Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Game Review: Star Trek Attack Wing

The (War)bird is on the wing…
By Scott Baughman

Space…The final Frontier – with those now immortal words Capt. James T. Kirk launched a franchise, nay a legend, into the collective pop culture consciousness some 40 years ago. Star Trek isn’t just a TV show or a movie, it’s a part of mankind’s existence now, inspiring everything from cellphones to medical technology.
But there’s one area in which Trek has never excelled – gaming. There are very few good Star Trek video games (a match-up that seems it should be made in heaven) and a good Star Trek RPG or board game is even rarer. But thanks to a little help from the mad scientist game designers over at Fantasy Flight Games the masters of models at WizKids/NECA have decided to try and change that with their latest offering, Star Trek Attack Wing.

One sci-fi-themed miniatures game has been tearing up the hyperspace lanes this year, and that is FFG’s Star Wars X-wing. With a great intellectual property license like Star Wars behind it, X-wing would’ve likely sold well on name – and starship – recognition alone. But it’s got a great, ruleset going for it. And WizKids knows a great ruleset when they see one. The company that has the license for Star Trek miniatures in their HeroClix line, WizKids decided to license the X-wing FlightPath game engine and put capital starships into the system.

The result is a spectacular wargame with a tasteful amount of Star Trek flavor thrown in for good measure. In Star Trek Attack Wing, players pick some iconic Star Trek starships – like the Galaxy-class U.S.S. Enterprise-D and Nu’Daq’s IKC Vor’Cha Klingon Battlcruiser – and then outfit them with a variety of technologies, extra weapons and other tactics to try and dominate the competition. But the greatest ship in the galaxy is no good without a fine crew and captain, and Attack Wing lets you customize the commander (Picard? Kirk? Riker?) and crew for your vessel giving you access to even more special abilities or benefits.
If you’ve ever played any outer space-based miniatures game, you know that handling the three-dimensional aspect of the final frontier has always been a problem. Attack Wing takes a “simpler is better” approach to handling this. If two vessels ever end up passing through each other, they are assumed to be above or below the other as necessary. This isn’t to say that a cunning commander (or, perhaps a cold one) can’t send his soldiers on a suicide assault if he wants to, he just has to use a special order to do so.

Attack Wing takes all the great aspects of X-wing – ease of maneuvers with the FlightPath system, quick range checks with the weapons bar and specialized 8-sided dice for attack and defense – but adds the strategic depth of outfitting your vessel with crew members. A player is faced with a plethora of options when taking actions, but to keep the game from bogging down each player still typically only gets to execute one action per turn. The turn is split up into movement, action and then attack phases. On the attack, a player rolls a number of 8-sided dice equal to his ships attack stat, along with any relevant modifiers. To see if he was able to successfully dodge the incoming fire, the defender also rolls 8-sided dice along with relevant modifiers. All the trappings of Star Trek are in play for the game – photon torpedoes, cloaking devices, phasers, disruptors and near-omniscient sensors are all options for the canny commander. And several of the various pieces of tech or skilled crew give the veteran wargamer that one thing he knows he needs to find success in the clutch – a timely reroll of the dice.


Give Star Trek Attack Wing a try the next time you crave a fast-paced but strategic sic-fi miniatures combat game.