Tag Archives: Previews

Kihraxz Fighter, the X-Wing of Scum & Villainy

Fantasy Flight Games released their preview article for the Kihraxz Fighter this week, a new expansion for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The Kihraxz will appear in stores later this summer, alongside the TIE Punisher, the Hound’s Tooth, and the K-Wing. In the FFG article, the Kihraxz was compared heavily to the game’s namesake ship, the X-Wing. This is an appropriate comparison, as the ships are similar in several ways both in design and intended combat role. These two ships have the same total health, similar maneuver dials, comparable costs, and the same available actions. But there are differences in the designs that necessitate a vastly different play style for the two ships – in the maneuver dial, in the upgrade cards, and in the base cost of the ship itself.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter an X-Wing?

 

Kihraxz_XWing_Dials
Why, yes, FFG, this DOES look like it was borrowed from your website. But I help sell your products, so I hope we’re cool. Right?

The Kihraxz’s lack of a Speed 1 straight maneuver means it will have to turn or bank to maintain a low speed. Unlike the X-Wing, it cannot easily force a following TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor to choose between a collision and flying by. The Kihraxz also cannot perform quite as well at high speed, and does not have access to a Speed 3 turn, reducing its’ options when trying to put distance between itself and the enemy. Having most of its’ green maneuvers in the Speed 2 range but none on hard turns, yet no red maneuvers outside of K-Turns, the Kihraxz turns better than the prototypical jouster. At the same time, it doesn’t have the actions or the stress clearing capabilities to function like an arc-dodging interceptor, so I don’t feel like we’ll see stress mechanics like Push the Limit (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces) or Opportunist (Imperial Aces) being used to augment this ship’s combat abilities – they simply can’t be used without hampering your ability to stay on target for multiple turns.

I’ll shorten the discussion about the difference between Missiles (available to the Kihraxz) and Torpedoes (available to the X-Wing), because the only real difference there is what page of my upgrade card binder they collect dust on, neither one is seeing play for me. Too many points for a one-shot ability without having some major support abilities that aren’t available to either of these ships.

The remaining difference from an upgrade standpoint is Illicit (Kihraxz) vs Astromech (X-Wing). It’s hinted at in FFG’s post, but I think it’s worth noting explicitly that the Illicit upgrades available to Scum & Villainy ships have a much greater potential to have a huge impact upon a single turn of the game, whereas the benefits from Rebel Astromech upgrades have a smaller impact but most of them last throughout the game. A smart X-Wing pilot can get at least 3-4 extra health per game out of using R2-D2 (Starter Set) or R5-P9 (GR-75) to regenerate shields, or keep the enemy pointed in the wrong direction all day long with R3-A2 (GR-75). In return for a similar investment, an Illicit upgrade like a “Hot Shot” Blaster (Most Wanted / IG-2000) or Inertial Dampeners (IG-2000 / Starviper) can potentially net you an extra point or two of damage at a key moment in the battle, but most of them only function once.

r5-p9                           r3-a2

Inertial-Dampeners                           hot-shot-blaster

So while both the X-Wing and the Kihraxz are intended as medium-cost jousting superiority fighters, I think the biggest difference between the two ships is how they go about it, and the key for me is the cost of the generic pilot. The X-Wing’s bargain generic is the Rookie Pilot, clocking in at 21 points. But the Kihraxz equivalent, the Cartel Marauder, snips off that last point and gives you just enough room to run 5 of them in a list. This is what some thought might be the Scum equivalent of BBBBZ, which features a Bandit Squadron Z-95, and four Blue Squadron B-Wings, generally acknowledged as the reason Rebel players rarely bother with X-Wings anymore.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter a B-Wing?

But rather than the 4.5 ships that BBBBZ brings to the table, if you can fit a 5th ship into 100 points, how does that comparison stack up?

BBBBZ – 5 ships, 14 hull, 22 shields, 14 attack dice, 6 defense dice.

5x Kihraxz – 5 ships, 20 hull, 5 shields, 15 attack dice, 10 defense dice.

The Kihraxz swarm has 11 less total health, and much higher vulnerability to crits, but it has higher total firepower, and more evade dice.  But a bit of quick analysis of the numbers says that this isn’t where the Kihraxz will shine – or at least it won’t stand up to the BBBBZ list.

The figures below are ignoring the difference in maneuvering options (all ships are assumed to fire at Range 2 with Focus every turn, no focused defense), and also ignoring the impact of critical hits as well as the fact that the B-Wings can Barrel Roll to do a bit of arc dodging. At that point, we’ll just have to trust empirical evidence, there’s too many factors to give an exact predictive analysis. Still, the best case scenario I can come up with for the Kirhaxz swarm has them falling short by a couple points of damage in a head to head matchup against BBBBZ.

5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ
This assumes that the Kihraxz focus on the B-Wings first.
5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ_v2
Things get just a touch better if the Khiraxz swap targets and take out the Z-95 after two B-Wings are down, but the average result would still be a Rebel victory with one B-Wing remaining.

Getting the questions out of the way: Yes, I’m enough of a nerd that I use Excel spreadsheets and create charts in order to make decisions on how to play a game. And no, I don’t play EVE Online anymore… why do you ask?

So, we’ve got that out of the way – they can function as a swarm, but you might as well play BBBBZ if you’re going that route. Where do the Kihraxz fit, then? Where the B-Wings can’t go, of course – in existing Scum lists!

Where DOES the Kihraxz Fighter fit?

I suppose I should be a bit more specific.

But first, I have to lay the groundwork on how I view Scum and Villainy list-building. Unlike Rebel and Imperial forces that often are constructed with a specific theme and center piece, Scum and Villainy has very few synergistic abilities and aura bonuses. As a result, many of the squad lists I see for them have a modular feel to them, and are constructed out of a combination of two or more interchangeable “blocks” of ships.

XL block (41-55 points): Firespray or Aggressor with upgrades
Large block (30-40 points): Named pilot Y-Wing, Starviper, or HWK
Medium block (25-29 points): Generic Starviper or Y-Wing (Warthog), Named Heavy Scyk
Small block (20-24 points): Named Z-95, Named Scyk, Generic Heavy Scyk
Tiny block: (12-19 points): Generic Z-95 or bare Scyk

Take your pick:
2 XL blocks
1 XL, 1 Large, 1 Tiny
2 Large & 1 medium
4 Medium…
…and so on.

