Archive for May, 2016

Star Trek: Attack Wing fans rejoice, we’re back with a look at Wave 23 of Wizkid’s take on the flight path system.

This wave is part of the “Classic Movies Storyline” organised play event and features the Romulan bird of prey “I.R.W. Jazkal”, the Klingon K’t’inga battle class cruiser “I.K.S. Amar” and the Federation starship “U.S.S. Montgolfier” – replete with another Wesley Crusher.

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Each ship is standard fare here in terms of what’s included inside, i.e. your movement card, captain, weapons, crew and scenario cards. The Montgolfier of course, comes with Photon Torpedoes, but also comes packed with a “Heavy Graviton Beam” which – when targeting Borgs specifically – grants an additional +3 attack dice on top of the generous 3 it bestows as standard.

The Wesley crew card provides you with means to perform either an action whilst having an auxiliary power token, or giving you a free action listed on your upgrade cards. Adding to the Mongolfier’s ability to get out of tight spots. And further reinforcing this is the Orfil Quinteros Captain card, which allows you some form of regenerative capabilities to the Montgolfier’s hull. As for the ship card itself, the named variant allows switching the focus of target locks as a free action provided the opposing ships are at 1-3 range.

The bundled scenario card concerns Federation forces dealing with the remnants of Dominion forces, and looks to be a standard battle between the two sides, focusing on an orbital weapons platform that the Federation must destroy in order to achieve total victory.

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The second ship, The I.R.W. Jazkal, comprises that which you’d expect of a Romulan ship – a high degree of maneuverability, coupled with some excellent defensive abilities make the Jazkal one tough cookie. To start, the named ship card bestows a rather brilliant defense against captain upgrade cards, so long as a scan token is next to your ship, for in that circumstance, you cannot be targeted, but also, cannot be targeted by any torpedo attacks. The captain upgrade card “Vrax” allows the deployment of the “Reman Bodyguards” card even if you are exceeding your ships restrictions, they themselves affording you an extra +1 to attack and a -1 to enemy ships defense at range 1.

There is also a cloaking device, which is about as predictable as photons on a Federation ship, though this one appears to let you cloak with the absence of any shields, and there are also “Disruptor banks” that serve as this vessels torpedo attack. Also coupled with this expansion is the “Nigil” crew card, which allows you to equip an additional upgrade that has a -1 cost to is SP – with a minimum of 1. All together this makes for a powerful ship, that only gets worse when played with “Destabilized Relations”, that forces a defending ship at range 3 to roll -2 defense dice against your attack, provided there is a ship at range 1-2 of your target ship. Useful for bigger battles, were taking out a larger threat is imperative.

The scenario card “Escape the Minefield”, is a 2 player scenario, that sees a Federation ship, lost in a minefield of cloaked mines, at the mercy of 2 Romulan ships, the Federation ship must escape enemy ships and the minefield to win, and the Romulans must destroy the Federation ship before it can warp to safety. Tense stuff, that combines the elements I enjoyed from the Bajoran lightships scenario card from previous waves, with combat elements. Almost like a submarine battle in space.

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The Klingon ship, I.K.S. Amar is perhaps the most interesting of the ships, namely because it features in “Star Trek: The motion picture”. Albeit a short appearance, as the rogue satellite V’ger reconstitutes the ship into pure information after its volley of a few photon torpedoes. Speaking of Photons, they’re here, and they come with “Stand by torpedoes” which – when disabled – saves your target lock for another attack round of torpedoes, couple this with the Barak captain card, which allows the addition of +1 attack dice when the photon card is discarded. So there’s some nice, punchy abilities that buff an already powerful attack.

Of the few crew cards included with this expansion, comes the “Klingon Helmsman”, which allows extra maneuverability, the “Klingon Navigator” which allows for the player to ignore their chosen maneuver dial and perform any maneuver on the maneuver dial with a speed of 3 or less. We also have, “Klingon Tactical Officer”, which allows the expenditure of evade tokens to convert a normal damage into a critical hit, which becomes really nasty if playing as the named variant of the Amar, which allows for evade tokens to be placed beside your ship if you miss an attack. To cap it off the scenario card entitled “Investigate the Unknown” sees a solo player investigating an entity in the form of an enormous cloud, naturally, being Klingon you want to fire some Photons in there…to investigate them? Yes, that’s exactly what the card states, and it sounds goofy and fun and completely reminiscent of the movie. Solo scenarios like this keep the game fresh for players who can’t always attend regular gaming sessions.

