Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Tough Decisions: Short Trek's Ask Not

Would you disobey an order?

Cadet Thira Sidhu is challenged with that very question when Starbase 28 is suddenly attacked and an in custody Captain Christopher Pike is handed to her to guard.

Clocking in at under ten minutes, Ask Not is the shortest Star Trek instalment ever but that can't take away from the more than welcome return of Anson Mount alongside Amrit Kaur's green cadet. Also, for those of you wondering, it's a clip from a John F Kennedy quote; "Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country." which was part of his inauguration of 21 January 1961.

The premise is simple - does she release Pike from his restraints so he can "help" combat the attack or does she stand firm because he's been charged with mutiny and as such holds no power of rank? 

Kaur holds her own valiantly here with the moral decision that could ultimately decide her career in Starfleet. For anyone with a modicum of sense you'll spot something close to a Kobayashi Maru scenario right away.

Ask Not beautifully plays these two characters in a tight, confined space with each trading regulation and right  - Pike citing that he needs to regain command because the Enterprise has tactical superiority (a point "later" made by Janeway in regards to the USS Equinox's position versus Voyager) or that he can be reinstated by an active officer given circumstances.

However Sidhu remains firm, counters Pike and sticks to her guns in a very quickfire event which is almost over before it's even started. For a short story there's a lot of background, event and sparring crammed into the ten minutes of film and I also think this is one worth a second viewing just to catch all the rules and regulations plus the offence and defence of the conversation.

Ask Not isn't one of this generation of Star Trek's pinnacles but it does satisfy fans' hunger to see Anson Mount turn out as Captain Christopher Pike one more time and remind us all just why there's that demand for a Pike/Spock/Number One series sooner rather than later. Plus, if we've learnt anything from Short Treks it's never underestimate how they will all link in to later series or episodes...still looking at you Calypso....

Next month - December 12th - TWO Short Treks with Ephraim and Dot and The Girl Who Made the Stars...

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Sunday, 24 November 2019

Drawn Out Game? Attack Wing: The Animated Series Faction Pack, Part II

On with the concluding part of the Animated Series Faction Pack and as promised, let's turn our attention to the Klingon and Romulan elements that make up a good portion of this set. (PART ONE HERE)

The three D7s included alongside the tiny USS Enterprise are intended to be used for the Klingon and Romulan craft represented and are identical, carrying the silver base coat, the yellowed, feather detail on the wings and engines that are the correct alignment versus some of the earlier waves. 

Annoyingly there’s no difference to the Romulan variant because all three also carry the Klingon crest on their bellies meaning that they will probably end up,doing double duty when picked out of storage. The IKS Klothos and the IKS Devisor both offer three in attack, one defence, three hull and two shields plus slots for up to a Crew, Weapon and Tech upgrade. This is however the only real similarities between these two named Klingon craft as the Klothos is capable of cloaking and the Subspace Echo sidestep alongside Evade and Target Lock whereas the Devisor lines up Battle Stations with the Evade and Target Lock features. 

The Klothos’ cloaking ability is fairly key to the game as well since it is entwined with the ship’s unique ability. When attacking and if cloaked, the D7 Class ship can add in an extra attack die OR if it's not within the primary arc of the ship it's attacking one Battle Station result can be converted into a Critical Damage and any others can be changed to Damage.

Once more an unusual card with lots of repeat and varied ways to put it into action. This one does trump a lot of the existing D7s thanks to the features and the reduced cost. The Devisor's unique action will require some keen attention to the game - if the enemy performed a three or greater speed maneouver in the round then she gets to add a Critical Damage hit to the rolled attack result. I would think that this would be likely in a retreat scenario or perhaps once the battle has become more close quarters. As a repeat though it does assist in guaranteeing at least one hit to defend against every dice roll.

Generically both ships - and their Romulan counterpart all move with a top speed of four and a full range of banks and turns at speeds two and three plus an always welcome but red 180 turn at speed three. Banks and forward moves at speeds one and two will counter this as they are green. 

It's fair to say that the D7s have a surprisingly agile maneouver ability given their rather clunky form but with a combination of 180s, cloaks and these impressive Unique Actions, these are two ships that might be hard to deal with.

Who better to have lined up for the captaincy than two Star Trek legends in cartoon form with Kor and Koloth. The former carries the greater Captain Skill of eight and costs five points to equip to your ship. Functioning as a way to maintain the cloak and also fire, Kor incurs two Time Tokens (not three unusually) meaning you keep stealthy and you also get to add an extra attack die into the mix on that round. Oh - and that's not all Kor does because if this card is on a Klingon ship (and why the heck wouldn't it be?) then add in a Damage result too... Is Kor potentially the most lethal Klingon captain in the game with this Action?

