Recent changes to the Star Trek Attack Wing universe……..

This post in particular is regarding the recent changes suggested by Wizkids to rectify any issues in Star Trek Attack Wing and to give you an insight into the opinions, thoughts and feelings surround those decisions by the community.

Star Trek Attack Wing more than Star Wars X-Wing is a fleet building game and in the current scene a game can be won or lost without even placing a miniature on the table.  This has, to some, removed the core elements of the game, the flying and manoeuvring.

In the early days of Star Trek Attack Wing the better players who knew about manoeuvring and captaining their ships were successful but in recent times less so.  No matter how well you fly if every attack is cancelled or you can’t affect the attack cancellation cards on an opponent’s ship due to infinite immunity combos then you may as well pack up and go home or run the same build.  The scene has become stagnant, stale and boring.  Not everyone agrees.

The game is not about ships and flying it’s become an arms race with uber-competitive broken build ships and their players dominating.  In defence of these players everyone must remember that it is a competition and playing to win is not wrong in itself.  Those players have broken no rules, they should not be made pariahs or outcasts simply because of their success.  Were it not them it would be someone else and the “vocal majority” would be finding other builds and contentious combinations to complain about.  I’d be surprised if anyone turned up at an OP event with a build they knew could not win.

These players attend OPs.  They support the game.  They play in a way that can seem alien to some and have attitudes that come across as very cold and single-minded.  Again there is nothing wrong in that.  However, until recent changes they were not wrong…..nor can it be said that even now the “suggested” formats make them wrong.  Ultimately as long as a build fits within the Rulebook, the FAQ and the Rules Forum it is every bit as legal as any other.

Recently there have been a few changes in the Star Trek Attack Wing universe causing a lot of head scratching and a few heated debates.  Firstly Wizkids released a “suggested” tournament format for OP events:-

http://wizkidsgames.com/blog/2014/10/24/star-trek-attack-wing-updated-suggested-tournament-format/

and secondly constant debate over certain cards and favourite combinations of cards led Wizkids to put a Rules Forum into place much like they had done with Heroclix etc.

http://www.wizkidseventsystem.com/bb/viewforum.php?f=24

These actions have not been received well by the community as a whole, there have been some upset players threatening action, others wielding the “I told you so!” stick and some simply feeling a little confused by the whole affair.  Whether this be as a response to the rule updates themselves, some sense of unfairness at players “power-builds” being neutered or simple misgivings about the way the whole thing has been handled by Wizkids…who knows but it has certainly prompted intense debate amongst the community.

As a mostly casual but occasionally competitive event long term player of Star Trek Attack Wing I’ve looked at the changes as a whole and for me, personally, I’m somewhat unaffected.  This has not been the case with everyone though.

“Suggested” Tournament Format

All games have their “meta”, and in recent times two of the more favoured builds contributing to the meta have been the FedNought or SuperCube.  One is a single Federation ship and the other a single Borg Tactical Cube.  One or both often using some form of Weyoun/Varel/Li Nalas/Beverly Crusher/Phlox/Conditional Surrender attack cancellation tactic or Koss/Dispersion Field invulnerability combo relying on two upgrades protecting each-other and everything else from discard or disabling.

Some have argued that these types of build are against the “spirit” of Star Trek as its un-Trek to see a Dominion Vorta Captain saving a Romulan Crewmember aboard a Borg Cube.  Others have embraced the competitive elements of Organized Play events and taken such builds to tournaments.  I have my opinion which I will add later.

Most players don’t mind “power-play” but many feel that builds like these are boring and do not represent any imagination in fielding builds of that nature.  Remember that these builds represent a completely valid and tournament legal approach and it is only a “vocal majority” that have driven the use of these builds to be considered unsporting or uncompetitive.  Could this be the reason or at least a contributing factor for recent decline in the Organized Play (or OP) scene?

Before I move on I will attempt to address the Ship Pure/Fleet Pure/Mixed Fleet/Mixed Ship elephant in the room.  For those who are unaware Star Trek Attack Wing is split into a number of factions, which is one of the things that drew me to it over Star Wars X-Wing.  Each faction pays a penalty for using non factional cards on their ships.  A Ship Pure build will only use the upgrades and captains that are native to the faction of the ship they are on and can be made up of ships from different factions which makes a Mixed Fleet.  A Fleet Pure build will only use a single Factions upgrades and captains across the entire fleet and lastly Mixed Ship is anything goes, any upgrades on any ship regardless of factions.  The cross-factional penalties always apply but none of these self-imposed build rules are mandatory and each is equally as valid both for casual play and competitive play unless a TO rules otherwise.

So this is partly where the argument about un-Trek or Trek-sense comes from.  To some it does not make sense to see Jean-Luc Picard and Gul Dukat the captains of twin Borg Spheres, to others its fine.  Chill guys….you’re all right and remember these are self imposed build rules.