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To summarise, I think there’s definite worth in Wave 23, especially for Klingon players, as the Amar really does afford you some quite nasty abilities, coupled with some improved maneuverability. It’s one that – if fully equipped – I’d be wary of approaching. The Montgolfier is a solid ship, with both the maneuverability and strength I commonly associate with Federation ships, if played conservatively, it could be quite a hard feat to take down, especially with the Captain’s regenerative abilities. And finally, the Jazkal, a little above the standard bird of prey, with high maneuverability and defensive capabilities, this ship has the potential to be the thorn in any player’s side, especially with its ability to ignore any captain upgrades

Once again, Wizkids have made a compelling wave of ships that are essential to the Star Trek: Attack Wing player, especially if they want to have the edge in their respective faction.

Top stuff.

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Words by Joe Crouch, pictures courtesy of StarTrek.Com.  Star Trek: Attack Wing and its many expanions are available now from Wizkids Games; and you can follow Joe on Twitter.

Tak, Tested

Posted: May 16, 2016 in Ancient, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Gaming

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Tak was, until recently, a fictional, abstract strategy game depicted in The Wise Man’s Fear, the second book of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle, the other series that fantasy fans are desperately willing the author to finish, someday…please.

Well now, while you wait for The Doors Of Stone you can sit down in a tavern with your friends and get to grips with a real world version with Tak, A Beautiful Game, produced by the author in collaboration with Cheapass Games. While the game was described loosely in the book, Rothfuss initially refused an offer to develop the game, believing that it wouldn’t be possible to recreate what was in his head, and also be actually fun to play. However, his mind was changed on being presented with the prototype of the game, which impressed him with it’s elegance and simplicity while still maintaining strategic depth.

Physical versions of the game (there are multiple variations, from a basic set of pieces up to a super fancy board and game box made of bloodwood,) are available from the Kickstarter, which is still open at time of writing, but an early version of the rules is available to download..

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My improvised Tak set: LEGO bricks for the regular pieces and Gandalf and The Balrog from a The Lord of the Rings boardgame as capstones.

Tak is the Kingkiller Chronicle equivalent of Chess, or Go, and has been developed with the intent to convey the same sense of history of being a traditional game, with optional and variant rules, and a distinct flavour to games, depending on who is playing (the decorum of court players vs the cut and thrust of tavern Tak). The fact that the rules are already freely available is a smart move by the designers, as they are now effectively common property, with many players crafting their own Tak sets, which has very quickly given the game some borrowed legitimacy, allowing it to stand alongside truly ancient games as if it really were just as old.

The game itself helps with that, too. The rules are simple, you’re placing or moving pieces (called stones) to try and make a road across the board, while blocking the other guy,a bit like noughts and crosses, though I prefer to compare it to Blockbusters.

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Bob Holness is my Spirit Animal.

But things start to really hot up the first time someone stacks his stone on top of another, as these stacks can then be moved, depositing stones across the board as they go in a move similar to one of those brilliant moments in draughts where somebody skips over multiple pieces. The addition of placing blocking pieces called walls, or the single, all-powerful capstone, makes for a game that is easy to learn, yet is possessed of massive depth.

This would be a great game to play with friends at a party, or take with you to a bar, particularly if you have to teach them all the rules, as when learning, games seem to go very quickly. Though as players become more experienced and confident they can hold each other in a tense deadlock for much longer periods.

The rules and a printable board for Tak are available here [http://cheapass.com/games/tak], and a selection of lavish physical products are available on the Kickstarter. [https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cheapassgames/tak-a-beautiful-game]


Article by Spike Direction.  You can follow Spike on Twitter @BigBeat1985.

Joe Crouch, Ian Harmer and Brad Harmer-Barnes present another episode of Suppressing-Fire.Com’s hit show “Brick Fury”.  This time they’re taking a look at the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mouser Mayhem” set from Wizkids.

