Fixing the X-wing

The X-wing is far and away my favourite ship from the Star Wars saga, so it breaks my heart to see it unused in the meta. Discussions of how to “fix” the ship are rampant; one such post by reddit user Bozbacca on the x-wing subreddit inspired this post. I want to make clear right here at the top that I am sure that FFG will be releasing something to make the X-wing better. They’ve done a great job monitoring the meta, and have released two fixes for the Interceptor, one for the A-wing, one for the Y-wing, and soon, one for the TIE Advanced and some funky munitions fixes. So, I don’t doubt that we’ll see something to help the poor X out, especially considering it is the title ship of the game.

A quick recap on the problems with the X-wing: first and foremost, it is not very maneuverable. It tends to get eaten alive by Interceptors, Phantoms, E-wings, and in some cases even well-flown YTs of both varieties. It’s maneuver dial is lackluster, and has no way to consistently change its position after standard movement. Second, the X-wing lacks survivability. The B-wing and Y-wing simply trade off their agility values for huge hull and shield states; the TIEs and A-wings trade their health for extra agility which makes them harder to hit. X-wings are a middle of the road value on both. They have enough health that a total flub on the defense roll will rarely (but occasionally) result in death, but not enough defense dice to reliably mitigate any real damage. With 3 attack dice, the ship packs a punch, but no more than a B-wing or really almost any other ship in the game whose price point would be comparable. These other ships, however, bring additional strengths to the table that the X-wing simply lacks.

However, within the realm of the films and extending lore, we do not see the X-wing as some middling fighter of debatable value. Rather, it rocks! It’s been the star of multiple video games, a ten novel series, and even bears the title of a fantastic miniatures game. Just looking at the 1996 Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels, from the 1 page description, one can already tell that this is a space superiority fighter that does it job with style. The X-wings 4 laser cannons, which can be set to fire single, double, or quad-linked, and 2 torpedo tubes that can hold up to 3 torpedoes each (for a total of 6), suggest a fighter that is heavily armed. The text of the guide actually specifically says “The X-wing is known for its durability”, which is not something any X-wing pilot (of this game) would say! It is also apparently easy to fly, and requires the astromech droid to handle “many of the in-flight operations, such as damage control, astrogation jumps, and flight performance adjustment”. Then there is the one thing that we don’t have for X-wing that is so thematic players have been dreaming up ways to do it since the game’s inception: S-foils. It’s well established that the X-wing is able to close its wings to dramatically increase its speed (at least it was that way in the Rogue Squadron games). This also typically cancels the X-wing’s ability to attack, though I seem to remember some novels where the X fired its guns with the wings in the closed position. This boosts the X-wing’s ability to move across the battlefield dramatically.

With that said, I’m going to propose 5 different ways to fix or boost the X-wing. They’re probably not all viable, and I do not think that all 5 should be implemented (because that would be too much), but I think all 5 bear some consideration.

All wings report in.

Quickly, I think the easiest fix for the X-wing would be to knock a point off its cost. I would only pull the point off the two generic versions, the Rookie and the Red, not the named pilots. This would make the PS2 version only 20 points, so players could field 5 X-wings at a time if they were willing to take them naked. This would give the X-wings a fair bit of a “swarm” mentality, where it’s a smaller swarm with far fewer tricks than the Headhunters, but is composed of significantly more effective ships. It would allow players to field a 4X list but save a couple points off the low end pilots, allowing more upgrades to be purchased. I think it would have a positive effect on the meta’s use of the ship, while still maintaining its established and playtested drawbacks (because nothing should be too strong).

Pew Pew!

Heavy Weapons: The X-wing is supposed to be heavily armed. Four laser cannons is nothing to be scoffed at. I have a couple ideas of how one might simulate the changing of the fire-linking, but I don’t think any are particularly good. Perhaps allowing the ship to make two attacks at 2 dice each (single fire, quick fire), the current attack (dual linked), or doing a heavy quad-linked attack that would hit with 4 or 5 dice but would miss next round’s combat phase due to the recharge on the lasers. What concerns me more is the torpedoes. Protons have been around literally since the start of this game, and ever since then, players have been leaving them aside. They just aren’t viable. If I could do them over, I would make the basic Proton Torpedoes have the same attack value and ability (questionable whether they should spend the TL to attack), but make it range 3 only, and don’t discard the card. Having the option to turn the X-wing into a sniper would be very cool. I suspect the cost would have to stay the same, since you’re effectively turning it into a cannon, but still. Or don’t give it unlimited uses, but then make the torpedoes much cheaper, like probably a 2 point cost. This fix would be pretty difficult to implement, since it would require potentially a new game mechanic (for the lasers), or would require reprinting a whole set of cards, which would need to be playtested across the other ships that can take them. Actually that’s more possible, but would still be a fair bit of work.

Astromechs: Considering the X-wing basically couldn’t fly without a droid, I find it weird how much we see them without anything in this slot. The current droids we see are largely highly specific, lackluster, or both, and all are expensive. I think the X-wing should come with a droid ability already included, and that droid can be “upgraded”. K, look, there are currently 3 generic droids for the X-wing: the R2 (1s and 2s all green), the R5 (flip a Ship crit), and the R7 (target lock on attacker lets you force them to reroll dice). What I’d really like to see is something where anything that has, say, the R5 prefix has the generic R5 ability. So R5-D8, you who never gets used because you’re 3 points and cost an action and have to roll a dice to potentially heal damage, you now also have the ability to turn a ship crit back down! Now granted, R5-D8 just has way too many costs associated, compared to something like R2-D2, to ever make it worthwhile, but adding on the ability to flip a crit would actually make this into a reasonable healer droid. I would argue that R2-D2 is the best astromech droid (and actually the only one that would be problematic with this fix because suddenly you’d have so much green on your dial), but that the second best (named) droid is probably R7-T1 (action: target lock an enemy at range 1-2, and if you’re in their arc, you may immediately perform a free boost). The double-action droid, with no stress, and giving the ship the ability to reposition after moving? It’s the best thing ever! TOO BAD IT’S UNIQUE. Seriously, I’d pay 3 points to stick this puppy on every X and suddenly have them be really viable. I think short of just releasing a whole new set of droids that are going to be useful, this fix would probably be the easiest way to fix it (but R2-D2 would actually need his point cost raised). This could work via a new Title that gives each droid the prefix ability, and maybe the title itself costs -1 to bring down the costs across the board. Actually that could be abused, so make the Title only apply the point saving to the Astromech slot, the same way the new X1 title is applying only to the System/Sensor slot.

