X-Wing Miniatures Game: Battle Report 4

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

The asteroids drifted slowly in space. Spinning and twisting in an endless orbit with a planet no longer possessing the gravity well strong enough to keep them in place as its rings. By any measure of interstellar navigation it was a hazard, but every other measurement it was suicide. Which was why smugglers used it to hide out until the heat died down. Han Solo scoffed at himself. Five minutes with the Rebellion and he no longer thought of himself as a smuggler? Was that really all it took?

He flicked a series of switches overhead to bring the Falcon’s systems from dormant up to standby. It had been 3 hours since the last Imperial sweep. They had to move and that waiting for the possibility of another patrol or taking a chance. And Han wasn’t one for waiting around. As the familiar hum of energy flowing through his ship turned to the comforting bass noise of the engines powering up he heard a familiar voice and even more familiar tone echoing down the corridor leading to the cockpit.

‘Are you crazy?’ Princess Leia barked. ‘What if the Imperials are waiting for us?’ She stormed onto the bridge. He couldn’t help but stare. He braided hair was scooped up around her head which only accentuated her noble bearing and elegant neck. The flush of checks only enhanced the rouge of her lips and her dark eyes flashed with annoyance. Something else he was familiar with.

‘Listen, your highness,’ He never knew why he did it but he always managed to make ‘highness’ sound like an insult, ‘we can’t sit here forever. This place is a death trap and we need to find somewhere to repair the Falcon and resupply.’

‘It’s too risky.’ Said Leia folding her arms. ‘My ship, my call sweetheart.’ Han turned and brought the ship up to full readiness and started to feed energy to shields and weapon systems.

‘You work for me.’ Leia blurted and instantly regretted it. Han’s contribution to the Rebellion had been small but vital – albeit unpredictable. He had saved lives and won victories and all for a cause he never really bought into and all, she suspected, for her. He didn’t respond well to authority and he sure didn’t respond well to orders.

‘Is that a fact.’ Leia wanted to apologise but the fire in his eyes told her all she needed to know. She sat in the chair behind his and strapped in. Han dropped into his command seat, and shoved the throttles wide open.

***

The Falcon surged towards the edge of the belt, her engines singing as Han danced her through the spinning ship sized lumps of rock. Just as clear space lay before him the proximity alarm sounded. Chewie and Han exchanged worried looks as the Falcon’s sensors brought back signal returns and a familiar silhouette appeared on the display.

‘What?’ Shouted Leia from behind Han. He appreciated her resisting the urge to say ‘I told you so.’

‘We’ve got company.’ He managed as he pushed more power to shields and the Falcon’s primary turrets.

‘Imperial?’

‘Worse.’ He said and Chewie let out a mournful cry. Han worked the controls, reversing course in an aggressive turn that, for a moment, giving a glimpse of their attackers and the familiar for foreboding shape of a Firespray 31 attack craft. ‘Chewie, send the signal.’

‘What signal.’ Leia was borderline hysterical. Not that Han could blame her. Few escaped Boba Fett’s clutches once he was on your trail. Ignoring why the Empire had resorted to using bounty hunters, it was a serious business.

‘A little insurance policy. You’re too important to the Rebellion to go anywhere unescorted.’ He pointed out to port to two bright flashes of light that materialised into the familiar shape of two X-Wing fighters. ‘Let’s get this over with…’

***

Our fourth battle report sees us using the scenario included in the Slave 1 expansion pack. Boba Fett is on the hunt and the target has to turn and fight of face a certain doom at the hands of the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter.

The Rebels got 150 points to spend to the Empire’s 90, however one ship had to be the bounty and would cost double points. They did, however benefit from 10 points worth of free upgrades with the further bonus of being allowed two command upgrades. Which, if you choose right is horrendous. As it was Slave 1 we agreed that the only right and true bounty be Han Solo commanding his ever trusty Millennium Falcon.

The Rebels had to deploy in the middle of the board with the Imperials tucked behind that at extreme range. It was going to get tasty from the off…

Imperial Navy

So I finally get to take Slave 1 for a spin! And for this one we have a Bounty Hunt scenario so we have Slave 1 chasing down Han “I didn’t shoot first” Solo. So I’ve tanked up Slave 1 with enough ordinance to take down a small forest moon and its pointy stick waving indigenous population.  I had just enough points left to take a TIE advanced with Maarek Steele with some Cluster Missiles. Between the two I had the firepower to bring down the Falcon I just had to be wary of its turrets, even with Boba Fett behind the stick.

Rebel Scum

So the Fett-man had tracked down Solo and was out for his hide. Just another day the office for the Rebellion’s most loveable scoundrel. The fact that he cost double points was a sting and left me just enough points to take Wedge Antilles (I never leave home without him) and Luke Skywalker once again proxying for a member of Rogue Squadron. The first upgrades for the Falcon were a welcome addition and allowed me to take Marksmenship, Veteran Abilities, the Falcon upgrade and Chewbacca but sadly had nothing left for the plucky X-Wing pilots.

The plan was simple. The Falcon was the target so I’d use that to my advantage. I’d try to lead Slave 1 and whoever else on a merry chase whilst making full use of its 360 degree field of fire, leaving the X-Wings to gang up on targets of opportunity. I just had to hope that the Falcon’s resilience would be enough to fend off the, no doubt, juiced Slave 1.

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Turn 1:

M: It was time to give that scruffy looking nerf herder the hiding he so richly deserved. With only a couple of ships on the board the turns would be flowing pretty quickly. And as I spent fewer points than Phil…because he was forced to…I had the initiative. In short I moved both Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced in sweeping turns to starboard in preparation for attack run on the Rebels.

P: Right, so I had the galaxy’s greatest Bounty Hunter and a TIE Advanced fighter ace on my arse. This is not a brilliant state of affairs as things behind them is what tended to make X-Wings die. With my plan in mind my moves were simple. I made a hard turn to port with the Falcon with the intention of drawing Slave 1 out . It was hard not to hide my relief when I realised my move would take the Falcon out of fire arc for Slave 1. As the X-Wings were going to be hard pressed to make a move out of fire arc of the TIE Advanced I resigned myself to taking some damage in exchange for making a green move to port, removing the stress tokens they were forced to start the game with.

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The TIE Advanced targeted Rogue 3 (being played by Luke Skywalker in this game) but the Rebel danced his way through the volley, coming out the other side unharmed. The Millennium Falcon opened up on Slave 1 thanks to its 360 degree field of fire. 3 hits were scored of which none were evaded, stripping 3 out of its 4 shields.

Turn 2:

M: So Phil’s a dick. Who rolls three hits in their first shot of the game? Bloody no one! Jammy bastard. Losing 3 shields right on the off was not part of the plan. Although neither was finding myself out of fire arc to be fair. Still, no use getting upset about it. I put Slave 1 into a sharp turn to port, bringing the vessel back in line with its prey. Equally my TIE Advanced made a gentle but fast move to run down the X-Wings.

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P: Okay so the first turn was pretty good. Giving Slave 1 a bloody nose would hopefully make Mat a bit more cautious but I doubted it. I had to resign myself to taking a hammering this turn so but the Falcon into a slow turn so I could shake off the stress token. The X-Wings performed a Koigan turn to front off against the TIE Advanced. The Falcon could handle Slave 1 on its own for a couple of turns but if the Advanced was allowed to make an attack run as well it would be a different story.

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The shooting phase opened in earnest with the Falcon stripping away Slave 1′s final shield. It should have been much worse but Mat rolled incredibly well for his evade rolls. In response Slave 1 fired a volley of homing missiles. All put powerless to stop them, the Falcon losing 2 of its shields.

On the other side of the asteroid field Wedge Antilles proved to be just out of range of the TIE Advanced so instead the Imperial and Rogue 3 exchanged fire, stripping taking down each other’s shields.

Turn 3:

M: So my fleet was without shields. Not great. But my homing missile had knackered two of the Falcon’s shields. I had a bit of sinking feeling that my TIE Advanced was about to get seriously ganged up on by the X-Wings so I needed to get a kill in. Or, at the very least, damage the Falcon. Slave 1 continued its turn to port bringing it directly behind the Falcon. Maarek Steele made a turn to starboard, taking him to the other side of the asteroid to take a pop at Han Solo.

