We start with what might be the second most iconic of all Star Trek ships; the USS Enterprise, NCC-0701-D for the Starter Set. Since this is the first article, I'll go into a bit more depth on a bunch of stuff than in future articles, because some concepts need to be fleshed out more.
4 Attack - Attacking in STAW is generally better than defending. An attack die has a 1/2 chance of successfully hitting, compared to a defence die, which only has a 3/8 chance of avoiding the hit. As such, you can generally assume that gaining or losing 1 attack will be better than gaining or losing 1 defence. Since most games are won by blowing your opponent out of the sky, this is probably the most important stat of all.
With an Attack Power of 4, the Enterprise-D is able to fight with most opponents on somewhat even ground. There's not too many important ships that have a lower attack power than 4, but you'll still be significantly outgunned by something at attack power 5 or 6.
An important note here is also how much better attack power is from a single source in Attack Wing. Each time you attack, your opponent gets to defend. Seems simple, but this means that if you attack with a single high-powered source, you'll negate some of the points your opponent spends on their defensive abilities. As such, an attack power of 6 is often more than twice as powerful as two sources attacking with a power of 3. The only advantage of spreading your attack power out amongst many ships if that you can be more likely to stay properly engaged with your opponent, and you can increase how much bonus damage you do from being at short range.
1 Agility - Star Trek Attack Wing ships generally come with 0, 1, or 2 Agility. Having an Agility of 1 when you don't have cloak is almost as effective as 0 Agility, so if you get shot, you're pretty much just taking it. You can try to stretch this effectiveness out by getting shot at even more, but that's not a great prospect, as then you're probably just dead.
5 Hull + 4 Shields - There is one thing that is unquestionable, the D can take quite a beating. However, with such a low Agility, it takes a lot less firepower to take this out than Romulan Khazara.
So, from a pure stats-angle, the D seems pretty unimpressive. This is not helped by its movement dial. Yes, this is the ship that turns like a cow. Almost all of its turns are wide banks. In order to avoid gaining auxiliary tokens, you'd need to spend 4 turns just to turn around. To do any kind of a sharp turn, it needs to use a Red manoeuvre, and even then it's locked in at a 3 Turn.
(If you like circling a planet all day like in the show, the Enterprise-D is the ship for you!)
But the D has two unique abilities that can really tip the balance.
1. It can reverse (as a red manoeuvre). It's a costly manoeuvre, but it's a powerful one. More than anything, Attack Wing is about being in the right position. If you can set it up so you force your opponent to "bump" and lose their action, while also being out of their firing arc, you'll be finely rewarded for your efforts. The D has two separate Reverse dial movements that are functionally identical. 90% of the time you need to back up, any back-up move will work, so I really wish they was another option for it, but sadly there is not.
2. It can fire in a 360° arc, but at 1 less attack, and "only" at range 1-2. This is probably the most valuable ability of the Enterprise-D. With this ability, you can play a whole different game where you can shoot at an opponent turn after turn, while moving in such a way that makes the awkward movement dial less restricting. This ability is a lot stronger in smaller games, and would be even stronger on a more manoeuvrable ship, but is still always something to keep in mind.
The Enterprise-D comes with four excellent abilities; Evade, Target Lock, Scan, and Battlestations. I think every ship in the game can Target Lock (note from future self; "The Romulan Scout & Science vessels can't."), and nearly all can Evade, so that really just leaves two serious contenders - Scan and Battlestations.
Having lots of a single dice type is very good, since it lets you overpower anything with a similar low or "average" value. Reducing an opponent's defence dice by 1 with a Scan action is generally not as effective as simply rolling more attack dice.
