Review – Star Trek Attack Wing – USS Enterprise B

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Silver?  Really?  Ugh! 

I haven’t written about Star Trek Attack Wing in a while – and with good reason.  Re-releases of existing models with new paint just doesn’t excite me.  I buy miniatures to play, not to collect.  Ever hopeful to have all of the starships named Enterprise, I had to pick up the Enterprise B

First – the mini.  It is silver.  Literally dipped in silver with two spots of red on the impulse engines, some black stripes on the nancelles, and some blue on the warp drive and deflector dish.  I could have painted this mini in less than two minutes, and most of that would have been me searching for my paints.  This mini reflects light it is so shiny. 

The NX class ships were silverish WizKids, but that ended there. What the hell?  Was your factory out of florescent orange or purple? Was there some sort of sale on silver paint?   To be kind, the paint job on the Enterprise B sucks dead lizard-ass.  You get the impression here that Wizkids is deliberately flipping off its customers when they release product like this.  It is a massive disappointment of Chinese molded plastic and likely lead-based paints put on by forced child-labor.  You can almost smell the painter’s tears of shame and sadness on this model.  Sniff. 

I calmed myself momentarily.  “Chill Blaine.  Be cool.  There are bound to be some good cards here.  I mean we can get another Captain Kirk or Scotty.  They were in Generations.   Maybe there will be an enchanced transporters card or a rescue card of some sort. It will be okay dude – just relax.” 

Fuc* a duck.  Even as I type this I pause and do a face plant.  Some cards are useful  Deflector Control – the ability to repair a shield is always welcome. Demora Sulu gives you an extra emergency move – which could be a lifesaver.  The improved phasers seem good – but with the timer…I wonder if they are even worth the points.  Resonance Burst is good but only has a range of one.  This could be something useful if it had longer range – mostly for decloaking enemy ships.  At a range of one, why bother. 

There’s a holo-communicator that lets you “borrow” another Captain’s skills within a range of 1-2.  That could be good for fleet engagements though frankly, this card seems to be just tossed in – we never saw this on the Enterprise B in Star Trek Generations.  Could you at least pick cards that have some relationship to the starship?  Apparently I’m asking too much.

Beating a dead horse, the cards that show the ship show it as white – not silver.

Captain Harriman is rated a two (which seems a tad high based on the film) and gets a free action.  His card barely warrants a yawn. 

No Kirk, Scotty, or Checkov cards.  Another wasted opportunity on the part of Wizkids.

While I await the Enterprise C miniature, I found this release of the B to be lacking.  I get the feeling Wizkids isn’t even trying any more.   Here’s a tip for not inciting your fans:  Don’t slap a sticker commemorating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek and put out a crappy product.   I give the Enterprise B a whopping one star.  

Our Jumbo-Honking Star Trek Attack Wing Fight

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The Diet Mountain Dew has a movement of Three

On New Year’s Day four of us assembled for a big Star Trek Attack Wing fight.  We went in with 300 points each, which was larger than our usual force composition.  Keen observation #1, it takes two plus hours to just figure out your fleets.  It also requires a freaking calculator to keep track of the points involved.

Tim fielded a Borg fleet while I took Federation.  Kevin and Andrew both took a good mix of ships.  Kevin had fighters, which were the first time we’d played with them.  Tim took the big Borg Cube where I decided it was finally the right environment to try out my Deep Space Nine miniature.  I mean seriously, how often do you get to toss in the big ships in play?

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The starting positions

The big Borg Cube drew too much attention.  Everyone went after it, though I was more concentrating on hanging close to DS9 and going after Andrew’s Scimitar.  That thing was a beast.  The Borg Cube was the elephant in the room for the first part of the game, though Tim used his other Borg ships to wreak havoc.  Eventually the big boy went down, but it took a lot of firepower.

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Without the Cube, we had maneuver room

Kevin made a death ride with the Sutherland-class ship with Picard as Captain, coming right at DS-9.  Shooting at Captain Sisko only increased his Captain’s rating.

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Cube warfare! 

The fighters proved to be massive pains.  Even if you scored a lot of hits on them, you only seemed to whittle away at them a little bit at a time.

Kevin came at me with his Cardassian fighters and eventually took out DS9, as they were toasted in the process.  So the big ships were off the board.

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Is it Cardassians or Kardashians?  I can’t keep it straight

Meanwhile Andrew and Tim had been slugging it out.  Eventually all that was left was a Borg Tactical Cube, some Romulan Scorpion fighters, and the Enterprise (refit) under Captain Pike.

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The pursuit of the Borg Tactical Cube

Kevin managed to stave off death twice in the battle, and I pulled an Attack Pattern Omega on the Tactical Cube, which it shrugged off and was able to discard the warp core breach.  Argh!

In the end, two ships with one point of superstructure remained, the USS Enterprise vs. the Borg Tactical Cube.  The die were rolled and in the end, the Borg prevailed!  Apparently our resistance was futile.

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From Hell’s Heart, I stab at thee…

Some observations.  The fighters – way too powerful.  The big pieces, visually these are cool, but they are more cumbersome than fun.  Game balance – oddly enough, Wizkids got this right, the game was pretty fairly balanced.  Total playing time from start to finish was around seven hours…time well spent.