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P: The TIE had to die and the Rogues were the ones to do it. They moved dead ahead. The Falcon was done running, making a Koigan turn of its own facing down one of the most lethal killers in the galaxy. What could possibly go wrong?

The Falcon fired first landing two hits against Slave 1 but the Bobe Fett managed to evade one but the second found its mark inflicting critical damage. In response the he fired Slave 1′s Ion cannons inflicting a single hit, removing a shield and fixing the Falcon’s course for a turn.

With Wedge, this time, out of fire arc, Rogue 3 opened fire against Maarek Steele in his TIE Advanced scoring three hits, two of which were criticals. The Imperial pilot failed to evade any and was destroyed in a billowing cloud of flame.

Turn 4:

M: Well cock. As in Phil is a. With Maarek Steele dead I didn’t have much hope that I could deal with the still undamaged Falcon and two X-Wings. But I had to try. It’s what Boba Fett would do. I moved him forward but I rather forget that the Falcon had no choice but to do the same. The result was the two ships ended up in base to base contact and therefore unable to shoot at each other.

P: With the X-Wings now free of their distraction they performed another Koigan turn to bring them round to make an attack against Slave 1 whilst it moved past the Millennium Falcon.

Wedge opened fire scoring a hit but Boba Fett once again evaded. He didn’t fair quite so well against Rogue 3 who scored 3 hits, including a critical. The Fett managed to evade 1 but it took Slave 1 to within an inch of doom.

Turn 5:

M: There was nothing much more to do but play for spite. Slave 1 dropped a seismic charge and then high tailed it out of there. Unfortunately I couldn’t move the ship far enough and Boba Fett finished his move passing the two X-Wings. This was going to be…messy.

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P: The Fett was making a run for it, but not before dropping a seismic charge. Unfortunately for me the Falcon was performing yet another Koigan turn to chase down the fleeing bounty hunter which placed the transport ship right next to the charge. Fortunately I got off quite lightly, only losing another shield.

The X-Wings did little more than adjust their positioning as they closed for the kill.

Annoyingly the Falcon was a whisker out of range leaving the work to be done by the Rogues. Wedge Antilles finally got to shot he was waiting for delivering three hits against the Firespray, none of which were evaded destroying the ship and Boba Fett in the process.

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Live to Fight Another Day

Well that went well. I was able to lead Slave 1 around the board easily enough as the Falcon had a large bullseye painted on it. Where I got lucky was catching Mat off guard with my first turn of movement and some utterly jammy dice rolling which made Slave 1 and the TIE Advanced vulnerable. A combination of green and red manoeuvres meant my X-Wings were able to beat the TIE Advanced at his own game and then see off Slave 1.

Ultimately the Falcon, despite the X-Wings seeing of the TIE and Slave 1, was the star of the show thanks entirely down to its resilience and prodigious fire power. Next game it’s all toys or bust.

Prize Denied

Well fuck you Han Solo. That’s pretty much all I can say about the matter. I think I would have been better off not taking the TIE Advanced and taking 2 normal TIE fighters instead, that or concentrate fire on the objective. My plan was to use the TIE Advanced to distract the escort using the Cluster Missiles to remove the shields and leaving them open to shots from Slave 1, whilst he hounded the Millennium Falcon. But that slimy Nerf Herder pulled it out of the bag again [Does he mean me? - Ed]
Oh well next time a full on fight and hopefully I can get to see exactly what Slave 1 can do.
Wedge Antilles feathered the throttle, cutting speed. Rogue 3 dropped in next to him, killing his own, speed.
‘Nice of you to join me Tycho.’ Wedge said as the two X-Wings cleared a transport sized asteroid in a slow turn to starboard.
‘Just giving Fett some encouragement Rogue Lead.’
‘You hit him?’
‘Oh yes.’
Wedge could hear Tycho’s smile through the comm link. Ahead of them he saw the Millennium Falcon execute an inverted loop manoeuvre that it had no business being able to do. He smiled at Commander Solo’s piloting skill as the Falcon’s engines flared bright blue and powered back the way it came, laser cannons spitting. It was met by flickering bolts of blue ion.
‘He’s coming your way Rogue Lead.’
‘Roger that Gold Lead.’
‘Make it good, he’s fried half our systems.’
A moment later Slave 1, an object of fear the galaxy over, screamed into view, smoke and flame trailing tears in its outer armour. At such close range Wedge didn’t need to do anything other than let the Firespray cross his path.
Slave 1 was already part way through a reverse turn when the laser bolts hit. The ship shook as the bolts chewed through the rear plates and engine manifolds. Flames belched and the running lights flickered and died, the ship losing power and slowly tumbled away.
‘Your clear Gold Lead.’

X-Wing: Collecting a Rebel Fleet

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesThe addition of a second Y-Wing means my Rebel fleet for Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game is starting to take shape. With a few games (and wins) under my belt I’ve started to get to grips with the tactics of fighting with a Rebel fleet.

To be perfectly, brutally, honest you can pick up the basics for my approach from reading the X-Wing novels but as that’s 10 books it may just be quicker to read on.

So the Rebellion’s main strength has always been the quality of its pilots. You can put a crap pilot in an X-Wing and they’ll end up dead. Perhaps not as quickly as a crap pilot in a TIE fighter, but still. So when it comes to collecting a fleet your first thought should be to the quality of the pilot you’re putting behind the stick over what the hardware can do.

Granted this is quite limiting at the moment thanks to the woefully slow release schedule Fantasy Flight are working to. There’s various hooky cards floating around the internet and it’s sorely tempting under the circumstances. But the point is, that ability to fire first is vitally important to the often outnumbered Rebellion.

And top tip; try to keep your points under the agreed limit, or at least less than your opponent. Possessing the initiative and the higher pilot skill is too good a combination to pass up.

Rebel Fleet

Profile cards aside the other issue is whether or not you collect a fleet with your heart or with your head. Given the choice, I’d happily collect all X-Wings. Their all round performance means that they’ll be able to go toe to toe with just about any other snubfighter with the exception of the TIE Defender. However the durability and weapons of Y-Wings and the savage speed of A-Wings make them both invaluable to a squadron sized force.

This combined arms approach, coupled with quick draw pilots and durability of those fighters is what makes the Rebels so lethal. And gives you the edge over the oft simplistic and bludgeoning approach of Imperial fleets full of cheap, poorly trained pilots, flying cheap poorly built TIEs. Couple it with the Imperials’ own preferred tactic of mobbing targets and it’s surprising how quickly you can chew through Imperial formations. Concentrated fire backed up by the ability to soak up some real punishment means that, providing you don’t allow your flights to get bogged down, they can take on a fleet twice their size and comfortably and capably deal with it. The trick being to scissor your say through Imperial formations. Try to avoid furballs which allow superior numbers to be brought to bear. And where possible try to plan your moves so you can tuck in behind a target with one element or another every other turn allowing you to hammer everything bar a Lambda Class and Slave 1 with impunity.

The important lesson however is never leave you wingman. A flight of three X-Wings is difficult to deal with. Possessing 9 shots, 6 shields and 9 damage points between them, they chuck out 3 more shots and can soak up 6 more points of damage for the same number of TIE fighters. Don’t be tempted to break one off to finish off a target. Ignore it and move on to the next. By the time the winged target is dead your lone fighter will be two turns away from formation and that’s a long time in X-Wing.

With all this in mind it’s also vitally important to identify threats. Figure out which of your opponent’s ships have comparable pilot skill to your pilots, or a trait that tips the balance in their favour. And then destroy them. Slowly stripping away advantages not only makes your life easier but demoralises the opponent. Plus the Imperial player is going up against a fleet of superior pilots and so target prioritisation almost becomes meaningless to them. You can play to your advantage by applying pressure with different ships at different times which forces them to engage multiple targets, spreading the damage points out.

But let’s not forget the various upgrade cards. Proton Torpedoes are a relative cheap, yet devastating tool. The important this is to not save them. They only work at long-range so fire them off as soon as possible. It’s up to you whether or not you put multiple locks on a single target. If the target gets destroyed by one missile then you’ll just have to wait another turn. The important thing is that you want at least one enemy fighter dead for each flight of two or three ships a turn firing that turn. There are ways this can be improved upon. Marksmanship is mandatory, among one or two others.

