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 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.

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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.

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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 Miniatures Game: Battle Report 2

FFGSWXwinglogo

‘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.’

***

Imperial Navy

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.

Rebel Scum

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.

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Turn 1:

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.

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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.

Turn 2:

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?

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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.

Turn 3:

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.

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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.

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Turn 4:

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.

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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.

Turn 5:

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.

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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.

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Turn 6:

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.

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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.

Turn 7:

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.

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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.

Turn 8:

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.

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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.

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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.

Turn 9:

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.

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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.

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Turn 10:

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…

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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

X-Wing Miniatures Game Battle Report

FFGSWXwinglogoThose that were on Twitter last Friday night (GMT) would have seen me live tweeting the game of the X-Wing Miniatures Game Mat and I were playing. We (I) enjoyed ourselves so much that we (I) thought we’d write a battle report of what went on.

There was a violent jolt, then with a shudder that rattled systems in their housings and the distinctive whine of engines powering down, Luke Skywalker was catapulted from hyperspace. The mottled blue of faster than light travel disintegrating into starlines and then twinkling points of light against black velvet. Below him the swirling chaos of a gas giant seethed, purple lightning rippling over its surface as high pressure pockets ignited. Luke held a tight grip on the flight stick as he rushed to activate sub-light systems. His X-Wing slewed back and forth as the sub-light drives came back on-line, repulsor fields bursting to life to halt his prodigious speed.

‘Blast it.’ Luke cursed, punching at his navigational display. ‘Artoo!’ He called into the comm, ‘What the heck happened?’ Artoo blurted back a series of squawks and whistles, the on board systems converting it to text on the display positioned in front of the flight stick. Luke sighed. ‘I know the hyperdrive stopped working Artoo, I meant-‘ He sighed. ‘Just fix it wouldya?’

Artoo’s rasped affirmative was overlaid by a hiss of static. ‘Rogue Leader, this is Rogue Two.’

Luke smiled.

‘Wedge, old buddy.’ He paused as his scanner system failed to detect the other 10 members of the newly founded Rogue Squadron. ‘What did you do with my squadron?’

Wedge, sat within the tiny confines of his own X-Wing fighter, smiled to himself as he punched controls to start to divert energy from the engines to shields and weapon systems. 

‘Sorry boss, misplaced the lot of ’em. Nothing but a bunch of scoundrels any how.’ He paused checking his readouts. ‘Looks like our hyperdrives went into emergency shutdown. Our plotted course took us too close to that gas giant down there.’ A burst of static cut through the transmission. ‘-at command gave us bad co-ordinates. Lucky the rest of the squadron missed it.’ 

‘Is that affection I hear in your voice Rogue 2?’

‘No boss,’ Wedge replied with a smile. ‘Recruitment is a drag and I’ve just got this bunch just the way I like ‘em.’ 

Luke’s chuckle over the comm was drowned out as a proximity alert cut him short. Wedge’s instinct took over: black gloved hands dancing over controls, bringing shields up to full power, temporarily draining the laser cells. He knew the weapons would be full charged again long before they made contact.

I’m reading 3 energy signatures dead ahead.’ Wedge said squinting at his sensor display. ‘Looks like an Imperial patrol. Judging by speed and sensor silhouettes I’d say a flight of eyeballs.’ Wedge flicked a switch and, with the whining of motors, the stabilizer foils of his X-Wing fighter split apart taking the shape that earned the snub-fighter its name. Just ahead of him and to the left, his friend and commanding officer did the same.

‘Roger that, Wedge, you know how this goes, stay on my wing. Artoo jam their transmissions, we don’t want them calling for help.’

With a flare of purple flame the two X-Wings roared into the black, the merest smudges of grey barely discernible against the oily backdrop to indicate their quarry.

***

The Imperial Navy

So for our first game of X-Wing I was fielding 3 TIE Fighters, piloted by the fighter aces Mauler Mithel, who I gave the Determination Pilot trait; Howlrunner, with the Swarm Tactics card and Backstabber. My plan from the out-set was to power Mauler and Howlrunner towards the Rebel Scum to keep them occupied as I try to sneak Backstabber out to the flank and bring him in behind them, monopolizing on his inherent Pilot trait of, well shooting people in the back.

The Rebel Scum

My battle plan was a simple one, and based on the premise (because it’s all about narrative) that my plucky X-Wings – piloted by none other than Luke Skywalker & Wedge Antilles – were alone in hostile territory. Basically, stick together and make every shot count.

