Friday, 14 May 2021

Out in the Beyond: Star Trek Starships: The Borg and the Delta Quadrant

Never ones to slink away from a good book, HeroCollector have continued their Shipyards series by taking us into Voyager territory.

Now, the observant among you will of course be screaming "But this is just the Official Starships Collection magazines in a book!" - and to some extent you are totally correct. This first (of two) volumes covers the Borg plus A-K in the alphabet of Delta alien ships and yes,there's a degree of repetition which is unavoidable.

However, it's much more than that. Pages 10 - 44 are pure Borg with the Cube, Sphere, Queen's Ship, Renegade Ship, Tactical Cube and Probe all lifted page for page from the original 180 issue collection. There is the inclusion of a size chart but this is hardly going to get established fans and HeroCollector collectors(!) reaching for their debit cards. 

No, that's coming from the second section from pages 48 to 221. 

There are again some obvious culprits we've read before - Alice, the Bo'Mar Patrol Ship, USS Dauntless, Dala's Delta Flyer, the Hirogen Warship etc etc but of the 48 ships in this part of the book, 34 of them are brand spanking new. Yes - 34 and that's probably surprised you!

There is a real mix in there with some serious rehashing of established models from TNG and DS9 and would be recycled again for ENT. It also shouts out that there were a few significant craft that didn't make the 180 cut (looking at you Kazon Carrier) but are thankfully at least included on paper here. 

Certainly having them all in a smaller volume is going to save some weight on those shelves but the key is just how much the book expands onto lesser known ships both detailing their appearance in episodes and in some cases even adding in a whole new set of plan views.

Typically you do find that the ships covered in the magazines have a significantly larger amount of space handed to them. But this doesn't take anything away from the new CG of the Trans-Stellar Rally competitors, the odd Cravic Starship from Prototype or the spindly Dinaali Hospital Ship from Critical Care. The Hirogen Venatic Class is a standout entry although that Kazon Carrier is one that should have been, similarly the Fighter. The tragedy is perhaps that in some instances there's barely a paragraph on the ship and 3/4 of the page is taken up with a single picture. Maybe an opportunity to add in some background info - but then that's what the Designing Starships book series is there for isn't it...?

As the text of the book is kept "in-universe", HeroCollector have wisely added a couple of sections to the back of this volume detailing episodes A-Z where the ships appeared and immediately after an A-Z the other way of the ships then aligned to their respective episodes.

There's really nothing not to like here even given the amount of repeat content. There's a lot new in a very familiar layout that all Collection collectors will recognise in a heartbeat. Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley have put together an even more extensive book and in a lot of ways you can understand why they're gone this way.

There are a fair few ships in here that, while it's great to read about them they really didn't need to get the metal and plastic treatment as much as some others. The phrase "scraping the barrel" has been heard a few times as the series came towards its inevitable conclusion and although there are a couple of unforgivable misses, the authors have done well to condense and expand the Star Trek Starships reference material in a whole set of new avenues. 

Star Trek Shipyard: The Borg and the Delta Quadrant is available NOW from HeroCollector 

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Thursday, 13 May 2021

Droning On: Attack Wing Prototype 01 and ISS Enterprise Expansions

 I'm sure I can smell 'em at 1000 miles. 

Once more we're back looking at some Attack Wing expansions that I've finally managed to procure to strengthen the Romulan and Mirror Universe fleets.

First let's start off with the Drone ship from Enterprise. Usually the models get an absolute slating for their sloppy paint jobs and lack of detailing - but this one is exceptional for all the right reasons.

The colouring, the panel lines, even the holographic emplacements and subspace aerials are all in place. The precision is frankly gobsmacking especially against absolutely any other ship in the game. Prototype 01 maxes out on appearance and given its intricate appearance that even gave Eaglemoss a challenge, this is some achievement. Why oh why the ISS Enterprise comes out the way it does leaves much to the imagination.

With the knowledge that Prototype 01 is from the Enterprise era, players will be expecting it to be underpowered n comparison to ships from the TNG era and beyond. It does have a series of stable stats but will need others to help it out.

