23 December 2013

Fab's Squadrons Generator- UPDATE!

Hey y'all, 

Apologies for being MIA lately. I've got a few days off after Christmas so I'm going to get back to work on the Wave 3 pilots soon. Until then though, I got an email from our pal in France, Fab, of Fab's Squadron Builder.

Hi Clint !

Just to inform you that I just put online a new version of my squadrons generators. http://fabpsb.free.fr

The new features are :
- Full display of the permalink (with the full code that code reloaded in the new LOAD features) an easy way to share creation !
- Display of the permalink for each faction with link to create a short url
- Display of the upgrade cards by type in the "EXPANSIONS" section
- New feature to load squadrons using the squadrons codes

So you can easily display full squadrons information, put all information between square brackets except the codes and paste in the LOAD features.

[1 • Kath Scarlet - Slave 1 (38)
- Veteran Instincts (1)
- Seismic Charges (2)
- Recon Specialist (3)
• Total : 44 • Code : ]e15m8b2d7
[2 • Soontir Fel - TIE interceptor (27)
- Push The Limit (3)
• Total : 30 • Code : ]e18m10
[3 • Turr Phennir - TIE interceptor (25)
- Veteran Instincts (1)
• Total : 26 • Code : ]e19m8

Load features : http://fabpsb.free.fr/load.php

- Display of the card codes
- New feature to evaluate the necessary expansions to build the squadrons ()

This features allow you to create squadrons manually and to check the extension you need to build them.

I hope that you will find this useful.


I like it, Fab! Great work as usual! Hope you get what you want for Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa/ Festivus/ The Winter Holiday, etc.! 


09 December 2013

Named Pilots- Ibtisam

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Ibtisam (28)
Card Text: When attacking or defending, if you have at least one stress token, you may reroll one of your dice.

Usage in game: Stress to impress.
Breakdown: I can't really explain why other than it starts with an "I" and has about the same number of syllables (at least the way I say it- which is in all likelihood not the correct pronunciation), but as a lot of y'all have commented on enjoying my conversational writing style here on TheMetalBikini.com, if you want the full effect like you're hearing me say this stuff to you, you gotta say "Ibtisam" the way those cultists dudes or whatever said, "Imhotep" in The Mummy. Because that's totally how I say it. Not every single time, but most of the time, yeah.

That out of the way, ol' Ibtisam's really got it goin' on, doesn't she? Dig on that card text- got a Stress Token? You're in luck, pal- you get a free re-roll of a single die when attacking or defending. Pause on that for a second- not only can she use the re-roll on a red die or green die, she can use it on a red die and a green die. There's nothing limiting how often you can use Ibtisam's ability during the turn so long as you've got that Stress Token. Pretty nutty, huh?

Now, I'll fully admit I didn't grasp the awesomeness of this card in the B-Wing preview/ Wave 3 leaked cards article I wrote awhile back. I'd not fallen in love with the B-Wing yet and not having seen the dial, it was hard to get your head around how any of this stuff was really going to work in-game. That said, there was a commenter even back then that saw a potential that sailed right by me at the time.

That commenter was +Matt Bounds and he had this to say-

Surprised you didn't mention putting Advanced Sensors on Ibtisam. That way you still get your action, and THEN you can pull a red maneuver to stress her out. Seems like a hell of a good deal to me, especially if you use that action to barrel roll into a better firing position. There are some great mind games that could come out of this.
Heckuva a great idea, isn't it? If you don't remember and haven't clicked on the link, Advanced Sensors essentially changes the order in which you do stuff in the Activation Phase. Namely, you do your Perform Action step before you reveal your maneuver, so assuming you aren't already Stressed at that point (which hey- you may very well be if you're several turns into the game), you could get your Action for the round, reveal your red maneuver, get Stressed, and reap the re-roll from Ibtisam (remember you can only re-roll a die once). If that doesn't seem like it jives to you, take a look at Bikini Battle Basics- Multiple Actions, Same Actions