Koloth (skill of seven and cost of four) also uses that two Time Token feature, disabling himself for two rounds which in turn disables a Captain or Crew card on the opponent's ship when attacking and if that's not possible then they'll have to take on an Auxiliary Power Token. Both captains can field the useful but usually expensive Elite Actions however there might not be a lot of opponents left after using these cards initially.

The minimal Crew requirements of the Klothos and the Devisor are realised in their inclusion of just two new personnel. Three point Kali works at range one and will be a card for later use in the game. A one use discard, Kali allows you to flip a Damage card on the opposing ship over to the Critical Damage side (your choice which card) and forces you to resolve the script. Of course, there is a high chance of this being a game winner, knocking an enemy out in one swift dice roll...

Kaz is much more operational than curveball offence. For two points you can ditch him off rather than using a more effective and useful Crew upgrade on this vessel or one at range one. I'm still not a fan of these kinds of cards. While they defend your better abilities they are a waste of points where you could use this space for a stronger card.

Devoid of Tech options, the Animated Series pack does have two Weapon cards to bolster the arsenal aboard your starship. Magnetic Pulse carries the same dice attack as the primary weapon value of the ship it's attached to and costs a meaty five points to equip.

By disabling one of your Shield tokens and targeting a ship at range two or three you can roll an additional two attack dice. Weirdly it specifies that these dice can only be added if it's armed on a D7 - however, it doesn't say if there's a way to use it on something that's not a D7... That aside this one allows Critical Damage to ignore Shields and be converted to Damage which does affect Hull points instead. Crafty move and linked with some of the other Klingon features here it's another combo waiting to happen.

Disruptor Blast can be equipped to either a Klingon or Romulan starship and costs three points. Attacking at ranges one or two with three dice, this card is disabled with three Time Tokens and allows two attacks on your target vessel.

While Magnetic Pulse indicated it should have a feature if/if not a D7, this one does manage to specify as D7s can convert one blank die result into a Battle Station during each attack. Another odd one but it will offer additional support should that defender decide to take a swipe.

Last up for the Klingons is their Elite Action, Worthy Opponent which provides, perhaps a little out of character for the formidable warriors, a chance to extend their survival in the game. It's only applicable if your ship is carrying a Damage card but it does mean that attacking Critical Damage, Damage and Battle Station results all get turned blank. Certainly a way for the Klingons to escape a pasting but only once since this one gets binned after use. I can see this getting a lot of mileage as, although situational it's not one that needs several different things to happen to function.

But let's not forget about those duplicitous Romulans. Their IRW Talon carries the same stats as its Klingon cousins and costs 14 points with space for a Tech, Crew and Weapon upgrade alongside Evade, Target Lock, Cloak and Sensor Echo.

In fact the Cloak is a key part of the Talon's distinctiveness allowing it to perform a bank or forward one or a Sensor Echo move before revealing its dial. Suddenly the Talon becomes able to dodge attacks or place itself in an optimal firing position in a blink of an eye. The generic version loses the Tech upgrade (not a bad idea since there's no Romulan Tech upgrade in the box) as well as a Shield point but comes in at a very affordable 11 points. 

Larus is the animated command option with this one with a skill of seven, the chance to equip an Elite Action and will cost you four points. He's just as useful as the Kor and Koloth as Sensor Echo (remember it's a Free Action on the Talon) can lead you to place a Battle Station token in play and it increases the ship's attack by one - and this doesn't specify it has to be the primary weapon. 

Joining Larus is the wiry Vendorian Spy, here in a Crew capacity and classed as a Romulan upgrade. Operating up to range two, Wizkids have duplicated the character from the series again - since it can mimic a Crew upgrade on a friendly ship within that sphere of influence. Costing four points there are no restrictions on use for the Vendorian Spy which does mean you can take full advantage of the best Romulan Crew upgrades there are to offer - twice and with no limit.

Two missions are also included with the rather superb Animated Series Faction Pack are The Practical Joker and Assault on Caleb IV

The Practical Joker pits a 60 point Federation player against a 60 point Romulan opponent in a straight two player set up with the winner being the last one standing. However, due to some "interference", instead of performing an Action, an attack die is rolled and the result indicates what the player will be doing. When any Crew or Captain abilities are used they incur two Time Tokens and finally each player has the chance to veto ONE attack per game.

Standard it may seem but this one could be decided more on pure chance than anything since you have no idea what will be coming with each Action roll - and that final big attack could be the one that gets cancelled.

