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: 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 Miniatures Game: Battle Report 3

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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 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.