Deep Cut Studios Epic Play Space Mat – A Review

deepcutstudioYou may remember back in June I reviewed a 3×3 space mat from Deep Cut Studio and I really rather liked it. Being someone who appreciates beautiful things – and with a massive X-Wing fleet – I got back in touch with Deep Cut to see if I could look at their 6×4 foot mats and they kindly obliged. Just as a teaser we’ve played a 400 point X-Wing game over this thing and we’ve got a game with the Tantive IV coming up so watch this space for the prettiest X-Wing battle report this side of Tatooine.

wargames_terrain_mat_planetsAfter I reviewed the 3×3 mat I had a couple of The Chaps and people on Twitter ask me if the mat was really that good, especially compared to the better known Gale Force 9′s product. In a word? Yes it is. And its big brother is even more so. To be clear it’s not made of a different material or possessed with an AI that strokes your ego every time you move your X-Wings (although that would be wicked cool), there’s just more of it. There’s more material which means a bigger gaming space and that means bigger games. Because it’s 6×4 rather than 3×3 or even 6×3 it’s Battlefleet Gothic compatible which fills me with such unbridled joy even I can’t find the words.

But more over it is completely and utterly beautiful. Mat and I are both in marketing. We both appreciate a good bit of design and we’re both hyper critical especially on things we’ve deluded ourselves into thinking we could do better. Mat’s exact words, when I unrolled it the other week at games night, were ‘Oh my God! That’s gorgeous.’ And he’s right.

I’ve been in the hobby a long time and in terms of my painting skill I’ve hit my plateau. I’m as good as I’m ever going to be plus or minus a few skill points. Equally I’ve hit the time wall that everyone hits when they do silly things like grow up, get jobs and have children. My personal time is very limited and the time I do have I try to indulge in all the various different facets of my hobby, but the one area that always gets neglected is – I’m sure you’ll all be stunned to learn – painting. And not just my armies: my scenery too. And my boards. These stupendous games mats offer people like me the opportunity to play across breathtaking boards that aren’t normally scene outside of places like Warhammr World or Babylon 5.

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The production value of the design is crazy. The previous mat was like looking at something from Astronomy Picture of the Day which, for all I know, it could have been. Not that I would have cared. But this is an entirely original creation. Time and effort and skill went into designing the mat. Not to mention the faultless printing of it.

It is a bit of a faff to get in and out of the cardboard tube and you either need to reverse roll it or flatten it with a couple of figure cases when you first lay it flat, to prevent curling, but they’re minor, trivial, gripes that in no way detract from the product. And the benefit of playing over a pretty sexy looking space board. And the fact that 6×4 is available breathes life into a game that could grow stale trapped within the confines of a 3×3 gaming space. That’s not to say smaller games of X-Wing aren’t fun or even that the space is tiresome, but it’s just nice to be able to kick things up a notch from time to time and the mat from Deep Cut Studio allows you to do just that.

And the cost for this 6×4 beauty? A trifling £39.90. Now to put that in perspective, I did make a space board a while back and the paint cost me – at those prices – £30. Today that’d be more like £50.  And whilst it looks pretty cool it isn’t anything compared to the mat and doesn’t include the cost of the boards themselves.

The epic 6×4 game mat lives up to that word. It’s a stunning looking mat and the fact that Deep Cut Studio offer other sizes over the standard 3×3 puts them head and shoulders above Gale Force 9. Throw in the fact they look better, they’re made better and are better value makes them the best and first choice for gaming mats.

You can pick up the game mats direct from Deep Cut Studio.

X-Wing Expansion: Lambda Class Shuttle – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesA slightly different tack for me for this X-Wing ship review. I’m going Imperial. But just this once. I’m Imperial-curious I guess you could say. And for my dabble in the Dark Side I’ll be looking at the iconic and epically cool Lambda Class Shuttle.

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First: the model. Which is, even by the gaming standard pre-paint jobs that Fantasy Flight churn out, not awesome. Admittedly there’s not a lot you can do with a grey ship with lots of flat surfaces but visible brush strokes are a little much. The model itself though is way cool and I love the fact that the wings move. As arguably there will never be a situation when the wings will be folded up they didn’t have to design the model with movable wings so it’s kind cool that they did.