While you couldn't pull that combo off every single game turn (at least, I can't think of a way off the top of my head and have it be worthwhile), there's still some solid value in Ibtisam's card text in that you've likely always got some kind of re-roll or modification available to you. As y'all know, if you've Stressed yourself and therefore (likely) denied yourself your Perform Action step, you're usually flying naked with no re-rolls or dice mods available. If you're not Stressed and got to Perform Action, you probably have a Focus or a Target Lock or whatever and you've got the dice mods and/ or re-rolls available to you. Undoubtedly, you've noticed a pretty significant difference in your gross Attack and Defend results if you've got those re-rolls and mods available. With Ibtisam, you've always got a little something available- either the benefits from the Action you chose because you're not Stressed or the re-roll from being Stressed via her card text. I'm sure for those of y'all who have flown her, it goes without saying that always being able to re-roll that single Green die likely goes a long way to keeping her on the table. 

As for what works on Ibtisam, she's another one of those PS6 pilots who actually does have an Elite Pilot Skill available to her as well as the usual compliment of B-Wing options- 2 torpedo tubes, the funky raygun, and a system upgrade.

I think ideally you'd want to stay away from the Skills and upgrades that require an Action as you'll likely spend a lot of time Stressed out. Also stuff that lets you re-roll isn't going to be quite as effective, but if the re-roll is on multiple dice as opposed to just one or a particular negative result, you still want to look at it pretty hard. As usual, Push The Limit could be pretty useful here as well as stuff that keeps Ibtisam alive longer like Determination or Expert Handling. Be careful with Elusiveness- there's nothing saying you can't take it on her, but it can't be triggered if you're already holding a Stress Token. As is also usually the case, Daredevil could work here, but you're probably better off with PTL and if you want the Boost functionality, take Engine Upgrade along with it instead. 

As for guns, it's similar to what I said in the Ten Numb article. My own personal experience is that 7 points for a Heavy Laser Cannon on a B-Wing is a bit high for what it gets you, but Ions or Autoblaster could be fun. Depending on how much you want Ibtisam to ultimately cost you, Proton Torpedoes are a good fit for her with their sort of built-in, no Action required Focus-ish card text, but Advanced Proton Torpedoes probably aren't a great idea as you really do need at least a Focus to make them worthwhile and there's probably a good chance you'll be Stressed out when you need to fire them. 

Advanced Sensors are a pretty good idea for any B-Wing because of the flexibility they provide, but as mentioned in some of the other Wave 3 articles, none of the System Upgrades are bad, per se- some just work better for certain pilots than others. As Matt pointed out up above, it's hard to beat AS on Ibtisam, but Fire Control System is a good way to mitigate the fact that she probably won't have that Perform Action step a lot of the time, and Sensor Jammer could go that much further in increasing her survivability. Again, it really just depends on how much more you want to spend on her. 

05 December 2013

Named Pilots- Ten Numb

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Ten Numb (31)
Card Text: When attacking, one of your <unfilled explosion> results cannot be canceled by defense dice.

Usage in game: Stickin' crits.
Breakdown: So it's no secret my favorite ships from Wave 3 are the TIE Bomber and B-Wing. I always liked flying both of them in X-Wing Alliance and TIE Fighter on PC back in the day, so I'm kinda biased to start with, but nostalgic personal feelings aside, they're both solid ships. Add a pilot with a solid PS value (8) and a nice bit of card text into the mix, and you end up with our good pal Ten Numb.

He's awesome, no doubt about it, the only question you ought to have in mind really is whether or not he's actually worth a third of your available points.

B-Wings have a decent dial, good stats, and a fairly varied amount of upgrades and options available, so I think the decision for most people will boil down to how comfortable they are running a three ship list. I know you could probably generate a four ship list, but you'll probably not run Ten Numb totally naked, right? I mean, you could- his card text is pretty cool, but let's look a little closer and see what we can do with some of those aforementioned upgrades and stuff.

B-Wings already have a respectable Attack of 3, but keeping in mind Ten's card text, Proton Torpedoes seem like a no-brainer. Is it worth taking two loads of them? Advanced Proton Torpedoes are their usual nasty selves, and while they don't particularly mesh up with Ten Numb's card text, you are throwing 5 dice instead of 4, so there's one more die to possibly roll a critical. Is it worth it points-wise? For me? Nah- I'd stick with normal Torps, just looking at it in a vacuum like this. 

