ADVANCE REVIEW: WizKids STAR TREK ATTACK WING Miniatures Game
Starter Set & First Wave Of Expansions...
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Over the last several years WizKids Games has been adding licenses like crazy to its HeroClix game, and slowly building out their other product lines as well like board games, dice games, and more. Like Batman, Lord of the Rings, and others, Star Trek is a golden property that’s turning into some amazing games starting with 2011’s Expeditions followed by Fleet Captains, the ongoing Tactics HeroClix, and now Star Trek Attack Wing! Based on the game design of Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game, Attack Wing takes the FlightPath system and upgrades it with high quality Star Trek miniatures, an incredible degree of customization with different ships (unique and generic “of the line” varieties) and their captains as well a huge amount of “upgrades” that allow them to do different things. Even better, the game features content, art, and screenshots from many different eras of Trek from The Original Series to the films, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager! Today we’ll be taking a look at the first batch of Star Trek Attack Wing releases including the Starter Set and the first wave of expansions.
To play Star Trek Attack Wing you’ll need at least one copy of the Starter Set, and with it you can play two or three person games (or exponentially more with multiple sets and expansions). You’ll recognize the game immediately on store shelves with its bright blue box decorated with the U.S.S. Enterprise-D from The Next Generation and a window at the bottom through which you can see the three included ships. Flip the box around to see a lot of the game’s components, a description of the system, and some graphics on how to play it. Even that sneak peek didn’t quite prepare me for the huge amount of pieces in the set. Of course there are the ships and their bases along with multiple cards for each, three captain cards and tokens for each, a stack of upgrade cards for each faction, unique Attack Wing dice, damage cards, mission objective tokens, range ruler, maneuver templates, rule book, quick start instructions, and a variety of tokens and chits for use in the game. All of the cardboard components and cards are heavy-duty with great printed artwork and graphics.
The biggest draw for a lot of people (and what initially caught my eye) is the ships! All of the vessels we’ve seen thus far in the Attack Wing line are based on sculpts used in the Star Trek Fleet Captains and Star Trek Tactics HeroClix games, and that’s a very good thing. At around two inches long they’re solid and feature very good sculpts and paint jobs. In the Starter you’ll find three vessels from three different “factions:” the Federation Galaxy Class U.S.S. Enterprise-D, Klingon Vor’cha Class I.K.S. Maht-H’a, and Romulan D’deridex Class I.R.W. Khazara. Each one packs lots of detail into a small package from the intricacies of the sculpted phaser strips on the Enterprise or the wing designs on the Khazara to the painted engine elements on the Maht-H’a or the myriad of tiny details on the D. All Attack Wing ships come with a rectangular base and two lengths of post (you can lower a ship mid-game to fit two next to each other without bumping); on the base is a double-sided token displaying the generic ship of the line version of the vessel or the named version. This token displays the ship’s stats as well its firing arc(s), available action types, and more.
When preparing to play Star Trek Attack Wing from the Starter Set, set a point total for your game. Each player then selects a ship and decides whether to play it as a generic class vessel or the higher cost named version. Next, add a Captain to your force; each of the three ships comes with three potential Captains ranging from a no-cost generic leader to ever more expensive named characters like Riker, Picard, Toreth, and Nu’Daq who have special abilities. Once you pick your Captain you add his or her tokens to the base of your ship. Finally, add Upgrade cards (which type you can play are determined by your ship’s card) until you approach or meet the point total for the game. As you’d expect, the more expensive ships, Captains, and Upgrades provide you with more options and cool stuff to do in the game. A standard Attack Wing game is 80 or 100 points, and the Starter rule book offers pre-made teams of 40 points to get you started. For example, the Federation force consists of the Enterprise-D with the ability to fire in any direction, Captain Jean-Luc Picard who can perform an additional free Action per turn, the Geordi La Forge Upgrade (hindering targeted ships after you’ve Scanned them), and the Miles O’Brien Upgrade (discard to disable an Upgrade on another ship)!
To play the game, mark out a roughly 3x3 foot square and set up on either side; there is no map! Each player puts out his or her ship and puts the Captain and Upgrade cards along with the ship’s cards and HeroClix maneuver dial in view. Off to the side you’ll need all of the tokens, maneuver templates, range ruler, damage cards, and dice. Games are played in turns and phases, starting with movement. For each ship in your fleet (one if you’re playing from the Starter) rotate its HeroClix dial to the maneuver you want to perform, then place it face-down. In order of ascending Captain skill ranking of all ships on the board reveal the dial, find the appropriate maneuver template, and use it to slide the ship to its new position. After moving, each ship may perform one Action, the options being determined by the specific ship. Possibilities include Evasive Maneuvers to help dodge attacks, Acquire a Target Lock to make it easier to hit in your attack, Cloak to activate that system, etc.
After all ships are moved and given actions in this manner it’s time to attack! This time you go in descending order of Captain skill, the most skilled going first. If an opposing ship is in range and firing arc you roll to make your attack, trying to get hit and critical hit symbols. Meanwhile, the targeted ship rolls defense and tries to get evade symbols. Lots of things can affect these rolls, from the Actions you each took this round to Captain abilities and Upgrades. Damage dealt applies first to any active Shields, then directly to hull points and are represented by damage cards placed by your ship’s card. When you take standard damage the cards remain face down; critical hit damage on the other hand makes you flip the damage card to see additional effects that can really make life difficult! The game continues thusly until one player’s ship is destroyed and the remaining player walks away the victor.