Certainly nowhere in the rule book does it endorse the idea of Ship/Fleet purity.  No official line has ever been given on this subject but it is worth remembering that in a Fleet or Ship pure environment players would be buying less ships which is bad for business for Wizkids.

I cannot honestly believe that Wizkids would endorse a style of play that limited their sales.  This would be a business decision rather than a gaming decision so if players are hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel of the “purity” debate they may be waiting a long time for a train that ain’t coming.

The game is richer and more varied for the ability to change formats, use fleet build limitations and change point values for battles.  To lock it down would be a bad decision in terms of both gaming AND business for all concerned.

Purity was raised as a mechanism for re-balancing the competitive scene and again this argument has its supporters and detractors.  Often non-Pure players will feel brow-beaten by the arguments given by Pure players.   Furthermore, many of these players suggest that this is a magic solution that would fix all of the problems in the game, while ignoring the results posted at the WKO Events where fleet pure participants posted winning or high placing results. The game, in its current mixed format, allows for both styles of play, and makes a better, more balanced game.

Following the recent Regional Events in the US the issue of the FedNoughts and SuperCubes came up.  They were dominating the competition and largely occupying most of the winning positions (Klingon builds still remain competitive and successful).  This led to situations where two very similar, almost identical builds would spend an entire battle cancelling each other’s attacks leading to a roll off to determine a winner.  It also led to feelings amongst certain groups and players that the ONLY way to win these events was to fight fire with fire and take the same build.  This has led to a stale and stagnant environment competitively in my opinion and in the minds of others.  Some commented that watching video footage on YouTube or Facebook of Regional Events was boring and a bit of a turn off.  This kind of thing is damaging for all players of Star Trek Attack Wing as it means potential players are seeing these things and being put off by them.  It is up to us as members of this community to usher new blood into the game locally.

Part of the new suggested format has limited to number of points that can be spent per ship.  This has been very contentious as it has effectively led to the belief that certain ships are unusable in tournaments as they cost too much and will essentially have to be fielded “naked”.  This has also prompted the question as to why these ships have five or six upgrade slots but yet cannot actually fill them using the new “suggested” rules.  It certainly seems to be a mixed message but again supports the idea of these “suggested” rules as being exactly that……a “suggestion”.  You and your TOs are under no obligation to adopt them.  Do what works for your local gaming community.

For casual play any player can use any build rules they please and these are only “suggested” rules.  Ultimately a Tournament Officer (or TO) can rule however he/she pleases on the actual day of an Organized Play event and as such can ignore such “suggested” rules in favour of anything he/she pleases.  The TO can overrule Wizkids at his/her venue.  So groups of players can be pleased by TO driven “local” build rules.  I completely understand this rationale as the venue lives or dies by its gaming groups displeasing your local players can ruin a venue.  As a player/TO who is trying to establish a healthy community in my local area I applaud supporting the local players, local venues and introduction of new players.  No “newbie” wants to face a FedNought or SuperCube and be put off the game for life.  I do not subscribe to the belief that “life is hard”, “it’s a competitive game” or whatever tired cliché supports a players need to put off potential players simply because he/she can.  “Tough love” will not teach a new player the game, they will walk away disliking the game and the player.  For me I think it’s more important for the community as a whole to introduce new players and to bring new blood into the game.

I have been running a series of demo or taster games recently using these new suggested rules.  As the more experienced player I’ve given my opponent the choice of what fleet they use and what fleet they want me to play against them.  I think that despite my opponents losing they’ve all had the opportunity to see how Star Trek Attack Wing works and enjoyed themselves.  Some have bought the Starter Box with the intention of playing more often.  Senior, more experienced players should be acting like ambassadors for the game rather than collecting as many scalps as humanly possible.  There is a time for winning at all costs.

Personally speaking I like elements of the new “suggested” rules and will continue to use them.  I am mostly a ship pure Romulan player but have played a single ship build at an OP and not, I hasten to add, a FedNought or SuperCube.  Both work for me but do they work for you?

Wizkids Rules Forum and Card Clarifications

The Organized Play (or OP) scene for Star Trek attack Wing has been dwindling of late.  Stores reporting previous attendances for the 19 to 20 mark down to 4 or 5 players.  Some stores have even ceased to run OP events altogether as they cannot break even with numbers as they are.  In short, the game was dying under the old untested, unclear rules.  The new rules seem, in certain areas to have spruced up the scene along with the “suggested” format and players feeling they don’t “have to” take these super builds to be competitive.

Certain elements of the game have been broken and unbalanced from day one.  The points costing for each ship worked in the earlier Waves of ships but as the power creep of the ships in each release wave ramped up some ships have become completely redundant and others simply under-costed for the abilities/manoeuvre dial/firing arc they have.

