2014 Gamer Gift Guide

Gamers and geeks are notoriously hard to shop for. Most of us are prone to impulse purchases, so if we see something we want, we get it. That means if we don’t already have it, odds are that we either didn’t know about it, or just haven’t had a chance to get it yet. And while not true across the board, many of us are afraid to ask for what we really want, in fear that you’ll get something “close” but totally miss the target. For example- Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Assassin’s Creed: Rogue are both brand new games, both are available on one version of consoles or the other, and both have a 50% chance of not being the right one (One is for XBox One and PS4, the other for XBox 360 and PS3). So how do you make sure that you’re getting the latest and greatest that the gamer in your life really wants? Ask the experts, and when in doubt, go for something new!

In this guide I’ll highlight several board games, video games, and my favorite tabletop games as of late, as well as some nifty gadgets. These are the kinds of things that I would want for Christmas if I didn’t already have them, or things that I don’t have but really really really want. Hopefully, they’ll serve as great recommendations for you in holiday shopping for the gamer in your life.

Video Games

Buying for somebody that has a Wii U? Then your job might be really simple: Super Smash Brothers is an absolute must-have title. For the Zelda enthusiast, Hyrule Warriors is another recent release, but it’s not necessarily an auto-buy; based off of the Dynasty Warriors series of games and starring the Zelda cast, it doesn’t play like any other game starring Link. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just not your traditional Zelda game.

If you’re looking for an FPS (First Person Shooter), Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the latest and greatest title out there. The multiplayer content is the same tried and true format of all the previous Call of Duty titles, but I do really enjoy the single player campaign. If you’re buying for someone who already has that one though, I would suggest a pre-order of Battlefield: Hardline; a cops-and-robbers setup built on top of a more tactical framework, I’m really looking forward to that one. It doesn’t actually release until March, but that just means that nobody has it yet. Buy it, print the receipt, and wrap it up in a gift card holder; they’ll never see it coming!

As far as adventure titles go, Assassin’s Creed is back in the spotlight with two new games. As I mentioned at the top of the article, Assassin’s Creed: Unity is made exclusively for the newest gaming consoles (PS4 and XBox One), while Assassin’s Creed: Rogue shows some love to the PS3 and XBox 360. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from playing both if you have consoles from both generations.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is my pick for a current RPG title. I haven’t had a chance to play this one yet, but everyone I know who has is absolutely hooked. The reviews I’ve read are very positive, and hint at depth far and beyond the previous games in the series.

In the realm of strategy games, I wish I could recommend Civilization: Beyond Earth; but it’s not my go-to title right now. Instead, I think Endless Legend is the way to go. Endless Legend has a lot of neat features that Beyond Earth just seems to be lacking – Unique units for each faction, an actual story behind the game, and lots of novel twists on things that other games have been afraid to experiment with. Granted, I haven’t seen all of it yet, I just downloaded Endless Legend yesterday morning, but so far it looks like what will be keeping me up ’til 2 or 3 AM for the next month or two saying “just one more turn” to myself over and over again.

Board Games

Whether you’re trying to liven up a party or have a pleasant family night at home, you can’t go wrong with pulling out a board game (unless it’s Monopoly, in which case everyone will hate each other by the end of the night). There’s too many good ones out there to highlight them all, but I’ll list a few good ones here:

King of New York – This one is a sequel to King of Tokyo, one of our family’s favorite games. Players assume the role of a monster attacking the city, and fighting all the other monsters for prove themselves as the king. Develop new superpowers, destroy buildings, and manipulate the military into helping take out your opponents, there’s a lot of new ways to win. Also includes a T-Rex wearing a cowboy hat. Just saying. 2-6 players (best with at least 4).

Sentinels of the Multiverse – If destroying the city in the process of claiming it as your own isn’t your style, how about saving it from the evil mega-villain of the day? Sentinels of the Multiverse is a fully cooperative game, where each player acts as a super hero straight out of comic books. Players are teaming up to navigate potentially hazardous environments as they attempt to stop everything from alien warlords and robotic factories gone wild. If your gamer already owns and enjoys Sentinels, then consider one of the several expansions to the game, such as Rook City,  or the new Shattered Timelines set. 1-5 players, the fun increases along with the player count.

Trains and Trains: Rising Sun – Almost every gamer I know has played through Dominion and its’ expansions at one time or another. Trains plays in a very similar fashion, an on-the-fly deck building game where players purchase cards from a communal pool. In Trains, you’re competing to build the best rail line, so there’s a physical board to go along with the cards for players to connect stations and build routes on, and also allows for a real-time view of the game score. Perhaps I enjoy Trains so much because I played it before I tried Dominion, but I’m hinting really hard to Santa that I would like Rising Sun this year! If your gamer plays Dominion and likes it, I HIGHLY recommend both of the Trains games. (2-4 players)

Warhammer: Diskwars – For the Warhammer player tired of painting, or always carrying around easy to break plastic figures, Warhammer: Diskwars brings the same Warhammer Fantasy setting, story, and armies to life in a much cheaper and more transportable form. A rebranding of a classic game format, I’ve heard great reviews of this product from everyone I know that plays it, and I’m trying to carve out some time to play it soon myself. For players that already have the core set, consider adding one of the recent expansions: Legions of Darkness or Hammer and Hold. Intended for 2 players, but supports up to 4.

Warhammer: Conquest – Diskwars caters to the Warhammer Fantasy players, but Warhammer 40k players aren’t left out in the cold either. Warhammer: Conquest is a relatively new card game in which two opposing armies battle for supremacy over an entire star system, one planet at a time. Conquest plays similar to Magic: The Gathering and other collectible card games, but rather than buying pack after pack of cards in hopes of finding the one you’re really looking for, the Living Card Game format gives players all the cards they need in each expansion, making it a much more sane, balanced, and reasonable system.  2 players only.

 

Role Playing Games

RPG players don’t often need a whole lot of new stuff. Usually, their upkeep consists of refreshing their stash of Mountain Dew and Cheetos (I’m one of them, I’m allowed to say that). But there’s always room for something new if you know what to look for.

Dungeons and Dragons – D&D has been re-released this year. While there’s nothing stopping players from continuing with their 4th edition (or 3.5e, or 3e, or 2e…) campaigns, the new books have been relatively well received and always come with great new material in them. If you’re not sure that your gamer is ready to make the jump to the new edition, or if they haven’t played D&D before, consider the D&D Starter Set, which contains everything you’ll need for an introductory adventure under the new rules system. Alternatively, if they’re committed to moving to the new rules, the Player’s Handbook is a must-have for every player, the Dungeon Master of the group needs the brand new Dungeon Master’s Guide, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have a copy of the Monster Manual available to the group. If those are already accounted for, consider picking up a premade adventure module, like the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, or The Rise of Tiamat – each contains all the info the Dungeon Master needs to launch right in to a session without having to invest a lot of time and effort in creating a story from scratch.

Other RPGs: If D&D isn’t the right setting, or if you’re just looking for something new, perhaps consider a sci-fi universe. There are multiple (compatible) Star Wars role playing games available, such as Age of Rebellion and Edge of the Empire. Or for your favorite Browncoat, consider giving them something rather gorram shiny like the Firefly RPG.

Regardless of the system, just about every RPG player needs dice. While many players already have a favorite / lucky set, if your favorite gamer is missing one or two out of their set, or is still using the primary color explosion assortment that came in an intro game, you might look in to getting them a new set from Chessex – there’s lots of cool colors and designs to choose from. Most role playing games require the 7-die sets, with one each of several different configurations. IMPORTANT: The new Star Wars games use custom dice that aren’t made by anyone else.

 

Tabletop Miniatures

I would have to check my pulse if I didn’t find a way to recommend Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures as a gift purchase. X-Wing has been my favorite game now since I started playing it a year ago, and it’s still a new game every time I play it. Alternatively, if Star Wars isn’t the right genre for your gift, Star Trek: Attack Wing provides a different feel while being based on the same core rule set (If you’re looking for an impressive gift, try the new Deep Space Nine model, and the newly released Dungeons and Dragons: Attack Wing is said to be quite an improvement on the same system, and the models are great!

Now, if you’re buying for someone who already has some of the figures for the above games, and you don’t know which ones they have and which ones they don’t, maybe some accessories would be the way to go. Perhaps a playmat for Star Trek / Wars, to set the scene? And nobody realizes how much help it is to have a laser line of sight tool in those games until they have one and try it out, unlike regular laser pointers, this projects a straight line that can let you see in advance if a particular game move is legal or not without having to worry about bumping game pieces around to get a ruler in there. It’s a priceless tool for any tabletop gamer!

Gadgets

Of course, being a tech guy, I can’t leave out the gadgets.

Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 – I love having a wireless keyboard; it reduces clutter, and gives me lots of mobility around the room (I use a TV for a computer monitor at home). The only down side is that I’m constantly replacing AA batteries. But this keyboard eliminates that problem, because it recharges itself with light! Buy two, and send me one!

Energizer AA Charger with Batteries – Because not every gadget can be solar powered. I use rechargeable batteries for my keyboard now, as well as my XBox controller, TV remotes, and so on. I’ve got a handful more batteries than I need for all my devices, so that there’s always a fresh set ready to swap in when needed.

Google Chromecast – This is an excellent addition to your home media setup – it allows anyone connected to your WiFi network to stream videos and music to the TV just by plugging it into your TV. It’s absolutely great for parties, because everybody can contribute to the playlist!

 

If you have questions about any of my recommendations above, or if you want to discuss whether or not any of it is appropriate based on the age or type of gamer you’re buying it for, feel free to reach out to me via Facebook. I hope this guide gave you a few helpful hints for your holiday shopping!

 

– The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP2; Battle Report 4

Relatively fresh off of a mid-level performance on Saturday, I took another shot on Monday at Resistance is Futile OP2 for Star Trek: Attack Wing.

Again, same as last time, each player brings a Borg and a Rebel (Non-Borg) fleet, and alternates between the two playing against an opponent with the opposite configuration, here’s a link to a more detailed breakdown of the RiF scenarios. This venue does not use the 3 ship minimum or 50 point ship maximum, and chooses to give the 1 point per card discount to ships as well.