But that’s not all!  Your favourite Heroclix YouTube hosts have even recorded a full playthrough if you want to see the mechanics in more detail!

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Osprey Publishing continue their successful run of ‘blue cover’ wargame rulebooks with En Garde! a swashbuckling skirmish game based on Renaissance-era combat, covering settings ranging from The English Civil war, through The Thirty Years War, Spanish conquests in the Americas, and pretty much anything else from the period; though the thing that excited me the most was the somewhat-historical exploits of The Three Musketeers, who perfectly encapsulate the spirit of these rules.

The nuts and bolts of this game are carried over fairly intact from an earlier release, Ronin, which focused on skirmish combat in feudal Japan a la Seven Samurai. What En Garde! does is take the basics of these rules and blow them wide open in terms of potential settings in which players could utilise them, with army lists covering the various historical eras mentioned above; a preposterously wide range of times places and characters, only made wider by appendices giving rough rules for magic and fantastical characters!

Of course though, what I tried out was the The Three (Four?) Musketeers, and those were the miniatures I assembled to playtest this, including Cardinal Richelieu, The Man In The Iron Mask, and a load of pirates I already had which would serve for canon fodder henchmen.

The game plays pretty smoothly once you’ve got the rules down. Moving and shooting are combined into one phase, followed by close combat. Shooting is dispensed with  fairly briefly; the only part that puzzled me was a need to turn your models and worry about their facing, with what appears to be no major discernible effect in game.  There’s no bonus for attacking a guy from behind or anything.  This isn’t that usual for skirmish level games I’ve played in the past, and in the end my opponent and I quietly dropped it, for expedience. If we were doing it wrong, then I hope the developer forgives me.

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Shooting is, oddly, folded into the movement phase and given fairly short shrift, decided by one roll.  If you succeed, then you hit and wound your target, and there’s nothing they can do about it. I suppose this is actually more true to life than most games, but in a different set of rules such a thing might break the game a bit. Here, guns are quite rare, and reloading is awkward, so the streamlined rules are pretty much spot on in terms of balance.

Of course the reason for this is the focus is on hand-to-hand fighting, there are loads of weapon possibilities, with different bonuses, but swords give you the most options in a duel.

There was a very satisfying moment while playtesting, where the game completely changed.  After a good deal of maneuvering and dancing around each other, The Musketeers closed in with a knot of pirates and got stuck into a great big ruck. The game requires you to more or less ‘pair off’ belligerents on opposing sides into a succession of one on one fights, to be resolved one at a time, conjuring images of old fashioned, Errol Flynn style duels. Perfect.

This continues as you actually resolve the fights, with players using their characters skills to amass counters, and assigning them to attack or defense in secret, to attempt to out-manoeuvre the opponent. Spending attack and defense tokens to allow your character to lunge, parry, riposte or feint, which either give you attack or defense bonuses, If you get past your foe’s guard, then you inflict a wound, and combat continues until both fighters have spent all their tokens. This is a great mechanic, and absolutely key to the game’s appeal for me.  It’s at this point that everything suddenly zooms in, and the player has to think tactically for each fight, rather than moving his models up to the enemy’s, and then just rolling a bunch of dice and crossing his fingers – though you will still be doing that to an extent of course.

The focus on relatively small warbands is pretty relevant to my interests, and lends itself to really investing in a small group of characters over a campaign (or simply a continuing series of games). While En Garde! does cater to this, the campaign section is a tad brief and feels like mere lip service. I’d have liked to see something with more than just rules for leveling up characters between games, such as income, and gaining new weapons and abilities, more in the vein of Frostgrave, or my old favourite skirmish level game, Legends Of The Old West. Of course, one can always do that oneself , and the stupidly broad scope and level of possibility offered by this game leave me with little room to complain.
For fans of this level of wargame, who haven’t played Ronin, En Garde! offers something a bit different, very engaging, and stuffed with potential uses, pretty whatever your historical (or fantastical) area of interest, these rules could be put to use for it.

In fact, I’ve just had an idea.

Lightsabers….


Review by Spike Direction.  En Garde! is available now from Osprey Games; and you can follow Spike on Twitter.