Saturday 28 December 2013

"To boldly go where no campaign has gone before..."

I mentioned recently that we'd been playing a bit of Star Trek: Attack Wing, a Wizkids game based on the same design mechanics of the excellent X-Wing from Fantasy Flight. Although broadly similar there are a few significant differences between the games which makes for a significantly different game experience:

  • Instead of being dogfights between individual fighters, this game focuses on battleships and so tends to have less maneuverability but more firepower.
  • Captains (instead of pilots), crew and upgrades are interchangeable between the ships and even the different factions leading to more fleet tailoring (mixing factions is not something we're that keen on, but it is possible).
  • Being Star Trek, there are more factions available than just Rebel/Empire, so currently you can get Federation, Klingon, Romulan and Dominion ships, and Bajoran and Independent crew. The planned releases include the Borg, Kazon, Species 8472 and Vulcans,
  • The games makes more use of scenarios, drawing on the films and TV series' for inspiration, and each ship comes with a new scenario.
  • The miniatures are not in scale with each other and aren't as nicely painted as the X-Wing miniatures (this is probably the major negative of the game).
As this is a Wizkids game there is a heavy emphasis on tournaments with a well supported organised play schedule with limited edition resources, terrain and ships as prizes. This is great for those who like the cut and thrust of tournaments and finely tailored fleets, however for those of us who don't have the time, temperament or money required for preparing for these kind of events it leaves you needing to find a different form of motivation to prevent this game becoming a bit repetitive (which is the only downside of X-Wing).

Hence the campaign...

Pete, Wes and Matt have all acquired the starter set and have swapped between them to begin fleets for the Romulans, Klingons and Federation respectively. Which left me playing catch up and buying ships from the Dominion faction which features a mismatched collection of Cardassian, Jem'hadar and Breen ships. I have to confess that many years ago I stopped watching Deep Space Nine before the Dominion War stuff happened, so I'm not entirely clear on who these people are. I was also a touch disappointed when beginning to search the internet about Dominion tactics to discover that the general consensus was something along the lines of: "the Dominion SUCK!!!"

The Dominion Logo - Interplanetary Branding
This campaign might hurt...

Using the map from Star Trek online, I've used a variation of the Flames of War Firestorm rules for the campaign. Broadly speaking, games are played as and when, with a dice roll to determine who is attacking to capture the enemy territory. The defender has the option of choosing a scenario for the game and if the territory being attacked contains a space station, the scenario is 'Destroy the Space Station' from one of the Klingon ship packs.

Fleets can be created by using any available cards for your own faction (we've ruled that the Bajorans are part of the Federation in case Matt manages to get his hands on the Defiant and Kira Nerys), but once unique cards are used they are committed to a fleet in a particular territory until you specifically withdraw them the next time you use that fleet.

After a battle, if the attacker wins, the capture the attacked territory and the defender must retreat to a neighboring territory. If the defender wins, the attacker goes back to where they came from. If the retreating side cannot move to an adjacent territory, the entire fleet counts as destroyed. Any unique ships, captains or crew destroyed in the game  must roll an attack dice, on a damage result they are injured and cannot be used in the fleet's next engagement, on a critical result, they are gone from the campaign.

And that's pretty much it...

Each faction has a different goal:
  • The Federation, must control all of Federation space and all other space station territories.
  • The Dominion, must control more territory than any two other factions.
  • The Romulans, must control more territory than any two other factions.
  • The Klingons, must deliver the killing blow to an enemy faction.

Yesterday, we played our first games:

Game 1 - Dominon vs Romulan
The Dominion attacked the Romulan home world (you can attack via Nebula or Star Clusters, but count as cut off if you lose) and despite initially out flying the cloaked War Birds, an ill judged suicide attack by a Jem'hadar Attack Ship achieved nothing and left the Dominion severely out-gunned. The Romulans finally got their act together and blew the Dominion ships back to Cardassian space. To add injury to insult, Gul Danar, one of the Cardassian captains was killed.

Imagine this with miniatures...
Game 2 - Federation vs Klingon
With their eyes on the prize the Federation went after space stations in the Alderbaran Sector. Although able to to avoid the guns of the space station, the Federation's flagship was funneled into the powerful phasers of the Chang's Klingon fleet. Jean-Luc Picard was injured in the engagement, but the Enterprise made it to safety.