Build to a similar theme, sure, but pretty much anything can plug & play just fine. Don’t like how Serrisu with a Mangler Cannon is working out for you? Swap in a BTL-A4 Y-Wing with an Ion Cannon. The problem is, the Medium block is considered to be nothing more than support fire that can’t win you a game, the Tiny block isn’t threatening because there’s nothing to boost its’ offensive capabilities (i.e. no Howlrunner like TIE Fighters have), and the Small block has most of both of those problems. So while there’s certainly exceptions, you end up with the functional lists consisting of:

2 XL blocks.
2 Large & 1 Medium block.
1 XL block & 2 Medium blocks.

The Kihraxz Fighter helps address this by fitting well into three of these size categories. Once loaded for combat, Talonbane Cobra is a solid new option for the Large block. Equipped, the Black Sun Ace is a legitimate contender in the Medium category. And un-equipped, the generic Cartel Marauder gives a bit of teeth to the Small block that had previously been missing, thus increasing the viable build combinations. Now, perhaps an XL, a Large, and a Small (Firespray of choice, Talonbane, and a Cartel Marauder perhaps) is just as viable as an XL and two Mediums (such as a Firespray and two Black Sun Aces).

So if you’re not happy with N’Dru Suhlak, you can swap in a Cartel Maurauder. Where I suggested earlier that you might substitute in a Warthog for Serissu, a Black Sun Ace is also a viable option as a replacement. It’s plug & play, really.

Cartel_Marauder              Black_Sun_Ace

And if you feel like Guri costs too much to be PS5, swap in Talonbane Cobra. Instant functional list, and most likely an upgraded one. Side note: Swing and a miss on Graz. If I’m not spending the extra points to geet Talonbane, I’m probably putting the 2 points I would save on taking a Black Sun Ace over Graz towards the Elite Pilot Talent upgrade that Graz can’t have; his ability just doesn’t call to me enough.

Graz_The_Hunter              Talonbane_Cobra

The Kihraxz Fighter doesn’t solve every problem that Scum and Villainy has in being able to build a competitive list that isn’t dual IG-88’s, but it adds solid options, and it doesn’t take much work to find a home for one or more of them in your lists. They’ll be a welcome addition to my collection.

– The Tabletop General

X-Wing Wave 7 Preview

The news is in, and the rumors are true; the generally dreaded K-Wing is coming to Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, in addition to  the greatly anticipated Hound’s Tooth, the Kihraxz Fighter, and the TIE Punisher (declared by the community to be a TIE Interdictor).

Before we get to looking the ships though, I want to cover one upgrade in particular that will appear in multiple of these ships: Extra Munitions. Serving as the “munitions fix” heavily referenced by FFG designers for some time now, Extra Munitions costs two points and takes up a Torpedo slot, but allows you to double up on any other equipped torpedoes, missiles, or bombs. So, while only usable by some ships – Presumably those it comes with, along with the Y-Wing, Firespray (with Slave 1 title),  the B-Wing,  TIE Bombers, and Decimators– a simple 2 point investment can double your return on cards that were formerly one use only. Rather exciting for those who like the idea of running lots of bombs and missiles, no?

Extra Munitions

Now then, let’s look at the new ships, starting with the TIE Punisher, pictured on the Extra Munitions card above. The best way I can think of to describe this thing is the TIE Bomber‘s big brother, adding 3 shields (for a total statline of 2/1/6/3), a Boost action, and a few more upgrade slots, including the ever so valuable System Upgrade slot, all for a minimal premium of points over the TIE Bomber (Only one more point for the PS7 Punisher, Redline, than Major Rhymer, the PS7 TIE Bomber) .

tie-punisher
The TIE Punisher

The Punisher brings with it a host of ordnance options, including new torpedoes, missiles, and bombs – one of which is called Cluster Mines, and drops 3 tokens – that has to be good for those of us who like to use mines for board control! An unrevealed card that I’m rather curious about is the “Twin [Ion?] Engine”. This appears to be a modification (it has no symbol so it must be a modification or a title), restricted to TIE only, which makes sense, but doesn’t tell us much innately. Still, I’d have to say it would be some sort of upgrade to maneuverability for all TIE fighters, and there’s a TIE Defender on the artwork, which makes me believe this card will boost all TIEs in some way, but will especially mitigate the TIE Defender’s lackluster maneuvering options. Fingers are crossed, because I’d really like to use them eventually without considering it a handicap.

Next, we go to Scum & Villainy, starting with Bossk’s ship, Hound’s Tooth. Forum pundits have stated for a while now that this ship was too big to not be classified as a “Huge” ship, but it appears some liberties were taken with the scale, because here it is (presumably) in the “Large” class. The Hound’s Tooth title card allows you to add an “escape ship” for when the Hound’s Tooth is destroyed – the Nashtah Pup, Bossk’s modified Z-95 Headhunter. Sadly, there will not be a repainted Z-95 included – not that we needed one after its’ inclusion in Most Wanted, but it seems like a missed opportunity.

hounds-tooth
The Hound’s Tooth – complete with mismatched stats between cards and ship tile…

This pack would seems to be a perfect opportunity for introduction of more bounty hunter themed equipment, especially crew members, but about half of the cards are reprints. The new cards are Bossk (crew), “Crac…” (confirmed below to be an EPT), Ion Pr… (Projection, maybe?), Glitterstim (spoiled with the Kihraxz, below), and Maneuver Fins /Foils (?). That last card is the only one that you can really glean anything sure from in this photo – from the visible text and name I would presume that it allows you to change the speed of your maneuvers, perhaps as a built in Navigator effect?

As the premier pilot for the Hound’s Tooth, Bossk (pilot) is scary. As befits the brute force he is known for in the Star Wars universe, he can really pump out some damage, canceling a Crit result to get two Hit results when dealing damage with an attack, essentially making it an automatic Direct Hit (and giving Chewbacca the middle finger… or whatever equivalent Trandoshans have…). Do note, however, that this happens AFTER the attack is determined to hit or miss, so that one Crit result can still be canceled by one Evade result. Additionally, it will be much harder to evade his firing arcs than other ships – the Hound’s Tooth includes the game’s first 180 degree (auxiliary) firing arc, meaning that if you aren’t behind Bossk, he can shoot you. As a TIE Interceptor pilot, I don’t like that!