Star Trek Attack Wing Review – IRW Vrax

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I wasn’t sure about this miniature since we already had the Valdore Class ships from a previous release. My first impression was mediocre at best.  The folks at WizKids have produced this ship in a semi-transparent plastic.  I like that for some ships that can cloak, but to introduce it at this stage of the product release is just erratic and insensitive.  It’s almost as if the WizKids folks are making this up as they go along. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the miniatures is somehow different that the previous ship of the same class, but it just seems goofy to have it made in this manner.

In terms of gameplay, the Vrax is nothing dramatically new.  In other words, this isn’t one of those ships you have to add to your arsenal.  I do like that on the Vrax itself you have the ability to convert a four forward movement at the last minute to a banking maneuver (albeit it a red one).  That actually can give you some interesting options at the last minute.  Let’s face it, we’ve all had those moments when we committed to a move and howled, “Doh!” when we saw what the other guy was doing.  The penalty of making this a red maneuver can hurt you in the following turn, but you might be able to avoid a worse situation in the turn you employ it.  With the Valdore class having only two shields, it’s worth upgrading it to the named ship for two points to get that third shield token.

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The flanking attack card is interesting.  In the right circumstance, where you have the enemy in your sights but are not in theirs, it could prove to be pretty damaging.

The Tal-Aura card is useful for sniping off those pesky enemy crew cards that cause so many problems in the game.  Some of the crew cards in Attack Wing are a wee bit unbalanced.  This can negate that and can be done at range three.  Is it worth five points to pick it?  That depends on who you are facing and what they have crewed their ship with.

The Vrax comes with two torpedo options – Plasma and Photon.  Both use the new game mechanic that uses time tokens.  I like the mechanic.  My only real complaint is that they introduced it very late in the release of the game so now it feels clunky.  I’d rather use the older cards then mess with this mechanic, but that’s just me.  I think WizKids needs to look at an updated COMPREHENSIVE set of rules to rebalance some of the game mechanics, as opposed to these sloppy updates.

Other than the highlights I’ve hit upon, I’m not too dazzled with this ship.  Attack Wing fans will buy it no matter what.  Let’s face it, we’ve needed more Rommie’s in the game.

Review of the USS Phoenix, Nebula Class, Star Trek Attack Wing

Let's go blow up some Cardies!
Let’s go blow up some Cardies!

Lately I have been slightly disillusioned about the mini’s that WizKids has released for the series (not to mention the number of rules errata which bog down game play).  So when the USS Phoenix came out, I went in with low expectations.

The ship itself is pretty impressive as you can see by the card.  I love having the ability to change my maneuver to something else at the cost of an Auxiliary Token.  In some circumstances, that could be a game changer and the point cost is only two more than the standard Nebula ship.

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Phoenix 1 001

The ship comes with photon torpedo and quantum torpedo cards.  The quantum torpedo card (which allows firing in the forward and rear arc which is sweet) comes with time tokens tied to them.  This delays their use as you play…you remove the time tokens to fire.  On their own, this isn’t a big deal. At a macro-level, it represents yet another layer of rules that have been grossly inserted into Star Trek Attack Wing. Worse yet, it is not reflected at all in any of the game series.  It is yet another clumsy attempt for WizKids to take a fun and simple starship combat game and gum it up with pointless rules.  For shame…

I’m probably alone in my thinking that they are slapping on rules with far too much regularity, like a band Bondo job on a 1967 classic that has rusted through.  Bottom line:  I don’t like rules which just randomly alter game play, phases, etc., without some basis in the Star Trek universe.  This time delay feels just like that.  It is the same feeling I had with the Admiral rules, though this time, it feels worse.

Now that my whine-mode is off, let me say that The Arsenal card is great…allowing you to add some additional upgrades.  Likewise the aft torpedo launcher gives your ship some additional targeting opportunities.  The Captain Benjamin Maxwell card is useful too – giving you a chance to re-roll an attack die on one of your secondary weapon systems.  You add this in with torpedoes and you get something that might, in the right situation, prove useful.

The ship miniature itself is pretty good, with a few provisos.  The only visible mold lines are on the underside.  The yellow windows are raised, which makes so freaking sense whatsoever.  I wasn’t buzzed about the silver color though.  So far WizKids has used silver, white, and sky blue to represent Federation ships. Look guys, it’s not that hard.  Pick a flavor and stick with it please.  I went back to the episode and checked, silver isn’t the right color.

The Phoenix is a good ship.  The mix of cards is useful for your decks, so I give this a 3.5 stars out of five.  I am perplexed where WizKids is taking this property though.  What we really need is a good comprehensive set of updated and clarified rules – and less ships like “Quark’s Treasure,” which no sane person would review or add to their fleet.

Star Trek Attack Wing Review – Gornarus (The Gorn Raider)

You can see the paint rippling in this angle.
You can see the paint rippling in this angle.

Easily one of the most iconic images people conjure from the original Star Trek TV series is Captain Kirk fighting the Reptilian Gorn.  Sure it was corny, but it was a fun episode.  When Enterprise came out, they brought back the Gorn with digital imagery and they really became much more sinister.  The Gorn remains, however, one of those races we just don’t get detail on in the TV series or movies.

