Ahhhh, after nearly four months since it started (Feels longer) The final step in the "Collective" campaign is upon me/us.
As per the usual format for STAW OP events, the days play consists of 3 rounds.
This month, the battle is themed around the Battle of Sector 001, as featured in "Star Trek: First Contact", as well as the other Battle for Sector 001 that featured in "Best of Both Worlds - Part 2" (nice going WizKids, way to show you understand the source material).
The Fleet Build.
According to the scenario pack, the "90+30" fleet build should be the done thing, however, due to some sort of complete fuck up by the UK distributor of STAW products, there were no bricks of random booster packs left, so therefore for this event we went with a simple "120 point fleet" build.
Once again, I played my tried and tested Federation "torpedo spam" fleet.
Following on from Month #2, the Cube has managed to reach Earth, and the allied fleets of both players meet it as it makes its final attack run on the home of the United Federation of Planets.
In a similar play style to Month #2, players are expected to work together to stop the Cube from leaving the play area by battering it for as much damage as it they possibly can before either both players fleets get junked, or before time runs out.
However, in a twist to last months immobile "pillbox" Cube, this months Cube moves and can deliver devastating attacks on both players fleets, however, this time round the Cube can be destroyed, simply by inflicting 25 damage points on it.
The Game does not end there though, because when that final point of damage is scored, the Cube shoots out a hidden Sphere, which moves in a straight line as fast as it can towards the farthest table edge, and also, should this Sphere exit the play area before the players manage to inflict 15 damage to it, both players automatically lose the game.
One final point...as both the Cube AND the Sphere take damage, they become even more difficult to destroy, as their evade number increases by 2 for each 5 damage they take.
The scenario winner is decided by who inflicted the final point of damage to both the cube and the sphere.
The 3 rounds i played were as follows:-
Federation & Independent/Borg/Klingon Mashup (Loss by Campaign points - See later)
Federation & Borg/Dominion/Romulan Mashup (Loss by Tiebreaker - See later)
Federation & Federation (Win)
Final place - 4th (of 7)
Overall place in campaign - 5th (of 9)
Ok, first and foremost I will say this...Mashups should not be allowed...it makes no sense in the Star Trek universe to have Admiral Kirk supporting Khan in a Borg Soong type ship backed up by Kronos One, Or captain Picard in charge of a Borg scout ship whilst Weyoun and some romulans back him up in a Borg tactical Cube.
A "second edition" rulebook really needs to get STAW back on track as a miniatures game that has a Star Trek feel to it, instead of an exersize in "Mix & Match".
Some of the combos I saw today were quite intriguing and very well thought out, but it made the game feel less "Star Trek" and more "Warhammer 40k 2nd Edition". (As in, it was combinations of overpowered mix & match "wargear", which were never intended to be used together, that decided the game, rather than skill and good tactics)
That said, the game itself was quite enjoyable. At various points during all three games did the action become somewhat intense as the Cube began to resist damage, and then the frantic chase and attacking that followed once it ejected the Sphere.
It was good that finally a game in this campaign seemed to properly encourage teamwork. Month #2 did this to some degree but not as much as this month, as both players had to actively co-ordinate their fleets to ensure that maximum damage got done once the Cube/Sphere started moving.
One of the first things that became apparent was that there really was no need whatsoever to do the usual "secret" movement, being as both players were working together, it made no sense at all to hide your fleet manoeuvres from each other, in addition, although it was well within everyones power to use crew/equipment to disable/stun your opponents ships, this would have been completely detrimental on the whole, the thought of doing so never even entered my mind when I built my fleet, and seemingly everyone else was thinking along the same lines, good.
The fatal flaw in this scenario did not come from the gameplay restrictions, but instead from the victory point award system....
Game #1 was a total military victory for me, as I destroyed the cube, however, in the end I lost, because even though I destroyed the Cube, inflicted heavy damage on the Sphere and ended the game with my fleet completely intact, I lost because I had a lower campaign score against an opponent who had placed in the top 2 for the previous 2 months....Thats bollocks!, especially as he had lost one ship from his fleet.
Game #2 ended in a draw, I destroyed the Cube (again) and my opponent destroyed the Sphere, with both of us having not lost any ships and both of us tied for campaign points, we ended up settling the match via rolling for "Battlestations"...I got 1, they got 2....That is no way to decide a tournament game, may as well have just saved time and rolled for battlestations at the start and saved ourselves the bother of playing.
Game #3 was a decisive victory for me, as I destroyed both the Cube and the Sphere.
It would have been a much better idea to have tracked which player had inflicted the most damage on the Cube/Sphere and then used that as a reference for deciding win/draw/loss, rather than by external campaign points or via random chance, as far as I am concerned, I won all 3 games fair and square, but once again due to STAW grey area rules, I was cheated, although not as badly as I was during month #1.
Overall Thoughts on "The Collective".
Not good I'm afraid, with 2 out of 3 "chapters" being horrendously unbalanced, coupled with rules problems stemming from the fact that the basic rulebook included in the box game set is in sore need of updating, as newer ships/cards are "tacking on" new game rules which don't fully mesh with the "standard" rules, and then finally a points based campaign system which is totally unforgiving, "The Collective" was a good idea but very very poorly executed.
Final score - 4/10
The follow up campaign, called "Resistance is Futile" makes up the remaining 3 months of the 6 month "Borg" themed Storyline/Sales promotion.
I have as yet to decide if I am going to bother with it.