Now on to the Kihraxz Fighter. For those of you wondering “How do you pronounce Kihraxz?” (Google, help me out here, somebody’s going to search for that and I need those five extra page views), the answer is “I don’t.” But my best guess is “Kyr-ACK-sis”. Funny name aside, this looks to be a relatively brutal ship,  filling a combat superiority role similar to the X-Wing, which was previously missing from the Scum and Villainy arsenal. With a stat line of 3/2/4/1, a base cost in the 20(?) to 29 point range, and having only focus and target lock actions available… the similarity to the X-Wing is strong in this one.

kihraxz-fighter
The Kihraxz Fighter

Talonbane Cobra, the first PS9 pilot for Scum and Villainy,  has a simple yet efficient ability, doubling his range bonuses on attack and defense. This makes for four defense dice at Range 3, and a whopping five attack dice at Range 1.

New upgrades in this pack include the same “Crac…” EPT from the Hound’s Tooth, Lightning Reflex(es), and Glitterstim. Glitterstim’s full text is available here: “At the start of the Combat phase, you may discard this card and receive 1 stress token. If you do, until the end of the round, when attacking or defending, you may change all of your Focus results to Hit or Evade results”. For a two point Illicit upgrade, that’s essentially a super-focus. Combine that with the large quantities of dice that Talonbane can toss around, and that could be a painful turn.

Based on what I can see of it, I’m really  interested in the second obscured card in this pack, which a local player has extrapolated as follows: “I think this card is named Lightning Reflexes and lets you discard it after revealing a green or white maneuver to rotate your ship 180 degrees, then you receive a stress token after the remove stress step.” That matches with what text we can see, and it’s an ability that I would love to have in game – Imagine doing that on a Lambda Shuttle that everyone assumed was out of the fight for a few turns!!! (Side note, I really want a way to buy “hidden” elite talents, that’s one of the few mechanics I miss from Attack Wing.)

Last, but arguably not least, we come back to the much-maligned K-Wing. It’s not that the concept is bad, as its’ profile is very close to real life heavy bombers from WW2 (lots of bombs and equipped with defense turrets), but the design is… well, suspect. Many have long suspected that the author who created it (Michael Kube-McDowell) simply flipped through the alphabet looking for a letter to make another rebel ship out of, and then imagined a role from there, as opposed to the ship having a legitimate need. And many sources have conflicting details on the ship’s design, especially concerning cockpit and engine placement. Personally, the design is really growing on me, and if I didn’t know the internet hated it, I would just look at it and see a cool new ship.

k-wing
The K-Wing

In game, the K-Wing’s 2/1/5/4 statline is very similar to the Y-Wing’s 2/1/5/3. Many players who had discussed the possible addition of the K-Wing feared that the two ships would perform too similar of a role. But akin to the difference between the Z-95 and X-Wing, the K-Wing has a few more options than the Y-Wing for upgrades (roughly double the upgrade slots), but a higher base cost and likely different dial to go with it. While it’s relatively common to see multiple Y-Wings on the table (especially now with their new toys from Scum & Villainy), but I don’t know that players will be able to fully equip multiple K-Wings comfortably once we know the final costs of all the upgrades we’re going to want on it.

The K-Wing is the first small ship to have a turret primary attack. It also brings with it a new action, the SLAM, which stands for SubLight Acceleration Motor. Performing a SLAM action allows you to sacrifice your attack for the turn in order to take a second maneuver of the same speed as the first. Depending on what the K-Wing’s dial ends up looking like, this could be a really cool ability to escape trouble and line up shots for subsequent turns.

SLAM

The ace pilot of the K-Wings, Miranda Doni, has a neat little ability that will make her a great end-game closer, allowing her to sacrifice a shield for an extra attack die, or sacrifice an attack die to recover a shield, depending on her needs at the time.

As for the upgrade cards included, the K-Wing adds a new turret to the game the Twin Laser Turret (?), our Extra Munitions fix from above, a Bombardier crew (use the 2 straight for bomb drops) and a couple new bombs – Ion Bomb, and something called a Conner Net. Neither of the bombs is fully defined yet, but it’s pretty obvious by the names and lore as to what they do, and I would presume that they would be the bomb/mine equivalents of each other.

The Twin Laser Turret card is what I really want to see out of this pack as far as upgrades are concerned, because it could really shake things up for Y-Wing and HWK-290 builds. Seeing as the K-Wing already has the game’s first Turret Primary attack on a small base, to make the Twin Laser Turret worth taking, it has to either be really cheap with some form of utility, or hit harder than the K-Wing is already capable of, yet hopefully not rendering the Blaster Turret entirely obsolete.

So that’s what we’ve got so far. What are your thoughts on Wave 7? Love it, hate it, or just want to fly it first? Leave some feedback below, especially if you’ve got more details than I do on any of these remaining cards!

– The Tabletop General

Fighter Squadron 6 Preview

Fighters on your six… Fighter Squadron 6, that is. Teaser images have released today for one of Star Trek: Attack Wing‘s January 2015 releases, the Federation Fighter Squadron. Following closely behind the Hideki Fighter Squadron (click here for a review), these fighters prove that the Federation, as a fan favorite, can’t be denied anything that another race can have.

Curiously, no details were released on the ship cards in this pack, but if the Hideki model is followed, the generic Federation fighters will share the 5/0/1/1 starting line of the fighter squadron resource, and a bonus tile will be included for the named variant.

What was revealed, however, was a set of very interesting upgrades that are compatible with the Hideki Fighters as well (assuming you’re not playing in a faction pure environment. This time, the eight upgrades revealed are split down the middle, 50% offensive, 50% defensive/utility. I do love that all the upgrades have a reactionary feel to them, all of the upgrades can be used in some way simply by disabling or discarding them, which feels very appropriate for attack fighters.

On offense, Attack Wave disables for an extra attack die for a given attack. Coordinated attack gives you an ability to add a Battlestations Token to your ship during your attack. Both of these are decent, but not a huge deal.

Attack Wave             Coordinated Attack

Attack Formation gives you the ability to set an un-rerollable die on the facing of your choice if you are at range 1 of a friendly ship; doesn’t make big waves in and of itself, but it’s a guaranteed critical hit in most cases (assuming that die isn’t canceled). Where that becomes critical (no pun intended) is when you combine that with Tactical Pattern Theta, which works identically to the “Target Weapons Systems” card from the Reman Warbird Scimitar, and is perfect for sniping a troublesome weapon upgrade like a Dorsal Phaser Array off of an Enterprise E.

