Saturday, 20 November 2021

Dominion Faction Pack: Cardassian Union


A break in the run of XL reviews to cover another of our popular topics - Attack Wing.

An eternity ago we discussed the excellent Starfleet, Vulcan and Klingon packs but were surprised that the Cardassian Union expansion was delayed in the UK. It's finally arrived on our shores and is sure to provide a new level of play to your existing Dominion faction.

Set up in the standard four ship faction box, the Cardassian Union set brings together various aspects of the DS9 storyline. Taking a piece from the Romulan/Cardassian alliance to destroy the Founders, another from Dukat's personal arc and a third that also encompasses TNG and Voyager, there's a lot going on just with the ships.

Providing a second side to your Dominion faction (if you're playing pure), the pack includes two Keldon Class ships, a Galor Class and Gul Dukat's Klingon Bird of Prey models along with 28 new cards and tokens.

The four ships are the standard versions of ships which already exist so we'll skip onto the upgrades. The highest costing ship is the Keldon Class Preloc at 24 points. Offering the same fie Attack, one Defence, four Hull and three Shields as the lower costing Orias, the Preloc increases the number of Attack die of Dominion faction ships within range one by one. The two Keldon Class ships both have options for two Tech, two Weapon and one Crew upgrade as well as Evade, Target Lock, Scan and Battle Stations.

Strange thing is, I would have actually put the Orias as the more expensive of the pair since it gets to field the Cloak and Sensor Echo Actions as well if there are only Romulan or Dominion upgrades attached to it. If a friendly ship within range one cloaks then the Orias itself can do likewise as a free Action. Honestly I'd go with the Orias due to that extra standard Action ability. I only tend to play faction pure so this would be a huge advantage.

The Orias and the Galor Class Vejar both come in at a 22 point cost. The latter loses an Attack die but gains a Shield. Again, the Orias seems a better choice since the Vejar only carries Evade, Target Lock and Scan as standard abilities and four upgrade slots; Tech, Weapon and two Crew. Its Unique Action allows friendly ships up to range two can perform a Free Action from its Action Bar. 

Finally there's Dukat's Bird-of-Prey for a cheaper 17 points. With a four Attack, one Defence, three Hull and three Shields, the captured Klingon ship fields the Cloak and Sensor Echo features as standard as well as Evade and Target Lock. Operating as a dual faction vessel both as the named and generic versions, the Bird-of-Prey gets to either receive a Battle Station, Evade or Battle Station during combat or can increase the Captain Skill by three for that round. 

The Bird-of-Prey is a cool addition to the set and something a bit more curveball. Two Keldon Class could have seen one substituted with some Hideki fighters. If you are looking to reduce costs then the Bird-of-Prey general version comes in at 13 points with a single Tech, Weapon and Crew upgrade. The two generic cards for the Keldon Class both cost 20 points with two Tech, one Crew and one Weapon slot while the Galor Class is 17 points with a single Tech, Weapon and Crew slot. Each of them also loses its Unique Action from the named card and one Shield point. 

As for the Captains, we have four in the set enabling you to field every ship straight out of the box... well almost as for some reason I was missing one base!

Top dog here is Gul Dukat. Oddly there's no benefit to placing him on his own named Bird-of-Prey but he still proves an eight Captain skill plus, rarely, two Elite Action slots. 

He does also provide an enhanced attack feature which more than justifies his five point price tag. While modifying attack dice, an Evade or Scan beside the ship can be spent to convert up to three Battle Stations into two damage each. Now, logically I'd stick Dukat straight onto the Preloc or Orias to max those dice every time and if not, have him on a ship which comes into range of one of those on every turn just to max the hit chances.

Enabran Tain can flip to either Fleet Admiral or Captain with a skill of eight. There are no penalities with him for attaching Romulan upgrades to his vessel and as a second ability, Tain lets you discard a Dominion Crew upgrade to attack with an additional attack die on your primary weapon. It does incur two Time Tokens but could up your fire power to six if you're staying with this pack.

The four point costing Gul Toran also has the Elite Action option and a Captain skill of six. Toran's action unusually gives a bit of added attack and defence for friendly ships within range two. As the Action for the round, he can select a faction and then all friendly ships engaging them will gain an attack and defence die that time round. I like this one because it's rare to get a good defensive option. Just remember it's there if you equip him - and I'd suggest to a support vessel.

Last up there's Gul Evek. While Tain and Toran are DS9 focuses, Evek actually appeared in TNG, DS9 and Voyager during the mid-90's aboard the Vejar - see it all links!

Skilled with a lowly four and costing a reasonable two points, Evek only operates his Action at range one but does take on all the Auxiliary Power Tokens that might be in play on those ships during the Combat Phase. While potentially incapacitating Evek's command, it may well open up other Action opportunities on more than one ship.

The four Crew for selection also give a broad pass across the DS9 Dominion story arc. The five point Tora Ziyal can act for either the Dominion or Bajoran faction. She targets an attacking ship during the compare results stage and if the enemy is within range one, she can cancel the attack completely and be discarded. Ziyal also allows her own vessel to then perform an attack on that same ship utilising one less dice than a primary weapon if possible. A good card to help live another day or stop that one huge attack that you know is likely to be coming.

