Queen Vessel Prime STAW expansion preview

StarTrek.com’s preview of the Queen Vessel Prime went live today, and you can see that preview here. While these previews are getting stingier, no longer showing all of the cards included, I’m definitely intrigued after a bit of analysis. Borg players will buy one of these regardless, let’s get that out of the way, but while there’s a couple nice cards, it’s not the powerhouse ship that many players feared it would be. Instead, it’s the upgrades that are the big deal here.

There are a couple cards referenced but not pictured in the preview. Borg Assimilation Tubules are back, because we need so many copies of them. Power Node is used to treat a red maneuver as white, I’m assuming it’s a discard but the text only hints at it as being “activated”. And a new Tactical Drone is coming (surprise!), this one will likely spend drone tokens as though they were scan tokens, removing opponents’ defense dice.

The Queen Vessel Prime itself weighs in with a 6/0/8/6(7) stat line, with a base cost of 40 points for the generic version, comparable to the Borg Sphere‘s 38. With a grand total of six upgrade slots (2 borg, 1 tech, 1 weapon, 2 crew) and also including an Admiral version of the Queen, it will be relatively easy to see this ship in some juggernaut builds, but in that regard there isn’t anything new, as Borg already do that regularly. The named version of the ship comes with an extremely peculiar ability.

During the Roll Attack Dice step of the Combat Phase, your ship, or any friendly ship within Range 1-2 of your ship, may spend a Scan Token from beside this ship to gain +1 attack die.

Seems like it could be kind of useful… I guess… maybe… in the right situation…? If you’re not in range yet, but a friendly ship is, at least you get some sort of use out of that token. On the whole though, it baffles me that there are so many cards coming out that have you spend Battle Stations tokens or Scan Tokens for an extra attack die. The math just doesn’t work out, you’re statistically decreasing your damage by using these abilities!

For any of you who had been running out of ways to spend your points on Borg ships, fear not. You’ve got all the point sinks you can handle right here in the Elite Talents. Resistance Is Futile: 7 points (ugh), discard (ugh), spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to make that many of your attack dice immune to being canceled this attack (okay). So you’re guaranteed to get up to 3 damage through for 7 points and 3 tokens, but the remaining dice can be canceled normally. Comparing average defense dice and attack dice in Attack Wing, how often are you not already getting 3+ damage through per shot with the Borg? Meanwhile, We Are The Borg is a 6 point (ugh) discard (ugh) that allows you to spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to gain an extra evade result on defense (cool). There are so many better ways to spend your points (although not many in the elite talent pool for the Borg, I’ll admit that), and in competitive builds, so many better ways to spend Drone Tokens too. So while both of these sound scary when you first read them, if you see either on your opponent’s ship for anything more than a modified “free” thanks to an Admiral, laugh at them for me please.

Speaking of Admirals, the Queen Vessel Prime wouldn’t be complete without the Borg Queen herself. Making her second appearance in Attack Wing (the first being with the Borg Cube), the Borg Queen costs 5 points, adds an Elite slot, and gives +2 Captain Skill as an Admiral. Her Fleet Action ability is priceless for events including sealed boosters where you have no idea what to do with that extra ship. The ability reads as follows:

FLEET ACTION: Target a friendly ship at Range 1-2. Choose 1 Upgrade on that ship and perform that Upgrade’s Action as a free Action this round. If that Action requires spending Drone Tokens, spend 1 less Drone Token than required.

This ability is going to need FAQ’ing. Hard. There is nothing clarifying whether or not any other costs, specifically discarding upgrades, must be paid as a part of this action. So potentially, you may have reusable Transwarp Conduits, Biogenic Charges, Subspace Distortions, and more to use on your blind booster ship (or other ships in your fleet), and that’s just in faction pure settings. Regardless of that ruling, this allows FREE usage of Borg Assimilation Tubules, which will be insane. I’m assuming that as per other Admiral cards, the Captain version of the Borg Queen will make this same ability available only to her ship. It will be interesting to see how her Drone Tokens work, and see if you can replenish your supply of drones by jettisoning (disabling somehow) the Tactical Drone who had previously been at the helm.

Only one crew member listed here: Magnus Hansen, costs only 1 point, but all he does lets you do is discard him to spend 1 less Drone Token for something; Rather underwhelming on Borg ships that for some reason have very little room for crew. Maybe the drones don’t stack neatly into storage? Fits right in with the Elite Talent cards out of this pack that won’t see their way out of my card binders.

At first Transwarp Signal looks useless, it’s a 4 point discard Borg upgrade that lets you target one ship anywhere in the play area. You then remove one Evade, Battle Stations, Scan, or Target Lock token from this ship, and place an Auxiliary Power token beside the target ship. But Torpedoes are scary for the Borg, and they don’t fire without a Target Lock. More importantly, activating Transwarp Signal isn’t an action, and has no timing restrictions. This means that if you can guess the right time to use it, you can place an Auxiliary Power token on an opponent’s ship right before they perform a red maneuver. And if we look back at the rulebook, that becomes an illegal maneuver for your opponent, and you get to pick a legal one to replace it with, which generally means that ship flies off the board if possible, or at the very least in to harm’s way. It won’t work often, but this card will be a neat mind-game to play with the opponent, especially when they have poorly maneuvering ships. If it’s ever updated again (in doubt lately), this one will also need an entry in the FAQ.

Speaking of “in to harm’s way”, we haven’t seen a good mine card released in quite some time, and that’s been fixed now. Multi Kinetic Neutronic Mines (say that 5 times fast) are devastating. For 10 (15 + faction penalty on non-Borg ships) points, these mines have huge potential. These mines deal 4 attack dice of damage both the ship that overlaps them, as well as every other ship in range 1-3, with defense dice allowed for ships at range 2, defense dice + 1 allowed at range 3.

There’s one card left in the preview that we have partial text on, Borg Shield Matrix. As an 8 point Borg upgrade, this card gains one Shield Matrix Token each time the ship takes damage on shields or hull, up to a maximum of three tokens. While the exact effect of these tokens are presumably on a separate reference card, the article alludes that this Shield Matrix increases defense dice and protects upgrades on the ship. For 8 points, I hope the defense dice are permanent, but for balance’s sake, they may be one use only.

This completes the Star Trek: Attack Wing Wave 8 previews. The Val Jean, Enterprise E, and Queen Vessel Prime are available for to pre-order now. They are scheduled to be released in October 2014. I can’t get my hands on them soon enough.

– The Tabletop General