From a Star Trek Attack Wing perspective – the Gorn are represented with the Gornarus.  The miniature itself was sculpted well, but I did notice the paint job was weirdly rippled/crackled on one part.  It’s not a big imperfection – not like the original series Enterprise which is a train-wreck of a mini.

I’m changing my usual review approach – by providing you scans of the cards for you to read:

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The Targeted Phaser Strike is neat – but costly if you are not using a Gorn ship.  It is designed to cripple ship components which is pretty neat.  I could see this being fun in tournament play.

Jammed Communications should (if I interpret it correctly) disrupt Admiral’s influence.

Impulse Overload does what Targeted Phase Strike does, but costs one point more and is discarded.

Salvage is fun on a bun.  You essentially beam aboard and steal an upgrade.

Faked Messages has good range and can be used to mess with enemy movements.

The Gorn Raiding Party is a powerful little tool.  You either disable two enemy target ship shields, or, if their shields are down, you disable ALL Upgrades on a ship.  With a range of two – you can see this card being very disruptive against an opponent who has tricked out his/her ship with a lot of upgrades.

Overall, this isn’t a game-changing ship but a few of the cards are pretty cool. Let’s face it, if you are playing Attack Wing, you’ll add the ship to your fleet just to leverage a few of the new cards.  I was disappointed with the quality of the ship – i.e. the painting.  Look, when I’m paying $14 or so per ship, I expect at least an attempt at quality.

A tale of two Enterprises – Reviews of the Enterprise E and NX-01 for Star Trek Attack Wing

Enterprises

“Fate protects fools, small children, and ships named Enterprise.”  Commander William Riker

Recently WizKids has released two Enterprises – Enterprise NX-01 and the Enterprise E.  I thought it only appropriate to include both ships in the same review – the weakest and strongest of the line.

USS Enterprise E

The Sovereign Class USS Enterprise E is a battleship for Starfleet.  Yeah, I know, it’s all about exploration…but let’s face it, Attack Wing is a battle game.  With 5 on the primary weapon, 1 evade, 5 shields, and 5 superstructure, she’s formidable in battle.  If you take the Enterprise E herself, she had the capability to fire a torpedo at enemy ships without needing a target lock – all at the cost of a lowly Auxiliary Power token.  This harkens to memories of Star Trek Nemesis and is a nice capability.  The Sovereign Class ships can move forward at a whopping 6, which is useful for closing engagement ranges fast.

The card deck comes with Captain/Admiral Dougherty.  With this card you can disable one of your upgrades and each time you defend in that round you get +1 defense dice.  It seems with the last few releases WizKids is pushing more Admiral cards, which allow you to share the capabilities of the Admiral with other ships.

One of the most awesome cards is that of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. It is much different than the one in the basic set.  With Picard you get to add automatically to you upgrade bar.  At the start of the game you declare a faction.  Whenever his ship attacks that faction, you must roll 1 less attack die to add 1 critical hit result to your roll.  Each time you defend against that faction, you get to roll +1 defense die.  It’s most useful when you have fleet actions where one side is ships of one faction, but it is a killer set of weapons in your arsenal.  Something tells me I will be facing Picard during a battle at GenCon next year – or using him myself.

Rounding out the cards is an intriguing mix for the crew.  Beverly Crusher allows you to swap a disabled upgrade for her card.  Data has some real teeth to it.  Discard Data and you force an enemy to re-roll an entire attack roll.  Talk about possibly reversing a bad situation! Troi’s card allows you to disable a Captain or a 1 ranked upgrade.  Riker allows you to add an upgrade slot and you can discard him after a move to perform an action.  Sometimes those extra actions are critical.  La Forge adds a upgrade slot too.  With this card you can target a ship at range 1-3, the target ship rolls two less defense dice in the round against all attacks on your ship.

The Fire at Will! (Wheaton? Naa, can’t be…) card is a nice addition.  Discard it and you can fire your primary and secondary weapons with a -1 attack die – but this must be done against separate targets.  Make it So allows you to discard this card rather than disable one upgrade.

The Dorsal Phaser Array allows you to use your Primary Weapon Attack value in any direction.  This requires a Federation ship with a hull of four or greater.    The Photon Torpedoes card has a nice twist – if fired from a Sovereign Class ship you get a +1 attack die and it can be fired in the forward and rear arcs.  We are starting to see more of these specialized weapons tied to classes of ships.  That can be good, but it can limit you using the card in a mixed deck.  I like that it gives you some flavor for the ship/class, but it makes the card less useful if you aren’t using that ship.

The Advanced Shield card gives you an action for adding one additional shield marker.  Given this is a brutal battleship for the Federation, this can make her tougher to kill.  Finally there is a Quantum Torpedo card which adds a hit to your results for total damage.

I would have liked a card for “We’re through running from these bastards…”  with the Riker Maneuver, but that’s just me.  It was one of the few highlights of Insurrection that was fun.

NX-01 Enterprise

I felt obligated to purchase this ship because I was one of the dozen people that actually watched the series Enterprise.

When I got this ship and her cards though, I wondered just how (or when) I would ever use this ship in a combat game.  She’s not fit for battle – not for very long.  Her only hope is to be the final blow against a crippled foe, or bait for luring the enemy into a trap.  With an attack of 2, evasion of 3, hull of 3 and no shields – the NX Class ships are more of a target than anything else.  With a low cost 16 (even for the NX-01) the Enterprise can upgrade to Advanced Hull Plating. Don’t get too excited. The card for Enhanced Hull Plating allows you to add two evasion results to your defense roll for the cost of an Auxiliary Power Token.

In the cards you get Captain Archer, who’s rated a 5, far below Picard at an 8. The series Enterprise is still not getting love.  With him you can add an upgrade slot.  You can disable two upgrades to gain +1 attack die and increase your skill by +1.

There’s also Admiral/Captain Forrest which allows you to perform an additional maneuver.  Given the limited movement of this ship, it’s a much more appealing card than Archer’s.

The weird ringer in this is Captain J. Hayes.  He can trade a hull damage for a +1 attack die…hardly worth the effort.  The issue I have here is that Hayes was a major in the series, a MACO, and had nothing to do with Captaining a ship.  You almost get the impression that Wizkids just didn’t even try to make it through the third season of the series.

The ship comes with Hoshi Sato.  If you have a Scan Token by your ship you can disable her card to force the attacking ship to roll one less die.  To be honest, that’s not much help.  The Travis Mayweather card has some potential though.  If you are doing a 2-3 bank maneuver you can disable the card in the activation phase to turn it to a full-blown turn.  That can be just the nudge you need to put the NX-01 into a firing arc, for example. Phlox allows you to removed disabled upgrade tokens from your upgrades.  T’pol allows you to add one Tech slot to your upgrade bar.  If you are scanned, T’pol allows you disable the card to force the defending ship to roll -2 defense dice against your attack.

The most useful card representing the crew is Chief Engineer Charles Tucker III.  If your ship is not in a forward firing arc you can repair one hull damage.  If you’re taking the NX-01 into battle, this card is required in your deck given the weak statistics of the ship and her lack of shields.

Malcom Reed’s card allows you to add +2 to your attack dice if you discard his card and one of your secondary weapons upgrades.  That’s akin to a desperate last measure.

Other cards you get are Photonic Torpedoes (attack of 4).  These can be fired from the forward and rear arcs.  Tactical Alert (Reed Alert) is nice. When attacking and defending you can discard it and spend a battle stations token to re-roll any number of your attack/defense dice.  There’s an aft phase cannon (attack of 3) card too.  Finally is Enhanced Hull Plating which is only really useful on the NX Class of ships.  If you ship is not cloaked and has no active shields, during the defense die roll, you may add up to two evasive maneuver results to your defense roll.  The cost of this is an auxiliary power token.

Summary:

In looking at these ships the Enterprise-E is a great addition to the game.  Good cards – tough ship.  NX-01 is cannon fodder in battle.  With no shields she might last a couple of rounds of fighting before it is reduced to a floating chunk of space debris.  Sure she’s agile, but that only forestalls in inevitable. The Xindi have nothing to worry about with this ship and even her captain gets a marginal rating by game standards.

When you look at the ships next to each other, and compare them with the other USS Enterprise’s, you start to see a flaw in WizKid’s thinking.  I’m not saying they should make the ships to scale, though that would have been intelligent.  They should be at least proportional.  The NX-01 is bigger than the NCC-1701 (Original Series) miniature – which is one of the worst miniatures produced in the game series.  WizKids – if you’re not going to make the ship mini’s to scale, at least make them somewhat proportional.  Even against the Enterprise E, the NX-01 looks big.

Review – USS Enterprise Refit Miniature – Star Trek Attack Wing

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“We tried it once your way Kahn, are you game for a rematch?” 

I’ve been waiting for this ship release – the USS Enterprise from the original films.  No Bloody A, B, C, or D – this is the refit Constitution Class 1970’s-ish styled Enterprise that took on V’GER and defeated Kahn in the Mutara Nebula in the Wrath of Kahn.  I have been looking forward to this since I already had the USS Reliant from three releases ago.  Now, finally, I could refight the Wrath of Kahn battle. Let’s face it, we all want to do it.

Bear in mind I’m still ticked at WizKids for their horrible performance at GenCon this year – but you can’t argue against the classic motion picture ship.

The miniature is good – not like that crappy old Constitution Class that WizKids released that was such a horrible debacle in Wave I.  The generic version of the Constitution Class refit is pretty solid – Primary Weapons are 3, Agility is 1, Hull is 4, and Shields are 3.  Not bad really.  But, if you pick the USS Enterprise – your shields go up to 4 – and, you get a special action.  Disable up to 2 of your Active Shields. For each shield you disable with this action, gain +1 attack die for all of your attacks with your Primary Weapon this round.  If you are positioned right in play, not in someone’s arc, this gives you a nasty bonus to your attacks.