And finally: capital ships. Larger, bulkier, and tougher ships like the Falcon serve two vital roles. The first is the obvious magnet for enemy fire. They’re big enough and ugly enough to take quite a pounding. If you’re lucky your opponent will get so distracted trying to bring it down that they’ll ignore the snubfighters scything their way through TIE fighters. The second is their ability to anchor your ever flexing line. It’s 360 degree field of fire means that it will always – assuming you make it keep pace with the rest of your fleet – be able to lend a hand to soften up, or finish off, a problem target. Again, with the right combination of upgrades the Falcon can not only shoot first, but lob out a volley of missiles, repair itself, get a burst of speed or gain the evade ability, which is very very useful.

Ultimately the best advice I can give for collecting a Rebel fleet – assuming all the cards were available – is to go with what you love. Whilst, personally, I wouldn’t recommend a squadron of B-Wings because they’d get danced around more times than the proverbial piggy in the middle, if they’re your jam than take them.

My fleet will, eventually, be 4 X-Wings, 3 A-Wings, 2 Y-Wings, 1-B-Wing, 2 E-Wings and the Falcon. The reason being it offers a near perfect blend of firepower, speed and durability as well as the capacity throw a lot of Ion cannon shots and missiles at my opponents. Seven ships down, 6 to go. Roll on Salute…

The X-Wing Miniature series is available from Firestorm Games from £6.29.

The Shell Case does Salute – Phil

Salute 2014

As the 12th April comes ever closer and the prospect of another day filled with nothing but the sights, sounds and smells of the UK’s best all-round gaming show (and with the recent trend with Games Day, arguably just the outright best) fills our every waking thought (especially Mat’s – it’s his first time and he’s really quite excited), the members of The Shell Case team attending Salute this year (sorry Ashley, next time maybe?) have taken time to reflect on their hopes and expectations for Salute 2014.

Here’s Phil’s thoughts:

Phil

This’ll be my third consecutive Salute and my third representing this site. It’ll be the first, however, that I’ll be going there with (most of) my newly assembled team of writers. My focus this year will be much more around building some links with all the various companies attending so we can bring you better content across a broader range of games.

I’m also looking forward to catching up with the likes of Mike McVey, the guys from Amera & 4Ground, Wendy from West Wind and Jed from Antenociti’s Workshop to name but a few.

The hobby fund is a little light this year thanks to a few unforeseen expenses so I’ll be keeping things focussed, although with Black Library not in attendance I’ll save £30 or so. There will be the mandatory, if modest, purchase from Forge World, a couple of A-Wings, if I can find them, and then the rest can go on childish impulse buys. As I’ll be on a budget I’m thinking of putting the Khorne Daemon Prince off in favour of the Legion Praetors as I’ve been wanting to update my Ultramarine captains for ages.

Obviously I’m looking forward to the #warmongers Meet Up. It’s always great to see familiar faces and put new ones to familiar Twitter names.

Myself, Mat, Lee, Neil, Reece & Rob will all be there with TSC shirts so please do come over and say hi. And the first 10 who do will get an exclusive pin badge. Just because we’re nice like that.

Battlefield in a Box Asteroids – A Review

There’s been a distinct inter-planetary flavour to our gaming activities at Shell Case Towers. X-Wing miniatures and warships of the 41st Millennium have been taking to gaming boards and, as is often the case, my mind turned to scenery. I’d already taken a look at the Gale Force 9 Space Game Mat and used it for our third X-Wing Battle Report. So it only seemed right, considering Mat & I have Slave 1 & the Millennium Falcon to give a shakedown, that I take a look at the Battlefield in a Box Asteroids, also from Gale Force 9.

If you’d said to me a year ago that I’d be playing a pre-painted wargame, on a pre-painted game mat, with pre-painted scenery I’d have called you mental. And possibly a heretic or some such. There may have been some objects thrown. And mother’s insulted…

The point is that I was a bit of a puritan. But if this site, the wargaming world that I’ve been exploring, and being a father has taught me anything, it’s don’t be a snob and have fun. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

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However, I admit to a degree of scepticism before the asteroids arrived. I’ve seen some pretty iffy pre-painted terrain in my time and all of it was expensive into the bargain. So I opened the box expecting something akin to the castles you get for gold fish.

However the followings things surprised me: the asteroids were heavy. I just assumed they’d be plastic, and shit. But they weren’t. At all. The sculpt of the asteroids was so nicely done that I actually thought they were pumice. Which I know kinda makes me a bit thick but hey. The pre-paint was also incredibly good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to win prizes but for a gaming board? Hells yeah. And I love the mix of floating and flat asteroids. It gives that badly needed element of three dimensions that often gets lost in a tabletop. Just be careful when you cut the flying stands from the sprue. The plastic is oh so brittle. One stand (fortunately each base set comes with two) shattered when I clipped it free. Not broke. Shattered.

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Scale wise they’re a little on the large size for games like Gothic. At least not without making the game a real dance of death. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing but for any manly sized game I wouldn’t use the whole box. Because things would crash. A lot. However two or three on a board would look superb and make a dice change from the usual planets that I usually end up using.

For X-Wing, however, they’re pretty much spot on. Throw in a few fighters and a game mat and you’ve got something that looks a bit special…not that I did that. The picture below is a coincidence.

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As a single area of terrain they work brilliantly and the fact that the size compliments the X-Wing miniatures so nicely is a real bonus. However the rub is this – you get 8 in a box which is good but really give the impression of density you’ll need two boxes. Mat and I will be getting at least two more so we can set up an asteroid field board for Battle Report IV. And at the best part of the £30 that’s a bit of a rough deal.

That’s not to say it isn’t good value. The asteroids are all a good size and the design is wonderfully natural. I suspect pumice was involved at some point, along with a shit load of modelling clay. But I don’t care because it works. They feel like asteroids and thanks to the table standard paint job they look like it too. Granted they’re not perfect, and there’s a few bits that bugged my but there’d be a few bits that would have bugged if I’d painted them so I have to be forgiving. But the point is I didn’t have to paint them. And really that’s the big selling point for the price tag. You’re paying for the convenience. You’re paying your money not just for some pretty awesome looking asteroids but some pretty awesome asteroids that are painted and ready to go, straight out of the box.

And for that, I’m willing to pay.

The Gale Force 9 Battelfield in a Box Asteroids are available from Firestorm Games priced £27.00.

It’s all for the Greater Good

We are coming up to my anniversary. That’s right its been nearly a year since my re-insertion into the hobby. Which I imagine to be a bit like being reinserted into the Matrix but a lot less sinister and somewhat more enjoyable. 

A lot has happened in the last 12 months and a great deal of that has been in the last 3 – 4 months if I’m honest. You may recall I had played a couple of games of Mordheim which I’m sad to say didn’t reach any higher than a couple. But there have been other distractions and lately I have found myself less in love with my warband than I was before. I was never 100% taken with them. I suspect a combination of rushing to get something together on the cheap, which meant using models I didn’t like and being so rusty with my painting that I made a hash of a couple of them. This following on from a mishap with a can of basecoat (people it is really important to shake the can well and make sure it’s not cold). With no inspiration for a colour scheme or the background the other guys had behind themMonty’s Bastards have languished in one of my now numerous carry cases. Until last week when the poor perverted sociopath has found the dust being brushed off his unpainted shoulders and being put straight on eBay. He and his merry band of mentalists are being replaced with a warband I’ve wanted to do since before my departure from the hobby a decade ago. A heavily themed Beastmen force. I won’t go into too much detail now but I am genuinely excited at the prospect of fielding some hairy stinky Beastmen, with a slight humorous twist, and I get to have an Avatars of War Minotaur because frankly they are awesome. 

I am also now the proud owner of a small Sorylian fleet for Firestorm Armada all thanks to my wife being very generous, and not too judgemental, on my birthday. Although have you ever tried to explain to your other half why a Dreadnought (space shotgun) made from resin is so damned expensive? No? Well I have and she still doesn’t get it. Much like many of my other models: the fleet is currently sitting in a carry case in a very much unpainted and un-played with state, but I am slowly adding to it and I know my colour scheme so it’s just a matter of getting round to it and I look forward to seeing how the Sorylians do in a game. 

Now those other distractions I mentioned, are primarily the Star Wars X-Wing Miniature Game by Fantasy Flight Games. If you didn’t know already Phil and I have a massive hard on for this game, which does border on the slightly unsavoury side from time to time. I run the Imperials and Phil as you may be aware is fielding the Rebel scum. I have to say I didn’t take much convincing to pick this one up, I had been looking at it but didn’t know how to take the plunge. Phil, being the enabler that he is,saw to that. I am now the proud owner of a small but growing Imperial fleet which includes 5 TIE Fighters 1 Tie Advanced and recently Slave 1 (you may have seen my rather gushy review). We have yet to get down to pitting Slave 1 against the Falcon but I am very much hoping it’s soon as I have a bit of a score to settle and honestly it would be nice to maybe win a game. [Never! - Ed.] This new love affair has kicked off many thought processes that revolve around Star Wars but again these are things that will I’m hoping become more apparent in the not to distant future. 

Dreadball… okay so I have dabbled here a little bit and while I’m not as hot for it as Neil, I do still love it. I never really got on with Blood Bowl but Dreadball is everything Blood Bowl wasn’t which is good, fun and fast, (all opinions expressed in this article are purely my own and are just that only an opinion). Now I haven’t actually played a straight game of Dreadball just yet, but I have played Ultimate against 3 other opponents and it was brilliant, I was slightly concerned as I have a Judwan team (yes I field the pacifists in space). Despite the fact they only have strikers and can’t perform any physical attacks they performed really well. Except against the Maruader player who decided he wanted to squish everything on the board and Judwan are particularly squishy. But I enjoyed my game so much I have actually started to paint my team, and after a couple of pointers from the painting guru that is Lee, I have to say I’m rather happy with the results. I am yet to finish them but so far so good. 

Before I get onto the subject that this article was named for, I have a few other bits I want to mention. Firstly being I now own a copies of Dreadball & Sedition Wars, rule sets for Battlefleet Gothic, Necromunda, Adeptus Titanicus 2 and I’m now on the look out for Epic Armageddon rules… So a busy boy, I know. Having recently played a game of Battlefleet Gothic (battle report with spangly pictures coming soon) with my Necrons (God are they broken) I have once again got the bug to sail the warp and blow the shit out of Imperials, BUT not with my Necrons. And Phil gave me a copy GCT Studio’s game Bushido to read and review too! I’ve always been into Japanese culture, and this mixes plenty of that with some great looking models and so far decent looking rules.

I have also got ever so slightly further with scratch building my Chaos Titans but that’s a completely separate article. 

So onto the matter of the Greater Good. Some of you may recall last year I started talking about a Space Marine project using Codex Space Wolves, based on Celtic culture and mythology. They never really got named although Moon Dragons was an option, especially for Nate of ODAM fame. I built up a fair few blokes including some Horus Heresy stuff from Forge World. I wrote a background and devised a colour scheme. Now due to the fact they were Celtic themed, they were going to be rather up close and personal and through discussions with Lee & Phil I realised just how badly dicked on they were going to get in the process. And so my Tau allies were born. And this is where it all changed. 

I really wanted my Space Marines to look the tits and I was looking at a mixture of Forge World and Scibor miniatures for the main force. Now this is a lovely idea but it’s just so expensive. I was also concerned that my painting skills would never really do them justice and so it would be a project that would limp on and on and never be finished. So I made the decision this week to sell my Marines and concentrate on the Tau force that had grown beyond a small allied force because, basically, I was psyched by them. 

All this was due to the following: 1. The Space Marine project was prohibitively expensive. 2. One army per system is enough for any man (well at the moment), 3. FOCUS. This is in capitals because that’s the text I get from Phil two or three times a week when I start talking about something cool I’ve seen and how it’s given me a great idea. And 4. It’s all for the greater good. That is to say: Tau are my jam.

So my Tau force grows, which is funny when I think about it, and has been a long time coming. When I first started to drift away from the hobby the Tau had only just been released. So a decade or so. And in my odd drifts back into the fold I have picked up various iterations of the codex but have never got around to acquiring any models. had a massive thing for Fire Warrior on my PS2: who remembers that? [No one because it was shit. - Ed.] And the bit where you come face to face with a Chaos Space Marine… shoot and run, shoot and ruuuuuun. But more recently since coming back to the warm loving folds of plastic crack addiction, Phil was giving away some of his goodies to The Chaps and the Tau Codex was amongst them. Clearly it was fate.

Now I’m not only pulling together a decent force with a colour scheme I’m happy with, and actually have some painted models, but I’m looking at creating a Pathfinder Kill Team and looking at cool conversions I can do too [FOCUS! - Ed.]. I’m currently liking the idea of sculpting cloaks for them and giving them some samurai swords to act as their Ta’lissera bonding knife. Kromlech do some nice Sci-fKatanas that would work really well for this.  

do have to admit I’m not a huge fan of the Kroot or Vespids so they will be left out of my Tau force. I know this may not be the best idea but, frankly, I just don’t care. I’m also not a big fan of the vehicles but that said I’ve never been a massive fan of vehicles in any army and always preferred to go down the infantry route. However after a few conversations with The Chaps I will likely end up with at least one Devil Fish and possibly a Hammerhead. Okay, three. As I realise the need for these and that vehicles have become a much bigger focus since my days of 40K. I also love the look of the Forge World Pathfinder Tetras but that’s going on the possible list as I like the idea of my Pathfinders being sneaky stealth bastards. 

So currently I’m sitting at 3 Fire Warrior Squads, 3 XV15′s, 6 XV25′s with Drones, 1 Small Pathfinder Team, 1 Commander in Crisis Battle Suit, another 2 Crisis Battle Suits as body guards and a hand full of Drones.

Tau have slightly taken over my life as I also currently find myself reading Fire Warrior by Simon Spurrier the book based on the aforementioned game, it’s a great if not wholly accurate look into Tau culture. 

So my addiction continues and is culminating/climaxing* in a trip to Salute in a couple of weeks, which I no doubt will have to write about my splurging of monumental amounts of cash. And hopefully I will get to meet some of you guys there. 

So until next time…

Oooh I nearly forgot Firefly: The Game is AWESOME. 

*delete as appropriate

X-Wing Expansion: Slave 1 – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

So now we really get to the meat of the subject, capital ships for the X-Wing Miniatures Game, and for me it all starts with Slave 1, the entire reason I choose to do an Imperial fleet. Boba Fett was always my favourite. Yes, I know it’s an obvious choice but so what? He was freaking cool and his ship is awesome.

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the Firespray 31 Prisoner Transport (check me out using the proper name) I would like to quickly comment on the packaging, as I touched on it in my last review about how I expected a premium product to be in premium packaging. Well now, I’m with Phil: this is massively over packaged frankly. It’s about twice as big as it really needs to be. But who cares, it’s what’s inside that we’re interested in.

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Now being a capital ship, and therefore somewhat larger than the standard snubfighters, it does weigh in at a hefty £22.50 when bought from the fine chaps at Firestorm Games. That seems pricey even by Games Workshop standards but actually when you compare it with the other expansion kits that come in at £10.79 and are considerably smaller, you’re actually getting a decent amount of ship for your money… and besides it’s Slave 1!

I would like to go on record at this juncture and say that so far the painting standard of the models hasn’t really bothered me. I mean TIE fighters are, well, dark so there’s not a huge amount of detail to see and honestly it’s better than I could do at this point. And it means I get to field a painted army. But Slave 1 is frankly a little poor. The whole shitkicker look (as Phil would say) works but it’s a little lazy, to be honest. I mean this ship is old. Really old. And the paint job is just a bit basic and blocky. There are some nice areas of detail but I think Fantasy Flight could have been done a little better given the size of the model.

Slave 1 for Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

So what comes in the rather oversized boxed?
1 x Slave 1 Ship with Plastic Base
2 x Ship Tokens
1 x Manoeuvre Dial
1 x Focus Token
2 x Stress Token
1 x Evade Token
1 x Critical Hit Token
4 x Shield Tokens
2 Ion Tokens (the fun begins)
1 Bounty Token
1 Proximity Mine Token
1 Seismic Charge Token
2 Reference Cards
6 x ID Tokens (21 – 22) We are yet to sue these but you know it’s on the cards (excuse the pun).
4 x Ship Cards, Boba Fett, Kath Scarlet, Krassis Trelix and Bounty Hunter. 13 x Upgrade Cards (yes 13 upgrade cards) 1 x Homing Missles, 1 x Assault Missles, 1 x Ion Cannon, 1 x Heavy Laser Cannon, 1 x Veteran Instincts, 1 X Expose, 1 x Seismic Charges, 1 x Proximity Mines, 1 x Gunner, 1 x Mercenary Copilot, 2 x Stealth Device and last but not least 1 x Slave 1 card.

And you get a rather cool looking scenario specifically for Slave 1.

So you really are actually getting pretty decent value for money on this Expansion set and some of these upgrade cards are serious game changers, especially when coupled with Slave 1’s Auxiliary firing arc, which allows it to fire behind it with its primary weapon.

Needless to say with all this in the pack you are a little spoilt for choice and it also means you can load the Firespray 31 to the teeth and that’s not just a whimsical expression, you can seriously load this bad boy up with some nasty ordnance and special rules.

I’m just going to pick out some of my favourites because honestly with 13 upgrade cards we could be here a while. So for me the essentials are: the Slave 1 card which adds torpedoes to your arsenal of very nasty stuff and it’s free so it’s a must. You also have your Homing Missiles which are pretty self-explanatory which weigh in at 5 points but means your opponent cannot evade. Although I find myself torn between these and Assault Missiles which are the same cost but if they score a hit they cause 1 damage to any other ships within range one of the target which is nasty. You can also choose between an Ion cannon or Heavy Laser cannon. I’m more inclined to lean towards the Ion cannon because of the longer term effect and the fact it will make your other weaponry more effective. And it’s only 3 points against 7 points.

Then you get to load up some mines. I can see these being a real pain for the opposition as you perform it as part of your action and by then it’s too late for your opponent to change his mind about where he’s going. Which makes them a bit beardy. But I’m still likely to load up on proximity mines though. At 3 points, they detonate once a ship touches them and they have their own reference card which explains the results. This is one of the aforementioned game changers I was talking about. These could cause some serious mischief for the Rebel Scum. You can also take the Veteran Pilot Skills card much like the Falcon which gives your Pilot 2 extra skills points which I have to say sadly is much-needed as Fett only comes in at 8 skill. But as this only costs you 1 point it’s well worth it. The Crew Cards are very much like those of the Falcon. And Finally you get to add your unique modification: a Stealth Device which adds one to your agility, however if you’re hit you lose it. It’s worth taking but at 3 points it’s not cheap considering you can lose it within two turns.

So your Pilots. Well it goes without saying, I’m only ever going to use Boba Fett who rocks in at 39 points and has a rather nifty special rule that allows him to change his bank manoeuvre once you turn over his movement dial. With the cost of Fett taken into account and all the additions you’re going to want to take to make him the ultra bad ass he is, you’re looking at around 65 points. You could get 5 TIE fighters for the same price. Whilst the TIEs are better value, Slave 1 will still pack a wallop and offers some handy tactical advantages over TIEs. Mainly in the form of high explosives.

But ‘what if we don’t want to take Boba Fett’ I hear you ask. Well firstly why not? Are you mental? And secondly, you have got some other rather cool options. You have Kath Scarlet for 38 points whose ability means that if an opponent cancels a critical hit they take a stress point which is not too bad. And then there’s Krassis Trelix for 36 points who allows you to reroll 1 attack die when firing a secondary weapon, which if your firing Assault Missiles could prove devastating to your opponent.

So to sum up, the Slave 1 expansion is, for me, so far (barring the core set) the best value for money with all the additions you get, as well as what it adds to the game. There is some seriously heavy hitting stuff going on in this expansion and all well worth the points cost. I know I can’t wait to see what it can do in a game and how much of a difference it will actually make. As you can tell the poor painting in the end is actually not that big a deal once you get caught up in the fact you’re going to field Slave 1 with some serious ordnance and Boba Fett at the helm.

The Star Wars X-Wing Slave 1 Expansion pack is available from Firestorm Games for £22.50.

X-Wing Expansion: Y-Wing – A Review

FFGSWXwinglogoThe much maligned Y-Wing has been the butt of jokes by fans and Star Wars novelists for years. It had everything to do with the fact that they were generally portrayed as a bit shit in the movies: fairly incapable of doing anything other than explode. And the design, with the extended – and seemingly decorative – support pylons did nothing to convey the robustness it’s supposed to possess.

There was an ill-advised attempt to make the Y-Wing cool by giving Anakin Skywalker one in the Clone Wars series, but as most people knew how the story ended it did little to gain either credibility. The fact is the Y-Wing is as tough as old boots and twice as ugly. A lethal combination of high-powered lasers, ion cannons and a hefty payload of torpedoes made them the workhorse of the Rebellion to the X-Wing’s warhorse.

y-wing-layout

So when it comes to the X-Wing Miniatures game the Y-Wing provides all those qualities. With 3 shields and 5 points of armour it’s incredibly tough. Which is just as well because they’re less manoeuvrable than the Millennium Falcon. But for the points you can almost forgive it. Even when you take Horton Salm at 25 points, and the Ion Cannon upgrade it still only weighs in 1 point more than Wedge Antilles. And that comes with Salm’s ability of re-rolling blank misses at range bands 2 & 3. Which is fantastic when combined with focus. Not that Dutch Vander’s special ability is sloppy. Being able to acquire a target lock then immediately assign a second target lock to a wingman is extremely good. Especially considering Y-Wings will rarely be operating alone.

If you’re feeling particularly cheeky you can equip the Y-Wing with two lots of torpedoes which does jack the same pilot up to 38 which is barely worth it but its lethality, coupled with resilience and the fact you’d never leave it on its own, means that it’s got a fair chance of surviving. However being forced to babysit a Y-Wing is rather a waste of potential for an X-Wing.

And because the Y-Wing is as agile as I am, with lots of red manoeuvres on its dial and a single point of agility you’ll be hard pressed to decide which astromech to choose – and you will want to take one – whether it’s treat all 1 & 2 movements as green or the ability to remove damage cards. So the Y-Wing can weigh in a t between 39 & 41 points. For 6 points more you can take the Millennium Falcon piloted by Han Solo (including the 1 point upgrade to make it specifically the Falcon). But credit where credit’s due, she’ll pack plenty of punch per model.

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Ion Cannons, whilst expensive, are worth the points. Although they can do a single point of damage per hit, they prevent the targeted model from performing any manoeuvres next turn which makes them very easy to finish off with anything else at your disposal. The downside of Ion Cannons is, because they are a secondary weapon, you’ll be forced to choose between them and firing torpedoes. So Y-Wings working in tandem is where their strengths really come in. Between them they’ll be chewing through targets. Throw in the aforementioned characters and a heady astromech combination and all of a sudden two Y-Wings become a formidable, if expensive fighting force. And in bigger games I don’t actually think you could be without them. Especially if you’re going up against Slave 1, transports or the humongous Tantive IV/Corellian Corvette.

The model itself is actually pretty cool. The shit-kicker look that the pre-painted models have suits the Y-Wing far better than the X-Wing. The aforementioned workhorse label lends itself to a craft that just gets thrown into fight after fight with very little love going its way. Y-Wing aren’t as pretty as X-Wings. Y-Wing pilots don’t get the praise. They just suit up and ship out and hope to God they don’t get vaped in the process.

Fantasy Flight Games did a pretty good job adjusting the design so it was still faithful but not break every time you put it in a figure case. The ion turret is integrated into the canopy and the chin mounted lasers are much shorter than the original design but it works. Equally the pylons are thicker but I’ll take that. My brother had the Kenner toy growing up and not a one of those pylons survived not because we were careless but because it was too faithful a recreation.

I’m really pleasantly surprised by the Y-Wing. I wanted it out of a sense of completeness and thought it’d be a soft target to act as a lure but I’m a convert. The Y-Wing and it’s two named character cards are a valuable addition to a fleet. They’re tough, they pack a punch and whilst they’ll still get picked on, the right tactics can mean you can turn that to your advantage.

