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