Assault on Caleb IV goes a step further with the Federation player fielding a 50 point set up versus 80 from the Klingons. Using the objective tokens from the Starter Set, the odds are actually more in the Federation player's favour as the Constitution Class ship gains two attack dice by being in range one of the space station objective token. The derelict ship tokens represent sensor arrays and will give a Scan Action as a free Action if within range one and finally the Debris picture represents damaged parts of the space station under repair. As such this provides the chance to remove a Mission Token from that objective token to repair a shield on your ship. 

The Federation player needs to repel the attack while the Klingons are tasked with destroying the objective tokens and expand the Empire ever further. It's another neat twist and spin to what has proved to be an exciting and different Faction Pack. The Animated Series has proved to be a big, colourful Star Trek vault to unlock and the cards here are, in some respects, very closely linked in to their onscreen counterparts.

Some of the Captain and ship cards are ridiculously overpowered and give some of the most incredible options to try on your fleet especially if you happen to be playing as the Klingons - Kor and the Klothos have to be a couple of the most electric cards from any set - wonder how they would fare against the Gorn?

Of the two Faction Packs released at the end of 2019 this has to be my favourite. The Borg are a powerhouse where any upgrade just places them that step ahead of anyone else in the game. The Federaton, Klingon, Romulan - and that cheeky Harry Mudd Independent card - widen the playing field and could even provide a three-way battle straight out of the packet. Well worth getting if you have one pack to choose!

Have you tried out any good combinations of cards and ships from either of the recent Faction Pack releases? 

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Thursday, 21 November 2019

Drawn Out Game? Attack Wing: The Animated Series Faction Pack, Part I

If the Borg weren't exciting enough for you then this should get those fires burning.

Wizkids have already pulled the unexpected with the Kelvin Timeline pack just over a year ago but now they're gone and spun in another brilliant move to keep the game alive with a foot into the little explored/mined Animated Series from the mid-1970's.

Featuring the USS Enterprise, Starfleet are fairly heavily outnumbered with three opponents included here in the form of two Klingon and one Romulan D7 Battlecruisers. 

Packaged as resplendently as ever, the Faction Pack also comes with the usual array of tokens, dials, stands, upgrade cards and missions to be able to launch a new group of ships into the game straight from the box (as long as you have the Starter Set!).

Starting out, let's tackle the USS Enterprise. Costing two points less than the "regular" version, this ship still carries up to four Crew ]and a Weapon slot plus the standard Actions of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations. It also has three dice for attack, one for defence and four hull and three shield points which again matches the previous version. 

Aside from the point difference of 20 here to the 22 of the original the Enterprise can repair up to three shields as it's Unique Action. This will keep you going for a much longer game through the ability to rebuild the ship. 

The generic Constitution version removes two Crew slots and a shield point plus that Unique Action for a 16 point cost. Without the features of the legendary starship though, this one does seem little more than cannon fodder.

As for movement, it's fitting given the ship's point in the timeline that she tops out at speed four with full banks and turns at speeds two and three. One's forward and banks plus forward and banks at two offer green maneuvers. At least for the sacrifice of speed she can turn a bit however there s a noticable absence of reverse so you'll only be boldly going forward. 

Captaining the USS Enterprise in animated form can be either James T Kirk or the first commander of the legendary starship, Robert April. Both cost five points, bear a skill factor of eight and have the chance to field an Elite Action.

Usefully, Kirk lets you place a Scan or Battle Stations token next to your ship and perform the Action on a Crew card as a freebie. The chance to play a Battle Stations and then something else does take some pressure off your ship and brings in even more defense than just one die.

Robert April can be fielded as an Admiral as well as a Captain. As a further benefit, April will up his skill to nine if he's put in command of a Constitution Class starship. April will also take one for the team so to speak, allowing you to transfer any Time Tokens on one of your Crew upgrades aboard his vessel to be transferred to him. As part of the Action, you can then use April to "activate" that Crew member's Action. The chance to transfer Time Tokens is very useful. Double-hitting with a decent Crew upgrade in less turns than expected could well spin the game around and means the chance to utilise a feature potentially while n opponent is still within range.

Five new Crew cards will help fill out those four slots on the USS Enterprise. Stalwarts Spock (four points), Christine Chapel (three points) and Montgomery Scott (three points) are joined by their animated buddies, M'Ress (three points) and Arex (two points) with Sulu and Uhura oddly absent from this line up.

Spock provides a storming opportunity to cripple the enemy by spending an in-play Scan token attached to your ship so that an attack cannot be defended against nor can you be stopped from attacking. It's one more element to make the seemingly underpowered Enterprise a real force to be reckoned with in this game.