Since I wasn’t happy with my previous performances, our group has played the scenario several times now, and this event essentially doesn’t count towards our standings if we don’t score better than our previous attempt (see RiF Battle Report 2, same event series), I decided to throw a complete curveball at everyone. I have a near perfect record in Borg vs Borg matchups, and I’ve been wanting to try to find a weakness in the USS Enterprise E builds that have been so popular of late. Second of Five, from Scout Cube 608, seems to do a fairly good job by stealing the Dorsal Phaser Array off of the E, but I didn’t want to buy a new ship just for this event even if I could find a copy of it. So I decided to go for the element of surprise and give up my discounts from the scenario, bringing Borg as my “Rebels” and non-Borg as my “Borg”!

Simple Shape Steamroller, v3.1b

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Tactical Cube – 44
Drone – 0

Total: 120

Simple and to the point, we’re just throwing tons of dice here. I had seen a tendency for our group to only bring two Borg ships, so I knew I would be throwing a bigger pile of dice than my competition. With Captain Skill 1 across the board, I’m basically always going to be moving first against other Borg who will be buying captains with higher skill to take advantage of their discounts; so I’ll be able to use the limited maneuver dial against my opponent and block them in for action denial too.

No, Really, This Is My Borg List

Scimitar– 38
Shinzon – 6 + 4 (Scimitar)
Double Back (I.R.W. Gal Gath’Thong)
Attack Pattern Shinzon Theta (Scimitar)
Target Weapons Systems (Scimitar)
Full Stop (Scimitar)
Fleet Captain (Romulan) – 5
Photon Torpedoes – 5 (Scimitar)
Cloaked Mines – 3 (I.R.W. Praetus) – Forgot for picture
Pavel Chekov – 3 (USS Reliant)
Tactical Officer – 3 (I.R.W. Valdore)
Advanced Cloaking (Collective blind boosters)

Chang’s Bird of Prey – 22
Chang – 4 (Chang’s Bird of Prey)
Admiral James T Kirk – 8 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Photon Torpedoes (Chang’s Bird of Prey)
Kunivas – 2 (Collective blind boosters)
Prototype Cloaking Device – 6 (Chang’s Bird of Prey)

wpid-img_20141124_190133261.jpg

All cloaking, all the time. I was hoping to find myself facing off against an Enterprise E / USS Voyager combo list, and imagined myself gleefully dancing around with Sensor Echo actions at Range 3 and out of firing arcs until I could kill off Voyager and hit the E with Target Weapons Systems to pull off its’ Dorsal Phaser Array. This would be helped out tremendously by the fact that I had a skill 9 Klingon and a skill 11 Romulan captain, allowing me to move last in most matchups, thus giving my Sensor Echo actions maximum effect.

Round 1

I was assigned to play as my “Borg” at random for round 1. My opponent’s reaction to my list was a bit of confusion until I explained, he thought the TO had gotten the matchups wrong.

Opponent:

USS Enterprise-E, Khan (8), Once More Unto The Breach, Flagship (Ind. Romulan), Elizabeth Shelby, Koss, Boheeka, Missile Launchers, Cloaked Mines, Barrage of Fire, Dorsal Phaser Array
USS Voyager, Picard (9), Positron Beam, Transphasic Torpedoes, Mr. Spock, Tom Paris, Breen Aide

I had a matchup that I liked… or so I thought.

Battle:

wpid-img_20141124_190539108.jpg
Initial setup

Things started off going really well. I moved up slowly and cloaked on turn 1, making sure I would be able to have all my maneuvers available to me. Anticipating a head-to head advance, my opponent immediately dropped his mines. Then Khan triggered Barrage of Fire on the second turn. I wanted nothing to do with that and was already planning a denied flank, so a free Sensor Echo pulled me back out of range, and if I did everything right, those mines wouldn’t come in to play. My opponent may have had a 15-20 point advantage from those discounts, but on turn 2 I had already negated 8 of them without a shot, and I didn’t plan on decloaking and letting those torpedoes and missiles come in to play either, which took up another 12 points of his list.

wpid-img_20141124_192129752.jpg
After turn 2, I thought I was going to be alright. Never have I been so wrong.

But then things went south in a hurry. My opponent rolled 4+ hits each attack without needing the Target Locks that I was denying him. Even worse, my Evade dice went cold, bringing up all blanks on the first attack directed at Chang, and his measly 3-hull ship suddenly looked like swiss cheese in space. Things weren’t much better for Shinzon’s defense rolls, but he did get off a couple of shots. I got the shields down on the Enterprise E, but passed up on using Attack Pattern Shinzon Theta. It would have caused a crit to reach the hull, but I wanted to wait and use the Target Weapons Systems instead. Two pitiful defense rolls later, and Shinzon was out of the fight. Thoroughly frustrated and a touch embarrassed at how poorly my experiment had worked out, all I could do was sit and wait for the next game. Remind me to buy a Red Bull or five for my helmsmen next time I’m playing with cloaked ships.

Round 2

This round is hereby entitled “Revenge”. Luck of the draw had me bringing my “Rebels” up against the same gentleman that I had played just a couple of days before in round two as well. He had traded in his Sphere for a Scout Cube to put a third Ablative Hull Armor on the tactical cube, but was otherwise pretty much running the same list as before. This time though, I didn’t have an experimental list to face him with, I had my own Borg ships.

Opponent:

Borg Tactical Cube 138, Flagship (Ind Klingon), Tactical Drone (rerolls), Borg Ablative Hull Armor x 3, One

Borg Scout Cube, Tactical Drone (rerolls), Feedback Pulse, Scavenged Parts, Magnus Hansen, Borg Missile

There might have been something else in there, I’m not entirely certain.

Battle:

This time, I had all the confidence in the world that I would do well. So much so, that I messed around a little bit, and deployed facing backwards, taking reverse maneuvers onto the field, which ended up confusing us both with my moves on the next turn (I planned them right, but got momentarily convinced that I had done it backwards). He slid his ships sideways left to right as I faced the field, trying to figure out how I would approach. Hoping to delay another turn and find a 3-on-1 shot, I slid sideways as well, right to left.

wpid-img_20141124_202646081.jpg
The real Borg civil war.

This didn’t pan out as well as I had hoped, because he took an aggressive jump forward and had his Tactical Cube in a 1-on-1 situation with one of my Spheres.

wpid-img_20141124_202655888.jpg
Ooops, in range!

I definitely got the worst of that exchange, but I got him to trigger One anyway, which essentially meant that the results would have been the same as if I had fired with at least two ships, because One re-enabled all his shields at the turn’s end, but his single usage was gone.

wpid-img_20141124_204143388.jpg
Bump! Action Denied!

 

From there, it was a slug-fest, throwing fist-fulls of attack dice across the field at one another. Losing that first Sphere was inevitable, but I burned through his Tactical Cube’s shields quickly and started to chew on the Ablative Hull Armor. About the time I got through the last of that, my shields were down on my Tac Cube. A couple turns later, he drops my Tac Cube to a single hull point (running out of damage cards in the process, thus negating a crit), but fails to kill it before I finish his with my Sphere. My Tac Cube was the only ship that hadn’t fired yet that round, and I passed, calling for the next planning phase. He reminded me that I hadn’t fired my last ship yet; I looked at him, then at the Feedback Pulse on his last remaining ship, and confirmed that I wasn’t firing.

Full health Sphere and crippled Tactical Cube versus Full health Scout Cube, the outcome here looked inevitable, but I wanted to keep my Tac Cube alive. A full speed retreat gained me a single evade die at Range 3, and I regenerated, bringing my hull up to 2 points. His Target-Lock assisted attack landed two hits, and I rolled an evade. Still alive, Sphere goes to work on the Scout. I moved away at full speed again, and regenerate. Two hits, one evade die, and I rolled an evade again, hanging in there with one hit point. One more turn of fleeing, and I was finally out of range and able to regenerate in peace as my Sphere finished off his Scout.

wpid-img_20141124_210436931.jpg
Safe!

Round 3

Now I’m back in this! (Sort of…) Sadly, my opponent had a higher score and wanted to go Borg hunting, which meant I was playing my cloaking list again.

Opponent:

Reman Warbird, Toreth, Admiral Hiren, Flagship Independent (Federation), Tactical Officer, Tal, Plasma Torpedoes, Interphase Generator, Advanced Cloaking, Invasion Plans

Scimitar, Shinzon (+ talents), 2x Cloaked Mines, Tactical Officer, Plasma Torpedoes

wpid-img_20141124_212914049.jpg

So much for hoping for another Enterprise E build. With Shinzon in play on both sides, Chang no longer moved after the opponent, and with two cloaked mines in play for the opponent, this couldn’t go well for me.

Battle:

I gave it my best shot, but I was definitely not in a good matchup here. Toreth was a death sentence for me, as I was guaranteed to be taking critical hits. The Cloaked Mines seriously reduced my options to use my mobility, and I couldn’t get Target Locks for my Torpedoes, which meant that my opponent had an advantage in both health and damage output. I also couldn’t rely on shields, because his two Tactical Officers would make allowing Target Lock actions give him lots of extra hits.

wpid-img_20141124_213436116.jpg
Initial setup.
wpid-img_20141124_213841969.jpg
Placing cloaked mines, the set under the range ruler was already down and friendly.

There was a lot of fancy flying in this match, but I was out of my weight class here thanks to my opponent’s 15 points of discounts on his fleet. It didn’t help that my dice reverted to their rebellious stage from round 1. There was a quite humorous moment as he used Shinzon’s “Full Stop” talent in the photo below, hoping for a Top Gun  result (“Put on the brakes and he’ll fly right by”), but my Shinzon moved last, and had a “Full Stop” of his own, sitting at Range 1 and just outside his firing arc.

wpid-img_20141124_220040417.jpg
Dueling Warbirds.

Still, cloaking wasn’t meant to be for my “Borg”, and one too many critical hits landed cleanly.

Final Thoughts

Oww.

Cloaking just isn’t for me anymore. There’s too many attack dice floating around out there, and even with the massive amounts of defense dice cloaking offers, the variance will kill you. It doesn’t matter if the opponent rolls zero hits three turns in a row somehow, but one round of rolling zero evades can easily kill a ship.

I’ve got (at least) one more run of Resistance is Futile OP2 to go, I’ll have to see what else I can come up with.

