Resistance is Futile OP1; Battle Report 3

In my previous post, I referenced the fact that I attended one more event last weekend for Star Trek: Attack Wing, and that it was a very unusual event. Serving as OP1 of this particular Tournament Organizer’s Resistance is Futile series, the local group had decided to toss out the stock scenario in favor of head-to-head battles with random sector conditions (the three from the WKO events, along with some custom ones). In response to a poll of local players, the TO had declared Borg would be banned from this series, all lists must be fleet pure (one faction only for your entire force), and that we would be using 100 point lists without inclusion of blind booster ships.

Having already won two instances of OP1, I wanted to be welcoming to newer players if the opportunity came up, but put up a real fight if nobody but veterans showed up, so I had prepared two lists, and would choose the more gentle of the two if we had any newcomers arrive before I had to submit the list. Unfortunately, due to a whole host of outside circumstances including illnesses and scheduling conflicts, the attendance for this event consisted of  the Tournament Organizer, myself, and one more player who was new to this venue (the same fellow from the prior day with the dual Bioship fleet). To me, this just meant a chance to try something wild and crazy, so I was going to pull out my friendlier build and just have a fun game or two. I thought the other player agreed to play something more casual than competitive, but there must have been something lost in translation. Having misplaced my sheet, I had to rebuild my Vulcan fleet on the fly, and looked up to find a 100 point dreadnought build of the Enterprise-E staring back at me from across the map.

Not having a sheet to reference, and knowing that I built it in a hurry and got some things wrong, I’ve had to guess at what I put where in this build. It’s not exactly right, but it’s close enough to what I fielded.

Vulcans, take 1

Ti’Mur – 20 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Vanik – 3 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Combat Vessel Variant – 4 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Tractor Beam – 0 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
*Didn’t realize until now that this ship only used cards that came with it. Interesting!

Ni’Var – 20
Sopek – 4 (Ni’Var)
Fleet Captain Independent (Klingon) – 5
Diplomacy – 0 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Koss – 1 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Combat Vessel Variant – 5 (Ni’Var)

D’Kyr – 26
Kuvak – 2 (Ni’Var)
Admiral V’Las – 3 (Ni’Var)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Ni’Var)

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Round 1/2/3

Opponent:

USS Enterprise-E – 32
Flagship Independent (Klingon) – 10
Jean-Luc Picard (9) – 6 (USS Enterprise-D [Starter Set])
Picard Maneuever – 5 (Collective OP3 Prize ship)
Fire at Will – 5 (USS Enterprise-E)
The Needs of the Many… – 4 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Adm. James T. Kirk – 5 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Mr. Spock – 5 (Constitution class Enterprise)
William T. Riker – 5 (USS Enterprise-E)
Hikaru Sulu – 3 (Constitution class Enterprise)
Dorsal Phaser Array – 7 (USS Enterprise-E)
Tactical Station – 4 (Collective OP3 Prize Ship)
Multi-Adaptive Shields – 5 (Collective OP2 Prize ship)
Enhanced Hull Plating – 4 (Enterprise NX-01)

Battle 1: Without knowing what the Sector Conditions would be, the TO had us place a total of 6 objective markers that would serve as obstacles until further notice. Seeing the Picard Maneuver coming, I tried to figure out a way to build a wall I could hide behind, with them but it just wasn’t working. I deployed towards the left side of the map, angling towards the board’s center, and the Enterprise-E lined up directly opposite of me as close as possible. I don’t recall what the Sector Condition was for this round, but it really didn’t matter. Turn one, my Vulcans eased forward and scanned; the Enterprise streaked forward with a long manuever, followed by disabling Riker for a Picard Maneuver to be right up in my face at Range 1, followed by a Target Lock on one of my ships from Picard, a Scan Token from the flagship, and a Battlestations Token from the ship itself. Having the opportunity to knock me out quickly, the Enterprise discarded Tactical Stations for +2 attack dice for the round, and triggered Fire at Will for a total of two shots at +1 attack dice each, one at each of my Suurok class ships (the Ni’Var and the Ti’Mur). With 7 dice from the Dorsal Phasers, 8 from the primary with a range bonus, one Target Lock, free Battlestations conversions from Spock, and not allowing me any defense dice thanks to his Scan Token, I lost one ship and another was heavily damaged in just this opening salvo. To make matters worse, the Picard maneuver reduces all attacks by 4 dice for that turn, so I managed to roll exactly one attack die back at him.

And then the TO re-read Picard Maneuver – it gives you an Auxiliary Power Token when used, which would have prevented all actions taken after it. My opponent and I talked it over, agreed that the Target Lock made a difference in killing my first ship or not, and scrapped the game, calling it a draw, resetting to see if I could do ANYTHING to this beast of a ship in a subsequent game.