With a flat 3 points across Attack, Defence, Hull and Shields, Prototype 01 can regenerate a Hull or Shields point in each End Phase certainly increasing its lifetime. It can only be commanded by either Gareb or a Romulan Drone Pilot. It also carries a Target Lock, Evade and Scan Actions plus 3 Tech and a Weapon upgrade. 

Costing 24 points it’s an average price for a ship that can rebuild itself. The generic Drone loses a Shield, the unique ability to rebuild a Shield or Hull and a Tech upgrade to roll in at 22 points..

Nor is Prototype 01 particularly speedy. Maxing out at 3, it has a full range of turns for Ranges 2 and 3 with forward and banks at Range 1. Although speed isnt something to worry too much about with the ton of additions this pack comes with. 

Romulan Valdore is your top Captain choice here however he’s unable to be equipped on the Prototype which makes zero sense why he’s in the expansion. At Skill 6, Valdore adds a Tech slot to his assigned vessel which comes in handy when utilising the other half of his ability to add a dice in Attack for the cost of discarding one of the Tech upgrades on your ship. 

Gareb however can be placed aboard the Prototype. After set up you can choose a Captain card to provide his Skill. He is unaffected by anything that will attack a standard Captain and can field as many Elite Actions as the chosen Captain card he uses. That ‘hidden’ card also costs 3 points less than usual if combined with Gareb. One of the game’s more unusual ways of commanding a ship however the chance to dodge any ill effects must be seen as a winner. Finally you can choose to go with the Romulan Drone Pilot which is this ship’s version of a generic Captain. As with Gareb though it can’t be affected by actions directed at a Captain. 

I had hoped this pack would have an ability to change into an opposing ship for a turn but that’s not happening. The lone Weapon upgrade here is Triphasic Emitters. After Set Up, in a similar way to Gareb, you choose a non-Borg Weapon upgrade costing 5 points or less and place it face down under Triphasic Emitters. In the Attack Phase you can then discard the top card and perform your chosen move and then bin that card off as well. The Emitters upgrade costs 4 points so pick your Weapon wisely!

With no Crew, the Drone pack clocks in an unusually high amount of Tech options - 5 in all. Costing five points and therefore the most expensive to drop onto your ship is Propulsion Matrix. By revealing a 3 maneuver during Activation you can up it to a 4 or a 5 although it does come at the cost of an Auxiliary Power Token. Good to have something like this available that can be reused and isn't locked to this specific craft either. Perhaps more affordable is the three point Maneuvering Thrusters. This offers some help during defending as it can be disabled and you gain an Evade token even if one s already in play. This one's only available for the Drone unless you're willing to fork out a further five penalty points to stick it on another vessel. I very much doubt that would be an option.

Another three pointer is Reinforced Hull Plating which can be disabled to cancel a Damage or Critical Damage result or for the same price there's Multi-Spectral Emitters. Utilising the ship's key feature as seen in Enterprise, this disables remaining Shields (and this card) but adds two dice to your defence. This is only for use on the Drone as is Backup Sequencer. Use this in conjunction with the Emitters and you've got a very strong combination move since this can be disabled at any time. This one is a low costing 2 points but what's interesting with all the Drone Tech options is that all of them are reusable. Each is only disabled meaning that you're able to take advantage right to the end.

If it is all looking a bit bleak though, there is Core Overload. Unavoidably a discard for 5 points, this comes into play at the end of the Activation Phase once everyone has moved. The ship itself is destroyed and 3 attack dice are also rolled to see the effect on close range craft. Anything in range one is affected by each Damage or Critical Damage rolled - which could leave more of an impression than you might first think. It's also a card you can't use in conjunction (not really a shock) with the cunning little Cheat Death card from the refit USS Enterprise pack.

Taking to the mission, we have Destablise the Sector. An unusual one, it sees a 40 point Federation player head up against the Drone and one non-Romulan ship which is classed as Neutral. To begin with the Romulans have control of this but if it loses Shields then the Federation player can attempt to take it. Victory comes from defeat of your opponents as standard but the ability to switch the third vessel between sides makes this an interesting twist.