The Y-Wing Expansion Pack is available from Firestorm Games priced £10.79.

Make an X-Wing Carry Case – Part 2

FFGSWXwinglogoA week or so ago Mat told you all about how he turned a Boba Fett lunch box into an X-Wing Miniatures Game figure case. Seeing as we’re both completely mad for the game set in a Galaxy far, far away (Battle Report 4 coming soon), I decided I’d make one as well. Being the good guys I opted for an equally good and virtuous character in contrast to the dastardly Boba Fett. Of course I refer to none other than that true hero of the Rebellion…R2D2.

tinbox-r2-1I aside from being the brains behind the Rebellion, I opted for Artoo because of its simple shape. The object of the exercise was to create a two layer figure case that would – eventually – hold a squadron of X-Wings or a mix of a dozen snubfighter sized models. I admit to going into the build a little blind because, well, how hard can it be? It was debatable whether or not I could comfortably fit the fighters and their bases in the case but I was gonna…ahem…wing it.

So, what do you need? Well a lunchbox or some description. Go for metal, it’ll keep your models nice and safe and won’t crack if you drop it. You’ll also need some egg crate foam, a glue gun, some decent scissors – I used kitchen scissors.

It isn’t rocket science so let’s get down to business. Assuming you’ve bought a piece of foam big enough, you should be able to get at least 5 sections of foam that’ll fit a case the size of the one I’m used - 19cm x 13.5cm x 8cm – I know I could get 5 because I managed to bodge one of the layers and had to cut a fresh piece. I opted for placing the tin on the foam and scoring the foam lightly around the edge of the tin then cutting the shape out before trimming it down by a few mil’ to fit inside the case.

Keep the first insert handy as you can use it as a guide for the other three but it really is as simple as that. Once you’ve got all 4 pieces of sponge out use your glue gun to glue the first piece into the bottom of the case, making sure it fits comfortably, you don’t want it too tight or it’ll eventually break free of the glue.

As you can see from the picture above the case holds 3 X-Wings and their stands quite comfortably. If you were willing to carry your stands separately you could fit 6 fighters per layer in the case. And as 12 is the magic number, that’s pretty good going.

Now, the dividing layers you can glue together if you like but I opted not to as I wanted to option of taking equipment and pilot cards with me for games between the layers, so I knew they were with the models. This is specifically games I’ve planned ahead for so I don’t need to take the entire equipment deck.

If you wanted to use one of the layers to transport something a little larger than an X-Wing, I’d recommend having a thinner piece of foam pre-cut and handy that you can swap out as the foam Mat and I opted for was pretty rigid and that went double with two pieces together. Using a thinner piece will allow your Millennium Falcon or whatever a little more room to breathe.

Finally – and this is the fiddly bit – place the last piece in the lid of your lunchbox figure case, but don’t glue it in place yet. Partially close the lid so you can see where the sponge insert will meet the lip of the tin which will prevent it closing fully. This will all need cutting away so the case will close but it’ll still afford you sufficient protection for your models. Cut it away in stages. Removing too much – particularly from the bottom – will mean the case will close but any models near that end of the case won’t be afforded full protection. That said, don’t be paranoid about it. Providing you’ve got some fairly rigid sponge you’ll get good grip. Once you’ve got your final piece of sponge cut to size, glue it into the lid.

And that’s the case done. It works well but only for snubfighters – and really only Rebel ones at that. I currently have the Falcon on bottom layer and 3 X-Wings on the top but it’s an iffy fit and I won’t be leaving it that way for long. The Falcon on its own with the stand and all the associated cards would fit fine. Equally a squadron of snubfighters will go in the case no problem. And with some careful positioning, their stands will too.

It’s robust and the foam really holds the models in place. However, the lasers on the X-Wings do tend to get caught on the foam which is bit frustrating and I’d advise caution when removing them as there’s little give and if they break it’s an expensive model to replace. And value for money of the case is a little shaky as well when you take into  account the lunchbox, the foam and other supplies.

I’ll be honest – if you’re going for X-Wing hardcore, the laser cut trays is probably the way to go. The models are just too expensive to risk anything happening to them. However, the case is tough enough that you can put a fair few models in there and they’ll arrive in one piece. Plus the size of the case makes for very convenient transportation. Which is kinda nice.

If, however, the last cut stuff is your bag  or you’d prefer a standard figure case then the KR Multicase range is available from Firestorm Games priced from £9.99.

X-Wing Miniatures Game: Battle Report 3

FFGSWXwinglogo

For the third battle report for the X-Wing Miniatures Game I decided I’d, well, go a bit mental. Having discovered a Crawl Creator app, I’ve made a short prologue crawl. There’s no sound, unfortunately. Mainly because I refuse to pay Apple £22 a year to use music I’ve already paid for. There’s also a bit of a delay at the start, but stick with it. Anyway, it’s a bit of fun and I hope you enjoy it along with the continuing adventures of Mat and I playing out our own version of the Galactic Civil War.

‘Rogue 2, break off, the Bright is hounding you hard.’ Rogue 4′s voice came through like a physical slap inside Wedge’s helmet and he yanked hard on the control stick, throwing his X-Wing into a sharp turn to port. Lasers slashed through the space he’d just occupied a second later. Wedge Antilles smiled to himself as he rolled his X-Wing back to starboard and high, throwing the snubfighter clear of the furball that was ensuing. He checked his on board chrono. The dog fight had been on going for less than seven minutes. He and Rogue 4 had splashed three TIEs in quick succession. The Imperial hadn’t expected the two Rogue Squadron pilots to go straight for them when they’d been deployed.

Wedge dropped his X-Wing in to a spiralling dive, dropping him in behind a TIE fighter that Rogue 4 had led on a merry dance. Wedge let his crosshairs drop over the TIE, the Imperial pilot realising too late he’d been had. Four crimson spears of laser energy punched through the aft bulkhead and exploded the engines. The TIE disappeared in a cloud of pink flames, the stabilizer foils spinning off in opposite directions.

‘That’s two a piece Rogue 4.’ Wedge barrel rolled clear of his kill and went after his third. Tycho Celchu broke in the opposite direction, bringing him in behind the TIE Advanced. There was only one Bright with that configuration in the entire galaxy. He knew that he couldn’t hope to kill it on his own, but he wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to take a couple of pot shots. He squeezed off a pair of shots, watching with satisfaction as they flared against shields before he broke to port to chase a TIE that was banking wide to go after Rogue 2.

Before he could squeeze the firing stud on his flight stick the TIE disintegrated, its entire super structure melting in on itself before vanishing in a cloud of fire and sparkling debris. He watched Wedge Antilles’ X-Wing surge through the flames, shields flaring as the shrapnel bounced off them. Tycho rarely took for granted the skill the Universe had given him, but even he had to marvel at Wedge’s born instinct for flying. ‘I make that four kills to two, Rogue 4.’

‘I was busy getting to know the neighbours.’ Tycho replied, effortlessly putting his X-Wing into a spin that saw a volley of emerald lasers fly wide of their mark.

‘Well, when you’ve finished horsing around, perhaps you’d like to cover our asses whilst we get the hell outta here?’ General Solo’s accent was far harsher than Wedge’s and dripped with the roguish nature of the man who owned it.

‘Roger that Gold leader, breaking off. We’ll be with you in three.’

Wedge broke off his attack run, with Tycho forming up on his wing. The TIEs didn’t pursue. By now they would have received a transmission from the surface that one of their number had been taken and was aboard the Millennium Falcon. The battered old transport ship would become the target and the Rogue’s would have no choice but to defend her with their lives…

So, the third battle report but this time with a scenario, rather than a good old-fashioned furball in the middle of the board. For this game I would be fielding the Millennium Falcon, captained by Han Solo with trust Chewbacca at his side, along with two X-Wing escorts piloted by Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu. But as I don’t have his card yet, Mat agreed to let me use Luke’s card as the point in the timeline I’ve slotted this into, he’s a bit busy. Mat managed to get his hands on a TIE Advanced (review coming soon) to go with his 5 TIE fighters, putting him up to a half squadron, all of which were pretty pimped out.

