Friday, 28 August 2015

Review: Star Trek Attack Wing

Firstly, I'll be completely honest and say that, so far, I've only played with the 'quick start' rules for this game. This simplifies absolutely everything down to its absolute minimum: move and shoot. The cards and counters are, essentially, completely ignored. At some point, I'm sure, we'll start adding in more of the full rules, but at the moment the kids are more than happy with the basic rules.

Before getting the starter set I read many recommendations from people to buy X-Wing instead. The game is similar, they say, but the models are far superior. I chose to ignore this mostly because there are far more ships I'm fond of in the Trek universe: Defiant, numerous Enterprises, Excelsior, most of the Dominion ships etc etc. In the Star Wars universe, on the whole, it's more about fleets of the same few ships that lots of different ones.

Anyway, when I received the set I will admit to thinking that the ships were a bit basic. Nothing compared to the Eaglemoss ships and much more like the Micro Machines ships from way back. Then I got my old Micro Machines out and compared. Nope, the Attack Wing ships are even worse than those. But they're not meant for display (buy the Eaglemoss models for that), they're meant to be used as pieces in a game and for that they're more than adequate.

Having said all that, the giant Deep Space Nine looks amazing and kicks the ass of the Eaglemoss version, both in size (it really is HUGE) and detail and with a lovely wash all over it. It really puts the rest of the ships to shame.

It took me about 5 minutes of having the first ship out of the box until I managed to break the stand. The ships stick on the top of a long, thin clear plastic stick which then goes into the base. These are fragile and care must be taken. I've yet to work out the best way to store the models between games. I fear constant assembling and disassembling is only asking for future breakage, but then keeping the ships attached to the stands seems to be asking for trouble to.

In addition, when on the stands, the ships don't line up perfectly on many of the models due to the way the ship has been glued on the stand-sticking in bit. There's not a lot that be done to realign them, other than deliberately breaking it and re-gluing.

While I'm happy with the ships, I'm much more disappointed with the quality of the cards. No high-quality glossy cards here. Nope, thin cards with grainy, fuzzy images that aren't the easiest things to read. I can't understand why these are so terrible when better quality cards have been around for decades.

So back to the game itself. As I mentioned, so far we've only played with the basic rules. Everyone uses a dial to secretly record what maneuver their ship is going to make, with each ships maneuvers limited depending on the type of ship it is (its easier for smaller ships to make quick turns, for example). The maneuvers are then revealed, the ships are moved and then those which are within firing range of each other do so, inflicting damage (or not) according to dice rolls. Damage is recorded and play continues in this fashion until the enemy is destroyed.

It's simple enough stuff (at least at this stage), but my kids are loving it. I especially like that, since my kids aren't Trek fans, I can declare my desire to be the Enterprise and no one else is bothered. There's no real limit on the amount of people/ships you can play with, which leads to interesting tactics like ganging up on one person before that gang then turns on itself. Or pretending to join forces with one person, before sneakily shooting them in the back when they least expect it. There are also various scenarios you can play out, just in case you get bored of simply blowing each other up.

I'd recommend getting some kind of space-themed mat to play on. It's only function is to make the game look prettier, but its somehow much more fun flying the ships in space than pushing them around a wooden tabletop.

Once you're happy with the basics, you can add the full rules in and start giving your ships captains and other crew, which add in special abilities. You want Picard to run a Dominion ship? A fleet of Ferengi and Romulan ships? No problem! Everything has a clear points score and as long as each player starts with a fleet of equal points things should work out for a fair game.

The base set comes with 3 ships and these are fine for a simple game. Soon, however, you're likely to want to add in more ships which is where things can start becoming Expensive as each ship costs £10-£15 and much more for things like DS9 or Borg Cube. You don't have to do this however, and it's something that can be done slowly over time.

The problem with expansions, as I'm currently finding out, is that many are now a right pain to get hold of. The base game is readily available, but if you want, for example, the Enterprise-E you're going to struggle. It'd be nice if Wizkids ensured some of the more desired ships are kept available for newcomers, otherwise they're stuck with bizarre unknown and not really wanted ships.

Overall, I really like this game. It's definitely going to appeal more to Star Trek fans than other people, but it's still a fun game even if you haven't a clue who Worf or Khan is. My 8yo likes being the Klingons...because their ships are green!

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