Attack Force Review by David Lent
As a reviewer, I derive great pleasure from writing reviews of good games. It’s so much easier and so much more fun to write a positive review than a negative one. I hate writing reviews of poor games. However, it’s the most important thing a reviewer can do, because it’s the most effective way to let gamers know not to waste their money on a poor game. Some of these poor games inexplicably command a high price on the used market. TSR Attack Force is one such poor game…
TSR Attack Force reminds me of the final Death Star battle scene in the first Star Wars movie. Essentially, the Arcturians (rebels) have to stop the Empire’s “Novaship”, which looks like a Death Star and can destroy entire planets. Just like the Death Star in Star Wars, it has a small vulnerable point that’s only a few meters across. It is the Arcturian’s mission to fire a photo torpedo into the vulnerable point and destroy the “Novaship.” No, that doesn’t sound anything like the Death Star battle in Star Wars. Does it? Don’t worry; Darth Vader isn’t in this game. Instead, this game has someone called Vaj Korsen (Vaj the Conqueror).
The map for Attack Force looks ok and has a picture of the Novaship, along with the combat result tables. The Novaship has battery spaces, hull spaces, launchers (where Empire ships launch from), a sensor pod and tunnels. The tunnels are the tracks the batteries can use to move around the ship. Attack Force’s rulebook states that the hull counter’s number is supposed to correspond to a hull number on the map. It’s a shame the hull hexes do not have a number printed on them.
Attack Force’s counters represent Arcturian and Empire ships along with batteries and hull counters. The biggest problem here is that each side does NOT have its own colored counters. The Arcturians have a separate color for each wave, but the problem here is that one wave is colored green, which is the same color as the Empire’s fighters. In addition, the Empire’s batteries have different colors depending on the type of battery. I’m not colorblind, but the excessive use of colors for identification was annoying. I suspect a colorblind person would have great difficulty trying to play this game.
The game is setup by the Empire player randomly drawing 14 batteries from a cup and placing them in the battery spaces on the map. The Arcturian player then randomly determines which hull space will be the one containing the vulnerable point and places them on the map. The vulnerable point’s counter will have an explosion on the back. Last, the Arcturian player determines which of his waves will enter on the first turn.
Sequence of Play:
1) The Arcturian player chooses a map edge and places this turn’s flight on it if he has any that have not entered yet
2) The Arcturian player moves his ships and attacks any targets except hull hexes
3) The Empire player either removes 3 hull hexes or draws one fighter from his cup for each launcher hex that is not destroyed
4) The Empire player moves his units and attacks
5) The Arcturian player may attack any hull marker in the same space as one of his starfighters
6) Start a new turn if the Novaship isn’t destroyed and the Arcturian player still has units
The Arcturian player can only win if the Novaship is destroyed. The ship can only be destroyed by scoring a hit on the hull marker containing the explosion on the back of the counter.
This game operates on the premise that for a significant portion of the game, the Empire will be guessing where the vulnerable point is and will have to make the difficult decision of choosing either to reveal hull counters or launch enemy fighters. In reality, the Empire doesn’t have to reveal any hull counters and just concentrate on destroying Arcturian units that are located on a hull counter in step 4. These are super easy to destroy, because this game does not have line of site and does not require you to fire at the closest enemy unit. There is no way for the Arcturian player to improve the defense of the units on top of hull counters. Placing other Arcturian fighter between that unit and other enemy units doesn’t help since there is no line of site or requirement to shoot at the closest unit. The Arcturians can’t stack multiple units together on a hull hex to increase the likelihood that one will survive since stacking is not allowed. Hull counters cannot be attacked until step 5 and the Arcturian fighter has to sit on its hex during step 4 so the Empire knows what to shoot at.
The only part of this game that I though was interesting was the fact that batteries can travel across the surface of the Novaship through tunnels. Unfortunately, they can’t move and shoot on the same turn though, so that negates some of their effectiveness.
I didn’t enjoy this game and don’t recommend it. The game feels like it was rushed and it needs some serious balancing. I wonder if some type of simple line of site rule could have salvaged this game?
Buy your own copy here.
View the components in the unboxing video below: