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28 October 2014

Community Spotlight- Fletcher Hills Presbyterian


Recently I wrote an article for BoLS regarding some ideas I had about starting up or growing an existing X-Wing club. This was in no small part in response to an email I received from a Bikini Aficionado named +Nate Murray.

I'd always kind of intended for TheMetalBikini.com to be something of a repository of collected knowledge and whatnot regarding X-Wing. As it grew though, in some ways, it became a community for the community-less, of which the irony is not lost on me: the Bikini's origins lie not only in trying to get Sean and BC up to speed to play, but also because I'd hoped to build a site to grow my local scene by giving the players around here a resource to hopefully get better, faster. 

Anyway, after y'all started showing up in rather unexpected numbers, I always thought it'd be cool to try and touch on some of the clubs and cool events and stuff that everyone was up to in an effort to publicize them to the larger X-Wing community as a whole. 

I largely became sidetracked away from that idea, as I'm wont to do. 

Anyway, I'd kinda forgotten about the whole community aspect until Nate emailed me a couple of weeks ago about his club. I read his email, checked out his pics, and was thoroughly impressed with what he'd accomplished, so I thought I'd share it with y'all before we dive into the Wave 4 pilot card breakdowns. 

And hey- if you've got a club that's doing something cool with the game, take some pics and send me some info and I'll feature you too. It's fun to talk about this stuff online, but it's even better to take some cool idea and bring it to the table of your own club, amirite? Surely we're not all just dogfighting at our FLGS... 

Enjoy!



The other day, I was driving in my car with one of the high school students I mentor from our church youth group. This student had recently had made many poor choices that could have had lifelong consequences. During this conversation, he noticed the briefcase that contained my X-Wing Miniatures collection. He asked me what I kept in it, and I replied “Oh that’s my x wing stuff.” His eyes lit up and said, “X wing?”

I said, “You like Star Wars right?” He said “What sane person on this planet does not?” I briefly explained about the game and his immediate reply was, “When are you going to teach me this game?”



A few days later before youth group, we met up for our regular coffee and chatting session. While we were drinking coffee, I introduced him to X-Wing Miniatures. We played four TIE fighters vs. two X-Wings. He loved it…and then it began.

This particular student was at a very pivotal cross road in his life. He lives in a very broken home; his mother has very little income, and also had a brand new baby brother in the picture. His grades had been dropping and he recently gotten involved with troubled youths. In an attempt to steer him in a positive direction, I meet with the student regularly to provide a stable male figure in his life. I had been having difficulty finding common ground with him, but through X-Wing Miniatures I was able to connect to him.

Over the past five years I have served as a mentor and volunteer for my church. These students do not have strong father figures or parental guidance in their lives. By investing many hours into the lives of students I think I’m making a positive impact in the lives of our youth.Some of my biggest passions are Star Wars, playing games, and mentoring at-risk youth. All of my life, I have loved Star Wars I wanted to be Han Solo and Chewy, and flying the Falcon. After my Brother introduced this game to me, my dream finally came to fruition. After this, it was all downhill from there and I began to purchase any and all X-Wing Miniature’s I could.

Now I am proud to say that my collection rivals my brothers and I have at least one of every ship. 



However, after I taught the high school student to play he told his friends. He reached out to me and asked if I would teach his friends. The very next Thursday my gracious wife let me host a small get together with these students. It was pretty epic and they all got the X-Wing bug. So the next Thursday rolled around and more wanted to play. My little apartment was getting too crowed so we had to move our weekly sessions to a bigger space. Two months later, we have around ten students who attend on a regular basis. Many of whom have very broken homes and sad life stories. I know at least one of the kids is living in a foster home.
It all started out with my love of games and my passion for kids. Now I am using X-Wing as a spring board to get kids off the streets and to invest in their lives. Each week I get the privilege of taking at least one of them home and we spent quality time discussing what’s really going on in their lives and just listen to their amazing stories. Kids have some pretty cool thing to tell you if you just take the time to listen and it can change your life, because I know it has changed mine. Hopefully I am making a positive influence by simply playing games and talking.

Now to the purpose if this letter: My collection is over thirty ships but I only have around one of each ship. Currently, I am not in the financial situation to purchase more. Unfortunately, last Thursday we had five students show and I had to create a draft for the students to pick ships because I only have a limited supply. It really broke my heart to see some of the students even create 100 point squads on the nternet and print it out and then realize that I don’t have enough ships to fulfill these wish lists.



