14 April 2014

Predicting Possibilities with Matt Taylor: YT-2400

Last week or possibly the week before, I got some messages from a guy named Matt Taylor wanting to know if I was interested in some Wave 5 and beyond ship prediction-type articles. Always one for free content, I said of course. 

We mailed back and forth a bit, then today I received this gem regarding the YT-2400 in my inbox. Matty has put some really solid work into this article and I'm absolutely stoked to share it with y'all. If you dig it, let a brotha know and maybe we can talk Matt into cooking up some more articles like this as I'm just not familiar enough with the Extended Universe stuff to really make these kinds of calls. 

And also because Matt, being a Sharks fan, will probably have a little more time on his hands here in a couple of weeks after your Los Angeles Kings eliminate them from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. :)

Enjoy! 

Predicting Possibilities- YT-2400




Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future. - Yoda

No disrespect to Master Yoda, but with Star Wars X-Wing, it's been pretty easy to predict the way FFG's releases would go. Aside from the HWK-290, which I don't think many people saw coming, the waves have followed the original trilogy movies until Wave 4, where Fantasy Flight dove full-on into the EU pool. Reason being, there just isn't much pure G-Canon (George Lucas Canon) material left from the Galactic Civil War period.

Let me Koiogran turn for a second here. My name is Matt Taylor (Twitter: @dak_ralter), and besides being an avid X-Wing fan, I'm also a Star Wars nut. I've played the games, read most the books, and my dog's name is Chewbacca.

Because of this, I'm always thinking of new ships, pilots, actions and other upgrades for X-Wing and how they would fly in the context of the game's mechanics. Clint has graciously allowed me a spot on TMB for my musings, where I'll be trying to predict the next waves of X-Wing miniatures.

As the basis of my predictions, I'm using a few sources. Primarily, I'll crack open my copies of:

1) The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels

2) Star Wars: Complete Vehicles

3) The Essential Guide to Warfare

4) The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

5) Wookieepedia

(I like using the tactile stuff first before I turn to the internet, because... I don't know it just makes me happy and nostalgic).

Granted, by no means am I the end-all-be-all authority of this. The point of these articles is to spur discussion, and my suggestions are just that - suggestions. I'm shooting from the hip (under the table, and FIRST), and would love nothing more than tons of comments and feedback. In addition, I read a good amount about this game and have seen mock ups of many of the ships I'll be discussing, therefore I'm not always breaking new ground. If I do remember that I saw something specific somewhere, I'll always give the l/t (lightsaber tap) to the source and link them.

So, with all that being said, the first ship I'm going to tackle is one of my favorites, and one that I am almost positive will be announced soon: CEC's YT-2400 light freighter.

You may say that my overconfidence is my weakness, and it may well be. However, I think Fantasy Flight may have inadvertently tipped their Sabacc hand during their reveal of the TIE/D Defender. On the card "Outmaneuer" a TIE/D is trading volleys with a motion blur obscured ship in the distance. On first glance it appears as if it's a CEC YT-1300, but upon closer inspection the number and size of the vent plates (3 large) and the position of the cockpit, it's evident that this isn't the iconic YT-1300 freighter, it's actually a YT-2400.



THE HISTORY

Both the YT-1300 and the YT-2400 were designed and produced by the Corellian Engineering Corporation, one of the galaxy's largest ship manufactures. Their ships, and specifically the YT series, were known for their ability to be customized by smugglers and mercenaries for more... nefarious uses. As you're well aware, Lando Calrissian and later, Han Solo and Chewbacca, souped up a YT-1300 into the famous Millennium Falcon, which Fantasy Flight released in Wave 2.

There was a famous retrofit of the YT-2400 as well, and you'd likely know it by it's name, the Outrider.

The Outrider was a heavily modified YT-2400 flown by Dash Rendar, a Correllian smuggler and soldier of fortune who's story was told in the Shadows of the Empire novel and storyline. Shadows takes place in the time frame between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In one of the main story lines, Rendar, (who also flew against the Imperial assault at the Battle of Hoth) assisted Calrissian and Luke Skywalker in rescuing Leia Organa (who apparently can only be rescued a team consisting of her brother and a random Corellian scoundrel). Dash became a popular character due to his wit and cunning... he's basically a Han Solo clone in a Han Solo clone ship.


He was so popular, though, that George Lucas actually added the Outrider to a flyby shot of the Mos Eisley spaceport. This made the Outrider G-Canon, and to my knowledge, it's the only G-Canon ship within X-Wing's currently established scale not present in the game. So, you know it's coming.

