown. Having properly looked over the cards it's clear that these fighters were designed to be on the front lines and the first into a combat situation to make the most of their opulent offensive and defensive strategies before taking a more hit-and-run tactic as the stats even out.

Balanced with a great set of cards pertaining to the whole operation, these fighters seem on paper to be the best of the three wings released and definitely an expansion to consider taking into any battle for the Dominion.

Coming soon - reviews of both The Animated Series and Borg Faction packs!

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Sunday, 8 September 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Thursday, 5 September 2019

Deep Space Nine: Gamma: Original Sin

I'm over a year out of date with book reviews but I've now settled into getting some time to catch up on the events of the literary universe.

Original Sin was released back at the beginning of 2018 and due to circumstances I just never got round to it which in turn has led to me delaying reading Section 31: Control and The Next Generation's Hearts and Minds.

However, let's focus on the topic at hand. Original Sin marks the first foray (and maybe the last given where the franchise is heading....) into the deep space mission of the Galaxy Class USS Robinson under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko. Seeking out new life and new civilisations on the other side of the Bajoran wormhole, the former station commander has his wife and young daughter in tow as well as an assembly of new characters to man the stations of the starship.

Writer David R George III (one of my favourites) has a huge blank canvas here since no writer has stepped out of the Alpha Quadrant into the wild unknowns of the deeper Gamma Quadrant. We pick up with the Robinson three months into her voyage of discovery on the other side of the wormhole and as you would expect it's all about to go far less than swimmingly.

Encountering null space and a race of creatures who steal the Robinson's children including young Rebecca Sisko (the "Avatar" to Ben's Emissary), therein lies a complex rescue operation which is interwoven with a flashback to a time on Bajor when Rebecca was abducted once before by an individual obsessed with her relationship to the Prophets.

The great thing with Original Sin is that with very little knowledge of the previous novels from Simon and Schuster you can dive right in and there's no concern that you need to catch up on the rather intensive 20 year back catalogue. It's very much a standalone at this point but with the clear indication that this could be the stepping point into a new series of adventures for Ben Sisko and his crew in the Gamma Quadrant. 

It's capably written and certainly accessible but yet I still found that I was wanting more from this one and that's unusual for a David R George III novel after reading quite a fair chunk of them in recent years. I've always felt inspired and wanting more when reading them but with Original Sin I was left a little unfulfilled. In a sense this feels like the start of something new and almost the foundations for some major universe building however there's not been any news of a follow up since it was released or where the direction for Deep Space Nine: Gamma could well be headed. 

For me David R George III is a master of the bigger picture and the galactic events that have been shaping the Federation - The Fall, Sacraments of Fire and Ascendance have all marked key points within the overall arc of the literary Star Trek universe and this just doesn't seem to meld into any of that. Even Allegiance in Exile for The Original Series tied in with the greater legacy of the franchise but here that sense of inclusion is distinctly absent.

Original Sin is out on its own. For the Robinson that's very true as they begin this monumental voyage but for the author there's not a lot to ground himself with and it kind of shows in the resulting material. Ben and Kasidy of course receive a good amount of text here and that has to, in some degree, be accredited to their presence on screen during Deep Space Nine and as such they are the most realistic characters in the story. Other members of the Robinson entourage do come and go perhaps almost as much as the runabouts they use on the rescue missions but they do tend to be less than memorable by the close of play.

The story itself is very ably paced, flipping from the present to the past and paralleling the two kidnappings as they occur(ed) yet there is very little else to the plot, no deeper story, no "B" to the "A" and without more to the character I just found Original Sin a little pedestrian and a novel that's taken me an age to read. It's OK but that's it and I'd easily place it as my least enjoyed David R George III Star Trek novel. There's no background to get stuck into, no mythology for the author to revel in and draw his audience into which is something I love about his books in the past. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that George III gets a quick return trip to the Alpha Quadrant...

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Gamma: Original Sin is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £7.99

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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Pack Mentality: DS9 Fluxx

An avid fan of the first two versions of the game, it was a no-brainer to get hold of Deep Space Nine Fluxx when it landed in the UK.

First of all let's refresh. Fluxx is a game whereby you are aiming to complete a Goal first. Simple? Nope; because as you play the rules change. You might have to draw four cards and play three, have the rules reset, be able to steal another player's Keeper (cards you collect to complete the Goal), play one card and draw five, be able to dispose of a set number of cards, have a free Action to play each round... the options go on and on and even better is that every time you play the game will turn out differently.

Looney Labs have already released The Original Series and The Next Generation packs plus the stroke of genius which was the Bridge Pack Expansion and you can read about those elsewhere. For now we're focusing purely on the latest version to arrive.

At the core it's very, very similar in style to the other two packs. The artwork on the cards is fantastic, offering unique perspectives on the full crew (minus Ezri Dax most notably) as well as the array of guest characters, nemeses, starships and of course the station itself. The goals play out the same as before however there are two big differences.

First of all we have Equipment and Starfleet Personnel with an additional category - Visitors - which encompasses a lot of the guest cast including Rom, Nog, Morn, Dukat and Garak plus some others. There are a few of the pink-edged Goal cards which need a larger combination of said Visitors or Equipment which can lead to a more lengthy game as you struggle to find that last one in the pack. 

The other big change is the removal of the Ungoal card. While the two earlier sets had a way to "Unwin" the game by comboing the Enterprise with either the Doomsday Machine or the Borg Cube dependent on what was in play, had been played and was on the table, Deep Space Nine Fluxx has totally removed this element leaving only a win as the method to bring about the end of the game.

You do notice with this that a lot of the characters bear identical features to their Original Series or The Next Generation counterparts leading to a sense of disappointment that there wasn't more variety introduced. In each edition all the captains allow you to steal another Player's Keeper however there are some new twists - speaking during your turn will lose you the Morn card to another player for example. Also new specifically for this box and previously only included in the Bridge Expansion Pack is the Meta-Mission card allowing you to discard four Goal cards during your turn to take a new four from the deck. Trust me when I say that this comes in very handy when you’re drawing five cards and playing only one.

Deep Space Nine Fluxx is the one I would turn to now if I wanted a quicker game since I generally leave the other two packs mixed with the Bridge Expansion. As a big fan of the series it's cool to see a lot of the aspects honoured here - not just characters but the Orbs, the wormhole, even latinum gets a look in so you can be sure that the topic is something the game creators are very familiar with.

If you've played Fluxx before and are happy with the previous two Star Trek versions this might not be a necessity purchase as it plays the same as the others. If there's a Voyager set in the future or perhaps a second Bridge Expansion to being it more into the bigger Star Trek Fluxx circle then I'd count it as an essential.

Well presented, great fun and easy to dip in and out of - definitely one for the bag at Destination Star Trek - see you there for a game!

You can check out our (updated) review of The Original Series and The Next Generation Fluxx (and Bridge ExpansionHERE!

Which pack or way to play are you preferring? Would you want a new expansion to draw all three packs together? What about a Voyager or Discovery set?

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