Friday, 25 June 2021

Live Long and Prosper: Attack Wing's Vulcan Faction Pack

Vulcans. You can’t trust ‘em. Apparently. One minute they’re a faction on their own and then they decide they want to act as a sub-faction… as I said, can’t trust ‘em.

With that little twist to their existence in Attack Wing now a few years old it was somewhat of a surprise to see that they would be receiving their own faction pack and, in all honesty, it’s fairly decent.

Not just relying on Vulcans from Enterprise or multiple Spocks, the Live Long and Prosper box takes its lead from the prequel series as well as TOS and DS9 with callouts to The Immunity Syndrome and Take Me Out to the Holosuite

Dropping in two D’Kyr Class ships from Enterprise, the pack is fleshed out with the Constitution Class USS Intrepid and the Nebula Class USS T’Kumbra. There’s also a bountiful supply of captains, upgrades and missions to fulfil your fleet needs so let’s engage!

All of the models have been released before but unbelievably this is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of a D’Kyr Class starship - and two arrive at the same time. Coloured in the classic sandy Vulcan paint, the ships are among the best and most cleanly detailed in the Attack Wing collection. For once the hull lines are visible, there's distinct engine markings and - shocker - there's even multiple colour shades across the hull.  The D'Kyr is well suited to this scale so having two isn't a bad thing.

Now to the ship stats and it's a little surprising that the Nebula Class isn't the most powerful ship in the box. That falls to the 25 point V'Shar from the D'Kyr Class with 3 in attack, 1 defence, 5 Hull and 4 Shields. All the Vulcan craft operate with the standard Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations Actions available. The V'Shar also provides the slots for 2 additional Tech, 1 Weapon and 1 Crew. As for a Unique Action, the starship can spend a Scan and on the next attack ignore its target's shields - big chance to hit some critical damage early on!

The 24 point Kir'Shara is the second of those D'Kyr Class ships in the box. Levelled out with the same attack, defence, hull and shield scores as the V'Shar it carries 2 Crew, 1 Weapon and a Tech upgrade option. Why there's a point difference (literally 1 point) is unclear. The Kir'Shara also uses Scan tokens but this time can convert up to 2 Battle Station results into Damage results if said token is in play.

Both the T'Kumbra and the Intrepid operate as dual faction ships, either Vulcan or Federation. The 22 point T'Kumbra is perhaps the best all-rounder with 4 Attack, 1 Defence, 4 Hull and 4 Shields along with a set best 5 upgrade slots comprising 2 Tech, 2 Crew and 1 Weapon. All Captain, Admiral and Crew upgrades from the Vulcan faction assigned to the T'Kumbra cost one less point and when it performs a Scan you can drop an extra Scan token into play. 

The 20 point Intrepid isn't quite as impressive but looks to hold its own with a 3 Attack, 1 Shield, 4 Hull and 3 Shields. You can enhance her with 2 Crew, 1 Weapon and a Tech upgrade plus her Unique Action is a freebie. By placing an Auxiliary Power Token beside the Intrepid you an then target a friendly ship up to range 2 and place a Scan and Evade token next to both craft.  That's a lot of scanning action overall between the four ships with each gaining significant benefits every time.

Stepping into play for your Captain options there's Sisko's Starfleet nemesis Solok with a skill of 7 and a cost of 4 points. All of the captains can field an Elite Action and s an additional perk, Solok is the only one operating dual faction Vulcan/Federation. He can perform his Action up to range 2 and, you guessed it, it's focused around Scan. When he does perform this move, Solok targets an opposing ship with a maneuvre dial that has yet to be flipped. Taking a look at that ship dial, Solok can then make his ship Sensor Echo at speed 1 even if not cloaked.  very tactical play if ever there was. 

Perhaps a little more well known is the 6-skilled T'Pol also priced at 4 points. The Enterprise first officer allows you to change any placed Scan tokens beside her command into either Evade or Battle Stations during combat. Note that there's no disable so this can be done every round and therefore allow you to second guess what's going on.

Muroc oddly costs less than TPol however rocks in with a 7 Captain Skill. Having a Scan available and in play with this captain allows players to convert 1 blank attack die result into a Damage result. Added bonus here too because if Muroc is facing an Independent captain he can convert that blank result into a Critical Damage.

Last there's pop sensation (sorry) T'Pau. Skilled at 5 and costing 4 points she allows a Scan token still in play to be replaced with an Evade and Battle Station which do not need to be removed during the End Phase. 

The Crew options come from TNG, DS9 and VGR - one from each show. T'Paal from Gambit has the Stone of Gol Tech upgrade hidden underneath at a 0 cost. She is discarded from your ship as is a Tech upgrade from a targeted ship within range 2. The Stone of Gol is flipped over and then equipped, ignoring any restrictions on the host vessel. For note, the Stone of Gol costs 3 points. Assassin Chu'Lak (2 points) can play as either Federation or Vulcan and operates as a Free Action to drop 3 Scan tokens next to his ship. Cleverly though you can then choose which Crew upgrade on his ship you discard as the cost for this - so choose wisely as you might be able to use this multiple times.

Voyager's Vorik is also dual faction Vulcan/Federation and costs 2 points. Placing 3 Time Tokens onto his card you can then remove a Target Lock or Battle Station from an attacking ship and place one of those Scan tokens next to his own.

Being Vulcans there are minimal Weapon choices with only Photonic Auto-Cannon and Aft Particle Beam contained in the pack. The former can be fired from both forward and rear-facing arcs at rages 2 or 3. Only able to be fitted to a Vulcan ship, it continues the Scan theme with that token (in play) being switched for 3 Time Tokens. The five dice attack on your opponent then converts all Battle Stations into Damage results.

The rear-only firing Aft Particle Beam (clue in the name), operates up to range 3 with a four dice attack. Costing 2 points, the weapon results in your ship receiving 2 Time Tokens. 