– The Tabletop General

X-Wing Wave 5 First Impressions

Those who attended GenCon had an opportunity for a head start, but yesterday marked the retail release of the Wave 5 expansions for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the two new ships. Yesterday was also our weekly X-Wing night at my home store, so I was lucky enough to immediately be able to put them both to work.

Let’s start with the VT-49 Decimator. It’s a large ship… both in game terms and as a physical model. As in “everybody else that bought one was trying to figure out how to make it fit in their carrying cases” large. Fortunately, I had no such problems – I had already purchased one of these cases to put my large ships in (like the Millennium FalconLambda Shuttle, Slave 1, and the odd one out, my Borg Tactical Cube).  It’s a very cool looking model, as you can see in the photos from my test match further down this page.

Storage and looks aside, I needed to see it in action to really be satisfied. I had previously put together a sample build for the Decimator, but I don’t think that one will be anywhere near competitive, especially not when put up against the current meta. Unsurprisingly, my opponent also wanted to get his new ship onto the field, so we had a VT-49 mirror match going on.

Hammer & Sickle

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Push the Limit (3)
Ysanne Isard (4)
Mara Jade (3)
Rebel Captive (3)
Dauntless (2)
Engine Upgrade (4)

Soontir Fel (27)
Royal Guard TIE (0)
Push the Limit (3)
Stealth Device (3)
Targeting Computer (2)

wpid-img_20141125_202418433.jpg

 

 

Opponent’s list

98 points

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Ruthlessness (3)
Tactical Jammer (1)

ruthlessness                           tactical-jammer

 

 

I’m not exactly sure what the initiative bid was for, or if he had really thought this whole thing through, but his plan was to run the swarm of 4 Academy pilots right behind his VT-49. Throw in the Tactical Jammer, and those TIEs become hard to kill. The problem is, the VT-49 would be moving after the TIEs, and nothing in the list is putting out lots of reliable damage. That, and he didn’t practice the maneuver to begin with.

I helped him out with his tactical flaw though, by both not letting him use the plan, and showing him how to get into that formation next time in case he finds a way to make it work.

wpid-img_20141125_202413558.jpg
He thought he would have plenty of time to get his TIEs into position behind his Decimator…

 

 

wpid-img_20141125_203040319.jpg
… but boost + large bases = FAST! Our VT-49’s traded off couple of shields on the first turn!
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Turn 3 – 2 TIE Fighters down, and I’m perfectly happy to be throwing 6 defense dice with Soontir  Fel (3 base + Range 3 + Stealth Device + Asteroid) while working on the other two Fighters.
wpid-img_20141125_204727936.jpg
Turn 5: The Fighters lived, but I’m able to start pouring damage on to his Decimator. Interceptor at Range 1 w/Target Lock & Focus vs 0 Agility, those 12 points of hull fell off in big chunks.

Seeing the writing on the wall, my opponent flew off the field on turn 7 with a crippled Decimator and a beat up TIE Fighter. Not the toughest fight that I could have been in, but the list showed promise.

I would heavily consider taking out Push the Limit in favor of Predator. I was using Push the Limit for a Boost and a Target Lock anyway, so why not get the benefit without the stress, and keep the dial more open on subsequent turns? This would also help reduce the weakness to stress mechanics here, because Soontir Fel has enough weakness already. Determination wouldn’t be a bad fit either, as it would almost be guaranteed to buy you an extra hull point or two by discarding those pilot crits.

push-the-limit                           predator                                              Determination

I loved the engine upgrade on the Decimator, it really helped make sure I had exactly the shot that I wanted with it each turn, and it worked well in combination with Mara Jade, I got up close and personal with his TIE Fighters on turn 2, and stressed them all, forcing them to choose between taking actions or not having any chance at a shot in turn 3.

mara-jade                           engine-upgrade

Rebel Captive, on the other hand, didn’t do much in this game. Since its’ stress applies before Mara Jade’s ability, and Mara Jade won’t give a second token, it was a largely dead slot. On the other hand, anyone running a TIE Phantom or Interceptors with Push the Limit will cringe a little bit when they see Rebel Captive on a turreted ship. If you decide that you like this build, but that Rebel Captive isn’t for you, Navigator would be a great replacement for the extra flexibility, or perhaps Moff Jerjod to get a 1 point initiative bid and to negate a few critical hits on that big beefy hull.

rebel-captive                           navigator                                            moff-jerjerrod

 

 

Final verdict: The VT-49 definitely gives the Imperial Navy a new way to approach the game. Until now it’s been either A) Swarm the opponent with lots of fragile ships, or B) Dodge the opponent’s shots with a handful of fragile ships. We’ve skipped option C and gone straight to D) Decimator. It’s durability is just plain silly with 16 total hit points, it’s the first Imperial ship with a turret weapon, it’s the first ship in the game to have 3 crew slots, and to top it all off the VT-49 has ZERO red maneuvers on its’ dial. I’m almost crazy enough to buy a second one.

VT-49-Decimator-maneuver-dial
VT-49 Maneuver Dial
YT-2400-Outrider-maneuver-dial
YT-2400 Maneuver Dial

 

 

 

 

 

But as cool as the Decimator is, it’s fighting a losing battle, because the YT-2400 Outrider is far and away the superior ship of the two, and suits my recent play style perfectly.

Margin of victory is great and all, and a huge part of tournament scoring, but it’s a tie-breaker; winning counts first. So I’m willing to take a chance on nobody at all will have shots in the combat phase to ensure that when we ARE in range, I’m at an advantage. I accomplish this generally by bringing less models than my opponent, with more powerful shots, and then evening up the numbers by using the maneuver phase to deny my opponent as many shots as possible.

That approach is perfect for the YT-2400. With a built in Barrel Roll action, tons of maneuver options, and the ability to ignore obstacles while moving and taking actions with the iconic pilot Dash Rendar, the YT-2400 can dance around the field. Then if you replace its’ standard turret weapon with the Outrider title and a Heavy Laser Cannon, you might as well be Muhammad Ali – “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”!

I played using the YT-2400 twice last night, and only made a slight tweak between games to the other ship in my list (yes, another two ship list).  I was extremely happy with how the list performed in both games, but I had the advantage of moving last with Dash in both games. Playing against someone with pilot skill 8+ will be much more of a challenge, and will often involve talking to myself to make sure I remember the strategy. Repeat after me: “A bad shot is worse than no shot”.

Lucky 7’s

Dash Rendar (36)
Push the Limit (3)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Lando Calrissian (3) – Heavily suggest swapping for Navigator (3).
Engine Upgrade (4)

Keyan Farlander (29)
Advanced Sensors (3) – Was Fire Control System (2) in first game.
Ion Cannon (3)
Push the Limit (3)
B-Wing/E2 (1)
C-3PO (3)

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A large based ship with a turret, an Engine Upgrade, and Push The Limit. Looks familiar, right? But in this case, we’ve also got a Barrel Roll action to add in, not to mention the ability to ignore those pesky asteroids while we’re getting into position for a shot. Lando is here pretty much for theme, as a competitive card I really don’t like him, but he could be clutch at times; roll the dice with him, and if you don’t like the results, Push the Limit for a Boost/Barrel Roll into “no shot” range. The big deal is that you try to make sure you’re firing at Range 3 and taking as few return shots as possible. Heavy Laser Cannon rolls 4 attack dice and ignores range bonuses, while you’re hopefully rolling 3 evade dice against one or maybe two primary weapon shots in return if your opponent’s maneuvers even leave them with a shot. Repeat after me again: “A bad shot is worse than no shot” – and I define a bad shot as one where you’re not dishing out more damage than you’ll take in return.

Keyan tags along as a separate one-pilot wrecking crew with a few tricks of his own. Try to maintain Range 3 or Range 1, Range 2 is your dead-zone. At Range 1 dodge firing arcs, take the Barrel Roll and Push The Limit for a Target Lock, spend the stress to convert your attack dice. At Range 3, PTL for a Focus and a Target Lock. If you have Advanced Sensors and know you’ll get a shot to spend the stress, go ahead and Barrel Roll behind an asteroid instead of taking the Target Lock. Any time you have at least 2 defense dice, call 1 evade with C-3PO. It’s fairly likely that you’ll either get it right or roll the evade anyway, and you can still use that focus on defense too. And on those long shots, especially through cover or against high agility ships, switch to the Ion Cannon for utility, since you only need to squeak one hit through and you’re negating the range bonus, you can set yourself up for a clean and pretty shot the next turn.

First Opponent

Dash Rendar (36)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (12)

Keyan Farlander (29)

11 points of other upgrades split between Dash and Keyan, none of which really stand out to me as having played an active role in how the game played out.

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Initial approach: The smaller ships are letting the YT-2400’s have their moment.
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My Dash (top left at this point) considers switching targets now after denying his B-Wing a shot and leaving his YT-2400 with no good shot.
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My B-Wing (bottom left) slipped into the “Doughnut of Safety” against his Dash, getting a great shot without fear of return fire since the HLC can’t fire at range 1.

This game was a bit painful at times as we tried to figure out how to maneuver the YT-2400’s, and my opponent’s dice were not being nice to him. He passed the point of caring about losing, and just wanted to end it so that he could move on and play against someone else (we tend to be matched up every week).

A glaring weakness of the “Super Dash” archetype using a HLC as a turret appeared in this game: Higher PS pilots, especially those with extra movement abilities, can and will get inside your minimum range. Not getting to attack because of long range is infinitely better than not getting to attack because of short range; that’s why it’s so important to be willing to give up on a shot with this kind of build if you don’t know where the opponent will move.

Second Opponent

Captain Jonus (22)
Shield Upgrade (4)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon(7)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

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Initial setup. Asteroids in the way? Who cares!? I’m Dash Rendar!!!
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Turn One: Awww, your Heavy Laser Cannons only point forward? That’s too bad!
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Turn Two: A couple of well placed barrel rolls, and we end up with two unopposed shots.
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Starting turn 4’s maneuvers with a K-Turn for the bottom Defender. Notice that on turn 2, Dash barely at all other than turning in place. He took a speed 1 banking turn to clear stress and get himself pointed towards the fight, and then took a Barrel Roll for positioning purposes.
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Turn 12-ish…: Taking the slow and steady approach. I gave up several shots for the purposes of positioning, and got Keyan pointed the wrong way while stressed at one point. As a result, it took a few turns to beat down on these last two ships, but they both went down after this turn’s maneuvers and shots, and I missed my chance to take a final photo.

