In an attempt to assist with some of my home store’s declining participation in Star Trek: Attack Wing, I’ve been looking to slip in some casual games on what I would normally consider my off nights. I haven’t succeeded in doing so, but my inquiries on Facebook were met with an invitation to OP1 of Resistance is Futile at a nearby venue which I haven’t played at before. Hoping to be able to meet some new people and just figure out how things run elsewhere, I figured it was worth taking a stab at.
For those just joining us, I’ve previously provided a summary of the Resistance is Futile Scenarios. This scenario is a basic fleet engagement, with the added mechanic of trying to not catch the attention of the nearby Borg fleet.
I had no idea what to take for a fleet at first, especially not knowing the local meta. I’m very accustomed to the players and style of play at my local venue; in particular, we normally play 90 points ship/fleet pure, plus the 30 point blind buy. In contrast, this event used 120 point constructed lists with no fleet purity restrictions, and the blind boosters were to be opened and given out as prizes. Not having met any of these players before, I didn’t know what to expect out of their builds, having recently seen a post from a fellow in that area that bragged about obtaining his fifth Species 8472 Bioship, so… anything was a possibility.
One other note on squad building for this event jumped out at me – players were prohibited from spending more than 90 points on a single ship. Considering the most expensive ship in the game before upgrades is the Borg Cube, weighing in at 46 points, that just screams “dreadnought builds” to me. That made me expect to see more two ship builds (70/50 or 80/40) than four ship builds (35/30/30/25, or somewhere thereabout). Knowing that, I was really tempted to bring some sort of complicated swiss army knife style build, with a host of upgrade stealing to play tug-of-war with my opponent over our Weyoun + Varel combos, as I was certain I would see at least one of those. But truth be told, I don’t like playing that way, and I wanted something simple for my first contact (pun marginally intended) with this group. So here’s what I ended up with:
Simple Shape Steamroller, aka the Cheddar Cheese Cult.
Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0
Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0
Borg Octahedron – 40 (generic version of Queen Vessel Prime)
Tactical Drone – 3 (from the Borg Sphere)
Magnus Hansen – 1 (from the Queen Vessel Prime)
The concept was simple: Deny the enemy any useful upgrades to steal, force the enemy to make attack runs on a mobile pillbox with 18 total attack dice, and concentrate fire on one ship at a time. I expected to lose at least one ship per game, as a coordinated assault from an entire fleet can easily take out a sphere. Thus my initial maneuvering would be an attempt to engage only part of the enemy fleet. After the initial pass, this fleet has a tremendous advantage over anything without some form of extended firing arc.
Knowing that I wanted to be in a chase position after the initial pass, my primary targets would be anything that could fire backwards – other Borg, rear-arc torpedoes, and ships with similar abilities. I tossed about the idea of a really odd maneuver: If I was in a position to do so going into the final round and saw an advantage in firing arcs to do so, I would hug one edge of the safe zone for the initial approach, then sacrifice the 30 fleet points required to move all three of my ships out of the safe zone for an uncontested shot, moving back in to continue the engagement on the following turn.
As they say, “No plan survives contact with the enemy”, which is followed in some circles with “…unless you’re an Ork, in which case your plan is contact with the enemy”. Not having Orks available in this particular Sci-fi setting, we’ll have to work with the original version of the phrase.
Enterprise D, Mr. Spock (Captain), Geordi Laforge (Enterprise E version), Cheat Death.
Enterprise E, with Picard (8), Fire at Will, Admiral Forrest, Hikaru Sulu (Constitution Enterprise version), Tom Paris, Elizabeth Shelby, Dorsal Phaser Array, Multi-Adaptive Shields, Enhanced Hull Plating, and Independent Flagship (Romulan).
So it turns out… not only was this a very familiar build of the Enterprise-E, he had actually pulled my very on build from here on the Tabletop General! He ran it without Montgomery Scott, as he had originally seen the list when I had originally posted an invalid build using the Romulan flagship and couldn’t fit that last crew member. He must have liked that version better, and he made it work well for himself. With 120 total points to work with, the Enterprise D fit in nicely as a complimentary ship, it could do similar things without posing so much of a threat as to be targeted first.
Battle: I was fully aware of how nasty of a fight I had just gotten myself in to, but I also knew that I had way more attack dice than this list could handle if I could play keep-away for a turn or two. That was easier said than done within the constraints of this mission, but I managed to strip the E’s shields relatively quickly, and thanks to some funky range on the first engagement turn I took a potshot at the D, taking off a couple of shields there as well. On the other hand, the Octahedron took a beating and a couple of early critical hits from Picard’s special ability. Picard shrugged off shots from all three ships without a scratch on his hull thanks to the Advanced Hull Plating, but that gave him a couple of Auxiliary Power tokens. With both sides being fairly close to one another at this point, I knew my best chance was to out-maneuver the E and move back to Range 3 while he cleared Aux tokens with gentle turns, and that’s exactly what happened. I switched targets and burned down the D in a turn, then after Cheat Death triggered I did it again the next round. From there the battle consisted of kiting the E around, staying at Range 3 and out of arc, rolling attack after attack until finally the dice fell in my favor enough to pierce the E’s hull on the last turn, just as time was called.
Key takeaways: It’s a small world, and my Enterprise E design has some real promise. Had I been playing a more traditional Borg build (i.e. a few more upgrades, less total attacks and hit points), I would have lost that game. He would have fared really well against the other Borg players in this event. Also, the Enterprise D should have been a much earlier target for me in this match, because it was easy to knock out and that would have reduced the incoming damage.
