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Subject: Building Scenarios in Attack Wing rss

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David Griffin
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There is a problem building scenarios in Attack Wing that is unique to this game as far as I can tell. In wargames, typically you construct scenarios based on the historical conditions to mimic historical outcomes. The goal is to have fun, but also to understand those historical events in a way that mere study doesn't achieve.

If you are studying the battleship Bismarck in WWII, you don't play a game with the Bismarck, the Iowa, and the Hood on one side and the Yamato and Mushashi on the other. Interesting as that would be, you generally want to get an understanding of the historical events, so you create the scenarios which actually happened (or could have happened) in the actual history.

Previous Star Trek games were not mimicking an historical event (despite what the Galaxy Quest aliens might think). Still they did often mimic the events seen on screen as if they were historical events. You ask yourself if you could have defeated Khan in the Reliant if YOU were the captain of the Enterprise. That question becomes moot if instead of the Enterprise you use a Borg Sphere and your captain is Baldy himself.

But even if you want to try to create scenarios in Attack Wing right out of the show, it's hard to do because in this game typically you only bring the ships from one side into the game. It's fine to set up a complete build from both sides which are fairly balanced and nicely "historical" between the Federation and the Dominion, but what if your opponent has no Dominion ships or doesn't want to play Dominion? What if he doesn't have the OP ship needed to fill the build? Other previous Star Trek ship combat games gave you all the ships (as counters) from initial purchase so that was never an issue.

So we know that there is much fun to be had in the way Attack Wing does work -- in the discovery of a great and effective build, in the playing of that build, in the strategy of what build to play for a given event and so on.

The question is, is there fun to be had in occasional scenarios where the "right" people and upgrades are on a ship or ships and the right ships are represented in scenarios that seek to portray "accurately" the battles we saw on screen, even though the particular talents of the ships and crew on the cards don't really result in a truly effective build and even though some loaning of ships might be needed to allow both sides to have the necessary ships and cards?
 
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Sure. I figure as long as both sides are constrained by the scenario into using sub-optimal cards, it all balances out, right?

Since I'm a TO and have the luxury of playing in other events for funsies instead of cutthroat for the prize, this is actually going to be my Wolf 359 build:

U.S.S Enterprise-D (28)
William T. Riker (4)
Elizabeth Shelby (2)
Data (3)
Worf (3)
Ship SP: 40

Miranda Class (USS Saratoga)(18)
Benjamin Sisko (4)
Red Shirt (Jennifer Sisko)(4)
Ship SP: 26

Excelsior Class (USS Hood)(24)
Federation Captain (0)
Ship SP: 24

Total Build SP: 90
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Les Marshall
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You're trying to put Easter eggs on a Christmas tree. The things just don't work together.

This game cannot be contorted into some kind of battle "simulator" for a couple of reasons.

FIRST, it isn't granular enough. The maneuver dials are cool and all but, they represent a very limited (and predictable) range of movement capability. The weapons ranges and effectiveness are abstracted into narrow range bands and numbers of dice. These elements alone make decisions fairly simplistic and the outcomes more reliant on dice than anything else.

The ship cards, particularly the generic ones, have very limited upgrade bars. You CANNOT run an Enterprise with Scotty, Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, McCoy and Spock so you can never simulate even one episode completely.

Compare the game to Starfleet Battles. In SFB, you can move anywhere from 0 to 30 hexes making multiple facing changes in a turn. Shields are divided into directions and can be dropped, damaged or reinforced in each section. Weapons mounts also have fire "arcs" which may be 60, 120, 180, 240 or even 360 degrees. There is a big difference in effective rates of fire, range and damage between photons, disruptors, plasma torpedoes and phsasers. Ships can have "legendary" officers including captains, weapons, engineers, science ,etc. and may have green, veteran or elite crews. There is even a rule for computer operated ships. You also allocate available ships power each turn into movement, weapons and shields.

The decision points of SFB are vastly more varied and choices about when to turn and when to fire have an enormous impact on the likely effectiveness of any dice.