The mission was simple. I had to get the Millennium Falcon off the opposite corner to the Falcon’s deployment, and Mat had to stop me, not matter what. Amazingly, because I’d spent 1 point fewer than Mat, I got the initiative…

Imperial Navy

Game 3 of our Battle Report series and I have the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader himself, on my side. With a TIE Advanced at my disposal, coupled with Darth’s ability to take both focus and evade tokens every turn makes him very resilient, and bunches up his lethality. So much of my plan revolved around getting him in close enough to the Falcon and unleashing the cluster missiles I’d bought for him. To do this I thought I’d try swarming the Falcon, keeping the squadron nice and tight to make the most of massed fire and the upgrades and inherent pilot abilities at my disposal, such as Howl Runners re-roll to friendlies within range 1.

I was excited for this game I had my TIE Advanced with Lord Asthma himself giving me something extra and I finally got to use missiles. Run Han Solo Run.

Rebel Scum

I was in a bit of a conundrum. My mission was simple: get the Falcon to safety, no matter what. Whilst a mission of this type would be fine in any other game, I have a deep and profound attachment to the X-Wing pilots of Rogue Squadron. So the obvious cavalier tactic of feeding the X-Wings to the mass of Imperials didn’t really sit well with me.

Instead, I opted for an attack run tactic that would allow me to keep my X-Wings together to maximise firepower whilst avoiding getting caught in the middle of the larger Imperial force. The Falcon would just take whatever course was safest as I could make full use of that all important 360 degree field of fire. The strategy relied, basically, on the X-Wings being a nuisance enough that they would draw sufficient fire from the Falcon that it would escape damaged but otherwise in one piece. I had little hope that the X-Wings would survive the game but I suppose war is hell.

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Turn 1:

M: So Phil had the initiative, whilst this made little difference to movement, thanks to my TIE fighter pilots being as subtle as a glow in the dark condom in a black out, his ability to shoot with the Falcon and Wedge Antilles before Darth Vadar could prove a problem.

But with nothing to be done and the mission as simple as ‘kill the Millennium Falcon’ it made my movement pretty straight forward. All 5 TIEs, and later on Vadar, made a fast sweeping turn to port to put them in line with the Millennium Falcon.

2014-02-28 21.06.51

P: This was the first game we’d played with an Imperial unit with a high/superior pilot skill, so this would mean that one of my X-Wings (Luke Skywalker was masquerading as Tycho Celchu for the purposes of this game) would move, followed by Darth Vadar, then Wedge Antilles – thanks to me winning the initiative – and finally the Falcon as I’d opted for the handy-dandy Veteran Instincts upgrade that gave it +2 on that front boosting Han Solo’s skill to 11.

So I moved my X-Wings in a mirror manoeuvre to the Dark Lord and his squadron, a fast, sweeping turn to starboard, putting them on an intercept course. The Falcon lumbered forward at best speed.

Turn 2:

M: The Falcon had, rather politely, moved straight towards my formation which meant that whichever direction it now chose to go I could attack it with most, if not all, of my force. The X-Wings that were barreling their way towards my formation were a bit of a worry but I knew Phil was trying to divide my attention so I ignored them and made a straight ahead speed 5 movement.

2014-02-28 21.19.59

P: Mat’s entire formation had surged forwards at top speed. Whilst I had expected an aggressive move I hadn’t expected one that was quite so brutally forced down my throat. But it suited me fine as the Falcon made a sweeping turn to starboard putting it out of the path of the oncoming TIEs and some of their fire arcs. My X-Wings, on the other hand, made a swift move forward in order to close the gap between them and the TIEs as rapidly as possible to do maximum damage with shooting. Knowing full well there was plenty of guns that’d be in short-range of me, just as I them.

In true Star Wars fashion, both sides opened up in a blaze of laser and the flicker of exploding shield energy. The Millennium Falcon opened up with its turrets, targeting Mauler Mithil and scored a critical hit but failed to do any serious damage. Wedge Antilles fired on Winged Gundark but, despite landing 3 hits, the Imperial pilot evaded all three.

Darth Vadar took aim at the Millennium Falcon and sprayed it with laser fire, causing a shield generator to sputter and die. A moment later Tycho Celchu opened up on Winged Gundark, determined to use up all of the Imperial pilot’s luck early on. As it turned out, Antilles had seen to that and Tycho scored 2 criticals and a hit, destroying Winged Gundark outright.

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Turn 3:

M: I’m sure I’ve mentioned how much I hate Phil. Well that stills stands. And another thing, I probably hate him a bit more now. With the Falcon in danger of slipping past me I put my entire formation into a fast Koigan turn allowing me to bring my guns to bear on the transport as well as hopefully catch the X-Wings in my fire arc as well regardless of what Phil tried to pull with them.

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P: With the TIE’s poised to shoot past their objective I had to assume they’d be going after the Falcon as aggressively as possible which meant, most likely, Mat pulling his favourite manoeuvre. So I did the same. As the Falcon made a sweeping starboard turn putting some distance between him and the spiralling dogfight, the X-Wing executed a Koigan turn putting on them opposite the TIEs. Facing off against 5 TIEs with two X-Wings isn’t such a great idea…

With Darth Vadar closing in on the Falcon I decided to make him my number one priority. Both the Falcon and Wedge fired at Darth Vadar. After a spat of pretty decent rolling by Mat, they succeeded in doing nothing more than stripping the TIE Advanced’s shields away. Darth Vadar returns fire but his shots go well wide. In reply, Tycho targets Darth Vadar and hammers him with a critical hit. The result was the ‘Secondary Weapon’ destroyed, removing the assault missiles before Mat had the chance to fire them.

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Darth’s squadron fared little better with Mauler Mithil and Backstabber stripping shields from the Millennium Falcon and Wedge’s X-Wing respectively. With both of Wedge’s shields gone I was going to have to play things very carefully form now on.

Turn 4:

M: Having made an about-face I had to get  back to the business of killing the Falcon so my flight made a fast move straight ahead to close the gap and start stripping some more shields. Howlrunner made a barrel roll which took him out of formation but I hoped it’d line him up to harass the X-Wings.

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P: I continued the Falcon on its weaving run towards freedom whilst I made a green port turn with the X-Wings to put the pressure on Mat to split his fire between them and his objective. If I was going to lose a fighter it was going to be now, especially with Wedge sans shields. I took the opportunity to put focus tokens on my X-Wings to try to give them an edge over the TIEs. The picture shows evade tokens because I picked up the wrong ones. I wasn’t cheating. Honest.

As the shooting phase began I had one thought, and that was to finish off Darth Vadar and take out the biggest threat to the Falcon. The Millennium Falcon kicked off proceedings, hammering the TIE Advanced but Mat used his evade token and made sufficient rolls to escape harm. Wedge Antilles opened up scoring two hits on the man responsible for Biggs’ death and took Vadar out of the fight.

2014-02-28 22.15.58With Darth Vadar now spinning off into the void, frantically calling for the Emperor to save his mechanical arse, Tycho was free to take his shooting action, hammering Backstabber, causing two points of damage.

Backstabber returned fire but Tycho succeeded in evading. Howlrunner targeted Wedge Antilles and managed to not only cause damage but cause a critical, reducing his agility. Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse both fired on the Falcon, taking down two more shields.

Turn 5:

M: Well Phil’s a dick! I can’t believe he reduced Darth Vadar’s TIE Advanced to bits of floating tin foil. Worst of all the assault missiles it was carrying went along with it, taking away the ace up my sleeve. With time fast running out, I move the TIEs straight forward as whichever way the Falcon moved I was going to be in fire arc.

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P: I was a couple of turns away from getting the Falcon off the board and thanks to the Falcon’s turrets I had no reason to hang about so I sent the old bird on a straight burn. I guessed Mat would go all out to try to take down the Falcon. He knew the TIEs would start to get picked off so it was all or nothing now Vadar had been splashed. So I put my X-Wings into a tight port turn, tucking the fighters nicely behind the four remaining TIEs. Tycho locked on to Howlrunner, arming his Proton Torpedoes. Wedge got focused.

