ADVANCED LOOK: WizKids Star Trek HeroClix Tactics Starter Set
Everything you need to play fast-paced spaceship combat right out of the box...
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Earlier this month we took a look at the new Star Trek HeroClix: Tactics game by way of reviewing one of the upcoming countertop displays (see the review HERE). Bringing awesome Starfleet and Klingon ships from all eras of Trek to the miniature gaming table, Tactics lets you play fast-paced games utilizing the well-known (and easy to learn) basic rules and powers from standard HeroClix. And while the countertop booster set will provide you with entire fleets of ships to play and collect (28 in total), all you really need to get into the game is the Star Trek Tactics Starter Set, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today! Stay tuned for a surprise or two at the end of the review as well...
WizKids has been doing “starter sets” in HeroClix for a long time. With exclusive figures, maps, and the latest rules and information they are instantly popular with rookie and veteran players alike. Usually the figures are all members of one or two easily identifiable teams, with point costs that make out-of-the-box match ups easy. For Tactics, WizKids has followed this format to the letter, even throwing in some dice for the truly new players!
Everything you need to play Star Trek Tactics comes to you in a sleek clamshell package that effectively shows off the highlight of the set, the ships. With a J-hook backing, the starter set packs all of the rules and maps inside a decorative insert, while the dice are nestled behind the front panel and mostly out of sight. The front of the package has very little else going on (so you can focus on the ships) with just a wraparound insert at the bottom with the game’s logo. The front section is thick enough that you can see the ships really well from the sides too, and the insert has some pretty cool close-up photos of them (and other ships in the game) and a listing of the set’s contents. Meanwhile, on the back panel are full size images of the ships in digital sculpts and another set breakdown. It’s definitely a nice-looking presentation and should catch the eye of HeroClix players and Trek fans.
Unlike the blind-packed boosters, the Tactics starter set has four non-random ships. Representing the United Federation of Planets are the U.S.S. Enterprise-A under the command of Captain Kirk and the U.S.S. Rhode Island from the finale of Voyager. Opposing them are the Klingon Empire warships I.K.S. Rotarran and I.K.S. Bortas. It’s an interesting mix of vessels chosen from the wide-spanning history of Star Trek. For example, the Enterprise-A dates back to 1986’s film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home while the Rhode Island is chronologically one of the latest to appear (originating from the 25th Century in an alternate timeline), the I.K.S. Bortas served as flagship to Emperor Gowron in The Next Generation era, and the Rotarran was General Martok’s flagship during the Dominion War as told in Deep Space 9.
The four ships in the Starter Set, along with all of the ones in the booster set we’ve seen thus far, are repaints of those included in last year’s Fleet Captains game (which came unpainted). As usual with Star Trek products, and indeed from the shows and movies, there are multiple ships in the same class which translates to shared sculpts. For instance, this set’s U.S.S. Rhode Island shares a sculpt with the base set’s U.S.S. Equinox (although to be entirely accurate the Rhode Island should have had the pointed nose of the Nova-class refit). At about two inches long, these ships have great sculpts with tons of detail, accurately representing their onscreen counterparts. While I’ve commented on the other three sculpts before, the Enterprise-A has really nice, subtle concentric circle patterning on the saucer section along with details like the bridge, deflector dish, photon torpedo launchers, rear shuttlebay doors, etc. The other three are fantastic as well, with the patterns and textures of the Klingon vessels to the technological details (phaser strips, escape pods, sensors, etc.) on the Rhode Island.
If there’s one way in which the Tactics ships surpass their sculpts it’s in the paint department. Hold up any one of these next to its Fleet Captains unpainted version and you’ll be blown away. Each vessel has the appropriate base color: bluish-grays for Starfleet and various green hues for the Klingons. Then the details are piled on, bringing each ship to life and highlighting all of the cool sculpted elements. The Rotarran layers different greens with a metallic base, adding gray to the wing-folding mechanisms and red to the bridge, the undersides of the wings, and the rear impulse engines. The Bortas is an overall pale green, but yellow and red are used liberally to define panels all over the ship and various engine components. The Enterprise-A has subtle accents including different shades of blue (on the inner and outer surfaces of the nacelles and deflector), red (nacelles, torpedo launchers, impulse engines), and yellow around the edge of the saucer. The Rhode Island is absolutely covered with splashes of color from the white escape pods to the orange sensors, brown phasers, red and blue on the nacelles, and more. Both Federation vessels have extremely tiny printed registries that are the icing on the cake.
