X-Wing Expansion: E-Wing – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesI’ve always loved the E-Wing. Ever since I read the Dark Empire comic book. At the time my brother and I were elbow deep in the Expanded Universe and the X-Wing game series on the PC. I waited and waited for a patch or expansion for the E-Wing but it never came to be. So when Fantasy Flight announced the E-Wing would be released I may of squee’d a bit. Just a bit.

Ewing_negvvThe E-Wing was designed to have the punch of the X-Wing with the speed and manoeuvrability of the A-Wing it was the first star fighter commissioned by the New Republic. With an enhanced sensor suite and engines, a large torpedo magazine and greater firepower it should have replaced the A-Wing but critical overheating problems slowed its roll out and in the end became a fighter that complimented, rather than replaced,

With this in mind I got my hands of two E-Wings to mirror the interceptor/fast mover role of my two A-Wings. With a solid core of 5 X-Wings and a flight of bombers in the form of Y-Wings and a B-Wing, they would give me the edge of Imperial players allowing  me to deal with nasties like TIE Bombers before cutting back and splatting the more troublesome Defenders.

I’d wondered how Fantasy Flight would tackle the E-Wing as the lasers were even flimsier than that of the X-WIngs and their locations would almost guarantee them breaking off.

SWX18-layout

Rather simply they just tweaked the lasers, making them shorter and thicker so the model would be robust but not at the cost of the ship design. And I do love the design. It’s slightly crude and a bit of a shit kicker which is great because the Rebel ships always had that slightly rough and ready feel. But the model actually has quite a lot of detail faithfully recreated from the comic books including the the support strut from the hull to the stabiliser foil, the armoured hatch to the astromech compartment and the various bits of hardware on its flanks. It’s a very cool model.

Rule wise it’s not quite the stone cold killer I was expecting/hoping (delete as appropriate). Don’t get me wrong – it gets one more shield than an A-Wing and has overall better manoeuvrability it doesn’t come with terribly sexy upgrades. They’re useful but noting to get too excited about. The named E-Wing pilots are also incredibly expensive. To the point that I thought it was a typo. 35 and 32 points. Wedge Antilles, generally regarded as the greatest fighter pilot ever, is only 29 points.

The more expensive pilot is my joint favourite (with Wedge) character in Star Wars. Corran Horn. A former CorSec officer, he joined the New Republic as a member of the newly reformed Rogue Squadron under Wedge Antilles. He later discovered he had Force powers and became a powerful Jedi and staunch ally of Luke Skywalker. So quite why he’s flying an E-Wing I don’t know, but I’m delighted to have him in my squadron. His pilot trait allows you to make your next turn’s attack at the end of the current activation. This is extremely useful as it can mean the difference between taking return fire and not. Finishing an enemy and not or taking down two targets in quick succession. As traits go it’s pretty awesome. Throw in a skill of 8 and he’s pretty lethal. Partner him with any of other pilot aces – Luke, Wedge, Tycho – and it all gets a little bit unpleasant.

The second named E-Wing pilot, Etahn A’Baht lacks skill – only 5 – but it does get to turn a hit into a critical if the ship it’s targeting attempts to defend. Which is nice. But at 32 points, with the aforementioned skill of 5, he’s a risk as Imperials will get to shoot before him and that could be a problem. Although E-Wings get to focus, evade, lock-on and barrel roll so they are very nimble. This not only increases their survivability but increases your chances of getting in behind the Imperials to counter attack.

Whilst expensive the E-Wing is worth the points. The extra shield gives it that extra bit of survivability and the two pilot traits are very useful. Partnered with other craft and timed right they’d be invaluable. Moreover the do a fantastic job of not only taking the fight to the Empire but being able to double back and allow the squadron to encircle their enemies. This is a very good thing.

I’m fairly delighted with the E-Wing expansion pack.The model is way cool. The upgrades and cost of the pilots is a little disappointing but there’s no escaping just how useful the pilots are in a fight. Especially Corran Horn. 

The X-Wing Miniatures Game range is available at Firestorm Games from £6.29.