While the Vulcans might skimp on their Weapons, they make up for it with 6 Tech cards which I think is the most provided in any set to date. Most expensive is the 4 point Science Vessel Variant that can be equipped to both D'Kyr and Suurok Class ships, This option increases the defence and hull value of its assigned vessel by 1 point each. Likewise the cheaper 2 point Combat Vessel Variant raises just the Primary Weapon Value by1. Both of these cannot be placed on the same ship at the same time.

Three points will get you the Translinear Sensors. During an attack you can add 3 Time Tokens to this card if there's a Scan in play and the opposing ship can only roll a maximum of 2 dice in defence. The Stone of Gol costs 3 points - and 8 if you're wanting to place it on a non-Vulcan ship. It strikes out up to range 1 and targets an opponent Crew upgrade. The Stone allows you to roll the same number of attack dice as that Crew upgrade costs and if you roll a Critical Damage it's lost. If you don't, then the card receives a Time Token. The attacker ship (yours) also receives 3 Time Tokens onto the Sensors card. A win either way!

Graviton Telescope (2 points) offers the chance to discard it as long as there's a Scan in play on your ship to add a Damage result to your roll. Katric Ark stops a Crew upgrade being discarded as it's placed under this card when it would be lost. Reading into this one it's something you can keep in play until you need to use one of the "lost" Crew upgrades at which point any, other than the one you want to equip, are removed from play. I like this little 2 point safety net as it lessens opponents' effects and gives you a chance to deploy an upgrade as you might have planned.

Live Long and Prosper, the first of 2 Elite Actions, is a discard for 3 points. Available up to range 2, players can roll four defence dice during the Activation Phase and if there are at least 3 Evade results then the ship and a targetted ship cannot be attacked. Maybe a suggestion to fly your Vulcan fleet in close formation for the duration of the game?

The 2 point Logic is the Beginning of Wisdom is also played during the Activation Phase and works up to range 2. It targets a ship and can either put a Time Token, Continuous or Permanent Effect token by that craft - which means that neither of these Elite cards is effective on just enemy craft. 

Last up are the brand spanking new Ambassador cards. While Sarek has already been allocated to the Federation pack, we're handed V'Lar and Soval. Both cost a steady 3 points and have an Negotiation Accepted and Negotiation Denied action.

V'Lar, if accepted, allows opposing players to disable an upgrade on the other player's ship as long as it costs 3 points or less. If denied, she removes a Crew upgrade from the enemy vessel. With Soval, if two chosen opposing ships move into range 1 of each other they both receive an Auxiliary Power Token while denying relations will mean that the Vulcan ship launches a 3 dice attack on a specific ship which cannot be modified or re-rolled.

As with all the new Faction Packs there are also 2 new missions to try out. Assault on Andoria oddly requires a Suurok Class ship that's not in the set and requires the enemy player to use non-Vulcan ships in a straight pitched battle. This is set to a 10 round game with difficulty changed by increasing rounds or decreasing rounds. The "Andorian" player can win if they destroy the Vulcans or last to the end of the final (10th) round.

With Hold the Line, the use of the T'Kumbra and Solok indicates a more DS9 era scenario which is amplified thanks to the inclusion of the Dominion. This is one, potentially, you could spin as a 1 player game setting the Dominion ships in a straight flight from one side of the board to the other or use the evade move set from Alliance

As a set I'm surprised how much it relies on the Scan action however this does provide the Vulcans with a unique selling point. It's also an unexpectedly powerful and varied set with ships of 3 different eras and one of the broadest ranges of tactics I've experienced. There's also a lot of abilities which target Crew in here that balances nicely to the pack's decidedly low amount of Crew. The Vulcan leaning towards Tech is keeping very in character with the franchise and is carried off well in no small part to the amazing low cost of the upgrades included. As I went through the pack I think I was head-building a fleet from the off and had a real challenge deciding what I would have to ditch off for maximum effect. 

As one who has underestimated the abilities of the Vulcans, this pack was a real eye-opener and one that I would suggest any respecting Federation player gets hold of. It certainly polar opposes the Weapon heavy Klingons relying on more "intellectual" means than firing a torpedo to win the battle. This is probably a pack for a player who is looking to try more than standard attacks and a bit of pre-planning.

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

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JLP's Day 2021

It was quite an active 48 hours in the world of Trek with not just a new trailer for Picard but the first real information around the new characters from Nickleodeon's Prodigy series.

Yes, we all know that Kate Mulgrew will be back as Captain Kathryn Janeway, the ship's training hologram but what about the six runaways who acquire the as-yet unseen starship?

Coming later in 2021 and Picard in 2022, Prodigy's cast is a big mash up of existing aliens and brand new ones. Army of the Dead's Ella Purnell arrives as 17 year old Gwyn from the Vau N'Akat. Her character was raised on a mining colony and travelling to the stars has always been her dream.

Brett Grey voices the maverick Dal whose race has yet to be identified. Jason Mantzoukas is the 16 year old Tellarite Zankum Pog. Fans will easily recognise the argumentative race from TOS and latterly Enterprise. A second familiar race is included with Zero. Again TOS fans will know of the Medusans from Is There in Truth No Beauty and this one is buried inside a containment suit to protect anyone around them. Exposure to a Medusan can cause insanity!

Dee Bradley Baker voices Murf who appears to be a blobby alien of nondescript origin who likes the taste of ship parts and is virtually indestructible. Finally, the youngest voice actor is 10 year old Rylee Alazraqui. She plays the shy, rocklike alien Rok Tahk. While not an obvious returning species, the Brikar have been around before in Worf's First Adventure and the New Frontier novels - both of which were penned by the brilliant Peter David.

