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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

X-Wing Expansion: HWK-290 – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

So back in May I clocked another year and was rewarded with many things. One of which was the HWK-290 expansion pack fro X-Wing. For those not up on their expanded universe, the HWK-290 made its debut in the FPS Star Wars: Dark Forces in 1995. It was widely praised for its vast level design, ability to look up and down and its plot.

I played it at the tender age of 13 on my next door neighbour’s Mac and I had my tiny mind blown. At the time it was graphically stunning and being able to fire the Imperial Stormtrooper standard issue E-11 blaster rifle was the thrill of my young life. I’d like to point out at this point I hadn’t really discovered boobs.

SWX12_HWK290Unless I’m mistaken the HWK-290 is the first ship of the expanded universe to be released although there’s no shortage of stuff about to drop/should have dropped by now. It’s an odd choice considering the wealth of ships to choose from. Whilst the HWK-290 is associated with an awesome video game series, it’s not exactly the go to ship for giving the Rebel Alliance the edge.

The model itself is pretty cool. It lacks some of the gravitas of its video game progenitor and whilst it’s been recreated faithfully, the paint job does let it down a bit. It’s still way cool. It’s still a great look ship with big fat (underpowered) engines.

However, it’s not without its uses. Whereas the YT-1300 transport does just fine in a combat role the HWK just doesn’t. Although at armour 4 it’s no softy, but it has just a single shield and fires only one shot an activation. Which means it’s not a front line scrapper. So what do you get for your 16-25 points? Well, mainly, ship buffs. The HWK is a support role vessel, quite at odds with the hit ‘em hard aggression of the front line Rebel ships.

Fielding Jan Ors – who vastly outstrips all the other pilot cards in skill – can take a stress token to give a friendly model within ranges 1-3 an extra attack. Given to the right pilot (Wedge Antilles) and it’s brutal as the attack will be subject to all the special rules and hardware the firing craft has.

Kyle Katarn doesn’t do too badly either, being able to give away a focus token which can really make the difference in a furball. His skill of 6 does make him vulnerable as he’ll be easily out shot by an Imperial pilot of equal ability, with more shots and costing fewer points.

It’s made worse by the fact that the upgrades, whilst awesome, are range 1 & 2 which means you have to get up close to make the most of them. Which is not where you want to be with such a potentially squishy ship. If you get to use them however, things will explode. Saboteur, for 2 points, is embarrassingly good. Basically a single dice roll that, if it hits, inflicts a damage card on the target. Seriously? For points. If you can get that close without being shredded, things are gonna go boom.

And that’s the trick, it’s a slow turd of a ship to steer and when things start to get tasty you’ll be picking up stress tokens. Which makes Jan Ors a gamble. Choose your moments wisely, however, and the HWK-290 can add some game swinging support. It’s 4 armour points means it should be able to extract itself from the furball but time your run wrong and it’ll be vaped and it and all those lovely special attacks and unit buffs will be lost.

Which I suppose is the problem. It’s the only thing I’ve come across in the Rebel fleet so far that I consider to be a gamble taking. Even a B-Wing, despite being slow, is a worthy investment because it’s tough and armed to the teeth. Escorted by Y-Wings or X-Wings and it becomes a bitter pill to ram down the enemy’s throat. The HWK-290 doesn’t quite offer the same punch per point.

The HWK-290 is an acquired taste. It’s not a scrapper, it’s not something to sit at the back. It’s, rather unbearably, something in between. It’s probably at its best when being used in a scenario rather than a straight up fight, but I guess if you’re damn fool enough to take it in a straight up scrap over a X-Wing pilot ace then you kinda deserve what you get.

The HWK-290 expansion pack is available from Firestorm Games priced £10.79

Last Saga – Final Hours

LastSaga

So I owe the guys at Rocket Games an apology. I’d promised I’d write about the Beta rules of their game right back when their Kickstarter first…er…started. And whilst I read the rules I didn’t right about it. Or anything else. For almost a month. Can’t go into the whys and wherefores but it did mean I inadvertently dicked on a Kickstarter that I believe deserves every success. And they’re in to the last 2 days of their campaign.

Last Saga is 313% funded which is awesome. And having gotten to know the guys at Rocket I can say they deserve every penny and more. Having read the rules the game looks like a lot of fun. It has parallels with Bolt Action in the breakdown of actions but it has the flare of the cinematic as one would expect from a skirmish game, particularly one so driven by the narrative.

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Which, for me, is Last Saga’s big draw. It holds a butt tonne of stock in the story it tells both in the pages and on the board. This is a very very very good thing. All the factions have a distinctive feel rather than the same basic force with a wardrobe change. There is, of course, the bevy of skills and upgrades that make the different bods fun and make the campaign the best bit about skirmish games. I love the diversity of weapons (and big armoured suits) and the fact that these soldiers feel the strains of war – again, much like Bolt Action and Saga. Games of fine pedigree to be inspired by.

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Thanks to the success of the kickstarter thus far lot of models have been made available, all of which are on the kickstarter page. The rules are already undergoing revisions ready for release and models are being readied for production. It’s a very exciting time for the guys at Rocket.

Head over to the guy’s Facebook page to find out more about their game and then head to their kickstarter page to give them all the money.