Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Star Trek: Attack Wing - A Second Opinion

Greetings everyone!

Today I would like to talk to you all about a game I picked up for my awesome wife as a Christmas present!

That game is of course Star Trek: Attack Wing.

Ok so I will try and break this down into different categories to help make this as good a review as possible:

What is it?
Star Trek: Attack Wing (STAW) is a game developed by Wizkids Games, and to take their own synopsis from their site:
Star Trek: Attack Wing is a tactical space combat HeroClix miniatures game, featuring collectible pre-painted ships from the Star Trek Universe.

Utilizing the FlightPath™ maneuver system, command your fleet in space combat & customize your ship with a Captain, crew, weapons and tech upgrades.

What does this actually mean?
Well if like me you are not familiar with the FlightPath manoeuvre system, all you'll get is that it's a miniatures game, pre-painted and set in the Star Trek universe.

After playing the game however, it starts to make a bit more sense.
- Note: possibly not a good idea of Wizkids to use a term that only makes sense if you are familiar with the term. Would a more 'newbie friendly' term have been better to describe the game?

How are the models?
Ok so it's a miniatures game, but what about the models? Are they good? Are they to scale? We know they are pre painted, but to what standard?

Well this is both one of the games strong points and weak points.

Good: The models feel good in your hands, they are quite chunky with lots of detail. Also while I believe the scale is off, it is clear that to an extent they have tried to get a rough scale going on:

As you can see, some ships are larger than others. Are they the right amount larger than others? I don't think so, but this is not something that really bothers me.

Compared to other traditional wargames, by being pre painted it means that you can just pop them right out of the packet and be ready to go! For people like my wife who already have about 10+ Malifaux models in a painting queue this is a big plus!

Bad: while there is a lot of detail in these models, the pre painting does not make it pop at all.

As you can see from this photo, the starter set with enough for three players to play a small game, it looks like what most models do after being painted with only a base coat .

For me this is far from a problem. A quick ink wash with highlighting will bring that right out!

However for others who either do not feel confident with their painting, or perhaps don't have experience painting, this might be a very daunting experience.

How does it play?
Of course I can't talk about the game without discussing gameplay.

Now as mentioned briefly before, I was not familiar with the Manoeuvre system before, but I'm sure those who have played games like X-Wing will be very familiar with it.

In short, you decide on a 'manoeuvre' in secret, for example, banking to the right, moving straight ahead, or doing an about turn.

Both players then reveal their choices and move using templates simultaneously. This is quite fun if only because while you can plan for where the opponent is at the start of the turn, you have no idea where they will be after you move (which is when you try and shoot them).

Different moves have different difficulties, doing some of the more difficult moves (like moving a great distance, or a hard turn) put you into Auxiliary Power, this means you can't use special abilities or anymore 'difficult' moves, until of course you then do an 'easy' move to put you back into normal power.

But how does this all play out?
In the few games we played this became a game of Cat & Mouse (or should I say 'Cat & Cat') where we spent a good number of turns trying to get into range, while putting the enemy into our firing arc while staying out of theirs (I guess this would be described as 'flanking').

Of course this was an artificial game, played in a vacuum if you will as we only had 1 ship each, the moment you bring in more ships the more firing arcs you will have and the sooner combat will begin.

Once combat initiated it was brutal, with both of us trying to throw everything we had at the enemy, releasing our attack abilities and strongest weapons to try and do as much damage as quickly as possible before high tailing it out of there and hoping that you do more damage than them.

I won't lie, it was super fun, and playing the Wrath of Kharn soundtrack alongside it just made the game feel even more epic!

How easy is it to learn?
This I feel is a very important factor, and coming from a rule set as say Malifaux or most GW games where years after picking up the game I'm still struggling with lots of the rules this was a breath of fresh air.

The rules were very well structured and intuitive.

There were a couple of rules that I felt could have been made more obvious (like discarding evasive manoeuvre counters at the end of turn) but once we found that one sentence in the rules we were able to quickly integrate that.

The biggest problem with the learning curve is the terribly written QuickStart rules however.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very grateful to them for including the QuickStart rules, and using these to begin with got my head around the Manoeuvre system, however there is so much left out of the QuickStart rules that the QS game compared to Full Rules are almost incomparable.

Originally this part was going to be called 'Should you buy it?' Before I realised that I hate that question.

Anyway, in conclusion, the game is not perfect. Like I said the rules while being intuitive, it does feel like a steep leap from QuickStart to Full Rules, I think they could have included a few more advanced rules in QuickStart just to ease the transition. Also the pre-paint jobs do need a bit of work to look 'nice', but once you know the rules and have inked and highlighted these models both of these problems are irrelevant.

I think the ultimate question should be, was it fun? And yes it was!
Do I want to play it again? Yes I do!

Is it better or worse than X-Wing?
I think ultimately that comes down to what you prefer, Star Wars or Star Trek. Personally I prefer Star Trek and the thought of having a Klingon fleet really geeks me out!

So there we have it!

Oh and one last thing:

Why wouldn't you want to play a game where the above is a WiP for terrain?

Now if they would only hurry up and release rules for Borg, it would be perfect! :)

Until next time, stay safe and I'll see you Cryptside.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

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