Everyone always wants the Falcon and the Shuttle, but I only have one of each. I want to ask if there was anyone out there who would be interested in selling some ships they no longer use at a discount or even sponsoring some ships to our little club. I’d even appreciate some new components like bases and stands. My very first 2 poor little tie fighters are about ready to be retired because they just barely fit into their stands. I’m sure you all are aware of how rough kids are on things, and it does not bother me at all. I’d give all my entire collection to see these kids succeed in life.
My aim is to have some spare core kits to give to each of the kids that come on a regular basis so they can start playing themselves and potentially bring other students to our game sessions in the future. They keep telling me they are going to get some ships and I know that most of their parents are struggling just to put food on the table.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this letter. It’s my proud honor to say that through fellowship and friendship the X-Wing Miniatures games is changing lives for the better. Thank you for such a fun product that has helped me build bridges with at-risk students, and hopefully enhance their lives.
Sincerely,

Nate Murray

Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church Youth Volunteer
(And huge star wars nerd)


How awesome is that, right? Good on ya, Nate. I hope you get some new ships, pal!


27 October 2014

Modifications- Advanced Cloaking Device

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.




Advanced Cloaking Device (4)
Card Text: After you perform an attack, you may perform a free cloak action.

Usage in game: Changing up the order of when Cloaking usually happens.
Breakdown: So when I talked about the mysteriously named and budget-priced Stygium Particle Accelerator awhile back, I mentioned that while it's functionality is relatively dissimilar, it was kind of a poor man's Advanced Cloaking Device because it's another Phantom only Modification and because it's only 2 points. Otherwise, I couldn't really see why you'd be interested in Stygium because the free Cloak from ACD is better than a free Evade token.

Of course, I also said I'd not really messed around with Phantoms much and that I might very well have that wrong.

Judging by your comments, I pretty much did have it right- in general, the Advanced Cloaking Device is much preferred to the Stygium Particle Accelerator, Cthulhu sounding technology be damned (which, yes, is redundant), but because of the timing involved with Cloaking and Decloaking and how that interacts with PS. Not to totally sidetrack this article talking about SPA, but long story short, SPA can be made to work with lower PS ships, but ACD really shines with the two higher PS pilots included with the Phantom.

Before I get too into the verbiage of the Advanced Cloaking Device card though, we need to talk about Cloak and Decloak for just a few minutes. Lucky for me, FFG provided the Cloak and Decloak rules cards on their Phantom preview last May, so I don't have to actually bust out my stuff and transcribe them.



Ok, so let's hit the high points of Cloaking here- 
  • So long as your ship doesn't already have a Cloak Token, you can declare Cloak as your Action whenever you could normally declare an Action (as the result of a Perform Action step, somebody dishing you a Free Action, etc.). 
  • Being Cloaked increases your Agility by 2.
  • Being Cloaked does not allow you to perform Attacks.
  • Cloak Tokens are persistent and are not removed in the End Phase (so like a Target Lock, then). 

On the other side is Decloak, which is not technically an Action. 
  • Immediately before revealing your Maneuver Dial, you can spend a Cloak Token to Decloak.
  • Once you've Decloaked, you have to perform a 2 Straight, or a Barrel Roll using the 2 Straight template rather than the 1 Straight template. 
  • You can't Decloak if you'd end up overlapping another ship or an Obstacle, and in the case of an Obstacle, your template can't even overlap it. 

Ok, got it? Good. 

Now that we've covered Cloaking and Decloaking (at this point, I've typed Decloak enough times that it's starting to look like I've misspelled it, but I haven't- do you guys ever do that?), we can finally talk about Advanced Cloaking Device. 

As some of y'all pointed out in the Stygium article, the usefulness of Advanced Cloaking Device largely comes down to timing. Normally, if you want to Cloak your Phantom it happens in the Perform Action step as soon as you put the Cloak token next to your ship. Subsequently, as the rules for Cloaking forbid you from Attacking while Cloaked, the turn you drop that Cloak token, you're not going to be Attacking. Whether or not that's a big deal depends entirely on you and what kind of plans you've got in mind for your Phantom, but that's more or less the deal. 

Having that Cloak token more or less gets you two things- some slick moves when you Decloak and a +2 to your Agility, and once again, how beneficial those benefits really are largely amount to timing. 

If you follow the normal, non-Modified chain of events here (in other words, not possessing an ACD) starting with your Perform Action step, you'd declare that you're going to Cloak, put the token next to your ship, not Attack anything that Combat Phase, but be 2 green dice harder to hit for the entire time, then as the next game turn starts rolling, you pick up your Cloak token, do your 2 Straight move or Barrel Roll, and things proceed as (relatively) normal. What you're getting here is being super hard to hit through that entire Combat Phase at the price of not Attacking that turn for the cost of an Action. 

