What the HotAC?!

The intro…

Hello and welcome to this week’s blog! It’s going to look a little different but I’ll get to that in a minute!

Is there any X-Wing news? Well, other than AMG releasing the date for the Battle Over Endor pack (it’s the 23rd of February, by the way) not really, no.

In an initially confusing turn of events AMG did say that there would be no points update before Worlds…

… despite the fact that BoE does in fact release before then. Clearly they got hit with some further questions and quickly clarified…

Long story short, apart from points for new ships there will be NO points changes before Worlds.

Now, I know some people wanted changes and enjoy the chaos that ensues after a points change. And I get the sentiment, we have had these points for a pretty long time now and while I’ve said before that I think it’s pretty impossible (or difficult at least) for a meta (JARGON ALERT!!) to get fully solved, there’s certainly a LOT of the same lists floating about right now.

Overall though I feel that a shift now gives an advantage to those who are talented at list building. With things staying as they are the advantage goes to those who have put in research to list archetypes, strategy and reps. It’s a tricky balance to strike for sure.

Will this pack shift the meta significantly? Only points will tell really but it definitely has the potential to.

Either way, knowing there’s no curve balls coming certainly makes prep for Worlds less complicated!

Patreon update…

Ah yes, week 2 of updates for Q1!

Last week I mentioned the alt art cards but failed to get a picture uploaded in decent time. It’s there now but since I missed it, I’ll add it in here as well.

So what is there to spoil this week? Well, Over the last year the Patrons have been receiving templates with a view to eventually owning a full Exile Squadron set. This quarter will see the 1 bank added to that collection!

1 BANK PIC

If you’re interested in supporting the blog and you’d like to get your hands on some Exile Squadron goodies then you can sign up to my Patreon here.

This feels like a good time to say a MASSIVE thank you to all my supporters, past and present, for being such amazing people and helping me to make this site what it is (and provide you with lovely shiny things!)

There’s still 2 more Tuesdays to go this month before the deadline, come back next week to see what the next reveal will be!

The main bit…

So earlier I mentioned something a bit different and, let’s be honest, the title of the blog is a bit of a giveaway. But it’s not quite what you might be expecting.

A few weeks ago I was chatting to Levi Schadt. He put together a very awesome tips and tricks document and then created a version of it for this site.

While talking he mentioned that he’s thought about blogging himself. Interesting.

My view is that there can’t be too many blogs (or podcasts or YouTube channels or whatever) when it comes to X-Wing. I feel that third party content is an indicator of the health of a thing, it’s people with no direct link to whatever the subject matter is, ploughing their own time and money into producing extra content quite simply for the passion of doing so.

After a little technical chat over what is or isn’t needed, I suggested that if Levi fancied writing something but wasn’t sure about pulling the other parts of it together yet that I’d happily post up whatever he wanted to write about to see how it felt.

And so, with no further ado, may I present my guest blog writer for the week, Mr Levi Schadt!

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Hello there! My name is Levi Schadt and I’ll be your guest blog writer for today!  I’ve had a really good time working with Dylan on setting up the tips and tricks page for his blog.  Through the process, he has convinced me to at least seriously consider starting my own blog.  He graciously offered for me to write a blog and have it posted on his page.  So I’m gonna give it a shot and see how it goes!

A little bit about myself. I am from Texas, USA.  I’ve been playing X-Wing for three years now and competitively for a little over two years.  I fly Republic, Empire, and Rebels, and have a very small set of Scum ships.  Republic is my favorite because clones are my favorite part of Star Wars.  Empire is my second favorite, because it was my first real faction in X-Wing.  Rebels are my least favorite, but I always tend to find myself playing them in tournaments.  So that’s something.  This last year has been a particularly busy year for X-Wing in my life.  I became the TO for my FLGS.  Got to participate in XTC for my home country.  Started running a HotAC campaign.  And lots of other games, leagues, and tournaments.  All in all been a really good year for X-Wing! 

So what will this blog be about?  Dylan said I could write about whatever I wanted.  Definitely lots I could talk about.  But having read this blog for a while now, there’s one thing he’s never played.  And that’s Heros of the Aturi Cluster (HotAC).  Which is one of my favorite ways to play!  HotAC is a coop campaign originally made by Josh Derkson for 1.0 and converted to 2.0/2.5 by Shaun Tiernan. 

The concept is the play group is a squadron of ace pilots.  Sent to the Aturi Cluster sector to help the waning rebel forces there.  There’s a set of mission arcs to fly pitting the rebel squadron against the endless swarms of ties.  At the end of each arc, there’s a victory point up for grabs.  With the winner of the campaign being decided by best 3 out of 5.  The missions are everything from dogfights, escorts, extractions, to just blowing up space stations.  Each player pilots one starfighter and can switch ships and buy upgrades and abilities with the xp they get from the missions. 

The empire is run by an AI.  So even though I’m the GM, I don’t actually fly the enemy ships.  I’m just there to make sure they run smoothly.  It’s a great system that has given my group a run for our money.  Even beaten us more then a few times.  Below, I’ve picked a couple of memorable missions we’ve flown to give you a view of what it’s like. 

Disclaimer: I did allow access to all factions for ships, upgrades, and abilities.  RAW (JARGON ALERT!!) it’s just the Rebel faction, with limited ship options.  It’s been great fun, but also throw off the balancing.  Which I had to try and even out.  The campaign is also set for up to 6 players and we often have 8-9 players.  So another thing I’ve had to against the difficulty for.  But it’s all good, as the group is having lots of fun! 

Mission: Secure the Holonet

Our mission objective for this one was to secure the holonet channel a spy of ours has been using, so they can continue to feed us intel.  There were various satellites and a sensor array station, all having channels to disable.  We had a HWK accompany us to scan the spy’s channel.  Once we found it, the HWK would have to escape by hyperspace jump.  On approach we saw 2 squads of ties, one lead by a x1 and one by a lambda.  

