‘Rogue Leader,’ Luke Skywalker’s comm buzzed with background interference, ‘I’m picking up a cruiser at the edge of sensor range.’ There was a pause. ‘I can’t get a firm read but I am detecting multiple fighter launches.’
‘I’ve got it Rogue Three.’ Radio command and notify them that the Empire has found us.’ Luke changed channels with a flick of his black gloved hand. ‘Rogue 2, contact the rest of the squadron and tell them to break off patrol duty and return to base. They’re going to be needed to escort our transports to Hoth.’
‘Confirmed.’ Was Wedge Antilles’ only reply.
Luke began to feed power from his engines into his shields and lasers. Despite being at extreme sensor range Luke could easy identify the sensor silhouette of a TIE Fighter. Was nothing but busy work to the elite Rebel squadron but he knew they were a scouting force. An Imperial patrol in this system was a lose lose scenario for the Rebellion and they were going to have to move quickly.
‘Rogue Two to Rogue Lead.’ Luke couldn’t help but smile when he heard his good friend and XO’s voice. ‘Squadron confirms return to base order. Orders?’
Luke chuckled over the comm. ‘As if I need to tell you Rogue Two.’
There was a brief hiss of static before: ‘I like to give you the impression that you’re the one calling the shots.’
Through Luke’s cockpit he saw Wedge’s X-Wing surge forward, the stabiliser foils parting to form the familiar shape that earned the fighter its name.
‘Rogue Lead to Rogue Three,’ Luke activated his own stabilisers and felt rather than heard the powerful motors splitting the wings apart. ‘Form up on Rogue Two’s wing, he has point.’
For our second game we increased the points value from 60 points to 120 points. This meant that I got to run 5 TIEs and kit them to the tits which should help with how horribly outclassed my TIEs are compared to the more sophisticated X-Wings and their superior pilots. After my arse kicking last time I decided to change-up my tactics…and do exactly the same thing as last time but less shit. This time I’d be sending two TIEs one way and three the other in a flanking action in a hope of dividing Phil’s attention and get some of my TIE fighters outside of his firing arc, get behind him and try to take at least one of his pesky X-Wings out.
My plan last game was as simple as it was time-honoured – don’t leave you’re wingman. And with three X-Wings I didn’t see that plan changing. With the layout of the board and with 5 TIE’s at Mat’s disposal I predicted he’d split them up and send a flight around the moon in the centre of the board. So the plan was this, head right of the moon, take a pop at whatever came my way and then break off and chase after whatever was trying to get behind me. That would mean leaving myself open to getting chased myself but there was no way I was going to get off as lightly as last game with two more TIEs on the board and all of them juiced.
Just a side note – as one would expect, I was fielding Luke & Wedge again however as the timeline of our games falls between Episodes IV & V and I have no other cards for original founding members of Rogue Squadron I used Garven Dreis – Red Squadron Leader – to proxy as Rogue 3.
M: As Phil had been a greedy boy and spent all his points, again, I got the initiative. I sent Mauler Mithil & Dark Curse straight forward, taking them to the port side of the moon. Backstabber, Howl Runner & Winged Gundark made a fast starboard turn to slingshot around the moon with the intention of dividing attention and eventually get being the Rogue’s.
P: Adopting my very best poker I made a whooping noise in my head as I revealed my move counters and made a sweeping turn to stabord lining me up for an attack run against Mat’s flight of two TIEs. Conscious of the other three TIEs I was worried if I was opting for a short-term gain only to make a long-term loss.
M: With the X-Wings positioned to chase after either flight of TIEs I had no choice but to stick to the plan. Backstabber and company continued their move around the moon whilst Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse continued to play a game of intergalactic chicken with the Rebel scum. What could possibly go wrong?
P: As I continued my move to starboard the two TIEs fronting off against me were all in fire arc. Wedge fired first and managed to miss completely. Rogue 3 fair similar. Wedge managed to land hits but Mat managed to make all his evade rolls. So the one shot I had against 2 flight was botched and I was now faced with either breaking to engage or stick to the plan despite having two TIEs lurking behind me.
M: I’d had a lucky escape with Phil fluffing his rolls and me making my evade rolls leaving with two undamaged TIE Fighters when I expected to have one. Or even none. So it was time to take advantage of the situation. I moved Backstabber, Howl Runner and Winged Gundark past the moon to make the Mauler & Dark Curse a more tempting target flight continued past the moon. 2 flight made a starboard turn to swing round to chase the escaping X-Wings.
P: With the TIEs I’d missed turning to engage I made my choice and went after the 3 Fighters bombing past the moon on my port side. With the three TIE Fighters falling into my fire arcs I opened fire. Luke and Rogue 3 let loose with their Proton Torpedoes and achieved a grand total of fuck all. Wedge however planted two criticals and a hit on Winged Gundark and turned to tin foil.