Not a lot of tactical analysis to be done here, other than a bit of reinforcement to the fact that low pilot skill will struggle to contain Dash Rendar’s shenanigans.

I’m looking forward to putting Dash up against some more competitive builds, because I certainly enjoy using him and think he’ll do well for skilled players. The VT-49 isn’t a bad ship by any means, but the YT-2400 is definitely my favorite of the two, and I feel that it will be the more likely of the pair to appear in successful competitive builds.

What are your thoughts on the new ships? How are you using them? Did I miss something awesome? Have you found a reliable use for the other pilots? Drop me a line and let me know, I’d love to discuss it with you.

– The Tabletop General

 

Resistance is Futile OP2; Battle Report 3

Time to see how well my memory is holding up. I’m almost a week overdue for posting this one, but it’s been a very busy week. Last Saturday, I played in the third of at least five instances of Resistance is Futile OP2 I’ll be entering this month for Star Trek: Attack Wing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with them or just want to refresh your memory, here’s a link to the scenarios.

And for the rest of you who just need a minor refresher or just didn’t feel like clicking the link, the basic gist of the scenario is that each player brings a Borg and a Rebel (Non-Borg) fleet, and alternates between the two playing against an opponent with the opposite configuration. My lists were similar to those from the previous event; this venue does not use the 3 ship minimum or 50 point ship maximum, my Borg configuration doesn’t change much, and since luck would have it that I didn’t get to play my Rebel list in the prior event, I still wanted to give that exact same list a spin.

Simple Shape Steamroller, v3.1

Borg Octahedron – 40 (39)
Tactical Drone – 3 (2) (Borg Sphere 4270)
Magnus Hansen – 1 (0) (Queen Vessel Prime)
Hive Mind – 1 (0) (Avatar of Tomed OP prize)

Borg Sphere – 38 (37)
Drone – 0
Borg Missile – 6 (5) (Tactical Cube 138)

Borg Sphere – 38 (37)
Drone – 0

Total: 120

Pre-discount total: 127

Again, I couldn’t get my hands on a copy of the Tactical Drone from Scout Cube 608 for a free (and useful) unique captain. The only difference between this list and the previous one is that I dropped the Borg Queen captain off for the Borg Missile – this event was held before the prior ruling was reversed by Wizkids and the Borg Missile dealt multiple Auxiliary Power Tokens in addition to destroying shields without defense dice, making it a must-have card to deal with the high defense versions of the USS Enterprise E.

Rebels Without Causes

Resource: Flagship Independent (Romulan) (10)

USS Enterprise-D- 28 (27) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
William T. Riker- 4 (3) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Rebellion – 5 (4) (ISS Defiant)
Julian Bashir -2 (1) (ISS Defiant)
Tasha Yar – 2 (1) (ISS Defiant)
Quantum Torpedoes – 6 (5) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Fire All Weapons – 7 (6) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Dorsal Weapons Array – 2 (1) (Prakesh Resistance is Futile booster)

USS Enterprise-E – 32 (31)
Flagship Independent (Romulan) – 10
Jean-Luc Picard (+1 Tech version) – 5 (4) (USS Enterprise-E)
Attack Pattern Omega – 3 (2) (USS Defiant)
Adm. Maxwell Forrest – 3 (2) (Enterprise NX-01)
Elizabeth Shelby – 2 (1) (USS Yeager Collective booster)
Hikaru Sulu – 3 (2) (Constitution class Enterprise)
Tom Paris – 4 (3) (from the USS Voyager)
Dorsal Phaser Array – 7 (6) (USS Enterprise-E)
Tactical Station – 4 (3) (Stargazer OP Prize)
Multi-Adaptive Shields – 5 (4) (USS Raven OP Prize)
Enhanced Hull Plating – 4 (3) (Enterprise NX-01)

Total: 119

Pre-discount total: 138

As I mentioned previously, this list was unchanged from my prior build. The plan is still to send the Mirror Universe Enterprise-D in with weapons ablaze, and sacrifice it to weaken/eliminate anything that would give the Enterprise-E trouble.

Round 1

The TO for this event played the scenario to the letter of the law. Since I was leading coming in to the event, I was to play Borg against the runner up from the prior month’s Rebels.

Opponent:

USS Enterprise-E, Kirk (8), Cheat Death, Flagship (Ind. Romulan), Tom Paris, Elizabeth Shelby, Seskal, Dorsal Phaser Array, Tactical Station
USS Voyager, Mr. Spock… (?)

Not a good start, memory failing right from the start. I couldn’t begin to tell you what was on that second ship, and for some reason I only have photos of the Enterprise’s cards. What I do know about this build shows the ugly side of having to get your hands on prize ships and buying certain otherwise unused ships to make an optimal build; not having the USS Raven prize ship or an Enterprise NX-01, this player didn’t have access to the Multi-Adaptive Shields or Enhanced Hull plating that really make the Enterprise-E a hard nut to crack.

Battle:

In addition to not having photos of the Voyager’s build, I didn’t give it much time to work. It wasn’t that much less powerful than the Enterprise, and it was rolling way less defense dice, so it had to go first. My opponent did a good job of concentrating fire, and brought one of my spheres right to the brink of death just as I finished Voyager.

I still had two other ships at full strength, so I wasn’t worried about the outcome of the match, but taking one more hit and losing that ship would be a serious blow to my score. Knowing that I couldn’t keep that sphere alive through another round of shooting, I retreated it at full speed. I moved perpendicular to my opponent’s line of travel as opposed to away, thinking it would be easier to reach range 3 and be out of his firing arc than escape beyond range 3 within arc. The Enterprise had a couple Auxiliary Power Tokens on it thanks to my Borg Missile, so I figured he could be taking a green 1-bank to clear a token, so I dropped another ship right in the path of that maneuver, hoping to stop it short so that my damaged ship would be out of arc and beyond the Range 2 shot from his Dorsal Phaser Array.

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Just before the failed retreat – the sphere closest to the Enterprise is the crippled one, see damage cards at bottom right. Octahedron takes a 3 to the East in a blocking maneuver, damaged Sphere moves 4 North. It almost worked…

I guessed right, the Enterprise revealed a 1-bank, and my plan worked out perfectly, but wasn’t enough; the sphere was still within Range 2 by about 2 centimeters. Sphere goes boom, Enterprise followed it shortly afterwards. It was a win, but not as clean of one as I had hoped for.

Round 2

This one was bound to be trouble. Now I had to use my untested Rebel list against someone that scored well with their own Rebels in Round 1.

Opponent:

Borg Tactical Cube 138, Tactical Drone (rerolls), Borg Ablative Hull Armor x 2

Borg Sphere, Tactical Drone (rerolls), Flagship (Ind Klingon), Feedback Pulse, Scavenged Parts

I might be missing a point or two off of his list, but at the same time, I think he was a couple points short of a complete build.

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Battle:

Trouble, indeed. I spent the first couple of turns approaching slowly, trying to prime Riker with a couple free actions to take once he reached the combat. My opponent, expecting something tricky out of me, danced sideways for a couple of turns in hopes of screwing with that plan. We had to call the judge over for a ruling on how Riker’s free actions functioned, which took a couple of minutes (apparently my opponent and the Wizkids rules committee share a pitcher of Kool-Aid, since they ruled this week that his Free Actions don’t count as Actions). With the Sphere was out front for a moment, I hoped to deny a turn of shooting from the Cube on the initial engagement. On the turn we should have all entered into firing range, I took a 1-reverse maneuver with both ships. Unfortunately, I misjudged the range, and didn’t get a shot with the Enterprise D, and the Enterprise E’s shot was reflected by the Feedback Pulse. Then we had another delay while we got a judge’s ruling on Feedback Pulse (because “round down” doesn’t mention a minimum of 1 damage anywhere).

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Right before I did the hokey-pokey in hopes of a 2-on-1 round of shooting.

Next thing I know, the Sphere has retreated behind the Cube, the Enterprise D has been blown off the map, and I’m trying to burn through 25 hit points of Borg Cube, with each move turning out to be a short chess match as we attempted to outguess and outmaneuver one another. Between my slow approach, the two rule debates, and the planning phases that took too long, I ran out of time before I could score a kill. The Enterprise E, as I ran it, wins that game with another 3 turns, and wipes the Borg entirely with another 4-5 after that. But there just wasn’t time in the match, and this one went to the Borg.

Round 3

Time to make up some lost ground. Being the higher ranking of my pairing, and wanting to further explore my Rebel fleet, I chose to play them. My opponent, not owning any Borg, had a rag-tag band that I didn’t know what to expect from.

Opponent:

USS Yeager, Khan (8), Photon Torpedoes …?
Enterprise-D, Kirk (9), Photon Torpedoes, Cheat Death …?
Bioship Alpha, Bioship Alpha Pilot, Quantum Singularity…?

Again, poor memory and no notes. I keep thinking I’ll get better about this, but with this odd format there were too many lists floating around and being swapped to keep track of who had what on which ship.

Battle:

This time, my Mirror Universe ship did its’ job, going in with guns blazing. Without a big Borg ship to outclass its’ hull, though, Rebellion was wasted, causing me to take a little extra damage, and not deal as much as I had planned on. The Yeager turned away from the fight (not being experienced with it, my opponent forgot it had no rear arc for torpedoes), and the Bioship teleported out with a few scratches just as the 3rd ship fell. My Enterprise E battered the Yeager, but took a couple of turns to do it (Picard had named Species 8472, the most threatening of the factions present), and the Bioship came back with a vengeance for the Enterprise D. There was no escape for Mirror-Riker, he went down in flames before Picard could arrive to finish up. Again, losing a ship at the last second hurt my overall score.

Final Thoughts

Oddly enough, a 1-2 record on the day scored me third place out of eight – while the battle points are used for the overall event, fleet points are used for scoring the individual events here, with a bonus granted for winning matches. Apparently, completely wiping my first and third opponents, and not being totally destroyed in my second match, I squeaked in a couple points ahead of the rest of the pack. The first place player on the day didn’t make it to the first month’s event, meaning that I still have a solid lead for the series. If I had to have a mere decent showing, this was the way to do it.

Bonus photos:

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Back to the drawing board for my Rebels, and on to the next event!

