Saturday, 4 July 2015

Round Perdition's Flame - My First Games Of Star Trek Attack Wing

Explosions in the Mutara Nebula

I've written a couple of times before about the Star Trek RPG I occasionally run.  This is a very Next Gen style affair, all about the soul and diplomacy and resolving problems peacefully.  We only do violent starship-style exchanges for end of season affairs - much like the Next Gen TV show did, in fact.

Despite that, sometimes I have an itch for spaceship combat that I like to scratch.  One of the first wargames I played when I got back into the hobby as an adult was the Babylon 5 starship combat game, and last year I got the Star Fleet version of those rules.  (I've still to give them a try - I must get someone onboard to try them out sometimes soon)

Aaron introduced this to me a decade ago, when my Warhammer urge was lying fallow.
However, another Star Trek game is the focus of today's post.  A game I've walked past on Static's shelves for ages but never tried.  A game whose figures I've seen and glanced at as RPG props but always passed up. A game part of a family of several other popular games but of which I have no experience of.

I speak of Star Trek: Attack Wing.

Star Trek: Attack Wing is a non-randomised prepainted miniatures game.  The starter set, pictured above, comes with three figures and everything you need to get started.  Figures are sold singly in blister packs which contains the model but also various cards and props to facilitate play.

What has sometimes put me off trying this game out is that the figures seem comparatively expensive at first glance - Static's website shows it's about £12 per figure at retail.  However, normal games are only 1 to 3 figures a pop and each figure comes with a wad of full colour cards.  These cards can be used between different ships - they represent captains, crew, equipment and orders which can modift ships in your fleet.  Overall, a £30 starter set doesn't actually look that bad.

Some of the cards that come with the Enterprise-E.
As ever with these kinds of games, picking up a starter set can seem a bit pointless without a buddy to play with.  Thankfully, Sister Superior had recently made a new friend who was not only a current player, he was very happy to offer to teach us both the rules.

The story of how she met this man is an amusing aside.  While I was at Free RPG Day, she was at a political event in Glasgow.  Without any buddies, she sought out someone to talk to and found a gent dressed as Scottish social media comedian Angry Salmond.  This man, Kenny, turned out to not only be a nice lad but also a Star Trek: Attack Wing player, a former Warhammer player and a formerly commended at the Golden Daemon painting competition.  So, somehow, she managed to use her Geekdar to find an appropriate buddy in the middle of  a political rally!
"In an independent Scotland, all twenty sided dice will have no 1s and two 20s. #sexysocialism"
Anyway, Kenny invited us both over this week after work to try the game out.  Sister Superior was unable to attend in the end but I did and played two games: a quick one Fed ship vs one Fed ship effort with Kenny to show me the rules, then a 3 person game between Dominion, Klingons and Romulans where each party had two ships.

The start of the three person game: I've got the Romulan craft in the center of the photos.

The core engine proved very simple and all the props sped game play up enormously with no need to look over tables or charts.  Custom eight sided dice, red for attack and green for defence, are rolled when ships are fighting.    Movement is carried out with templates that allow for straight, slight banks and hard turns: different ships have access to different movement so some ships prove more nimble than others.

The actual act of movement uses movement dials - you rotate the disc to show the correct action for this turn, place it face down, then reveal them one at a time using an initiative order based on your captains.  This means you have to guess your opponents moves and sometimes get it wrong - my first game ended with both ships crashing into each other with all guns blazing, both choosing to advance when they thought the other would scarper.

Some combat dials from the game: the top and left ones are "face down", the right and bottom ones are "face up".

As well as different movement options, some ships find different movement options easier and harder.  Some can't reverse; some can only reverse by tapping out their power and losing the option for fancy actions; some can reverse freely.  Same with turns, with some ships able to pull off 180 degree loops while others have to make do with gentle glides.

I found myself pleasantly surprised at the game in play.  Neither game was a George win - the first saw both ships explode at the same time, the second was ended due to time and saw the Dominion/Cardassians skulking away together with the Romulans and Klingons each down a ship.  Despite that, it never felt like the dice were being overly cruel or that my inexperience meant I was missing something stupid - though Kenny definitely played his second game smart, using his two ships in unison.

I'd definitely play this again and the starter kit is a likely purchase for the near future.  Kenny has offered another such meet-up and asked if Sister Superior can join us next time.  (I am surprised at this, as when I told him I had never seen Firefly I thought I was going to get ejected out the window.)  Since he doesn't live far away I may well take him up on that.

I'm going to close this blog post with a starship but not Star Trek or Call to Arms related thing.  It's the first page of an article from White Dwarf issue 225, way back in the mists of time.  (Well, the late 90s.)  This is the preview of a starship combat based game which would eventually become Battlefleet Gothic.  I remember being so excited reading this the first time around - not just a rules article but a whole mini-game with punch-out tokens to get you going.  All you needed were a couple of order dice from Epic 40,000 and you were away

I never actually got into Battlefleet Gothic proper - it came out right as I drifted away from the hobby.  Still, this sample game did seem terribly cool at the time.

I keep meaning to write a post about the "Silver Age" of Games Workshop and White Dwarf - the late 90s, 40K 3rd edition era where the magazine genuinely seemed to feature new game content rather than just being a giant advert/catalogue.  This is a prime example, which is not only a substantive hobby article but also an open playtesting experience of the time that GW haven't shown interest in for a long time.

GW just don't give rules away anymore.  And they definitely don't put the rules to their games for free in White Dwarf or their website.

...Er, Right?

The first issue I've bought in years.

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