Scott does what you would expect with his card being disabled to repair up to one Hull and one Shield point on your ship, again increasing your chances of survival. Chapel is well worth using in conjunction with virtually any Crew upgrade that needs disabling since she can herself either be disabled or Time Token-ed to remove either a Disabled Token or all Time Tokens from your chosen card. I love the point that there's no specification that it's like for like or which you have to do with this - it all depends on your strategy - do you need that upgrade next go or are you prepared to wait?

Then we have two classic Animated Series characters. M'Ress is another that could line up nicely with Chapel as she can remove a Disabled Token from a Crew card when there's a Scan in play. This isn't specified as an Action either nor does it lead to discard or disable meaning that you can utilise her again and again. 

Arex is perhaps not quite as useful but still could be effective if you're moving later in the Phase. He gets disabled to allow you to change the type of move you're performing as long as it's at the same speed as the one you revealed on flipping your Maneuver Dial.  It is also specified to be a white or green move to qualify.

Arex will at least provide a chance to get yourself out of the way and could be well used in conjunction with Chapel or M'Ress should you end up in a critical situation.

Along with these more than welcome Crew additions, the set offers up one Weapon upgrade (twice!). Full Power Phaser Barrage costs a hefty five points and is good to use at ranges two and three. Taking the Enterprise as the base ship, this card would mean that it would roll five dice in attack just to begin with. If there are two uncancelled Damage and/or Critical Damage you get to roll another THREE attack dice to add to your already decent roll. 

Hold up - because not only does this give you a potential eight dice attack from a Constitution Class ship but it's only limited by Time Tokens and NOT a disposal. In three turns this could be active again. Now, if you could add in a Target Lock for a re-roll...?

Even if you don't use this card with a Constitution Class vessel, the uncancelled element will still operate and the enemy ship will also receive an Auxiliary Power Token which in turn will have effects on future rounds. This is a behemoth of a card - who wouldn't add this one?!

The first of two Elite Actions is Legacy of the Name which can only be attached to a Unique Named ship and can effect an Evade or Battle Stations as a Free Action with the penalty of three Time Tokens. If it's the Enterprise (and there's no specific version) then ANY Action can be completed as a Free Action which would mean that this could be very effectively used alongside Full Power Phaser Barrage by activating a Target Lock and all for the cost of three points to your fleet!

One more thing with this pack...Harcourt Fenton Mudd. Ok...this is a long winded one so here we go. Costing thee points and effective only at range one, Mudd gets disabled so that you can use his Love Crystal feature. This means that you can place a Crystal Token onto two Crew upgrades on an enemy ship.

Cleverly mixing in the Mudd element from The Animated Series, Mudd's reference card details that if one of those upgrades marked with the Crystals are disabled, the person who placed the token gets to disable another Crew upgrade of their choice - the same applies in the case of Crew upgrades discarded or disabled with Time Tokens utilising those features on another Crew card. 

With no faction penalty for equipping him, Mudd is a fine nightmare of a card to add to your ship since his actions will inflict double the trouble and prove just as annoying as the original character was in his three classic appearances (yes, I'm including The Animated Series).

With the second half of this pack review we'll be focusing on the Romulan and Klingon options plus overall impressions of how the pack plays out.

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Friday, 8 November 2019

Tying Up Those Threads: Section 31: Control

Ahead of the rise of Picard in January, I've managed to cram in some reading and that's included the rather brilliant Control.

Section 31 have played a huge part in the franchise since the late 1990's. Entwined with the Dominion War in Deep Space Nine we thought we had explored some of their origins with Enterprise, were a little befuddled when they turned up in the Kelvin Universe for Into Darkness and have stamped a firm foothold in the second season of newbie Discovery.

Lo, the novel series likewise has paved a dark path thanks to the dealings of one Julian Bashir especially in the last couple of years since his involvement with curing the Andorian people and then working as a double agent to get to the heart of the organisation through The Fall and then Section 31: Disavowed.

Now we've reached an impasse and Control finally takes us to the very beating heart of Section 31 in the 24th Century and also back to the very spark of its origins in the 22nd Century.

Not to give too much away but this is a must read in every sense and I kind of kicked myself for not having read it a lot sooner. Section 31: Control slips the story back into key Federation moments from the foundation of the galactic organisation and how it became a key component of the Alpha Quadrant.

David Mack is an unquestionable master of the Star Trek literary universe penning many of the finest instalments of the franchise but my god has he ramped it up again. What it doesn't feel like is that the stories are being over stretched and with the impending Picard and Discovery time jumping there's a palatable feeling that we are reaching the end of a journey - and that's very real in another sense that we will no doubt touch on in a future post.