Little else to go on there from Prodigy and even the few stills released alongside the character photos provide nothing to expand on the story. It does offer a look at the animation style and the characters a little bit closer up. As with all of the other Star Trek productions around it will definitely have its own identity with the freedom of CG providing an unlimited base of opportunity.

In a wild Messenger conversation yesterday I managed to predict that a Picard trailer would land on Captain Picard Day and lo and behold I was proved right. I mean, come on, it was going to be a certainty wasn't it???

"Welcome my friend to the very end of the road not taken..."

While Prodigy's update offers mere suggestions, the live trailer for season 2 of Picard isn't holding back. Opening with Picard seemingly suffering some ill effect, Q is back. The road not taken suggests we're heading into a season of alternatives but not precisely the often walked path of the Mirror Universe. Indeed there seems to be more of an indication that season 2 will be playing out a slight sideways "What If...?" twist that might be spawned or at least inspired by Tapestry, maybe All Good Things... and The Visitor

Aside from a good look at Elnor (who appears purely as a background character here), we get to see Soji in white, Doctor Jurati, Captain Rios and of course Seven.

There's not a lot riding on the sightings of Soji or Jurati but Rios has a distinct look and is sporting a black uniform with an unfamiliar Starfleet badge. Picard and Raffi are back in uniform themselves at what one might assume is Starfleet Headquarters. Their styling is of the uniform used in the flashbacks of season 1 rather than the "present" versions seen at HQ and worn by Riker.

The verdict in humanity's trial may not have been reached but there are more than a couple of surprises and questions packed into the last few seconds. For one, there's an oddly shaped pin badge or object in Seven's room...but when she wakes there's no sign of a single Borg implant...Seven of Nine is totally human which would make her 100% Annika Hansen!

Here's one other thought - perhaps that scene of Jean-Luc faltering at the beginning is Q returning him to human form and ridding us of the contentious robo-Picard that was in play at the end of the first season. Just a thought there but it's something that I wouldn't put past Q nor the writers to deal with the level of backlash that the move to "kill" the captain seemed to create.

Either way - anyway - we'll have to wait at least six months before we get to find out...

Friday, 18 June 2021

Christmas Already? Borg Boxes for Advent...

Hero Collector has just unveiled its latest Star Trek-themed product, and it’s a Borg cube Advent calendar. 

Designed in the shape of the ominous and iconic Borg cube, the cube calendar overflows with 24 high-quality, all-new gifts and accessories, meant to be opened at a rate of one a day, including a coaster set inspired by the console screens from The Original Series, a pair of Enterprise-D socks, and an espresso cup commemorating the first warp flight in human history (in 2063). And while resistance is typically futile when it comes to the Borg, we can’t tell you what else is included, lest we ruin the surprises for fans.

Each day’s gift comes with a festive note detailing the story and trivia behind it, both wrapped together in branded tissue paper. And, so cool and practical is the Borg cube, that fans can use it as a storage and display unit for their Star Trek memorabilia. Perfect for the holidays, it’ll be available in September and can be pre-ordered now at, priced at $139.95 in the U.S. and 109.99 British Pounds in the UK.

The price might be something that will put off a lot of fans, especially for something that's only "technically" around for 24 days however, even just the select teases from HeroCollector suggest this will be an epic product that, if successful, could be repeated and rejigged each year. Quality will be the key and it's not as if they have a vast bank of Star Trek merchandising experience behind them plus the knowledge of one Ben Robinson to knock it out of the park!

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Monday, 14 June 2021

Blood Oath: Attack Wing's Klingon Faction Pack

Packing in a Negh’Var, two K’T'Inga and a B’Rel Class, the latest Klingon faction pack delivers a weighty punch.

With slight updates paint jobs, the four ships provide a full balanced fleet with a stack of new cards to provide that one stop shop to kick off a while faction in one go. As with the Federation’s To Boldly Go was more centred around the exploits of DS9, this set also latches on to the space station spin-off. This time it’s all about Blood Oath, the second season instalment that saw the return of the 3 TOS Klingons Kor, Koloth and Kang united on a quest for vengeance.

We’ll get to them in a second but as usual let’s examine those four ships and the cards that bring them into play. The obvious gripe that could be levelled against the pack is that there’s no Vor’Cha cruiser and seeing as there’s a new Negh’Var class it’s a valid point. Did we need more D7/K’T'Inga’s? Probably not but that might change when we take a look at what they’re toting. If you're looking for reviews of the ship models, check out the full set of Attack Wing expansions I've discussed HERE.

The IKS Devwl takes its name from Star Trek Online and is the pack’s clear capital ship. A 28 point cost is validated with 5 attack, 1 defence, 6 Hull and 3 shield points. Standard Actions of Evade, Target Lock as well as Cloak and Sensor Echo are available on all four craft here with the Devwl providing further upgrade slots to maximise its abilities. 

Players can add up to 3 Crew, 1 Weapon and 1 Tech card here and you’d be foolish not to boost those defensive capabilities. Disabling one of those Crew upgrades when attacking and Cloaked will stop you from decloaking and also gain a Battlestation token for the remainder of the round. 

The generic version costs 24 points losing the Unique Action, a Hull point and 1 Crew slot but that’s fair for the price. The IKS K’Tanco and IKS T’Acog both cost 21 points as K’T’Inga Class ships but each has a slightly different spin. Both operate a 4 attack, 1 defence, 4 Hull and 3 shield basic but the K’Tanco allows for 2 Crew and 2 Weapon upgrades while the T’Acog has 2 Crew, 1 Weapon and 1 Tech. Both are also very good contenders in your fleet with the K’Tanco allowing a free 4 point or less Tech upgrade to be equipped even if it exceeds restrictions while the T’Acog can perform a Sensor Echo as a free action even while cloaked. If it is cloaked it can Echo using a 3 move template rather than just a 1 or 2. These are insane Actions to have on such ships and do tempt me into using the Klingons more often!