Star Trek Attack Wing is all about the cards and the new USS Enterprise doesn’t let us down.  You get:

  • Captain/Admiral Kirk (more on Admirals later)  – he can target a ship at Range 1 and disable one upgrade of his choice.  This is a two-sided card…which is something new and cool.
  • Leonard McCoy – removes two disabled upgrade tokens.  “Damn it Jim – I am an Engineer – not a Doctor!”
  • Montgomery Scott – at any time you can disable this cart to prevent one auxiliary power token being placed OR discard Scotty and repair up to two damage to your Hull.  Apparently Scotty IS a miracle worker.
  • Photon Torpedoes – same old, same old.
  • Nyota Uhura – disable this card and you add +2 to your Captain’s Skill Rating for a turn.
  • Pavel Checkov – you can re-roll your blank attack results.
  • The Needs of the Many – you discard this card and one of your upgrades with a value of 3 or more and repair up to three of your shields
  • Savvik – Disable her card and replace a Scan or Battle Stations token for an Evade.
  • Spock – You can target lock or scan as a free action – which is incredibly useful
  • Self-Destruct-Sequence – You can blow up your ship and damage (and potentially destroy) other ships in the process.  I know you gamers well enough to know you want to use this card with “Cheat Death” from the original TV Enterprise miniature – but you can’t.  Seriously, think about it.
  • Hikaru Sulu.  You get the cloaked shifting capability – even if you don’t have a cloaking device. This is an awesome card in the right situation.
  • Ilia – you don’t lose your “Perform Actions:” step when you overlap another ship’s base.
  • Will Decker – Captain – you can destroy one of your shields to add one more critical damage in an attack.

This iconic ship has some of the best card sets produced in terms of game play capabilities.  If nothing else, it is worth it for the cards alone.

The BIG addition with this ship is the Admiral Card.  You can have one Admiral in your force.  If a friendly ship is within range of three, you can apply the function to a friendly ship.  Nice stuff here.  We finally see the stuff where some fleet actions can start to happen.

The release of this ship in this later wave makes me wonder what WizKids strategy is in releasing ships.  The USS Reliant is a good miniature, but let’s face it, we all wanted this USS Enterprise so we could test our skills ship-to-ship in the game.  Perhaps WizKids knows that no matter what, we will purchase this miniature, no matter when it was released.

The biggest issue I’m seeing emerge is that these new rules in each release need to be documented better than on cards issued with the miniatures.  We need a new rules book at some point.

Do I recommend this ship – hell yes.  It is a classic ship – great lines…and in the case of Star Trek Attack Wing – awesome cards.

GenCon 2014 Battle Damage Assessment

GenCon Wrap-Up

Another GenCon is behind me and now I look back with my totally biased summary of the convention. The memories of the unwashed masses are fading already.  You may disagree with my opinions voiced below, but they are my opinions, so don’t try and convince me differently.

 

Wizkids Acts Like Douchbags:

All right, I admit it, I’m a Star Trek Attack Wing junkie.  I like the system.  So I was geared to buy any Con exclusives and stock up on the ships that we didn’t arrive in my local game store.  On Friday I arrived at their booth and immediately was confronted by a booth-flunkie barking out, “You need to clear this area – we are going to run demos.”  There was nobody lined up for demos, but he did manage to act like a complete jerk.  Game on!

So we moved into a more orderly line according to the booth-Nazi.  I got up there and told them I wanted the cloaked ship exclusive for the con and I wanted to purchase the USS Enterprise from the movies (I have been waiting for this to replay the Battle of the Mutara Nebula).  I was told:  “We sold out all of our cloaked ships an hour ago (it was noon – what the hell?) and, “We don’t carry any of their store products – only convention exclusives. If you want our normal products, you will have to go to a retailer.”  Um, seriously?  Every vendor there was selling the same products that you can buy in stores.  We come to conventions to play games and buy products.  In fairness, I was less than cordial.  “You’re kidding right?” I’m pretty sure I chuckled at the booth-dude. “No sir.”  “Okay, I did opt to purchase the ONLY Star Trek Attack Wing offering they still had in stock – Deep Space Nine.  It was $100, and I will point out that they are offering it to the retail chain in another three months.  Then they hit me with obnoxious club number two – “Cash only.”  I remembered last year they struggled with credit cards, so WizKid’s idiotic solution to this was to go to cash only.  I forked over the money and asked for a receipt.  “Sorry, we don’t do that.” What the hell? The temptation to call the IRS was growing by the minute.

On top of that – at a seemingly random time, the WizKid’s rep announced, “We need this line to disperse.  We need to run demos.  Everyone will need to clear out.”  There was no line of people waiting to demo their games – but a line of paying customers that they ordered away.  WizKids actually found  a whole new way to tinkle on their patrons who wanted nothing more than to hand them money.

In short, WizKids managed to irritate me as a customer on a whole new level my first 20 minutes into GenCon.  At 1:30pm they ordered us out of the area so they could conduct demos on their new D&D Attack Wing game – which they were not selling at the convention.  I was interested in purchasing it – the demo was actually good – but after the way their horribly managed booth was run, I’m holding out. The crew running WizKids booth were oozing with contempt of their customers.

For the record, the next morning, they sold out of the convention exclusive cloaked ship packs by 10:48am.  They threw together a horribly managed ad hoc line system of trying to line people up outside of the exhibit hall.  Piazo did this very well.  WizKids did it only to bring people in and tell them they were out of things.  Who wants to come to a convention to stand in line for products you don’t have?

