D&D Attack Wing celebrates its one-year anniversary this month. As an ardent fan of the game, I thought I’d write up a quick “where are we now” post in honor of this first milestone.
Turnout, or, Who’s Playing DDAW?
I can’t say entirely because my experience is only with the player base at two local stores, but it seems that turnout for this game is pretty small. We have about 4 regular and another 4 semi-regular players at our store and the typical turnout for tournaments seems to be about 6. From what I gather from the boards over at Board Game Geek and from the turnout for the big Nationals and Worlds events this year, that is pretty much the standard everywhere.
At least two stores I’ve been to in other parts of my home state (VA) they’ve discounted their entire stock because the game never took off there. I’m hopeful that the game can continue to build momentum but this is definitely a concern.
Good grief there have been plenty of releases. For a while there, the release schedule had three new creatures a month, plus a tournament figure. Wow. Oh, and four premium figures of massive dragons. This has given players a great assortment of creatures and upgrades to choose from and hasn’t felt overwhelming. I accept that overwhelming for me is different than some other players because this is currently the only miniatures game I’m actively supporting.
The release schedule has slowed down recently and I’m not sure if that will be a continuing trend or if the pace will pick back up after the holiday season. Either way, I’m happy because even one new figure a month is enough to keep interest in the game.
I will admit to being a little frustrated with the tournament structure of exclusive figures. Several good aligned dragons, some excellent monsters, and some important upgrades have been introduced into the game only through Limited Edition figures that can only be obtained through tournament play. Even though the retail release options have still been great and competitive, it is frustrating to think that players in an area with no official tournament support are basically forced to turn to ebay to pick up these additions to the game. I’m not really a fan of this.
This is a source of never-ending joy and frustration for me. Overall, I am a huge fan of the creatures released for the game. Everything from the Frost Giant in wave one to the more recent Pegasus have been interesting and fun to add to the game experience.
On the one hand, there are so many fantastic options to choose from that I’m very excited to keep trying out new Legions, making up new ideas, and combining creatures in interesting ways. In the course of this first year, it seems that game balance has remained strong and most creatures are competitive if played well. A few options have come to dominate the metagame but that is almost always going to happen in an environment of competition. It still seems that Vakka is a winner, Adamantine Lance is indispensable, Mirror Image is the defensive spell to have, and the Harpy, Wyvern, and Gargoyle rarely hit the table. I haven’t seen a Harpy played since release and the Wyvern/Gargoyle have so consistently underperformed that they just get overlooked except in certain specific scenarios.
The other hand, my frustration hand, primarily stems from two gripes. One is really petty. Basically, I’m sad that the releases for this game are so tied into the other existing miniatures lines and the “event” driven releases of D&D in general. I’d love to see a few other creatures make the game. There are some excellent choices out there in the D&D bestiary just waiting to be brought into Attack Wing. There are also some obvious voids in the game that need more figures in them. More undead please. And wouldn’t the Couatl make a great addition to the game?
My second frustration though has to do with the fact that the Level assigned to creatures seems to be skewed heavily in favor of Evil and has some weird problems. To illustrate this, look no further than the fact that the game contains a Harpy and a Frost Giant at 14, both a Chimera and a Nightmare at Level 15, and a Mind Flayer at 18, but the Solar Angel is Level 14. The Solar Angel can’t even use the most powerful divine spells available in the game – which incidentally – Drizzt can. Because he’s two levels higher than the Solar. Consider that the vast majority of Good figures are level 12 or below. There are currently only four Good Aligned (non-premium) figures higher than level 12. There are 9 Evil Aligned figures higher than level 12. Once we get the Vrock and the Nalfashnee in play, there will be 11.
These gripes aside though, it is remarkable that the game retains a strong balance at this point and that the creatures from the first wave and the Starter Set are still competitive and interesting to play against creatures from the most recent waves. Lord Maximilian, Claugyiliamatar, Balagos, Eshaedra, and Nymmestra still make regular appearances in games played at our local store. Of those, Balagos and Lord Maximilian also seem to still get plenty of press in the posts I see over at BGG and from the tournament community.
So, a hearty “Well Done” to the design team for keeping the game in a nice sweet spot for this long.
Other than my misgivings about Limited Edition figures only available through tournaments, I can otherwise give a glowing endorsement of the OP program so far. The Tyranny of Dragons scenarios were all great fun. The Elemental Evil games were too. The scenarios often turned out to be more fun to play than I expected they would be and the variety of game types has kept regular play from ever feeling stale. It also provides good incentive to use creatures you might not choose first in a straightforward beatdown fight.
I hope that the OP program continues to be strong and exciting and that we have another good year to look forward to more unique scenarios.
Overall, this has been a fun year. I’ve had some great games with good people. The League I started in my local store has been great (and I’m already planning the second league). The game has grown in interesting ways and has maintained an exceptional level of balance.
Happy Anniversary D&D Attack Wing and here’s hoping for a good year to come!