S-foils: The ability to open and close the S-foils is probably the most iconic bit of the X-wing. This is where many people are proposing the new SLAM action should be applied to the X-wing. I personally don’t like that idea only because of just how unnatural it will feel, since SLAM is a direct result of the type of engines on the K-wing. So, I feel that the S-foils should have a different flavour. Maybe it could be treated like the Cloak mechanic. In the RPG I’m getting ready to do, I’m allowing all the Rebel players to do something akin to this, where they disable their weapons for the round, add 1 to the speed of their maneuvers (add the 1 straight to the template), and regenerate a shield. Regenerating may be a bit much (or see below under Survivability), but the ability to “get a move on” would be pretty critical to the X-wing, I think. Maybe instead of doing the clunky “add 1 to the speed of your maneuver” that I’m doing, the ship should just be able to take a free Boost action every round that the wings are closed. The question would become whether they should be able to open their wings at the start of the Combat phase. I mean, obviously they aren’t going to be able to “decloak” with the 2 boosts and barrel rolls, but the ability needs to apply to their ability to reposition in an immediate sort of way, or it hasn’t done anything. Being able to jump across the board is great, but unless you can get a shot lined up (the current issue), it isn’t helping you. Then again, closing your wings into not-attack-position should cost you, so maybe you could still fire your weapons that round but your primary weapon value would be lowered by 1. That is, if this isn’t costing you your action. If it costs the action, then it’s just a flavoured Boost, and nothing else needs to happen, but if it’s something that can be done, say, when revealing the maneuver dial, then it needs to have an additional opportunity cost. A mechanic like this could be done either through a Title or through a Modification, but I don’t think it should happen through a Droid because that just doesn’t really make sense to me.

Can’t touch this DA NANANA. DA NA. DA NA.

Survivability: I think the best answer to the X-wing’s survivability issues is to give it a way to heal, naturally. I know, it sounds crazy, and it probably is crazy, but let’s think about it a bit. If one could, say, reroute power from the weapons (-1 primary weapon value) in order to regenerate a shield, then there would be an opportunity cost and would give the ship some survival in hot situations. Oh wait this is exactly the new K-wing’s PS8 pilot ability, so we likely won’t see that. But, the X-wing is supposed to be a ship with great durability. I think the two agility dice is probably the right choice; it’s far more nimble than a B-wing or Y-wing. I also don’t think it should have more health, because it shouldn’t be as sturdy as a Y-wing, though it seems to need something to make it more sturdy. This is why I think the ability to regenerate health is the best answer. Look, we widely acknowledge R2-D2 as the best droid, but we rarely put him on Biggs. Why? Because Biggs doesn’t survive long enough to make use of R2-D2’s ability. We all know that an X-wing can be really easily focused down in one turn, so giving them the ability to regenerate health doesn’t do much beyond making pot-shots kinda useless. Exactly how this would be applied, I’m not sure. Probably through a droid, since they are supposed to manage damage control and in-flight repairs. Maybe making it so it can only do the heal thing every 2 rounds. At any rate, I think this would go a long way towards making the X-wing more viable in that it would still have a lot of difficulty in a heavily focused engagement (keeping the B-wing strong), but allowing it to be more useful the longer it survives. Make it a marathoner, rather than a sprinter.

So those were my 5 ideas to improve the X-wing. I don’t think all 5 should be implemented, as that would be far too strong, but these are 5 ideas that may bring some flair back to using the X-wing. Let me know what you think in the comments below, or back wherever you found the link!

Imperial Raider Preview

FFG released some more info on the Imperial Raider this week. For anyone that doesn’t know, the Raider is the Imperial Huge ship that is upcoming, essentially created to be a counterpart to the Rebel Corvette. Here’s the LINK to their preview article, which I’ll be discussing just a second hold your horses I gotta finish reading there article before I write any of my own crap here!

So this whole article I’m going to be comparing to the Rebel Corvette because it’s a really natural comparison point, so be prepared. The Raider comes in at the same Pilot Skill as the Corvette, but costs 10 points more. The Raider has this funky shift going on, where on the Corvette it was really obvious that one section was your “powerhouse” and the other was your offense, but the Raider has that all mixed up. What do I mean? Well, let me tell you! The defensive actions are on the Fore, but so is the primary weapon. The aft is the section that generates the power, but is also the section that has the more offensive actions. At the same time, the upgrade slots are flipped, in that the aft has the large majority of the upgrade slots, compared to on the Corvette where they were mostly on the fore. The Raider’s aft is, like the Corvette’s, its weaker section, which makes that a much more enticing target.