"Run away!"

Game 3 - Romulan vs Federation
Brimming with confidence the Romulans took advantage of the Federations reversal against the Klingons, crossed the Neutral Zone and attacked the Argelius Sector. A scratched together fleet of little known Galaxy class ships flown by captains of little repute managed to swamp the Romulan fleet and crippled their ships, killing Captain Tomalak in the process.

"You called for reinforcements?"
Game 4 - Klingon vs Dominion
Feeling the call of battle in his blood, Chang took his fleet deep into Breen space and caught the Dominion by surprise. Blasting clean through the hastily assembled fleet they pushed the Dominion forces back into Cardassian space without suffering any losses.

"Cry Havok! And let slip the dogs of war!"
After those games, the situation looks like this:

Klingon Fleet 1 - I.K.S. Kronos One, Chang ("Once more unto the breech"), Kerla
Federation Fleet 1 - U.S.S. Enterprise D, Jean-Luc Picard (injured), Clark Terrell
Federation Fleet 2 - Nobody of Any Importance
Romulan Fleet 1 - Donatra
Romulan Fleet 2 - Mirok, N'Vek
Dominion Fleet 1 - Kraxon, Gul Ranor
Dominion Fleet 2 - Glinn Telle

Overall, it's been a fun start to the campaign. I've discovered that I have to find some way of dealing with cloaked ships if I'm not to be utterly destroyed. Matt's discovered that bog standard ships with unnamed captains can be effective as a swarm. Pete's learned that not going to cloak early can cost him. Wes has discovered that Klingons are filth!

"I'll get you next time you pasty-headed and pointy-eared,
cowardly-cloaking, more uniformly appearing fleets!"

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

I won't get a chance to post this tomorrow, so I'd like to wish everybody out on 'tinterwebz' a happy Christmas (insert other seasonal greeting appropriate to your language, culture or religion as you see fit).

And for those of you opening presents tomorrow with relatives who query why you're still getting toys for Christmas, I'll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from C.S. Lewis as a suitable retort:

"When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the desire to be very grown up."

Have a good one!

Sunday 22 December 2013

Firestorm: Lorraine - No Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy

The last couple of weeks have been busy at work and home, leaving me little time for painting and most of my playing time has been taken up with a few games of Star Trek: Attack Wing (more on that in the coming weeks). With one thing and another, I've only just got round to sorting out the campaign map since our last game of Flames of War.

In brief, I was the Germans fighting Matt's Americans, who for once managed to actually gain the initiative and decided to attack Arrancourt across the Moselle. I decided to surprise him by taking an almost totally infantry force as a counter to his laser tanks. I wanted to give my Nebelwerfers a run out for the first time, and backed up by my PaK40's a borrowed Flak 88 and a shedload of Panzerfaust-toting infantry, my plan was to dig in and blow up the American Armour as it rumbled into view.

Matt dutifully picked an armoured list and all would have been well had we not rolled up the Counter Attack mission. Suddenly, I found my swarms of infantry penned into one quarter of the table needing to get out of their foxholes and engage in a footrace with Stuart tanks in an attempt to secure the undefended objective on my flank. What's more, I had no units suitable for being in reserve behind Matt's positions.

All in all I made a fairly good fist of a bad situation. I managed to repel an assault on my defended flank by two platoons of Shermans and a unit of infantry, and in the process, got myself into a position where just one more platoons destroyed would cause Matt to have t make tests. However, despite sending three platoons of infantry out to secure the other objective, only one and a half made it there. I did manage to secure the objective and kill a few tanks, but time was on Matt's side and a combined assault from Matt's armour finally broke my pioneers and won the game for him.

It was closer than I thought it would be, but I think I was always on to a loser. Matt, didn't rush or make any silly mistakes with vulnerable platoons and so didn't really ever give me a chance to destroy that final platoon, and by the end I was relying on either a very lucky artillery strike or a really unfortunate assault from Matt.

As you can see, this result saw the American open another hole in the German lines and push towards Strasbourg. There is now a gap in the US lines which a German general could exploit to cut off the US spearhead, however, the campaign appears to be tipping in the Americans favour.