Cards, Dice & Tabletops: Star Trek Attack Wing
So far in our quest to inform you about table top gaming, we have looked at card and board games. One area we haven’t looked at are miniature games. These normally involve loads of wee painted figures on a specially designed table with people scurrying around rolling all manner of dice, excitedly yelping and waging war on each other (if you’ve ever wandered past a Games Workshop you’ll know what I mean). There are a huge number of these types of games available in an equal amount of “flavours” to cater to almost everyone. Although I know very little about miniature games, one genre I always thought would suit them was space combat. Something like Star Trek, where you could pit various ships against each other in a battle to the end. Well, guess what? Someone at Wizkids must have thought the same and they made Star Trek Attack Wing. And it’s awesome and cool and turned me five years old again, and I’m going to tell you about it and everything!
STAW is a tactical space battle that will drown you in the Star Trek universe. The game comes as a starter kit that lets you pick one of three classic ships: the Enterprise D from Star Trek the Next Generation, a Klingon Battle Cruiser and a Romulan Bird of Prey. The ships are well crafted miniatures that sit on top of a base that gives you firing arc. You then get to fully equip your ship with a captain, support crew, weapons and other features before setting off to obliterate your opponents. The game is played through a number of phases that cover planning, movement and combat. All players have a round dial specific to their chosen ship that you use to choose your flight path or move. All players reveal their move at the same time so it does pay to try and anticipate each opponents move. Player then take turns to carry out their move using move templates. These are kind of measuring sticks that are placed at the base of your ship, which is then moved along the path to the other end of the template. After completing a move the player may choose to carry out an action in preparation for the attack phase. Possible actions could be acquiring a target lock on, raising a call to battle stations, cloaking or performing an evasive manoeuvre. Combat is then carried out by rolling dice – red for attack and green for defence. How many dice you roll depends on a number of factors such as range, weapon strength for attack and agility for defence (the idea being that you dodge the shots fired). Results of dice rolls can be altered to give you more hits or evasive dodges before damage is calculated and dealt. If an attacker does manage to get through your shields to cause damage, you receive a damage card. Get damage cards equal to your hull strength and it’s game over, the credits roll and we all go home.
Unpacking Star Trek Attack Wing can be worrying when you see all the bits and pieces needed to play the game. The immediate thought is that lots of pieces equal a complicated gameplay system. This is thankfully not the case; not all the markers, tokens and cards are used in every game and one read of the instructions is enough to familiarise yourself with all the components. Because each piece has a clear use and uses the language of the Star Trek universe I found it relatively easy to explain everything to someone who loves ‘Trek but is relatively new to tabletop gaming. The game just feels that everything has been considered with the source material in mind and then designed to fit rather than tacking the licence onto an existing game – Star Trek Scalextric anyone? The best way to familiarise yourself with it all though, is to jump into a game and see how it goes. STAW knows this and has created a quick start guide to playing a game. They list and explain all you need to get your first game underway and even have a “cheat sheet” you can refer to in case you get lost. This is an excellent idea and eases you into the gameplay at such a pace that you cannot wait to understand everything so that you can move onto what the makers call an “advanced game”
STAW comes into its own and lets you see the depth it has to offer once you have a few games under your belt. For a start you can fully customise you ship load out before starting a game. Each ship comes with a set of cards that represent its captain, crew, upgrades, weapons and tech. All of these are given a point value which count towards the total value of the ship (the game suggests a limit of forty to fifty points per ship). Naturally it is not possible to equip everything so you need to weigh up the pros and cons – do you equip the photon torpedoes or the mines, Data or Worf? You can even choose your captain and, if you have some of the various expansions, even have James T. Kirk as the captain of the Enterprise D. How cool is that? Should you ever get tired of straight up space battles, STAW gives you the option to add planets and derelict space stations for you to hide behind and try and ambush your opponents. There are also story based missions you can set up and play for a change of pace.
STAW currently has an additional 12 additional ships that can be purchased separately and added to the game. Each of these “Expansion Packs” contains a ship, all the cards, markers and counters needed and a few extra resource cards such as weapons, upgrades and captains that can be shared amongst the other ships of the same factions. The expansions add longevity to the game and also allow more than three players to play at once. Even with one player per faction you could currently have a four player game with each player commanding three to four ships. The packs are reasonably priced and, in the opinion of this writer, worth the £12 being asked – I have already purchased an additional three ships to accompany the review copy received and will buy some more as soon as I’ve finished this feature.
STAW is a well put together game that is deserving of both your time and cash. It has enough to delight Star Trek fans of levels. Hardcore fans will spend ages getting their ships just right before tackling the Kobayashi Maru (Yes, it’s a playable mission that comes with the original Enterprise) whilst newcomers and regular fans will get to have epic space wars with awesome model ships.