Corvette and Raider both have the same slots for hardpoints, crew, teams, and cargo, just that the Raider has it a little more concentrated than the Corvette. Their hull values are the same, but the Raider has 1 more shield point on both the Fore and the Aft, which may be a big part of the increased point cost. The Raider also is able to hold 1 more energy than the Corvette. Their primary weapon values are the same, but the Corvette’s is a 360 arc. However, the Corvette wasn’t able to attack anything through its aft section anyway, and with the Raider’s weird firing arc on the Fore, the blind spot is going to be pretty reasonably small, so I don’t consider that a detriment.

The primary weapon is range 2-4 compared to the Corvette’s 3-5, and personally I think that’s a lot better. Bear in mind, I haven’t played with the Corvette since the Huge ship primary weapon rules got changed (opponents now receive a single bonus agility die for range 3-5, as opposed to the previous rule where they received 1 bonus agility die for every range band beyond range 2, so up to 3 extras). So I’m not sure that the Corvette’s primary is quite so useless at Range 5 as it used to be, but being able to shoot at enemies within range 2 with that primary is a very big deal. On the Corvette if they get that close, you’re spending energy to fire Quad lasers, and your free primary weapon is useless.

I’m also partial to the spend-to-fire-again ability (2 energy for a second attack), as opposed to the Corvette’s spend 1 energy to add 1 attack die ability. I know that the second attack gets another round of defense dice thrown, but it’s so many more red dice on the table and the uselessness of green dice in general is well documented, so I feel like having the 1 extra die compared to throwing 4 extra dice isn’t that worthwhile. I suppose it’s like using Cluster Missiles over Concussion Missiles. Well there’s a couple more variation points between those two, but I guess the comparison is close enough. I suppose it’s pretty situational which one is better, and neither is bad, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Raider’s ability comes in a whole lot more handy just purely based on how much longer it will get to fire at enemies because it reaches back to range 2.

In the article, they show us the maneuver dial showing a 2 bank generating 2 energy, which is the same as the Corvette, but then they explicitly state that a 4 straight also generates 2 energy. I’m hoping that’s a typo. The Corvette only generates 1 at that speed, so we could be looking at a ship that is a fair bit better at generating energy than the Corvette, which will make it a whole lot better. Bear in mind, the Corvette’s max generation is 3, with the 1 banks and the 2 straight. The Corvette follows a linear progression of energy generation to speed and bearing, so if the Raider is the same way it could be generating 4 energy on a 2 straight. Heck, if they give it a 1 straight it may even be generating 5 energy per turn. That’s nuts, so I’m hoping that’s not the case because this ship will be very quickly shown to be superior to the Corvette, and that’ll just mean the Rebels go back to massed fighter tactics in Epic games. That’s kind of the whole reason for releasing this ship, isn’t it? So that the Imperials and Rebels can have Huge ships and not just one side with a whole mob of fighters?

As far as I can tell, this is the only new Hardpoint coming with the expansion. I see 2 Single Turbolasers and 2 Quad lasers, and it looks like 4 of these, so there’ll be plenty to spread around to your Corvette if you so desire. It’s great that we’re getting an Ion hardpoint. This weapon is 2 points cheaper than the Single Turbolaser and doesn’t give the enemy any agility bonuses, but also doesn’t have that built-in focus-light. The range is pulled in the same way the primary weapon is (2-4 compared to 3-5), and it costs the same to do the attack. 4 attack dice means you’re a lot more likely to get your hit through than a standard fighter-mounted ion cannon with only 3 dice. Also this one causes the opponent to suffer a critical damage, which is pretty freaking cool. It’s a capital ship ion cannon, of course that’s going to do very bad things to starfighters. Interestingly it is just a single Ion token, so you’re not going to be ioning a Falcon in one shot. But I seem to remember ion tokens reducing a Huge ship’s ability to generate energy, so that could be overpowered anyway. Regardless, good addition.

The last couple cards they talked about were these three fine gentlemen. Tarkin is cool because he isn’t an action. Just every round, deny a focus to one enemy or give one to one of your guys. He’s going to make firing ordnance a lot better of an experience, and for that matter make firing it a lot more difficult. There will be no shooting Proton Rockets with Tarkin around! Unless you have multiple ships ready to fire, then yeah of course. He’s super expensive at 6 points, but honestly I think he may be worth it. Needa is the captain of the Star Destroyer that Han latches the Falcon to right before they go to Bespin. I don’t quite see the connection between his character and his pilot ability, but whatever. He makes flying through obstacles significantly easier. It becomes a “maybe” thing, but it also for sure means that you’re not taking a crit, just a regular damage. So that’s a pretty big deal. Ozzel I don’t find particularly inspiring. I haven’t played all that many Epic games, but never have I ever found myself wishing I could sacrifice my shields to get a little more energy. Shields are the number one thing I want my energy for! I’d rather stay alive than fire any extra weapons! Maybe he could come in handy if you’re doing a Hail Mary where you want to fire off all your weapons in hopes of destroying his last ship before time runs out or something, but even still I don’t see Ozzel coming in handy more than once a battle, if ever.

Well those are all my thoughts on the Raider for now. I’m really excited for this ship to hit so we can have some great Epic matches. And of course for the TIE Advanced fixes, but mostly for the Epic matches.

TIE Defender theory

In my most recent post, I wrote about using my list Fel’s Defenders to great effect in a tournament. Defenders are ships that don’t get a lot of love, so I thought I’d do some writing about the experience of using them and why I think they’re valuable ships. off, let’s get the criticisms out in the open. The hard 1 and 2 turns are both red, so if you need to turn sharply, you’re collecting stress. Stress and these ships do not get along; their only green maneuvers are straight (but they are green from 2 right up to 5, so I got that going for me, which is nice). 30 points for a PS1 ship seems bonkers. Both the elite pilots have cool abilities, but they’re both super situational. Rexlar’s ability, though a lot of fun, would actually be better on a lower PS ship since you want to be shooting after the shields have already been stripped. Besides that, Rexlar needs something to give him a dice modifier, so that he can keep his focus for his ability, and this means putting more points into an already expensive ship. And really, the white 4-k is nice, but people can predict that pretty hard (I refer to it lovingly as “The Defender Special” because it’s so popular). Frankly, for 1 point more, you can turn your PS3 Defender into a PS3 Bounty hunter with 4 more total health and a rear firing arc, at the cost of one agility. The same argument could be made for the elite versions and flipping them into the elite Firesprays. The Defender seems to be a ship caught in point-limbo.

