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Doing Battle With Captain Kirk: An Introduction to Star Trek Attack Wing Game from WizKids

October 31, 2017

It’s all my brother’s fault. My brother is a world-class game player. His area of expertise is table top and strategy games. We’ve both played games since we were kids. At just two years apart, we were close enough in age to be interested in many of the same things. And yet we were far enough apart that he was typically the one learning a new game and then teaching it to me.

We played the standard Monopoly, Risk, Stratego, but quickly moved into more involved games like Axis and Allies, Diplomacy (yes, you can play it 2-player, but it’s not the same,) Squad Leader, Lord of the Rings and dozens that I’ve forgotten over the years. We also played role playing games. We had first edition copies of Dungeons & Dragons, Melee, Car Wars and many more.

As we grew up and had our own families, game playing became more infrequent. Well, at least for me. My kids like playing games, but what they really enjoy is Uncle Rick coming over at Thanksgiving and bringing new games. My brother’s family and mine don’t exchange Christmas gifts. But, every Thanksgiving he sends us a new game. Last year it was this table top game called Star Trek Attack Wing (STAW.)

The premise is simply. You are captain of a ship in the Star Trek universe and you are doing battle with another ship in the Star Trek universe. One of the enjoyable aspects of the game is that you use actual models. They are about an inch by an inch and a half. The play area is any 3′ x 3′ open area like a table top.

The $40 starter set that he sent us includes three ships, the U.S.S. Enterprise-D, a Klingon RMB and a Romulan RMB ship. Each ship has certain characteristics: Main or Primary Weapon strength, an evasion rating, a Shield strength and a number of hits for the Hull, and then a set of allowable maneuvers

The game is pretty simple. Use the manuevers to fly your ship close to the enemy ship, use you weapons to attack him. Each hit takes off one Shield. When your Shields are gone, then each hit counts against your Hull. Once he has taken more hits than he has on his Hull, his ship is dead and you win.

WAIT A MINUTE! Star Trek was not about fighting. It’s motto is “seek out new life and new civilizations.” The STAW game better fits the Schlock Mercenary motto of “Explore the galaxy, meet exciting new life forms and then kill them.” This is just the first mental compromise you have to make when playing STAW. There are scenarios that you can play through, but honestly, the game is really about killing the other guy before he kills you.

The militaristic mission statement isn’t the biggest departure from the TV show and movies. Because, the strength of the game is all about outfitting your ships. In addition to the basic characteristics of PW, Evasion, Shields and Hull, each ship also has space for customization. The things you can add to your ships fall into the following catagories:

  • Captains and Admirals: Several men captained the Enterprise over the years, Christopher Pike, James Kirk and Jean-Luc Picard. There are dozens of captains from the Federation and other races
  • Elite Talents: These are special abilities. You know how Kirk always seemed to be able to cheat death? Yeah, there’s a card for that
  • Crew: Riker, Chekov, that anonymous Red Shirt security officer
  • Tech Upgrades: These are things that help your ship. Often they help you ship kill the other ship
  • Weapons Upgrades: Who wants to always use their main phasers? Lots of extra weapons

What separates good players from poor ones, is how they choose to configure the crew and upgrades on their ship. What separates rich players from poor ones, is how much money they are willing to spend to get more ships, captains, crew, tech and weapons upgrades.

Where the game really departs from the theme of the show is that the game allows players to mix and match all of the above from different races, factions and eras. You can put a Klingon captain on your Federation ship, but you can also put your Federation captain on a Romulan ship, or put a Species 8472 crew on the ship of their sworn enemy the Borg. There are certain players who hate the idea of mixing factions. So much so, that game stores, (in the STAW community called Friendly Local Game Stores, or FLGS) often employ house rules limiting the possible combinations. The common restrictions fall into several broad categories:

  • Penalty Pure: Only a single faction, but you can use other faction upgrades by paying a penalty
  • Faction Pure: Only a single faction allowed for your entire fleet
  • Fleet Pure: Similar to Faction Pure. Your entire fleet must be from a single faction
  • Ship Pure: Like Faction Pure, but only for each ship. So, you could have both a Romulan ship with only Romulan upgrades and a Federation ship with only Federation upgrades in your fleet
  • Era Pure: All Captains, Admirals, Crews and ships must be from the same era, Star Trek: Enterpirse (STE), Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) or Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST:TNG)

STAW is marketed by WizKids. And what makes it different than Monopoly, or Risk, or even games like Squad Leader or Dungean & Dragons is that WizKids regularly releases new ships and holds bimonthly Organized Play (OP) events. An OP has a specific mission and includes prizes for the player who wins the OP tournament at their FLGS. Players can also compete in Regional and National tournaments held every year.

I mentioned at the beginning that my involvement in STAW is all my brother’s fault. He gave us that 3-ship starter set last year. Today, I own over 350 ships and the accompanying cards fill nearly a dozen notebooks.

This is the first in a series of posts about Star Trek Attack Wing:
Tuesday: An introduction to Star Trek Attack Wing
Wednesday: Chronological Chaos OP: An Unbeatable Build?
Thursday: Throwback Thursday: Winning the Klingon Civil War OPs with more unbeatable builds
Friday: STAW is DEFINITELY Pay-to-play. . .And players should be grateful it is

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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