– The Tabletop General

1st Wave Attack Fighters Preview

Putting aside my frustration with Wizkids for now, StarTrek.com has released the latest preview for next month’s Star Trek: Attack Wing releases. This release is the first of its’ kind, a retail version of the Attack Fighters resource which had been previously made available via Organized Play rewards only.

The statistics and health tracking mechanic for the First Wave Attack Fighters appears to have been carried over from the previous versions, but the preview images don’t actually show any of the stats. Borrowing from the Borg Drone token mechanic, there is a token for the Attack Fighters that is marked as “Start”, so presumably the statistics will be found on the opposite side of the tokens identifying the ship type and Captain Skill. Interestingly enough, the ship card specifies how many tokens are used, and the tokens shown are marked with the same name and unique symbol as the named version of the ship, leading me to believe that there may be a consistent difference in stats between the named and generic versions of the squadron.

1st Wave Attack Fighters                                             Attack Fighter Stat Tokens

The 1st Wave Attack Fighters expansion brings with it a new upgrade type, Squadron Upgrades. These upgrades are intended to enhance the functionality of fighter squadrons but aren’t available to other ship types. This lets you customize your squadrons to fit your play style and lets the upgrades work specifically with the Attack Squadron mechanics and uses.

When I look over them, the Squadron Upgrades available break down into 4 distinct categories: Offense, Defense, Support, and Utility, with two cards in each category.

For Utility, we have Aft Disruptor Wave Cannons and Photo Lock-On. Aft Disruptor Wave Cannons are a 5 point upgrade that lets you disable them to fire your Primary weapon out of your rear firing arc, a situational card, but quite handy if that situation comes up. Photo Lock-On costs 2 points, and is discarded in order to obtain a target lock within Range 1-2 during the Declare Target step of your attack. I feel that Photo Lock-On is an appropriately costed card for a minor bump in action economy and letting you lock on to ships that may have moved into range after your activation.

Aft Disrupter Wave Cannons                         Photo Lock-On

 

Under the Support heading, we have Escort and Flanking Attack. Flanking Attack costs 3 points and is a single use (discard) ability which allows you skip your fighters’ attack for the round and hand your attack dice to a friendly ship nearby for their attack. This will come in really handy for when your target has a lot of defense dice, or when your other ship is the only one with a target lock, or similar situations. Escort costs 4 points, and takes an action and disabling the card to grant defense dice equal to your squadron tokens to a friendly ship at range 1. Escort is a phenomenally powerful card, considering that the wording doesn’t even require you to remain at range 1, and you’re granting up to FIVE defense dice. Bring a higher skilled captain on a Dominion Battleship and trigger that action before sending your Battleship into the thick of the fight, while leaving your “escort” fighters safely out of range!

Flanking Attack                        Escort

For Defense cards, we have Cover Fire and Support Ship, each costing 4 points and only working once. Support Ship functions as a “Cheat Death” card for the squadron, being discarded instead of removing the squadron’s last token. Cover Fire allows you to add your current primary weapon value in defense dice to a single roll. Truthfully, neither one of these cards really moves the dial for me – Cover Fire isn’t guaranteed to help you out, Support Ship doesn’t help until you’re not putting out much damage, and in either case they’re stopping (at most) a single hit for 4 points, 20% of the squadron’s hit points for just under 20% of the cost, and tying up an upgrade slot at the same time.

Cover Fire                         Support Ship

 

Last, but not least, we have the Offensive cards; Galor Class Phaser Banks and Break Formation. Break Formation costs 5 points, and is disabled as an action to take a free Primary Weapon shot at -1 attack dice (max of 3) so long as you’re not within range 1 of a friendly ship. Not a lot of dice, limited economy use, and your ship can’t be near friendly ships… It’s useful against other fighters (being able to potentially remove two tokens in one turn with separate attacks), but in general this doesn’t look like a great card. Galor Class Phaser Array, on the other hand, costs 7 points, and does two very nice things for you – extends your attack range out to 1-3, and gives you +1 Primary Weapon Value.  Maybe a little too expensive to justify in most builds, but a great upgrade to the fighters in general.

Break Formation                          Galor Class Phaser Banks

 

All said and done, this is the first Attack Wing expansion in quite some time that I’ve looked at and said to myself “How soon can I get it?”. I don’t know about everybody else, but I’ll need multiple copies of the First Wing Attack Fighters. Who needs dreadnoughts when you can just swarm the enemy???

– The Tabletop General

Wizkids being Wizkids

For those of you who haven’t been following the rules debates for Star Trek: Attack Wing over the past few months, you’ve been missing out on one of the best comedy/dramas to have ever graced the gaming community or the internet.

Lacking an official venue through which questions could be fielded, the game’s original designer, Andrew Parks, took to the BoardGameGeek forums to impart his great wisdom upon the masses. Looking back upon it, I consider this a golden age for Attack Wing and its’ early “unofficial” FAQ; questions were answered directly and quickly, straight from the game’s designer. When Parks was pulled off of Star Trek for the Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing project, things were left in the presumably capable hands of Chris Guild. Guild took over the design of expansions, upkeep of this unofficial FAQ, and potentially the creation of scenarios for Organized Play events as well (unconfirmed).

Prosperity continued for a bit longer, as Guild took up the torch of upkeep of the FAQ on BoardGameGeek, but he would never prove to be near the benevolent benefactor that the community had grown to know and love in Parks. Answers to questions arrived less and less frequently, and were often simple thumbs-up responses to interpretations given by other users, as if Guild were saying “I don’t have any thoughts of my own on the matter, but this person’s interpretation seems decent”. Guild was also rumored (known) to have a particular favorite (Borg) among the multiple factions in the game (seriously, it was Borg) which he would preferred above all others as a Star Trek fan, and his rulings seemed to support this theory on a regular basis. Still, we did get rulings from him, and they were better than nothing (usually).

Then, just over two months ago, Guild stopped participating in discussions on the BoardGameGeek forums completely, with no notice or explanation as to why, and no official replacement appeared. For while, the lunatics did a decent job of running the asylum, as several prominent members of the Attack Wing community continued to make best-guess interpretations of new cards and combinations based on similar situations with prior cards. It wasn’t perfect, and now it certainly wasn’t official, but it was all we had to try in our attempt to make the gameplay experience consistent from venue to venue.

Two weeks ago, Wizkids launched a new forum on their own site for official rules questions and hosting the FAQ which had been previously created/updated by Parks and Guild. It seemed like a positive thing at the time; not only would the change in location lend credibility to players who didn’t believe that the BoardGameGeek forums had any legitimacy to them, but this seemed to indicate that Wizkids would be taking a more active role once again in providing answers to these questions.

What nobody expected was that Wizkids would lock down the forum, and fill it with “logic” that would give a Vulcan an epileptic seizure. Nothing gets posted without being approved by a moderator, which on the surface may look like a method for keeping things on track and preventing spam. In practice, it means that questions that Wizkids can’t yet answer, or doesn’t want to answer, just disappear. I’ve posted somewhere around a dozen original questions or requests for clarification on a ruling within these past two weeks, and all but one have been ignored.

After the forum had been in existence for all of a single week, an announcement was posted that no new content would be posted for another week, as the rules team had been inundated with requests and would need to take the week to sort them out and come up with answers. Two days ago, the forum came back to life, with lots of answers to very legitimate questions, and most of them were consistent, if not necessarily to the community’s liking. On the other hand, several rulings were published that contradicted each other and/or the FAQ document published by Parks and Guild. Errata has been released for a handful of cards that were deemed too powerful, not only for game balance, but because (and I quote) “these cards are not thematic of the Star Trek universe”.

Let’s circle back to that one post of mine that I mentioned had appeared on the forum. This morning, I had fired off one more reply into the black hole about a ruling that was dubious at best, and didn’t seem to be based upon any prior rules or game mechanics. I asked what the basis was for that ruling, as well as what impact the ruling might have when applied to several other parts of the game. Seeing my name appear in the thread later on in the day, I was very happy to see that Wizkids had at least acknowledged my post. But upon reading the response, I realized that they didn’t answer all of my questions. In fact, a huge chunk of my post had been removed, and it appears for all the world that I never even asked about the basis of the ruling, only what it applied to! Not expecting anything of the sort, I didn’t think to take a screenshot of my post before submitting it, not that I could prove that it was submitted as such; but as I live and breathe, my post was edited by someone else before being approved and posted. This occurred without any notice to me whatsoever, and hid the fact that I was taking the Socratic method to point out the fact that they were changing a rule that wasn’t broken to something that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

As a local Tournament Organizer and good friend phrased it, “If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d swear they’re purposely sabotaging the game. Having a rules forum where you can pick and edit the questions is ridiculous.”. I couldn’t agree more.

This rant belongs on the Wizkids forums, but it would never be see the light of day if I posted it there. As much as I enjoy exploring Star Trek: Attack Wing, I’ve forbidden myself from touching the of the Dungeons & Dragons: Attack Wing because of Wizkids’ business model and disregard for a consistent and well planned rule set for competitive play. Ideally, I would like the variety of continuing to play X-Wing Miniatures, Star Trek: Attack Wing, and soon Star Wars: Armada at a competitive level in addition to more casual board games and video games. But there’s only so much time in the week, and only so much money in my gaming budget. Wizkids is making it really easy to decide which one of those items might not make the cut.

– The Tabletop General

Competitive vs. Fair

Just about everyone has played “Rock, Paper, Scissors” (RPS) before, right? If nothing else, it’s a great way to decide with your buddy which one of you is going to have to step away from the gaming table to go order a pizza (or which one of you will be paying for it). The rules of the game are simple: players both simultaneously reveal and compare hand signals for rock (defeats scissors),  scissors (defeats paper), or paper (defeats rock). Believe it or not, there are some groups that play RPS competitively, a bit far-fetched for me, but rock on for having the competitive spirit.

Now I’m going take a bit of a trip down memory lane… Back in primary school, I remember quite clearly playing RPS as a daily ritual at the lunch table, and it never got old. Why? Because we didn’t stick to Rock, Paper, or Scissors as our options. We had hand signals for a Tree, which Scissors couldn’t cut and would crack a Rock in half if it fell on it. We had a Chainsaw (that one was a complicated hand sign). that could cut down that tree, and worked pretty well on most other things.  We had Dynamite, that would blow up almost anything it faced (a decidedly overpowered ability), but would have its’ fuse cut by Scissors. We had Fire, which would burn a Tree or Paper, and make Dynamite blow up (which we determined made Fire win). Half the fun was figuring out how to contort your hand into something that looked like your weapon of choice, and then debating about how it interacted with whatever your opponent came up with for their selection.