Had I thought about it a scenario counting down to Imperial reinforcements would have been cool. But seeing as we only have those models it would have been a bit shit…

Turn1

P: As I’d blown my full 60 points on heroic types and a marksmanship upgrade, Mat won the initiative and got to move first.moved first – spent fewer points so gained initiative

M: My first turn was pretty uneventful, as first turns often are. I moved Howlrunner & Mauler Mithil at maximum burn in order to immediately put pressure on the X-Wings before them and act as a distraction to give Backstabber time to flank to starboard with the intention of getting behind the slower, less manoeuvrable Rebel fighters.

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P: One of the best things about X-Wing is the hidden movement as it so accurately represents how unpredictable dogfights are. Pilots attempt to read the situation and respond accordingly. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. In Mat’s case it kinda didn’t as I’d expected ultra aggressive tactics because I was outnumbered by fast, more agile, craft. What I hadn’t expected was for Backstabber to move to starboard. But as my move was a move to port it lined me up perfectly for an attack run next turn.

Turn2

M: As I now had one TIE Fighter playing chicken with two fighter aces I had to act fast. Backstabber broke to port in an attempt to get out of the fire arc of his attackers, whilst Mauler Mithil & Howlrunner moved at high-speed to port in an attempt to put some distance between them and the X-Wings that were about to be right behind them. The intention being to line up an attack run once they’d finished off the no doubt doomed Backstabber.

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P: I’d expected Mat’s attempt to get Backstabber out of the splashing he was about to take and had given them turn orders to starboard and moved to intercept placing the TIE Fighter in the crosshairs of both Luke & Wedge. They opened up but alas the majority of their shots went wide, Luke scoring a glancing hit on his target. And it was only once turn 3 was well underway that I remembered my Marksmanship upgrade for Wedge which would have resulted in Backstabber being destroyed. A lucky escape for Mat and a lesson learned for me.

Turn3

M: Turn three and I had a damaged TIE Fighter, on one flank and two TIE Fighters that were yet to engage or do anything other than runaway. However I needed time to make good my attack so I continued to drive Howlrunner & Mauler Mithil onwards, slowly drifting to starboard in an attempt to put some distance between them and the X-Wings.

Backstabber, having narrowly escaped his dance with death, and momentarily free of the Rebel guns, broke hard to starboard, my intention being to trap the X-Wings in a scissor move once Howlrunner & Mauler Mithil were back in the fight.

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P: Whilst I was disappointed with the performance of the two greatest fighter pilots in Rebel history – no pressure lads – I knew I had to press on and deal with the threat the other two TIE Fighters represented a turn or two down the line. So, ignoring Backstabber for the time being I sent Luke & Wedge on a slow starboard turn with the intention of intercepting the other two TIE’s as they completed their turn.

Turn4

M: Right, it was time! I ordered my entire flight to make starboard turns to begin the move that I hoped would encircle and trap the Rebel scum allowing me to concentrate fire and destroy at least one of my opponents.

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P: I can only assume I must have felt Mat through the Force (don’t worry, he’s not pressing charges) as I opted to stagger my own starboard turns, cutting Luke in much tighter, taking him from the outside of the formation to the inside and dropping his crosshairs over Mauler Mithil. Putting Luke’s Lock-On to good us he opened fire and tore the TIE Fighter to spinning shards of debris, rolling two hits and a critical.

Turn 5

M: Well shit and balls is all I have to say. That was not part of the plan and now Howlrunner was on his own so made a sharp starboard turn in an attempt to get clear, the intention being to blast right past the X-Wings, giving Backstabber time to move in for a kill shot – he too making a tight turn to starboard.

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P: I hadn’t expected Howlrunner’s sudden bid for safety. I had fully expected a volley of fire before attempting a breakout manoeuvre. The pragmatism seemed very un-Imperial. But the result was that my tight turn to starboard, to go after the fleeing Howlrunner, dropped me perfectly in line with the damaged Backstabber. Wedge wasted no time scoring 2 hits and a critical on the TIE Fighter, tearing it apart amidst a blossom of flame.

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Turn 6

M: Things were not going well for the Empire. Howlrunner had his back to the X-Wings who would have him bracketed in their next move so running wasn’t an option. I considered a sharp turn at full power but wasn’t sure how much good that would do, so I decided death and/or glory was the only course left to me. Howlrunner performed a Koigan Turn, allowing him to put some needed distance between him and his opponents, whilst turning on its axis to bring his weapons to bear on Antilles. Sadly the Force was not with me and I missed with every shot. With Howlrunner’s fate now sealed I sat back and watched his demise.

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P: It didn’t take long. Luke and Wedge moved into position and with the skill the galaxy have come to expect from him, Wedge annihilated Howlrunner with a hit and two Criticals.

