Hello and welcome to this week’s blog!
It’s been an interesting one on a few fronts (and a not so interesting on another but more about that in a minute!) so there’s a bit to talk about.
There’s been a plethora of Store Champs this weekend with events happening in Plymouth, Basingstoke and Leeds (and that’s just the UK ones that I know about!). Congratulations to Chris Burnett, Peter Lake and Tom Candlin respectively who won the events and secured a ticket to Worlds next year (except Tom who passed his down). Well done!
It’s great to see so many events going on, even if I can’t make it to most of them!
In other news it’s probably worth mentioning this week that the first XTC 2024 deadline has now been and gone, team payment has passed and so we have a good idea of which countries are involved.
The final rosters and list submission deadlines are this coming weekend so you can expect to see some interesting/funny/ridiculous team announcements coming out across various social media platforms in the next week or so as the hype begins to mount!
I’ll cover it in more detail in a post in the next few weeks but if you want to know more about XTC then it’s worth giving the website a look over for some basics.
Alrighty, I think that’ll do for now. Let’s get down to business!
The main bit…
So, back to that less interesting part I mentioned at the start. Unfortunately last week circumstances conspired in such a way that I didn’t manage to get a game of X-Wing. BOOOOOOO!
It’s extra sad because following my super average showing at the Firestorm Games Cardiff store Championship I had packed a new and different and totally experimental list and I sadly didn’t get a chance to try it out.
So with no game, what is there for me to waffle on about this week?
Well, I think it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. This past weekend AMG did their annual mini-stravagnza and, for the first time since the game moved to AMG from FFG, X-Wing wasn’t on the agenda.
When this was first noticed a few weeks back there was, of course, a somewhat negative reaction from the X-Wing community in general. And, in my opinion (at the time, at least), justifiably so. No matter what area in life it happens and no matter to what degree, being left out just sucks.
It’s like seeing photos on Facebook of a group of your mates who went out and you weren’t even invited. Or maybe worse than that, more like they’re having a conversation about some really cool thing they want to go and do and you’re right there in the room. Not some other part of the room, right there next to them.
I wasn’t an especially athletic child but I enjoyed playing football (soccer for any Americans reading!) and actually I wasn’t awful at it (I was decent at picking out and executing long passes and crosses, if you’re interested!). But I wasn’t tall, I wasn’t fast and I wasn’t a tough tackler. So when it was time to pick teams you can guess which pick I was, right?
Now AMG not featuring any X-Wing at Mini-stravagnza isn’t exactly equivalent to this but it gave me similar feelings. Rejected, left out and pessimistic for the future. Not great.
Even stalwart X-Wing optimists like Dale Cromwell, who has been very vocal in being positive on AMG posts and generally being an awesome example in how to engage on social media, was disheartened.
Of course, the internet being what it is, some other posts were worded rather less politely.
And honestly, it’s hard not to be disappointed. Recent history hasn’t exactly given us much to be optimistic about. We know that the only things that AMG have released so far which had no involvement from FFG are the scenario packs (Battle of Yavin and Siege of Coruscant), Hotshots and Aces 2 and the TIE Bomber and YT-2400 re-releases.
Other than a tease hinting at Alpha Class Starwing and more scenario packs, there’s nothing else on the horizon that I’m aware of. That’s quite the far cry from 2 years ago when AMG took over and talked about the game having 10 or more years ahead of it.
So clearly, tough times.
Over the past few weeks though, I’m starting to see things a little differently.
For starters I’ve been playing catch-up on podcast episodes since getting back from my holiday and with my job now entailing less driving than it used, it’s taken a little while. In the last week I’ve heard a couple of different podcasts talk about the fact that yes, no X-Wing in Mini-stravaganza sucks, however it goes a little deeper than that.
Mini-stravaganza isn’t a new thing. Not for AMG, at least. It pre-dates X-Wing and the other Star Wars games coming under their stewardship and at it’s core is, basically, a jolly.
Ok, maybe that’s being a little bit over the top. Let me explain what I mean. The people working at AMG are, for the most part I assume, miniatures games enthusiasts. I mean, you’d have to be, wouldn’t you? So once a year they get a chance to drop the day job for a few hours, sit at a table and do something they enjoy doing and talk about it to the internet. Let’s be honest, some of us do that in our own time and at our own expense so being paid by your employer to do it is probably something that they REALLY look forward to.
The clue is in the title MINI-stravaganza. But X-Wing is a miniatures game too, right?
Of course X-Wing is a miniatures game. But what it isn’t is a hobby miniatures game.