 

Warhammer 40k 7th Edition – A Review

warhammer-40000-logo

So 7th Edition has been unleashed upon the world. I’d like to say that I was eagerly anticipating its release but if I’m honest I felt fairly indifferent about the whole thing. Mainly because I do my best to avoid rumours and I really hate the way Games Workshop give people a week’s notice to find £50.

60040199041_40kStandardEdition01

 

Of course to avoid all the rumours flying around concerning 7th Edition I’d have to delete my social media accounts, not talk to any of my friends and quite possibly move somewhere fairly far away and possibly underground. The persistent rumour was that it would be Blood Angels and not Space Wolves joining Orks in the new boxset. Another was that there wouldn’t be a boxset at all. Well done Games Workshop you finally got one over on us.

60040199041_40kStandardEdition02

In a way I’m quite glad I ignored the rumours because when 7th Edition finally came out I had the opportunity to be surprised by a book I’d already owned 5 times previously. And that was quite a novel feeling. Of course the main change is that the Games Workshop have heeded the cries of its customers and split the book into three – hobby, fluff and rules. This is welcome news for gamers – particularly tournament gamers – who no longer have to lug around a chuffing heavy book with them wherever they go. They are also stunning to look at. It’s a real departure from the traditional with this iteration. It has new type faces, bold colour block, new stylised aquilas and groovy new art up the whazoo. Plus some of the best pieces from the previous edition. The books feel cyberpunk rather than sci-gothic which is actually a pretty clever. For the first time it feels like a work talking a bout the universe rather than a document from the universe. Which I think makes it far more relate-able for those who just want to paint some toys or play some games, not go balls deep into the fluff. And breaking it into three makes it more digestible. But, for me, harder to get into. Mainly because I do my reading in snatched hours so as I finished one part I was usually nowhere near the others.

A Galaxy of War – the hobby book – is, for me, a huge indulgence. It’s padded to hell and basically a hardback version of Warhammer Visions which is a bit poor. Lots of full page or double page photos which are totally unnecessary. It could be half the thickness, still look good and make just as much contribution to your hobby. I suspect it was thickened up because it would rather put lie to the principle that the wargaming is divided into three equal parts – painting/modelling, gaming and background. There are some new and pretty good hobby articles in there which is very refreshing considering the last couple of iterations have been rehashes of the ones before them. And it’s also cool to see a proper article about collecting an army and giving it some personality. It has nothing to with it being Ultramarines by the way. Although it’s nice to see Captain ‘Angryman’ Agemman getting some love considering he’s contributed almost as much to the Codex Astartes as Marneus Calgar. It’s the first hobby section in a while that I can see a seasoned gamer actually taking the trouble to read. I can’t promise they won’t get bored by the huge amounts of wasted space but at least there’s some value to it. Especially with the changes to the Citadel paint range in the last couple of years.

The book I was looking forward to most, it’s no surprise, was Dark Millennium – the background book – but it was the one that disappointed the most. Now I’ve been immersed in the Grim Darkness of the 41st Millennium for the best part of 25 years so I’m aware that the Imperium is not a happy or easy place to live but this book was so utterly bleak to the extent that when I reached the timeline I was questioning what the point of playing any more. In the past there was always an element of hope. Yes humanity was besieged on all sides and the outlook was grim but through strength or arms and sacrifice humanity had a chance. That has been replaced with a bludgeoning hopelessness that does beg the question why anyone would bother. And it lacks finesse. There’s no ambiguity which was always Games Workshop’s strength over its competitors. Everything was myth and legend and open to interpretation. Debating the background has always been a bit of a hobby within a hobby for me. 7th Edition just seems to be a bit…factual. Not bad by any chalk just factual. But I suppose that does tie in with the idea that this is a book about the 41st Millennium rather than a book from the 41st Millennium. Some aspects of Imperial society have been nicely fleshed out – the Imperial Knights being slotted in for one – but it does get a tad repetitive. And if you’re anyone but a lapdog of the Emperor then you may not enjoy this book because 88 pages of the 128 pages is given over to the Imperium. Granted it’s been padded with the usual large pieces of artwork but still. The Eldar – one of the most important players in a galaxy gone mad gets two pages. And that’s split between Dark Eldar and full fat Eldar. There’s a fair few pages about Chaos but even that is Imperium-centric. I stress it’s not a bad read but the old guard, those few of us that are left, may find it a bit of a direction shift.

