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

X-Wing Expansion: A-Wing – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight GamesThis review is rather later than planned and, for a change, it had nothing to do with me. It’s fair to say that Fantasy Flight have been victims of their own success and have struggled to keep up with demand for the X-Wing Miniatures Game and as such all but the wave 1 range was unavailable.

But rejoice fellow X-Wing gamers, for the restock has hit and you have the briefest window to buy what you can before unscrupulous bastards buy it all up and put it on eBay for three times the price. I’ve been able to get my hands on the A-Wing at long last. Well two actually. I can hear Mat soiling himself from here.

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When I was formulating an idea of what to include in my squadron I knew that I would need something in the rapid response column to either scythe through fast-moving flights of Interceptors or, God forbid, Defenders or to blast past the main enemy line to pick off the TIE Bombers.  A-Wings and E-Wings tick the box most effectively. I’ve always loved the E-Wing ever since it blasted its way across the pages of the Dark Empire series. However, it isn’t out yet. But A-Wings will more than make do for now.

The A-Wing’s always been a bit of a funny one for me. Whilst I appreciate its speed, and being able to out pace and out turn a TIE is appealing, I’ve never liked how soft and squishy they are. However, you can’t knock the speed or its potential punch and in X-Wing it’s a necessity for two very good reasons. One: it performs a vital intercept and engage role that nothing else in the Rebel fleet can. Two: The general lack of pilot cards means that if you want to field a dozen fighters you have to a couple of each type.

But on to the A-Wing itself. Of all the models I’ve seen so far it’s probably the most disappointing. Not because it’s not a loyal representation or anything like that but the pre-painting on the two I got was poorer than on the other ships I own. The additional colouration feels rather arbitrary and does nothing to make it feel like I’m recreating Return of the Jedi. But the thing that really ticks me off is the stupid spots of red paint on the tips of the lasers. There is absolutely no need for it and for the first time since properly collecting and playing X-Wing I’d consider repainting one of the model. Or at least paint over the lasers.

The board it’s blisteringly fast. Speed 5 makes it the fastest thing in the Rebel fleet (so far) and with a wealth of green manoeuvres on its wheel, it is very agile. The down side is you can only make Koigan turns at speeds 3 and 5 which means you could well put yourself out of range of a target if you wait til you’re on top of them to pull the manoeuvre. This does mean it’ll suck in a dogfight and you’ll be far better off performing hit and run attacks. But considering how little armour they have, it was some what of a given anyway. The plethora of missiles it can take as upgrades rather backs up this theory as the ability to strike with concussions missiles or homing missiles on the way in, lasers in the thick of it and then blast out the other side with the handy-dandy boost action. So despite its two armour points it’ll take a big bite out of the Imperials before its shredded to tin foil. Because it will die. Especially going up against the vastly superior TIE Defender. But the Rebel’s strength has always been combined arms…

And it’s pilots. Those that know their Star Wars novels will know that Tycho Celchu is a bit of a badass. His pilot card is no exception. Aside from being comparable to Luke Skywalker with skill 8, he’s allowed to still perform actions with stress tokens. This means he can perform a Koigan turn and lock on, focus or evade. This makes him pretty lethal. To be able to turn to face an attacker and potentially ignore a hit as well as roll 3 dice to evade is nasty. Only two shots in return means he’s still not likely to splash a TIE, but in a pair or in a coordinated attack with an X-Wing or Y-Wing and you’ll be laughing.

You get the usual pointless generic pilot cards which I’d never take. Ever. You also get Arvel Crynyd who allows you to target a ship you’re in base contact with – normally against the rules. With such a fast-moving craft, and in the role it’ll likely be performing, it’s an incredibly useful skill to have and make you slightly happier to have your A-Wing in the thick of it.

Whilst the A-Wing will never replace the X-Wing as my go to fighter, it performs a vital role in a squadron. Especially as the games grow in size and the variety in the Imperial formation increases. The speed and potential punch it can deliver to the back of the Imperial formation is too valuable to pass up, especially taking them in pairs. Which of course you’d do. Because you’d be mental not to. I still dislike their flimsiness and I dislike that they force you to be careless with pilot lives – because it’s not the Rebel way of doing things – but they’re just too damn useful.

The A-Wing is available from Firestorm Games priced £10.79.

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.’

Salute 2014

Salute 2014So tomorrow the big day will have finally arrived. And it cannot have come soon enough. These last few years I’ve pre-ordered my ticket as soon as possible. Not because I’m worried about missing out but because when I wake up the day after Salute I’m already looking forward to the next one.

For me Salute is the most important date in my wargaming calendar for the simple reason than it’s a room full of people, all passionate about ‘the hobby’ which has many facets to it that go far beyond genre, scale and metal vs resin vs plastic. For a day no one cares who plays what or how much crap we got painted from the year before. Or how much of the stuff we got from the year before we even still own. It’s a coming together of community behind the most inclusive and welcoming hobby there is. And then we walk, talk and breathe toys. And then we spend all of our money on all of the things.