An Empire Defied

Well…shit. Okay, so my plan was frankly flawed from the start. I moved Backstabber out to the flank way too early making him vulnerable and I couldn’t make use of his pilot trait. Equally I didn’t take advantage of TIE Fighter’s ability to make ridiculously sharp turns at the last-minute, this proved to be the fatal as I wasn’t doing enough to get out of the Rebel gun sights.

From turn 2 I was playing a game of corrections, trying to get my fighters into a position where they could at least fire off some shots but, to Phil’s credit, he did an excellent job of keeping his fighters on my tail. I do honestly believe that the first move was the mistake that cost me the game and it has taught me a massive lesson: TIE fighters are essentially pack hunters and if you split the pack you’re fucked. Basically. And you really do need to make the most of the TIE Fighter’s ability to make sudden sharp turns that the X-Wings can’t.

So with this all in mind I am looking forward to my next game of X-Wing and a better result, at least take one of the Rebel Scum down with me anyway.

Long Live the Rebellion

In terms of battle plans mine was pretty simple. Stick together, and don’t get bogged down. TIE Fighters excel at swarm tactics and if I focussed on any one target or allowed Luke & Wedge to become separated for targets of opportunity I’d have been done for.

But I have to hold my hands up and say some of my manoeuvres proved very lucky, turns that didn’t quite work but were just enough that they were still in arc to target one of Mat’s TIE’s. Or turned out to be the perfect counter to Mat’s moves. However Mat’s decision to split off Backstabber as early as he did was hugely beneficial as he had to work hard to bring his flight back into formation. And with me harrying him it was something he didn’t quite manage.

For me it was a brilliant game. And not just coz I won. It was fast, easy and meant we were able to enjoy the theatre of the game rather than getting bogged down in rule debates. And the whole thing was done in a little over an hour. I love this game.

***

Wedge Antilles feathered the throttle, settling his X-Wing into a parallel course with the fleeing TIE Fighter as he and Luke pulled out of their slow turn to chase down the last of the Imperial patrol. His R5 unit blurted as his display told him that the fighter was attempting to radio for aid but so far the jamming efforts of the two Astromech droids were preventing anything from getting out. 

Suddenly the TIE’s engines flared out. Wedge had just enough time to wonder if the fighter’s engines had failed before it span on its axis and surged forward, lasers spitting emerald darts. The Koigan Turn, Wedge smiled to himself. Not bad, he thought as deftly jinked and dove through the laser barrage, every bolt sailing past his fighter without making contact.

‘Show off.’ He heard over the comm and chuckled.

His targeting reticule flashed green and he squeezed the firing stud on his flight stick. A quarter of scarlet laser bolts sprang from the X-Wing’s wing tips and speared through the armaglas of the TIE Fighter’s cockpit. A split second later they chewed through its power plant and the fighter disappeared amidst an expanding blossom of incandescent flame.

For a moment there was nothing but the whine of engines and the background static crackle of protective layer of fields that wrapped the fighter like a veil. Then –

‘Artoo confirms the area is clear Wedge. Let’s get clear of this gravity well and rejoin the squadron.’

‘Roger that Rogue Lead.’

The X-Wing Miniatures game is available from Firestorm Games, prices starting from £6.29.

Dystopian Wars Battle Report

Yesterday evening me and Jezza of The Chaps had a 1500(ish) point game of Dystopian Wars. The mighty and (mostly) painted 5th Fleet of the Covenant of Antarctica verses the mindless subjects of Queen Victoria.

My fleet consisted of a dreadnought, a fleet carrier, 2 battleships, 2 armoured cruisers, 6 cruisers, 6 escorts & 3 frigates plus free tiny flyers.

Jeremy’s fleet was made up of a dreadnought, a fleet carrier, a battleship, 3 cruisers, 3 gunships, 3 destroyers, 9 frigates, 6 corvettes, 2 bombers and free tiny flyers.

Now, Jezza didn’t have a board quite big enough but his dining table was a solid 8x3ft. So, to prevent our models being within range band 3 on turn one I devised a diagonal deployment zones starting 26 inches in on long edge going across to the corner of the narrow edge. This meant that at the furthest point there was a 36 inch gap to the opposite points of the enemy deployment zone.

The result was two fleets that looked for all intents and purposes like they were both advancing into an area in a staggered formation. It looked way cool. Chuck in a couple of the smaller islands from the Amera set and we were ready to rock. We rolled for missions. Jeremy rolled a 6 meaning he had to take out my dreadnought. I got a 5 which meant I had to wipe out at least half of his fleet.

I’d learned from past experience that the Covenant are at their best keeping them together with overlapping fields of fire and able to respond en masse to flanking actions. I kept the slower, biggest ships at the furthest point with the faster ships at the narrower end. Jeremy adopted a ship-of-the-line formation for each of his units, alternating support ships and Capitol ships so, for all intents and purposes, for every unit of big ships he could support it with up to two units of smaller ships. And as there was so many of them the sea was very full compared to my side of the board.

