Monday, 1 September 2014

Gaming Review:- Star Trek Attack Wing OP "The Collective" - Month 1

So, finally got round to playing the Star Trek Attack Wing Organised Play event "The Collective - Month 1", somewhat later than what everybody else has.

In what is a 3 part organised play event, similar to last years "Dominion War" event, which I missed due to not playing the game at the time, the idea, other than to sell the recently released Borg related products, is that the Borg have suddenly appeared in the Star Trek Universe and are up to all sorts of shennanigans etc.

The Fleet Build

Each player constructs a fleet up to 90 squadron points, within the limitations of the ships/personnel selected. In addition, players each receive a "blind" boost pack, containing one of the following ships:-

  • Federation Saber class ship /U.S.S Yeager
  • Klingon D7 battle cruiser/IKS B'Moth
  • Romulan Bird of Prey/IRW Vorta Vor
  • Independent Maquis Raider/Gavroche
  • Dominion Jem'Hadar Attack ship/ 3rd wing attack ship.
Players will then use the contents of this booster to make a unit to the value of 30 SP and use it as part of their fleet.

The Scenario

Players set up along opposite edges, facing each other, then the Borg cube token is placed in the middle of the play area. the turn proceeds as normal (players may NOT attack the Cube at any time, even if able) however at the end of the turn, three ships within range 2 of the cube run the risk of having upgrades "assimilated" by it.
During the turn, players may spend a ships action to add a "resist" token, which allows them to either ignore or choose the upgrade (crew member, weapon or item) which the Borg take, by rolling an attack dice and the outcome decided by what is rolled. Otherwise, upgrades are taken by means of "random" selection (it is left up to players to decide how this is done, personally, I put my upgrade cards in deck protectors, shuffled them and then allowed my opponent to choose a face down card, I found this worked better than the "roll a dice" method that some people were using).
Once a ship has exhausted all of its available upgrades, the Captain card is taken, and once that has gone, the Cube instead makes an attack on the captainless ship with 8 attack dice.

After the Cube has "assimilated", it then moves towards the players fleets, in a direction randomly determined based on whether there are any ships to move towards, or whether its movement would take it "off-board" (the cube will not move in a direction where there are no ships, and cannot move in a direction which will end with its movement taking it out of the play area).

The game ends when one or both players have no ships remaining on the board.


As per tournament dictats, I played 3 games over the course of the day:-

Round 1 - Federation (me) V Dominion/Klingon (loss)
Round 2 - Federation (me) V Borg/Dominion (win)
Round 3 - Federation (me) V Federation/Klingon (loss)

Final placing - 6th.

Although the idea must have seemed like a cool one when the scenario was being devised, basically as a homage to the TNG episode "Q Who", it quickly becomes apparent that this scenario has several extremely big flaws.

1. The cube is either irrelevant to play, or dominates play.

The inability of players to attack or incapacitate the Cube whenever it comes near them seriously hampers the objective of basically annihilating each other. Although players may "resist" their upgrades being taken, the effectiveness of the ability to resist is negligible.
The Cubes random movement can also end with a Cube "following" a player around the board, rather unfairly picking on them, especially so when it crashes into ships as its movement makes it land on top of them and forces them to take damage.

2. The 30 point ships are basically worthless.
The best tactic I worked out (I tried 3 different strategies over the course of the day) was to use the 30 point ship as a lure, splitting it off from the "main" fleet so that when the Cube made its "random" movement, there was a chance it would go off in the direction of that ship and not attack the main fleet. Of course, this opened up the possibility that your main fleet would be at a disadvantage due to being one ship down, however with the attack values of the smaller ships being quite low, they were little more than fire support anyway.
When building the 30 point "special" fleet you were pretty much limited to choosing either the "named" captain and maybe one or two upgrades, or choosing the "unnamed captain" and upgrades that would compliment each other. the definite winner of the "Blind Booster" ship category goes to the Klingon ship, which when taken as unnamed with the named captain, allowed for a ship that had a decent level of firepower, a cloaking device and a named captain that allowed you to disable enemy crew members.

3. "Prize" items offer horrendously unbalanced advantages for this scenario.
The ability to boost firepower and take free actions makes or breaks this scenario, and being as that most of these boosts come courtesy of tournament prize items, if you don't have them, or don't have the money to purchase them from Ebay, you're fucked.
To be honest, this is something that seems to be a common problem in any STAW game, as the "general" release ships and cards, as well as participation freebies, offer very little by way of advantage over "Prize" items, to the point at which sometimes it basically boils down to "if you weren't playing this game 18 months ago, its not worth bothering with organised play".

Overall Thoughts
The 90 point fleet restriction, plus having limited access to being able to buy stuff, really hampered my ability to make a coherent and competitive fleet, especially against prize item using opponents. Although I was quite pleased that I got the Saber class ship as my blind, the point and build restriction on that meant that I couldn't use it to its full potential as a torpedo boat.
The added frustration of the invincible Cube interfering with play and not being able to do much about it pretty much meant that I was fucked before I had even bothered rolling any dice, so in essence, the game boiled down to "whoever has spent the most money wins".
The participation freebie is quite good though, with the counter attack dice allowing you to substitute one defence dice for it, and possibly inflict damage on your opponent when they attack you.
In short though, this scenario sucked, and wasn't the slightest bit enjoyable to participate in whatsoever.

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