It always tickles me that every year, and I include myself in this, there is a frantic burst of eBaying, Twitter bartering and the chucking of stuff on Amazon Marketplace in an effort to push the budget as far as possible. Because taking £100 isn’t enough. Oh no! £150, that’ll do. But if I sell this or that, or borrow from the savings and promise to put it back, I’ll have £200! And so on and so on. My budget this year is a little less than I’d have liked. The weight of home ownership has rested heavily these last few months. However, it has made me more focussed on what I want and what I need. The difference being that I don’t need the Praetors from Forge World but want them so I’m getting them anyway. But I do need a few bits to round off my X-Wing fleet until the next wave of stuff drops.

I also need to remember to take lunch money because walking around with a satchel or backpack all day is a pain in the arse.

Tomorrow is going to be a brilliant day. And not just because of the buying of all the things. Okay, a little bit that. But because it’s an opportunity to explore the parts of the hobby I haven’t seen, haven’t had the chance to look into or are totally new to me. It’s a chance to make new friends and get reacquainted with old ones and generally embrace this wonderful hobby of ours.

I’m really looking forward to the #warmongers Meet Up, as is the rest of the team. We’ll be meeting at 1pm outside the hall at which point we’ll find somewhere out-of-the-way and compare swag. The last couple of years it’s been a recessed section opposite the hall so we were nice and visible to any late comers.

Finally, we will have The Shell Case pin badges to give away to the first people who come and say hi to us on the day. We won’t be hard to miss, the entire team (apart from our beloved Ashley who is stuck on the other side of a very large bit of water) will be there in shirts. And just in case, they’ve got our names on them so you can tell us apart.

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See you all tomorrow.

X-Wing: Collecting a Rebel Fleet

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

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

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

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

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

Rebel Fleet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

X-Wing Expansion: Slave 1 – A Review

Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game By Fantasy Flight Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

X-Wing Expansion: Y-Wing – A Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

X-Wing Expansion: Millennium Falcon – A Review

FFGSWXwinglogoI think it’s fair to say that we, at The Shell Case, are rather smitten with X-Wing Miniatures Game by Fantasy Flight Games. As the team has grown I’ve been dangling the game in front of anyone who would let me and fortunately for me Mat bit and bit hard. This has meant several things have happened. A genuine and lasting excitement for Star Wars that has prompted us to get back into the novels and computer games, regular games, battle reports and reviewing models of ships I watched time and again as a child with complete wonderment. Wonderment that has endured these last (almost) 30 years. And not to gush more than I am, I now get to review the Millennium Falcon.

box-SWX06-rightI don’t know why I was surprised when the parcel arrived to find that it was a boxed expansion. Specifically a large box. Because, well, as one would expect, she’s bloody massive. Except I didn’t appreciate how massive having never seen the model next to anything other than Slave 1.

ffgmfBearing in mind that the small black window of the X-Wing contains a single pilot you rather get the idea of size. And for the money it’s actually – compared to the fighter expansions – pretty outstanding value. Yes it’s twice the price but it’s five times the model. At least. The model itself is a faithful recreation of the Falcon right down to its shit-kicker worn out appearance complete with battered bulkheads and battle damage. The only downside, because of its size, is that the basic paint job is a bit on the scrappy side. On the snubfighters it’s not so bad or somehow more excusable – you decide – but with the Falcon it looks like someone has basecoated the model then dipped it in that Army Painter stuff. It’s perfectly passable and still looks cool, it’s just a shame that for the larger models a little more care wasn’t taken.

Aside from a stonking great YT-1300 transport you also get an equally stonking base with stonking great cards to go on top. There’s some new rules which include rules for turrets which makes the Falcon just sick There’s also 4 ship cards including the old favourites – Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando – and 14 upgrade cards. The deck is full of little gems. Concussion missiles are ace, allowing you to flip misses to hits and all for 4 points. Shield and engine upgrades are slightly over the top but you’d be mad not to take them, especially as the engine upgrade gives you a free move. But co-pilots cards are something to get really excited about, offering up, as they do, some incredibly useful bonuses. For example Luke Skywalker who allows you turn focus results into hits. He is 7 points though, which is embarrassingly expensive. Needless to say, whilst young Luke is manning the gun turrets he probably can’t pilot an X-Wing…

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The ship cards make for some tasty reading. Well, two of them do. Han Solo is ace. Lando, slightly less, and Chewie disappointingly average. But with only 4 points between Han and Chewie you’ll take Han every time. With activation of 9, he’s as quick off the mark as Wedge Antilles. Chuck in 3 shots, 360 degree field of fire, and a re-roll every time is just nuts. Plus 5 shields and 8 points of damage. Don’t get me wrong, the Falcon is a wallowing old tub and turning isn’t its strong suit so getting drawn into a dog fight would be its undoing. But with its durability and the aforementioned turrets means that it should be able to fight its way clear of most traps.

The Millennium Falcon, as an expansion, is superb. Aside from getting to field the beautiful old dame, the upgrade cards are all pretty tasty and the variety of ship cards does mean a lot of fun scenarios to be had. It’s a must for fans and a must for players wanting to move their games on from dogfights. And it’s a must because it’s the Falcon.

The Millennium Falcon expansion pack is available from Firestorm Games priced £22.50.

X-Wing Miniatures Game: Battle Report 2

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‘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.