So all that being said, the Defender is a solid ship and I don’t think it should be in point-limbo. I’m personally a fan of the naked 32 point PS3 Onyx Squadron Pilot.

There are a couple things to remember about flying Defenders, and I do mean in terms of maneuvering: It is a jouster. It is a jouster, it is a jouster. You can NOT fly a Defender like you would an Interceptor, or even a TIE fighter. Standard TIEs are quite maneuverable and can do just fine in a furball, despite that we tend to think of them as jousters (which they are very well when massed). But frankly, that didn’t slow me down at the tournament. If you need to change angles, you need to stick to banking (soft turns), or go right up and do the hard 3. Actually, if you need to do a hard 1 or 2, chances are pretty good that you could accomplish the same thing with the 4-k, or a 1 bank and barrel roll. The 4-k is still your best friend when flying the Defender. Yes, everyone knows it’s coming, and yes they will try to block it. So, don’t do it when they can block you, but abuse the crap out of it when they can’t. I played a game at league a month ago with this same list, and I ended up just k-turning over B-wings over and over again. They only got shots on me every 2-3 rounds because they would need to flip and then do a green before they could flip again. It can also work as sort of a fencing maneuver. I don’t mean with swords. If you have two enemy ships right in close with you, doing the 4-k can cause your opponent to try to get one of those ships out of the furball (especially something like an Interceptor or Phantom), which gives you at least one round’s reprieve, if not two. In that time you can focus on knocking out the other ship.

The Firespray really is the natural comparison point for the Defender in terms of cost. One reason why I really like the Defender is that you can actually fit a pair of them in beside Super Fel, but you couldn’t do that with Firesprays. That 1 point cost difference is actually a big deal, and gave me a 99 point initiative bid to boot. That doesn’t mean the Defender is a great addition to any list, but it’s something to bear in mind. Additionally, I’ve come to appreciate the white 4-k OVER the firespray’s rear arc. The truth is, I don’t like using the rear arc on the firespray. It sounds like it should be fantastic, and it does come in handy sometimes, but most of the time it isn’t that hard for enemies to get into the flank where you can’t shoot him anyway. If I’m shooting out the rear arc, my ship is pointed the wrong way and I’m going to have to either do a k-turn anyway (where the Defender’s advantage becomes immediately apparent), or do a couple hard turns, where again I’ll be exposing my big juicy flank. The other thing that I’ve found, and this is maybe a little weird and specific to certain people playing, is that people are far more likely to focus fire on a Firespray than they are on a Defender. A Firespray has 10 health, which is huge any way you cut it, and there’s kind of this common knowledge that you have to focus fire on the big guys early, because if you wait till the later game you may not have enough firepower to bring it down. Also, the Defender has 3 agility against the Firespray’s 2 agility, and in my experience shooting at something with 3 agility is kind of like “ugh, do I have to?” whereas shooting at something with only 2 agility is kind of no big deal. The again, I’m usually using ships with 3 attack dice, so that may be the difference for me. At any rate, I’ve found that when I use a firespray, people tend to focus on it because it’s big and is kind of obvious about needing to be grouped up on. Defenders have a similar amount of effective health, but tend to be more ignored.

In terms of actions, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a ship so happy to take Focus. Having 3 attack and 3 defense means that you’re happy to have the token for either, unlike in say an X-wing or TIE fighter, where you really want it for one or the other. I found I used barrel-roll very little, because I really wanted to make my dice count. It’s still there if you really need to dodge an arc or rock, or drop into range 1, but I didn’t find myself using it nearly as often as I would with, say, TIE fighters. Target Locks are there stock too, so Defenders become very useful if your opponent is fielding Carnor Jax or Palob the Token Thief.

Anyway, those are my ramblings about the Defender. I hope some of this was useful to you. I suspect we’ll see something for the Defender in a future release, since it is a drastically under-represented ship in the meta, but I don’t think it’s too shabby.

Game Knight Spring Tournament

So I am done my exams! There’s hopefully going to be a lot more x-wing in my life over the summer, and that means more writing on this blog!

Tonight was the spring league wrap-up at my FLGS, Game Knight Games. It turned out to also be the Spring Tournament, since they had the kit and they wanted to hand it out. Almost everyone was surprised by that, so most people seemed to be flying stuff they were just experimenting with, but it was still really fun. I flew Fel’s Defenders, and let me tell you, boy did it perform. It’s midnight here and I’m kinda high on victory (spoiler alert), so I’m writing this now while it’s still fresh and because the chemicals have tricked my body into thinking that I have the energy to do this. I’m sorry I didn’t take any pictures because it was a great evening. Then again me taking pictures with my cellphone usually sucks anyway.

First game: Josh. Win: 100-0

It was my first time meeting Josh tonight. He brought Carnor Jax and Soontir Fel, both with PTL and Autothrusters, and an OGP Lambda shuttle with HLC, Engine Upgrade, and… something else. I can’t remember what. The squadron builder is telling me that’s only 95 points and I know he had 99 but I can’t for the life of me remember what his other upgrades were on the shuttle. Oh well.