M: God I hate Phil. And X-Wings. But mostly Phil. The bugger was on my case and I’d lost my first TIE. I pushed Backstabber and Howl Runner in a port turn to cut across the planet. Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse made a turn to port which I hoped would allow me to start chasing the X-Wings for a change.
P: I guessed that Mat would keep Backstabber and Howlrunner on their line and so turned into it to line up a kill shot. The only problem was my course to my flight of plucky Rogues across the guns of Mauler & Dark Curse. My boys were balancing their deflector screens. My shooting was, again, rather disappointing with Wedge only winging Howlrunner. It rather seemed like Mauler and Dark Curse took exception to this and hammered Rogue 3, stripping him of his shields.
M: Take that you Rebel bastard! Rogue 3 was naked of his shields and ready to be…umm…well, fucked. Basically. Mauler & Dark Curse continue on their path with the intention of running down the X-Wings and finishing off Rogue 3. I put Backstabber & Howl Runner into a sharp turn to port cutting across the planet to get them clear of the X-Wings when they made their obvious wide turn to port to try to tuck in behind me.
P: Mat surprised me with his manoeuvre but I was confident that my turn would still put me in good stead to finish off the flight and allow me to swing behind Mauler & Dark Curse in a turn or two. Except a set the wrong turn on my turn wheel. So instead of an elegant move that would drop Howl Runner & Backstabber in a tidy kill box, the X-Wings swooped into the middle of the tightening Imperial formation.
Whilst terribly cinematic it meant that my X-Wings were now in some seriously hot water as just about all of Mat’s TIE’s had a target to shoot at, whereas Luke was out of arc. I further compounded my error by using Wedge to target and destroy the wounded Howl Runner rather than letting Rogue 3 do the business, and using Wedge to Dark Curse who promptly stripped away one his shields whilst Backstabber avenged Howlrunner taking Rogue 3 one damage point away from death.
M: Whilst I was pleased that I was starting to inflict meaningful damage on the Rogues it didn’t make up for the fact that Howlrunner was dead and thanks to Phil’s botched move I was going to have to spend turn getting back into position rather than attack like I’d planned. Backstabber was alone but in a position to slot in behind the X-Wings as they disengaged. Mauler & Dark Curse made a turn to port lining up to make a Koigan Turn in turn 7 so as to really put the pressure on.
P: There was nothing I could do with this turn other than get my Rogues clear of the furball that was building. I just put them into a port turn that got them clear of the TIEs and on a clear path. It meant leaving Backstabber on my tail but there was nothing to be done. However, the Force was with me and despite Backstabber landing 3 hits against Rogue 3 between some incredibly jammy rolling and the evade action I’d given him, he managed to escape harm.
M: I had the X-Wings on the run. Mauler Mithil and Dark Curse could do little more than perform a Koigan Turn and ready themselves for an attack run next turn. Backstabber on the other hand was perfectly placed to pursue and inflict some pain on the Rebel fighter aces. Ace holes more like.
P: Right, time to show these Imperials just what being a fighter ace was all about. I’d remembered at the end of my last turn that I too could pull Koigan Turns, just slower ones. Which suited me fine as it would still land in range of Backstabber but put some distance between the Rogue’s and the other 2 TIE Fighters. Judging by Mat’s expression as my X-Wings accelerated away only to do an about-face, he didn’t know X-Wings could pull that move. His expression only worsened as once more Wedge dropped his cross hairs over a target and Backstabber was splashed in a cloud of fire having failed to evade.
M: You know how I said I hated X-Wings and Phil, but Phil more? Well it’s equal now. We were approaching the end game and with Backstabber dead my tactics were reduced to ‘take as many of the bastards with you as you can’. Mauler & Dark Curse advanced, lining up to take out that pesky Rogue 3 who had used up all his luck and extra lives by this point.
P: I moved my flight of X-Wings in formation towards the last two TIE Fighters with the intention of making it a quick and clean end. Keeping the move a green move I removed the stress token from my pilots enabling me to lock on. Had I thought about it some more I should have given Rogue 3 an evade as he was the obvious target for any returning fire.
And return fire there was thanks to my shooting being largely useless with me succeeding in doing little more than winging Mauler Mithil who responded by finally destroying Rogue 3.
M: Have some of that you Rebel pig dog! Well, I did what I set out to do which was kill at least one X-Wing. It was all for glory and bragging rights now. With Mauler damaged I decided to make him a sacrificial lamb so Dark Curse could put some distance between him and the X-Wings before turning to make a final, yet crucial attack run.