That said, if you were to take an Elite Pilot Skill like say, Marksmanship? That might change things a bit. Expensive? Hells yeah. Ability to hurt something real bad? In spades, my friends. You don't have to take APTs to make it worthwhile though- Ten Numb's card text doesn't specify secondary weapons or anything, so you could even work it on just a regular old primary Attack roll.

As for other Elite Pilot Skills, Push The Limit is always a pretty good option to have up your sleeve for the flexibility it provides, but here doubly so to pull off a Target Lock and Focus (or TL and Marksmanship) in the same Activation Phase should a really golden opportunity present itself. It'd also be handy for comboing some other Action with a Barrel Roll should you find yourself on the wrong end of things. If you're more concerned about keeping Ten Numb alive with your Actions, perhaps letting upgrades and secondaries do your offensive work for you, Elusiveness isn't a bad idea, but Expert Handling could be fun to throw on there especially if your opponent loves to run Bombers, TIE Advanced with Missiles, or Colonel Jendon.

Taking an Ion Cannon for Ten Numb is kind of a waste with how Ion handles crit results, and while there is definitely an argument to be made, I think sticking a Heavy Laser Cannon on a ship that already has an Attack 3 weapon is kind of a waste and even more so with Numb's card text (EDIT: As Bikini Aficionado +TheForlornViking pointed out in the comments, a HLC actually isn't that much of a waste on Ten Numb- if you have a Target Lock, Marksmanship, or some other means available to re-roll your Attack roll, your second results stick regardless of the card text on HLC, and therefore would trigger Ten's card text should one of your re-roll results be an unfilled explosion symbol). The Autoblaster I think will get FAQed in the future, but right now, it's probably the only non-ordnance secondary weapon I'd consider for Numb. I don't know how exactly they'll choose to rule it, when they choose to rule it, but as for now, it would appear that rolling Ten Numb with an Autoblaster does not allow the defender to cancel any hits and one crit with his defense dice (if you rolled two crits, he could cancel the second one as +Davyd Atwood reminded me in the comments that only one of Ten's crits avoids the cancellation). Take that TIE Interceptors! Please note that other, non-dice related means of cancelling hits and/ or crits (namely Evade tokens) would still be effective here.

As B-Wings are currently the only Rebel ship that can use the new-fangled System Upgrades, I gotta mention those. Any of the three would be useful to Numb, but I like Fire Control System for the free Target Lock the best. Again though, it's easy to make a case for using a more defense-oriented System Upgrade like Sensor Jammer so you can go more offensive with Elite Pilot Skills or Secondary Weapon Systems or even Advanced Sensors and pull a Barrel Roll early in the Activation Phase if a ship unexpectedly gets behind you at an inopportune time.

EDIT: I wanted to throw this great idea in from the comments courtesy of +Nick Smale as it's a great use for a normally forgotten (at least by me) Modification and would likely catch a lot of folks unawares.

I've had a lot of success with PtL, Advanced Sensors and Engine Upgrade. The choice to possibly boost and barrel roll either before or after you move, plus instantly shed the stress from PtL immediately after you've used it (assuming you've gone green) is insanely effective. 

It wouldn't be cheap, but it's hard to argue with the effectiveness! I remember playing against some Interceptor lists where the ships kept on flying out of my firing arcs using Boosts and Barrel Rolls, now, I realize the B-Wing doesn't have the dial those ships do, but they also can't take Advanced Sensors and immediately shed the Stress token as Nick mentioned above by choosing a green maneuver. I'm just saying, the possibility of flying right out of lower PS pilots' arcs is still there if you're a veteran at maneuvering.

If stuff like that's still a little over your head though, I think one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get more mileage out of Numb is picking the rest of your squadron around the idea of using Ten as the heavy hitter he is. Biggs can help pull some of those shots away from him, Garven Dreis can hook him up with a Focus, Dutch Vander can kick him over a Target Lock all of which theoretically allows you to go overboard on offense or provide some help for that single green Defense die that Numb is stuck with.