Apparently, adding more hand signs is a real thing, causing such combinations as “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock”. This change recreates a conundrum from my childhood games. Spock loses to Paper, but defeats Rock and Scissors, so the first player to introduce Spock has a 2:3 win chance, as opposed to the 1:3 chance from games with 3 choices. Adding in the Lizard makes things fair again, and levels the playing field. But what if you couldn’t select the Lizard or Spock, only your opponent could? Believe it or not, it’s pretty common to run across those sorts of situations. In particular, “Free-to-play” video games tend to do this a lot; players with free accounts playing against one another is a balanced fight, and it’s (usually) a technical possibility for a free player to win against a player who is paying money in to the game, but the paying player usually has major advantages in abilities, equipment, or power level.

Today we’re seeing this effect in tabletop miniature gaming. Games such as Warhammer: 40,000 make it a straight-up cash grab, as the player who can buy up the newest army released and paint it up and get it on the table quickly tend to have an advantage over all other armies until the next release, at which point the newer release tends to once again have an advantage. This is known as “power creep”, or “codex creep” specifically in reference to Warhammer.

But that’s not the only place that I’m seeing it. Star Trek: Attack Wing has created a permanent disparity between highly competitive players (or those with the money for eBay), and the more casual crew with their Organized Play prize ships and blind booster ships. These ships are generally (but not always) alternate versions of other ships that have already been released at retail or will be available in the future, but the ship abilities and included upgrade cards are different from the retail version and aren’t available anywhere else.

This adds prestige to competing in and winning events, but some of these abilities are really powerful. For example, the P.W.B. Aj’Rmr, available only to winners of OP #3 of the Dominion War, is the same model and base stats as the I.R.W. Khazara out of the starter set for Attack Wing, but has drastically better action economy towards the end of the game, essentially getting a free target lock out of each attack once the ship has taken some damage. The Aj’Rmr also includes some great upgrades like Romulan Pilot, a 2 point Crew Upgrade that can be discarded for a free Scan token and a free green maneuver on top of your normal actions for the turn. I would LOVE to have the Aj’Rmr in my Attack Wing collection, but I wasn’t playing at the time this was available, and won’t be buying one off of EBay.

While neat and occasionally powerful, none of the ships with limited availability really break the game or significantly alter how it is played. Do I think it’s fair? Not at all. But it’s an accepted and semi-agreed upon part of the rules for Attack Wing. I also don’t think Attack Wing is successful because of a strong ruleset or balanced competitive play. I’ve come to expect and accept this slight imbalance from Wizkids with Attack Wing.

Fantasy Flight Games, on the other hand, is a group that I have come expect much better meta-game management from, and they’ve created a no-win situation for players and tournament organizers. This year at the GenCon gaming convention, Fantasy Flight Games sold convention attendees the next two months of releases for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, and it’s been a headache for me as a TO.

The Rebel Aces expansion wasn’t such a huge deal, as it was releasing to the public soon and the ships themselves are alternate paint schemes of existing ships, so they could be used fairly without introducing the new cards in the expansion. The upgrade cards and new pilots would cause a competitive imbalance between players who did and did not have access to them: A-Wings got a huge boost to their ordnance upgrade slot out of the Proton Rocket and Chardaan Refit cards. Jake Farrell moves like no other A-Wing pilot. The B-Wing-E/2 title gave B-Wings access to upgrades that had previously been closed to them. Keyan Farlander’s unique ability turns the B-Wing into a stress-eating machine gun. This expansion made significant changes to how these ships worked, and some of the upgrades, like those Proton Rockets, could be shared with other ships as well.

The bigger deal was the VT-49 Decimator and the YT-2400 Outrider, which wouldn’t release to the public for two months after their limited sale at GenCon. As of the writing of this article, they still haven’t been released, and won’t until after the next X-Wing tournament to be held at my home venue, the grand prize for which will be a copy of either ship upon its’ release. And for the third event in a row, I’m having to defend my position that players who purchased these ships at GenCon shouldn’t be able to use them.

At first, the argument was based upon a loophole in the tournament rules for X-Wing which states that all expansions would be considered tournament legal at events held in the U.S. once the ships were available for sale, and players argued that their sale at GenCon should qualify these conditions. I stuck to my guns on this one, because not everyone could have traveled to Indianapolis to buy them. This argument was upheld by the fact that these ships were not allowed in the 2014 World Finals tournament for X-Wing earlier this month.

Now, I’ve been reminded by a player that we’re trying to encourage more competitive play in our area, and these ships will be a part of the next major round of tournaments, the 2015 Store Championship series kicking off in January. “Shouldn’t we get as much practice against these as possible?”, goes the argument of the day. Sorry, but I don’t buy that one either. This is a competitive event, which should have a level and fair playing field. I’ve played in over a dozen casual X-Wing gaming sessions since GenCon, and I’ve yet to see either of the release wave 5 ships on the table. Anyone looking to use them in tournament play against people who haven’t had an opportunity to see these ships in action, let alone be able to buy their own copies, is looking for an unfair advantage in that event, and it saddens me that this is argument is made while flying the banner of being more “competitive”.

We’ve got 2-5 months in front of us before the 2015 X-Wing Store Championships, depending on the scheduling of the individual venues. There is plenty of time to figure out how to use and fight against these two ships.

If you’re worried about something upsetting the tournament scene, look at the Scum and Villainy faction’s upcoming release first, which will bring entirely new play styles to the game, and will release even closer to the start of the Store Championship tournaments. One more event and roughly one week’s further delay until the retail release of the VT-49 and the YT-2400 isn’t going to make any significant difference. My answer to these players wanting to use these ships early in tournament play is “no”, it will always be “no”, and I doubt that I would find myself playing in competitive events where the answer was “yes”.

I want to match wits with my opponents, not show off how much I can afford to spend time and money to gain an advantage. I want to compete and I want to win, but not as bad as I want a fair fight. I want to prove myself against my opponent, and I’m proving my wits, not my wallet.

Discuss.

– The Tabletop General

Fina Prime Preview

Even a Star Wars fan like myself knows that away teams and boarding parties are a big part of the action in Star Trek, and Wizkids has tried time and time again to make them a viable part of Star Trek: Attack Wing.  The first ship from next month’s releases to be previewed, Fina Prime, appears to specialize in boarding parties, but in a little bit more of an old-fashioned way. Why use teleporters, when you can use a harpoon? Harpoons are way cooler, right?

So who would be crazy enough to bring a harpoon to a laser battle? Meet the Vidiian Commander, a far cry from a sane looking individual. He enhances abilities on several cards included with this pack, but has no unique ability without them. Considering his closest analog, Lore (from the Soong), has the exact same stats and cost plus adds a lot of versatility, I don’t see myself using this Captain except on Halloween.

His ship, Fina Prime, does include a new ability we haven’t seen before. As an action, Fina prime can take an Auxiliary Power Token to remove (not disable, remove) an active shield from a target at Range 1. This isn’t an earth-shatteringly powerful ability, but it allows you to do “damage” even if your opponent is outside your firing arc, and can’t be interrupted by those pesky defense dice everybody seems to be so fond of rolling when I shoot at them.

Vidiian Commander   Fina Prime

Correction time, when I said “a harpoon”, earlier, I meant a Grappler. Conspicuously missing from the previewed cards on Startrek.com was any sort of explanation as to what these “Grapple” tokens will do, but since the mechanic is limited to a Range 1 attack and uses tokens like the Borg Tractor Beam included with the Borg Sphere and Borg Tactical Cube,  I’m assuming it will have a very similar effect in limiting the movements available to the enemy ship. One thing to note, this card hits on one of my major pet peeves for mechanics in Attack Wing – this card is much less effective while the opponent’s shields are active. It makes sense as to why this would be the case (it’s hard to physically attach something to an energy field based shield), but it makes me have no interest in the card. If I’ve managed to get a ship’s shields down already, I want to be dealing damage; I could care less about control effects by that point. Combine the fact that you have to re-enable it to fire it again and that it requires a boost from the Vidiian Commander card to match Fina Prime’s primary weapon for dice (counting the bonus for Range 1), I just don’t see a big reason to bring it.

Grappler

 

While we don’t know for sure what effect a Grapple token will have, we do know a couple of the side effects. Denara Pel, a Crew upgrade included with the pack, can be discarded to cause a Crew upgrade on the target ship to be discarded. Functioning against cloaked ships, as well as not being restricted by shields or requiring your own to be lowered, this is a GREAT option for breaking the Weyoun + Varel combo (while Weyoun is disabled), as well as being an easy option to remove Elizabeth Shelby, Hikaru Sulu, or other such pesky crew members that make life difficult. The Grapple token enhances Denara Pel as follows: If there is a Grapple token on the target ship, Denara is disabled instead of being discarded during this action. Sounds good on the surface, but the Grappler is an attack, and it only gives that token once hull damage is dealt; so you’re unlikely to land it while you care about killing off crew, and Denara Pel wouldn’t be usable in this manner until the following turn, and then is re-enabled the next turn, and can be used again on the next after that. Recap: After shields are down on the enemy ship, Denara can be potentially used twice in a 3 turn span.  It’s a neat trick to remove two crew members, but if you’re in a position to do it, why not just kill the ship they’re on?

Sulan does something similar, sacrificing himself to discard a Crew upgrade on your target. With a Grapple token, he has an extra effect of disabling up to two other Crew upgrades on the target ship. Personally, if I was really worried about clearing multiple Crew, I’d just use both of these cards together, and forget waiting until after the Grappler is attached.

Denara Pel            Sulan

 

But why just send one Crew member, when you can send a whole team? Vidiian Boarding Party raids the whole ship, potentially killing up to five (with the bonus die from the Commander) crew off of the target ship. This card violates enough of my rules for picking upgrades to be excluded from my lists (4 points for a 1-shot action, only works at Range 1, doesn’t affect cloaked ships, doesn’t affect shielded ships, drops your shields to use it, and isn’t guaranteed to work). BUT… there may be something special about this card. I suspect that the unusual wording here is intentional and very important: “For each [Hit] or [Crit] result, the target ship must discard 1 [Crew] Upgrade of your choice.” Since the target ship is the one performing the discard action, this looks like it completely circumnavigates cards like Koss and Disruption Field, which would normally prevent other upgrades on the ship from being affected. Much less important, but continuing the theme of the ship, Vidiian Boarding Party is a free action if the target is Grappled.