Control maxes out on its tying of loose ends with the return of Sarina Douglas plus assistance from the resurrected super-Data and his daughter Lal in finally attempting to shut down the secretive/disruptive organisation.

The action here is brilliantly free-flowing and by keeping the story to a minimal amount of characters we aren't lumbered with anything excessive. I would warn that you will need to have a decent knowledge of the existing literary Star Trek universe to get a good hold on events. The paralleling of the 22nd and 24th Century stories does help to remove some of the potential confusion but there's a lot of "inside" Star Trek information you'll probably need to be at least aware of to truly appreciate the impact made by Section 31 and not just inside the Federation.

Considering how the onscreen Star Trek universe is about to take onboard a big jump and the return of Jean-Luc, it does feel that the literary series is beginning to tie up some of its more ongoing loose ends as well as perhaps explain some of the bigger TV elements of the franchise which fans have been asking about for many years, especially the increasingly popular Section 31.

Mack's characters too continue to be believable with Bashir a far cry from the stuttering youngster of Emissary and a fair distance away from the more arrogant "superman" of the latter Deep Space Nine years. His experiences since then as part of the books series has had a great impact on him as has his relationship with Sarina turning Bashir into even more of a torchbearer for the upkeep of Federation standards. 

Nor is he vehemently against Section 31; his visible distrust of the organisation seen on screen has become more channelled and focused to resemble a more tangible plan but one he will sacrifice all to complete.

Data on the other hand continues to be something of a mystery. His rebirth in the android body used by Noonien Soong to escape following his critical assault by Lore in Brothers has been a bone of contention with me for nearly six years. It was one of the first stories I read (the Cold Equations trilogy) back in 2013 with Data's resurrection seeming to be an unavoidable part of the Star Trek story whether we wanted it to happen or not.

Here he and Lal are more human than ever and almost unrecognisable from their TV personas. Lal is perhaps excused since her appearance was limited to one 45 minute story but Data's journey to become more human is more complete than ever with him distinctly different to the being we knew. For me, however this character is written he is not "that" Data. For better or worse the original wasn't brought back exactly the same instead with some significant character trait leaps which even now are fairly jarring.

Section 31: Control however must be viewed in the bigger scheme of things and perhaps not have as much drawn from it to parallel to upcoming franchise events. Whether I'm a fan of Human Data or not, this is one of those Star Trek novels that you have to get hold of and is well worth a read. While Deep Space Nine: Gamma might have taken a long while to get through, this was a page turner without doubt. 

One more winner from David Mack. Looking forward to seeing how his upcoming work from the franchise pans out!

Section 31: Control is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £7.99 

What's been your favourite part of the novels story? What do you think will happen going forward into 2020?

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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

We Are Borg: Faction Pack Part Two

The first part of our look at the Borg Faction Pack checked out half of the ships, the captains, Crew and Elite Actions - so now let's analyse the two new pack vessels and the rest...

Trekking out into this new set are two updated Federation/Borg starships in the form of Assimilated Target Prime and USS Voyager.

Voyager is the more expensive of the pair so lets start out there. Costing a chewy 34 points, the Intrepid Class ship is one of those craft that seem to have been forgotten in the later waves of the game - but it's still awesome. Attacking with five dice, defending with two, hulled up with four points and raising six Shield points, Voyager can join a Borg or a Federation fleet with its dual allegiance although it doesn't field a Regeneration Action. This ship carries the expected Target Lock, Battle Stations, Scan and Evade you would find on a Federation ship plus can accommodate two Crew, one Weapon, one Tech and one Borg upgrade. 

For its Unique Action, Voyager can perform a Target Lock as a free action if a green maneuver is performed that round. There seem to be a lot of free actions bobbing about in this set with a fair few cards in the first half of our review providing this option.

The generic Intrepid Class ship (or Federation/Borg Starship...) loses a Crew slot and a Shield point but switches the Scan Action out for the Regeneration Action and is stripped of a unique action for 29 points - that's a big drop in cost to offer up a more Borg inspired starship. It also benefits from having no red speeds, punching to a top of five with bank turns at speeds one, two and three. Certainly this one can get around with hard left and rights at speeds two and three although there are no reverse moves available meaning you'll need to run and turn rather than being able to immediately able to change direction.

As for the model it's a straight silver respray of the Voyager from Wave Six with additional circuitry decals across the surface to display its assimilation. The finish overall seems a little grimier with an apparent dirt wash running into all the panel and shield grid lines. The detail shines through a little stronger against the silver hull with the lifeboat hatches and RCS thrusters in particular standing out.