On to the ship itself. As its model series and design suggest, it's very similar to the YT-1300. It's a newer model, though, and therefore it could be argued that an unmodified version would be faster and more maneuverable than its older stock counterpart. The YT-2400 also had 1D servo turret laser cannons mounted ventrally and dorsally, which took advantage of the ship's shape to achieve a 360 degree lateral firing arc and a 180 degree vertical firing arc. The YT-2400 also featured two front facing concussion missile tubes with magazines of 3 each.



IN-GAME APPLICATION

I'm having a hard time thinking that FFG is going to release a ship with the same capabilities and talents as the YT-1300. It just wouldn't make sense to have a ship doing exactly the same thing, but looking slightly different. Each ship has brought something a little bit unique to the tabletop, and I doubt the YT-2400 will be an exception. The following are just my ideas, and I'm definitely up for your feedback and discussion!


STATS

In game, the YT-1300 has two stat lines:

Outer Rim Smuggler: 2 Attack | 1 Evade | 6 Hull | 4 Shield (27 PTS, PS 1)

Named Pilots: 3 Attack | 1 Evade | 8 Hull | 5 Shield (42-46 PTS, PS 5-9)

Reason for the differences is that the 360 firing arc with 3 die is too strong to stick on a cheap pilot, else you would see a lot of triple "Outer Rim Smuggler" builds mowing through tournaments. They also scaled the hull and shield back to prevent the annoyance of that type of build.

I think the YT-2400 should follow this overall trend. I'll get into firing arc in a second, but I'm feeling this ship should be a bit dinkier, but gain the extra green die. Here's my thinking:

Freelance Spacer: 2 Attack | 2 Evade | 3 Hull | 4 Shield (23 PTS, PS 1)

Named Pilots (LE-BO2D9, Dash Rendar): 3 Attack | 2 Evade | 4 Hull | 5 Shield (38-41 PTS, PS 5-8)

Now, a big question would be the firing arc. I can't say that I thought of this alone, as many of the mock YT-2400's I've seen have had an 180 firing arc, and I agree that approach may be the way to go. Unfortunately this doesn't directly line up with canon, but if you give it a 360 arc, it's too close to the YT-1300 to justify it's inclusion in the game. To give it extra pop, maybe the entire front arc is primary, meaning you can hit ships to the side with your missiles? I don't know if that's feasible… but, speaking of which, let's head to the upgrade bar.


UPGRADE BAR

First and foremost, I think it's a must to add the turret upgrade to this ship. It's a compromise, you get the 360 functionality that this ship is known for, but it comes at the cost of a few points and the loss of the range one bonus. I think that's a decently fair trade off.

To further differentiate from the YT-1300, I think it only gets one crew member slot. I'd assume that both Dash Rendar and Leebo would be available as crew members as well as pilots.

I also think that this ship could be the first Rebel ship with two missile slots. It lines up with the canon, and it gives the YT-2400 a unique edge.

Lastly, as I'm sure you assumed, I'd give Leebo and Dash the EPT slot, but not the Freelance Spacer.


ACTION BAR

You have your Focus and Target Lock, no question and no real explanation needed. The additional action I'd suggest is Evade, as it gives the ship that extra differentiator over the YT-1300.

I do also think that, like the Falcon and the Slave I cards, the Outrider should have it's own title card as well. Perhaps a two point card that adds boost to the action bar? Thoughts on this?


THE MANEUVER DIAL

Again, this ship has to be different enough from the YT-2400 to make it unique. For reference, here is the YT-1300's maneuver grid:




Mobile in close with a range of low speed options, but limited by only a handful of green maneuvers. If we're going with the fact that the YT-2400 was faster and perhaps a bit more nimble, here's the grid I came up with.



I gave it a bit more green, and took away some of the one speed maneuvers. I went back and forth on this a lot, though, so I'm willing to take some suggestions!

DASH RENDAR




So, that's that. Here's my idea for Dash, with a unique pilot talent that covers uncharted territory for the X-Wing game. I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to do here. Say you are up against a TIE with one hull left at range 2. They choose the evade action, and roll their 3 green dice and come up empty. You roll three hits, and inflict two damage. The TIE only has one hull left, so you have that leftover damage that would usually vanish into nothing. With Dash's talent, you that damage would be transferred to another ship within your arc.
It's not a great early game talent, but it could really clean up later on.

So whaddaya think, y'all? Good stuff, no? I think Matty's definitely on the right track here and I totally missed the YT-2400 in the Outmaneuver card until he mentioned it in the comments last week. 

