Board Game Review: Attack Vector: Tactical
For the gamer that revels in bellowing, "Fire forward lasers!" Ad Astra Games delivers. The Wargamer’s Pete Gade slags starships and gunboats alike with his review of Attack Vector: Tactical.
“What’s our vector, Victor?” Ah, old Airplane jokes never die. Just goes to show how fun vectors can be in the right context.
Likewise, Attack Vector: Tactical sets ship-to-ship space combat on its ear as it sums up motion in multiple axes and churns out the dizzying glides, pivots, and rolls that’ll get a player’s head spinning. This is deep space dogfighting where players jockey for firing positions and attempt to out-finesse their opponents with superior piloting. Second-guessing is the name of the game: the player must not only outguess his opponent, but also his own work at the helm. Movement in outer space goes by its own rules and mastering the ins and outs of them is half the battle. In space, no one can hear you scream, but not so in Attack Vector: Tactical. Players will surely utter a few choice words as they punt key calculations that place their ships woefully out of position. It’s good stuff and it packs as many laughs as an old Zucker brothers flick.
“Hmm, Earth sure got quiet all of a sudden.” That’s essentially the onus behind Attack Vector: Tactical’s background story, which has parallels to a Hollywood writer’s guide for a science fiction program. It’s rich with historical context and features systems maps, world data, colonial politics, campaigns, and scenarios that are cooked into a setting where all contact with the Terran homeworld went dead in 2214. The event came to be known as “The Loss” or “The Whatever” since ships sent to the Sol system to investigate never returned. With home ties severed, the myriad colonies fell into chaos and forged power blocs that jockey for control. It is across this tapestry of alliances and rivalries that players will find themselves commanding the variety of colonial ships included with Attack Vector: Tactical.
The developers state that this “Ten Worlds” setting represents three years of development across various teams that calculated orbital transit energies and actually role-played the various machinations of the colonies as they struggled to cope with “The Loss.” The result is a 48 page background book that touches on contemporary world politics in some eerie ways. While all this is arguably outside the scope of a tactical space combat game, it points directly to a larger system that will be the basis for future releases. There’s a great deal of thought behind this game, and it’s manifested in practically each and every one of the components.
Let’s just say that Ad Astra Games put its money in the right places. The game pieces that get handled the most were designed with frontline use in mind. At the heart of the game are AVID cards, which track everything from facing, thrust, orders, and weapons recharging. These laminated, heavy stock play aids allow gamers to record all manner of notations with a grease pencil or erasable marker on a sheet that’s about the size of a large index card. Packed into margins are numerous cheat sheets that assist in the determination of target visibility, vector subtraction, and weapon tracking. Each ship in play makes use of an AVID card and the game comes with eight of them. It’s a boon that a core component gets such love from a publisher and the result is an aid that helps keep the rulebook where it belongs during gametime: in the box.
The ship counters also show off a degree of special treatment, perhaps because they aren’t counters at all. They’re 3D boxes with the appropriate ship’s aspect printed on each side. They fold together like something out of a child’s arts and crafts book and assemble nicely with a few dabs from a glue stick. Ad Astra suggests that players drop a BB into the boxes before gluing them shut, which helps settle them in place when tilt blocks are used.
Tilt blocks? Yep.