And that’s really the point of the Lambda Class. It’s just cool. It looks bad ass. It looks bad ass despite the average paint job and the alarmingly flimsy blaster cannons mounted on the wings. Those buggers will snap faster than someone with anger management issues at a twat convention.

In the game the Lambda Class Shuttle is a mess of contradictions. In terms of movement it is a slow, wallowing, turd of a ship that is quite at odds with the fast movers that make up the bulk of the Imperial fleet. This does mean it’ll need baby sitters like a teenager needs supervision at the magazine rack. That said, it’ll take some killing. With 5 shields and hull points it’s very solid and that makes it a problem for Rebels as their smaller numbers requires them to make clean kills and move on to the next one. Ten hits are a heck of a lot of punishment to have to dish out. Not to mention having to wade through all the other ships to get to the shuttle in the first place.

And it’s no slouch in a fight either with three shots and for 2 points it can take an anti-pursuit laser which means, much like the Firespray, you can only really catch it amidships. But for around 10 points less. However this fact does actually play to the Rebel’s strengths but providing you’ve not left the Lambda Class alone you should have a very meaty anchor unit in your fleet.

So the Lambda Class is a slow-moving, durable, weapons platform and a rally point. But that’s not all. Oh no. The pilots provide very useful advantages like taking on stress tokens or target locks which keeps you flimsier but faster fighter in the fight for longer. Colonel Jendon can assign his blue target lock action to another ship, presumably even if they can’t normally acquire it. Which for the likes of a TIE fighter is very useful indeed. Double that up with the ST-321 upgrade and you can acquire a target lock on any enemy on the board. Which, for an extra 3 points, is a lethal mix.

All the upgrades are a bit mental actually and none of them are over 3 points. Including being able to take Darth Vadar who gives you the opportunity to inflict a critical hit on a target in exchange for taking 2 points of damage. A two-edged sword but timed right and it could be decisive. Although the cheekiest card by a mile is the Rebel captive who inflicts a stress token on any Rebel ship firing on the user. Which is just horrendous and anyone using the Lambda Class without that card should probably have a slap. And, theoretically, on the basis that Rebel captives aren’t in that short supply, you can take one per shuttle.

And really that’s the Lambda Class Shuttle‘s strength: investing in sensible upgrades which dramatically increase the fleets longevity, allowing you to offset its weaknesses. And then take two.

I gameplay terms I’m not sure at which point you’d take a Lambda Class Shuttle over other elements. Especially now things like the TIE Defender is readily(isn) available. The unit buffs and upgrades are a strong lure but it’s slow speed forces you to change tactics and that’s worth considering. Points wise it’s embarrassingly cheap for what it gives you. TIE Defenders are the more expensive option and it’s only their aggression and tasty mix of Ion Cannons and Laser Cannons that makes them my first choice but in the right scenario a Lambda class is devastating. Especially anything that requires the Rebels to attack a specific point. The fact that the Lambda can actually come to a complete stop gives you floating bunkers and that’s terrifying.

The Lambda Class Shuttle is available from Firestorm Games priced £19.99.

-Phil

X-Wing Expansion: Tantive IV – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesI was very young when I was first exposed to Star Wars. Return of the Jedi was released when I was just a year old and so I was watching the Original trilogy on VHS (kids you’ll have to Google that) from around 2/3 years old. I didn’t have that seminal, life changing, moment that friends that are a few years older had. Instead I was born to a world with Star Wars and actually that makes me pretty lucky. I grew up watching and rewatching those incredible, industry changing, films countless times.

Even now, 30 odd years later, the opening scene of Episode IV is just as exciting as it was when my tiny infant mind was first exposed to intergalactic violence. And even now I still look upon the ‘Blockade Runner’ as it became known with great fondness.

So when Fantasy Flight Games announced that the Tantive IV would be released I must admit to a certain degree of nerdgasm. And with fairly good reason. Aside from being an incredibly cool looking ship and an iconic one at that, it was also going to completely change the way X-Wing played. Introducing large vessels not only could make for some scenarios very close to the kind available on the X-Wing PC game but introduce campaigns and even ship to ship combat rather than just snubfighters.