We decided to target the lambda and get it off the board.  While our N1 pilot went to distract the other enemy squadron.  

We were able to take out the lambda very quickly. 

We had our HWK follow in behind us, then turn up toward the sensor array station.  The HWK did great work disabling channels and was able to right the correct one quickly!  That same turn, a big wave of enemy reinforcements came in and, of course, they deployed right in front of my face!  (Enemy deployment is random, based on a die roll.  So there’s no telling where they’ll come from!)

 As Dylan would say, balls!  That’s me in the starviper…..

But I pulled a Taylor (cause this situation happens often enough and Taylor was the first one it happened to!) and took 5 shots.  1 range zero and the rest range one, and only lost one shield!  With surprise reinforcements the next turn and primary objectives complete, we unanimously decided to got to of there.  

The HWK had a straight path to hyperspace.  Myself, the other Starviper, the N1, and the V-Wing all had paths away to safely make hyperspace jumps.  

The B-Wing and ST-70 were facing down the enemies, but were close enough to our original deployment zone to escape off that board edge.  Unfortunately, there was some bumping and the B-Wing was gunned down before being able to flee.  Though the ST-70 was able to cross the board edge on the next turn.  

Personal this has been my favorite mission, it was a true hit and run rebel style, very thematic.  Plus the whole part of taking a bunch of shots and surviving was awesome!  

Mission: Care Package

Our mission is to escort “The Whale” (it’s what we call our gr-75, lovely of course) through the asteroid field and deal with any imperial patrols, then hyperspace out with the whale.  This mission is the last in an arc where we’ve had to deal with mine fields the empire as set up to block our supply runs.  We were largely unsuccessful are removing the mine fields.  Desperately, we decided to risk an asteroid field.  Sullust really needs our aid!  On approach, there’s 8 fighters and 8 interceptors, split into two squadrons, being lead by an inquisitor.  We decide the whale should go straight and try to make an L shaped path to clear the field (cross the far corner board edge), where it’ll make the jump safely.  We split our forces to take on the two groups of enemy fighters. One group heading up, while they other goes straight to bully the inquisitor before dealing with the squadrons.  

We were able to take out the Inquisitor, but it took 3 shots cause he had lots of shields.  

On the next turn the tie fighters made a train that had some bumping involved.  The interceptors on our side were scattered as we decided to send the whale up to bump them.  Both sides were able to pick off a couple interceptors.  

But the next turn is when the real problem came.  A large squadron of tie bombers deployed right behind the whale.  Lead by a deci, that came in on the other side.  The bombers were all armed with protorps.  They were all gunning for the whale!  We all scrambled to help, but were only able to take out one bomber.  Whale went from 3 shields and 12 hull to 2 hull left.  

Thankfully we caught a break on the next turn.  The whale recharged all shields with its tibanna gas reserves.  We were trying to save those for Sullust (and bonus xp) but suriving the mission was more important!  The whale moved up and killed a few fighters by ramming.  The deci landed on a rock and many of the bombers bumped into the fighters, who had gotten in their way.  Those of us that were out of position to help the whale continued to kill fighters and interceptors.  We weren’t able to kill any bombers this turn, though heavily damaging a few.  Only one got off a protorp and between the other shots, the whale was brought down to one hull.  

Next turn was do or die!  The fighters continued to be in the way of the bombers and none of them got a lock for their protorps, or they had been ionized from crits.  This time we were able to knock out the four hurting bombers and one of the firesprays had a beautiful range 3 snipe kill on the deci.  Most importantly the whale stayed alive! The whale now seemed safe, with only a few enemy ships left and no reinforcements coming.  

The last two turn were us just wiping the board clean and the whale taking no more shots, living on one with no tibanna charges left.  But alive and that’s the mission’s primary objective!

Highlights would be one of the rookies pilots (it’s his first mission) getting tied for seconded most kills, tied with the whale cause ramming speed is deadly!  We had a good spread of bomber kills, has almost everyone killed one.  Honestly it was the funnest mission yet, so close to losing but we pulled it off!  It felt like the whale should have died, but we were able to hold out and get it to safety.  

Update: After I wrote this, my group had our final mission. Quick summary.  We were up 2-0 against the ai and were looking to win the campaign with this mission.  We ambushed some tie defender doing combat training.  Things didn’t go as expected and we had several pilots close to being shot down by the end.  But the rest had things pretty well in hand and we were able to kill enough enemies to win the day and the campaign!  

So that’s HotAC! It’s an amazing way to play and lots of fun.  There’s a facebook group that has all the files to run the campaign.  Technically you don’t have to print anything out to run the intro mission.  I highly recommend giving it a try.  

Big thank you to Dylan for letting me write this! I hope everyone enjoyed my tales from HotAC. 

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The conclusion…

Aaaaand it’s back to me (Dylan)!

I have to say, while I’ve never played HotAC, I’ve certainly given it some thought and Levi’s article has pushed it even further to the fore. Worlds prep is taking up rather a lot of my focus at the moment but I think that once Worlds has been and gone that I’ll be looking at how we could run a HotAC campaign in Newport.

I want to thank Levi for taking the time to write this post and personally I hope that he does take up blogging on some sort of regular basis. He did an excellent job! If anyone else out there is interested in writing a blog but has no idea how or where to start then PLEASE reach out to me and ask any questions. Honestly, I’d love to see more blogs out there and if there’s anything I can do to help or encourage that then I’ll gladly do it.

Things will likely be back to something more normal next week (who knows though?!). Until then, thanks for reading!

The outro…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you’d like to support me in continuing my X-Wing blogging adventure there are a few ways you can do that.

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