P: I’d guessed Mat’s tactics and had Wedge and Luke making slow turns to port so Mauler would just drop between their crosshairs as well as set up what I hoped would be the killing blow that would win me the game. Wedge, once again, did the business, inflicting a hit and a critical on Mauler and ending his threat to the Rebellion for good.
M: Mauler died as expected but his sacrifice had bought Dark Curse time. I was and allowed him to put some space between him and the X-Wings. Putting him into a tight turn to port brought Dark Curse round ready to hammer Wedge Antilles as he pulled a similar move to as he came out of his victorious attack run against Mauler. Except that’s not what happened…
P: As soon as I saw the play for turn 9 it had set up the play for turn 10. It had hinged on killing Mauler but between Luke & Wedge I was confident enough. Having shed my stress tokens earlier I was in a position to perform another Koigan Turn. Doing so lined both X-Wings up to catch Dark Curse in a withering crossfire. Wedge earned his fifth kill of the game hammering Dark Curse to dust with a hit and two criticals.
The Emperpr Shall Hear of This
Well yet again I lost but I did take one of Rogue Squadron with me so I feel a bit better than I did after the last game. My tactic kind of worked but as before I was caught out once or twice and it cost me. Dividing up my TIE’s does greatly reduce my combined fire power but it also divides his attentions which is a sound enough tactic, I just have to bring in new craft to increase my hitting power. And I do really need to start thinking more about the pilot traits and upgrade cards and how best to use them to give me more of an advantage or at least level the playing field a bit more.
But I do feel I performed better this time with a few squeaky bum moments for Phil, especially when the Rogues passed between my formations flights of ships by accident. And I think Phil was saved partially by a move I didn’t know the X-Wings could do and so hadn’t factored in. But I can’t blame him for checking his turn wheel.
Next game I should be in a position to field the TIE Advanced with none other than Lord Vadar piloting so it should be interesting.
Peace Prosperity and Bulls-eyeing Wamp Rats in my T-16 Back Home
Well that was a mixed bag. Overall the tactic was sound and overall I’d not do a thing different. My dice rolling was quite atrocious in places which did make life difficult and that botched move that saw my flight fly straight through Mat’s forces did require some rapid rethinking. And not thinking through my target allocation properly constantly made life harder for myself.
Generally I was pleased with the performance of my flight but I wasn’t delighted. I made some silly mistakes but at least I kept my wits about me to get out of them again. Mat’s performance was a massive leap forward from the first and whilst I won I could really see big improvements on how he uses his ships. The next game should be tasty…
Luke felt a pang of pain in his chest as he saw Rogue Three’s X-Wing disappear in a cloud of expanding fire and spinning shards of debris. The two remaining Rogues flew through the cloud of oxygen starved flame, hearing bits of metal clatter against their hull. Rogue squadron’s first casualty and one that could have so easily been avoided had they kept their cool.
As the two X-Wings left the debris cloud, Luke saw the two remaining TIEs split off from one another. ‘Got you!’ Luke cried over the come. ‘Wedge bank left and start feeding power to your engines, you’re going to need it.’
As the X-Wings slowly turned to port the TIE responsible for murdering their friend dropped into their sights. Before Luke could give the order a quartet of scarlet darts lanced forward from Wedge’s X-Wing and punched through the canopy, super heating the cockpits contents. The TIE tumbled away before being trapped in the gravity well of the world before and being incinerated.
As Luke and Wedge over shot the kill, one passing above and the other below seamlessly, Luke gave a turn word order; Koigan Turn. Luke suddenly killed his drive units, cutting forward thrust, whist simultaneously activating his repulsor fields to spin his X-Wing on its axis. Luke watched Wedge perform the same manoeuvre faultlessly as Artoo howled his approval that they were finally addressing the TIE fighter that was turning to make an attack run.
‘This one’s mine.’ Luke said just as another volley of lasers spat from Wedge’s X-Wing. Luke watched as the hastily snapped off shots following the Turn found their mark, punching through the solar fin and sheared through the hull and into the power plant. The TIE exploded, the voice of the blast ripping every scrap to tiny razor-sharp pieces.
As Luke double checked Artoo’s readouts showing the all clear Wedge was forming up on his wing ready for the hasty journey back to base and then the run to Hoth where they’d begin the slow and laborious process of setting up yet another secret base.
‘All this running gets old, doesn’t it Boss?’ Wedge said over the come, his tone unusually flat.
‘We’re Rogues, Wedge.’ Luke closed his stabilizers and felt the engines surge as energy was immediately re-routed from charging weapon systems. ‘We don’t run.
The X-Wing Miniatures Game is available from Firestorm Games from £6.29