Two generic versions cost 16 points losing the Unique Actions plus a shield with one offering each upgrade slot while the other has 2 Weapon and and 1 Crew space. 

Finally there’s the IKS Kos’Kari; the Albino’s Bird of Prey. Unusually it’s dual faction with players able to use it either as a Klingon or Independent and with a 16 point cost it’s an attractive proposition. Only dropping a Hull point versus the K’T’Inga's, the B’Rel class stands firm with 4 Attack, 1 defence, 3 Hull and 3 Shields. This ship genuinely excites me as it’s designed to be taking on bigger vessels. Her Unique Action offers two possibilities. There’s either to steal an Evade, Battle Station or Scan from the target ship (Hull of 4 or more) and put it on your own OR when attacking a Klingon ship or a ship with a Klingon captain you can add a damage point to your roll. While it is a well balanced and priced scout class, the Unique Action targeting one particular faction does make it less attractive but only slightly since the reworking of the cost system. 

With the 4 ships you get five Captain cards; the Dahar Masters Kor, Koloth and Kang (TOS and DS9 versions) and The Albino. Aside from TOS Kang, all of the captains skill up to 7 and cost 4 points to equip. 

Kor can have the Dahar Master Elite Action equipped for free and draws fire from enemy ships. Taking on an Auxiliary Power Token, Kor’s ship then takes on all the red Target Locks from friendly craft. Koloth allows his ship to perform a speed of 2 as an extra manoeuvre if he’s within range 2 of an opposing ship. Kang targets a specific opposing captain and if an attack is launched on that individual then he can be discarded to add to extra Critical Damage results. Interesting that two of these captains are self-sacrificing. Then there's The Albino. Massively useful if you're up against Klingon foes because his attacking nature and ability to add a die to your roll. 

If that attack lands (and I'm guessing that means as a whole not just that one die), once per game he can also remove an opponent Crew upgrade from the target ship. Add into that a once-per-game ability to move last and you have quite a decent and reasonably priced Captain given specific circumstances.

The younger Kang sports a skill of 8 and a cost of 5 to represent his slightly more prime abilities. He forces an opponent to reroll their attack through spending his own Target Lock. I'd probably be wanting his older version in all honesty.

Five captains and appropriately 5 Crew to go with them. Yeto, a Klingon mercenary from Invasive Procedures, classes as both Klingon and Independent for 4 points. A hefty price to pay but when within range 2 of an unshielded enemy ship he can disable and/or steal a Crew upgrade. As a discard it's a good action to have available if there's a tasty upgrade to be had.

Ch'Targh (3 points) cloaks your ship and removes an Auxiliary Power Token in the End Phase. There's also no specific to say that you have to do both of these things so she could effectively be a "late" Free Action to play it safe. Kolana (2 points) cuts down your susceptibility to Time Tokens on Weapons. As a good Klingon ship usually has some Photon Torpedoes in stock, she reduces the number of tokens placed by one, If the ship is Cloaked then she negates 2 tokens.

The Klingon Gunner (2 points) adds a Damage result to your attack and is discarded and finally there's Kang's wife, Mara (2 points). Perfect for running alongside Kang since she can be discarded instead of the captain, she also adds a Scan ability to the ship she is assigned to. 

The Blood Oath pack does contact a couple of duplicates to allow for multiple ships to carry the same items. One of these is Concussive Charges. A 2 point Weapon, this one operates up to range 2 and can be fired fore or aft with the same number of dice as the ship's primary weapon. Players spend their Cloak token, raise shields and slap on 2 Time Tokens before targeting an opponent. If equipped to a K'T'Inga Class ship its effectiveness shoots up with an additional attack die in play plus the chance to remove tokens from beside the enemy dependent on how many Damage or Critical Damage results are left uncancelled.

Waylay can only be equipped to ships with a Hull of 3 or less and again costs 2 points. Only useable in the forward firing arc and up to range 2, it does have more than a few similarities to Concussive Charges. Hitting with the same number of dice as a primary weapon, Waylay receives 2 Time Tokens upon activation during Attack. If it's aboard a B'Rel Class then the defending ship also receives an Auxiliary Power Token as a bonus effect. Not enough? Then it keeps on giving as the ship on which this is placed then gets to perform a 1 bank left or right plus gets an Evade token in play. That's a ton of stuff to benefit from on one very cheap card.

There's a lone Tech upgrade too with Science Station. Adding a Tech slot to the ship, this 4 pointer works up to range 3 and only when Cloaked. Receiving 2 Time Tokens, this Free Action sees your ship gain a Scan token and if you have an enemy in the forward firing arc you can put a Target Lock into play. No specifics if this is an either/or card so I'd take it you can perform both if they apply. 

There are also 4 Elite Action cards here although three are duplicates of the Dahar Master. Linking perfectly with the set and the episode, Dahar Master can only be equipped to Kor, Koloth or Kang and increases the skill of the captain it is assigned to by 1. For each copy of this Elite Action in play, there is a further increase of 1 skill point. Added extra here in that it also allows your ship to Cloak or Target Lock as a freebie - and we all love a freebie. Definitely one to pull out whatever version of these captains you use - TOS, DS9 or even TAS!

Rounding out the regular expectation of cards is A Death Worthy of Sto-Vo-Kor. Not too highly priced - it's 4 points which is this pack's most expensive card(s). It comes with a certain amount of baggage as it's a discard that also takes a Crew card with it. It then causes the opposing ship (within range 2) to lose an upgrade and if that costs more than the Crew upgrade discarded from your own ship then you add an extra attack die for that round. Long winded but useful if you couple it with some of the other attacking cards in this pack. 