Following the ACD chain of events, you could declare an Action (but not Cloak obviously), potentially get attacked by anybody at a higher PS than you, Attack somebody yourdamnself, get your Free Action Cloak, drop the token on the table, be 2 greens harder to hit for the remainder of the Combat Phase, and so on. 

See the difference? Those four points are letting you get your shot off (with a Focus probably, no less) but still reap most of the benefit of being Cloaked. 

So who benefits from Advanced Cloaking Device the most? In keeping with the Wave 4 meta, high PS pilots, obviously. Echo and Whisper are the two high PS pilots included with the Phantom at PS 6 and 7, respectively. While that doesn't mean they'll get a chance to Attack then Cloak before really high PS guys like Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo, they definitely will against those multiple low PS pilots that FFG seems to be really tired of Rebel players playing with- the Blue or Dagger Squadron pilots, Rookies or Reds, Gray or Golds, etc. Of course, you could always stick Veteran Instincts on Echo or Whisper if you're that worried about it as they can both rock Elite Pilot Skills. 

It's not often that I look at what cards go well with a Modification, but the time-bending nature of Advanced Cloaking Device kind of warrants it. None of the System Upgrades currently available make me overly excited, but I can see where if you just really, really, really didn't want to get shot, Sensor Jammers could work though I think it's basically overkill at that point. Assuming that you're not trying to go against the grain and stick ACD on some low PS guy, Flight Instructor isn't a terrible idea (though it doesn't come cheap), especially if you took my advice and went with Veteran Instincts. Gunner, Recon Specialist, and Rebel Captive are the pretty good ideas they pretty much always are for various reasons, but again, cost may be a factor at this point unless you're into running a two-ship list. Navigator seems tempting, but really if you're Cloaking and Decloaking a bunch, I think it's kind of unnecessary as you have three different options concerning where you set up your chosen maneuver. 

Assuming you go with a Crew Member at all, for the points, I like Tactician, Saboteur, or even good ol' Mercenary Copilot. Tactician and Mercenary Copilot I like for kind of the same reasons- with that funky Decloak move and some practice, reliably getting into Range 2 or 3 shouldn't be that big of a deal, and Saboteur is fun because it's an Action not an Attack so you can do it even when you're Cloaked. 

If you're looking for Elites besides Veteran Instincts, Decoy could work with the right setup, but I think you're kind of forcing it to make it happenSquad Leader could work here if you're getting a ton of mileage out of Cloaking after the Attack and don't really need your own Action. Another old standby that gets a mention here is Marksmanship because of that ridiculous Attack value the Phantom possesses, especially if you're trying to really make your shots count in a two or three ship list. The much maligned Expose I think ought to at least get a mention here as well as ACD works with it, though less effectively, but better than usual. 



24 October 2014

Deep Space Scenery Contest 2014 Brought to You by Miniature Market!


It's that time again, y'all! Time for another TheMetalBikini.com contest brought to you by the awesome folks at MiniatureMarket.com

For this contest, I thought it might be fun to get a little more crafty and challenge y'all to build and photograph some scenery suitable for your games of X-Wing Miniatures. Asteroid bases, gun platforms, space stations, derelict freighters, containers, comm sats, orbital relays, floating space taverns, whatever floats your proverbial boat! And while I'm not saying it's a requirement, if you've got some rules dreamed up for your scenery piece, like a custom scenario or a card full of stats, so much the better! Like with the other contests, I'll collect your entries after the entry window closes and host them here on the site for folks to be inspired to create their own awesome scenery and for you to brag to your pals about. 

Interested? I hope so! Here's the rules skinny (which is basically the same rules I always use for this stuff)- 

Entry Guidelines-
1) Ideally, whoever sends the entry is the same person who actually did the work. This being the internet and all, there's really no way for me to police this other than to ask you nicely to be honest and insist that you take a picture of the model with the TMB and MM.com Deep Space Scenery Contest image somewhere in the background in at least one of your shots. The idea here is not to go and grab some picture off the net and submit it as your own work. You can hold your model up in front of your computer screen when you take the pics so that the image is in the background or you can print it out on paper and set your mini on top of it, whatever- so long as the ad is visible, at least somewhat legible, and not Photoshopped into the image. Oh, and this doesn't have to be a piece you created specifically for this contest- it can totally be something you made earlier. It's fine so long as it or the pictures of it isn't somehow the property of someone else now.