You can effectively accomplish this with the Battlestations action, which is just as effective as acquiring a Target Lock on the offensive, but with even more added value. The extra 2 chances at a hit brings up the odds of hitting on an attack die from 1/2 to 3/4. If you have a reroll from a Target Lock, each die also has a chance of 3/4 to hit (50% + half the other 50% that missed on the first shot). But since Battlestations can be used Offensively or Defensively, it's usually the better choice if you must do one or the other. If you can combine the two (Target Lock on a turn you can't otherwise shoot, Battlestations the turn you can shoot), you'll have an insanely impressive hit-ratio.
What really sets the Enterprise-D apart from the other starter set ships are its Captains. Captain Picard, and William T Riker are both excellent options that work in fantastic, different, but similar ways.
(Actual pictures just don't this guy justice, so enjoy this picture instead.)
In any strategy game, be it Magic, Starcraft, or Warhammer, the primary method of winning is to make more important actions than your opponent. In Magic, this means drawing extra cards, and maximizing your mana use. In Starcraft you need to have a powerful economy, and a high APS (actions-per-second) ratio so you make the most of what you already have. In Warhammer, you try to make sure your units deal as much possible damage, then you position yourself in the best way to reduce how much damage your opponents can do, and reduce how many options they have.
In Attack Wing, the primary method of winning is to make more/better attacks while your opponent makes fewer/worse attacks, and both Picard and Riker are capable of helping you achieve this goal very directly. Picard gives you extra actions by letting you make an extra action from his action bar, and Riker gives you extra attacks by shooting at anyone that's close and shooting at you (though at the cost of an action). Since Riker's attacks with this ability can't be defended against, these really are just serving to beef up your total attack power.
Picard is easily the better of the two though. Even without any other upgrades, the ability to both Scan AND Battlestations, or Battlestations AND Target Lock, or Battlestations AND Evade... is pretty incredible. But it gets bonkers once you have cards that care about performing certain actions (like scan, or battlestations). This "double dipping" ability is what really can push a starship to Warp 10. Oh, and Picard also just happens to have the highest raw Captain skill in the game, with the ability to take an Elite Talent. The only reason you might not to take him in a Federation build is that you're taking the Enterprise-E Picard, who is also insanely amazing.
Engage: I don't think this is the worst Elite Talent ever, but it's pretty darn close. This Elite Talent effectively gives you an additional manoeuvre - 2 Turn (red). It's a bit more complicated than that (it covers a larger area, and if you bump into another ship half-way there you're screwed), but effectively does the same thing. Problem is for the D, you already effectively have this manoeuvre in the form of "3 Turn". Now, while there is undoubtedly useful applications of a 1 bank then 3 forward, the ability to only be used with green manoeuvres really hamstrings this card's effectiveness.
Do note, however, that if you're ever considering using a "Skilled Helmsman" Tournament Resource, and you have a Green Turn manoeuvre, this card will net you a 1 or 2 point discount, so will generally be the better choice.
Geordi LaForge: It seems like the creators of the game don't like Geordi. He's got a useful ability, but he pays out the nose for it at 4 points. With Geordi, your opponent's cloaking actions are less effective. Scanning already reduces their number of defence dice rolled, but with Geordi you can force them to also reroll one of the few they pass with. Is that worth 4 points though? No. For the same cost, you can flat-out reduce the number of defence dice rolled against you by 2 with the OTHER Geordi from the Enterprise-E. Now, that Geordi's ability costs an action, but scanning cost you an action too, so that's even. Plus that Geordi's ability forces them to lose cloak at the end of the turn AND gives you an extra tech slot on your ship's upgrade bar. If you need the ability, the E's Geordi is better in virtually all regards.
Data: When I first played, I thought Picard + Data was a match made in heaven. Use Picard's ability to Battlestations/Target Lock/Scan, while Data gave me TWO evade results. But the cost of -2 attack power is severe, and I found myself only using Data's ability when I was unable to attack otherwise - in which case, I would rather just use the Red Manoeuvres to get out of my opponent's arc rather than just weathering the storm. It's not a useless ability, but becomes less useful in larger games as opponents can treat these evade tokens as "this-turn-only extra shields", rather than as a real defensive edge. Again, this upgrade is better on a ship that can move better, so that you get both the defensive edge and the movement edge at the same time.