The big addition for the recent faction packs as a whole are the Ambassador cards. Kamarag (ambassador from The Voyage Home and The Undiscovered Country) forces two ships to attack each other if negotiations are accepted while if declined the enemy ship rolls 3 less dice to attack on its next attempt. Korrd (The FInal Frontier) steps in to force an enemy ship to plan its manoeuvres face up until it receives any form of damage while declining it means that you get to choose its next move as either a green or white manoeuvre and strictly within the playing field.

These Ambassadors are an interesting take especially since there seems, with the Klingons, to be no benefit to the enemy ship. At least with the Federation - and you would hope with the Vulcans - there's some form of reciprocation. Sadly the Klingons are all out for whatever they can get and with these two options saying "Yes" is probably just as bad as saying "No."!

Blood Oath, the included mission is a straight 2,3 or 4 player game with the Albino being hunted down by the Dahar Masters. With a fixed number of rounds it's a game of survival for the Independent player who can win if he's still standing at the end. Difficulty can be changed by altering the number of rounds. Then there's The Way of the Warrior which seems to be missing a whole lot of details about how to win the game. It appear to simulate the Klingon attack on Deep Space Nine from the fourth season feature premiere with the Federation holding off a Klingon pure offensive but tragically the cards seem to be missing half the info!

The Blood Oath pack is absolutely brimming with upgrades and ships to truly max out a new player while also fleshing out a few missing options that more seasoned Attack Wing veterans might have been missing (young Kang for instance). The changes in pricing also make a lot of these newer options a lot more palatable with the ability to use more of your available slots, fill out a ship completely and use everything you can to take a win. 

The models in this one aren't the best. The Negh'Var has wonky pods underneath and the paint jobs are a bit over-bling for me.  The K'T'Ingas also aren't totally straight suggesting the mould itself isn't aligned but at least the bridge and engines are now the right way round. That said, don't let the plastic put you off what is a quality faction pack with affordable options.

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

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Thursday, 10 June 2021

To Boldly Go: Attack Wing's Federation Faction Pack

It feels like an eternity since the Vulcan, Klingon, Cardassian and Federation expansions plus the seemingly sold out Alliance were announced but at last...they're here!

With a universal sigh of relief there's some new packs for us tabletop gamers to chow down on and over the next few weeks we'll be looking at them each in depth.

First up on the schedule is To Boldly Go. Not exactly the most original name for a set but with it containing four Federation starships it does seem at least somewhat apt.

Longtime players will already have all of the ships in the pack; Galaxy, Akira, Miranda and Defiant although this time they're all spruced up in a nice silver finish. The detailing is fairly precise if basic but since none of these are new I'll refer you to the relevant reviews of the existing/original items to refamiliarise. 

Opening up my pack I was a wee bit disgruntled to discover that the Galaxy Class model had come battle damaged and was missing a nacelle. Not to worry though since there's another three in the collection but if you were buying this as part of your first steps into playing it would royally p**s you off.

One thing to note too is that this pack is heavily influenced by DS9 and some of its key moments. Point in case for that is the USS Odyssey as featured and as destroyed in season two's finale, The Jem'Hadar.

The picture on the card isn't the best but the stats are more important so we'll let that one slide for the minute. Sporting the average Galaxy Class 4 Attack, 1 Defence, 5 Hull and 3 Shields, the Odyssey can also take 3 Crew, 1 Weapon and 1 Tech upgrade for a 26 point cost. As you would expect and is standard across all 4 of the pack vessels, each comes with standard Actions of Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations. Movement cards for each of the classes is also identical to existing packs so again we'll skip past!

As the Odyssey's free action you can place an Auxiliary Power Token on this vessel and then target a friendly ship within range 2 and with a Hull Value of 3 or less to provide it with 2 additional defence dice and the chance to convert a blank result into a Battle Station on that round. One for actioning on support craft but very selective as to when that can be used and would need a particular fleet dynamic to work perfectly. Both the Tian Na Men and Sao Paulo in this set would be eligible.

Just as notable a vessel as the Odyssey is the USS Sao Paulo. This, only the third named Defiant Class in the franchise, would be renamed Defiant after the original's destruction at the hands of the Breen. Coming without the cloaking device of its predecessor, the Sao Paulo attacks with 3, defends with 2 and has a Hull of 3 and 4 Shields. Her slots allow for 2 Crew, 2 Weapon and a Tech upgrade for a cost of 20 points. Her Unique Action sees you claiming a Battle Station token in play when you spend one. Not a stellar ability but one that might pay off in defence. Also, shame the card doesn't show the Sao Paulo but then we never actually saw her named that way in the show.

Third up is the Akira Class USS Spector. Costing 24 points you're expecting more for your money and you do get that with a 4 Attack, 2 Defence, 5 Hull and 3 Shield. She also punches a little more than the Sao Paulo with 3 Weapon slots, 1 Crew and 1 Tech. All of the Weapon upgrades utilised on her also cost one point less each. The Spector is a quality craft also packing a Unique Action that sees guaranteed Shield damage as long as there is an active Shield when using the Photon Torpedoes upgrade.

Last in the box is the USS Tian An Men which would likely play a supporting role in any operations. A low 14 point cost comes with 2 Attack, 2 Defence, 3 Hull and 3 Shield. She also has only 4 upgrade slots with 2 Crew, 1 Weapon and 1 Tech option.  Its Unique Action also suggests that supporting role as a friendly ship within range 2 can be assisted. If that ship has an Auxiliary Power Token in play then the Tian An Men adds 2 Time Tokens to one of its Crew upgrades and that vessel can still perform an Action. It's one of those very specific events and would ensure the fleet does have full operational ability.

To Boldly Go manages to include a hefty 5 Captain cards. There's yet another Benjamin Sisko (skill 8) but this one works especially well against Dominion forces. In fact during Attack he'll automatically gain a Critical Damage result and during the End Phase he'll clean off an Auxiliary Power Token. If you're playing any form of Dominion War campaign this is the Fed captain to have in play.