A large number of cards have been begging to be revisited in terms of wording and clarification for some time now.  They crop up over and over again and always form the subject of heated discussions amongst players about the “intent” or “interpretation” of the card.  Recently I had such a discourse with a fellow member of the community.  I could understand his reasons for reading the particular card as he did and once I had explained my point to him he mine, but ultimately we both believed that our own “interpretation” of this card and its interaction with other cards was correct.

To tackle some of these issues Wizkids created a Rules Forum where users can ask their questions and get a response from the guys behind the Rules and game.  Not all the ruling have been as expected and one of the more contentious ones being the Wizkids ratification of the Weyoun/Varel combination.  They have however ruled that each one only works once per turn.  This could be a thinly veiled attempt at getting players to adopt the multi-ship “suggested” rules format.

Instead of addressing the problem cards directly some feel that Wizkids have been painting broad shaky strokes across the entire ruleset.  This has led to a concern that any card can be changed arbitrarily, at any time, which leaves everything up in the air.

Some players are now not understanding how some cards work as rules updates are inconsistent and stating things that similarly worded cards with better grammatical clarity imply differently.  Some have stated they simply don’t know how their cards work any longer.  This is a bit of an extreme statement to make as Wizkids are simply clearing up some of the inconsistencies and lack of clarity on card interactions.  The Rules forum is an iterative process and given time I feel it will grow to be the mechanism by which the game can be rebalanced.

The Rules have certainly cleared up some questionable interpretations for the “vocal majority”.  A recent poll on a leading STAW forum suggested that 119 of 144 polled supported a certain rule change on a contentious card/combination.  If this is truly reflective of the community then the changes or clarification being made seems to be supported by 83% of the polled players.  A little over 4% represented the other view that no changes need to be applied.  Simply put Wizkids are listening to the majority of their players and tackling the issues with the game they have.  I applaud them for this!  There will always be players who feel they are receiving the rough end of the stick no matter what changes are or aren’t made.  For the most part these players are exactly the same as you and I, they support the community and have success.  There are some great players out there and given time to absorb and adapt they will negate and overcome in true Trek style.  To quote John Paul Warren “The cream always rises to the top”.

Summary

Some players are all about the big “W” and the competitive environment brings the worst out in some people be they the winner or loser.  Recent OP events have seen a sharp decline in numbers and one has to wonder if this is in part to players being put off my feeling they cannot compete unless they take THAT build.  The true measure of whether the changes made by Wizkids will be shown in this scene and the only way to see that is to participate.  The players called for change now they need to support it.  Someone once said to me “Good players say they can win with anything, great players will prove it” and there is a kernel of truth in that statement as now we have, as a community, an opportunity to show that.  The good players must adapt and move on and the great players will remain so.  Personally I would be interested to see and compare the results of OP events in certain areas to see if numbers improve and if the problem builds lose favour.  To coin a phrase from one of the contributors to this article “Its time to put up or shut up”.

Wizkids are doing everything they can to redress any balance issues or broken combinations.  Yes there are still some clarity issues and rules to be looked into but we must give them time.  The player base has asked for clarifications and now we must give them time to implement these changes.

Exploring Strange New Worlds in a Galaxy Far, Far Away………..

This article is introducing you to the Star Trek: Attack Wing (ST:AW) game starting with its Starter set.  We will be comparing a Star Trek:Attack Wing Starter Set with a Star Wars: X-Wing (SW:XW) Starter set.  So if you’re strapped in, lock S-foils and……Engage!

Introduction

FFGSWXwinglogo staw banner bar

Star Trek: Attack Wing (or ST:AW) is a multiplayer game set within the Star Trek “universe”. It is produced by WizKids and was first released to retail in August 2013.

Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game (or SW:XW) is set within the Star Wars “universe”, and is produced by Fantasy Flight Games and was released in August 2012.

Players assume the roles of fleet or squadron commanders who can customize, upgrade, and assign famous crew members to their fleets or wings of ships.

What makes Attack Wing so appealing is that you can choose ships, crew, and technology from the all the five main Series in the Star Trek franchise.   In the initial waves of releases ships were represented from the Dominion, Federation, Klingon, and Romulan factions, this has since been expanded to include the films and other factions.

X-Wing squadrons, on the other hand, comprise of only two factions, Rebels and The Galactic Empire. The ships and characters are taken from the films and the expanded universe, this includes the comics, books, and computer games.

Ships within both games have their special statistics, abilities, and unique manoeuvres displayed on separate “Manoeuvre Dials”.  Alongside these dials, the game utilizes the “FlightPath Manoeuvre System” for its gaming mechanics, under license from Fantasy Flight Games and is used in both games.

On the surface of it the game appears to be a Star Trek themed variant on SW:XW even down to the appearance of the box itself but as you delve deeper into the box contents the slight nuances and differences between the two seem to emerge.