We set up with my Defenders making a joust at his shuttle on the left side of the board and Soontir coming up behind, and his two Squints coming from the center towards us. I was able to sink quite a few hits in to the shuttle that first round of shooting. I made sure I was using Target Locks with my Defenders so that Carnor wouldn’t be such a problem, but it did make defending more difficult. I tabled him without losing a thing though.

Second game: Cam. Win: 100-32

I’ve played a couple times with Cam, and he’s always fun. This time he was rocking two Imperial Firesprays: Kath Scarlet and Krassis Trelix. Both had Manglers; Kath had a Rebel Captive and Marksmanship, Krassis had a Recon Specialist. Edit: I’ve been informed that there was an Engine Upgrade on both ships, bringing this list to 99. This game actually went pretty fast, it only took about half an hour. The first round of shooting Soontir ended up with I think 3 stress tokens. The guys at the next table were joking that Tycho must be in that interceptor. He had one from PTL, one from Rebel captive, and then got another for cancelling a crit that Kath sent his way. Next turn I did a green to knock one stress off and then immediately got another for shooting at Kath, which thankfully gave me a focus to use, but then got another when she attacked back. So four rounds of doing green maneuvers later…

The Defenders really held their own this game. He got one off the table before I finished him off, but man, they just caught everyone off-guard. The Defender is a weird ship. I had this conversation with one of the other guys, and I think I’m going to write a post tomorrow about my theory on how to use the Defender effectively, because apparently I did that tonight really well #humblebrag.

Third game: Dan. Win: 100-0

Dan was also someone I met for the first time tonight. He’d recently come over from Star Trek Attack Wing and is really loving X-wing. At this point I think something went a little wonky with the Swiss rounds, because two people left before this round, and I was undefeated, and I knew that Dan had lost the previous game. At any rate, I won this match handily at 100-0, so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Dan was flying Scum, with Boba Fett, N’dru (which I’ve officially decided to just pronounce as Andrew), and Palob. N’dru lets you roll an extra attack die if there are no friends at range 1-2, and he’d given him Lone Wolf and Cluster Missiles, which I gotta say is a fantastic combination. Palob had the Moldy Crow title, a Blaster Turret, and the K-4 Security Droid crew that lets you get a TL after doing a green maneuver. I was questioning his sanity for not taking a recon specialist until I realized he could steal my focus and stockpile them. He did take a focus off Soontir, but I ran straight at him with my defenders and ripped through him in one round of shooting with all 3 (Soontir from the side). Soontir opened with coming in at an angle at N’dru, where we both fired from just barely in Range 3 and I dinked a single shield off him. Two dice with a reroll and a focus is surprisingly hard to hit! Next round He banked towards me, but I took a hard 3 back toward the center and boosted and barrel rolled right out of his arc, making his target lock useless. My defenders had to make a big 3 turn because Boba was blocking the 4-k, but they were both able to shoot at N’dru. I think it was another round or two before he came off though. Holy smokes though, Soontir Fel. That guy came running at Boba and was out of his arc the whole game. Seriously, Boba never got a shot on him. Well, I think he took two potshots early, right after Palob died, but after that it was all me at range 1 straight into his flank, or I’d bumped him so he couldn’t shoot anyway.

Fourth Game: Steve. Win: 100-32

That score does NOT tell the story. This game had so much back and forth, you’d have thought we were playing tennis. Steve was flying a naked Black Squadron TIE (PS4), Echo, and Whisper. Both Phantoms had Veteran Instincts, Fire Control Systems, Advanced Cloaking Devices, and Gunners. Those were super nasty. Disclaimer: Steve had a camcorder there and did a recap after every round, which I’m sure he’ll be posting to the FLGS facebook group. When he does that, I’ll edit this post to include that link. It is entirely possible that I’ve misremembered some things about this match, but I didn’t want to leave this out, so you can have my version now and the real version later! Edit: Steve posted his video, and it’s official I did misremember some things. I’m not going to go editing the whole post to straighten it out though, they aren’t big things. His video is a recap of the whole tournament from his perspective, so our battle starts at 10:11 and runs to the end of the video.

We set up in opposite corners, both pointed straight ahead. My defenders did one 5 straight, and then did 2/3 banks to turn into the middle, so they spent much of the game on an angle. Soontir dashed up the side and ended up right in the flank of Echo, who was pointed directly right (like, parallel to Steve’s edge), and about half an inch from the edge, and unclocked. Soontir unloaded into his side and took him down to 1 hull on that first encounter. I was feeling pretty good at that point. The next round both my Defenders k-turned and Whisper was right in both their sights. But, Whisper shot at Soontir first, and landed a Direct Hit. My Defenders both hammered into the now-cloaked Whisper, and came up with nothing for their efforts. Dramatic swing. Soontir was able to put 2 damage on the TIE that round, but I’d trade that for 2 damage on Soontir Fel any day of the week. More maneuvering, lots of dice rolling. Whisper fired at range 3 and my 1 hull Soontir. I realized he had Gunner, and because I only had the 1 hull the normal strategy of just letting him get 1 damage through wasn’t going to do me any good. He pulled through. Holy smokes, Soontir Fel came through when he was being shot at. He had 4 hits on both rolls and I had a focus and an evade. First roll, I came up 3 evades and a focus. I spent the Evade token. Second shot, I rolled 2 evades and 2 focus. There was cheering, I may have been crying, it was a wild time. Alright I didn’t cry, but I did sit down (because really who stays sitting down while playing the championship game) and put my face on the table. I couldn’t believe it. The next round Echo knocked off one of my Defenders who had been down to 1 hull, which left me in a very rough spot having Soontir with 1 hull and a Defender with no shields, against a full health Whisper, 1 hull TIE, and 1 hull Echo that I couldn’t seem to hit. But, that same round Whisper flew right into the side of the TIE and my other Defender plopped into range 1, rolled himself 4 hits with the use of a focus and target lock, and Whisper rolled 2 blanks to become space-dust. I happily traded that Defender for his Phantom. The round after that Soontir fired through an asteroid at an uncloaked Echo to finish him off (Echo was at range 1 of my Defender’s rear, so I really appreciated that), and then shrugged off the clumsy attack of the TIE pilot. I took a round to reorient my ships, and the next one Soontir came in with 4 hits on the TIE, which there was no way he could live through and we shook on it. That was a crazy match, I haven’t played one that intense in a long time, if ever! Easily my favourite match of the night.

