Star Trek Attack Wing is sadly a game that is past its prime. It's harder to find copies of the game, stocks of new product are in much shorter quantities and releases are much more infrequent. Does this mean the game is not good? Not by a long shot! Star Trek Attack Wing, is a fantastic game and one I'm personally a huge fan of. Created using the Flightpath Manoeuvre System (licensed by Fantasy Flight Games) the game allows you to take control of starships from the Star Trek Universe and take them into space battles against your opponent. Whether it be small one on one ship engagements, scenario or objective based missions or huge fleet battles there is a tonne of variety when playing this game. Why in brief do I like it so much; Wizkids hit the nail with this one putting together a game that works mechanically very well, it's true to the source material in this case the Star Trek IP, it's a very welcoming game that's easy to follow/play/teach, it has a great deal of strategic and tactical layers to the game and huge variety in the options available. Simply put I like Star Trek Attack Wing because it's an excellent game.
Now it's not without its flaws too, in this article I am going to talk about the Star Trek Attack Wing line in general not a particular pack. I'll very briefly go over the gameplay, talk about high and low points of its lifecycle and discuss a variety of things about this huge game. Let's get into it.
The Game's History
As mentioned previously Wizkids took the Flightpath system developed by Fantasy Flight used in other games such as Star Wars X-Wing / D&D Attack Wing. This time adding the Star Trek license. For myself this was a match made in heaven. I'm a huge fan of Star Wars but the original Star Trek's up to 2005 were the biggest geeky love of mine. Having them take some of my favourite aspects from the show, namely starship combat, then port that over to the tabletop was a huge win for me. The game allows you to take control of a myriad of ships from all across the shows and movies. Allowing you to choose from a plethora of different factions from within Star Trek Cannon. The roster initially at launch was slim maybe 4-5 of the most notable factions and small selection of ships. The original base box containing three of the most recognisable ships (Federation Galaxy Class, Romulan Warbird and Klingon Vor'cha Battlecruiser). Alongside this was a bunch of individual ships packs which were great additions but pricey so you could only pick up a few at a time. Over the years from its launch back in 2013 there was a continuous stream of individual ship packs that released to retail in waves, adding new ships/cards and factions to play.
A few years into its life there was a plethora of product in the market, it grew exponentially. This was its prime for me. As the years passed steadily the game was overshadowed by its more famous cousin the X-wing Miniatures (Star Wars) line, where you instead of take control of starfighters in space dogfights. Star Wars with a more prominent and mainstream audience became the more successful of the two in my view. As someone who had both, I still even to this day have a bigger draw to Star Trek license. Over time the Star Trek Attack Wing products became less and less available and releases began to slow down. Eventually Wizkids tried something different offering unpainted ship packs without cards, I bought a few but I don't think this invigorated the game enough to bring it to the forefront of the spotlight, sadly this was too late in my opinion. Then when all hope had faded, to quote lord of the rings, the Second Edition of the game landed. For the most part fundamentally the same just with minor game tweaks and a line of new re-painted models from the first run with much improved paint schemes. It was also followed by Faction Pack boxes which brought 4 ship boxes dedicated to particular factions with a host of game components, new cards tokens etc, these were terrific value sets that still to today are released very sporadically. Sadly, I think this product style was released far too late into the game's life. This could have been a game changer at its peak but the infrequently dropped packs served only to keep the game alive not invigorate or bring in new players into it. Finally in more recent years the game has been re-vitalised by coming back as Star Trek Alliance a more campaign style way of playing the game. Although I got three copies of it at launch, I still haven't to date given Alliance the time it deserves. Its reception was good though selling out everywhere and now has two more Alliance products slated for a future release.
The key thing to take note here is the game is now 10 years old and even after all this time it's still going strong. Even if not at the forefront of the hobby it lives on.
