Posts Tagged ‘Tabletop Games’

They’re coming in! Three marks at 2-10!

Posted: December 31, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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X-wingLL and I popped in the Episode IV Blu-ray and played a game of Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game on New Year’s Eve. This was our second session playing this game and we learned a little more about the ships and tactics.

We decided to build 50-point fighter groups. LL played the Alliance and picked up Biggs Darklighter in an X-wing (25 points, Pilot skill of 5) and a guy called Horton Salm in a Y-wing (25 points, Pilot 8). I played the Imperials and chose two Obsidian Squadron pilots in TIEs (13 points, Pilot 3) and a Storm Squadron pilot flying a TIE Advanced (23 points, Pilot 4). That left me at 49 points, so I also took an upgrade called “Determination” for the TIE Advanced pilot. The card would let me discard a face-up damage card dealt to me if it contained the “Pilot” trait. Things were already looking bad for the Imps. We had the Rebs slightly outnumbered but their ships outclassed us by a parsec and they were far better pilots. I reckon if the Storm Squadron pilot was determined about anything it was to not have to go back and report defeat at the hands of Rebel scum.

Unfortunately I didn’t keep a play-by-play of the session so I’ll just provide some general notes of how it went and what we learned. We opened up the game on opposite sides of the play area. I had the two TIEs in formation, LL had the X-wing in guard position over the Y-wing. We decided on our moves and then went in initiative order. In X-Wing, that means that the ships with the lowest Pilot skill go first. This allows better pilots to react to the poorer…and it meant that my TIEs were always first, followed by my TIE-A and then LL’s ships. Ships shoot in reverse order, with the best pilots firing first. We soon found out that situation sucked very badly for these particular Imperials versus these particular Rebels.

sw2In general, TIEs can outfly anything in the black. They can jink like crazy, often avoiding hits, and can maneuver tightly, way better than any of the Rebel ships. They can also, instead of a Focus or other action, choose to execute a barrel roll at the end of their turn – essentially moving laterally by 1″, and even backward or forward slightly. This would be an absolutely killer stunt if TIE pilots were ever in a position to react to enemy ships (i.e. by having a better Pilot and going after the enemy in initiative order) because they’d possibly either be able to roll out of an enemy’s firing arc or roll so that their firing arc covered the enemy. In practice, at least against Rebel pilots of any skill, this just isn’t going to happen. The TIE-A is even better. It performs better and can do barrel rolls too…and it has a couple points of shields.

The X-wing is a good ship. It’s pretty maneuverable, has a good attack rating, and comes with a couple of shields. The Y-wing is an absolute pig. It’s big and slow and doesn’t handle well at all, but it’s armored like a tank and carries a powerful shield generator. Put one of each up against a small squadron of ties and it’s simply a game of attrition – the Xs and Ys lumber around and try to get a good shot or two off on a TIE while the TIEs dodge about and plink at the shields and armor of the heavier ships. TIEs don’t take much to kill. One good shot (three hits on three dice in one attack) from an X will turn it to vapor. Sometimes it takes two. Considering it takes five hits to take out the X, the TIEs have to line up and get at least three mostly successful volleys. Taking out a Y (eight hits) is even harder! That means that the odds are on the Rebels in a fight where they have superior Pilot skill.

And that’s exactly how this session played out. My pair of TIEs flew around the board (in formation for quite a while) for many turns, doing barrel rolls, looking polished. They lined up a few shots on the Rebs but missed (or were dodged) almost all of the time. The TIE-A did a little better, flying about, dodging shots, and shaving a few points off of the Reb’s shields. The X and Y moved slowly and botched a few maneuvers but managed to line up enough shots on the TIEs to paste them both before turning to double-up on the TIE-A. Truthfully, the only reason the fight went on for so long is because they were focused on the TIE-A rather than the pair of TIEs. I think LL could have finished them off first and then doubled up without being harassed.

There are a lot of possible permutations with this game. If I had taken Darth Vader in a TIE-A, I think the Rebels would have been meat. As in the movies (and we saw a lot of TIEs blown up that day on the screen) the incredible numbers of the Empire are nothing versus the skill and resolve of the Rebels…or the power of the Force.

NB: I must warn you that an Imperial CAG may well have been harmed following this session. The pilots have been sitting around in the Ready Room for quite a while and nobody has shown up. That’s usually bad news. It sucks when a CAG gets Force-choked…it sucks worse when the new CAG gets all gung-ho and makes you fly drills until you’re ready to pass out on your own control console.

This is Red 5, I’m going in

Posted: December 10, 2012 by mearrin69 in Gaming
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X-wingI picked up a copy of Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures Game from Amazon recently, along with some “booster” ships. LL, PL, and I broke it out on Monday to give it a go. First impression, and the reason that I bought the thing in the first place, is that these are easily the best Star Wars miniature ships I’ve ever seen. Since we sometimes play Wizards’ Star Wars Saga Edition RPG, now OOP, I figured I should pick them up – even though I didn’t really care about the miniatures game itself.

