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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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