Importantly, all 5 Captains have the ability to field an Elite Action although I tend to find I barely touch them - probably something I should look to change.

The second CO in the chair is the Odyssey's Captain Keogh. Bearing a skill of 7 for a cost of 4 points, Keogh's Action can only be used at up to range 2. He's very specific too with the ship he's commanding needing to have an enemy attacking another Federation ship in its forward firing arc (read that back slowly and it should make sense). As part of that Attack, one of the Damage results can be turned to a blank. Does seem a lot to save a single point!

Jadzia Dax can finally be added to the Captain ranks with her 6 skill and 4 point cost. Cleverly Dax can field a Klingon Unique Action without a faction penalty which would open a lot of different strategies - best get hold of the Klingon Faction Pack!

But aside from that benefit, she only allows your ship to perform a bank 1 left or right during the Activation Phase. Hmmmm.

The 86th Worf card made for the game is dual faction, allowing him either to play on a Federation or a Klingon fleet. His Action, for once in this pack, isn't a one in a million chance as spending a Battle Station will allow you to convert all your blank results into Damage. Have to admit, quite excited by this prospect as I have a notable ability for throwing rubbish attacks. Note too - no disable or Time Tokens for use here so it's usable every round.

Last up is the Captain/Admiral card of Leyton. Featured in Homefront and Paradise Lost attempting a military coup on Earth, Leyton skills up at 6 with the equally familiar cost of 4 points.He's all about the delaying tactics, forcing a ship at a maximum of range 2 to attack last in the round. Leyton himself incurs 2 Time Tokens but that's a decent price for a tactical advantage, especially if that ship has a higher Captain skill than your own.

Five Captains get 5 Crew and not necessarily who you might expect. The ever-reliable Kira Nerys costs 3 points and disables a Tech upgrade on an enemy ship within range one. She then rolls an Attack die and if there's a Damage or Critical Damage result, that target ship loses a Crew upgrade as well. Tough luck but she does have to receive 3 Time Tokens for this shattering blow. I am surprised with the choice not to make Kira dual faction when both Worf and one other card in the deck have this functionality.

Second we have Julian Bashir. Operating at range 1, the good doctor costs 2 points and can target a Crew upgrade during the Activation Phase. Note that it's any Crew upgrade since Bashir affects either friend or foe. If it's one of your own then he'll remove either 2 Time Tokens or a Disabled Token while if it's on the opposing team, the ship it's on rolls 1 less attack dice that round. Bonus note - he's reusable every round since the Bashir card itself doesn't get disabled or discarded.

Ezri Dax is your typical sacrificial card to take Damage for others. At least she adds a Crew upgrade to your ship and then will also mean that Captain or Crew cards will receive one less Time Token when their feature is activated.

Sarita Carson, again a 2 point Crew card, might leave you stumped where she's from. Featured in only Starship Down from DS9's 4th season, Carson allows you to move during Combat either 1 or 2 forward at the cost of 2 Time Tokens - which is precisely where you could combo it with Ezri Dax. Finally there's the tragic Enrique Muniz from Rocks and Shoals

Working at up to range 2, Muniz gains 2 Time Tokens so that the ship he is stationed on can utilise an Evade, Battle Stations or Scan token from the target ship as if it was on Muniz's ship.

To Boldly Go offers four different Weapon options for your fleet. Phaser Cannons allows for a double attack. Disabled with 3 Time Tokens, this card pumps 4 attack dice at an enemy followed by your standard Primary Weapon roll. Double trouble and no doubt wth a bit of digging there's the chance to increase that even more. It can only be equipped on a Defiant Class and to the forward firing arc. 

Offering a Weapon upgrade solely for the Akira Class is Dorsal Torpedo Pod. No need to disable or discard again since this one enhances your Photons allowing them to be fired through a full 360 arc. It does mean sacrificing a Tech slot to enhance another feature but counter to that it does provide full attack possibilities.

Experimental Torpedo Bay is a stroke of genius and one you'll definitely be wanting to put into play as much as possible. Costing just 2 points you can hide a Torpedo (doesn't specify Quantum or Photon) under this card until the Combat Phase and equip it. The Experimental Torpedo Bay is discarded but suddenly you have a five point card fitted that might take you over your points limit. Dead useful and very cost effective.

Finishing up the Weapons, To Boldly Go has two Photon Torpedo cards. These operate at ranges 2 and 3 and with an additional die to the ship's Primary Weapon. Working as standard, players spend a Target Lock, the card is disabled and all blank results can be switched to Battle Stations. Unusual to return to disabling rather than Time Tokens but it does mean they can be pulled back into action a lot quicker.

With three cards, Tech can certainly assist and Ablative Armour is a good choice to start with. Adding a defence die to your overall roll against attacks it also converts ALL Critical Damage to Damage reducing the risk of a crippling effect on your vessel. At a cost of 2 this is more than reasonable and it's about now you start to realise that the pricing on these cards is well under previous expansions. You can get a lot for your buck in the Faction Pack. Another way to strengthen that defence is with Advanced Shields. Only for use with ships of a hull value of 5 or more, it adds 2 Shield points on and when discarded repairs up to 3 Shield points. It's a bt more expensive than the armour, coming in at 4 points but for a larger capital ship this is a must for an extended lifespan.

Last up is the Metaphasic Sweep to allow a ship to perform a Target Lock as a free Action even if there's a Cloak token in play on the TARGET ship. Might not seem a lot but against an invisible enemy we all know how important it is to maximise that attack since the defensive roll adds a ton of dice to the equation. For a 1 shot card, the 1 point cost is insignificant but can't be underestimated.

As mentioned though, the massive new feature arriving with the latest Faction Packs is Ambassadors. Each fleet can only field one Ambassador and negotiations start from the beginning of the game. If accepted then the ship on which the Ambassador is equipped and a chosen opposing vessel there is an effect covering both ships. If negotiations are denied then the enemy ship receives a detrimental effect from the off.

