X-Wing Miniatures Game – A Three Party System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Galaxy Far Far Away

Next to my bed is a bedside unit. It’s a bit tired and one of the draw handles is busted and basically the whole thing needs replacing. Atop the unit, along with a lamp, the baby monitor cradle, loose change and my Salute ticket (I know, I know), is Horus Heresy: Mark of Calth. It is unread. It is unopened. And now slightly dusty. Despite me thoroughly enjoying Know No Fear, and the books that followed it, I’ve been struggling to find the desire to read it or any of the other Black Library novel. It seems, for the time being, I’ve had my fill of Bolter Porn. It took over a decade but it had to happen sooner or later. It’s not to say that I won’t go back – if nothing else I need to read Vulkan Lives by friend of The Shell Case, Nick Kyme.

A recent decision of mine, coupled with my bolter apathy got me to thinking; I’ve experienced this saturation point before…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away Mat & I have started playing the X-Wing Miniatures Game. Whilst researching the timeline for the pre & post game narrative (because I just can’t help myself) I started to realise two things. 1. How long it had been since I’d indulged in this rich and fascinating Universe and 2. How much had changed, how far the story had moved on and how out of touch I’d become.

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I started reading the Star Wars novels at the tender age of 13, with X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A Stackpole being the first (thanks to my brother convincing me to pick it up). It was this book, and the others in the X-Wing series that were to follow, that kick started my love of reading and, I suspect, licensed fiction. I even took a stab at writing some myself. The file is still tucked away in a folder, unopened for half my life on the hard drive of the laptop I type on. Having migrated from 4 previous computers. Tisk tisk.

Looking back, I realise that the gulf I found growing between me and that Galaxy far far away was down to the prequel trilogy not living up to my – I think – pretty modest expectations and the New Jedi Order series (which came out around the same time) introducing far too much change for me to cope with. I’d found my stride with Star Was. I’d gotten to know all the characters, and some I outright admired. So when they started killing them off and blowing up planets I took it quite personally. My hormonal teenage mind could only take so much disappointment and my late teens had quite a bit in it already.

Back there and back then I thought it was easier to walk away and halt the story halfway through the third New Jedi Order novel, happy to focus on the era of the timeline I liked the best. I realise now how very…GW that was of me. As the years ticked by – 13 of them as it goes – I started to hear things that piqued my interest, plot developments that were radical, beloved characters being killed and brave plot twists that would incense the die-hard fans. But I ignored them, determined to keep my distance, determined to do nothing to threaten the happy little bubble within which the Rebels overthrow the Empire, they form the New Republic and they all live happily ever after. Until now.

As my excitement around the X-Wing Miniatures Game grows ever higher – which has nothing to do with Mat and I texting each other slightly more than is healthy about next purchases – I found my eye wandering increasingly to those novels that first introduced me to the Universe I loved so dearly and that I once again find myself calling home.

So as I put Mark of Calth back on the shelf with a pat on the spine knowing that I’ll be seeing it again soon, I turn to pick up X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. The book responsible for my love of Star Wars and the book responsible for all the other books in my life. Today is a good day to be me.

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