The Falcon opened fire on Backstabber and took the damaged TIE to pieces in a shower of flame and debris. Wedge swiftly followed up damaging Mauler Mithil, putting him on 1 damage point. Tycho unleashed his torpedoes on contrails of blue flame, scoring 4 hits, two of them criticals on Howlrunner, leaving nothing bust burning gases to mark his passing.

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The chrono had spun to zero for the Imperials, with a last gasp Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse fired on the Millennium Falcon but, despite only getting a single evade roll, the Falcon escaped harm.

Turn 6:

M: The Falcon’s safety was all but guaranteed so it was death and/or glory. I put Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse into a Koigan turn in the hope of either taking Wedge with them or blowing past them and hauling ass for the planet surface.

P: I moved the Falcon to the very edge of the board and moved the X-Wings dead ahead on a cruising speed lining up kill shots on the two fleeing TIE fighters.

The shooting phase was brief. The Falcon and Wedge opened fire in quick succession, destroying the remaining TIEs and securing the Rebel’s survival for another day.

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Curses Foiled Again

Okay I love this game but I fucking hate Han Solo and I definitely hate Phil…

Things I did not foresee was me spending more points than Phil so the Rebel scum got the initiative. This is not a good place to be at all, and me not reading my Elite ability cards really screwed me. People make sure you read the damn cards.

Other than that I am actually happy with how the squad performed, although I got distracted knocking the crap out of the X-Wings as I don’t get to do that too often. Although I’m not convinced I could have stopped the Falcon as it’s such a brute, I definitely couldn’t after the Rebels ganged up on Vadar. I wish I’d gotten the assault missiles off sooner! And by sooner, I mean: at all.

The tactic of blasting past Phil’s formation and pulling a Koigan is one I will use again at some point just not against a an old bruiser like the Falcon, and I can see the benefit of swarming, although this game may have been better if I had used 2 wings rather than one large one.

So anyway, Han Solo ran like the big girls blouse he is, in his leather jerkin and tight pants, and he lives to fight another day.

Live to Fight Another Day

Well that was interesting. I honestly saw my X-Wings being splashed in quick succession and the Falcon slowly being picked apart by a force it wasn’t going to be able to kill quick enough. Instead I was able to split attentions enough that definitive blows were never landed.

The decisive moment was, I think, when I matched Mat’s Koigan turn resulting in two turns of shooting that I otherwise would have missed out on whilst I faffed about getting back into firing position.

Overall the plan worked with no real errors on my part. I kept the X-Wings together and kept them focussed on picking off targets one at a time. However, the combination of upgrade cards made a big difference, particularly with the Falcon as the right mix can and did give a real edge. So much so the Falcon would have been in much poorer shape without them.

Space was filled with lances of scarlet laser, criss crossing a shrinking area of space as two remaining TIE fighters barrel rolled and dove in an effort to avoid the lethal energy. Wedge squeezed the firing stud on his flight stick adding two more bolts to the torrent coming from the Falcon. The transport was a tough old bird and its scoundrel crew had improved upon the original design but they were far from sharpshooters. One of Wedge’s shots clipped the port TIE’s stabiliser foil, putting it into a spin that somersaulted it into the incoming fire from the Falcon. Any evidence it had ever existed was gone in seconds. He adjusted his aim and fired again, his shots struck the last TIE, one bolt splintering the port stabiliser, the other blowing out an engine. The TIE turned starboard into a slow spin, dropping below Wedge’s relative plain.

Throttling down he punched up the system status of his fighter as his comm unit crackled to life.

‘Rogue 2, this is Gold lead. Thanks for the company but you mix with a rough crowd. We’re going to call it a night.’

Wedge smiled to himself. ‘Acknowledged Gold lead, go on ahead and put the caff on.’

As the read out filled with a list of system damages to his starboard stabilisers he saw the Falcon’s engines flash and the transport was flung into the space between spaces.

‘How’s she looking Rogue 2?’ Tycho’s voice echoed through the comm.

‘Battered, bruised, but she’ll make it home.’ He reached out with a black gloved hand and patted the console.

‘Just as well, I just picked up a Star Destroyer dropping in at the edge of the system.’

‘In search of their boss, no doubt.’ 

Wedge began shunting power from sublight systems to faster than light. Ahead and to port he saw Tycho’s own X-Wing close its stabiliser foils. ‘So how does it feel to have splashed Vadar?’ Tycho asked, comms already breaking up as his X-Wing picked up speed.

‘It would have felt a lot better had I killed the son of a bitch.’ Wedge said to himself as his own fighter catapulted itself into the mottled world of hyperspace. 

X-Wing Expansion: TIE Advanced – A Review

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Back when Phil first dangled X-Wing in front of me, like a dealer with a fresh bag of something lethal before an addict, one of the things that sold me on the game was the option of being able to deploy two of the most iconic characters in science fiction. The first being Boba Fett and the other being Darth Vadar. And the other day I finally got my hands on old the Dark Lord of the Sith. Old Captain Asthma himself, piloting the equally iconic mark I TIE Advanced.

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Having played a couple of games I was struck by just how vast a gulf there was between the performance of an X-Wing and a TIE Fighter. And I don’t mean the pilot: the craft itself. Shields make a massive difference. This seems obvious but they really do. Numbers don’t count for as much as I thought they would so the addition of a TIE Advanced that increased level of protection, as well as some sorely needed ordinance was going to make a big difference. And I got Darth Vadar thrown in to boot.

Now I know Phil isn’t keen on the packaging but I like it. If I’m going to pay as much as £10.79 for a single snubfighter miniature I at least want it to look premium when it turns up, and the packaging definitely does that. It feels solid and looks nice. The model is well presented, a bit like an Apple product in so much as it’s all a bit unnecessary but you don’t really care. Plus as anything with the words Star Wars on the packaging usually gets inflated by 30%, it needs to look top end.

Once you get into the packing, along with the faithful recreation of Vadar’s ride, we have the following:
1 x Base and stand
3 x Ship Tokens
1 x Manoeuvre Dial
1 x Evade Token
1 x Focus Token
1 x Stress Token
1 x Critical Hit Token
2 x Shield Tokens
2 x Sets of Lock on Counters
4 x Pilot Cards including: Darth Vader, Maarek Stele, Storm Squadron Pilot & Tempest Squadron Pilot
5 x Upgrade Cards including: Concussion Missiles, Cluster Missiles, Squad Leader, Swarm Tactics & Expert Handling

In short, a lot of card. And as before you don’t just buy these expansions for the model it’s as much about the cards and upgrades they offer you that can be used on your other ships. It’s kind of tabletop game, collectible card game and RPG all rolled into one when you think about it. Which is kinda cool.

But obviously this is all about Lord Vadar, and his inherent Pilot Trait is frankly awesome. You get to perform 2 actions a turn which means you can put both evade and focus tokens on your base. This means you can dodge a hell of a lot of fire even if your evasion rolls are only average. It dramatically increases Darth Vadar’s survivability. Although Maarek Stele ain’t too shabby either on the trait front because as he scores critical hits you get to draw three cards and choose the worst result to inflict on your opponent. It’s not hard to see how that can be an utter disaster for your opponent.

And the upgrade cards that come with the TIE Advanced are pretty damn handy too. Obviously we have had Swarm Tactics with the TIE Fighter pack but now we have Squad Leader which is a unique card so can only be taken once, but gives you the ability to select any friendly ship within range 1 – 2 with a lower pilot skill and this ship can then perform an additional action for free. Which is crazy good. And the Expert handling card allows you to perform a free barrel roll removing 1 target lock, damn useful for when you’re being hounded by those bloody pesky X-Wings.

And now we come to my favourite. Namely cluster missiles. In exchange for 4 points and your target lock, you get to launch this bad boy twice at with 3 attack dice providing you’re range band 1 – 2. Tasty. And then you have the Concussion Missiles which, again for a target lock, get four dice at range band 2 – 3. It also allows you to change one blank roll to a hit. Boom!

So to sum up the TIE advanced is essential to any imperial fleet as it gives you your first taste of shields and missiles but also some rather nice upgrades that, in the right combination, are extremely nasty. But honestly, what imperial fleet is complete without Darth Vader?

The TIE Advanced Expansion Pack is available from Firestorm Games priced at £10.79.