Friday 9 February 2024

Kirk Goes Away

With Christmas out of the way, your gaming fund is absolutely -

Hold that thought because for fans of Gale Force Nine's Away Missions, there's a new pair of expansions about to drop that will no doubt catch your attention.

For the first time stepping outside of The Next Generation's timeframe, Away Missions brings in The Original Series crew across two fabulous sets.

Assembled on the transporter pad for the first beam out are Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Chekov.

Now this could be classed as the more "run of the mill" Federation pack but there's a new feature on the cards that will certainly mix things up... and did in my first trial of the set.

The figures are great. I know there's a very mixed bag of opinions out there around their styling but I think it really works and given their size the detail is pretty damn fine even down to the correct rank braiding on the shirt cuffs and dials on the teeny phasers. Some of the paint jobs we've seen on the previous sets are just phenomenal and I wish I had half the talent on display. Look forward to seeing these in all their glory!

So to the pack; Kirk is an oddly average team leader on first glance but the chance to pick up some easy points on skills challenges thanks to that Command trait helps a lot. So too does his ability to re-roll an additional die in attack, skill and defence. Plus he integrates a lovely close combat attack adding two dice to his assault. At cover value not so good but once you can get him into tight situations Kirk comes into his own.

Spock is the go-to for skills challenges whether or not he has the trait since he rocks an impressive three dice out of the box. His nerve pinch is also a close quarters winner but will stun rather than kill. It's an advantage over his phaser, emphasising this pack as one that will need players to be prepared to get right up to their opponents for maximum effect.

McCoy's healing abilities are useful but rely on you again being close to another character (namely your own!) to regain some health. One note here is that McCoy is a big advantage in terms of the health regain over the Scotty pack which we'll come back to in that article.

Crouching Chekov adds the muscle to the pack needs players to ditch Support Cards in order to take advantage of the re-roll Kirk gets for being Kirk. It's actually pretty balanced as a quartet with each character providing a different weight to the away team and potentially leading players to customise their cards to play to the higher stats of each one. That said, the fact that you're shuffling before dealing out five Support/Mission cards doesn't guarantee you'll be getting the right mix off the bat so think about packing in some easy wins just in case your combinations don't come to pass.

All are able to make a move of four spaces to get around the board and that makes using turbolifts a lot easier in this gamer's opinion. They did come in useful to bounce around the boards and complete a few goals in round two.

Packed into the box to help boost the abilities of the team we have additional bonus point tokens as well as counters for the new Beam Away move and Mind Meld.

Taking your character out of play as part of a Mission Card direction, your character then only completes the directions on the card when you come to activate your following character. In the first run through I got to use this move twice and both failed spectacularly resulting in both Kirk and Spock being Neutralised during the second of the three rounds. Good luck to McCoy and Chekov for round three.

In the box players also receive a new deck of cards. What I think is a fantastic idea here is that for the initial few run throughs there is a set 20 Mission and 20 Support card deck pre-built before adding in another set to customise your loadouts. This stops any horrible surprises but also means players can get to grips with that new Beam Away dynamic that can get your characters out of a sticky situation. For example, I had Spock cornered by Lursa and used it to drag him out of danger in the hopes that his return would mean I could beam him back to the transporter pad. Needless to say it didn't in this case. 

Some cards will provide the usual skill tests at a certain terminal on the board while others play to whether or not opponents are neutralised. Some do allow for additional bonus too including searching for specific cards to help your team or even require others on our crew to complete skills tests for the points that round. Nicely there are a couple (Hortas take note) that combo up your points should you have other missions already scoring.

The theming of the deck is absolutely on spec too. Working in classic themes and episode titles, the Support and Mission decks offer a breadth of equipment, tactics and game changing interruption moves that will have you racking up points and hopefully keeping your opponent on their toes for the duration of those three critical rounds of play.

There are joyously several focusing on Kirk's legendary fighting skills to give the captain even more of an advantage as well as gains in medical equipment and phaser lethality. That last one's a big winner since Federation characters can only stun! Vulcan Nerve Pinch is another good one you hope pops up since it can incapacitate an opponent in one go - very useful for a cornered Vulcan. 

Mind Meld is also Spock specific with the chance to use an adjacent character's trait for a Skill test - so just make sure you know who you're next to when it matters because it might be to your advantage.

As said, Kirk and Spock are much more useful right up close leaving McCoy and Chekov to do some distance shooting although you will need to unify the team to get different challenges completed over the course of the two rounds.

I do like this set and it's already seen more action than Picard but that's only because I've not unboxed Scotty just yet. In fact both of these sets are currently a bit of an "anomaly" since there are no classic villain sets to counter them and for timeline purists dropping Kirk and co onto a 24th Century ship against the Borg (for example) could almost be seen as franchise sacrilege. We can only hope GFN have some suitable baddies lined up in the wings... am I hearing calls for a certain Khan? Kor? The Gorn? Now there's a pack...

The Beam Away function is one to use wisely but it's not the only new twist that's introduced in these expansions. Scotty's set has some interesting new bits I can't wait to try and I think the Chief Engineer himself might be a real dark horse of a character as the Mission Commander. But we'll come to that one next...

The Captain Kirk Federation Expansion pack is now available from your Away Missions stockist!

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