I couldn’t believe how much schwag they gave me tonight. I got my first acrylic stuff, a range ruler and a pair of Cloak Tokens, a funky TIE fighter dice bag, a slew of alt-art cards, a card box… oh, and apparently the spring champion gets a medal? A MEDAL?? I wore that home proudly, like the giant nerd I am.

I’ve got a buddy coming over tomorrow for the express purpose of introducing him to x-wing, so I’ll be playing more, but I don’t know if that’ll be worthy of writing about here. I do plan to give a writeup tomorrow about TIE Defenders and my thoughts on them, because they really carried their weight tonight and I don’t see a lot of people using them. Also, the FLGS RPG campaign that I’m running is starting up in 2 weeks (May 6), so I’ll be posting the final rules for that this weekend and then there’ll be recaps for that too!

Alright, the adrenaline/Glitterstim has worn off, and I’m now super tired. I’m not even going to read this over again to check for spelling errors. I guess I’ll do that in the morning, so if you read this between now (12:45am) and then, my apologies for the chaotic mess that I’m sure this post is. Hey look, a Save Draft button!…. nah.

Wave 7 Annoucement

Well it’s finally happened. I was wondering where Wave 7 was, because typically FFG has been a big jerk and announced the new wave RIGHT before the current wave hits stores, so I’m a little disappointed buying the new ships because I’m all excited for what’s next. They didn’t do that this time, so I’ve been able to savour the new Scum and Villainy, but here we are, finally got wave 7!

In case you hadn’t heard, this was announced at Star Wars Celebration over the weekend, it’s just that today we got an actual announcement article, not just some pictures. All the pictures I’m going to use are pulled straight off their announcement article. Here’s the LINK

So, the ships we got announced:

  • Hound’s Tooth Expansion Pack
  • Kihraxz Fighter Expansion Pack
  • K-wing Expansion Pack
  • TIE Punisher Expansion Pack

It looks like the first two are for the new Scum faction, which is great because getting more variability into a new faction is important. The K-wing is Rebel, and the TIE Punisher is Imperial. Be warned, I’m not much for squinting. I’ll spend some time talking about the visible combinations, but I’m not a big fan of trying to figure out all the little words on the cards.

On the Scummy side of things, let’s take a look at the Hound’s Tooth.

There’s been lots of expectation for this ship, it seems. I’ve never particularly had a love affair with Bossk or the Trandoshans, so it’s a little whatever for me, but hey I love new toys. Let’s start with the stat lines. 3/1/6/6. My first comparison point that jumps to mind is the Shuttle (3/1/5/5). Cool, it’s a little beefier, and has what appears to be a hundred and eighty degree firing arc out the front. The shuttle’s big weakness is its giant blindspot and inability to quickly turn around. The YV-666, as this ship is officially called, has a smaller blind spot for its primary weapon, but the real difference to the shuttle will be its maneuver dial, and we don’t have anything to go off with that. The highest pilot for the Shuttle is 27 points, the PS8 Captain Kagi. We can see the PS7 Bossk comes in at a whopping 35 points, so this is definitely a different calibre of ship from the shuttle. Of course it has the Illicit slot, which seems to be standard on all Scum ships; it has a full 3 crew slots, whoa, right up with the Decimator. And then it looks like missile, cannon, and EPT. The Shuttle didn’t have an EPT on any of its ships, so that’s another interesting difference.

As far as squinting at cards goes: Bossk’s pilot ability looks like it reads “When you perform an attack that hits, before dealing damage you may cancel one of your (crit symbol) results to add 2 (hit) results.” Well that’s super cool, it’s a built-in, guaranteed Direct Hit. Great pilot ability. The Hound’s Tooth title card got discussed in the article, and wow is that ever cool. The ship has an escape pod, that is a Z-95. There’s already speculation on the subreddit about how that’s going to work in tournament play, and I have no answers until FFG releases more info, but I love the idea. The Pup’s card has a star over the pilot skill, so I’d assume that your pilot skill (and probably ability) stays the same when you “eject”.

I see a copy of Stay on Target, Engine Upgrade, and Lone Wolf, all cards I’ll be happy to have a spare of. Beyond that, there isn’t much else to say here.

Next up we have the Kihraxz Fighter. Holy smokes I had to check three times to make sure I’d spelled it correctly. My immediate thought on seeing this was “Oh, it’s an x-wing for Scum.” In fact the article comes right out and says that. I like the look of this ship. I think I actually like the look of this ship better than the E-wing.

Talonbane Cobra? That’s a comic book character if I’ve ever heard one. Anyway, I’m not going to make any more fun of the name, cuz the pilot ability looks cool. When attacking or defending, double the effect of your range combat bonuses. That’s super cool, because the way I see it, you get 2 extra red dice at range 1 and 2 extra red dice at range 3+ (remember the recent changes to epic rules), but the opponent doesn’t get either. That’s a lot of fun.