Now second up is Assimilation Target Prime. The named version can play as either Mirror Universe or Borg and out of the box it's equipped with the Regeneration Action alongside Scan, Target Lock and Evade. Two Crew, one Weapon, one Tech and one Borg upgrade can be outfitted onto this craft which is definitely a more powerful version of the Galaxy Class with five Attack, five Hull and four Shield points although the one Defence stat is a little concerning and might mark this ship out for an early exit. The stats also outweigh the rather feeble Unique Action allowing you to equip anything to this ship and that the single Tech upgrade allowed will cost one point less. I wouldn't be adding this to a fleet for that ability - definitely the stats.

The generic version can be Federation or Borg with a loos of the usual Shield point and a Crew slot. As with Voyager it costs a lot less at only 24 points placing this also as a damn good option for any Borg or Federation fleet. The top speed of this one is a decent six although it will incur the dreaded Auxiliary Power Token as will the reverse one move and the hard turns at speed three.

The bank turns at speed one plus the forward speeds at one to three are green and for one I'd say this is a big step up from the truck that was the Starter Pack USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D. Shame that Assimilation Target Prime can't be a Federation starship but the generic version might just carry a little favour with the stronger firepower and Borg options.

Again this model's received a shiny new silver coat of paint with painted on Borg circuitry details top and bottom. On both this and Voyager the silver doesn't overpower the hull detail and the lifeboat hatches again standout against the hull. I think these two are a great couple of ships and a step up on earlier finishes but the Borg detailing should be added onto the hull not just painted. I can understand it's down to keeping costs low but there's a sense of disappointment once you get it out of the box to find it's not really much different to the originals.

We've covered the Captains and Crew already so let's load the tubes and discuss the Weapons. The Advanced Proton Beam (Borg faction only) costs three points and can be utilised on a full 360 degree arc at range one. Using the same number of dice as the equipped ship's primary weapon, this ignores Shields and goes straight for the hull, potentially inflicting Critical Damage in the process. Two Drone tokens will be used up and the card will be discarded but it does allow for a rather - cutting - attack early on. I do like this one a lot and it's a unique result for an attack.

Costing the same as the primary weapon of the ship it is equipped to is also the case with Bio-Molecular Torpedo. Able to be plugged into either a Borg or Federation starship, the Torpedo can be reused and attacks with the same number of dice as the carrying ship's primary weapon (same as its cost). Notably this one doesn't need to be discarded or disabled due to the token cost and if it hits then the opposing Captain and Crew onboard receive two Time Tokens each. If it's a Species 8472 ship then all of the cards on that craft are hit with the Time Tokens. 

I'd play this one if I had a captain with the maximum Drone Token amount just to use this as much as possible and close down your opposing fleet as soon as possible. 

There's a lone Tech upgrade with Integrated Borg Technology (Borg faction). The one point cost lets you drop another Borg upgrade onto your ship and with this pack there are five that can be packed onto your ship or fleet.

The five point Borg Multi-Adaptive Shields let you cancel a Damage result when defending and is only discarded when you run out of Shields. Best application for this has to be on one of the Borg craft without the ability to defend. Technological Distinctiveness (three points) is powered up with Mission Tokens which can be added once per round as your Action. These can be traded in to add attack dice to your turn. It doesn't specify if you have to use all in one go however the point that it rolls one extra for each Mission Token on the card does suggest this. Nor does it suggest discarding after use - potentially you could have a huge amount of tokens on here - and then add in a Target Lock...boom.

Assimilation Tubes gets discarded but for three points you do get to steal a Crew upgrade from an enemy ship up to range two and there are no restrictions to add it on to your own Borg vessel. Note this is one of those hugely situational cards requiring you to target a ship that has no Shields or a Cloak in operation.

Interlink Transceiver is a classic card for the under-defended Borg by increasing their defence by one - as long as they are within range one. Two points is a menial cost for this upgrade and I would have this onboard alongside the Integrated Borg Technology to add in another Borg option. 

Annoyingly these Borg upgrades are damn good and even a one point Distribution Nodes card is a winner. During Activation you can target a friendly ship at range one, deal a Damage point to that vessel so that one of the Hull points on the card carrying vessel is repaired.

The Borg Faction Pack comes with two new missions to play out as part of an Uneasy Alliance arc. Part One sees each player in this two player scenario picking a Federation ship and a Borg ship each. The Federation ship of each player is out to collect mission tokens from the planet while the Borg ships are there to try and prevent their opponent's Federation ship from getting within range two to complete scans (and thereby gain mission tokens). The winner either destroys their opponents ships or gets the most mission tokens when they are all collected.