Attack Formation             Tactical Pattern Theta

 

For defense, Cover Fire lets you add your Primary Weapon Value to your defense dice for a single attack. Against an opening salvo from most small to medium ships, this is probably equivalent to giving an extra fighter token to the ship, as you’re likely going to cancel a couple of hits with the theoretical (ship stats unreleased at this point) 5 dice that this will add for that defense. Defensive Maneuvers gives a lesser effect, but a guaranteed one, disabling for an extra Evade token; keep in mind though you have to use this BEFORE seeing the attack roll.

Cover Fire             Defensive Maneuvers

 

Support ship is kind of ho-hum for me here, it’s a “Cheat Death” equivalent for a ship that will be very ineffective by the point in the game that it’s reduced to one hit point. Squad Leader, on the other hand, is a VERY interesting card. Giving you the ability to shoot earlier in the combat phase is nice, but giving free actions to other captains is great, especially when you’re out of range to do anything useful. Even with the limitation of only using Captain Card abilities, Squad Leader likely going to be the most prized upgrade card out of everything here in this pack, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what people do with it.

Support Ship             Squad Leader

Maybe not as powerful as the Hideki First Wave Attack Fighters, Fighter Squadron 6 will still give you some new options, and it won’t be a big surprise to see two copies of this on in a lot of player’s collections once they release in January. Stay tuned for reviews of the rest of January’s releases (yes, I know I’m running behind).

– The Tabletop General

Regent’s Flagship Preview

The passage of time must work differently in the Mirror Universe, because otherwise I can’t for the life of me figure out why the preview of the Regent’s Flagship is just now available on StarTrek.com. Not my call though, and I certainly don’t get any inside information, I just read in to what is released and share my thoughts, so my schedule is set by theirs.

The Regent’s Flagship is a relatively beefy ship, the first Klingon to sport a hull value of 7. Supposedly twice the size of its’ Prime Universe Negh’Var Class equivalents, the firepower is the same for regular shots, each having a Primary Weapon Value of 5. Where the Regent’s Flagship shines though, is in having enough guns pointing in different directions to be able to fire a 4 die attack at two separate ships instead of a single attack if at Range 1 of both targets. This has already been clarified by Wizkids to still count as a Primary Weapon attack, thus granting a range bonus and actually using 5 dice per attack. It struck me as odd that this Klingon ship couldn’t cloak by default, but after some research and understand that this is for story purposes. Looking at the action bar though, and given how poorly cloaking has treated me lately, I’m much happier to see a Battlestations action available to back up that high attack value.

The Mirror Universe version of Kira Nerys is very protective of her ship. She disables to counter a Crew Upgrade’s action that affects her ship, such as Worf (USS Defiant), Selok (R.I.S. Vo), or Crosis (Soong). There’s lots of things that Nerys gives you immunity to here, but it only helps against Crew upgrades, meaning Borg upgrades like Assimilation Tubules (Borg Sphere) and Tech upgrades like Projected Stasis Field (I.K.S. Gr’oth) can still affect your ship normally. Also, while disabling still happens to the blocked crew if that was a part of the activation cost, any canceled Crew action that requires discarding is disabled instead with Kira. Thus, it’s more of a delaying tactic, than a fully preventative one.

Regents Flagship              Kira Nerys

 

The crew of the Regent’s Flagship is underwhelming, at best.

Brunt is a one shot upgrade, who is discarded to place an Auxiliary Power Token beside an enemy ship during the end phase. Well worth the one point cost for him, it’s not an overpowering ability by any means, but it can be useful if applied at the right time. He’s the one crew member out of the pack that I’m most likely to use if I have a spare slot.

Bareil Antos is really cheap for a card that can repeatedly steal upgrades, but he isn’t guaranteed to succeed, and that bothers me as a competitive player – I don’t like abilities that aren’t guaranteed to function properly.

Brunt              Bareil Antos

Elim Garak works as a half-Admiral from a crew slot. He boosts the Captain Skill of captains on Mirror Universe ships, and can disable the Captain for an extra attack die on an attack. I’m not loving his functionality, but there may be some interesting mechanics down the road where you want to disable your Captain at some point and allow your Admiral to step in, and Garak can do that for you.

Odo works as an acceleration mechanic, allowing you to use a disabled crew upgrade’s action without having to spend an extra action to re-enable them first, but discarding that upgrade in the process.

Elim Garak              Odo

 

On to the Elite Talents. I Will Deal With Them Myself is a very inefficient card, designed for alpha strikes. As a 5 point discard, you may disable up to two Crew upgrade cards for 1 extra attack die each. To each their own, but that’s nowhere near worth taking for me. Intendant’s Orders is a little bit more reasonable, as a two point talent that is disabled to use, it removes up to two disabled tokens from your Crew upgrades. In a cross faction build, this would work extremely well with Riker from the USS Enterprise E, allowing you to disable him for an extra action for two turns in a row.

I Will Deal With Them Myself              Intendants Orders

The ever so popular phrase Make It So! makes another appearance; this is a one-shot ability allowing you to perform a free Action, at the additional cost of disabling a Crew Upgrade.

The rules lawyers are going to have a field day with this one. Know why? First, look really closely at the previous pair of Elite Talents and compare them to the other cards in the pack. Notice anything different? Maybe the Unique symbol? That’s right, these Mirror Universe faction Elite Talents have the Prime Universe unique symbol. Now look at Make It So! and Make It So (from the USS Enterprise E expansion). Does the exclamation point make it a differently named card, in case anyone was so inclined to want to take both of these for some odd reason?

Make It So               Fed Make It So

 

Moving on, let’s briefly look at Weapons upgrades. Photon Torpedoes, +1 die if this ship uses them. Insert yawning noises here.

Photon Torpedoes

 

 

Now for Tech. Tractor Beam looks to be a very interesting card – In exchange for an action, you can assign 0-2 Auxiliary Power Tokens to a ship at Range 1. Low skill captains are going to love this action, as your opponent’s captains with higher skill will be afraid to take red maneuvers as long as this card is in play. But again, it’s not guaranteed to work, and that bugs me.

Cloaking Device is a real head-scratcher. Again, I did my homework this time, so I know that the Regent’s Flagship didn’t originally have a Cloaking Device, but had one installed some years later. So thematically, this makes a lot of sense to include. But the card itself makes no sense. Compare it to the Cloaking Device from the Prakesh, available through the Resistance is Futile booster packs (no photo currently available) – the cards are identical in every way… other than the fact that the version from the Prakesh has a 5 point penalty for any non-Mirror Universe ship, as opposed to paying that penalty on anything other than this single unique ship (which is Mirror Universe and thus could have the Prakesh version at normal cost).

