Star Trek Attack Wing from WizKids is one of my favorite board games, and I’m super excited to cover its evolution into a new form with the just-released Star Trek: Alliance Dominion War Campaign box! Now, Star Trek Attack Wing has been running since 2013, with a couple of rules revisions along the way, and a big evolution in how we purchase expansions (moving from single ship packs to multi-ship Faction Packs, etc.). The game allows you to take command of all sorts of different vessels from the Star Trek franchise and lead them into battle, with specific and generic ships, upgrades in the form of captains, elite talents, crew members, technology, and weapons, and more. Attack Wing content draws from most of the length and breadth of Star Trek from The Original Series through the reboot films and includes all intervening TV series including the Animated one (no CBS All Access content, at least not yet). Alliance takes things in a bit of a different direction, and I’m very excited for it.
If you skipped over Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, let me catch you up on what the overall story is here. (And first off, you owe it to yourself to go watch; it’s my favorite Trek series to date!) The Deep Space Nine station was located near a wormhole connecting the Alpha quadrant to the Gamma one across the galaxy, and through it was promised great strides in exploration, discovery, and trade. Unfortunately, it also led to confrontation with the Dominion, the ruling power bloc in the Gamma quadrant consisting of the Founders and their vassals. The main military branch of the Dominion consists of the Jem’Hadar, a race literally bred and designed for war. They’re fearsome personal combatants and wield highly powerful spaceships of various sizes and classes. Here in the Dominion War Campaign pack are three examples of the Jem’Hadar Attack Ship, sometimes colloquially referred to as the fighter, bug, or scarab. Opposing these machines of war are two Federation vessels! The Excelsior-class is venerable by the start of the Dominion War, but is still capable, fast, and strong, and widely fielded by Starfleet. On the other hand, the Akira-class is new, produced as part of a wave of ships designed to defend against the Borg. Akiras’ increased combat capabilities were crucial when it came to battles against the Dominion.
At first glance, the Star Trek: Alliance Dominion War Campaign box looks similar to a lot of previous Attack Wing starters and Faction Packs. It’s packaged in the same style window box with big, bold logos, graphics, and faction symbols, and a window at the bottom of the front panel through which you can see the five included ships. It also has a familiar blue star field background, though the familiar U.S.S. Enterprise-D image on the front cover has been replaced by an Excelsior-class vessel. The back panel goes in-depth into how Alliance works and everything that’s in the box, with lists, example images, and more. Noteworthy are some of the changes from previous products like a new panel design and especially the cool Star Trek: Alliance logo. Also, it’s not super apparent at first glance that this product has anything to do with Attack Wing, as there are only a couple of small “compatible with Star Trek Attack Wing” notes on the back panel.
Let’s take a look at what’s inside the box! Obviously, there are the five ships and their associated bits and pieces, which we’ll talk a lot about in a minute. Then you’ve got components like the game’s unique red attack and green defense dice plus a couple of new blue dice, damage cards, various mission objective and planet tokens, range ruler, and maneuver templates. There’s an Alliance rulebook as well as a unique Campaign Book, AI Logic Card, AI Loadout Cards, Player Cards, Ship and Maneuver Cards, and Upgrade Cards. And then there are the various Action and Status tokens, fully 110 of them! Punching everything out takes a bit of time, but checking out everything and organizing it can be a lot of fun, if you’re into that sort of thing (like I am). All of the tokens are heavy duty cardboard, and the cards look and feel great, both glossier and heavier than those in previous Attack Wing releases.
What is Star Trek: Alliance all about? Billed as a Cooperative Miniatures Game, Alliance, and specifically the Dominion War Campaign here, takes players through a series of connected narrative missions as they field Starfleet ships against the forces of the Jem’Hadar. Anyone who has played Attack Wing before will find the Rulebook very familiar, and in fact it opens with a note that Alliance is a “new format of Star Trek Attack Wing” in which “one or more players represent captains that have formed a squadron and work together to complete a series of missions.” In addition to the experience points and advancement system, the big new mechanic Alliance offers is the automated enemy ships via the AI rules. This is huge, letting you and your friends play as “good guys” while also offering the potential for solo play. The book goes through all of the components and outlines the ship and upgrade cards, then goes into the new content with an overview of the Enemy Logic and Loadout cards and customizable Player cards.
Standard games of Star Trek: Alliance are played on a 3 foot by 3 foot area. There’s no board or map, so it’s up to you to mark out the area as you wish. Beyond that, it’s pretty much up to each mission to describe the game’s parameters from set up to success and failure conditions, token placement and special rules, and more. There’s a lot of granularity to the enemy setup, regarding how many ships are involved, their dispositions and power level, where they arrive, their logic, and more. Add to this the randomness of AI card roll tables and other factors and you’ll never fight the exact same opponent in exactly the same way twice! This is obviously huge for replayability.
Similar to regular Attack Wing is the Planning Phase in which you secretly choose and set maneuvers for your ships, the Activation Phase when you move them and perform Actions, the Combat phase when the fighting happens, etc., though you’ll see that there are special rules for the enemy AI throughout. Between the mission parameters and the AI Logic card everything is really clear on what the bad guys do, and many missions will be challenging for players. The other main addition to the Alliance rules is what happens after a Mission and in preparation for the next; successes and failures are noted, experience is gained and spent, and players increase their ships’ abilities and upgrades!