2) Please, for my own sanity, send me no more than three pictures of your model. Three pics ought to be good enough to show off your skills and give me a good look at your scenery piece. And don't make the images massively huge either, please. I'd like for them to be large enough I can see your work, but not like 4096x5400 or whatever, ok? I don't want to set like a firm dimensional limit on this- just use your own best judgement, aiight?

3) Entering more than one model is fine, but please send me a separate email for each entry and abide by these rules for each entry.

4) When you send me your pics, please include your full name and mailing address in your entry so MM and I know where to send your prizes if you win (more on that in a second). Please note, this contest is open to everybody- Americans, Canadians, English folks, Aussies, Kiwis, the French, whoever- but you gotta, gotta, gotta send me your real name and address along with your entry pictures. You also need to send the pics from a valid email address, or at least mention one in your entry along with your real name and address so I can contact you if you win. Hopefully y'all know by now I'm not the spamming type.

5) I will announce the winners on here after the contest closes and I have a chance to go through the entries. If you're not cool with me using your real name on here, you need to tell me what you want to be called in your entry. If you win a prize pack, I'll notify you by email.

6) After the snafu of trying to keep all of your Pilot Card Contest entries separate from my normal email, I opened up an email solely for contests here on TMB. This is where you need to send your entries for this contest- do not use my GMail address that's linked on the page and that I've had y'all use in the past to enter this contest. As has been the case before, I'll check this email periodically and reply to those who have entered with an confirmation letting you know I've received your entry. The new email address for contest entries only is- 


If you have questions about the contest or life in general, email my normal GMail address as usual, but please send only your actual contest entries to the Yandex address.

Other Information: 
There will be three winners, but not really a first, second, and third place. MM has ponied up three X-Wing prize packs for this shindig, so that's what y'all are competing for. Additionally, I'm throwing in a TMB shirt for each of the winners too. If your entry is selected, I'll contact you for info about what size shirt you wear and all. It'd be right neighborly of you to send me back a pic of you in the shirt so I know you got it, but if not, I understand. 

While I will absolutely credit you with the work you've done, the pics you send me will become property of TMB and the really good ones will go up as part of an image gallery of cool scenery pieces that'll become a permanent fixture on the site here in the Arts and (Space)Crafts section. It's probably unlikely that you'd be sending me pictures that someone else owns the rights to, but I don't want anybody misunderstanding the intent here.

I'll be picking the winning entries. There's no real set selection criteria- just whatever I think looks the coolest, most original, and totally badass wins. I don't care if your idea is perfectly detailed canon or something wild and original- if it looks awesome, it's got a shot. Again, there will be three winners total.

I hate saying stuff like this, but I have the right to reject any images that I don't feel would be a good fit for the audience here or for any other reason. In other words, don't send me stuff with images that are pornographic or have curse words or whatever on them. No matter how well done it is, I can't be showin' stuff like that on here, man. Again, use your best judgement here people- I don't want to come up with a list of stuff you can't do for this. Kinda takes the fun out of it.

These rules may change if necessary, and if you live in a place where entering contests is verboten, you probably shouldn't enter.

Lastly, if you didn't follow the rules posted, your submission will be rejected immediately so please, please, please pay attention especially to those parts above that I've so helpfully underlined for you. If you get in a hurry and realized you screwed up your entry, just send me the whole thing, pics and all, over again rather than send me an email saying, "Oh hey- I forgot to put my address on my entry, here it is."
You can submit your entries any time from now until 11:59pm on Monday, 3 November 2014. It's a little longer window than usual because this contest demands a little more work than the previous MM and TMB contests. That gives you a couple of weekends to work on your project. 

Good luck and stay tuned!


14 October 2014

Modifications- Stygium Particle Accelerator

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.



Stygium Particle Accelerator (2)
Card Text: When you either decloak or perform a cloak action, you may perform a free evade action.

Usage in game: Making the difficult to draw a bead on to begin with even harder to hit.
Breakdown: I've been saving these last two upgrade cards (Stygium and Advanced Cloaking Device) for last because I kinda have the least to say about them. This isn't because they're simple or because they're not worth talking about, it's because currently they can only be mounted onto a single ship of the 20 Expansions currently available- the TIE Phantom.

I've also been saving them because I've been trying to decide whether or not Cloak needs it's own Bikini Battle Basics article or if I should just talk about it in these two articles. Currently I'm leaning towards the former, but that could just be my bad knee acting up again. Walking around on a concrete factory floor all day for anywhere from 10 to 18 hours isn't great on your undiagnosed knee injury from 2011, let me tell ya. 