The main difference between the two games is the scale at which the game is played.  Star Trek has always been about the adventures of the crews of huge ships of exploration or space stations with crews in the thousands and with certain recent exceptions the ships used in Star Wars have always been single seated high manoeuvrability craft dogfighting above a planet.  Star Trek is a capitol ship space combat game where as Star Wars is more of a fighter space combat game.  Whilst the two systems are similar these differences play out in terms of the statistics or attributes of the ships in game and as such some ST:AW ships have weapons and hull statistics far in excess of even the largest ships in SW:XW universe.  Shields are similar and Evade dice are standardly higher in SW:XW representing the “dogfighting” nature of the game with skilled pilots Focussing, using the Force to jink and turn and avoid shots.

Box Contents

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Opening the box for the first time you will see a number of components presented, a glossy softback rulebook, a quick start guide, some sheets of tokens and cardboard components that need to be “punched” out, a small pack of upgrade cards, an even smaller pack of Damage cards, a set of dice and of course the ships themselves which we will cover later.  In terms of quality it certainly looks like more effort has gone into the design and aesthetics of the SW:XW cards and tokens than ST:AW.  Both Starter Sets provide everything you need to play a balanced game straight out of the box.  With a little setup you could be ready to play either within 10-15 minutes of de-boxing your goodies.  Now we shall go onto the individual components within the boxes.

Ships/Miniatures

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One of the huge draws to both games is the fact that the miniatures within each set come “pre-painted” meaning that with very little effort you can begin playing straight out of the box.  No assembly is required barring the fitting of bases and pegs which is relatively simple.

Looking through the clear plastic of the box at the components within each Starter Box the first thing you will notice is the quality of the miniatures and the scales.

The SW:XW miniatures are from newly made molds and painted beautifully, each a work of art in itself.  They are at a 1:270 scale and each ship is scaled relative to the rest of the ships.  If I were to be hyper critical I would say that such detail can lead to some very brittle and breakable parts but the models themselves are simply stunning, beautifully cast, excellently painted and finished.

By comparison ST:AW’s painted ship molds look good too until they are held side by side with the SW:XW miniatures.  The ST:AW ships are identical to those utilized in the Star Trek: Tactics games, without the names or registries painted onto their hulls. Unpainted versions of some of the ship molds were also previously released in the Star Trek: Fleet Captains game.  It would be hard to give the ST:AW ships an accurate scale as it varies wildly between ships.  The relative scale of the ships within the ST:AW box (and game) is one of the nerd-sense tingling things that bothers a lot of players.

For those of you out there who know their Trek you will notice that the Galaxy Class Federation ship is roughly the same size as the D’Deridex Romulan Warbird.   However, in Star Trek the Romulan ship is twice the length of the Federation one and can completely consume the Federation ship between its “wings”.

The actual painting and “finishing” of some of the ST:AW ships can leave a lot to be desired especially some of the gaudy colours used on ships such as the Klingon Vor’Cha class which is in the Starter Box.  The miniatures look fine if a little plasticky in themselves but are pale and poorly finished when compared to the SW:XW ships. All this said, the ST:AW ships are solidly cast and do not seem to suffer from some of the brittle fine breakable components found on the SW:XW ships.

The SW:XW ships in the core set are a Rebel X-Wing Fighter and two Imperial TIE Fighter miniatures.  There are variants within the box to allow you to have Luke Skywalker in the X-Wing, Biggs Darklighter (his friend from Tatooine), as well as the generic Red Squadron and Rookie pilots. The TIE Fighters come with Mauler Mithel (otherwise known as DS-61-2), Vader’s left wing man in the trench run, Dark Curse (DS-61-4), the one that shot Luke and blew his engine during the run, and Night Beast OS-72-1, one of the Bespin TIE Fighters. Also included are two of each of the Black Squadron, Obsidian Squadron and Academy Pilots.  This allows you to pick pilots with special abilities for more points or those without for less.

The ST:AW ships in the core set are a Federation Galaxy class Starship , a Klingon Vor’cha class Bird-Of-Prey and a Romulan D’Deridex Class Warbird.  As with each expansion and the SW:XW ships you can get “named” or “unique” versions of these ships.  None of these ships come with an in-built captain but in general with ST:AW if you choose a named version you get a special ability on the ship and an extra shield.  The named variants are the Federation USS Enterprise-D (as seen in the ST:The Next Generation series), the Klingon IKS Maht-H’a (from the ST:TNG Episode The Chase) and the Romulan IRW Khazara (from the ST:TNG Episode Face of the Enemy).

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that SW:XW wins this section hands down.  The ships are simply better cast, better painted and better detailed.  Out of the box this is a win for SW:XW

Cardboard Components

Both games come with a number of cardboard sheets containing tokens and game elements to be “punched” out.  Once punched out you will have a full set of tokens to play a game, a set of manoeuvre templates, a range ruler and any obstacles to manoeuvre your ships around.  In SW:XW you receive a number of asteroids and in ST:AW the box contains a two sided planet token (again another indicator as to the relative scale differences in game).