The Dominion War Campaign book contains the missions, six in total. These follow the Dominion War storyline from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and take players from a simple patrol in the Gamma Quadrant to a pre-emptive strike on an enemy facility that turns out to be a trap! As noted above, each mission provides you with everything you need to get started and play: briefing that sets the scene, map setup, mission parameters and descriptions for success and failure, enemy ships and their abilities, and any special rules involved. This system is a great way to learn as you go, with successive missions adding more difficulty but also more complexity to the game. There are even instructions on running these missions in solo play and how to move beyond this base set both by adding more copies of the Dominion War Campaign and by utilizing certain other Federation ships from their existing Attack Wing collection! I want to point out too that both of these books are beautifully produced with clear instructions and glossy images.
Let’s talk about the ships themselves. All of the miniatures here have previously appeared in Attack Wing (and indeed Star Trek Tactics HeroClix before that). In general, the sculpts in these games are about 1 inch to 2 inches long, with a pretty big degree of variation from things like miniscule shuttlecraft and much larger things like dreadnoughts. All of the designs are taken directly from Star Trek shows and movies, and have great sculpted and painted details. Over the years, in fact, the paint has gotten consistently better since the early ships were fairly generic in flat colors before WizKids switched to a lot of metallic colors.
The two Federation ships are quite different from one another, starting with the Excelsior belonging to the traditional Starfleet plan consisting of an upper saucer section with bridge, lower secondary engineering hull, and twin warp engine nacelles. The Excelsior with its tapered saucer, stretched secondary hull, and extended nacelles was designed to look sleeker and newer than the Constitution-class Enterprise, and would certainly long outlive that type of ship. The Akira, on the other hand, has a primary saucer, but its secondary hull is attached directly to its upper surface and extends rearward in two struts with a central pod between them and nacelles attached to their outer surfaces. It definitely looks more advanced and aggressive, especially with the slanted nacelles and angled “rollbar.” Both of these ships have good, screen-accurate sculpts with lots of deep cuts, and paint schemes are unique. As you can see in my photos, this new Excelsior is a light gray with bright blue on the nacelles (as opposed to previous versions in blue and metallic silver), while the Akira is silver with a much smaller degree of black paneling compared to the earlier version. Both also have nice additional paint applications on their deflectors, nacelles, and more.
The Jem’Hadar Attack Ships are a very different animal, following a totally different design tradition from another part of the galaxy. These small vessels are scarab-like with a central beetle shape with a protruding forward section, twin-pointed “tail” with rounded sides, and side-mounted nacelles. As a small attack craft, the bugs have somewhat bigger, blockier sculpted details which actually work really well in this scale. The Star Trek: Alliance versions all look the same, with identical paint applications presenting the ships in a very light metallic purple and accents in mostly blues and bronzes. While this is the same sculpt we’ve seen several times before, that color scheme is new as previous versions were darker purple, both metallic and matte.
Going through the card content, the most notable difference from standard Attack Wing is the lack of specific ships and captains, which of course makes sense because in this game YOU are the captain and your skill increases as you progress through the campaign. The Excelsior-class vessel is a svelte 20 points with 3/1/5/3, the usual Federation action bar, and upgrade capabilities for two Crew, one Tech, and one Weapon, while the Akira-class is 21 points for 4/2/5/2 and just one Crew and two Weapon upgrade slots. The Akira is also more maneuverable with standard hard turns at 2 (Excelsior’s are red), though the older ship can back up better with a reverse 2.
Upgrade cards are all Federation specific and cover the standard categories. Five Elite Talents offer perks like a one-time boost to Captain Skill 10 on “Calculating” to letting nearby allies re-roll a Battle Stations result when attacking or defending with “Wing Leader.” The five Crew upgrades are generic titles (even though Riker appears on one of them) like the Operations Officer trades an Evasive Maneuvers token for a repaired Shield and the Commander whose action gives his ship both a Battle Stations token and an Evasive Maneuvers token. Seven Tech upgrades give you a bunch of interesting options like the Impulse Upgrade turning all 2 forward and bank moves into green maneuvers, Improved Hull Plating that converts an incoming crit damage into a normal one, and Subspace Field that instantly (and once) removes all Auxiliary Power tokens from every ship within 1 range band! Finally, the seven Weapon upgrades give you more firepower and additional ways to shoot and modify your attacks with cards like Photon Torpedoes, Overcharged Phasers, Full Spread, and Quantum Torpedoes.
If you’re an Attack Wing player, you can mix and match any and all of these upgrades into your normal games, which is great because a lot of them are really good. It’ll be interesting going back and forth between that and Alliance, though, as I can see a lot of players really enjoying the advancement mechanics here that happens in between missions. You even get to write your own captain names on the Player Cards! But sleeve them first, please. The AI material as noted is great and straightforward to use. Just follow the instructions in the setup of each mission, grab your Enemy Logic Card and Enemy Loadout Cards, and go to town. I should note that while it doesn’t have its own cards and full rules, there is a Runabout in this box that comes into play in one of the missions, so that’s cool.
Star Trek: Alliance Dominion War Campaign is a must-have for Star Trek fans and afficionados of spaceship miniatures games. The components are fantastic, the AI system streamlined and approachable, and the missions are nicely varied and super fun. The compatibility with the overall Star Trek Attack Wing system is icing on the cake, and naturally if you’re already playing that game, you’re going to need this one as well. Alliance lets you take control of awesome Federation ships going up against Jem’Hadar Attack Ships, and you can play it solo or with multiple players. You can even expand the fun with more copies of the base game, or customize your play with other Federation ships from your Attack Wing collection. I’m really excited to play through all of these missions, and I’m looking forward to (hopefully) more Alliance packs covering different conflicts and further expanding both games. The Dominion War Campaign box is currently available in game stores or on the WizKids website, MSRP $49.99.
Find out more on the Star Trek: Alliance Dominion War Campaign hub.
Review and photos by Scott Rubin
Review samples courtesy of WizKids Games
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