The short version of this is WizKids managed to piss off its customer community with a horribly run GenCon booth.  Way to go WizKids. Maybe next year you can top things off by setting several gamers on fire.

 

Palladium Lowers the Bar:

For those of you not tracking the Robotech Tactics debacle at Palladium Games, here’s the short version.  They ran a KickStarter for a miniatures game and ran into the exact same problems that almost every other company encounters in doing miniatures.  They countered these issues with horrible communications and denials that they are missing dates (they are simply moving back delivery dates…duh.)  Then before GenCon they announced that they had the product, but would not be delivering to their Kickstarter participants until after the Con. At the same time they announced they would be selling the game to the public at GenCon.

In an effort to pour kerosene on an already raging bonfire of hatred and distrust, Palladium announced an online vote to see if they would bring the product to GenCon – and that if you didn’t vote, they would count it as a “Yes” vote.  Stalin would have been proud.

Well, I wanted to see the final product, maybe buy it.  What I found was two empty demo tables and a stack of order forms.  Apparently Palladium’s shipping container was hung up in customs.  Gee, no surprise there – every KickStarter seems to encounter this.  Palladium’s “strategy” at the convention was to get you to pay them for a game they didn’t have and had missed countless (okay five) dates on delivering on – and they would ship it to you someday-ish, maybe.  I didn’t have to fight any crowds.  In fact, it was like a tomb there. The few fans that Palladium had not pissed off found out they couldn’t add to their armies, because there was no new noticeable convention product, which managed to drive them to the ranks of the “Let’s Burn Palladium!” crowd.  The SCA crowd was trying to sell pitchforks and torches to the agitated and fading fan-base that Palladium has managed defile at every turn.

The only good thing about Palladium’s public relations move is that people were more irritated at them than at WizKids (though it was a close race in my mind.)

 

Catalyst Sells Out of Crossfire:

The long-anticipated Shadowrun Card Game released at the convention and sold out in a day – forcing them to have a restock.  I tried the demo, and bear in mind I don’t like card games, but it was pretty good.  Shadowrun is starting to seduce me after all of these years.  Damn you Shadowrun!

 

Infinity Sells Out of Its Starter Set Operation Icestorm:

The Infinity skirmish game has some neat minis.  They released a boxed starter set and it sold out in two days.  I was shocked.  At $120, it was pricy for some thin cardboard buildings, a map, and 14 miniatures.  They had a $140 convention special which included some additional stuff, but ran out by noon on day one of the convention exclusives.

Unfortunately when they ran out of product – they only had rules books which, the booth guy pointed out, were going to be obsoleted by a new version.  This was not the best way to sell product.  By Saturday the booth seemed all but abandoned.  I had no idea that Infinity was so popular.

 

Monte Cook releases The Strange:

This is one of those kick-yourself-in-the-pants scenarios.  Twice I wanted to take part in Mr. Cook’s Kickstarters, both times I flinched and ended up buying the game later.  Shame on me.  The game looked pretty cool so I bought it and am wading into it.  The only downside to his booth was that they didn’t have some quick demos of the game system.  I love the little demos – it helps solidify questions you might have with the rules.

I’ll review The Strange later – I promise.  I need to read it – then play a bit with the rules.

 

All Quiet on the Martian Front:

I DID buy into this game on KickStarter – and I love it.  I sat through one of the big demos of the game and really enjoyed the game play.  The double-movement and initiative systems are rocking.  The game I sat in on was brutal.  The Martian tripods inflicted a lot of initial damage…but suddenly the US started bringing down the iron-rain (shrapnel).  The entire Martian left flank was devastated when a very close cluster of tripods came under bombardment.  One in the middle exploded, trigging two more tripods to blow, each inflicting damage on the remaining tripod.  In a quick turn, the entire left flank was one tripod.

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View from the Martian right flank.  

On the right flank, the Martian’s rushed forward but some gallant (and eventually dead) Mark II steam tanks charged forward and blew up one of their assault tripods – and left a scout tripod moving at the whim of the US player due to damage.  Their drones were mowed down.  In a non-demo game, if you took out the Scout, the drones would have been crippled, but they were ignoring that rule, “Because too many people concentrated fire on the Scout.”  Well duh, that’s why it is a rule.

The US took a beating too.  Lots of fried tanks, burned under Martian heat rays.  They lost two of their US command posts too – which seemed to actually improve the US die rolls (go figure).

On the exhibit hall floor, I spoke with Ernie from Alien Dungeon about my “concerns” about product being sold at GenCon that we hadn’t gotten yet as KickStarter purchasers.  He was very professional about it and listened to what I had to say, so we’re cool.  We talked about the future of the IP (Intellectual Property) and I was impressed with the vision.

 

KickStarter Mania:

EVERYBODY has a KickStarter coming for something.  Some are reboots of games, others are just new games.  I can see that this is going to be an ongoing problem in the gaming industry.  Why?  Because I counted at least a dozen companies that had KickStarter’s coming soon (most in October).  I get it, crowd-funding has been good to some in the industry.  I think these companies are going to pummel each other senseless.