Imperial_Palace_Terra2

And finally the rules themselves. I’ve heard more than a few people call 7th Edition Warhammer 40,000 v2.1 and with good reason as it seems to have tightened up the rules that have been evolving since third edition and added in some of the best bits of 2nd Edition. They started in the previous version with Over Watch and the like but that face that unbound armies are back is very welcome indeed because for the first time since I collected it, I can now use my Ultramarines 1st Company without borrowing rules from another army. This is joyous news. There’s other big changes like a dedicated psychic phase bringing it back in line with Warhammer having spent 16 years making it different. There’s little rule tweaks particularly around cover and line of sight. There’s clarifications around Over Watch and a raft of other things. But most importantly: vehicles don’t suck any more. There’s been no real rule changes other than to damage table. As I said in my review of 6th Edition the studio completely failed to notice that mid strength rapid firing weapons – like assault  cannons – had become the most valuable in the game because they could glance vehicles to death. Whilst this is still true, they no longer can get a lucky kill in on a penetrating hit. The only way you can now outright destroy a vehicle is if you have a weapon that’s designed to do the job. Which. Makes. Sense. Suddenly lascannons and multimeltas are worth taking again. The best lesser weapons can hope for is to destroy weapons or immobilise them. A lot of effort has gone into the ‘gaming’ aspect, specifically scenarios and missions. Taking the throwaway after thought that was the 6th edition offering and making it a clear and digestible and, most importantly, good. The woeful, soul crushing, miserable Compendium of Special Rules has been thrown out in favour of something logical – rules grouped together by type. It actually means you can find rules too. Which is novel.

Overall the 7th Edition of the Warhammer 40,000 rules feel the tightest they’ve been…um…ever. The books are gorgeous and aside from sterility in the background it’s a strong offering from Games Workshop. The flyers are still over powerered – the Heldrake still being mental – and the fact that there’s still millions of special rules, however nicely they’ve been organised, means it can still frustrate but it’s not enough to put me off.

It’s been a long journey since 3rd Edition hit the shelves back in 1998 and it’s actually been fascinating watching that rule set evolve and see some of the facets of 2nd make a return. Not all the changes have been well received but then again you can’t please all the people all the time. I think there’s probably another iteration (or two) to go before Warhammer 40,000 hits that sweet spot where everything is working in harmony but for now I’d 7th Edition is pretty close.

For me the consideration that’s gone into the small details is what makes it good. Clarifying small but significant sentences cuts down rule flicking, arguing and prevents anyone from feeling hard done by when they lose the inevitable roll off. It’s just a far more well rounded offering and feels more robust because of it. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve felt confident in the rules I’m reading.

The Warhammer 40,000 7th Edition rules is available from Firestorm Games priced £45.00.

Sanctus Reach: Stormclaw Video

warhammer 40000 logoNow I’m the first person to admit that I’m a little out of touch with the 7th edition release. One minute there was no new box set and a rulebook with Dark Angels on the sleeve and now a new boxset with Space Wolves and Orks, putting lie to the persistent rumour that the box set would contain Blood Angels. Well done Games Workshop, you’ve finally managed to hoodwink us.

So here’s this new boxset with an add on campaign book which effectively catapults the start up costs from a fairly steep £75 to a stomach churning £105. Just a frame of reference – the second edition boxset from 21 years ago cost £40 with roughly the same amount of plastic. That’s an 87% increase in price. Granted it’s at least an 87% increase in quality of models but that’s still very rich tea.

Looking at the boxset whilst it may not wow many compared to the previous two boxsets, it’s actually not bad in terms of relative value. Grumbling above aside. By my sums there’s roughly £134.50 worth of toys in there, plus the slim rulebook. Which makes it fairly good value verses its price tag – if we ignore the over inflated prices in the first place. Oh and it’s just about legal on both sides for a change.

