The Klingon faction has gone far too long without some upgrades in Star Trek: Attack Wing. Sure, there was a B’Moth class ship available in blind boosters for the “The Collective” event series, but it didn’t really bring anything new to the table. Chang’s Bird of Prey, releasing next month and previewed today on StarTrek.com, is here to fix all of that.
Being such a big fan of ultra-maneuverable ships, I’ve always really liked the utility options of the Sensor Echo action, it’s one of the primary reasons I own such a large Romulan fleet. The ability to dodge out of firing arcs, quickly maneuver around an obstacle, or line up an unexpected shot can be invaluable in this game. Chang’s Bird of Prey specializes in this maneuver, to an extent that no other ship can match. Generally, both Klingon and Romulan ships have poor action economy thanks to the fact that you’re constantly having to spend your action to Cloak again after shooting or performing said Sensor Echo. Chang’s Bird of Prey comes with several options to help you out with that.
First, let’s look at the ship card itself. Not knowing Star Trek lore very well (other than that he can make for a devastatingly powerful captain), and knowing how excited some players were about what this release might entail, I expected something close to the Soong‘s statistics, so the stat line is underwhelming to me, but it’s also much more affordable of a ship than I expected. This ship’s special ability is priceless, and tells you almost everything you need to know about how this ship was designed: “If you attack with Torpedoes while Cloaked, you do not flip your [Cloak] Token over to its red side.” Essentially, this ship has an Advanced Cloaking Device built in when firing torpedoes. Granted, in order to fire those Torpedoes again, you’ll have to re-enable them as an action, and acquire a new Target Lock as an action, but you won’t have to chose between starting on that and bringing your Cloak back online. It’s an improvement!
The next way that Chang’s Bird of Prey specializes in cloaking is via Chang himself. When cloaked, Chang allows you to perform a Sensor Echo action with the length 1 template before making your maneuver. As anyone who has played with or against TIE Phantoms in X-Wing Miniatures can tell you, this is an incredibly powerful ability. Thanks to this extra little maneuver, you can react to the opponent’s positioning, avoid blocking maneuvers, and or help make sure you’re at exactly the range that you want to be for the combat phase. And to make things even better, you can still perform a normal Sensor Echo as your action! Assume you have Chang on a cloaked ship capable of a 1-Forward action. That ship would be capable of making a pure lateral movement equivalent to a speed 4 maneuver in either direction, with no net forward movement or facing change. This fits in incredibly well with my play style, and as a result I absolutely love this card!
There will be two other options for captains included in this expansion. Kerla can give up two defense dice before the roll in exchange for an additional Evade result, which is a statistical improvement in most cases. Admiral Gorkon will be in this pack as well, although details are not included yet other than that he provides defensive die manipulations too. I’m guessing Gorkon might have an action which enables rerolls of a limited number of defense dice, something which Klingons could really use.
Prototype Cloaking Device is a must-use card, and will quite possibly be the reason that some players buy multiple copies of Chang’s Bird of Prey. The Prototype Cloaking Device’s restriction to the Bird-Of-Prey class ship is the only reason that I haven’t already pre-ordered four of these ships just for this card. With the PCD equipped, Klingon action economy skyrockets. Disabling the card before your attack both prevents you from removing your Cloak token after an attack, and gives you the option to take an Auxiliary Power Token in order to reroll any of your attack dice as though you had a target lock. So for six points and a Tech slot that doesn’t have any other attractive options, you’re improving your action economy two-fold by not needing another Cloak action, and by removing the need for a Target Lock action to modify standard attacks (or for that matter, giving you the option of rerolling dice for a Torpedo attack). Good deal!
There are, as usual, a couple of cards that I consider underwhelming at best. The Game’s Afoot is a 4 point Elite Talent with very limited use – It’s a one shot discard for a single extra attack die and a sensor echo free action after the attack, and it can only be used if you’re not in the target’s forward or rear firing arcs. With so many ships with rear arcs, 180 degree forward arcs, or even both, there’s just two 45 degree zones that this can always be used in safely, and those are the only places that you would really want that sensor echo to move to anyway! Just about as usable, Azetbur, is a 5 point crew member that is discarded as an action, she disables your captain and a target ship’s captain, and prevents both ships from attacking each other this turn. Let’s review: Costs five points. One shot ability. Requires an action. Costs you and your opponent an action to re-enable your Captains. Potentially prevents one shot in both directions. I suppose it might have a use in very particular situations, but I don’t see it being worth her cost unless you absolutely know she will be needed. Thanks but no thanks on both of these cards.
If you’re looking for an Elite Talent worth something out of this expansion, Cry Havoc is a bit more usable. Again, 5 points for a single shot card, discarded at use. You must be have a Cloak token when using it, and it removes the token, denies you the ability to roll any defense dice this turn, immediately raises your shields, and gives you +2 attack dice in the combat phase. This screams Klingon, 100%. It also screams “Please find a way to combine me with Once More Unto The Breach!” for a net of two attacks at +1 die each. Unfortunately as both require actions, you’re out of luck on that combo for now.
I don’t think Chang’s Bird of Prey will make the Klingons a top-tier competitive faction again on it’s own, but it will certainly breathe new life in to them. And it means I’ll need to go out and buy some more Klingons to go with it. (This is the part where you visualize me looking at my wallet and sighing).
— The Tabletop General