That, at least in a nutshell, is the gameplay experience. As noted, the specific ships, Captains, and Upgrades make each game unique and prevent it from getting stale. It’s a lot of fun, especially if you’re a Star Trek fan and can appreciate all of the references to elements from the films and shows. But that’s not all. The Starter Set rule book even has additional ways to play with optional obstacles you can add to make the game play area more interesting, and Missions! These special scenarios recreate scenes, stories, and locations from Star Trek. The Starter includes two missions (“A New Source of Dilithium” and “The Chase”), both fully developed storyline events for three players with rules on building your force, placement of obstacles and objectives, and special rules on how to win.
Once you’ve mastered the Starter Set (and with the various ship versions, Captains, Upgrades, and Missions it’ll take a while) and want to expand your experience, WizKids is ready to hook you up with Attack Wing expansion packs. Each set includes one ship, its base and cards, and a similarly huge amount of Captains, Upgrades, tokens, and more. The first wave of expansions include six ships, two in each faction of Federation (U.S.S. Reliant & U.S.S. Enterprise), Klingon (I.K.S. Gr’oth & I.K.S. Negh’var), Romulan (I.R.W. Valdore & R.I.S. Apnex), and Dominion (Kraxon & Gor Portas). Each set comes in a small clamshell package with the ship right at the front so you can get a really nice look at it. Below the vessel is its name and the symbol of its faction, while the back of the package has a description of the ship and a brief rundown of the included components. Even with that, it was a surprise to open up these small clamshells and see just how much was crammed in there. Check out the photos to see for yourself.
As with the Starter, all of the ships in the first wave of expansions are based on sculpts used in Star Trek Tactics. There’s been an attempt at creating a unified scale for the vessels too, from the miniscule Federation Constitution Class and Cardassian Galor to the massive Romulan Valdore and Klingon Negh’var. Just as in the Starter, the expansion ships are immediately recognizable as their counterparts from the various movies and TV series, and they look great in miniature. Just a few of the standouts for me include the graceful, sweeping Valdore (especially since it’s one of the few pre-painted miniatures we have of the vessel), the imposing Negh’var with its harsh lines and angles, the odd asymmetry and complexity of the Gor Portas, and the classic design sensibilities of the Reliant (always one of my favorite ships). The paint details are very good here as well, with highlights on engines, bridges, and other unique features. One thing to note is that while in the Tactics game the Federation ships are emblazoned with their individual registry information the Attack Wing models are not. This is not an oversight; since you have the option of playing each vessel as a generic ship of its class OR as the specific named version it makes sense not to put the iconic name on it.
With a few expansion packs to go along with your Starter the game becomes exponentially more interesting and customizable. Mix and match ships with different Captains and Upgrades for different strategies or combos, and you can even combine ships and cards of different Factions (for a small additional point cost) like a Romulan ship with a Klingon Captain. Each expansion comes with at least two Captains (most have three) and four Upgrades (up to nine!). You’ll recognize many of the faces, images, and themes from these cards from Captain Khan Singh (who can use any Faction’s Upgrades) to Romulan Plasma Torpedoes, the crew of the original Enterprise, Tribbles, Captain Martok, and so much more. So long as you agree on a point cost for your forces, the sky’s the limit for building out your ships, Captains, and Upgrades (within the restrictions of what each vessel can accommodate, of course). Each Faction has its strengths and weaknesses, especially when it comes to selecting Upgrades, but each is fun to build and play. I had a particularly great game matching the strength of a cloaking Romulan fleet against the brutality of a Dominion invasion!
In addition to the ships and cards, the expansions also include more missions, this time printed on LCARS-themed cards! Two cards give you the mission overview including number of players and elements you’ll need to play, set up (including any special tokens), and special rules to complete it. Again, Star Trek fans will get a huge kick out of these especially when you see things like “Destroy the Scimitar,” “The Mutara Nebula,” and “The Kobayashi Maru!” Where appropriate the expansions will provide cool new tokens and other cardboard elements for these missions like the Reman Scimitar or Terok Nor-like “Space Station.”
Star Trek Attack Wing officially launches this week at Gen Con, and will be widely available at your local game store soon after. The Starter Set will run approximately $36, and the expansions $14 each. As with the X-Wing game the prices can seem a little daunting at first, but remember how much you’re getting and that each expansion increases your option for every Attack Wing game you play. WizKids has plenty more Attack Wing on the way, too, with a Gen Con “Khan Exclusive” Captain, a second wave of expansions coming later this year (and the rule book’s explanation of initiative offers a very tantalizing hint as to what Factions we may see down the road), and best of all the Dominion War Organized Play Event. Make sure your venue is signed up for this tournament series running September - February with monthly game rules, participation prizes, and limited edition prize ships! To get more information on Attack Wing and the Dominion War event, head over to WizKids Games.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of WizKids Games