I also love the Space Wolves captain model. Many may not remember the cover art to the third edition Space Wolves codex or the Forge World display piece that was made of him, but I most certainly do.

SWvsOrksIt’s great to see the old boy still fighting the good fight with nothing more than a little less hair, one less eye and a lot more trophies…

60010199009_StormclawENG03

Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade Pre-Alpha Gameplay

Graphics aside, because it is pre-alpha, this so far looks like the Space Marine multiplayer. Which I personally thought sucked. One must assume there’s going to be some plot and many places to explore.

But right now here’s some poorly rendered Space Marines having fisty cuffs with some poorly rendered Chaos Space Marines…

X-Wing Expansion: B-Wing – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the B-Wing. When it dove into view in Return of the Jedi I was fascinated by the design. Of all the Rebel fighters it looked the least like a conventional/modern/atmospheric craft. But this had a lot to do with it being designed by Admiral Ackbar, a Mon Calamari who has no reason to think like a human and therefore design like one. In the movie it seemed to keep up with the fighting and the squadron did themselves proud in the Battle for Endor taking down two Imperial Star Destroyers.

When I got my hands on the X-Wing game for the PC and my opinion soured slightly. Whilst undeniably well armed, the B-Wing was a turd to fly. Slow and lazy in its turns, it was a pig to fly in a dog fight. Whilst I appreciate it’s a bomber and shouldn’t be in the middle of a furball it was an often inescapable situation in that game. Especially if you were a young, aggressive rookie pilot like I was back in the day. I can’t say I’ve mellowed in my piloting style but I do now, at least, appreciate the combat role the B-Wing is supposed to play which is that of a ship killer. How convenient that two are now available…

x-wing-b-wing-expansion-pack

Similarly with the X-Wing Miniatures game I wasn’t sure about including a B-Wing in my rag-tag interpretation of Rogue Squadron. Especially as the majority of the unit is made up of fast-moving X-Wings and even faster moving A-Wings & E-Wings (the latter are on their way and a review will follow). That was, however, until I read the rules for the B-Wing.

Whilst slow and alarmingly prone to stress, it is as well shielded as the Millennium Falcon and nearly as well armed. And for near enough half the points. That’s incredibly good. Partner a B-Wing with the Falcon, or a couple of Y-Wings and you have an incredibly capable killing blow after the fighting wedge of your fast movers punches a hole in the enemy formation.

Whilst I can’t see myself taking one (or more) B-Wing in every game I can definitely see the pros in taking one at all.Especially against larger craft. Aside from its crazy resilience to damage and meaty amounts of basic fire power the two special rules on offer from the character pilots are incredibly good. Being able to either prevent a critical hit from being cancelled or being able to re-roll a dice when under stress (which will happen al lot!) is very useful. Not cheap however. 31 and 28 points respectively. But this has something to do with the B-Wing being nails and able to take piles of upgrades including two missile types which is just as well because the expansion comes with both proton torpedoes and advanced proton torpedoes. For 6 points (ouch) the advanced torpedoes gives you 5 dice and allows any blank results to be turned into focus results. Which if you’re smart ensures you utterly destroy whatever you shoot at.

To be honest, you’d be mad not to take all the upgrades for the B-Wing. The Fire Control System being a must for 2 points, giving you a target lock on the ship you just fired on. For. Two. Points. Chuck in a focus action and advanced torpedoes and that’s a heady mix and shaves a turn off delivering the aforementioned destruction. However, all this kitting up will set you back around 15 points. On top of the 28-31 points for the pilot and ship. Or to put it another way, roughly the same number of points as the Falcon. The only saving grace being it’s harder to hit.

The model itself is actually pretty cool. And massive. It’s significantly bigger than the X-Wing and dwarfs the A-Wing which makes the B-Wing pretty good value for that reason alone. Fantasy Flight did a nice job of work around the design of the ship and the flight stand. And already I’ve seen conversion were gamers have worked the stand loose and rotated it 90 degrees to get the horizontal pose which actually works better.