Vidiian Boarding Party

 

 

One card left to cover here, I saved the best for last, and it’s already been named if you were reading the other cards. Hypothermic Charge is the remaining card that receives a bonus from the Vidiian Commander. A 3-die attack for 5 points and a disable doesn’t seem all that impressive, but the attack has two impressive qualities: If the opponent’s shields are up, they are ignored by damage from this card. Alternatively, if the opponent’s shields are down, this card has a built-in Target Lock reroll.

Hypothermic Charge

 

So Hypothermic Charge is nice and all, you say, but what’s the big deal about it? Consider the following ship and upgrades:

(Edit – On a subsequent look, I realized the Hypothermic Charge was Vidiian only. The sample build has been replaced, and is admittedly less effective now that it has been fixed.)

Fina Prime – 26
Lore – 4 (Soong)
Fleet Captain Ind/Klingon – 5 (Collective OP 2 Participation)
Attack Pattern Omega – 0 (USS Defiant)
Denara Pel – 0 (Fina Prime)
Sakonna – 1 (Gavroche [Collective blind boosters])
Erin Hansen – 2 (Collective OP 2 Prize)
Torsus – 1 (Soong)
Joachim – 3 (USS Reliant)
Hypothermic Charge – 3 (Fina Prime)

Total: 45 SP

With Lore’s ability to sacrifice crew, along with that of the ship itself you’re making attacks of up to 6 dice at a time that ignore shields, which means any hits you get past defense dice will land on hull. Opponent cloaks for extra dice since I’m ignoring shields? Fine, I get rerolls! Attack Pattern Omega and Joachim make any of those that are critical hits even more painful. Erin Hansen is discarded to ensure you’re picking the right maneuver to have a shot on your target, or is cannon fodder if not needed. Denara Pel is free, and can take out a crew member on a target, or be cannon fodder. Sakonna is free, and cannon fodder. Torsus can get you the first shot in front of captains with skill 8 or 9 (Lore is an 8 with the Fleet Captain upgrade) if needed, or can be cannon fodder like the rest if you’re already leading at skill 8. It’s unconventional, but I REALLY like it, and it all keys off of the Hypothermic Charge.

After looking at all of it, I’m unimpressed with the Fina Prime‘s central theme, but there’s a gem in the Hypothermic Charge, and the actual rules for Grapple tokens may change my overall opinion. What are your thoughts?

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP2; Battle Report 2

Everybody has an off-night from time to time, where nothing goes right, luck isn’t on your side, and you don’t truly your hobby. Last night was that night for me, as I had a quasi-successful but unsatisfying night of Star Trek: Attack Wing to wrap up a long and stressful day. The bad day in and of itself was work related, and it had me mentally fried before leaving the office late, arriving at the venue for this particular organized play session late, without having eaten anything, and only half prepared for Resistance is Futile OP2.

For those new to the site and to Attack Wing OP play, you can check out my summary of the Resistance is Futile Scenarios, but the high level briefing of this month’s event is that players are intended to bring two separate fleets, one Borg, one Rebel (non-Borg), and all pairings will have a Borg and a Rebel fleet facing off against each other, with the intent of playing each at least once. Great concept, mediocre rule system to support it: a 1-point per card discount heavily favors the rebels with their cheaper and more plentiful cards; but this night may have ended up proving how overpowered the Borg are in being able to overcome that advantage.

Many players don’t enjoy the Borg being a part of the game, feeling as if they unbalance things too much, so not everyone has a Borg fleet available. But as far as I’m aware, 7 of the 8 players present in this venue had Borg to use, and the 8th player only had to use their “Borg” fleet once. Overall for this event, there were 11 games played (traffic caused a first round bye), and Borg won 8 of those 11, or 8/10 if you toss out the game in which the “Borg” fleet had no Borg in it. With a 10-20 point advantage for the Rebel fleets depending on fleet designs, and all fleets being built with the knowledge that their opponent will most likely be using Borg, to have only beaten a true Borg force twice is surprising in a generally solid of a group of players; and I can give a first hand account of how those two wins happened. At this point, my Borg will be going on the shelf for any events that I’m comfortable playing anything else; I can’t lie to myself and say they are suitable for casual or semi-competitive play; I value winning as much as any competitive gamer, but I don’t have any use for an auto-win button.

As to my experiences in particular yesterday, I scrambled to assemble my two lists in time for the event’s start. My Borg list was  a 3rd rendition of the Simple Shape Steamroller list, modified slightly at the last minute when I found that this venue granted the 1 point discount on ships as well as on their upgrades (note that this is NOT the general case, as per the this entry on the Wizkids rules forum). My Rebel fleet combined the heavy defenses of an Enterprise E led by the obvious Elizabeth Shelby with some of new and shiny Mirror Universe toys with potential for several high powered attacks, along with the game’s first taunt mechanic.

Simple Shape Steamroller, v3

Borg Octahedron – 40 (39)
Borg Queen -6 (5) (Tactical Cube 138)
Magnus Hansen – 1 (0) (Queen Vessel Prime)

Borg Sphere – 38 (37)
Tactical Drone – 3 (2) (Borg Sphere 4270)
Hive Mind – 1 (0) (Avatar of Tomed OP prize)

Borg Sphere – 38 (37)
Drone – 0

Total: 120

Pre-discount total: 127

I wanted to run a “free” 1 point Tactical Drone from Scout Cube 608 as the captain on the 3rd ship, but was unable to find one for sale. Without the 1 point discount on ships, I would have used the same Tactical Drone from the Borg Sphere on the first two ships rather than the Queen.

 

Rebels Without Causes

Resource: Flagship Independent (Romulan) (10)

USS Enterprise-D- 28 (27) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
William T. Riker- 4 (3) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Rebellion – 5 (4) (ISS Defiant)
Julian Bashir -2 (1) (ISS Defiant)
Tasha Yar – 2 (1) (ISS Defiant)
Quantum Torpedoes – 6 (5) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Fire All Weapons – 7 (6) (Assimilation Target Prime OP Prize)
Dorsal Weapons Array – 2 (1) (Prakesh Resistance is Futile booster)

USS Enterprise-E – 32 (31)
Flagship Independent (Romulan) – 10
Jean-Luc Picard (+1 Tech version) – 5 (4) (USS Enterprise-E)
Attack Pattern Omega – 3 (2) (USS Defiant)
Adm. Maxwell Forrest – 3 (2) (Enterprise NX-01)
Elizabeth Shelby – 2 (1) (USS Yeager Collective booster)
Hikaru Sulu – 3 (2) (Constitution class Enterprise)
Tom Paris – 4 (3) (from the USS Voyager)
Dorsal Phaser Array – 7 (6) (USS Enterprise-E)
Tactical Station – 4 (3) (Stargazer OP Prize)
Multi-Adaptive Shields – 5 (4) (USS Raven OP Prize)
Enhanced Hull Plating – 4 (3) (Enterprise NX-01)

Total: 119

Pre-discount total: 138

The idea with this list was to approach slowly and make players fight the Enterprise-D first. The Enterprise E is a beast when fully equipped, especially with Shelby’s bonus against Borg, but it can’t always stand up to a full fleet of firepower (the law of averages eventually shows up) and doesn’t pump out enough attack dice on its’ own to guarantee that it will outrun everything that the opponent throws at it in a DPS competition. Unless it can borrow Admiral Forrest’s action to turn back in to the fight a little faster, the Enterprise-D’s poor maneuver dial combined with the lack of a reliable out-of-arc shot means that it will do most of the damage it’s going to do on the initial pass. Julian Bashir and Rebellion combine nicely to minimize the damage it will take, but force the opponent to shoot there first, or Bashir can be saved to force a shot to be wasted later on in the match. This means that the Enterprise E should still have shields and be free of Auxiliary Power Tokens during the heaviest combat, allowing it to do its’ work properly.

 

Round 1

In round 1, I was randomly assigned to play my Rebel fleet against… (insert drumroll here)… Nobody! With traffic detaining our eighth player until round 2, I received a bye in this round, which at this venue is good for a “win” with a score equal to the average of the 3 winners’ scores. So I took this opportunity to snap a few photos, decompress a bit, and work on my battle report for the previous day’s event.

Table 1

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A rag-tag rebel fleet of unlikely allies (Khan is helming the Nova Class) approaches the newly discovered “Low-Rider” class Tactical Cube and its’ diminutive cousin. All available firepower was poured into the Cube, which had lots of hit points, but no more offense than any other Borg ship. There’s just not enough dice, and the Cube’s captain kept forgetting about an Auxiliary Power Token on several crucial turns…
wpid-img_20141110_200340133.jpg
… which led to a very sad Borg Queen sitting on the sidelines. How exactly did it happen, you ask? Well, the attack dice that did the deed are right there on the green-nebula map. Where did they come from? Glance down to the next photo!
wpid-img_20141110_200442649.jpg
Kirk had completely forgotten the Enterprise-D doesn’t just use it’s primary firing arc, but his alien love interest of this episode leaned back onto the weapons console and blew up the Tactical Cube by accident! The Scout Cube proceeded to out-duel the Enterprise, but a “Cheat Death” at the buzzer led to the Borg being defeated by a handful of points.

Table 2

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Riker stopped and asked the Borg for directions, and they were happy to tell him where to go. (Click for a hint – what the table looked like after this turn)

Table 3

wpid-img_20141110_195203172.jpg
A slightly mangled quote from the player with the bioships: “I maneuvered perfectly, but I just couldn’t manage to roll hits.” His dice rubbed off on me, sadly.
wpid-img_20141110_200429100.jpg
Between a rock and a hard place. This ended about like what you would expect.

