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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

D&D Attack Wing

I decided, on a whim, to pick up the new D&D Attack Wing (http://wizkidsgames.com/dnd/) when it came out last month.

I just discovered a fan site for this game: http://dndaw.com/ which is good because there isn't a lot out there for it as of now.

I wrote this initially on TMP, but this is an attempt to expand on my initial thoughts:

"I've collected and played the X-Wing game for almost a year now, and I think it's a fun, light game that offers a great evening of entertainment with my friends.

All things considered, however, I am a Fantasy guy at heart, and so buying the D&D Attack Wing was SUCH an impulse buy when I saw it at the FLGS yesterday. I have heard a lot of people knock the Star Trek Attack Wing, commenting on model quality and game balance – but…DRAGONS. I bought the starter set.

The model quality is ace. I like that the cards are all "normal" sized except the damage cards, which are half-sized like XWing. The spells and upgrades look fun, the addition of additional flight levels (flying, grounded, and the in-between "swooping") is neat. There are many different Area of Affect types (cones, lines, bursts), as well as Melee and Ranged attacks.

Another neat thing is the concept of Duration Tokens, which allow you to use a special ability, and then have a mechanism to track when it is available for use again. Armor is like Shields in X-Wing, but better (they stick around unless "broken" somehow); the Range Ruler has 4 range bands instead of 3, and there are movement sticks out to 6 Straight. Yes, Barrel Rolls are included :)"

My birthday has come and gone (I am now the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything"...) and I managed to get the entire Wave 1 for this game. The model quality is decent - the larger models are impressive, while the Troops are on the slightly underwhelming end of the scale - but they're good enough to use out of the box.

My initial attempts to get this game on the table were foiled, as my friends wanted to still play X-Wing. I acquiesced, BUT the red dragon still managed to make a cameo appearance!

Finally, however, good things come to those who wait. We randomly picked a scenario and got the Hobgoblins escorting an armored wagon through brigand country. It played very well, with my only complaint being that flying units and ground units can pass through each other easily, but still the game will not allow bases to overlap. The red dragon at the end positioned himself quite cleverly behind my wagon, preventing my own troops from getting close enough to push it (and thus win the game) - my opponent was very savvy in his move, but I should have been able to still get close enough. Maybe they were cowed by his close proximity overhead?

Regardless, ground units were fun and a neat addition to an already good game system.

Armor is neat. It makes scary units (like red dragons) continue to be scary units...though, in this picture, my green dragon took a fistful of fire from the ballista and got wiped out in one hit...

After the first game, we chose another random scenario, this time pulling the invasion of the master wraith's lair. The clutter you see at the center of the board is "terrain", obstacles that were dropped from 2 feet above the playing surface, per the scenario rules, to give some rubble to the battlefield. More on this later...but wraiths ignoring terrain was very cool (for me, the wraiths!).

Initially I discovered that ground units can be at such a disadvantage versus fliers...as the red dragon raced past my wraith and I couldn't swing...until I realized that my wraiths COULD fly (gee, maybe the flight stand they come with could have been a clue) because it is listed on their turn dials. After that, the game went differently. In this case, I got his wizard down to 1 hit point, and he got my master wraith also down to 1 hp...and we ended the game because it was getting late. We both enjoyed the game, and we're planning on not using the campaign artifacts until they are "unlocked" via the campaign system. I look forward to more games.

So...ground units do appear, at first use, to be underwhelming.  http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1265560/troops-seem-weak has a good thread on this, the key takeaways I got being:
* The Elves have the Reassemble upgrade, which would allow them to reform out of the area of effect after the dragon moved into firing range, and the Hobgoblins have Scatter, which is also very effective against these types of attacks too.
*Mage Armor on the Harper Elves

Being stuck without a way to engage a flying unit is a scary prospect, but anything with Ranged can be on the defensive, while ground units can help accomplish scenario objectives or deal with other ground units. It's a real concern, but this merely mimics real life - this is why we invented flying things, after all!