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When the Tantive IV arrived from the good people at Firestorm Games I was, according to my wife, as excited as a kid at Christmas. Who am I to argue. I was. It’s the Tantive IV for crying out loud! And it’s massive. I thought the Rebel Transport was big (a review will eventually be written I promise) but the Tantive is crazy big. Below is a size comparison (swanky star mat kindly provided by Deep Cut Studio) and as you can see it dwarfs the transport and makes the X-Wing look very flimsy indeed.

IMG_3026But as one would expect from something classified in the game as Epic. And it is. Very. But so is the truly embarrassing amount of packaging. I’ve commented on this before but it’s just mad on this occasion. If Fantasy Flight were willing to have just one window on the box rather than two it could be half the height. Granted, most of it can be recycled but it’s an unnecessary cost of production which gets built into the cost of the model.

The model itself is impressive. The larger the X-Wing models get the better the detail – stands to reason – so the Tantive is impressive. I even brought up images on Google to compare the model with the original and it’s all pretty faithfully done, right down to the asymmetrical hull sections. The ventral turrets and radar dish move which is a nice touch. But be aware they’re a little on the flimsy side so if you don’t have a case for the Tantive make sure you keep the plastic tray it comes in so you can keep it safe between games. It is epic though. I mean so impressive. And the joy of scrutinising the model and identifying little details cannot be emphasised enough. Being able to use this ship in a game is, well, epic. There’s also the usual stack of cardboard. Cards, upgrades, energy tokens etc. And all produced to Fantasy Flight’s usual standards.

What really lets the Tantive IV down, however, is the paint job. Now I appreciate and accept that having mass-produced pre-painted models is going to mean a drop in quality somewhere along the road, especially considering the volumes Fantasy Flight are being forced to ship now. However some parts of the paint job are just down right sloppy. And for the money they’re asking this shouldn’t be the case. Of all the ships I own – which is a lot – this is the only ship I think I’m going to have to repaint. Not because the quality is staggeringly under par compared to the rest of the range but because it’s so big the flaws are glaring obvious which is a bit of a shame. Overall and when on the board it does look awesome but once you spot a mistake your eye will be drawn to it every time.

In game terms the Tantive behaves rather differently to its more agile cousins. For start its a walling cow of a craft when it comes to movement. There’s two reasons for this. 1 the designers shrewdly acknowledged that it was represented at the speed depicted in A New Hope it’d fly off the board in a single turn. 2 this game is about the fighters ultimately and being able to have a squadron of anything swarming around a Corellian Corvette is immensely cool. Just putting an X-Wing or the Falcon next to it gives me hobby stirrings so you can only image what it’s like in-game.

The Tantive – again in difference to the fact that to behave any way would make it devastating – has to generate energy before it can do anything. For those that remember Titan Legions and using the Imperator or Mega Gargants, it’s not entirely dissimilar to that. Energy is produced and then directed to systems which allow it to perform special actions and fire secondary weapon systems. The good news is firing its range 5 (yes I said 5) turbo lasers isn’t included. It’s assumed there’s enough energy available to fire primary weapons and drive the engines. As the ship takes damage energy can be lost or you have to make the choice between diverting energy to make repairs to continue to fight. It’s kind of a game within a game which is a nice touch.

Upgrades can obviously augment the energy levels as well as generally up its lethality. Not that much is needed. Especially if you have a fighter escort within the vulnerable 1-2 ranges. However the option to take Prince Leia, Raymus Antilles, R2D2 and C3PO is pretty cool and most of the upgrades are worth taking. And some of them can be taken with other craft as well so there’s some nice buffs to be had across your fleet with our without the Tantive IV on the board.

The added bonus that comes with the Tantive IV box is a campaign leaflet which is something that’s always been lacking. Yes there’s been missions but they’ve always been stand alone. This adds the missing piece of the puzzle. Whilst not long or complicated it’s something you can build on and gives you a series of missions that allow you to bust out the Tantive in various capacities which certainly increases your return on investment.