In the case of Lwaxana Troi (3 points), whenever her ship moves within range 1 of the opposing target ship both the Captain of her ship and either the Captain or a Crew upgrade on the enemy are disabled. Should negotiations be denied with Troi then the opposing chosen ship has 3 Time Tokens and a Disabled Token placed on its Captain or Crew upgrade. 

Sarek - who can be either used for Federation or Vulcan factions (3 points) stops two ships from attacking each other if they are within range 3 or less unless there's nothing else to shoot at. If negotiations are denied with Sarek then all the opponent ship Weapon upgrades get 3 Time Tokens dropped on them. Of the two, Sarek is the more harsh option given his lengthy effect on Weapon upgrades. Game changer? Absolutely. Best start stocking up on cards that reduce the number of Time Tokens assigned to your ship just in case he comes calling.

To keep you nicely occupied with the new pack, To Boldly Go includes two scenarios; Insurrection! and Operation: Rescue. Both are 2 player missions utilising the ships from the set to help kick off your involvement with the game and for those of us who are a little more logical, it's the structure we love!

To Boldly Go has been, frankly a long, LONG, LONG time coming and a welcome return for Attack Wing. The reduction in costs for upgrades means you'll get a lot more on your ship and potentially fully equip every slot on every craft to maximise your battle opportunities. The ships themselves are nothing new - as none of the ships in the four most recent expansions are -  although each has some new Actions the price for them remains oddly the same. There's a decent mix of Disabled, Discard and Time Token use within the set which makes a pleasant change although it does suggest some disorganisation c. Wave 15/16 when Time became a factor over Disabling upgrades. At least now there's a mix of uses to liven things up. Ambassadors is a neat spin to each side although I can't see them getting a lot of love as they will hand tie a lot of players after they've spent an age selecting the right combos for the situation.

Have to say, great to have Attack Wing back and in good shape - at least better shape than my USS Odyssey model at the least...!

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

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Friday, 4 June 2021

The Wait is Over - Alliance is in the UK, Part I (Game Overview)

Followers of SKoST will know that I'm rather keen on Attack Wing, its expansions and beyond. I've played it for a fair few years but in a pandemic it's somewhat difficult to get a group together to play a physical game.

I've tried Zoom calls but it's a fiddly situation and less than perfect. Now you'll also know that Wizkids (the guys behind Attack Wing) have been working on another version for some time; Alliance. As long awaited as the Federation, Klingon, Vulcan and Cardassian Union faction packs, Alliance is, forgive the pun, game changing, when it comes to Wizkids' Star Trek offerings.

Those familiar with the set up of Attack Wing will have an easy time slipping into the new format. The way in which the game progresses is identical - Activation, Combat and End phases with players completing moves, actions and combat in sequence determined by Captain Skill. For more on the basics of Attack Wing, check out our review HERE of the original starter pack.

But in some respects you have to take Alliance as an entirely new product. It comes with its own manual - a lot of which is Attack Wing content updated - plus a Mission Book to start you off. Note too that this is the Dominion War Campaign which will become more evident shortly.

So as a new product the box is filled with everything you'll need to start off and for those scrabbling for a copy of Attack Wing's long sought, never seen Starter Pack, this will be the immediate go to as long as it stays in stock.

The five ships featured from the box lid have been available for some time as Attack Wing expansions. There are three Jem'Hadar Fighters along with Excelsior and Akira Class starships to represent the Federation players. All have received a slight upgrade on their paint jobs but nothing that's significant to write up about here. 

There's also a new set of maneuver strips, new dice, a torrent of Evade, Battle Station, Scan, Cloak, Target Lock, Time and Disable tokens to keep track of events. Wizkids have even chucked in some new obstacle pieces and a shiny new planet PLUS a new set of Damage cards. It really is the whole kit in one box which is good since Alliance does mainly rely on this single carton for all of its tweaks and tricks.

Sure, you can supplement tokens from Attack Wing if you need to but the Jem'Hadar Fighters here are totally unique because the Game AI plays as them against the Federation and their bases are used to help work this out. The two Federation ships are their generic versions with an initial Captain Skill of 2 however you can swap these out for other ship types after the first "test" mission so I might be dropping on the Defiant or a Nova Class just to change it up.

You could simply chuck in a Federation versus Jem'Hadar game as a one player against another but the twist with Alliance is that it's a co-operative game. This time you and any other players are on the same side with the Jem'Hadar's movements determined through your position and rolls of a six-sixed dice. The game itself controls your destiny if you will as each ship is activated in a pre-determined order and then carries out a series of points determined by the location of other items on the board - namely the Federation ship or ships!

Take the introduction mission that sees players picking up Mission Tokens to represent successful scans. Add in an asteroid field, spawning Jem'Hadar and suddenly it's a tense scenario to get in and out with minimal damage or cause a major galactic incident. I would however recommend that if you are one player definitely take both ships in as I only just made it out with the Akira and a single hull point.

There are teething issues in there too with a couple of the moves from the Jem'Hadar placing them in near peril or a collision situation. Also a few poor rolls (not on purpose) meant that my escape to Federation space was more down to luck than actual skill - but I'll still take the win thank you very much. 

The full 10 rounds lasted about 90 minutes and that was with me, an established Attack Wing player, picking up some of the new points around the AI and how it runs in the game. Fortunately there's a handy sheet with all the moves and combat decisions listed out so you're not left in the dark.

On Mission 2 I realised that as a 1 player scenario you're supposed to use both Federation ships so I activated the Excelsior Class. It made a huge difference, cutting the time to around 45 minutes and lasting just four rounds rather than 10. In, out, done.