The Manoeuvre templates are similar in each box containing a number of standard manoeuvres each ship in game can perform.  The only real difference I have seen so far is that the ST:AW box contains two additional manoeuvre templates that SW:XW doesn’t use.  The additional ones are a “6” Fwd and a “4” Bank.

Now you’ve excitedly punched out all the card sheets and your table is full of hundreds of tokens of various shapes and sizes, be they from the ST:AW box or the SW:XW box.  These tokens represent all the Actions and identifying markers required to play the game.  Aesthetically speaking I prefer the SW:XW tokens and they are all sorts of different shapes with a nice finish and feel very much “of the game” with little bits of art to make them seem interesting.  ST:AW tokens by comparison are more numerous and have a very simple icon on each to define what it is for.  There has been far less effort put into the graphical look of the tokens but the finish is glossier and simpler.  The stylistic look of the ST:AW tokens is very “Trek” using simple icons that look like they were lifted from a Star Trek Bridge console.

Both sets of tokens feel as though they are “right” for their respective game, pro’s and con’s for both games here.

Captain & Upgrade Cards

Opening the cards you would notice an immediate difference in size and texture when comparing the two sets.  Both Starter sets include a Damage deck.  These cards are applied to ships when they receive damage in combat or by other means.  They are small, 62 x 41mm.

The ST: AW cards are larger, 63 x 88mm, a standard European card size, with a grainy texture which prohibits scanning of the cards.

The SW:XW ship cards are the same size but the upgrade cards slightly smaller at 62 x 41mm.

All the ST:AW ships come with 2 ship cards (a Generic and a Named variant) plus multiple captains and upgrades.  SW:XW comes with usually at least 2 named pilot/ship combinations and then generic ones with varying pilot skill levels. The starter TIE fighters have 3 Unique and 6 Generic included and the X-Wing 2 Unique and 2 Generic.

Looking at the cards for each respective game you can immediately see the stylistic differences.

Firstly the SW:XW cards all display original artwork in a slightly cartoon-esque style that really add to the cards and feel very Star Wars however the images used by Wizkids for the ST:AW cards are still screen captures from movies and series episodes.  Some can be a little low quality and almost blurry.  This has also led to alternate card images when the wrong image has been used.  I prefer the look of the SW:XW cards but the feel of the ST:AW cards, honours even on this score.

In ST:AW you build a fleet using a ship and then assign a Captain and upgrades (in the form of Elite Talents, Crew, Weapons and Secondary Weapons) but in SW:XW each ship card has an in-built pilot so you would select Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing, Mauler Mithel’s TIE Fighter or a X-Wing without a named pilot.  You still have a vast array of upgrades to choose from but its broken up more since fighter ships cant house massive weapons or technology.   Rather than the ‘Technology’ upgrade, it could be an ‘Astromech Droid’ upgrade and instead of a ‘Secondary Weapon’ it may be a ‘Turret’ or a ‘Missiles’.

Aside from the franchise on which the game is based the main difference of note to mention is the Factions within each game.  At the time of release the SW:XW game only had two factions, Rebels and Imperials.  Now a third faction has since been released “Scum and Villainy”, which play with a different style to the current game.  In SW:XW the starter box comes with a balanced force of ships from both Factions, a Rebel X-Wing and two Imperial TIE Fighters.  In ST:AW you receive one ship from each of the three main protagonists in the game; the Romulans, the Klingons and the Federation.  These ships are all from the Star Trek:TNG era but other series, eras and timelines are also available.

ST:AW has a wider variety and much richer selection of playable factions available for the casual player including Federation, Klingon, Romulan, Dominion, Borg, Species 8472, Kazon, Bajoran, Ferengi, Vulcans, Independents & Mirror Universe.  You can mix and match these factions in your fleets or ships at additional cross-faction costs during the fleet build.

For SW:XW you cannot mix the Factions so you are unable to put Imperial pilots on a Rebel ships and you cannot run a fleet including both Rebel & Imperial ships however no such ruling exists in the ST:AW game.  Whilst it is neither endorsed nor denounced a mechanism does exist for some exciting and seriously broken combinations of Captains, Ships and Upgrades in ST:AW.  There is a +1 point cross-factional penalty when building fleets using cards that do not match the Faction of the ship to which they are assigned.  This means that a new player can attend and compete at Organized Play events with just a Starter Box whereas an additional purchase of ships would be required for SW:XW.