Worf: No character has shown up on as many episodes of Star Trek as Michael Dorn's Worf. This version of Worf is nicely inexpensive, and his ability is a lot stronger than it looks. For 2 points, you effectively get an extra Target Lock. Granted, you have to reroll your entire roll, but considering how we all get those "absolutely attrocious almost nothing hit" rolls, this can quickly count as a full-on Target Lock. It's useless when you're rolling well, but if you're rolling well then that's not really a problem. The ability to re-enable Worf after using him is excellent for those games that drag on too. Out of all the Starter Set crew for the Federation, Worf is probably the best to have on hand.
(40% cheaper and just as powerful as your Bio-Neural Gel Packs in 90% of cases.)
Mile O'Brien: O'Brien is really weird in that he can be both the best, and the worst, upgrade. Against an opponent without Upgrades, he's totally useless. And when you use him against an opponent that can dodge cards like this, he's totally useless. But if you have a low captain skill to "get the drop" on the enemy, and they have an upgrade that's critical, he can royally mess up an opponent's plans. Nothing makes me happier than using this against the a Klingon fleet's Projected Stasis Field. Normally the Klingon's are using this ability to just destroy one of your ships, but toss O'Brien at it first, and bam! A core part of their plan is now a 5 point critical misplay.
(Nobody on the Entperise needs you. Your ability and Borg Assimilation Tubules makes crew too risky. Go read this comic at http://citycyclops.com/7.31.13.php right after reading this review.)
Antimatter Mines: I don't use Minefields enough, and I probably should use them more. Antimatter Mines, being a one-use item, are difficult to get a lot of value out of. Being deployed within range 1 from your rear arc means that you usually need to pass your opponents to really get them with this. In the case of the Enterprise-D (the USS Wide-Right-Turns) that can quickly spell game-over by allowing your opponent to stick in your back arc. However, the Mines get better in larger games where they can be more difficult to avoid, and ships that move better (like the Voyager) will love having this option.
Photon Torpedoes: Almost no one uses Torpedoes in STAW. Torpedoes have very few advantages that justify their cost. They often fire at 1 greater strength than your normal weapon, or else come with a built-in-bonus. The Photon Torpedoes from the starter set often deal a Critical Damage, as one Battlestations result can be changed to a Critical result. Secondly, they can be fired from the forward or rear firing arcs, which is very useful when you turn like a cow. And finally, they don't suffer the standard range penalties.
Fantastic, so what's so bad about them? Well, you need to target lock, and if your opponents are cloaked, that isn't going to happen any time soon. Also, they get disabled when you fire them, so you need to spend another turn re-enabling them AND another turn to acquire a target lock. Finally, although they don't get a standard range penalty, being unable to fire them at Range 1 is a MASSIVE penalty (especially when trying to fire out of that rear arc at a Romulan Warbird giving chase).
For the Enterprise-D, the ability to fire 360° more than makes up for having any torpedo, so might as well not bother. If you do equip this weapon to something with a lot less firepower, though, you can actually get something of a discount. If a ship normally has a firepower of 2, jumping up to 5 means you've kind-of saved 1 point. That ship's firepower costs 4 points, plus 5 for the torpedo upgrade, totalling 9 points spent on firepower. Compared that to a ship with an actual firepower of 5, which spends 10 points on that same number. It's not much of a savings, but it's technically there.
I love playing with the Enterprise-D for the nostalgia, and the ability to fire in any direction really is golden, but the game does not tend to reward being "middle of the road". If your goal is to make a fleet that can shoot in almost any direction any turn, and you don't want to play the Borg, then the Enterprise-D can add something to that, but is generally not a ship you want to bring to a tournament setting.
(Set phasers to fun!)