A good example is DreamPod 9 talking about a new edition of Heavy Gear.  They had a tiny booth with only miniatures and a draft edition of the next set of rules.  They were pushing to do a KickStarter to publish a new rules set.  I worry about this thinking – because it could be a do-or-die with some of these companies.

Some surprises…

Reaper Miniatures didn’t have a booth.  They were at the annual Paint and Take, but were not on the showroom floor.  It’s fascinating to see if this was a strategy or a mistake.  I hope it’s not a trend with companies.

Ares Games ran the same special they did last year, buy two get one free – of anything.  By and large this was the best deal at the con that I came across.

I played the official D&D tournament to test-fly the new rules.  They were actually pretty good.  The Advantages and Disadvantages helped me on my game session.  Turns out I can play pretty good.  I’m usually the GM so it is fun to play.

I’m done with Zombie Games.  Every company is spitting out zombie games hoping to be the next Zombiecide.  So I’m done with them.  Well, except Smirk and Dagger had a new game of a zombies in high school.  I got a few minutes of the demo…and damn it, I want to give them some money.

I capped of the convention by playing in the BattleTech Game – Masters and Minions.  I was an alleged “Master” though from my dice rolling, you’d never guess it.  James Miller was my partner.  I was embarrassed at how he had memorized the charts to the game.  I had good ‘Mechs and a good strategy, but we got waxed by James Bixby and his “crew of doom.”

Death From AbovePainted in Central Michigan University colors – this was my pair of ‘Mechs prior to battle.

 

 

My BattleMaster got pummeled from across the map on move three.  I mean it was bent over and “mechanized.”  I managed to stagger the ‘Mech to its feet, only to suffer two massive head hits that turned my MechWarrior into a slimy puddle of goo splattered on the fragments of the cockpit that flew across the field of battle.  I may have talked smack in the game – but James Bixby delivered it at the end of a hot PPC barrel.

No problemo – I had my Pillager perched on a hilltop at the edge of the map.  I scored a few hits, but mostly I fired gauss rounds at trees, hillsides, the ground…everything but at the enemy.  The few hits I had were good though.  Colonel Miller did the real damage.  He appointed me in charge of “Talking Smack.”  You play to your strengths.  At one point three of the enemy ‘Mechs were knocked down, unconscious MechWarriors everywhere as far as the eye could see.

They say you can’t fight the math in BattleTech.  Well, math made me her bitch.

Except for this one guy.  He went for the gold.  Death from Above.  At the edge of the map, if he succeeded, he would have knocked my pristine Pillager off the map for a devastating kill.  It wasn’t an easy roll.  I hit him mid-air.  Two punches on the way down tore off his ‘Mech’s leg.  He landed right on top of me…and made the roll!

If you are going to get killed in a BattleTech tournament, it needs to be by Death from Above.

 

Summary:

GenCon was great fun.  I momentarily met Wil Wheaton (he bumped into me at a booth) and had a blast.  The game industry is evolving, which is pretty cool.  Companies need to remember that your customers are actually important.  The days of “oh, they’ll spend their money with us regardless of how we treat them,” are over.

Star Trek Attack Wing Miniatures Review – USS Voyager, Borg Sphere 4270, and Bioship Alpha

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The latest wave of ships for Star Trek Attack Wing have been released and I’ll give you a review of three of the four vessels – including the USS Voyager, the Borg Sphere, and the Bioship from Species 8472.  I intentionally left off the Kazon Nistrim raider because no one who watched Voyager would ever consider playing this race.  Seriously, the Kazon are the Jar Jar Binks of races in the Star Trek Universe.  I imagine their cards include activities such as “Betray each other” (you discard all of your own upgrades),    “whine” (you skip a turn while everyone else plays on) and “Bad Hair Day” where everyone attacks your ship for an extra round of combat because you look so pathetically stupid.

Whew – I’m glad I got that off my chest.

This wave of ships (Wave 4) does so something others only toyed with – it adds new rules and functions.  Also it gives us new species (Borg, Species 8472, and (sigh) the Kazon).  Voyager herself introduces a lot of new capabilities as well so this release.  These new capabilities can be game-changers, so if you are introducing ships from this wave into your game, make sure you off-set them with powerful opponents.

Let’s start with the Intrepid Class USS Voyager, the little starship that could.  Hurdled across space to the Delta Quadrant on the longest away mission in StarFleet history, this tough little craft took seven seasons to get him.   On the ship itself, she’s fast, she can move forward six (6) which can be useful.  Like the Enterprise D, if you play the actual ship you can opt to fire in any direction – which is also incredibly useful.

Her upgrades and crew are sweet.  Transphasic Torpedoes – with an attack of ten (10).   Holy crudstunk, that’s going to leave a mark.  Janeway herself gets a form of doing another action per turn. There’s a Sacrifice card which I found intriguing too – you choose the results of two dice and they can’t be re-rolled.  She’s got bio-neural circuitry too – allowing a reroll of all dice.  Seven of Nine allows the use of Adaption which disables an upgrade and makes it hers to use (unless you’re Species 8472).  This is nasty, vicious, underhanded, and rocking cool.  Voyager can have an Ablative Generator.  You get a whole card’s worth of rules on this sucker.  Suffice it to say, this allows you to hang in a fight but after five cards of damage – it’s gone.  Still, overall, this is probably one of the most useful toys in the Voyager’s deck – along with Transphasic Torpedoes.   With all of this, it’s easy to see why this ship made it back to the Alpha Quadrant.

Species 8472’s Bioship is interesting – a nice option to play against the Borg.  If you take the Alpha ship it has one special feature – when you do more than three (3) damage, you also place an Auxiliary Power token on the target ship.  Nice way to saddle them with that burden.  The Bioship also has a Regenerate action  which allows it to repair one (1) hull (critical or normal damage).

The Bioship cards allow you to have an Energy Focusing Ship.  The rules on the card are squirrely, but basically if you have a few Bioships, they can concentrate their fire together on the enemy (I think I’m reading this right).  Wizkids really needs to work on their wording on some of these cards.  The Weak will Perish card allows a pretty massive rerolling of dice – up to two times.  The Biological Attack is only useful if ships are touching, but it does do one critical damage.  Their coolest card is the Quantum Singularity.  Play this card and your ship leaves the game play area and returns during the end phase, out of range but anywhere on the map.  This makes the Bioship a dangerous foe to tangle with.  A few of these ships could really shatter any formations.

The Borg Sphere…   We’ve been waiting for the Borg for the game and what we got was a gray golf ball.  Ah, I’m told we’ll get Borg cubes later – but we had to start somewhere.  With seven (7) shields this is a tough nut to crack.  The Borg can Regenerate – no surprise there.  That sphere can execute a spin maneuver – which is essentially 90 degree turns and moves, making this quite dangerous.  If you take Sphere 4270, she can split up her attacks with her primary weapon against multiple ships too.  With the Borg, you have drones – which are often discarded to use certain upgrades, all of which are nasty.  Now I remember why resistance was futile!

The Borg upgrades and crew are also nasty.  You can select Borg Ablative Hull Armor which is similar to the Federation card (above).  The Borg Assimilation Tubules card allows you to use a drone and steal any upgrade from the other ship! There’s a Feedback Pulse, which allows you to channel the damage you are receiving back at the attacker – which is unfair, cruel, and funny all at the same time.  The Borg Tractor Beam is okay – but the Cutting Bean is where it’s at – doing ten (10) in damage.

I’ll give it to Wizkids – you had to release the Borg and Species 8472 at the same time just to maintain game balance.  Putting Voyager in the mix was also a good idea.  It doesn’t make up for that crappy Wave 1 model of the USS Enterprise, but it’s close.

Star Trek Attack Wing Miniatures Review – The Equinox and the Gal Gath’Thong

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I am a huge fan of Star Trek Attack Wing from Wizkids.  When they put out their original Heroclix Star Trek game I tried to get into it, I really did.  But it was a goofy, cobbled together system that frankly blew chunks.  Then Wizkids licensed the game engine from the X-Wing Star Wars miniatures game from Fantasy Flight Games and breathed new life into the concept of a playable Star Trek miniatures game.  (I know that last line infuriates people who play Star Fleet Battles, but let’s be honest, even a skirmish in SFB can take hours to play and has more rules than Squad Leader.)  Wizkids I think topped the X-Wing game which its mechanics were based on with a set of cards to augment play that are entertaining and add a lot of dimension to play.  You can really recapture the flavor of your favorite episodes with Star Trek Attack Wing.

The latest release (Wave 3) of miniatures has at least one iconic mini (the IRW Gal Gath’Thong) and a homage to Star Trek Voyager with the USS Equinox.  I’ll give my review of these two miniatures.

First off, the Romulan, or Rommies, as we like to call them.  The photo images that Wizkids uses on their web site are often deceiving (as anyone who purchased the classic USS Enterprise will attest to).  This was one where their photos do no justice to the miniature.  For those who don’t remember the original series, Balance of Terror, this is that awesome first glimpse we got a Romulan starship.  I love the details on the underside of the miniature, where no one will ever see them.

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Neat detail – great stuff – you’ll never see it during game play though – it’s on the bottom.

The cards for this bird of prey are awesome.  The Double Back card let you immediately execute a full astern maneuver.  The nuclear warhead basically deploys a minefield.  The plasma torpedoes are also pretty powerful (and harkens back to the episode where they appeared).  If you are playing the iconic ship itself, you can fire your plasma torpedoes without a target lock — a nasty surprise for your opponent.

The Nova Class USS Equinox is a ship not built for battle, but one that packs a pretty nasty kick to it.  Trapped in the Delta Quadrant, her crew “adapted” (i.e. captured and tortured several life forms) to try and reach the Alpha Quadrant.    The Nova Class starship cards are okay.  I was pleased to see the EMH (Emergency Medical Hologram) but disappointed with its capabilities (or lack thereof).  The Equinox herself has a neat action – you can “disable 1 of your Active Shields this round, repair all of your damaged shields.”  The crewmember cards provided are pretty neat and offer a unique mix.  While the Equinox is not a fighter – her crew makes her a tough nut to crack.  But she’s not a heavy combat vessel – so you need to think of her as a good second or third ship in your squadron.