Key takeaways: Always read any card your opponent uses and you don’t know by heart. Also, don’t bring a logical argument to a gunfight.

Battle 2: We reset in almost the same position, but I had a little bit better of an idea of what to expect now, and I adjusted my deployment slightly. He deployed opposite to me once again, which ended up being slightly closer to the board edge than before. I knew I needed to survive the alpha strike, and then start denying him some actions to stand a chance. Our sector condition ended up being called “Explosive Gas”; any shots fired through the objective tokens would cause the token to explode, dealing damage to all ships at Range 1; didn’t matter, but it was a cool tactical concept.

This time my opponent did it right, standard move, Flagship Scan, Picard Battlestations, ship action to Evade, and then disabling Riker for the Picard Maneuver. Almost the same net result as last time, but as expected, both ships survived his shooting without a Target Lock to help out on one. I stood a chance, although a slim one, only facing a single attack and being allowed to roll attack dice the next turn. I considered my options, and the fact that we were awfully close to the board edge, and decided to potentially sacrifice a shot in order to deny actions, moving my ships to places I guessed the Enterprise might move, taking target locks with two ships I expected might have shots, and using the fleet action from Admiral V’las to disable Hikaru Sulu, preventing this defensive action. My opponent anticipated I would try to box him in, and in order to remove his Auxiliary Power Token he picked a speed 1 bank maneuver towards the board edge, which I wouldn’t have expected at all. It was a crafty move, as unlike the Voyager’s similar dial, the Enterprise-E does have a speed 1 reverse maneuver, which would have allowed him to not fly off the board the next turn. But unfortunately for him, he miscalculated how much room he had available, and he flew off the map on this turn, by the smallest bit of his ship’s corner! Vulcans win! Vulcans win! (In my best Harry Caray impression)

Key takeaways: Vulcans win! :)

Battle 3: Now things were serious. In order to tie for the event win, my opponent had to wipe out my entire fleet. We replaced the objective tokens for this round, setting up more of a traditional midfield asteroid field pattern akin to what you would see in X-Wing. I altered my deployment, still lining up in the left corner of the map, but this time I set up in a convoy, running parallel to the closest board edge. I’ll touch on this after a few more matches with the Vulcans to validate my thoughts, but this is part of an idea I’ve had on how they should be maneuvering to make the most of their dials, abilities, and firing arcs. Perhaps wanting a change of pace, or perhaps being suspicious as to what I was up to with my new deployment, my opponent deployed the Enterprise at mid-field, and prepared to approach more gradually. Our Sector Condition to start this round was entitled “Solar Winds”; at the end of the planning phase, after all dials are set, one non-damaging attack die was to be rolled for each ship – any critical hit results caused the ship to be moved with a speed 1 template directly towards the board edge to my right before beginning the activation phase.

For the first couple of turns, I had my fleet take long forward movements, following my board edge and scanning each turn. The Enterprise snaked its’ way through the obstacles, maneuvering in behind my convoy of “peaceful science vessels”. As my fleet neared the edge of the map and prepared to turn the corner, and the Enterprise was ready to enter firing range, both the Federation ship and one of my Vulcans were pushed by the winds. My ship was moved ahead and out of formation, and the Enterprise hit not one, but two obstacles; once thanks to the wind, and again with its’ movement. I knew I couldn’t kill the Enterprise, I just didn’t have enough dice to break through all of its’ defensive measures. I also knew that all I had to do was survive the round with at least one ship to take the “championship”. But I don’t believe in running from a (simulated) fight, and I couldn’t take full strength hits from the Enterprise and live, so I had to find ways to slow him down. I made a short stand, disabling Spock and taking some shots at the Enterprise. Somehow, I miraculously kept all my ships alive for a turn or two, disabled Riker and Sulu, and I picked off a couple more shields to add to those lost to obstacle collisions.

Solar winds pushed the Enterprise again, giving it an unexpected opportunity to evade my attempts to box it in, and rather than circling in place and continuing the fight, the Enterprise prepared to take a trip down the right side of the board in order to reset its’ disabled crew over the course of a few turns, not being able to re-enable more crew members than I could disable while engaged. The next turn, the Solar Winds sector condition gave out, only to be replaced with a Meteor Swarm! This hurt me way more than my opponent, as I had 3 times as many chances to get hit, and the Enterprise had more defense dice than my whole fleet to dodge the incoming space-pebbles, so this helped him in a battle of attrition. The Enterprise popped the D’Kyr carrying my Vulcan Commandos that had been itching to make a raid before moving out of firing range and slowly circling back towards the center of the field. I said before I wouldn’t run from a fight, but I wasn’t going to prevent the opponent from running or give chase at full speed either. Accordingly, my two remaining Suurok class ships followed the Enterprise, but I was careful to stay at long range. I definitely preferred the idea of having no shot over taking a big shot from the Dorsal Phaser Array. While resetting the Enterprise, Riker was sacrificed to The Needs Of The Many to recover the some of the Enterprise’s shields.

