Welcome to this week’s blog!
I’ll start with ‘the usual’ by mentioning local tournaments!
On the 26th of November we’ve got the last store tournament of the year at Firestorm Games in Newport! There’s TONS of prize support including alt arts, metal Holocron objective tokens and a trophy!
Then, on the 10th of December Firestorm Games in Cardiff have their Christmas store event (Christmas jumpers
mandatory highly encouraged!). Tickets are available here and the Facebook event is here for that one.
This week’s post is a little different (more on that later!) but before I get to any of that I want to put something out there.
I host this blog on web space that I’ve historically had for probably 16 years or more. Last year my hosting company got taken over by some other company and this month I got my first renewal bill. It’s astronomical. More than double the previous year.
Now, when I started this blog I was just using a small amount of this web hosting space that I had anyway and a domain name that I’d got for free at some point down the line and that’s all good. But now that this hosting is looking to cost very real money, I’m looking to make a change.
I’m not stopping the blog, if that’s what you’re thinking.
No, as part of my longer term plans, it has always been my aim to take the blog from my own ‘tin pot, self installed’ wordpress to a proper dedicated wordpress service. One of the reasons I started a Patreon account was to help me get to a place where I could justify that spend (to my wife!) for what is essentially a hobby blog.
Yes there are free options but having a dedicated, backed up, reliable (and ad-free) service is important to me. Over the last year of running the Patreon it’s been a slow build up to head towards a place where I’m not just breaking even on the swag, prizes and postage. Am I there? Almost.
This feels like a natural place to say that if you would like to support the blog, you can sign up to be a Patron by clicking here and taking a look at the tiers available. It’s no problem if you don’t want to, of course, I know times are tough!
So, what am I going to do? Well, while I’ve been waiting for the mystical ‘perfect time’ to migrate over to a hosted service, it seems that my hand is being forced somewhat. Why would I pay more for keeping the same as what I have when I could instead have something better! My new hosting bill is due in less than 30 days which gives me a pretty firm deadline to get transitioned over.
In real terms that means that I may take an unscheduled break from blogging while I work it out. Writing the blogs takes up a good chunk of time each week (probably 5-8 hours typically, not including the time playing the games to write about!) and if I can dedicate some of that time to getting this transition right then it will definitely be worth the effort.
I’ve also got a short holiday coming up so while it does make my life a little more complicated in the short term, it’s likely that I’d have missed a week anyway for the trip so hopefully it’ll all work out ok!
The current plan will be for there to be a post next week and then take a break until the first week of December, provided everything goes alright!
Alright, that’s enough of that, let’s get on to some actual X-Wing content, shall we?
The… batrep…?? (JARGON ALERT!!)
So like I said, this week’s post is a little different than normal.
With the Battle of Yavin pack being released on the 28th (a Friday), it was suggested in our group chat that we might play it on the following Wednesday at casual night. A few people chimed in and said they’d be happy to do that. Great.
Off the back of the release I’d seen a Facebook post that said that the full 35 points of a list was quite a lot to manage (especially with new pilot abilities and preloaded upgrades) and so it might work nicely as a 2 vs 2 game.
I thought this was a good idea and suggested it and again, people were open to it.
As we approached the Wednesday a couple of people said that they couldn’t make it and as the time got nearer, it became apparent that there would be 6 of us in total.
I started putting some ships and bases together and very quickly realised that I have WAY too many ships. I’ll qualify that statement in a minute….
Casual night rolled around and after arriving at the store we prepped a single table. Yes, we were going to play 3 vs 3!
I opened up the box, tipped out the contents and started looking over the rules. After a short discussion we came to a conclusion – since we were have 3 players per team we would run at even higher points (42/43, we couldn’t make them balance easily!) and control 3 ships each.
I was on the Rebel side along with Josh and Peter while we were facing the Imperial threat played by Mark, Paul and Alex.
We rolled dice, shuffled cards and pulled ships at random – I was controlling Luke, Wedge and ‘Pops’ Krail. Pretty good but also, with two of the Proton Torp carriers, a bit of pressure!
I got ship after ship out of my case and in the end we managed to field BOTH lists almost entirely from my collection. That’s 4 Y-Wings, 4 X-Wings, the Millennium Falcon, a TIE Advanced, 4 TIE Fighters and 5 TIE Interceptors. All mine. I was short of around 5 or 6 bases (some of which we proxied) and I think maybe 5 dials.