Although the X-Wing Miniature Game has never been about value for money. It’s been about Star Wars on your gaming board. It’s about X-Wings facing down TIE Fighters and daring dogfights. Heroes and villains, good and evil and some way cool ships all smashed together in the form of little plastic ships. So in those terms the Tantive IV ticks all the boxes because it’s the iconic ship of the Rebellion, a desperate and ultimately failed gambit and all wrapped up in that gorgeous looking craft. And it’s all mine.

The X-Wing Miniature Game expansion, the Tantive IV is available from Firestorm Games priced £67.49.

X-Wing Miniatures Game – A Three Party System

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesIt doesn’t take much to realise that I’m really enjoying the X-Wing Miniatures Game at the moment. I’ve been a Star Wars fan ever since I saw Return of the Jedi at the age of 2 or 3 and that love grown over the years with the introduction of the Star Wars novels, specifically the X-Wing series by Michael A Stackpole and Aaron Allston. If you haven’t read them do so, they’re awesome.

As Mat and I have grown our fleets Lee has found himself increasingly interested but was always put off by the fact that there was only ever two sides to choose from – The Rebellion or The Empire. Being a Rebel through and through, and the person he was going to play the most it left him with little option but to collect the Empire, which he didn’t want because, in his own words, he ‘had no love of the Empire and their ways’.

And that by rights would be that. He’d either have to collect a Rebel fleet and we never really get to play one another, or we have to play ‘training missions’ from now until the galaxy far far away collides with our own thanks to interstellar drift.

However, thanks to those wonderful novels mentioned above I was reminded of a third party that features often in the books and indeed one of the best loved characters fell firmly in their ranks for a while. I refer, of course, to scum and villainy. Smugglers, outlaws and raiders and pirates.

Granted, a certain degree of artistic license is going to be required as such ne’er do wells in the books and comics used Uglies, pilot slang for mongrel craft cobbled together from components salvaged from both sides of the conflict.

ZCeptorThey’re pretty cool but to recreate the craft above it would require the purchase, and subsequent chopping up, of an X-Wing a Y-Wing & a TIE Interceptor. And that’s £36 you could be spending on three ships and not chopping them up.

The point is this – a faction without allegiance is a faction that allows you to pick and choose whatever you want from the range. The transports and the Firespray are obvious places to start affording your fleet a solid core that’s entirely in keeping with its shady origins. A Rebel Transport suits the role of a mother ship or mobile base of operations just as fine as it works as its purpose for the Rebellion. And the fighters on both sides are fair game. Personally I’d set myself limitations – TIE Defenders, for example, are unlikely to make it into a pirate fleet. The robotic TIE-D – should it ever be released – would be almost impossible to maintain. The E-Wing would be too new and in too few numbers and in the likely event raiders did get their hands on one they wouldn’t know about the laser cooling issues.

But the most important piece of the puzzle if fielding unnamed pilots. This puts the pirates at a disadvantage in terms of skill but this tracks as few to none would have had military training. Plus the points saved by buying cheap pilots will mean you’ll have more of them. Coupled with the option of being able to mix the durability of the Rebel fighters with the speed and numbers of Imperial fighters and it becomes a very interesting fleet to go up against.

Moreover it represents the only truly legitimate painting opportunity for the X-Wing Miniatures Game. Whilst you can repaint the models you get for your Imperial and Rebel fleets, you don’t have to and generally the quality is gaming standard which suits most of us just fine. However with a pirate fleet there’s an opportunity to do some really fun stuff with your ships, making up for the fact that converting a fleet of Uglies would be prohibitively expensive.

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Throw in the fact that you have the pick of the Imperial and Rebel fleet lists (with the aforementioned limitations) and you’ve got a fresh set of tactical challenges along with the fun of painting up a truly individual looking force.

If your Photoshop skills can stretch to it there’s nothing stopping you from making up your own pilot cards to give your piratical dogs even more flavour.

Whilst somewhat of a bodge, putting together a raider/pirate force is relatively straight forward. It allows you to cherry pick all the ships you like from the Star Wars universe and use the various larger ships – with a groovy paint job – to add some real flavour to the force.

The X-Wing Miniatures Range is available from Firestorm Games from £6.29

 

 

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.

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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.

 

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.

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