I’m real happy to see another copy of Predator there. I really like the look of that Glitterstim card. For anyone that doesn’t know, Glitterstim is basically the Star Wars version of… cocaine? They mine it out of the ground on Kessel, you stick it under your tongue, and… things get spicy? I don’t know. Anyway, this card is an Illicit upgrade, and looks like a one-off Push the Limit, which I think is pretty cool. Actually, it’s better than that. It doesn’t have any trigger condition other than a time, so you can do it even if you were action denied, or if you’re stressed. It’s basically a Focus token that you don’t spend, so you have it for your attack and for every defense roll, which is terrific. I love that card. Let’s jump over to the Rebels.

I’m a little skeptical of this ship. I don’t hate the look of it, which is a complaint I’m hearing a lot, but I do worry a bit about what it’s going to do to the meta. I mean, it looks like it’s a B-wing on crack, and the B-wings dominate the meta on the Rebel side. Well as a heavy hitter they do. The Z-95 is super popular, and the Warthog has given rise to more Y-wings, and of course the ever-popular Falcons and Outriders, but I still see a LOT of B-wings around. Still, on the K-wing the top pilot we see is PS8 and costs 29. Compare that to the top X-wing pilots, at PS9 and 29 points, and that suggests to me that the low end PS2 pilot is likely going to be around 22 points. You could field 4 of these. Anyway, as a primarily Rebel player I don’t mean to whine, it’s just that I don’t like seeing ships get “replaced”. I’d rather see a new ship fill a new role. My beloved X-wings sit on the shelf for many players because they can’t justify taking it without an elite pilot; they either take a B-wing or a pair of Headhunters, and I can’t fault them. So, I don’t want to play a game where a whole class of ship gets relegated to nothing because of a new release. FFG has been really good about releasing updates to underused ships to bring them back, like the Aces packs, and the TIE Advanced updates coming with the Raider, so I doubt that they’re going for that with this ship, but I see the possibility for it. Anyway, enough of my rant, let’s look at the ship.

It’s the first small ship with a turret for its primary weapon, and it’s just a 2, so it’s not game-breaking. It does have more health overall than either the Y-wing or the B-wing, which I believe makes it the most HP of any small ship (tied with the TIE Punisher, see below). Dang I said dang, look at that upgrade bar. Looks like a turret, 2 torpedoes, a missile, a crew, and two bombs. Shoot that’s a lot of slots. I’m kinda giddy thinking about it. Actually I just realized that I’m looking at the PS8 and there’s no EPT slot there. Huh. Interesting. I guess the ship could get pretty fierce if you added in a Predator or something.

There’s a pair of upgrade cards there that say “twin something Turbo”. I’m guessing it says Twin Linked Turbolasers, and that it’s a new turret upgrade. The ship has a turret slot and no other turret cards, so that’s kind of my logic there. A bunch of neato looking upgrades there that I can’t see what they do yet. But, we do see Advanced Slam.

Slam is the new action that comes standard on the K-wing, and boy has it got people talking. It’s currently only on the K-wing, but there’s speculation that some coming ships may have it, including the long-desired assault gunboat. Personally, I’m still waiting on the Skispray Blastboat, but that’s beside the point. Slam lets you use your action to basically take another movement. You have to do it on the same speed that your standard maneuver was, and it costs you your ability to attack for the turn as well, but holy smokes can you cover distance quickly doing that. The Advanced Slam modification allows you to take an action after performing the Slam action, and it doesn’t even cost you a stress, so for 2 points that’s pretty close to a no-brainer. My only question is, why would you want to take another action when your weapons are disabled and you only have 1 defense die anyway? My only thought is to take a target lock in preparation for next round. Because I don’t actually see that getting a ton of use, I don’t actually see this as a no-brainer, but that may change with some experience with the ship.

Last I wanna quickly talk about that pilot ability on the PS8. Miranda Bond? I can’t really read it. But the pilot ability seems to be “Once per round when attacking you may either spend 1 shield to roll 1 additional attack die, or 1 fewer attack dice to recover 1 shield.” Oh I love that. That’s just too cool. I can totally see that coming in super handy. I mean, you kind of end up throwing your attack if you go down to just 1 attack die, but being able to recover a shield is crazy helpful. I’m glad it’s on the attack though, because could you imagine if you could do the SLAM thing to jump across the map, and then be recovering shields while they catch up? You’d never go down! So it’s good that it sort of requires you to throw the attack.

I’ll be honest, I hate the look of this ship. People are saying it’s an established ship because of Galactic Battlegrounds, which I played a whole lot of back in Junior High, and honestly I thought it looked stupid there too. It’s a little bit like the TIE Defender: we need an upgrade, so let’s throw another solar panel on/we need an upgrade, let’s throw some more pods on! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to like the TIE Defender, but its never had the aesthetic appeal of the TIE Interceptor.

I like the feeling of this stat-line. Actually it’s the K-wing stat-line, just with the hull and shield values a little mixed. Hey, does anyone remember I said a while ago that it seems that FFG believes that 1 agility die is worth 3 health? My theory holds true. What’s that, you want me to recap it instead of going hunting? Well, alright, since you asked so nicely. Basically, look at the basic TIE fighter. 3 agility, 3 hull. Then look at the TIE bomber. 2 agility, 6 hull. Now add the TIE Punisher: 1 agility, 9 health total. Even on the Rebel side this is true to a certain degree: X-wing/HWK, 2 agility, 5 health total. Y-wing/B-wing, 1 agility, 8 health total. To be honest, this rule seems to have more exceptions than rules, and takes no mind to the point costs of the ships, so it’s probably not a very good theory, but it is an interesting connection.