Do… I have a problem?
A little more reading of rules, some rough and ready planning/strategising in our teams and we were ready to begin.
I will apologise right now for the mat we used. It’s AWFUL for photos of the board state but how could we have possibly used anything else?!
Did any of us know what we were doing? No, not really. Did it matter? Not a bit!
Being that a Rebel ship can’t enter the trench until the start of turn 4 we decided to alpha strike the Imperials before their reinforcements (three small base ships which just happened to include Vader!) could join and flank us. We would go fast turn 1 and then slower turn 2 (with the exception of Luke and Dutch out on our right who would be gunning for the trench/flanking.
During the planning phase of turn 2 we realised that Jek Porkins had been deployed in the back row. Given that he takes a 1 straight boost and ‘detonates’ like with Deadman’s Switch, we decided to jump him over the top and dangle him in front of the Interceptors.
They took the bait with the bulk of Imperial shots coming in at poor old Jek. He went down swinging though, taking 5 or 6 shots to be dispatched and managing to get a shot in too.
Being that nobody really knew what any of the pilots were or what they did, it was quite satisfying to see him take his 1 straight boost and deal a hit to the two front Interceptors, one of which died soon after.
So, 4 point Jek for a 4 point Sigma. Not a bad trade I guess (although points mean nothing in this scenario!) but it’s turn 3 next and reinforcements are coming….
So it looks like we’re taking a bit of a beating here.
This is also where formations descend into chaos.
They Y-Wings plough into the Imperial line while Dutch and Luke bank in on the edge. Meanwhile Vader and his Interceptor wingmen accelerate into the rear of our formation. Yikes.
As much as this seemed pretty disastrous, we got away fairly lightly here.
Luke and Wedge lost a shield each and one of the Y-Wings took a beating but survived on 1 hull. Phew!
In return we took another Interceptor off the board as well as a TIE fighter but those ships at our rear were going to become a right pain if they get close up.
Thankfully, it was turn 4 and time for Han to arrive!
Oh, wait…. it’s going to be the Systems phase of turn 4… and Luke isn’t on the trench….
That’s right, in our excitement to get going with the game, we (the Rebel team) had managed to misjudge/misread/misunderstand when it was that a ship needs to get in the trench.
Thankfully, we had Dutch in place to go into the trench and that, is where we discovered a problem with this scenario. Or perhaps, two?
First of all let’s see where everyone went.
We declared that Dutch was entering the trench. Then ships started moving. They Y-Wing banked and turned around the TIEs while Wedge and Garven pressed in to take out some more enemies.
Meanwhile Luke R2-D2’d his missing shield and took a 3 straight to land on the trench, ready to enter next turn.
Noticing that Dutch was entering the trench, Paul took one of his Interceptors and hard turned left, sitting right on the trench guidelines.
Dutch’s straight move bumps the interceptor and he sits there with a red focus.
Now, let’s take a little sidebar here.
The rules state that once you enter the trench and are assigned the Attack Run condition there are a few things that happen. First, you’re placed on the trench, between the guidelines, as far from the exhaust port as possible. Easy, cool.
The Attack Run condition card gives a few extra instructions. When you enter the trench (and get the card), you acquire a lock on the exhaust port. Ok, fine. You can only go straight. Makes sense. If you dial anything except for straight, you take a deplete and go 2 straight anyway.
You can’t move or be moved except my completing your dialled move and boosting straight. Still all fine.
If you dial a red move, you take a deplete instead of a stress. This is fine but what about a red focus when bumped? We took this as working as normal (hence Dutch ending up stressed).
You always engage at initiative 0. We missed this. Oops!
It’s the last one we were interested in – During the end phase, you may exit the trench. If you are not completely overlapping the trench, remove this condition.
You see, with Dutch having APT (JARGON ALERT!!) which can only trigger at range 1, we would much rather have Luke in there and so we tried to work out if/how a ship leaves.
It seems, despite being only a few inches in from the opposite end, that during the end phase, Dutch would simply teleport to the opposite end and leave with a 1 hard move.
Anyway, before getting to that, there’s a whole lot of shooting!
This time though, the boot was very much on the other foot as the Empire brought their full firepower to bear.
Despite Han’s timely entrance at i7 the Rebels took a real beating. Vader and his Interceptor buddies wiped out Wedge while Luke lost his regenned shield and the other one as well. The Y-Wings also took some hits and in response all the Rebels could manage was a kill shot on one TIE Fighter.