Three point Korinas works a little harder out at ranges two and three. Disabled and incurring an Auxilary Power Token, she removes an in play Minefield token. Very subjective and a waste of points unless you know this is something that could be deployed. I'd probably leave this one aside.

Gul Damar (two points) although not a Captain himself is perfect to add to any ship since he ups the Captain skill by two. He also assists with a friendly ship at up to range two in that if they use a Weapon upgrade he can be disabled with two Time Tokens and up to three attack dice can be re-rolled. Very useful although the Weapon upgrades from this pack max out at three dice anyway. Last up is Gul Broca. The final puppet leader of the Cardassian Union during the Dominion War, his Action is another decent one worth considering. Two points for its use as well is very agreeable with him targetting all friendly ships within range two. All of those affected roll an additional attack die that round including the one Broca is equipped to.

As to those Weapon upgrades, the Cardassian Union has some interesting plays to use. Available only for Galor Class ships, Multiple Dorsal Arrays (three points) works at all angles of attack but only if your enemy is using Attack Squadrons (fighters). Disabled with two Time Tokens, it allows your vessel to perform a second attack against the same target. Now I like this because I also love fighters and understand how flipping annoying they can be. This does offer some protection and deterrent at the same time.

The Enhanced Resonance Field Grid is a bit of a sneaky attack for a cost of two points. When using the Primary Weapon and you have an uncancelled Damage result, the card is binned off and that Damage can be put straight onto the Hull rather than the Shields. I'm not sure if this will make much of a difference in the long run unless you use this multiple times to dodge the shields on your opponent. Plus you'll need to remain in range to make it work over several rounds.

Last up is Phase Disruptor Array which can be used on Galor or Keldon Class ships and will cost two points. Activated at ranges one and two, the card incurs three Time Tokens and you will need to spend an active Target Lock to re-roll any number of dice up to two times. Couple of BIG wins here. It's reusable and it's a multi-roll which is better than a standard Target Lock and is only actually costing one more Time Token (depending on if you're using that or Disable tokens). Ideal for close quarter combat, you will need to make sure that your attacking ship lines up with a target in the forward firing arc.

Tech upgrades in the faction pack range from four points down to one. Top price goes to Type-3 Galor Class which adds two points to the Shield value of your ship, making it more defensible than a Keldon Class. Legion Crew Module means you can add another two Crew slots to your ship for a cost of two points and Uridium Alloy (two points) can be disabled during the modifying of attack dice step to convert two Damage into Critical Damage.

Perhaps the most interesting of the four Tech cards though is Sensor Ghost. What looks like a lot of text for a two point price is another useful defence technique. Discarded, Sensor Ghost forces an attacking ship to roll one less attack die and if the attack doesn't destroy your ship then it can perform a "one" Sensor Echo move and get out of the way...hopefully.

Obsidian Order is the most expensive upgrade card in the pack at five points. Usable over all three range marks, it mirrors enemy ships. If they spend a Battle Station, Scan or Evade then you get to equip one. No disable or discard in play here either which means you can certainly use this to your advantage both on attack and defence. Another perfectly sneaky move from the Cardassians.

Interrogation for two points disables a Crew upgrade on an enemy ship at range one during the Planning Phase of the game and locks it out with three Time Tokens. Not a massive fan of this one as it need you to take a chance that your opponent will have something worth locking out for that period of time. Very risky but low cost so you could take a punt.

Third in the group of Elite Actions is Supreme Tribunal. One point is a good price if you need to fill up some points. It does incur a four Time Token penalty and the only result is that an enemy ship within range two receives an Auxiliary Power Token. Nice point filler to reuse if you have a gap.

The final upgrade card is Kanar which can be equipped on any ship without an upgrade slot. For one point it's a nice option to have as you perform your Action before moving with the penalty being twofold. First you have to reveal your manoeuvre face up and also take on two Time Tokens. However, very useful if you realise you're in an early tactical advantage before moving!

Two missions are also packed into the Cardassian Union box. The Simpler Times sees the Klingons chasing down Gul Dukat and his captured Bird-of-Prey on a straight forward seek and destroy. The Secret of the Orias Sector takes its lead from DS9's Defiant in that a Federation ship must escape from the Cardassians after completing scans of the sector. Its 60 points versus 40 points but more dicey for the Federation player who has a mission to finish before getting away.

This may well be my favourite faction pack to date. It's exciting, varied, sneaky, defensive and loaded with four ships that really do gel well as a force right out of the box. The upgrades here are exemplary and mixed in with the Jem'Hadar faction pack from a couple of years back, I can see this being one of the strongest armadas available.

The Keldon Class ships alone are worth the price and I'm looking forward to joining them up with the Dreadnought missile or even a Hideki fighter wing in combat. Definitely a must have pack that really could re-ignite a lot of passion for the game with its brilliant cards. Absolutely first class.

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

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