The Punisher comes with Boost, which is not something I was expecting to see on a bomber-type ship. It’s cool though. It adds another bomb slot to the TIE bomber list, as well as giving it the ever-popular Sensor upgrade slot. 27 points for the PS7 compared to 26 points for the Bomber PS7 means this ship is very competitive with the Bomber in terms of cost. As I said with the K-wing, I’m a little concerned we’ll see this ship basically phase out the TIE Bomber. It doesn’t stand to knock out the Defender or Squint or something, but even with the new X1 title I think we’ll be a little hard pressed to take an Advanced over this. It’s a little bit of the X-wing vs B-wing debate. So again, a little worried that we’ll see a narrowing of the field in terms of viable ships, but I do have faith that FFG is keeping an eye on that and doesn’t want to see this game go that way.

The last thing I want to talk about for this post is the supposed “Munitions Fix”. FFG seems to be making a big deal about the Extra Munitions card, but I don’t really see it. I mean yes it’s cool, don’t get me wrong. But really, paying 2 points and burning a torpedo slot to double up is a hefty price to pay. Look, it’s an absolute waste on the X-wing, E-wing, and Decimator (and the Slave I, remember the Title card gives you a torpedo slot), because these ships only have 1 torpedo slot. (Well, less so a waste on the Decimator and the Slave I, because you can also equip bombs where the upgrade will come in useful, but still. It would be wild if you could have both the Slave I title and the Andrasta title, and effectively be carrying 6 bombs. That’d be pretty wild. Obviously you can’t, and that’s fine, but I’m just saying) So this upgrade card does nothing to fix munitions for some of the ships, in particular a ship that has from the LAUNCH OF THE GAME been telling the designers that the munition slot on it doesn’t work. TIE Bombers, Punishers,and K-wings will all benefit from Extra Munitions, since they have a pair of Torpedo slots and host of other munitions slots that will all be doubled, but again you’re now sinking a LOT of points, and you spent 2 points on the Extra so there’s going to be a feeling of needing to carry more projectiles to make the cost/value ratio on this upgrade card more worthwhile. That’s part of where this won’t even do well on the Y-wing and B-wing: you’ve only got one more slot. So yeah, you can now equip a single Proton Torpedo and have it shoot twice. You’ve saved yourself 2 points over just taking them both. If you do the Bomb loadout on the Y and roll something simple like Seismic charges, you’re not actually ahead any points at all, except for the fact that you can’t double up on a bomb loadout with the Y. If you’re rolling Flechette Torps then you’re in exactly the same place for having taken the Extra Munitions over just another copy of the card. Except that maybe you’re a little more vulnerable to the Munitions Failure crit? This card could work on someone like Nera Dantels, who really does want to be using torpedoes and could roll something like double Advanced Torpedoes, saving herself 4 points, but that’s a pretty narrow application.

I feel like we need a blanket point cost reduction on all missiles and torpedoes (ok maybe not Flechette Torps, but pretty well the rest), not a card that’s going to guilt us into taking more of these point-sink weapons. Maybe it’ll work, but I’m not super hopeful about this particular fix. I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing a card pack that just reworks all the missiles and torpedoes. I’d pay for that.

Tabletop Day!

I was able to get some gaming in yesterday for Tabletop Day. My FLGS hosted an event at a nearby church and I bet there was 100 people in there at one point all gaming, which was very cool to see. I ran into some people I hadn’t seen in a very long time, and they just so happened to have recently picked up a starter set for X-wing Minis and wanted to have a game to see if they were playing correctly and also just learn from someone who knew what they were doing (who, me?).

We found one other kid who wanted to learn, so we just played a 2v2 of 2 Academy Pilots and 2 Obsidians vs 2 Talas and 2 Bandits, which made for a pretty even fight. Except that the Imperials shredded the Rebels. I was in control of the Obsidians, so that may have had something to do with it and I was able to focus my fire every turn, but they had fun and are excited to play more.

After that one of the guys who regularly comes to the league nights showed up and we decided to have a proper 2v2 (the kid had wandered off). This time each of us took one newbie. I handed off my YT-3700 list to the guy playing Rebels (Leebo and Chewie with upgrades), and scrounged up 3 firesprays for the Imperial newb. I don’t own 3 firesprays, just 2, but really when was the last time I wanted to get 2 firesprays on the table? I’d left one at home because it doesn’t quite fit into my case (same with my second Falcon, which was also left at home), but one of the hosts had a pair that he was willing to share with us. I flew Fel’s Defenders (Soontir with Royal Guard, Autothrusters, Stealth Device, PTL, and 2 PS3 Defenders), and the other guy had Wedge, Keyan Farlander with PTL, and Horton Salm with the BTL title and an ion turret. Well, this game didn’t go too well for the Rebels either, seeing as we didn’t lose a single ship. Soontir didn’t even get shot at, neither of my Defenders lost all their shields. A couple firesprays did take a beating, but none went down, and we were able to focus fire well enough that we knocked out the small Aces pretty quick and then dropped Chewie a turn or two after that. We called it with just Leebo on the board.

I was hoping to give Armada a try (I haven’t picked any of it up but dang I’d like to), but I didn’t get the chance. I needed some lunch and when I got back my friends were just getting into a game of Smallworld, which I love, so I played that till it was time to head home. Got exams this week, so the amount of time I spent there was likely irresponsible to begin with and I didn’t want to push it too far. But, there’s an Armada night at Game Knight this Wednesday, and at that point I’ll be down to just a takehome exam so I may well go to that! Most people who like x-wing seem to have an interest in Armada, so I’ll likely write about that here too.

And then we’re starting up the X-wing RPG on May 6, so I’m hard at work getting that all ready to go. I do want to get a bunch of gaming in between the end of this week when I finish exams, and the start of May when I’m starting my seasonal job, so hopefully there will be plenty of updates between now and then, but not till the end of the week!