Tractor Beam              Cloaking Device

 

I’ve left one card out thus far that has been revealed in the official preview, because I wanted to save the best for last this time. Admiral Worf is absolutely an amazing card. A very cheap Admiral, he is the first released that does not grant a bonus to Captain Skill, but his ability is priceless: A ship taking his fleet action may grant another ship at range 1-2 a free attack. That sound you just heard was my brain exploding with possibilities, and I’m running at Warp Speed 9 right now working on a list to make maximum use of this ability, most likely leaning heavily on the Hideki Class Attack Squadrons.

Admiral Worf

Did I skip anything awesome here? Leave me a comment (they’re finally turned on, didn’t know they were off!) and let me know what you think of the Regent’s Flagship. While you’re here, don’t forget to check out my previews of the 1st Wave Attack Fighters and the Fina Prime ship, as well as my 2014 Gamer Gift Guide, just in time for the holidays.

– 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

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

Scimitar Preview

The StarTrek.com preview for the Reman Warbird Scimitar is up, and it’s officially the meanest Romulan ship to ever touch the table for Star Trek: Attack Wing as far as its’ stats are concerned, but the upgrades generally cost too much to be worth including. Quick and dirty version: Buy it, but only buy one.

The Scimitar’s total Shields and Hull are only matched in faction by the Avatar of Tomed (and as half Borg, does that really count?), the evade matches any Romulan ship other than the nimble R.I.S. Vo, and it’s the only ship in the faction to boast six attack dice before any upgrades, even if you count the bonus dice available to the I.R.W. Valdore and the I.R.W. Khazara. The ship’s special ability is nothing new, but it essentially saves you a Tech slot and four points by having a slightly better version of the Advanced Cloaking Device upgrade built in. For organized play under the new suggested tournament format, However, at 38 points, the Scimitar doesn’t leave you much room for upgrades when trying to fit underneath that 50 point cap for organized play under the new suggested tournament format, and it’s even worse when looking at the upgrades included, which are generally all rather expensive.

Scimitar

 

Of the three unique captains included in this pack, only Shinzon and Viceroy have had their text disclosed. Shinzon is impressive, but really should have just been costed at 10 points to begin with. His special ability costs 4 ship points, and allows you to secretly select up to 4 Romulan Elite Pilot Talents instead of purchasing one normally, then reveal one and discard the other three whenever you wish to use one. For those without the points to spare or that don’t care for the Romulan Talents… well… he’s a Skill 9 Romulan captain for 6SP.

Viceroy serves as a poor fleet’s Bioship Alpha Pilot, allowing you two opportunities to take a sneak peek at a single nearby ship’s maneuver before selecting your own. Situationally useful if you know you’ll be facing an opponent who is tricky with their movements. The third Captain, Hiren, will also be an Admiral, with some form of an “attack boosting” action available. Truthfully, as a Romulan player, the only “attack boosting” action that I want added is a Battlestations action.

Shinzon              Viceroy

 

A couple of the upgrades included with the Scimitar are potentially devastating to dreadnought builds (you know, the ones that we’re generally not allowed to use in competitive play anymore).

Reman Boarding Party is a 4 point Crew upgrade that is discarded to disable ALL upgrades on a ship at range 1-2; but you have to be uncloaked, disable any shields you have active, and target a ship that is uncloaked and has no active shields. My problem with these kinds of upgrades is that if you’ve managed to get the opponent’s shields down already, you’re well over halfway to killing them (For those of you about to get tachnical on me, critical hits make up the difference if there are more Hull points than Shields). Unless you’re running into a rare hull-tanking ship (Enhanced Hull Plating from the Enterprise NX-01, or multiple Borg Ablative Hull Armor upgrades that aren’t usable in the new format), what do you really need to disable at that point that will make you say “I’m glad I dropped all my defenses for the turn and spent 4 points and an action on that instead of something else”?

Also of major theoretical threat to dreadnought builds, especially of the Federation variety that lean on their captain and crew (like my default Enterprise-E build), Thalaron Weapon is the ultimate anti-personnel weapon. A 10 point / 1 shot upgrade, this weapon fires with 10 attack dice, and every point of damage takes out a Crew upgrade or the ship’s Captain, with up to 5 leftover damage being applied normally. On a quick glance, this looks like a perfect counter to Weyoun/Varel combos, or similar attack canceling builds, but it doesn’t work; this attack can be canceled in exactly the same fashion as any other. Add in the restriction that it can only be equipped on Reman Warbird ships, and you’re now guaranteed never to see this card in competitive play (if there was any doubt after seeing its’ cost and one-shot nature).

Reman Boarding Party              Thalaron Weapon

 

Slightly more likely to be used, but still solidly in the non-competitive category, there’s yet another flavor of Photon Torpedoes, the card that won’t stop being printed. When fired by the Scimitar (or the generic Reman Warbird), you get an increase of 1 attack die over using your Primary Weapon, which is rarely worth spending the target lock required to fire them. Unlike both sets of torpedoes included with the I.R.W. Valdore, no die conversions or rerolls are built in. For 6 points, I’ll pass on this one. This evaluation does admittedly hinge on the assumption that the ship will not have a rear firing arc like all other Romulan ships, because having a 7-die attack out of the rear arc available would be a major upgrade.

Reman Warbird Photon Torpedoes

 

Now if you’re looking to deal some damage, let’s take a look at one of the Elite Talent cards available in this pack: Attack Pattern Shinzon Theta (that’s a mouthful). It’s a 5 point talent that is discarded at use, and may not ever actually be useful, but hold on to your captain’s chair if it does get used, because the Enterprise (or whatever other ship is being hit) will be looking like a heavy metal concert with all the head banging going on. What effect could be worthy of that description, you ask? This talent, when discarded, deals 1 additional damage to a ship’s shields (and only to the shields) for every uncanceled [Crit] result. So it might never be used (if you never roll [Crit] results while shields are up), or it might help get you through the opponent’s shields a little quicker, or it might make those Critical Hits that were going to be wasted on shields slip through and start carving up their hull! I don’t know that I could realistically justify 5 points for the card, but if I decide to bring Shinzon as my captain, you had better believe that this would be one of the cards he would have in his bag of tricks!