Thanks again Matt!

11 April 2014

Potpourri for $500- Transport Status and Galactic Cup 2014


So just a quick update today on a couple of things.

GR-75 Now "On The Boat"!
I was texting with Sean and Ben earlier asking if they've pre-ordered any of the revealed stuff and was telling them I was considering breaking my "I don't pre-order" stance on things since the Transport and the 'Vette must be getting closer to being available when Sean took a peek at the Upcoming section of the FFG site and saw this-


Yeah, so take with salt, your mileage may vary, etc., etc., but the Transport is on the boat and is expected next month sometime! 


X-Wing Galactic Cup


My day of reconsideration didn't stop there either. Scott (MrFroggies) from Team Covenant emailed to ask if I'd mention an online VASSAL tournament he's setting up as well as invite me to participate in the festivities. Being as how I need to do some messing around with the wife's Win8 laptop this weekend anyway (I had my 3d printer software setup on my work laptop which I had to give back this week), I figure I'll try and get VASSAL set up and give it a shot. 

I was already kind of interested in the tournament just from reading Scott's email, but after I checked out the link he sent along and saw that he's using kind of a World Cup format for this shindig, I was pretty stoked about it. I mean look- somebody's gotta come in last, right? 

It sounds like a pretty interesting tournament. They're doing some things different than the standard X-Wing tournaments, so even if you're not usually a tournament guy, it might be worth your while to check this out. Here's the link to more info on the rules and format and whatnot as well as info on how to register and all. This tournament is open to folks all over the world, so don't feel left out if you're not in the US or whatever, dig? 

Deadline for registration is 27 April at midnight US Pacific time which Google says is GMT -7. I think. Double check me on that as I'm American and I can barely keep track of my own country's time zones, let alone this Greenwich Mean place which I think is a country where Eric Roberts is the Pope or something. It mustn't be that big of a place as I don't think they compete in UEFA. In any case, if you get off your butt and register before the 27th, you don't even have to sweat it. 

10 April 2014

TIE Defender Preview

Breaking recent tradition of revealing new X-Wing Miniatures stuff on Fridays, my pal Sean texted me today while I was at work to let me know that FFG had announced some more info on the TIE Defender.


As most of y'all will recall, we spoke about the TIE Defender a bit already when FFG initially revealed the Wave 4 stuff back in February, but we got some new info that warrants some major discussion. 

First, I think it's pretty obvious that FFG is tired of the TIE Swarm. I think they were kinda tired of it when they made Wave 3, I think Imperial Aces was supposed to rekindle people's initial love affair with the Interceptor in an effort to lure them away from the Swarm, I think to a certain extent even the Tantive IV campaign is a nod to beating up on the TIE Swarm, and I definitely think that Wave 4 was designed to, at least in part, to try and shift the meta away from the Swarm both by giving the Rebels some new tricks to combat the Swarm and the Imperials some interesting new options to drop on the table. 

There have been several low ship count Imperial lists that have made the rounds in the past, but they've not enjoyed the longevity of the Swarm because low ship count lists are more unforgiving in every way but maneuvering and the rise of turreted Rebel ships made flying only a few Imperial ships versus just going with the flow and flying a Swarm fairly unappealing, regardless of tricky card text on named pilots or high amounts of available green dice. 

Well, it would appear the Defender was designed specifically to combat that idea. 

We knew this ship wasn't cheap when we first squinted at the Wave 4 cards and now that a couple of the named pilots have been revealed, it's really been confirmed. Dig this- 



Rexler Brath is the high PS named pilot for the Defender and at 37 points, he's gotta be the most expensive small ship pilot revealed to date (though that may very well change we we find out more about the E-Wing pilots). 

Still though, he's PS 8, flies a ship with 3 for every stat category, possesses arguably the three most awesome and versatile Actions available, and can upgrade with Elite Pilot Skills, Missiles, or Cannons. Sure, 37 points is a ton, but good Christ look at what you're getting! Sheesh. 

Oh, and there's the card text too- don't forget about that. Perform your attack (note that it can be any attack- primary weapon or secondary missile or cannon) and so long as you stick at least one Damage card on the defender, you can spend a Focus to flip that card which effectively makes it Critical Damage. Note that FFG took the time to stick the "s" on the end of the word "card" there at the end just to make sure we all get it- any and all hits that result in you dealing your opponent some damage cards from Braths' attack get flipped face up. Not just one. Cards. Well, I mean if you only inflict one card, then yeah, it's just one, but if you get two or three, they all get flipped so long as they came from Brath's attack. 