Part Two follows a similar vein with each player once again fielding a Borg and a Federation ship. This time your objective is to collect Mission Tokens from the Objectives set around the board which are set as wrecked starships.

Again either destroy or conquer in order to find out who has been destroying these craft. For those with some background knowledge  you'll spot that both of these scenarios are loosely based around Scorpion!

Federation ships can collect tokens by rolling five defence die and achieving at least two Evade results. Borg ships can target the Federation ship of their opponent to steal away those tokens as long as a five defence die roll includes two Evade results.

The Borg Faction pack might not be the most impressive when it comes to new models but the cards, especially the captains and Borg upgrades are extremely useful. As always the Borg are ridiculously overpowered and under defended but you can at least face off Federation Borg versus Borg Borg with some level of fairness on the table. I tend to use the Borg more for practice in one player set ups and now there's a decent spread of options to set out.

Playing straight from the box the two missions are a little too samey although they do offer some new gameplay elements with the defence rolls and use of Objective tokens. In the deck there aren't any revolutionary new moves however the inclusion of Locutus outside of the oversize Cube will keep fans happy - perhaps more surprising is the choice to put three high skill captains in one pack. 

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Friday, 1 November 2019

We Are Borg: Faction Pack Part One

Deadlier, stronger and with some new twists, the Borg Faction Pack returns one of Star Trek's greatest foes to Attack Wing.

This time, of course, it's personal with one of the most ferocious line ups of all time - a Scout Cube and a Sphere now joined by a Borged USS Voyager and Assimilated Target Prime, a Borged Galaxy Class starship both of which we'll cover in Part Two.

First up lets tackle the updated Borg Scout Cube 609. Carrying screenshots from I, Borg, the ship packs three dice for attack and defence alongside two hull points and four shield points. Its basic actions are Evade, Scan, Target Lock and Regenerate while the four upgrade slots provide one for each of the available categories - Weapons, Crew, Tech and Borg. Offering some form of defence for the horribly under-defended Borg ships, the Scout Cube can regenerate one shield and one hull point as its Action. 

It can perform this when at Range one and might be a big help to the Sphere as a support craft since it has no dice to roll in defence.   As for speed and movement, the Scout Cube can punch up to speed four along with a reverse pace of three. As with all Borg ships it can only perform right angle turns at speeds one to four with all moves at four or reverse three incurring an Auxiliary Power Token. Given the size of ship this is pretty impressive maneuverability to be offered up especially from the Borg which already have significant advantages.

Also note that the cost of this ship for your fleet - 22 points is not double the total of the four ship stats. The generic Scout Cube is also a bargain at a mere 17 points offering strong upgrade possibilities sacrificing a Weapon upgrade and a shield point for the price.

In terms of the model, it's a slightly lighter shade of grey than the solus edition we have reviewed previously and carries exactly the same details; no big improvements here and nor are there any changes when it comes to the model of the Sphere - even down to the idiotic way it's been orientated. The Sphere is still 90 degrees incorrectly aligned with the panelling running front to back rather than top to bottom. With a minor adjustment, some filler and a drill you can have the Sphere the right way up in about ten minutes...

Sphere 634 packs a bigger attack loading up six dice on the offensive although there is nothing to counter an assault with zero for defence (so keep the Scout Cube close to hand). 

Additionally, the Sphere bears seven hull and seven shield points so its going to last a little longer than the Scout Cube. It only has built in Actions for Target Lock, Scan and Regenerate which could leave you desperately needing some assistance.   As for cards you can equip up to two Borg, one Weapon, Crew and Equipment upgrades onto the Sphere to make even more of this dangerous ship.

During Combat, Sphere 634 can spend a Target Lock to discard a Scan, Evade or Battle Stations token from an enemy craft within range two, thus depriving it of means of additional defence or attack. I've always felt this is one of the criminally overpowered ships in the game and one that is a hard target to eliminate. Even the generic version losing a Borg upgrade and a shield point barely has an effect on its dominant presence in the game. 

As with the Scout Cube its movements top out at speed four and bottom at reverse three. The left and right turns at speed four and reverse three will lead to an Auxiliary Power Token while forward speeds one, two and three are ranked green. The movement plus high attack make this a difficult option to ignore in a Borg fleet.

The pure named Borg captains in the faction pack are just as hardcore as the two ships. The Borg Queen and Locutus both pack a nine Captain skill with the former costing five points to the latter's four. Looking at the abilities of both it's clear why one is more expensive. Both are set up with nine Drone tokens however the Queen can be any other captain ability in your fleet that requires spending at least one Drone Token. 

That's a bonkers ability giving you the chance to play any Action in your fleet wherever that ship is on the board since it's not range limited. The Borg Queen is also able to field am Elite Ability. Pick wisely...