Attack Pattern Shinzon Theta

The other two Elite Talent cards in this set also fit the toolbox approach to using Shinzon. Full Stop does exactly what it says, your ship doesn’t move that turn. The important thing is that you decide whether or not to use it when you reveal your movement dial, thus letting you see where other ships may have already moved in the turn, and pick between your selected maneuver or using the Full Stop. Target Weapons Systems lets you cherry-pick the results of a critical hit, either reducing the opponent’s Primary Weapon value with a Weapons Failure, or removing a deadly Secondary Weapon like Dorsal Phaser Array or Transphasic Torpedoes with a Munitions Failure. Both are very useful in the right situation, but I rarely believe in bringing upgrades that you aren’t guaranteed to get use out of; Shinzon offers a way to make it work without feeling like you’re wasting a lot of points.

Full Stop              Target Weapons Systems

Last but not least, we’ve got a couple defensive items available in Secondary Shields and Improved Cloaking Device. Secondary Shields is essentially an upgrade to your Reman Warbird’s stats. You get three replacement shield tokens, added at a rate of one per turn, for a cost of six points (the same cost as adding three shields to a ship by the Attack Wing costing formula of [Total Stats]x2). Improved Cloaking Device keeps you from getting stuck without your cloak, as you can still take a cloak action even without shields or with an Auxiliary Power Token. That ability is a powerful counter to cards like Borg Missile, that might prevent you from cloaking with tokens or by just blasting your shields, but by increasing the cost to 10 points for anything other than the Reman Warbird, it’s tough to envision it seeing use.

Secondary Shields               Improved Cloaking Device

All in all, there’s some interesting cards here, but I don’t see many outside of the Reman Warbird Scimitar itself and Shinzon being used. I’d love to hear about it if you’ve got something in mind for the other cards in this pack. And don’t forget to check out all of my other Attack Wing articles including previews of Chang’s Bird of Prey and the I.S.S. Defiant while you’re here!

– The Tabletop General

I.S.S. Defiant preview

Well now, here’s a fun one for you. The first Mirror Universe ship for Star Trek: Attack Wing that will be available to buy directly at retail, the I.S.S. Defiant, has been previewed (and then removed, maybe this was leaked early) on StarTrek.com today, and it’s got some neat tricks in store.

Like it’s prime universe bretheren, the U.S.S. Defiant, the I.S.S. Defiant weighs in at 24 points,  and is the very definition of a “tough little ship”. While the Federation version laughs off critical hits, the Mirror Universe Defiant can take an Auxiliary Power Token to ignore a hit result, and now we see why the Enterprise NX-01‘s Enhanced Hull Plating was restricted to Federation ships only. The Mirror Defiant has one less shield available, but it hits a little harder, and that’s a tradeoff that I’ll gladly make.

Ship-USS-Defiant                        Mirror ISS Defiant

On a side note, I’m not the type of person to type “lol” lightly, as I believe that most people do not actually “laugh out loud” when they type it. But comparing the two ship cards side by side did get an audible chuckle out of me thanks to the fact that the silhouette image in the bottom left of the card has actually been “mirrored” between the two versions.

Jadzia Dax makes an appearance here in a minor supporting role. She’s a relatively cheap crew member, with synergy with the Defiant’s damage-shedding abilities, discarding to prevent one hull damage (as if the game designers were saying “Save her for a crit, dummy!”). It’s a simple card, with low cost, doesn’t require any actions to use… If you have the points to spare, what’s not to like? She’s also a good candidate for synergy with Captain Benjamin Sisko, when we get to him later on.

Mirror Jadzia Dax

I admittedly don’t know my Star Trek lore very well, but the majority of the crew of the I.S.S. Defiant seems like tech-starved gremlins, hungry for anything they can get their hands on. While the ship itself has no Technolgy upgrade slots, both Captain Miles O’Brien and crew member Jennifer Sisko add slots to the ship. Additionally, Ezri Tegan can be discarded to steal a Tech upgrade of up to 5 points, and Rom can be discarded disable up to two Tech upgrades, none of which is hindered by cloaking or shields. Gremlins I say! Meanwhile, not limited to Tech, Jennifer Sisko disables up to two enemy upgrades immediately after deployment, a new and questionably useful mechanic. Other than potentially slowing someone down slightly while they re-enable these upgrades before entering combat, I don’t see how this is really all that useful.

Mirror Miles OBrien                                  Mirror Rom

Mirror Ezri Tigan                                   Mirror Jennifer Sisko

But enough about stealing/disabling hi-jinks, lets get to laying down some damage. Multi-Targeting Phaser Banks give you the ability to take two target locks at a time, useful if you’re unsure which of multiple potential targets will be in your firing arc. Quantum Torpedoes make an appearance, no difference from the prior version other than the faction. Aft Phaser Emitter is actually a decent card for flexibility in a pinch, a 1 point weapon that disables for an attack for 3 dice at range 1-3 out of your rear arc – it won’t be something you use every game, but for 1 point, why not? Strafing Run, on the other hand, should get you laughed out of town for equipping. It is a 5 point discarded Elite Talent (Oh how we love those) which costs your action for the turn and allows you to take a primary attack with 4 dice as though you had a 360 degree firing arc, so long as you moved a maneuver of at least speed 3 that turn. Flavorful? You bet. Sounds fun? Absolutely. Worth it? Not a chance!

Mirror Multi-Targeting Phaser Banks                                    Mirror Quantum Torpedoes Mirror Aft Phaser Emitter                                     Mirror Strafing Run

I saved the best for last, ladies and gentlemen. The Defiant earns its’ name with the final three cards. Captain Benjamin Sisko is the first captain to provide an Elite Talent upgrade slot for less than three points available at retail (Previously Data and Magnus Hansen did it, but are only in OP prize ships). His ability screams “I’m throwing everything I have at you” as he stuffs Crew, Tech, and other Weapons into the torpedo tubes to do all the damage he can. I especially like this with the Aft Phaser Emitter, making that cheap little utility card have a second usage, even if it’s already disabled! Jadzia Dax is another potential cheap discard candidate, if you’re more concerned with dealing damage than preventing it.

Mirror Benjamin Sisko

Julian Bashir is one of my favorite tactical usage cards in quite some time. His ability is incredibly powerful, and best described in gaming terms as a “taunt”. It forces an enemy to target his ship or not fire at all for that turn, and roll two less attack dice in the process. For only two points, keeping in mind that the Defiant can shrug off one hit on its’ own on top of the reduced dice, that is a priceless ability, and well worth the discard!