While my Vulcans were too busy arguing mathematical proofs to properly track their target and actually do any damage, the navigators on each ship still did their jobs, and over the course of the next 3-4 turns, I managed to stay at Range 3+, avoiding any Dorsal Phaser Array shots from the Enterprise. Perhaps my opponent was trying to play carefully amongst the obstacles on this trip through, or expected me to be more aggressive, or simply lost track of time, but the Enterprise never moved back into firing range before time expired on the match, giving me a loss in this match, but an overall victory for our three game “tournament”.

Key takeaways: I think this game might have exposed a big weakness in the Enterprise-E. As much as I like the ship, I’m hesitant to point it out, but if I’m not sharing tactical advice and insights, then why put so much time and effort into running this site? The Enterprise-E is said by many players to maneuver decently well, as it has all straight maneuvers from speed 6 down to -1 available (skipping 0, obviously), and speed 1-3 banks, and its’ speed 3 turn is white; only the reverse and 6 forward maneuvers give Auxiliary Power Tokens. But that speed 3 turn is the only hard turn maneuver on the Sovereign class maneuver dial, and the ship does not have a come-about maneuver available. Accordingly, if someone can get behind the ship, it’s very hard to maneuver around to get a shot. If the other ship is content to stay at Range 3, as my Vulcans were, this removes Dorsal Phaser Array from the equation. Essentially, in order to cover this gap, the Enterprise E must take torpedoes that it would most likely never fire otherwise.

Final Thoughts

It’s fitting that the Vulcans won the day by only losing slightly, using mind games and strategy over brute force and aggression.

Although not a match for the endless stacks of cards to chose from for the Federation, the Vulcans have some really neat abilities. Their average stats are comparable to that of the Constitution Class ships, and all have 180 degree firing arcs. They probably won’t stand up in any environment including Borg ships, but in locations where Borg are banned or frowned upon, they’ll be able to do some really neat things.

Since this event, I’ve picked up a Vulcan Tal’Kir out of the Resistance is Futile blind booster packs, and it replaces the Ti’Mur in my updated Vulcan build which I will bring to semi-competitive matches (events that count for something, but I don’t HAVE to win) in the near future.

Vulcans, Take 2

Tal’Kir – 26 (RiF blind booster)
Kuvak – 2 (Ni’Var)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Ni’Var)

D’Kyr – 26
Solok – 4 (Tal’Kir)
Adm. V’Las – 3 (Ni’Var)
Power Grid – 2 (Tal’Kir)

Ni’Var – 20
Vanik – 3 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Flagship Independent (Klingon) -10
Tractor Beam – 0 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Combat Vessel Variant – 3 (Ni’Var)

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Here we actually get some synergy out of cards and a build that was thought out in advance, as opposed to “What can I throw together in a hurry to spend 100 points on these 3 ships?”. All of these ships want to stay at Range 3, circling the enemy slowly as opposed to going head to head.

The Tal’Kir benefits circling at range by getting 2-for-1 Evade Tokens out of the captain if not in an enemy firing arc, hard to do in a head-to-head pass. Stack that with the ship’s ability to take an Aux token for a free evade result, and the extra die at range 3 on primary weapon defense, and it’s hard for the enemy to put much damage on this ship, while the flagship’s boost gives this ship 4 attack dice at Range 3.

The D’Kyr gets a native bonus attack die at Range 3, and Solok can either take a free Scan to diminish opposing defenses, or a free Evade to boost his own. If you don’t think you’ll want a green maneuver next turn to recover from Solok’s Aux token, Power Grid can catch that for you. The flagship boost would make for 5 attack dice for the D’Kyr at Range 3.

And then you have the flagship Ni’Var, which gets a free scan each turn from the Flagship card, and gets a bonus die for attacking at Range 3 with a primary weapon and having a Scan, so you’re looking at 5 attack dice for this ship’s attacks at Range 3, with a scan to negate the range bonus, and another ship action to enhance the attack with.

It’s not complex, it’s not cut-throat, but it’s a change of pace that will throw a lot of players off because very few of us have seen Vulcan ships before, much less so in a fleet pure environment. And sometimes, that’s all the edge you need.

— The Tabletop General