I won the initiative and kicked off with moving off my dreadnought. Moving at full speed I was able to close to range on Jeremy’s lead cruiser deployed opposite. Thanks to some truly prodigious dice rolling the cruiser was destroyed completely and sunk below the waves. As the fleets closed I found myself quickly beset on all sides by Jeremy’s support vessels forcing, me to concentrate my fire on those otherwise hampering my movement but leave me clear lines of sight to Jeremy’s cruisers.

Jeremy in turn concentrated fire on my starboard armoured cruiser, pummeling it mercilessly, inflicting 3 points of damage and causing chaos and disarray. It didn’t help that I forgot to roll for my shield generators. Fortunately a well time S.T.A.R card allowed me to repair the worst of the damage.

However, for all the hassle his corvettes and destroyers were causing me, it wasn’t nothing compared to what his frigates were doing to his own ships. In the middle of his lines they were obstructing his carrier and dreadnought, forcing him to move them out into the midranges making them vulnerable to my fire. He even managed to accidentally plough on into the side of a corvette taking a point of damage off both.

Bogged down as he slower ships were, his support ships were doing the bulk of the work and proving quite the irritation, forcing me to cut may way through rather than have them harass my flanks and rear with impunity as I closed with Jeremy’s main line. Of course, my fire-power was severely limited because everything I was targeting was small. It was that fact alone that kept them alive.

Meanwhile the skies above were alight with tracers and blossoms of fire as fighters did battle and Jeremy’s Doncaster bombers were ripped from the sky with a combination of ranged shots from my battleships and brutal strafing runs by my drones.

Torpedo volleys criss-crossed the churning seas but concussion charges prevented them from doing any real damage I took a second cruiser to two points of damage and took out the destroyers thanks to some awesome rolling using my frigates.

This was a tough lesson learned. Although the Covenant cruisers are awesome and come with free shield generators, support ships are important if for no other reason than to deal with their opposite numbers in the enemy fleet.

Turn three tipped things in my favour very quickly. I drew the Tally Ho! card allowing me to activate two units, one after the other. My battleships closed on Jezza’s dreadnought, unleashing their particle cannons and turrets inflicting two critical hits and causing navigation lock and a fusion leak. Now with Jeremy’s dreadnought’s critical rating reduced to only 7 I unleashed everything I had at it. My dreadnought and armoured cruisers closed unleashing a torrent of fire taking Jeremy’s up to 8 points of damage however the dice weren’t completely with me, just falling short of finishing the beast off.

On my port flank Jeremy’s gunships continued to plod towards me, skirting round the island on the heels of his corvettes who broke cover to harass my painted battleship and escorts inflicting minor damage. I responded, moving my port cruiser unit to intercept, destroying 2 of them and breaking the third. This left them poised to assist the battleship that would have otherwise been decimated by the approaching gunships.

His dreadnought closed and returned fire and despite the damage it had sustained it was still able to give my dreadnought a pounding, inflicting 3 points of damage and knocking off 3 assault points thanks to a hard pounding. However, it was at this point that Jeremy’s deployment properly bit him in the arse. He activated his remaining two cruisers and ended up sailing the damaged cruiser into his dreadnought. The cruiser was utterly crushed, however, thanks to the fusion leak and the best rolls Jeremy had made all game, the dreadnought, too was destroyed and consumed by the deep.

That fortuitous and hilarious turn of events gave me 290 points taking me to 80 odd points shy of my 50% target. Well aware that Jeremy would have almost certainly repaired that damage I knew exactly how lucky I was.

Winning the initiative on what would be the final turn I activated my dreadnought, ploughed it straight through a corvette and then promptly annihilated every support ship within range before finally inflicting 3 points of damage on Jeremy’s carrier and causing a navigation lock. This took me comfortably over my points target and won merge game.

By the end of the game I had wiped out Jeremy’s 2 cruisers, 2 bombers, his dreadnought and all but 4 of his support ships. In return I’d taken 7 points of damage across 5 ships. Between Jeremy’s deployment, a narrower than normal board and poor long ranged fire-power Jeremy struggled to gain the advantage. Although his support ships are lethal and even with concentrated fire I struggled to deal with them. His ship-of-the-line deployment saved me on more than one occasion as he wasn’t able to bring all his weapons to bear. And only by moving just within range band 1 was I saved from withering close range torpedo attacks.

I think we both learned some valuable lessons by the end of the game. I need to put more faith in support ships and Jeremy needs to not crash things into his dreadnought.