Round 2

Sooner or later, everybody runs up against a hard counter. Sooner or later, karma comes around and bites you. This was my turn for both. Having been designated “Rebel” the previous round, I was now to play my Borg against a Rebel list consisting of two Sovereign class ships built to go Borg hunting.

wpid-img_20141110_215318940_hdr.jpg
Each row of cards is one ship. #SoRidiculousItsPainful

Opponent:

USS Enterprise E, Independent Romulan Flagship, Picard (8, tech), Independent Flagship (Fed), Tom Paris, Hikaru Sulu, Elizabeth Shelby, Multi Adaptive Shields, Ablative Hull Plating, Dorsal Phaser Array, Tactical Stations, Cheat Death
Sovereign Class, Mr Spock, Dimitri Valtane, B’Elanna Torres, Dorsal Phaser Array, Photon Torpedoes, Transwarp Drive

Battle:

This one was ugly. Spock was an easy kill; with no defensive upgrades he was knocked out in a single round of shooting. But I lost my Octahedron on the next turn of combat before it could fire again, and then you’re looking at a souped-up E ready for exactly what it was designed to kill (2 full health Borg ships) that had none of the possible tricks to bust the defenses (Borg Missiles, Crosis, Assimilation Tubules, Magnetometric Guided Charges, etc). I had been trying to run this list so lean and efficiently that I hadn’t included protection against hard counters when I had the points available.

I tried and failed to maneuver to Range 3 and out of primary arc, as my opponent guessed every move I made. The same goes for when I tried to block his movements and deny his actions. To make matters worse, I couldn’t buy a decent attack roll. The odds on a single attack die to roll a hit or critical hit being 50%, 75% with a target lock reroll or equivalent ability, I was managing at most three hits per attack out of six dice (I think the true average was around 20-25%). Dice get hot, dice get cold, it’s part of the game. But when the opponent is rolling 7-8 defense dice with rerolls and conversions available, I wasn’t busting through anything. I destroyed two out of his six shield tokens before my Borg were wiped off the board.

Ouch.

Round 3

Both matchmaking and setup took forever in this event thanks to the complexity of the lists and scoring, so for this event which was scheduled to start at 6PM, the 3rd of the 50 minute rounds began at approximately 10:30PM. Being tired, hungry, frustrated from the previous match, and assuming I was well out of the running at this point, I found myself assigned to play as Borg again against the Rebel list from Table 1 in Round 1. My summary of his list is purely from memory, as I was running on auto-pilot and didn’t get a photo of his cards or make notes of the list.

Opponent:

Nova class, Khan (8), Photon Torpedoes, Joachim, Attack Pattern Omega
Enterprise-D, Kirk (9), Photon Torpedoes, Cheat Death, Transwarp Drive
Bioship Alpha, Bioship Alpha Pilot, Montgomery Scott, The Weak Will Perish

Battle:

Again, I was on mental autopilot here, and I didn’t give the Bioship the respect it deserved – Scotty plus The Weak Will Perish makes for an eight die attack with a double re-roll! Fortunately, the Borg Shuffle, as I’m semi-affectionately calling my shell game performed with my Borg to keep making the healthier ones looking like easier targets, did its’ job here, and the incoming damage from the opposing fleet was spread across several of my ships. There were some interesting tools in the opponent’s list, but he’s still learning to use them and some of the finer points of the game like focusing fire and how various cards and ships interact. For instance, Khan (8) is awesome with Attack Pattern Omega or with Joachim, but not on a ship with two attack dice and no weapons upgrades. So the Nova class didn’t really contribute anything, and with no defensive upgrades of any kind in his fleet, it didn’t take long at all to clear board of threats and walk away with a victory.

Final Thoughts

So while I’ve logged my score for the month, this venue runs two copies of every OP event, and counts your best score towards the overall standings. Not knowing how well everyone did in run #2 of OP1, I may see if I can find time to give this one another shot in two weeks’ time to make sure I’m still up at the top. I don’t know that I see tons of Attack Wing in my future with Star Wars Armada coming up on the horizon, but it would still be nice to go out on top.

As for this event, after everything was totaled up, I somehow landed a second place finish by all of 1 (!) point. Thinking back on how the TO was scoring the event, I suppose it works out. Rather than scoring a differential, or purely what you killed, the TO gave everyone points for the ships in their fleet which survived the round.  Everyone except for 1st place lost a match with 8 players, so there were 2 other players at 2-1, who all seemed to have hard-fought battles. I kept everything alive in the 3rd round, and I don’t know if anyone else at 2-1 managed to keep all of their ships in either game. Having the 3rd ship in my fleet than none of the other Borg fleets had meant that I had one more mission token, so that “perfect” victory was worth an extra 8 points, which helped me overcome potentially being behind by a point or two after the average score from the first round’s bye.

Thanks to the prize allocation method at this venue, the player winning the fellowship prize essentially received my blind booster ship. In turn, with two of them up for grabs, for the second night in a row I got to say….

Zoidberg B'Rel Prize Ship

 

It had to be done.

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP2; Battle Report 1

After holding serve at my home venue and kicking in the metaphorical door last month as I introduced myself to a couple new groups with a surprising amount of success (4 wins and 1 fellowship prize out of 5 appearances), we’re now in to month two of the Resistance is Futile organized play series for Star Trek: Attack Wing, and I wasn’t going to be taking anybody by surprise this time around. The first OP2 event in the area was this weekend. The TO for this series doesn’t use the scenarios provided by Wizkids (as per the preference of the usual group there), and instead held a basic 3 round tournament using the new suggested tournament format recently published by Wizkids.  This event was held at 120 points, single faction fleets (fleet pure), with no other objectives beyond destruction of the opposing fleet. Setup included of a planet and/or a set of obstacle tokens at the discretion of the player with initiative.

I had four different fleets designed coming in to the event, with the intent of choosing which to use based on who else was attending the event. I had builds for Mirror Universe (very suboptimal in fleet pure play, suitable against newbies), Vulcans (surprisingly decent), Federation (Tried, true, and tough, but less effective with the 50 point limit on ships), and Borg (lethally efficient). Surveying the group, there were 6 players (including the TO) present, most of which I would call tough competition, and I knew that there would be at least two fleets consisting of three Species 8472 Bioships, a very interesting matchup for Borg, so I brought them out to play with a near-identical build to the list I used in my first RiF OP1 event in the prior month.

Simple Shape Steamroller, Take 2

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)

Total: 119

Borg Fleet in formation
The Borg “Cheesing” for a photo at the start of round 2. I love the detail from my new camera on this shot!

This version of the list drops Magnus Hansen from the Octahedron, giving me a 1 point initiative bid – with the lower quantity of maneuvers available to Borg, I didn’t want my opponents throwing out a planet token that would be extremely difficult for me to maneuver around. I was soon to learn that I had it backwards, I wanted that planet token!

Round 1

Opponent:
Enterprise E, Picard(8) …?
USS Yeager (Collective blind boosters), Mr. Spock …?
USS Voyager, James T. Kirk (8) …?

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I didn’t think to take notes on what was where in my opponents’ lists in this event, but this was pretty close to what you would expect out of these three ships – Defensive upgrades and Dorsal Phaser Array on the Enterprise E, utility upgrades on the Voyager, and the Yeager set up as a relatively cheap torpedo boat. The list did clock in at 119 points as well, and my opponent won the roll-off for initiative and proceeded to drop a planet token in the center of the map. Not what I thought I wanted to see, but then I realized that I didn’t have any reason to come around the planet, and I could use it to split the enemy fleet.  The opponent deployed at an angle (as per the photo above), lined up to skirt by the planet and pointed directly at my ships. Unable to move directly towards my opponent, I feinted as though I would pas the planet on the other side, then halted and waited behind the planet. Sure enough, Yeager and Voyager cleared the planet on the turn of engagement, but the Enterprise didn’t make it around. If I recall correctly, one of the Federation ships got a shot off, but the other didn’t manage it. Three Borg ships returning fire took care of the Yeager and dented the Voyager. With the two remaining Federation ships separated, it was only a matter of time before the Borg swarm could burn down Voyager. Shelby made it a little harder to take down the Enterprise E, but it’s not as tough of a nut to crack with a 50 SP limit.

Round 2

Opponent:
USS Voyager, Picard(8)
USS Reliant, Kathryn Janeway
USS Enterprise Refit
Federation Attack Fighters

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Oh, look! More Federation! This was an interesting build, and the only fleet out of 6 to bring more than 3 ships (if you count the fighters). This build worried me a bit, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what the idea was for Janeway on the Reliant. Still can’t, really, I’ll have to ask its’ creator next time I see him. I also knew that with Fighters included, there was enough dice here to make a battle of attrition less than optimal – I would only shoot before the Enterprise, and Borg ships aren’t THAT hard to burn down with focused fire. With the initiative, I placed a planet token, knowing now how Borg like having cover. The idea was to force the opponent make an attack run near the planet, deny as many shots as possible, and follow behind them once they turned around.

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Borg science vessels hide from the warmongering Federation assault fleet. The Octahedron was REALLY good at hiding, currently off of its’ base here due to my tight formation.

This worked out even better than I could have hoped. From the position above, there were no shots this turn, but the opponent  couldn’t move all his ships in the same direction the next turn. Without focused fire on one of my ships, I knew I had this one in hand.

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Target acquired!

 

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You thought the Enterprise was going down first, didn’t you?

The survivors proceeded to turn and run away. I could catch them, but I was barely able to clear the Reliant before the time was called in the round, and the Federation Fighters survived. That was a little odd, but it didn’t do any harm or change the outcome in any way.

Round 3

Opponent:
USS Voyager, Mr. Spock
USS Yeager (Collective blind boosters), Clark Terrell
Enterprise E, Picard(9)

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Oh, look! More Federation! Again! It seems that somehow the Federation fleets had taken care of Species 8472 all afternoon. Either that, or they were scared, so I now I was up against the TO, which meant that coming in with 220 of 240 possible points, a solid score would win the event even if I lost the round.

I got a planet to shield myself behind again, but I messed up my deployment in this round and couldn’t get all three ships behind it without risking going off the board. Now I was just trapped in the corner! As a result, my opponent was able to focus fire and quickly destroyed one ship, and heavily damaged a second. Had he pressed the advantage, he had a good shot to survive, but he split his shots on a crucial turn and took shields off of the healthiest ship instead of destroying a second ship, and the extra damage he received in return proved to be his downfall.

One B’Rel, please! Thank you!

Here’s a handful of bonus photos from the other matches at the event:

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With one event down, it was time to go back to the drawing board and finalize my first pair of fleets for the real OP2 scenario being run the very next night. No rest for the wicked!

– The Tabletop General