1000px-BWingsKillISD2-ST

The B-Wing is a bit of a surprise choice for me. I was expecting to be indifferent at best but I can actually see a real benefit to taking them in your fleet. Whilst very high in points they have more than potential enough to make those points back thanks to the prodigious amounts of damage it can do. Its lack of speed isn’t such a problem because targets will be flying towards it. The hard part will be keeping it  alive once the Imperials get behind it because it lacks the ability to turn and face. I’m not sure how it’ll fit in with my aggressive playing style but if used correctly the B-Wing is a devastating asset.

The X-Wing Miniatures Game B-Wing Expansion is available from Firestorm Games priced £10.79.

Space Hulk: Deathwing Teaser Trailer

Holy fucking shit!

I couldn’t care less what this game is about – this trailer looks immense. And finally gives tell to why Dark Angels were the first army I properly collected as a young hobbyist.

However, I’ve been a good boy and looked into it and oh my poor pants. Space Hulk: Deathwing will be a first person shooter available on the XBox One.

I’ll be watching this one very closely because it has the potential to be incredible. Or a miserable pile of shit like all the other Space Hulk shooters that have preceded it.

Deep Cut Studios Space Battle Mat – A Review

deepcutstudioYou may remember a little while ago I took a look at the Ice Planet battle mat from Gale Force 9 for use with the X-Wing Miniatures Game. I came across Deep-Cut Studio and their wide range of game mats not just for X-Wing but a wide range of tabletop and RPG systems as well.

I got my hands on the Deep Space mat, again for use with X-Wing with the idea of making a direct comparison against the GF9 product.

miniature_games_mat_space_2The Gale Force 9 mat had converted me to game mats. They’re a great all in one solution for those that lack the time or the skill to create something similar. The best news about the Deep-Cut Studio mats is that they’re available in sizes between 3×3 and 6×4 which is fantastic. This means games of all stripes can get an awesome looking gaming mat for not lots of money.

And awesome is the word. My first impressions were that it’s really very pretty. Whereas the GF9 mat felt photoshopped, albeit still looking pretty cool, the Deep Space mat from Deep-Cut was more like looking at something taken with the Hubble Telescope. It’s incredibly good-looking to the point it’s almost a shame to put models on it. And that makes it completely beautiful. The richness of colour is very impressive. The standard of print is exceptional. Whereas the GF9 mat felt slight over saturated with ink, Deep-Cut’s feels like a press quality item. Which is what you want for something you’re paying cashy money for.

It’s thinner than the GF9 mat which means it rolls out easier but takes a fair bit longer for the ends to settle flat but it’s not a massive deal. Just give yourself a few extra minutes when you unroll it. And because the PVC seems to take the ink better there’s no signs of wear or rubbing which was my big peeve. The thinness does make rolling it back up a bit of a faff because it lacks the rigidity to tapped into a tidy roll but again, it’s not a big deal but extra care is needed.

But going back to the look of the mat, it’s just a joy to play across. The models look fantastic and thanks to the sizes available it means Gothic players get to enjoy gorgeous playing spaces as well. And this makes me extremely happy. It doesn’t mean I’m going to spontaneously start painting my Gothic fleet but it’s nice to know the grey plastic will have a good-looking backdrop.

DCMXWNG1

Come on! Look at it! It’s just epic. And it makes anything you put on there look epic. And considering what I put on there are Star Wars ships which are, by definition, epic; there’s a shit tonne of epicness in that photo.

The battle mat from Deep-Cut Studio is an excellent product. It looks fantastic, it’s produced to a high standard and the 3×3″ mat I got is cheaper than the GF9 version and I know which I prefer. I’m really keen to see what some of the other mats look like, particularly other space mats and ones that could be used for Bolt Action.

The mats are available direct from Deep-Cut Studio priced £22.90.

The Lord Inquisitor Grey Knights Teaser

The Lord Inquisitor has been in development for a loooooooooong time. Mainly because Games Workshop agreed to let the fan based project live but only with Aaron Demski-Bowden writing the script. So having thrown out the old script so it went back to a blank piece of paper.

So here’s the new trailer with no odd artefact and shaky voice over.