Not only that, but having Luke facing away from the fight and regenning shields was clearly an indicator that he was going into the trench.
That plus us talking about it I guess.
At this point (or perhaps before?) Mark had to go home but the Imperials were well placed to cement their lead.
Luke entered the trench and automatically gains a lock on the exhaust port.
Knowing exactly where Luke was going to be (around 3-4 straight from the board edge), the Imperials lined up a kill box, getting Vader, Iden and a Sigma in place while positioning for a block with another Sigma.
Meanwhile several Y-Wings were trying desperately to turn around and lend a hand.
The writing was on the wall though and as my green dice blanked out repeatedly (despite getting a bonus agility for being in the trench), Luke died and with him, any hope of victory for the Rebel Alliance.
At this point we had been playing for nearly 3 hours, there were 3 turns left before the Death Star ignition triggers (and the Rebels lose) and there was now just 1 X-Wing left with Proton Torps (to be able to attack from range 3) and while he was on the trench ready to enter next turn, he’d have very likely been annihilated as well and so, we called it a night and declared victory for the Empire!
So, I’m going to start with the negatives here. Playing as Rebels felt a bit hard. Yes, we did misjudge the timing of getting a ship in the trench but once we got a ship in there it was easy for the imperials to block and kill the Rebels.
With the game being on a relatively short turn count and the Empire winning by default if the Rebels can’t destroy the exhaust port it does feel like the deck is rather stacked against Skywalker and friends.
But then, that’s kind of the point isn’t it? The plucky band of underdogs that should never have been able to achieve what they did.
If I’m honest, we still weren’t clear on how (or more specifically, where) a ship exits the trench. Obviously for the most part a ship will either make the kill shot and end the game or miss and just pop out the end. Did we ‘break the game’ by ducking a ship out so another could enter? Maybe. Perhaps someone out there has a better understanding of what should happen and if that’s the case I’d really appreciate a quick (or not quick!) summary of how it should work. If we got it right I’d appreciate that too!
I know that just having a single ship in the trench at a time is sort of thematic but given the time and turn count constraints it certainly feels quite limiting. If the first ship you put in doesn’t do the job, I’m not sure things will pan out for the Rebels.
Lastly, the game took AAAGES. Now, this is less of an issue because a lot of that was of our own making. We played 42/43 points rather than the usual 35 and we played 3 players per team which meant that planning and engagement phases took a lot longer than they would in a normal game. We played 3 hours and got 6(?) turns and while there was technically no result, with Luke and Wedge both dead and the Imperial ships well placed to attack the trench, we had just 3 turns to get a ship in the trench, send it right across the board (without dying) and get the right dice result on the exhaust port.
Tricky at best.
Now, having said all that, let’s look at the positives – the game was really, really good fun.
Whether that’s because we played 3 Vs 3 (multiplayer team play is always a great laugh!) or because of the scenario it’s a little hard to say but the game feels very thematic and the different aspects of the game from what is usually played makes it really interesting.
Getting a ship to the trench and blowing up the port is a brand new puzzle to try and solve and, much like all the objective based scenarios now, will take a bit of time to work out how best to achieve.
Is this a format that could be used in a tournament? Ummmm, I’d love to say yes (because, fun!) but given the timescales involved, I’m not sure how long a ‘normal’ 1 Vs 1 game would take but I’d guess that it’s still longer than 75 minutes, especially with 35 points lists. Perhaps that would reduce as players get more used to how it (and the BoY pilots) works and might be fun to do as a very casual friendly event where half the players bring Rebels and the other half Empire.
The pilots themselves are very interesting. Keeping track of what all the pilots do and what upgrades they have (on both sides!) is a little tricky, reminding me of my first few lists in 2.5! I do like a lot of these pilots and with them being legal in standard play I certainly think there’s scope for popping them into some lists for testing.
Overall I think the pack is great. Aside from the trench question all the instructions are good and the scenario itself seems well put together and feels very thematic.
Is it something I’d play again? 100% yes. It’s a refreshing change, even from the four scenarios we have now. It makes me more interested in the prequel trilogy one coming up next month even though I don’t own any CIS.
So that’s it for me for today. Thanks for reading, I really appreciate it. I will be back next week with another game (probably a normal one!).
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