So first thing that jumps out is until you've gotten through your target's shields, (hiiiiiiii, my name is) Brath's card text isn't much use, but after that? Hoo boy.

How will Brath be received? In a weird way, he's sorta like the pilot version of Missiles or Torpedoes- he's really going to make his money against big ships as they have a lot of hull and his ability to turn those cards over even on the mighty Chewbacca will be invaluable to folks who face a lot of big ship meta. Against Y-Wings or B-Wings too maybe, but mainly he's Falcon kryptonite. 

I usually try to wait until I've actually had a chance to play with a ship a couple of times before I start talking about upgrade combinations and whatnot, but anything that helps Brath hit more that doesn't involve burning a Focus is going to be great for him.

For example, the new Elite Pilot Skill called Outmaneuver-


This card sorta gives anybody with an Elite Pilot Skill upgrade slot Backstabber functionality. While this card gets a bit neutered by a ship that can sport Crew Member C-3PO, it's still pretty awesome especially when you consider this is not an Action- it just automatically happens once you buy the upgrade. 

Of course, if you're looking for Focus-ish functionality in general, how about the other new card they revealed called Predator?


So that's pretty cool, huh? Another non-Action Elite Pilot Skill designed to tear up the prevalent high ship count, low PS meta. Also note that it's just "when attacking", so yeah, it works on Primaries or Secondaries so long as it's an Attack. 

The other Defender pilot that was revealed is a cat by the name of Colonel Vessery. 


Vessery is two points less than Brath, but a still pretty expensive 35 points.  That said, he and Rexler are quite a lot alike with only their Pilot Skill value and card text separating them, which long story short means that the new EPS cards work basically as well if not maybe even a little better with Vessery as his card text is sort of a free Target Lock. And it really is free- we're not talking about a Dutch Vander type ability, more like a sort of Fire Control System type of thing here. 

The wording on this card I think is a little bit trickier than it might appear at first glance. First couple of times I read the text, I thought, "Oh, ok. So it's more or less Fire Control System as long as somebody has already TLed him. Got it." On about the fourth read through though, the wording finally clicked and made sense. 

Think back to how the Combat Phase actually progresses for a moment...


Yeah. Cue up the Jackie Martling, "Oh, oh!" soundbite, am I right? 

Immediately after you roll the Attack dice, as in before you get to Step 3- Modify Attack Dice, you get a Target Lock on your target, which means, yes Virgina not only is there a Santa Claus, you get to actually spend that Target Lock to modify your Attack roll (assuming of course he's already wearing somebody else's Target Lock). 

Did I mention I thought that FFG was tired of TIE Swarms? 

Ok, so all that's well and good, but it's all a lot less sexy if the Defender's dial is a disappointment, right? 


Yup, white K-Turn. The rest of it is pretty solid too, it doesn't turn so well, which I guess represents the flat out speed of the Defender, but this thing is made for jousting, and that's just what it'll do- one of these days a Defender is gonna joust all over you, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo

Do I think that Imperial players are going to morph into a 2014 version of Groucho Marx doing a "Take my TIEs please!" routine? Nah. The Swarm is the Swarm is the Swarm. The things that make it viable don't get rendered obsolete or anything because of the Defender and her bag of tricks, but I do think it does present some potentially awesome builds that could end up being just as strong once folks get to really sit down and look at all of these cards that are going to be released with all of the stuff we've got coming at us. 

That said, recall that Black Squadron Pilots provide TIE Swarm players Elite Pilot Skill functionality for only 15 measly points- literally half the cost of the vanilla Defender. As Sean observed in his texts to me today, stick Predator on each of them and you've now got a 5 TIE swarm with the same functionality of a Swarm with Howlrunner but doesn't have to stay in such tight formation to get the reroll. That's pretty awesome. And of course with that many ships flying around, one could just as easily give some or all of them that new Predator skill instead and now you've got a bunch of pseudo-Backstabbers flying around. Sure, you might be good enough at maneuvering your Rebels to deny a ship or two that extra die, but one of these veteran Swarm jockeys isn't going to let you get away from all of them and a TIE with a third (or fourth if they get close enough too) Attack die is some scary stuff, man. 

So whether you plan on buying Defenders with the thought of actually playing them or you buy some Defenders just to get some of these interesting cards to re-imagine your current Swarm, I think this is going to be one popular ship once Wave 4 drops. Good thing Miniature Market is already taking pre-orders, huh? :) 


08 April 2014

Where Do You Play X-Wing Miniatures?