For both games each ship (and expansion) release has options for different named Captains and multiple upgrades.  It also allows for a player to use a generic version of that ship rather than the named variant, so a Galaxy Class Starship rather than a USS Enterprise-D.  There has been a bit of a power creep on ST:AW Waves over the last year.  Some ships releases have completely changed the game in terms of power and abilities notably USS Voyager, USS Enterprise-E and the Borg expansions. This has meant that some ships rarely see the light of day in the competitive environment except for the odd upgrade card.  You still see some of the original Starter Set ships in use in builds today in competitions but on the whole SW:XW is a more balanced game power wise with less power “creep”.  You will still see ships that were released in the beginning being used today and being competitive.  For example a Wave 1 ship, the Millennium Falcon, won the Worlds in November and the TIE Swarm is still a popular build in the current meta.

For me it’s a win for ST:AW here, the sheer amount of variance and customizing that can be done with this game is phenomenal and part of its huge appeal for me.  The re-playability is huge and whilst SW:XW challenges on that front I feel it’s the range of available upgrades across the range of Factions that makes ST:AW difficult to beat in this area.

Mechanical Differences

There are also some mechanical differences in how the ships react to certain things in game.  Both games use the same FlightPath mechanics system but there are differences which are as a result of the relative scale of each game.  For example obstructions in space…..in ST:AW ship can pass completely over an obstacle such as planet or asteroid without incurring a penalty but in SW:XW if any part of a ships manoeuvring template touched the obstacle then a roll on an Attack Die must be made to see if your ship receives damage.  This is made even worse when a ship collides with an object in space as two very different things can occur.  Due to SW:XW being a smaller ship game using fighters the impact of a collision with an asteroid would damage the ship amongst other interactions such as loss of firing and loss of Actions.  In ST: AW because the ships are so much larger by comparison they do not suffer the same damaging effects of collisions but do lose their ability to perform Actions for that turn.  Firing is unaffected in ST: AW.

There are also slight differences in the rulers used to measure and manoeuvre ships in each game.  These differences are so small that it’s almost impossible to notice and for casual play it really isn’t an issue at all.  One improvement between SW:XW and ST:AW is the introduction of icons to the Range Finder ruler to remind players that attacks at range 1 grant the Attacker an additional attack die and attacks at range 3 grant the Defender an additional defence die.

Anyone familiar with either franchise will recognise the terms used by each game.  Whilst they may sound different they exist merely to bring the mechanics in line with the terminology of the game, so, a Stress in SW:XW would be equivalent to Auxiliary Power in ST:AW.  Mechanically they perform the same function but the different terms fit the ships in the game.

The basic Planning Phase, Activation Phase, Combat Phase and End Phase process hasn’t changed between the two games.  Both games could be easily learnt by a player of the other game quite quickly.  There are some subtle differences, mainly in the Cloak and Sensor Echo/Barrel Roll Actions.

Some ships in ST:AW can perform the Cloak action.  This involves the ship lowering or “disabling” its shields and disappearing.  Cloaking is a powerful ability especially when used in conjunction with the second new Action, “Sensor Echo” which is the ST:AW equivalent of “Barrel Roll”.  For SW:XW the “Cloaking” mechanic is slightly different.  Once a ship cloaks it is unable to fire until it de-cloaks, it does not de-cloak by firing as in ST:AW.  Once the player chooses to de-cloak he immediately performs a “2” slide or “barrel roll” manoeuvre to the front, left or right.  He then makes his manoeuvre as normal and can perform an action.  This is a nice mechanic and I feel this is a better representation of cloaking than in ST:AW.

As covered earlier, ST:AW introduces the “Sensor Echo” action which almost equates to “Barrel Roll” in SW:XW.  This represents the inherent unknown in attacking a ship under Cloak.  It can appear to not be where you expect it to be.  The biggest difference between the two Actions is that ships in the ST:AW universe can only “Sensor Echo” if they are already cloaked and can choose from the “1” or “2” Fwd template to slide to the side and some SW:XW ships can “Barrel Roll” but ONLY use the “1” Fwd

The “Disabling” mechanic is also new in ST:AW and represents a ship’s crew or upgrades being used (a crew member performing some ability that makes them unavailable) and needing either to be reloaded (in the case of secondary weapons) or have the power diverted back to them (in the case of shields which are disabled during Cloaking Actions).  So when a Cloak is activated the shields divert power to the Cloak which disables them.  Now the ship has no shields so any attacks against it are directly against its Hull.  Once a ship fires, or voluntarily disengages Cloak (at the end of a turn) the shields could be re-enabled at the end of the turn.  The box set includes small token to place over disabled upgrades to remind a player its disabled.  The Shield tokens are two sided, blue side up when Shields are enabled and they get “flipped” to red side up when they are disabled.

Whilst I feel the cloaking mechanics of SW:XW are better the two games are very similar in most ways.  The Disabling introduces a new element to the game about the management of your resources and the Action economy of your ships and fleet/squadron that SW:XW simply doesn’t have.  I can’t really call this one so its honours even.

Summary

I am a self-confessed Trek nerd, always have been and always will be so to me the decision was easy…I loved Star Trek so I bought into that.  I loved the Trek universe, the variety available in terms of factions, I loved replaying the scenarios that came with new ship for famous battles using characters I’d only ever watched on TV or at the cinema.