Anyhizzle, Stygium Particle Accelerator, right? 

Ok, so it's a benefit with no real drawback save for the fact that it takes up a Modification slot, so this part is fairly simple because, well, why wouldn't you want to get a free Evade token every time you perform a Cloak Action or Decloak, right? I can't think of a reason, anyway. Seems like it's always on, nice, free boon to me. And two points is a pretty reasonable amount for something that's going to help keep that relatively expensive ship alive, right? It doesn't get in the way of any of the Named Pilots for the Phantom's card text, so that's no big deal either. And hey- if you're not Cloaking and Decloaking on the regular, you're probably doing it wrong, so it's not like you're not going to get some use out of the upgrade either. Oh, and finally, it's not an Action. So long story short, when it comes to good upgrade criteria, it's like check, check, check, check, check.

So again, what we're really talking about here is whether or not there's some other Modification you'd rather bolt onto your Phantom. 

Engine Upgrade would give an already very busy Phantom dial the Boost maneuver, but it's twice as much as Stygium and the Phantom already has pretty amazing movement options, so I don't really want to go on record saying that Stygium Particle Accelerator is better than Engine Upgrade or vice versa. That's going to depend on the the guy running the ship more than anything, so let's call that a push. 

Hull Upgrade is perhaps not a terrible idea on a ship that costs 25-32 points stock and only has a pair of Shields and a pair of Hull, but like Engine Upgrade, it's more expensive and definitely debatable in it's effectiveness in this particular context. I feel largely the same way about Shield Upgrade, but at 4 points it's even more expensive and again- I think a valid debate could be raised whether you're better off taking one extra point of Shields over a free Evade token that you can probably generate most any time you want.

Stealth Device has some potential for use and abuse and I believe to be the strongest contender for Phantom Modification instead of Stygium Particle Accelerator (besides of course, spoiler alert- Advanced Cloaking Device) because you raise the Agility of your Phantom to that of a TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor until you take a hit, but again- with all the maneuvers and moves that a Phantom has at it's disposal, you're probably pretty good at not giving your opponent a target solution to begin with (unless he's just decided to roll a bunch of turret-bearing ships).

Targeting Computer I'm not really even going to bother talking about. The damn Phantom has a 4 Attack primary. If you can't make that work with the standard Actions available, spending 2 points on Targeting Computer probably isn't really going to be the answer either and being as how the Phantom has no tubes of any kind, Munitions Failsafe is pointless too.

All that being said though, what you're probably really asking yourself is do you take Stygium Particle Accelerator or Advanced Cloaking Device since those are the two Modifications that most fully play to the Phantom's unique strength. 

I'll be honest- I'm no expert with a Phantom yet. With that in mind, to me, they both seem pretty easy and effective to use, even for a relative novice. I think the Advanced Cloaking Device is more attractive, but it's also two more points than Stygium. Maybe some of you Phantom experts can sound off in the comments, but to me, it really just comes down to whether or not you have the points for SGA or ACD.

Sorry I really kinda don't have much to say on this topic, but like I said at the start, there's really not much of a counterargument to be had here, at least the way I see it. There's just no real downside to speak of here.


13 October 2014

Docking Bay 94?

Y'all are pretty cheeky sometimes, y'know that? :)


As I'm always one to reward initiative, here's a couple of treats for ya. Oh what could have been, right? Like I said though, now that we're like a year and a half into it, I can't really imagine the site being anything more than The Metal Bikini, even if it seems not everybody gets that the name of the domain is a nod to Leia's outfit from Jedi. 



I might have a couple more on the Chromebook, but I'm at work and it's at home right now. Of course, I might not too. Can't remember. Thought I had more than two lying around, but I could be wrong. Again, the name change happened very early on. 

If you have no idea what I'm talking about here and want to be in on the joke, check out my interview with the NOVA Radio guys. While I don't come right out and actually mention it by name, you can find waaaaay back in the day of like January 2013 I made a reference to the domain name change in this post


I remember thinking after the interview, I wonder how differently things would have gone with the site had I kept the original name. If like it would have been more professional or serious or if everything would have turned out pretty much the same. If it would have been more or less successful, stuff like that. Who knows? In any case, I like TMB and ultimately, happy accident or not, I'm happy that things have gone down the way they have. I mean, 1.6 million pageviews can't be wrong, right? 

Peace!