The biggest challenge though is what's next. The Dominion War campaign is a great idea but once you've completed the six parts to the story (set after the destruction of the USS Odyssey) there's not exactly much to do unless you replay with different people and Federation ships. The next wrangle is that there's nothing saying there's going to be anything more in the future and as of now Alliance is a one shot. The £49.99 price tag might not be to everyone's taste or affordability but it does have absolutely everything in the box and ready to go right down to maneuver dials and stands for your little ships. 

Fingers crossed it doesn't go the way of one box and one expansion Frontiers that lasted all of five minutes a few years ago. While still available, that fizzled super quickly. Alliance has the benefit of Attack Wing's back catalogue to mine and with a crafty conversion kit, this could be the Version 2.0 that's needed to re-ignite the passion for the game and get us all back playing. 

Part 2 of this review will take us into a deep look at the new cards included!

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

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Tuesday, 1 June 2021

More from the Yard: The Official Online Starships Collection Issues 13 and 14

Time for a second Romulan starship in the STO Collection with the RRW Aelahl

A more striking design than the Vastam, the Aelahl displays the speed, grace and agility that you would expect from the Romulans.

In their signature green, this advanced design is the first to come from the Republic following its formation after the destruction of Romulus. Most prominent is the fact that it resembles a squat and stretched D'Deridex Warbird with the continuation of the use of negative space around the elliptical hull shape and the distinctive beak at the nose.

The Aelahl does also have a distinct physical comparison to the White Star from Babylon 5 but that's probably more of a coincidence than anything else!

This is one of the most slender Romulan ships out there, almost streamlined from nose to tail. Eaglemoss have once more recreated the complex bodywork patterning to a tee on this vessel. The two tone scheme almost looks like dirty panels against clean from one angle while simultaneously highlighting the meticulous panel lines across the hull. 

The surface levels on the Aelahl are just as impressive to behold with sunken segments on the nose most prominent. Wisely again around that section the windows have been spot painted on after rather than any attempt to align then with recesses on the metal body. The forward section and the main structural spine here are metal with the surrounding wings in plastic. The joint lines are more noticable than on previous entries as is the discernible weight prominence towards the front. 

That said, the wings are solid as anything and there's no movement even from the lower, thinner strip that arcs into the underneath of the central ship body. On the underside of the upper arcing piece we do have two weapons pods symmetrically placed either side of the spine denoting the aggressive nature of this front line craft. If anything, the warp engines are the most flexible piece of the model puzzle here and they're not especially bendable. What the design size does mean is that some smaller and perhaps translucent engine detailing is lost but that's negligible given the clean reproduction of this starship.

Clearly a Romulan design, the Aelahl keeps a lot of the crumbled Empire's physical hallmarks in its design but has stepped a little into a new age. Flatter, more defendable and sized for effectiveness not for the dominant presence that the immense D'Deridex Class would have provided. These are lighter, faster and a strong signal that the Republic is prepared to defend itself and look damn good while doing it. 

The mini-mag in the box for issue 13 ticks your expectations with the in-universe history of the Aelahl Class and its evolution as part of the Republic Navy before heading into depth about the establishment of New Romulus which was a key part to the early set up and success of the game. Indeed there's a significant episode that sees you running around the colony a lot - and repeatedly from memory.

Another of the STO revamps brought back from Yard 22 is the Shran. Originally a Discovery design from the 22nd Century, STO has retooled and polished up the flying saucer homage into a 25th Century craft complete with all the Online whistles and bells.

I'm not one for the circular craft-of-all-trades because it looks like either it's missing pieces or it's a cast off Xindi design but once more Eaglemoss have done a cracking job of translating pixels into plastic and metal. Sporting the distinctive black and white STO Starfleet paintjob, the USS Shran NCC-91413 has to be the most compact design to leave a drawing board. Even the oversized warp nacelles are tucked into the saucer shape to maximise power in a small space.

The compact Shran does manage a few things within its circular impression. Notable straight off are the translucent bussard collectors to the front and  warp grilles at the back. The scale has doen a lot of favours and that's one of them. 

It also continues the standard light and dark/white and black trademark paint scheme of Federation ships from the game. Rather than going for the classic aztec though, the white hull has a finely speckled effect that adds a bit of grain and depth to the hull. To the front there's a patch of well executed black hull panelling which is continued right across both dorsal and ventral. 

Actually this is a pretty decent model to give it its dues. The decalling especially is crisply applied with the Starfleet pennants prominently striped down the inboard nacelles. There's also red trim around the bridge as well as more on the underside. 

As a full model all of the parts work really well on the Shran with the ventral portions of the ship looking as good if not better than the top. What you do see on the flipside (so to speak) are the warp field generators to the rear as well as some more inset panels for the warp engine. It is incredibly detailed in its execution and looking back over the pictures as well as the model itself there seems to be more and more I'm picking up on. Just goes to prove that a starship doesn't have to have pylons, two hulls and stringy engines to be a great looking piece of kit.

The lower hull is filled out with grilles, inset vents, phaser strips along with their bookend red decals, a rather psychedelic sensor array in the centre and more of that segmented black hull plating. Also well worth a good look around the edge of the saucer which not only has some reaction control thrusters marked out but manages to have a series of windows painted in (along with a black encircling stripe) to add to the sense of scale. 

I admit this is a class starship. The model perhaps is let down a fraction by the baby blue painted deflector dish but the smaller details that can be amplified on this ship because of its scale work wonders to enhance the product. Even the stand is a good fit into the base and holds the Shran steady from the back. 

Issue 14's magazine treads the standard waters of in-game use and design features of the Shran with the usual unprecedented array of photos and first hand info on bringing the ship to life for STO. Interestingly the in-game topic of this magazine is squadron tactics. This is a step away from the usual history lesson but does provide more of the explanations behind STO which ship fans (but not regular players) may benefit from in the long run.

Check out all our Online Starships posts HERE

You can find out more on the Star Trek Online Official Starships Collection by visiting the Hero Collector website HERE

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