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.

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