As an independent but 100% compatible HeroClix game, Tactics mounts each ship on a standard HeroClix base with information on the top and progressing statistics and powers on a dial inside the bottom that clicks as you turn it. All of the symbols and powers are the same as you’ll find on any DC or Marvel (or other license) HeroClix figure, with the wing next to a ship’s flying speed value, the fist or reticule next to the attack, shield next to defense, and starburst next to damage. To the side of the dial window is a number for the ship’s range and a series of lightning bolts to designate how many opponents it can target in a ranged attack. In the starter set, you’ve got a perfect out of the box game with two 200 point teams: the Enterprise-A at 75 and the Rhode Island at 125 vs. the Bortas and Rotarran at 100 apiece. All of them have 8 range except for the Bortas with 10, and the Rhode Island is the only ship with two targets.
As noted, the powers in Tactics work exactly like they do in standard HeroClix and are represented by the same colored squares around numbers on a ship’s dial. Powers are nicely varied in Tactics overall, with each ship’s power set giving it a different feel. In the starter you’ve got the Bortas with a panoply of powers for close and ranged combat including Stealth + Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Flurry, Energy Explosion, Running Shot + Pulse Wave, Invulnerability, Willpower, and Leadership. The Rotarran focuses on fighting at range and keeping its enemies at bay with an even bigger rainbow of colors on its dial complete with Stealth, Force Blast, Energy Explosion, Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Pulse Wave, Super Senses, Energy Shield/Deflection, Outwit, and Perplex (plus the Indomitable symbol). The Rhode Island has two distinct parts to its dial. The first uses Phasing/Teleport to get to its targets, Incapacitate to tie them up, and Super Strength to do big damage while it’s covered defensively by Energy Shield/Deflection. All the while it’s boosting your team with Leadership. Later it switches to Plasticity + Incapacitate, Toughness for defense, and Probability Control. Kirk’s Enterprise starts with a bit of Running Shot, and then picks up some Energy Explosion. In defense it goes from Toughness to Regeneration and alternates Enhancement and Perplex to help out teammates. All four of these vessels have the new Federation or Klingon team abilities, and appropriate keywords like Flagship, Scientist, and Warrior. None of these ships have Special Powers or Traits, making them easy for new players to grasp and enjoy.
In terms of game materials, the starter set comes with the existing 2011 HeroClix Core Rulebook and Powers and Abilities card. The rulebook, available in various HeroClix products over the last year, lays out the basics of the game from how to read a dial to the different types of terrain, using action tokens, and everything else you need to play in a slim 24 page format. Meanwhile, the Powers and Abilities card defines the symbols you’ll find on the bases of characters and ships as well as all of their cool powers from Battle Fury to Willpower and everything in between. Each ship also comes with its accompanying card that gives you background info, keywords, and flavor text for all of its powers. With the two dice included in the starter set you can start playing right away. The only things you’ll need to bring in are objects, which you can download and print from the HeroClix “Print and Play” resource here (there are plenty that could work in a Star Trek setting).
Other than the ships, the coolest part of the Tactics starter set are the maps! Included are two full sized double-sided maps, two of which have special rules that make them even more interesting. First off there’s the Deep Space Nine station! Fans of that show especially will love this map that’s dominated by the structure in the middle; the center is hindering terrain while the three upper docking pylons are elevated. The special rules allow a ship that “docks” at three locations on the outer rim to control the station’s defensive sails on the inner ring. Flip that over and you’ve got the Kobayashi Maru map representing the “no-win” scenario famously put to James T. Kirk at Starfleet Academy. This version has a 2x4 square blocking terrain vessel in the center and 20 blocking terrain mines scattered around the rest of the map.
