Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Star Trek Mania

My birthday is in February so I took a look around and decided to use some of that birthday money to finally pick up Star Trek Attack Wing. It's about $40 and there's a lot of stuff in the box.

Three ships is enough to play some games and get to know the rules but of course the temptation is to go get more ships, which we have. First things first though: How does it play? Short version: It's X-Wing. If you've played X-Wing you know how to play this game. Ships have square bases all the same size, there are 4 basic stats for each plus special capabilities, movement is done with cardboard templates, and combat uses a range ruler. The rules are available here. Nuances discussed below.

There are a few differences. One, Ships average around 4 attack dice but typically only have 1 defense dice as they are mostly big cruiser types. So when someone shoots there is usually damage. The ships in the box have 3-4 shields and 4-5 hull so they are tougher than X-Wing ships. Firing arcs can also be different among different ship classes.

There are also a lot more things you can do to your ships. Every one of them has a captain, many with special abilities,  and the captain's rating is effectively your imitative for the game. Generic captains have a "1" and have no special tricks while Riker is a "6" and Picard is a "9" and each has their own set of things they can do, as does pretty much any named captain. Beyond this there are

  • Crew cards for people like Worf or Miles O'Brien that do special things.
  • Weapon upgrades like photons and plasma torpedoes that give special attacks
  • Tech upgrades for things like Transwarp Drive 

So you can take two similar ships and give them very different setups beyond the basic numbers by using these cards. All of these things, including the ships and captains, are rated in points. There's a lot more to the building element here.

I tried X-Wing last summer and while I like the system overall it just didn't grab me. For whatever reason, STAW does and it's the one I will be expanding, though I may have to give Star Wars another try with a new ship or two. STAW's setup of 3 factions in the starter box is much better than the 2 on 1 arrangement of X-Wing.

Factions: Blaster has taken a shine to his cloaking Romulans, I've taken the Feds, and Red has gotten interested in the Klingons, and we have fought several times over the last few weeks.

Our first battle was in the eye-searing Paisley Nebula:

Once again the Romulans are sneaking around and it's up to Picard and the Enterprise to set things straight. We pretty much went straight at each other and Blaster learned the hard way that the cloaking device is not guaranteed immunity.

In STAW cloaking means you get 4 extra defense dice but your shields are inactive - pretty true to canon.The downside though is that there are 2 kinds of hits in the game: regular hits, which just take off shields and hull, and critical hits, which do that plus some other nasty side effect. As long as you have shields then hits are hits and it doesn't matter. Once the shields are gone though, crits start counting and your ship can be limping along on the verge of an explosion if your guns are still operable.

He was not running Battle Stations at the time.

To frame the above roll the star-looking thing on the red dice at the top is a regular hit, the explosion-looking ones with the hole in the middle are crits. He was cloaked, so no shields, and he had a single evasion result on the green defense dice. Regular hits come off first, so he took 4 crits on a  ship with only 5 hull. Needless to say he didn't last long after this. It was a very lucky roll, but it shows how fast it can play and how quickly even a big ship can be wrecked under certain circumstances.

Picard wins again!
I played again with Red trying out the Klingons. We circled around for a while after I managed to blow off his shields and dent his hull, then I ended up with a Klingon on my tail.

Pursuit Course!


Now we have them!
Feds: Full Reverse!
Klingons: Wait, what?
Blurry but that's 4 hits vs. no successes as the Federation unloads on the Vorcha 

...and that was the end of it as the Enterprise pulls out another one.
We danced for something like 12 turns total and he blasted me good (two critical hits) near the end but then I managed to pull a full reverse as he charged forward and he was in my firing arc and I was out of his - game over!

We've played several times since these and it's been a lot of fun. It plays fast, the rules are clean, and there is no painting overhead. There's no random or collectible/rarity element to it - ships are packaged individually and are all the same price so far. My next step is to come up with some kind of dedicated playing board for our games at home. It's spurred both of the boys to take a little more interest in Trek to the point we are watching episodes of TOS and TNG each week here now.

If you're looking at getting into one of these games I would say go with whichever universe does more for you (costs are the same and support is extensive for both), and right now for me it's Trek.


Lead Legion said...

You really need to come up with some special rules for that...er...eye-catching nebula :D

Blacksteel said...

Yeah,it's an old card table that belonged to my grandparents and it's very 60's. It's right around 3' per side though so it makes a good space for STAW and X-Wing.

Like I said, next trick is to come up with a cloth or mat to play on that looks a little more thematically appropriate.