One quote from Andrew Parks, apparently one of the WizKids employees who frequents BBG: "One advantage of the Fly Spell is that it makes it harder for a dragon to blow past you and then slap you with its tail. When you're on the ground, a dragon who lands on top of you can just keep going, but not so when you're in the air. This becomes especially important when the higher level dragons are released, especially those who charge."

The REAL issue, however, seems to be terrain. As any miniature gamer knows, terrain can make or break a game, but D&DAW seems to have really glossed over it.

 http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1264137/terrain is a fan's attempt at correcting this, and I'm going to copy it here for completion's sake, with my own unique modifications [in short, this is the rules I plan on trying]. I don't really like removing terrain from play, so I've cleaned some of this up:

+1 Def Die if using Ranged Attacks in or through it (if attacking out, defenders get one, and if receiving a ranged attack, can benefit from cover)
If a Unit has more than 1 Range band of woods between it and another they can not see each other.

Area Effect Attacks against Units in the Wood will grant the +1 Def dice.

Small Based Ground Units can enter woods with no Issue.
Anything larger must take an Exhaustion Token if it enters via ground movement. [something about this doesn't sit well with me...]
If the Unit already has an Exhaustion Token it Stops at the edge of the Woods and can not enter.

Flyers may not Swoop in Woods.
Flyers may not Land in Woods unless their base is Small. 
*(something about rolling damage dice, and getting an exhaustion token or damage on a hit, or maybe crit only, seems more appropriate for harsh terrain like this..and big units? I'd think a giant would be much less hindered than a human. Maybe light woods vs heavy woods?)
Defender on a Hill gets +1 Def Die from Swoops.
+1 Def die if the ranged attack goes through a hill to get to Defender on other side.
+1 Def die if Defender is on the hill and Attacker did not start on it [higher ground].
+1 Attack die if Defender began and ended its turn below the attacking unit.
Ground only.

Walls, Trenches, and other Fortified Defenses
With Dragons and other Flyers I can see a lip for troops to duck into when the flyer came by being common in both.

+1 Def Die plus one Auto Dodge.
Only the +1 Def Die against Area attacks

Walls have 0 Agility, 2-4 Armor based on type, 4-6 Health based on type.
When destroyed 2 inches to either side will become Rubble, Ground units moving through take a Exhaustion Token.

Earth: 1 Armor 6 Health
Wooden: 2 Armor 4 Health
Stone: 3 Armor 5 Health
Magically Re-Enforced Stone Wall with Wards: 4 Armor 6 Health

Units on that Section of Wall when it falls, lose all Action Tokens, take 3 Attack Dice Damage.

If a model's base overlaps a solid structure (one that there would be no way he could go through, like a wall or building), back the unit up until it is no longer overlapping, then roll 1 attack die and suffer damage as normal.

Rough Ground (Rubble, destroyed buildings, broken rocks, other hard to move through stuff.)
If you have an Exhaustion Token when entering an area that gives one, or if the maneuver you are performing would give you one, you must stop at the edge of the area.

When a Ground Unit enters this type of Terrain it gets an Exhaustion Token.

Ground unit stops when it touches it and gets exhaustion token. Get exhaustion token if moving through it

Pond/Lake:Ground units can't move through

Like Rubble they should be hard to Enter. Receive Exhaustion Token when entering.
Like Hills, Swooping and Ground attacks should be effected.
Defender on a Hill gets +1 Def Die from Swoops.
+1 Def die if Defender is on the hill and Attacker did not start on it.
(Ground only).
Mountains stop LOS, so if the Mountain is between you and your target you can not target it.
An angle may exist for you to place a Burst marker and then the Attack hit.

I may come up with more...but this is good for now.

Again, let me pitch Heroic Maps at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?manufacturers_id=5371
I also found these neat terrain items: http://cigarboxbattlestore.bigcartel.com/product/supplemental-terrain-3x3-130

 Anyone who has read any of my blog at all knows that storage is always a key concern for me. After doing some browsing, I came up with this Dewalt storage box:
This is primarily because they stack:
I have filled about half of the capacity of one tray with Wave 1. I'll get more as needed.

So this is it for now. I enjoyed this game, and am looking forward to playing much more, and yes, I plan on buying the future waves. Thanks for now!

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