I genuinely believe that had ST:AW been released first a lot of SW:XW players would play both games.  However as SW:XW was released first and the models for the ST:AW game were of such a low quality by comparison I feel a lot of people chose not to invest.

I would suggest that if you find yourself with money burning a hole in your pocket at your Friendly Local Gaming Store and can afford it I’d highly recommend both for all the reasons I’ve outlined above.  They are both excellent games for different reasons.

Having played both I find it easy to change between the games with very little effort.

If you are looking for a personal opinion as to which you should buy I will honestly say you cannot go wrong with either. Both Starter Sets represent great value and are playable within a very short space of time.  My personal opinion would be to purchase Star Trek: Attack Wing for the greater variation in re-playability and the varied mix of factions.

STAW 5: The Final Pointy-ear aka The Clone Wars (NAGA @ 17-12-2014)

Tonight’s game at NAGA was a three way battle between Dan Ryans Federation, Owen Cartwright’s Federation and myself.  We had decided that we’d play 150pts Faction Pure.  I figured this was a great chance to bring out my Reman Warbirds (from Wave 9) and test them.  Only having two I had to proxy a third so used a Valdore.  My list was as follows:-

150pt Triple Scimitar List v2

Resource: Fleet Captain Independent (Dominion) (5)

Scimitar (38)
Salatrel (3)
FleetCaptain (0)
Invasion Plans (0)
Tactical Officer (3)
Interphase Generator (2)
Polarized Hull Plating (1)
Ship SP: 47

Reman Warbird (36) *Proxy Valdore*
Donatra (4)
Counter Attack (3)
Tactical Officer (3)
Interphase Generator (2)
Ship SP: 48

Reman Warbird (36)
Toreth (4)
Massacre (3)
Bochra (1)
Photon Torpedoes (5)
Ultritium Explosives (1)
Ship SP: 50

Total Build SP: 150

Dan had a pimped out USS Enterprise-E captained by Picard 8, a Galaxy Class captained by a Generic Fed Captain, a USS Reliant captained by Clark Terrell and a USS Defiant captained by Sisko.  Most were loaded with Torpedos.  Owen also had a USS Enterprise-E captained by Picard 8, a USS Voyager captained by Janeway, a Galaxy Class captained by William Riker.  All stacked with Torpedos and crew.

The stage was set, now to find a narrative.

Stardate 17-12-20-14

A civil war has erupted within the Federation, following the discovery of the Reman Picard Clone Shinzon the Federation embarked upon an ambitious plan to clone even more Picards to captain the entire fleet.  Picard clone attacking Picard clone to establish which Clone should lead.  A taskforce that shall be called Team Baldy consisting of Picard Clone #8 on the Sovereign Class USS Enterprise E, Ben Sisko captaining the Defiant class USS Defiant, Clark Terrell aboard the Miranda class USS Reliant and another captain leading a Galaxy class entered the tri-planet system at just after 19-00 hours.  Not long afterwards a second fleet appeared in the same sector.  This was called Team Annoying consisting of Picard Clone #8 on the Sovereign Class USS Enterprise E, Janeway on a Intrepid Class USS Voyager and William Riker aboard a Galaxy Class.

Upon hearing of the many new fake Picard Clones Praetor Shinzon dispatched a fleet of 3 Reman Warbirds led by Salatrel in the Scimitar itself to destroy all evidence of them.  Toreth and Donatra captained the flanking Reman Warbirds.

The two Federation fleets engaged each other around the third planet and in the centre of the sector.  The Romulans in typical Romulan style cloaked and advanced biding their time and waiting for an opportunity to attack. The three Reman Warbirds flanked Team Baldys fleet and quickly closed into the rear arcs of the ships.

Team Baldys Picard Clone #8 in his USS Enterprise E and Ben Sisko in the Defiant arced around the third planetoid to meet the flanking Galaxy Class of Team Annoying captained by William Riker.  In a flurry of fire Rikers ship was torn to pieces by the Photon Torpedos of Team Baldy before the pursuing Remans destroyed Picard Clone #8’s Enterprise E.  Ben Sisko ran and hide behind the planet evading the fire of the huge Romulan vessels.

In the centre of the sector Team Baldys USS Reliant and Galaxy Class advanced to meet Team Annoyings Picard Clone #8’s USS Enterprise E and Janeways USS Voyager.  From close range the combined firepower of the Intrepid and Sovereign class ships was too much for the Reliant which was destroyed in a volley of torpedos.  Honours even so far with each fleet destroying one of its opponents vessels but Team Baldy suffering most having lost two ships.

As Voyager raced across the prows of the oncoming Galaxy class it turned to follow Janeways ship around the second planet.  The trap was sprung and Janeway unleashed a devastating attack with its re-enabled torpedos destroying Team Baldy’s Galaxy Class leaving Siskos Defiant as the sole surviving vessel in that fleet.