On the other sheet is Wolf 359, the site of the fateful battle between the Federation and the Borg! Post-debacle, this map is littered with 13 patches of hindering terrain composed of the wreckage of Starfleet vessels. Hopefully one day WizKids will release the Borg in Tactics so we can recreate that famous battle. The last map is none other than the Mutara Nebula, home to the final confrontation between Kirk and Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. With starting areas in opposite corners, the map features two hindering terrain sections on the sides while the center is blocking terrain surrounded by a halo of hindering. Special rules on this map let each player roll a die on his or her turn and consult the accompanying table with effects ranging from all ships getting to use Shape Change to preventing all damage from being reduced to less than 1!
Whether you’ve been playing HeroClix for years or you’re interested in getting started now with Tactics, the starter set has everything you need to start playing. Fast-paced spaceship combat and great collectible ships mean Tactics will be popular with both players and collectors alike, and hopefully strong sales of the initial releases will lead to more (with more alien races represented!). Due to arrive in stores in early February, the starter will have an MSRP of $24.99 and will be sold alongside the countertop displays that you can use to build up your Federation and Klingon fleets. If there are more than one in your store you may want to check for bent nacelles on the Federation ships; otherwise they should all be pretty much identical.
But wait, there’s more. In addition to the starter set and countertop display boosters, comic book and game stores can order a Star Trek Tactics Organized Play kit from WizKids. Designed to get players into stores, these kits have exclusive prizes not otherwise available: three copies of a limited edition ship and five copies of a new double-sided map. We’ve got an exclusive preview of those!
The Star Trek Tactics OP Kit limited edition ship is none other than Warship Voyager! Plucked from the classic “alternate timeline” Voyager episode “Living Witness,” this ship represents the Kyrian Museum of Heritage’s somewhat inaccurate recreation of Janeway’s ship. Based on poor historical records 700 years old, the final product is a weapon-studded attack craft crewed by homicidal maniacs! The LE Warship Voyager uses the standard Voyager sculpt (sadly I don’t have one yet to compare) with a new base and dial. The Voyager sculpt is top-notch with distinct hulls, an intricate surface pattern, phaser strips, portholes, deflector dish, bridge, and more. Its gray base color has all of the cool paint applications we’ve come to know in the Tactics line with plenty of yellow, white, red, and blue accenting everything from the shuttlebay to the nacelles and even the aeroshuttle on the ventral surface. At 125 points, the Warship Voyager costs less than the regular version (at 150) but has some really cool features. The Sharpshooter ability lets it shoot at adjacent ships and its Trait turns any hit with doubles by Warship Voyager or an adjacent friendly vessel into a critical hit! A warship in more than just name, this Voyager comes equipped with powers like Charge, Penetrating/Psychic Blast, Poison, Steal Energy, Outwit, both Close and Ranged Combat Expert, and more.
The OP kit map starts with the Borg Transwarp Hub from Voyager. Used by the assimilating aliens to crisscross the universe the Hub is a nightmarish tangle of blocking terrain and special transwarp pathways. When a ship moves into an orange numbered area (a conduit) its player rolls a die and can “pop out” of any other conduit with a matching number; a 1 lets you go anywhere but deals unavoidable damage. On the flipside is Qo’noS, homeworld of the Klingon Empire. A fairly straightforward-looking map with some large chunks of blocking terrain, its special rules allow each player to place “debris” tokens (representing the destroyed moon of Praxis) on the “X” squares. At the end of each player’s turn he or she rolls 2d6 and moves the debris that many squares, possibly damaging opponent’s ships on the way!
Check with your local comic book/game store to make sure they’ve got the OP kit coming, because that’s the only way you’ll be able to get this exclusive ship and map! The kits will be arriving alongside the Tactics starter set and countertop displays in early February. For more information check out heroclix.com.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of WizKids Games
Re: ADVANCED LOOK: WizKids Star Trek HeroClix Tactics Starter Set