Now over to the ISS Enterprise pack as generated from TOS' Mirror Mirror. The model itself is nothing new and those familiar with previous reviews of the USS Enterprise pack as well as the recent Animated Series faction pack will know that this is the smallest ship in the game and by proxy, also one of the most poorly painted. I'm looking forward to seeing what Wizkids have done with it for the Vulcan Faction Pack which has just been released in the UK.

So I'll skip the customary pointers on the paintwork and head into the cards themselves. It does come with the usual Constitution Class specs with 3 Attack, 1 Defence, 4 Hull and 3 Shields as well as the collection of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battlestation Actions. You can fit her out with an even range of slots - 2 Weapon, 2 Crew and a Tech with the cost coming to 22 points. This one does have a decent aggressive advantage too since the use of the Target Lock in combat allows you to add a further die to the assault. If you choose the generic Mirror Universe version of the Enteprise you'll lose the Unique Action (which is rather useful!) as well as a Crew and Weapon slot and a Shield for 20 points.

Movement is also standard for the Constitution Class so I won't run through that again here (but refer to the other reviews!).

Rocking out the goatee as our highest skilled Captain in the pack is Mr Spock. Trouncing Kirk with a 7 skill, Spock costs 5 points and can field an Elite Action. He also allows you to perform a Free Action during the Activation Phase which could help you gain the upper hand even if you do need to add in an Auxiliary Power Token. James T Kirk costs 4 points with a skill of 6 and can also equip an Elite Action. He's a big resource user though with players able to disable 3 upgrades to gain 1 extra Attack die per card used. It's a powerful strike but might it leave you open to more damage in the future?

Pike is used for the generic Captain card with a skill of 1 and a cost of 0 so nothing to see here!

Onto Crew and we have Chekov, Sulu and Moreau. Pavel Chekov's grin might be to do with his cost of 5 points more than anything else. Offering two choices, Chekov can either be discarded during Activation to perform an Action from the ship's Action Bar as a freebie or you can gain an extra die in Attack with a Secondary Weapon if you performed a Green Maneuver. This is a big benefit especially when it comes to torpedoes and might end up with your rearward fire being more powerful than your main weapon.

Scar-faced Hikaru Sulu (4 points) offers a Target Lock when disabled and then a Free Action from the Action Bar. Now if I read this right that means you can use an Action 3 times in that round - 2 from this card and then a further one as standard. Marlena Moreau is definitely one to field if you're using the Captain's Elite Action feature. She reduces its cost by a point and as your Action for the round she increases the Captain skill by 3 points. That card is then also free from any effects of enemy upgrades at the same time. 

On the Weapon choices you have the ever-present Photon Torpedoes providing 4 dice in Attack at ranges 2-3 and costing 3 points but there's also Phaser Barrage. Beautifully brutal as you would hope from the ISS Enterprise, this card is disabled for an initial 3 dice attack. However, roll at least 2 Damage or Critical Damage results and you gain a further three dice with the cumulative results of all 6 dice hitting your opponent. For a cost of 5 points this is well worth adding although you have no certainty of success!

Agony Booth marks the solo Tech addition here. While the ability to use a Crew upgrade as a free Action is nothing new, the chance to use it even if it's disabled is huge. Yes, it's a discard for 3 points but even the cost here isn't off-putting if it means you can string a combo together for 2 consecutive turns for instance.

Finally, there's Tantalus Field. Tying nicely into Mirror, Mirror, this high priced 6 pointer makes Moreau an essential to bring the price down. It's as equally, if not more brutal than Phaser Barrage too. No dice are used and it's a straight discard for the chance to remove a Captain or Crew upgrade from an enemy vessel at range 1. Only available for the ISS Enterprise this could bring that 9 skill Captain crashing down in the blink of an eye and makes the Mirror Universe starship that little bit more deadly. 

The Gorlan Uprising scenario sees Captain Kirk on the ISS Enterprise taking on an enemy fleet with the objective to destroy a rebel homeworld and avoid destruction at the hands of their defending fleet. The Enterprise is part of a 100 point group and directly attacks the world, removing a Mission Token for each hit achieved.  Perhaps not quite as exciting or unique as the two player game with the Romulan Drone but one that does mean you'll be playing a few ships and not just be in a one on one skirmish.

You can check out all our Attack Wing reviews over on the Gaming Section!

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