In Star Trek Attack Wing you take control of various starships from the TV show and Movies. Your ship can be customised in a variety of ways for each game so no two sessions should play exactly the same. You can add a myriad of upgrades such as Crew including the main cast from the shows, weapon upgrades to improve your attacks, command upgrades linked to your captain, technical upgrades and so much more. You will equip your ship for battle. Then with a myriad of scenery lay out the battlefield. Add Planets, asteroids and other phenomenon. Will you play a straight up fight or some mission based scenario the choice is yours, once you have built your force spending however many points you decide for the game, the fun begins. Movement for your ship is controlled by a dial, the dial has all the potential moves you can make. They come in three colours White is the standard move, Red adds an auxiliary token to your ship preventing you from taking an action after moving, green removes this token. You tend to find the red manoeuvres are more risky and green very short simple moves. Once you have moved you can take one action and there is a host of options from locking on to a target improving your attack rolls or allowing you to use powerful weapon upgrades. Evade gives you more defence, battle stations changes results on the die faces to successes that would normally be ignored and many more. Once movement is complete then begins the combat. You roll attack dice in an effort to deal enough damage to destroy your opponent, they roll green in an effort to evade you assault. That concludes the simple look at the game play, there is much more to the title such as captain skill levels determining player order, critical hits doing devastating damage, upgrade effects, collisions with scenery or other vessels and so on. It's not a complicated game to learn but there is substantial depth and content within it.
What Could Have Been Better
There are many things that hurt this game since its inception, it's a shame they took the path for many of these as I think it really damaged the success of the title. First off the price at launch, a single ship was an expensive purchase (Although comparable to other games) the lack of further big boxed products beyond the base copy made it an expensive game to keep up to date with. The ships were released in waves, three ship boosters each wave which was a great way to keep the game relevant with regular product. However as someone who wanted it all, I fell behind on the product releases very early on. The new ships were releasing much faster than I could financially keep up. As well as the fact popular ships were a nightmare to get a copy of, the Sovereign initially as a good example. It's a shame the Faction Packs were not an idea earlier on in the games lifecycle I think it would have really helped. Unnecessary components was another thing, I ended up with so many tokens I didn't require and some they made seemed completely unnecessary. I think this could have been executed better and more game content provided in its place. There was an incredibly questionable design choice with the original series Kirk enterprise miniature one of the figurehead ships no less. A miniature it was, the model was tiny in comparison to others from the line, it garnered the nickname tinyprise online, whoever approved this model made a shockingly poor decision. To this date you can still find it online easy, it was that bad. Worse yet they continued to sell it years later after all the initial negative reception to it, what's worse was that Micro Machines Enterprise roughly the size this one should be proportionally, produced in the 90's was much higher quality than what we paid a substantial price for. So there were some questionable quality choices. With all the above though what I feel really hurt the game especially for me was - exclusive products.
Like X-Wing there was a tournament scene for this game, Promotional and Gaming events. If you were really good and had enough time to sink into the game you could go to these events play and be rewarded with exclusive promotional game content. This came in the form of cards, tokens, new mechanics and game additions and most critically promotional ships not available at retail. For me as someone who did not have the time to be going to such events to compete, nor did I have interest in doing so, as I played the game recreationally with family, this was a bitter blow. Wizkids essentially made a whole plethora of products for the game inaccessible to a large portion of the games player base, including people like myself who had supported them from launch. I believe this was a detrimental decision. To get these promotional items the only way was to attend such events or pay astronomical prices on ebay etc. In my personal opinion what they should have done is made them timed exclusives to the winners of the tournaments and release to the general customer base after some time. I felt quite unhappy in this practice as someone who bought the game from the start they effectively cut me off from owning everything including expansions with additional game content. To add salt to the wound some of the prizes were recognisable well known ships and characters from the show that people loved. All in all, a bad move as it reduced income from product they could have sold in stores, upset fans and hurt the games perception in my opinion.
The Good & Final Conclusion
Star Trek Attack Wing is a great game fundamentally even bearing in mind all the above. There are many good reasons to play and own it. For me it nearly fills an entire display cabinet in my room alone, a testament to its ultimate success. Its grounded on a solid game system, embellished with a well known and loved franchise. It's easy to master, teach, learn and has great replayability & depth. The variety in ships, cards and scenarios is noteworthy. Each game is different, build and create a myriad of combinations to test against other players. Learn to play the game with many different styles and approaches by outfitting different weaponry, crew, captains and more. Play small fast engagements, medium objective based scenarios or play out full on fleet engagements. It does a terrific job of bringing this legendary intellectual property to the table with great strategic and tactical play. With all its flaws this title earns its place in my collection. Whether you want to try out the title or delve into the next iteration of the game Alliance, Star Trek Attack Wing is a title that deserves to be played. I'd recommend delving in with A Star Trek Alliance Starter / 2nd Edition Starter Pack or some Faction Packs. These are the best value products if you can find them.