As I'm sure many of y'all know, last Saturday was International Table Top Day. While I wasn't lucky enough to get to play in a sort-of on again, off again, league day/ tournament sort of thing at my local FLGS, I did manage to get over there to play a game against a guy named Cliff who I've not played in ages.

We had a good game and spent a lot of time sort of catching up and stuff. I've talked on here before about the origins of TMB and Cliff was sort of there through that. TL;DR version is BC suggested I start writing X-Wing Miniatures content around the same time that Cliff started talking about writing some X-Wing content for the local FLGS website/ Facebook/ whatever to drum up some interest in the game, but they kind of hee hawed around with approving the idea, and while Cliff waited on them to figure out if they were going to set up a messageboard where we'd post up articles and tips and stuff or if they were going to go with kind of a blog format, after about a month of no forward progress I said piss on it and started the Bikini on my own.

So while we were talking, he wondered aloud why more people weren't playing X-Wing. I told him I'd heard from Larry at BoLS that X-Wing was second only to 40k in some recent miniatures gaming retailer poll/ sales figures/ something like that. He seemed shocked by this and I told him about all y'all and the painting contest, the traffic the site gets from all over the world, and he seemed very surprised to hear about how big X-Wing is because nobody plays it at the store anymore.

Another TL;DR segue, it's always been my opinion that because you don't need a lot of table space and scenery to play X-Wing compared to a game like 40k, Fantasy, Warmahordes, Malifaux, etc., that many folks play X-Wing at home or at a friend's house. I think folks play in a store for tournaments and leagues and stuff, but as X-Wing is sort of casual by default, not to mention that it's sold in places outside of gaming stores, that it's less likely to be played in FLGS type stores.

I told him that was all conjecture just based primarily on my own experiences, feelings, and observations, but it was an assumption I was pretty comfortable making. Of course, shortly thereafter it occurred to me that there was no reason to leave this discussion in conjecture land since I have thousands of y'all stopping by relatively often, so I figured I might as well ask instead of assuming.

I'm curious to hear y'all's thoughts on this- and by hearing your thoughts on the subject, I mean I'm most interested in hearing is:

Where do you play X-Wing?

Your house? Your FLGS? A friend's place? A commons area/ quad at school? Work? Pub? Floor of Barnes and Noble? Online via VASSAL? Online via Hangouts/ Skype/ whatever? Back of a McDonalds? Push a couple of tables together at Denny's and go nuts? Other? Where do you play?

Follow up question- where do you wish you could play X-Wing? Now, I don't mean on that funky space chess table in the Falcon (although I did draw up a table like that in AutoCAD back a year ago or so with every intent in the world in making it a super fancy X-Wing table) or at the top of K2 or whatever- what I mean by that is are you happy playing where you're playing or do you wish you had a better or different place? Would you like to be able to play it at your FLGS but it's not supported or do you wish you had a better setup at your own house/ apartment/ adobe?  Do you wish you could throw down in a real bar somewhere over some pints or are you just happy playing it wherever you're playing it?

Sidenote- Cliff and I are going to try to get a little group together here in the next couple of months to play on what's likely going to be Thursday evenings at one of the FLGS in or around Evansville, IN. If you live around here and you've not introduced yourself to me via email or whatever, please drop me a line and we'll see if we can't mobilize some of the X-Wing community around the Evansville area into doing some kind of league or campaign or something cool like that.

07 April 2014

Slight Change to TMB.com's Archives Format


So I really am trying to come up with better ways to organize the info on the site. I know this will sound like a lazy cop-out, and well, frankly, it sort of is a lazy cop-out, but I never really thought this blog was going to turn into what it has become. As such, I didn't put a lot of forethought into how to arrange, categorize, or catalog the articles on here and it's become a complete mess.

While I still need to do some fairly heavy lifting in the section headings pages, I have made one small change that I think will be fairly beneficial in the interim- the articles displayed under the Archives heading there just to the left of the small Miniature Market sidebar ad are now classed by month rather than by week. Doesn't sound like much, but it should eliminate a lot of redundant clicking while you browse through the articles by title.

Bear in mind too that Search box just above the Archives is a search specifically for content TMB.com and it really does work pretty well.

Long story short, if you know about when I talked about something, the Archives are probably your fastest route. If you have no idea when I discussed a particular topic or just want to see if I've said anything about a particular topic, give the search box a try.

Peace!