One of the things that attracted me to X-Wing is that I can walk in, buy a thing and use it immediately. I have ZERO interest in gluing together tiny bits of plastic and then paint it and then repeating that process over and over and over. If X-Wing went that route I’d probably be out. Or get someone else to do it. Actually, yes, probably that.
But for the three featured games in Mini-stravaganza this year, that is a requirement to play. MCP, Legion and the new favourite child Shatterpoint all require assembly and painting. I haven’t actually been following any of AMG’s event but the impression that I get (and please, correct me if I’m wrong!) is that a rather large portion of the allotted schedule is painting based. And while you CAN paint your X-Wing ships, you don’t have to. MCP, Legion and Shatterpoint are hobby miniatures games. X-Wing and Armada are not.
This train of thought eased my mind a bit. Now don’t get me wrong, I certainly think that they could (and even should) have put an hour’s slot aside to talk about X-Wing. A roadmap for future releases and black box re-releases, potential changes or additions to the game (like new scenarios), some sort of plan for official organised play. Literally ANYTHING X-Wing related would have placated the masses at least a little and given us some tiny grains of hope.
Alas, it was not to be. But still, after hearing these opinions I was starting to shift my perspective and shedding some of the negativity.
And then in the last 10 or so days AMG has launched its new website with dedicated X-Wing pages (which, as I mentioned last week, comes with a not insignificant financial investment) and then launched an official AMG Discord server.
These things as well as news articles for the recently released YT-2400 and TIE bombers have at least started to somewhat stave off the dark thoughts when I think about the future of X-Wing.
Between the lack of X-Wing in Mini-stravaganza and the recent store champs communications and the sheer number of content creators that have shut up shot in the last few months, this push on X-Wing finally felt like a shift in momentum.
But despite any perceived positives, the fact of the matter was that there would be no X-Wing content in a streamed celebration of AMG’s products.
And that’s where the community kicked in.
I first became aware that something was happening after a post popped up in one of the UK Facebook groups:
It seemed that pretty soon this wonderful seed of an idea had developed very quickly into a full blown flower when after just a couple of days a new website appeared:
Sure, its just a basic page with some logos and an embedded Google Sheets document but it’s not the style or execution that excited me. It’s the work, the passion, the effort and love that had gone into producing what was on the sheet
Across 4 days there would be 50 hours of streaming content available. Much more than that if you were inclined to watch multiple streams at once.
Painting streams, casual TTS games with chat, strategy discussions as well as live streaming of tournaments. Heck, at one point on Saturday there were 5 streams happening simultaneously!
All of this was pulled together in just over a week.
I watched and listened to what I could and the content was great. People who love the game talking about lists and tactics and what ships we might see in the future.
It was great. Personally, I think that regardless of what AMG does with Mini-stravaganza in the future with regards to X-Wing, this should be a yearly event. Our very own community driven celebration of the game we love.
So I want to say thank you. Thanks to those who organised streams and planned content and pulled it all together in just over a week. It was a stellar effort and it’s been appreciated far and wide.
Good job, community. Good job.
Look, let’s not bury our heads in the sand, the transition from FFG to AMG has been rocky and we’ve taken some hits. Some have felt fatal.
That said, in the last couple of weeks it’s really felt like there’s been a shift, like we’ve swung from moving into the dark and started back towards the light.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just hopelessly optimistic and I’m fooling myself but I really believe the potential is there. And importantly, while the community has taken hits too, there’s still enough people who love this game to support it and help it drive back to where it used to be. Or almost where it used to be at least.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a long way to go. We NEED the starter sets for the remaining 5 factions. We NEED card packs to breath life into some ships and factions. We NEED brand new ships. And the faster we get these, the brighter the future looks. I know, though, that these things take time and resources and I don’t know if AMG have enough of either. But I can hope, right? And I can engage with their social media in a positive way and ask questions that show that people are interested and thirsty for X-Wing. And I can continue to write blogs and spam them everywhere to show that people still want the game and want to read about it and think about it.
Personally I’d love to see more X-Wing content being posted. It was AMAZING to see that Stephen Kim (that’s Raithos of YASB.app fame in case you don’t know!) has launched a new podcast – Off-Meta Podcast
I haven’t listened yet but I’m sure as heck going to subscribe to it and give it a listen.
In the end I think that I have to say that I’m proud of our X-Wing community. We don’t always get things right but this time, when we got hit with disappointment, we got back up and rather than hit back in anger, we picked up the slack and did it ourselves. And that, my friends, is freaking awesome.
I’ll be back next week and hopefully I’ll have played a game this time!
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