We opened it up and had a look at the contents of the box. The basic set includes two TIEs and an X-wing, along with a click-together stand which hold both the ship and some counters that identify it and its current capabilities. Each ship has a number of possible pilots with different ratings and you can use the squad-building rules to add upgrades to the ships. The box also includes a number of other tokens that indicate what actions are being taken, stress effects, shield points, etc. There’s a deck of cards that represent damage taken – each card is one damage point but can be flipped over on a critical hit to reveal extra effects.

Probably the most innovative part of the game is its movement system. There’s no gridded board or hex map. Instead, there are a number of “movement templates” that let you easily plot a ship’s chosen movement across the play area. During the movement part of the turn, each pilot selects his intended maneuver on a little dial and then everyone simultaneously reveals these and the ships are moved in order of pilot skill. Simply place the movement template in front of your ship and then move the ship to the end of the template. Moves range from hard banks and gentle turns of various lengths to straight paths to a reverse that will get you going in the other direction. In the advanced game, some of these maneuvers will add “pilot stress”, limiting your options until you take it easy for a bit.

Combat is simple and uses special dice included with the game. The attack dice are marked with hits, critical hits, and special focus markers (which can convert to hits if you’ve taken a “focus” action). The defense dice are marked with dodges and focus markers (which convert to dodges with a “focus” action). You roll the number of dice indicated on your card for attack or defense. A basic TIE uses two dice for attack and three to defend. In the advanced game, there are range effects and actions which can add or subtract dice to your pool.

The quick-start rules present a very basic game. Put your ships on the map and then alternate between moving and firing until one side wins. The full rules offer additional options such as squad-building, critical hits and more detailed damage tracking, actions that will improve your ability to hit or dodge, upgrades and special secondary actions, obstacles, mission objectives, and more.

photoWe got up and playing very quickly with the basic game. LL took the X-wing and a rook pilot. I took a TIE flown by an academy graduate and PL took the same with a more experienced pilot from the Imperial fleet. PL and I didn’t exactly act like wingmen. He cut left and I flew fast and straight toward the enemy. As the X-wing flew past I looped back around to target it and PL cut back right. We had her in the crossfire and cut it to pieces. The Rebel scum never knew what hit her!

The Alliance struck back on our second basic game. We opened up in more or less the same manner, with the TIEs closing fast. She outmaneuvered us, however, and got PL’s TIE in her sights and opened up with her guns. His TIE broke into bits and I started to sweat. We came around at each other again and she repeated the feat, one-shotting my fine Sienar ride. If only they’d put some bloody shields on the things maybe we wouldn’t lose so many academy rooks to Rebel hotshot pilots.

So we were feeling confident now and decided to flip through the advanced game to see how it rolls. We built 31-point squads. For LL, that meant Biggs (or maybe it was Wedge) and a couple of upgrades to her ship. For PL and I, it meant two “named” Imperial pilots. Our guys were “Dark Curse” and “Night Beast” if I remember correctly…the Imperial Navy really needs some help on call signs. What’s wrong with “Skipper” or “Apollo” or something? Whatever.

We squared off again and let fly. My memory fails me again but I believe PL cut left and then came in for a side attack while I cut right. LL flew straight in and we both came in around her. Some shots were exchanged. I seem to recall that we winged her (wasting a crit on her shield!) and that she took a piece of my panel (yeah, what are those for anyway?). The was a maneuvering bungle on the Alliance side and a lucky break for me, as I ended up right behind her and cut in with my guns. I’m not sure who took the final shot (seems like it was PL) but we flew back to the ISD to the cheers of our teammates shortly after.

The advanced game seemed to offer some nice options and a lot more depth. There was definitely a lot more give-and-take and I believe that skill in selecting maneuvers versus your opponents and playing to the qualities of your ship are very important. As an example, LL chose to do a tough maneuver and earned herself some pilot stress. That kept her from performing any of her nifty actions (like being dodgy or getting a lock-on) for a while since she had to run a way and didn’t have time to take it easy and get rid of that stress. I did a couple of the same maneuvers too…but it had little effect since there weren’t a lot of optional actions my TIE pilot could have taken anyway. The combination of those things (and some beginner’s luck) helped me outmaneuver her and bring my guns to bear more often.

The game was surprisingly fun and we’re going to play it again next Monday. I’ve got an unopened TIE Advanced, a Y-wing, and some more TIEs and X-wings…so we’ll have plenty of options.

NB: I see that Fantasy Flight has some more ships out – A-wing, Millennium Falcon, Slave-1, and the TIE/In. Looking forward to getting some of these soon!