SECOND, the universe that is Star Trek isn't very susceptible to simulation. This is largely due to the writing. In the original series, ships fought at warp speed while in the movies, ships dropped out of warp to maneuver and fight. Distances (and speeds) at which the various weapons systems functioned were not given, even in relation to one another. Maneuver, even at sub light, didn't obey Newtonian mechanics. The speed of movement from 1/4 to full impulse wasn't disclosed. The relative strength of shields versus weapons was never more than hinted at. The distances over which scanners and sensors operated were also not ever defined.

In short, how can you simulate something so ill defined and virtually schizophrenic?

Attack Wing is a light weight conflict game which is only notionally related to the Star Trek universe. Enjoy it for what it is but, accept it's limits.

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David Griffin
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Ah, but I'm not trying to turn it into a simulation. If a game can be said to be accurate for Star Trek, I'd nominate SFB or Federation Commander for the original show (if they weren't so rule heavy).

Plus as you say the show was inconsistent -- why was the Enterprise firing what SFB decided were proximity photons when the lines in the show were Phasers, and why were they not firing actual phasers? Why did Scotty indicate at one point that they couldn't fire phasers through their own shields ... etc... etc.

Plus, this show didn't exactly run their battles through a simulation to see if the outcome was plausible. Why do shields seem to protect some times and others the ship gets one shotted?

I accept all that but it doesn't mean you can't play scenarios that attempt to have ships and cards that are plausible (at least mostly) for the particular scenario. And besides, in a way Attack Wing is uniquely suited to simulate the show because it is theatric and dramatic with plenty of weird outcomes due to card combinations.

You ARE forced to take sub-optimal choices though. You want Picard but maybe you take Kirk instead or Captain Spock. You want Picard on Voyager but maybe you take Janeway instead, using Scotty (refit) (who is alive in the next generation) or even the Vulcan Aux Control Room (cross faction but from the Vulcans which is at worst a misdemeanor) to control the aux powers.

And the bonus is you'd get to play captains and crew and upgrades that you never play because they are thematic but not as powerful synergistically than the ones you would rather play.

There is certainly a difference between an ACTUAL historical outcome and some writer's fevered imagination translated to TV. But treating the show as historical is a way of jumping into the TV show and taking your shot at the center seat. It's the same reason that role playing is fun. It's nice to read about Conan or Elric of Melnibone or Aragorn, but it's more fun to actually play a character like that in a game and dictate his or her actions. You may win a game with a Borg ships with Picard, but I would claim your bragging rights are minimal.
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David Griffin
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PanicAtTheSisko wrote:
Sure. I figure as long as both sides are constrained by the scenario into using sub-optimal cards, it all balances out, right?

Since I'm a TO and have the luxury of playing in other events for funsies instead of cutthroat for the prize, this is actually going to be my Wolf 359 build:

U.S.S Enterprise-D (28)
William T. Riker (4)
Elizabeth Shelby (2)
Data (3)
Worf (3)
Ship SP: 40

Miranda Class (USS Saratoga)(18)
Benjamin Sisko (4)
Red Shirt (Jennifer Sisko)(4)
Ship SP: 26

Excelsior Class (USS Hood)(24)
Federation Captain (0)
Ship SP: 24

Total Build SP: 90


It almost HAS to be for fun, or the power builder players' brains would explode with all the combos they are missing out on.
 
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Larry DeStefano
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Bloomingburg
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I have done some scn for STAW and haven't had any problems. Plus the game comes with dozens of pre generated one to use. I have found the game plays better for me and the scn when we stay faction pure...Each race kinda had there own feel. So if you wanna play the tos enterprise loaded up go ahead as long as the opposition has the same number of points to work with you should be okay. The harder aspect I think would be the mission itself and what the parameters for winning is defined as...that may be the harder point to balance out right.
 
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Tom Gabel
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The only reasons you wouldn't be able to play thematic scenarios in Attack Wing is if you din't have an opponent who wants to play them with you.

Sure, you're necessarily taking some cards in combinations that are tactically suboptimal for the sake of thematic gaming, but if snything I think that would enhance the feeling of recreating the show, not hinder it, because you're now more focused on the characters your playing, whereas competitive min/max builds tend to disregard character considerations and focus in each card's effect.

Regarding ships' upgrade bar limitations, I would recommend doing away with crew limitations, at the very least. It's not apparent that those are particularly important for balancing, especially in a faction/era pure environment, and it's a casual game anyways, so who's to stop you?
 
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