Borg Octahedron w/ Picard (9)
Borg Sphere w/ Gul Dukat(7) (?)
Borg Scout Cube w/ Donatra.
The second captain might have been Mr. Spock, but I can’t say for sure, my memory is failing me a bit on this matchup. There’s a couple more points that I can’t figure out what they were spent on here, but they didn’t play a role in the battle that I recall.
Battle: From the start, I knew that having a lower Captain Skill across the board was going to hurt, so I had to figure out a way to engage the enemy where I was able to deny at least one ship’s shots in order to stand a chance. Both fleets moved straight ahead on turn one, but my opponent moved his Scout Cube slightly slower, so as not to expose it as an easy target. The second turn, he anticipated that I would move straight ahead, attempting to cause collisions and deny actions, so he picked small maneuvers. Instead, I spun all of my ships to the left, and surprised him greatly. This had all of the Spheres in range of each other, but Donatra had no shot for the first turn. I would have preferred to isolate a single ship, or at least let it be a Sphere I avoided, but avoiding the Scout Cube was enough to swing the battle my way.
My Octahedron got rocked by hot dice from both of the enemy Spheres, but it survived with a couple of hull points because of the lack of a finishing shot from the Scout Cube. My return fire then was able to slag the enemy Sphere with every last one of my 18 dice, without my third ship his Sphere would have survived. On turn 3, all surviving ships could engage, and Picard was the one to finish the Octahedron, as my opponent couldn’t risk it surviving the Scout Cube’s shot, so only the Scout Cube could shoot a Sphere, whereas in the Mirror Universe where my Octahedron was already killed, all three shots would have gone on a Sphere. Back in reality, my two Spheres heavily damaged Picard in return. With having to spend Picard’s prior round of shooting on my Octahedron, combat turn 4’s incoming shots didn’t finish off my first sphere, and Picard wasn’t long for this
world galaxy. From that point, it was a mere formality to finish the Scout Cube and finish the match in what may have been record time.
Key takeaways: I was at a big disadvantage here with action economy and Captain Skill. Knowing that I would likely enter the first turn of combat with nothing but Scan tokens up against Target Locks and Battlestations from multiple ships didn’t make me happy, and that’s exactly what happened, but I survived it. I can honestly think back and say that one ship being out of range on the first turn of engagement changed this entire battle in my favor. It’s crazy to look over this match and see how many things changed as a result of that one lost shot. Granted, that was precisely what I hoped to do, but I honestly didn’t expect it to work that well.
Borg Sphere with Gul Dukat (7), Tactical Officer, Independent Federation Flagship
Borg Tactical Cube with Picard (9), Tactical Officer, Full Assault.
Battle: I was not excited to play against this build, knowing how easily I could have lost to a very similar build in the previous round where action economy and Captain Skill were in my opponent’s favor, and the Tactical Officers’ extra rerolls would only make this worse. I could legitimately expect to take 6+ damage per shot from each ship.
Again, both fleets started by moving straight ahead to enter the safe zone of the scenario, although I advanced the Sphere opposite his slightly more than the other two ships. I thought about playing keep-away again with another lateral movement on turn two, but realized I probably couldn’t pull it off, and would lose out on actions in the process (Scan Tokens wouldn’t help much here) so I changed my tactics and barreled straight ahead at full speed, getting into range so that I could take Target Locks on the Cube with all 3 ships. Just as I hoped, Gul Dukat’s Sphere colided with mine, losing both his actions. The Cube didn’t move up as far and wasn’t as close to my ships on that side to start with, so he got all of his, but better partial denial than none. The Octahedron’s hull value is high enough to get past the Cube’s special rules regarding overlapping bases, but I just didn’t think that far in advance what the likely engagement range would be.
Still, with all three ships surviving the first wave, I was able to put some solid damage on the Cube quickly, in spite of my dice turning against me (21 unopposed attack dice with Target Locks turned into about 9 damage on turn one). The Octahedron bit the dust on turn three for the second game in a row, but killing the Tactical Cube on the same turn as the dice came back to me was a perfectly acceptable trade. In the following turns I was able to press my numerical advantage against the Gul Dukat’s Sphere, as well as get in the way and deny his actions one more time, and he soon followed the Cube into oblivion.
Key takeaways: Without utilizing upgrades and discounting the base size, there’s very negligible difference between the Tactical Cube and a Sphere in a firefight. More dice > less dice. Lots of actions > some actions > no actions. And thanks to action denial, Borg mirror matches can favor lower Captain Skill if you can maneuver well enough and/or read your opponent’s hive mind.
It’s still crazy that I faced a variant of a ship loadout pulled from my own article to start the night. It fared really well against other opponents, and was a real burden to kill. I don’t know if it survived round 2 or not, but I did see it outlast an opposing E and two Valdore class ships in round 3.
Speaking of crazy things, I just outgunned two other Borg builds who got to shoot first and had a better action economy. That doesn’t happen often.
You can do some really funky stuff with 120 points for your build. I’m rather glad that I dodged the 6 Constitution Class swarm; I think I would have been okay, but it hurts my head to think about it. I really expected to see more nasty combos here without any purity restrictions, but maybe I just didn’t face them. I heard enough discussion from the group to know that they’ll be there eventually though.
And with a 3-0 record and relatively impressive fleet points, I brought home first place on the night, which came with a copy of the Avatar of Tomed, a rather cool looking ship if I do say so myself:
— The Tabletop General