Then there's Locutus. A much wanted card since he's only appeared in the original Oversize Borg Cube pack in retail stores but don't get too excited for to see his visage. His abilities aren't as useful as the Queen as he only provides the chance to add an extra two Crew slots on your ship and cannot be equipped to a fleet that also has Picard onboard. No faction penalties are caused when equipping Crew upgrades here so it's a good card to let you take full advantage of your collection. Picard will also allow the addition of an Elite Action. Bit of a downer in my opinion and should have had some form of ability to predict movements if the opponent was Federation.

Kathryn Janeway (Borg or Federation faction) starts off with a Captain Skill of eight with a cost to your fleet of five points. Each time an opposing ship within range two performs an Evade, Scan or Battle Station Action, one of the Drone tokens can be used and the opponent ship can be targetted. The Action it performed can then be completed as a freebie and leads to your opponent gaining the joys of an Auxiliary Power Token - so a win, win situation for your team. 

The final captain option is the Operations Drone costing a more affordable/reasonable three points. Initially working with a skill of six, the Drone can target a ship at ranges one or to during the Planning Phase of the game and lumber that craft with an Auxiliary Power Token at the cost of one of its Drone Tokens. 

All of the three would be a good punt to team up with the Borg Queen although my personal choice out of the box would be to link up the Queen and Janeway to nullify any Action effects across the board.

If you've got the Elite Action slot in play then the pack provides three new options to play with. The five point Collective Consciousness is effective between ranges one and three and incurs three Time Tokens to target all Borg captains. The result is pretty hardcore especially if it's coupled with Crosis and/or the Borg Queen/Locutus meaning potentially all your Borg commanders could be punching with a skill of up to nine allowing for some early attacks.

Root Command is our first look at a discard feature in this pack with a cost of four and useful up to range two. Initially it's not the greatest but for the chance to select which one of your ships gets attacked could well extend the life of your fleet - however it will rely on there being another ship in range to use to take the heat off your ailing ship for instance. I can get the use but it's very selective when it could be played - maybe one for those who fancy a good bit of close combat.

Third up is another Elite Action costing four points with Ocular Implants. Offering up the chance to spin out a free Scan Action when you perform Target Lock it's one that can be played every single round and if you can twin it with a Target Lock Action this could being a nice series of combos.

Crew slots on your ships can be filled up with five possibles - Three of Nine and Tuvok cost five points a piece with Crosis and B'Elanna Torres costing three points and finally Seven of Nine costing two. 

Three of Nine Is well worth purchasing for your vessel as his ability means the Regeneration function will repair a Hull and a Shield point at the same time plus there's no loss of attack from using the Action and it's neither a discard or a disable. For five points you can't do any wrong with this card as it'll certainly provide lasing benefits for any Borg ship especially those with zero natural defence ability - we're looking at you Borg Sphere.

Tuvok can be equipped either as a Federation character or a Borg crewmember. During the modifying of your attack dice step of an attack you can use the assimiliated Vulcan to spend a Drone token from your captain stopping the opponent from rerolling any dice and if the attacking ship carries any Federation Weapon upgrades it will flip a Damage or Critical Damage result over to a blank. Wow - Tuvok is rather useful and moreso to the Borg than the Federation in faction pure situations.Utilising the Drone tokens does mean this becomes a multiple use card over, potentially, consecutive rounds to beat down heavy attacks from Battle Station use in particular.

With Crosis, this character pumps your Captain Skill up by a point (useful if you have an opponent throwing another nine out there) but also means that a Borg Captain can go up three skill points which can make this a very cost effective addition to your fleet. The extra benefit with Crosis is that he can take over as captain if your ship's commander is discarded and starts out with a skill of five.

Certainly a good and multi-use card in this but B'Elanna can operate as either Federation or Borg. Not too hot an option initially but consider this - she'll let you add a Borg Tech slot to your ship and for each unused slot it'll cost a point less. Now here's a thing - if you're playing faction pure this is a non-starter since Borg upgrades are always Borg faction. B'Elanna is one of those specific use cards if you're chucking in anything to make the perfect combos but will be of more benefit on a Borg pure ship to reduce your outgoings.

The surprisingly low priced Seven of Nine is cheap for a reason - she adds a Borg Tech upgrade to your bar and reduces the cost of all your Borg upgrades by a point.... and that's it. Very direct use but really one that you'll be leaving in the pack unless you're really, really really desperate to fill a slot.

In the second part of the Borg Faction Pack review we will be taking a look at the two new starships plus the Weapon, Borg and Tech upgrades...

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