Team Annoyings Picard Clone #8 aboard his Enteprise E slowly turned to face his Romulan agressors and found Toreths Reman Warbird lurking in wait.  From almost point blank range with some nifty use of Elite Talents and crew she managed to squeeze four crits and two hits in destroying all the shields and applying a devastating critical to the Enterprise.  Toreth turned to engage the Defiant as the remaining Picard Clone limped away.  Salatrel and Donatra gave chase.

The chase didnt last long as the combined firepower of two Reman Warbirds managed 12 out of 15 hits on the Enterprise.  With their primary mission of destroying the Picard Clones achieved there only remained Janeways Voyager from Team Annoying and Siskos Defiant from Team Baldy.

Toreth sat waiting for Team Baldy’s Defiant to orbit the third planet and come into range.  As Sisko rounded the planet Toreth unleashed a point blank attack at the Cloaked Defiant hitting it six times before coming about and returning to the centre of the sector to join its Romulan comrades.  Team Baldy had been eliminated.

Voyager turned to tackle the three Reman Warbirds head on.  Salatrels Scimitar had been hiding behind the second planet and as Voyager turned it arced across theface of the lead ship.  From this range with a Target Lock acquired Salatrel could hardly miss.  After some dice manipulation the final result was the Scimitar scoring seven direct hits on Voyager and destroying the last remaining Federation ship.

For the glory of the Empire!

Mancave Update 12-12-2014

Its been a few days since the last update and not a great deal has happened.  With the rush of going to Germany this weekend and Christmas approaching I’ve not had much chance to do a great deal.

I submitted my article for the gaming magazine and am waiting to hear when it will be published.

I received all my Wave 9 (2 x Changs Bird-of-Prey, 2 x Scimitar and 2 x ISS Defiant) and Wave 10 (2 x Hideki Fighters, 2 x Regents Warship and 2 x Vidiian Warship) ships for STAW and will be deboxing them over the next few nights.

I popped into my FLGS Escape Games to pick up some card sleeves and spoke to the guys there Tim B and Scott Y.  The place is looking great and they have huge plans for the future.  Lots of things on the horizon there including demo-ing Warzone Resurrection and AvP for PRODOS and running their Star Trek Attack Wing Tournaments in the new year.  Very exciting times ahead and plenty of stock so get down there and support Escape Games if you’re local.

I ordered some Chaos Cultists to build into a Necromunda gang so that needs to be added to my huge, overflowing list of geekery tasks that need to be completed.

So much to do and so little time to do it.

The futures bright…..the futures AvP!

Necromunda Scenery Update

I ordered some second hand Necromunda scenery from a guy down south and it arrived yesterday.  I thought I’d see just how badly it was damaged and whether any of it was salvagable.  I set about putting it together to see what I could make of it and on the whole Im not too unhappy about it.  I’ve got enough to run a game and its fairly sturdy.

There were some delamination issues on some of the gantries and walkways and the tower from the two storey structure in picture #2 is damaged and doesn’t fit within the two storey structure any more.  The top floor of the two storey structure in picture # 2 is ripped where the bulkheads slide (its weakest point) so its only the bulkheads holding this floor together.  I doubt it would support a model.

I’m going to make some new plasticard scenery using these as templates and some new shapes.  I just need to get my hands on more Bulkheads.  Hopefully the random box of stuff at my dads is just that…..more Necromunda scenery.

Just need to get the boys together to run a campaign now.

Mancave Update w/c 01-12-2014

So Mancavers, what have I been upto?  Well being the first weekend after payday and the first weekend in the run up to Christmas not much except sorting stuff out for the kids and Christmas.

I managed to find some awesome Star Wars:X-Wing deal at Chaos Cards so I bought a TIE Bomber, a TIE Interceptor and an A-Wing for £7 each.  Great deal!

I got a steal of a deal on the RiF OP2 Prize Ship – Koroks Assimilated Bird-Of-Prey on EvilBay so picked up another one of them.  Happy Jase!

I also managed to find a great deal on Necromunda and Outlanders.  Got a box set of each arriving today including all the original scenery which will hopefully be used in the Necromunda Midlands Campaign with Mark & Sam and Co.  Im watching some minis on EBay to use for my Redemptionists.  Keeping my fingers crossed.

I managed to grab some time to make up some more Battlesystems sci-fi scenery whilst we watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  Getting there slowly but surely and with any luck steady progress like this should keep me busy until the PRODOS AvP Kickstarter arrives.

I submitted the first article for a new Wargaming Magazine today so with any luck you may be seeing The Hairy Gamers in print on a news stand near you!

So, thats it until the next update.  I’ll try to make sure I do some pictures on the next one for you all.  I’ll make up the Necromunda scenery and take pics of that.  Deal?