Mirror Julian Bashir

And then there’s the finishing touch, the reason why Sisko’s cheap Elite Talent slot is so useful: Rebellion. This is a 5 point discard that I will take in a heartbeat and not think twice about it, and that’s saying something. Rebellion is all about “in your face” defiance, operating solely against bigger ships (ships with greater hull value than your own). It is discarded while you are defending to take two attack dice away from the opponent, and gives you a free primary weapon attack as return fire. Check with your local T.O. until an official FAQ ruling is given, but the way I read this, it may work even if you’re destroyed during the attack.

Mirror Rebellion

Chain Rebellion together with Bashir on the I.S.S. Defiant, with Sisko as Captain and Jadzia Dax as your other crew, and you can force another ship to attack the Defiant rather than an easier target, reduce incoming the attack dice by 4, cancel up to two of the remaining damage coming in, and then attack twice in the same round! That’s crazy good!

The I.S.S. Defiant has me pumped up for a Mirror Universe fleet, and has made up for some of the slight disappointment I felt with Chang’s Bird of Prey. Now I just need to see that Scimitar!!!

– The Tabletop General

Changs Bird of Prey

The Klingon faction has gone far too long without some upgrades in Star Trek: Attack Wing. Sure, there was a B’Moth class ship available in blind boosters for the “The Collective” event series, but it didn’t really bring anything new to the table. Chang’s Bird of Prey, releasing next month and previewed today on StarTrek.com, is here to fix all of that.

Being such a big fan of ultra-maneuverable ships, I’ve always really liked the utility options of the Sensor Echo action, it’s one of the primary reasons I own such a large Romulan fleet. The ability to dodge out of firing arcs, quickly maneuver around an obstacle, or line up an unexpected shot can be invaluable in this game. Chang’s Bird of Prey specializes in this maneuver, to an extent that no other ship can match. Generally, both Klingon and Romulan ships have poor action economy thanks to the fact that you’re constantly having to spend your action to Cloak again after shooting or performing said Sensor Echo. Chang’s Bird of Prey comes with several options to help you out with that.

Changs_BoP

First, let’s look at the ship card itself. Not knowing Star Trek lore very well (other than that he can make for a devastatingly powerful captain), and knowing how excited some players were about what this release might entail, I expected something close to the Soong‘s statistics, so the stat line is underwhelming to me, but it’s also much more affordable of a ship than I expected. This ship’s special ability is priceless, and tells you almost everything you need to know about how this ship was designed: “If you attack with Torpedoes while Cloaked, you do not flip your [Cloak] Token over to its red side.” Essentially, this ship has an Advanced Cloaking Device built in when firing torpedoes. Granted, in order to fire those Torpedoes again, you’ll have to re-enable them as an action, and acquire a new Target Lock as an action, but you won’t have to chose between starting on that and bringing your Cloak back online. It’s an improvement!

Chang

The next way that Chang’s Bird of Prey specializes in cloaking is via Chang himself. When cloaked, Chang allows you to perform a Sensor Echo action with the length 1 template before making your maneuver. As anyone who has played with or against TIE Phantoms in X-Wing Miniatures can tell you, this is an incredibly powerful ability. Thanks to this extra little maneuver, you can react to the opponent’s positioning, avoid blocking maneuvers, and or help make sure you’re at exactly the range that you want to be for the combat phase. And to make things even better, you can still perform a normal Sensor Echo as your action! Assume you have Chang on a cloaked ship capable of a 1-Forward action. That ship would be capable of making a pure lateral movement equivalent to a speed 4 maneuver in either direction, with no net forward movement or facing change. This fits in incredibly well with my play style, and as a result I absolutely love this card!

There will be two other options for captains included in this expansion. Kerla can give up two defense dice before the roll in exchange for an additional Evade result, which is a statistical improvement in most cases. Admiral Gorkon will be in this pack as well, although details are not included yet other than that he provides defensive die manipulations too. I’m guessing Gorkon might have an action which enables rerolls of a limited number of defense dice, something which Klingons could really use.

Prototype_Cloaking_Device

Prototype Cloaking Device is a must-use card, and will quite possibly be the reason that some players buy multiple copies of Chang’s Bird of Prey. The Prototype Cloaking Device’s restriction to the Bird-Of-Prey class ship is the only reason that I haven’t already pre-ordered four of these ships just for this card. With the PCD equipped, Klingon action economy skyrockets. Disabling the card before your attack both prevents you from removing your Cloak token after an attack, and gives you the option to take an Auxiliary Power Token in order to reroll any of your attack dice as though you had a target lock. So for six points and a Tech slot that doesn’t have any other attractive options, you’re improving your action economy two-fold by not needing another Cloak action, and by removing the need for a Target Lock action to modify standard attacks (or for that matter, giving you the option of rerolling dice for a Torpedo attack). Good deal!

The_Games_Afoot      azetbur

There are, as usual, a couple of cards that I consider underwhelming at best. The Game’s Afoot is a 4 point Elite Talent with very limited use – It’s a one shot discard for a single extra attack die and a sensor echo free action after the attack, and it can only be used if you’re not in the target’s forward or rear firing arcs. With so many ships with rear arcs, 180 degree forward arcs, or even both, there’s just two 45 degree zones that this can always be used in safely, and those are the only places that you would really want that sensor echo to move to anyway! Just about as usable, Azetbur, is a 5 point crew member that is discarded as an action, she disables your captain and a target ship’s captain, and prevents both ships from attacking each other this turn. Let’s review: Costs five points. One shot ability. Requires an action. Costs you and your opponent an action to re-enable your Captains. Potentially prevents one shot in both directions. I suppose it might have a use in very particular situations, but I don’t see it being worth her cost unless you absolutely know she will be needed. Thanks but no thanks on both of these cards.

Cry_Havoc

If you’re looking for an Elite Talent worth something out of this expansion, Cry Havoc is a bit more usable. Again, 5 points for a single shot card, discarded at use. You must be have a Cloak token when using it, and it removes the token, denies you the ability to roll any defense dice this turn, immediately raises your shields, and gives you +2 attack dice in the combat phase. This screams Klingon, 100%. It also screams “Please find a way to combine me with Once More Unto The Breach!” for a net of two attacks at +1 die each. Unfortunately as both require actions, you’re out of luck on that combo for now.

I don’t think Chang’s Bird of Prey will make the Klingons a top-tier competitive faction again on it’s own, but it will certainly breathe new life in to them. And it means I’ll need to go out and buy some more Klingons to go with it. (This is the part where you visualize me looking at my wallet and sighing).

— The Tabletop General

 

Queen Vessel Prime STAW expansion preview

StarTrek.com’s preview of the Queen Vessel Prime went live today, and you can see that preview here. While these previews are getting stingier, no longer showing all of the cards included, I’m definitely intrigued after a bit of analysis. Borg players will buy one of these regardless, let’s get that out of the way, but while there’s a couple nice cards, it’s not the powerhouse ship that many players feared it would be. Instead, it’s the upgrades that are the big deal here.

There are a couple cards referenced but not pictured in the preview. Borg Assimilation Tubules are back, because we need so many copies of them. Power Node is used to treat a red maneuver as white, I’m assuming it’s a discard but the text only hints at it as being “activated”. And a new Tactical Drone is coming (surprise!), this one will likely spend drone tokens as though they were scan tokens, removing opponents’ defense dice.

The Queen Vessel Prime itself weighs in with a 6/0/8/6(7) stat line, with a base cost of 40 points for the generic version, comparable to the Borg Sphere‘s 38. With a grand total of six upgrade slots (2 borg, 1 tech, 1 weapon, 2 crew) and also including an Admiral version of the Queen, it will be relatively easy to see this ship in some juggernaut builds, but in that regard there isn’t anything new, as Borg already do that regularly. The named version of the ship comes with an extremely peculiar ability.

During the Roll Attack Dice step of the Combat Phase, your ship, or any friendly ship within Range 1-2 of your ship, may spend a Scan Token from beside this ship to gain +1 attack die.

Seems like it could be kind of useful… I guess… maybe… in the right situation…? If you’re not in range yet, but a friendly ship is, at least you get some sort of use out of that token. On the whole though, it baffles me that there are so many cards coming out that have you spend Battle Stations tokens or Scan Tokens for an extra attack die. The math just doesn’t work out, you’re statistically decreasing your damage by using these abilities!

For any of you who had been running out of ways to spend your points on Borg ships, fear not. You’ve got all the point sinks you can handle right here in the Elite Talents. Resistance Is Futile: 7 points (ugh), discard (ugh), spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to make that many of your attack dice immune to being canceled this attack (okay). So you’re guaranteed to get up to 3 damage through for 7 points and 3 tokens, but the remaining dice can be canceled normally. Comparing average defense dice and attack dice in Attack Wing, how often are you not already getting 3+ damage through per shot with the Borg? Meanwhile, We Are The Borg is a 6 point (ugh) discard (ugh) that allows you to spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to gain an extra evade result on defense (cool). There are so many better ways to spend your points (although not many in the elite talent pool for the Borg, I’ll admit that), and in competitive builds, so many better ways to spend Drone Tokens too. So while both of these sound scary when you first read them, if you see either on your opponent’s ship for anything more than a modified “free” thanks to an Admiral, laugh at them for me please.

Speaking of Admirals, the Queen Vessel Prime wouldn’t be complete without the Borg Queen herself. Making her second appearance in Attack Wing (the first being with the Borg Cube), the Borg Queen costs 5 points, adds an Elite slot, and gives +2 Captain Skill as an Admiral. Her Fleet Action ability is priceless for events including sealed boosters where you have no idea what to do with that extra ship. The ability reads as follows:

FLEET ACTION: Target a friendly ship at Range 1-2. Choose 1 Upgrade on that ship and perform that Upgrade’s Action as a free Action this round. If that Action requires spending Drone Tokens, spend 1 less Drone Token than required.

This ability is going to need FAQ’ing. Hard. There is nothing clarifying whether or not any other costs, specifically discarding upgrades, must be paid as a part of this action. So potentially, you may have reusable Transwarp Conduits, Biogenic Charges, Subspace Distortions, and more to use on your blind booster ship (or other ships in your fleet), and that’s just in faction pure settings. Regardless of that ruling, this allows FREE usage of Borg Assimilation Tubules, which will be insane. I’m assuming that as per other Admiral cards, the Captain version of the Borg Queen will make this same ability available only to her ship. It will be interesting to see how her Drone Tokens work, and see if you can replenish your supply of drones by jettisoning (disabling somehow) the Tactical Drone who had previously been at the helm.

Only one crew member listed here: Magnus Hansen, costs only 1 point, but all he does lets you do is discard him to spend 1 less Drone Token for something; Rather underwhelming on Borg ships that for some reason have very little room for crew. Maybe the drones don’t stack neatly into storage? Fits right in with the Elite Talent cards out of this pack that won’t see their way out of my card binders.

At first Transwarp Signal looks useless, it’s a 4 point discard Borg upgrade that lets you target one ship anywhere in the play area. You then remove one Evade, Battle Stations, Scan, or Target Lock token from this ship, and place an Auxiliary Power token beside the target ship. But Torpedoes are scary for the Borg, and they don’t fire without a Target Lock. More importantly, activating Transwarp Signal isn’t an action, and has no timing restrictions. This means that if you can guess the right time to use it, you can place an Auxiliary Power token on an opponent’s ship right before they perform a red maneuver. And if we look back at the rulebook, that becomes an illegal maneuver for your opponent, and you get to pick a legal one to replace it with, which generally means that ship flies off the board if possible, or at the very least in to harm’s way. It won’t work often, but this card will be a neat mind-game to play with the opponent, especially when they have poorly maneuvering ships. If it’s ever updated again (in doubt lately), this one will also need an entry in the FAQ.

Speaking of “in to harm’s way”, we haven’t seen a good mine card released in quite some time, and that’s been fixed now. Multi Kinetic Neutronic Mines (say that 5 times fast) are devastating. For 10 (15 + faction penalty on non-Borg ships) points, these mines have huge potential. These mines deal 4 attack dice of damage both the ship that overlaps them, as well as every other ship in range 1-3, with defense dice allowed for ships at range 2, defense dice + 1 allowed at range 3.

There’s one card left in the preview that we have partial text on, Borg Shield Matrix. As an 8 point Borg upgrade, this card gains one Shield Matrix Token each time the ship takes damage on shields or hull, up to a maximum of three tokens. While the exact effect of these tokens are presumably on a separate reference card, the article alludes that this Shield Matrix increases defense dice and protects upgrades on the ship. For 8 points, I hope the defense dice are permanent, but for balance’s sake, they may be one use only.

This completes the Star Trek: Attack Wing Wave 8 previews. The Val Jean, Enterprise E, and Queen Vessel Prime are available for to pre-order now. They are scheduled to be released in October 2014. I can’t get my hands on them soon enough.

– The Tabletop General