Yet Another... Now with German Translations!

Was ist los, Bikini Aficionados in der Vaderland? I've got some good news for y'all- a kind-hearted FFG forum has provided Yet Another X-Wing Squadron Builder with German text translations! Check it out- 

Thanks for the heads up, Geordan! 

03 December 2013

Named Pilots- Captain Jonus

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Captain Jonus (22)
Card Text: When another friendly ship at Range 1 attacks with a secondary weapon, it may reroll up to 2 Attack dice.

Usage in game: His name is Jonus, and he's carryin' the wheel. Well, that and anybody else in your list sporting a secondary weapon probably.
Breakdown: Hey, hey, hey. Hey guys. Remember back like a year ago when everybody was sporting TIE Swarms with Howlrunner? Remember that? Because she like gave everybody a reroll on their primary? Remember?

Ok, kinda same thing here, but it's with secondaries and two dice. Awesome, huh? 

One slight difference in that line of thinking is Howlie was a pretty respectable PS 8, where Jonus is clocking in at 6, which isn't bad or anything, don't get me wrong, but you do have to focus a little more on who's going when with him than you did with Howlrunner. 

Similarities do abound though, namely in that he can take Elite Pilot Skills and the fact that his own ability doesn't work on him.

As for the Elite Pilot Skills, if you've loaded up on wingmen with secondary weapons and plan on running a swarm or something similar, you can bet that Jonus is going to be a priority target for your opponent. Take a look at stuff that helps to keep him alive. Push The Limit is always a nice option to have up your sleeve in virtually any situation (especially if you've got Yorr [YOOORRRR!!!] floating around somewhere close by), or stuff like Elusiveness or Expert Handling.

If instead you're opting more for opportunistic fly-bys, lending the extra re-rolls to say, a Firespray with an Ion Cannon and upgrades tooled-up for close to medium range combat, maybe lean a little more towards offense or flexibility. Marksmanship works nicely with warhead loadouts as would something like Deadeye where you're putting more of a priority on getting near a ship with big guns you want to really hurt something bad rather than lining up a good target for Jonus.

All that said, I think there's something to be said for just going with the flow here and making Jonus something of a support craft for a couple of TIE Bomber wingmen. Dig this list I just made on Yet Another-

That's not terrible, if you ask me. It's tough to prioritize as an opponent because the stuff you likely want to ignore (the Scimitar Bombers) can put a pretty good hurt on you, while the guy you really want to go after (Jonus), is going to be protected by the rest of the list. I went ahead and stuck some warheads on Jonus largely because I wasn't sure how to spend those last four points. Your mileage of course, will vary but hopefully you can kinda see where I'm going with this. Heck, you could always stick a Shield Upgrade on him just for grins. If you're curious, I stuck the TIEs in there largely because there's not enough points to make a 5 Bomber list with Jonus and four other Bombers with some sort of missile or torpedo. 

I do think that Night Beast and Backstabber would do well to keep folks on the other side of the table honest though, so they're not like total window dressing or whatever. I like them in this role because they're good enough named pilots they're tough to deal with and fairly self-sufficient, but not so expensive they make for an easy target priority decision for your opponent- those two combined are still only worth 32 points and we know how important it is to get 33 points, right? 

Pre-Orders for the Tantive IV, Rebel Transport, and Imperial Aces are up on Miniature Market!

I'm sure y'all probably saw this when you were drooling over Miniature Market's Black Friday/ Cyber Monday sales, but if you didn't, well, dig on this- 

As for when they'll actually be released? Your guess is as good as anyone's, including mine. Unfortunately I don't have any kind of inside line on stuff like this (though it'd be nice if somebody would throw me a friggin' bone for tirelessly promoting this game for damn near a year now, y'know? :) ). I mean, you want to say, "It's gotta be before Christmas, right? I mean, come on- it's definitely a "Shut up and take my money" situation, isn't it? Closest thing to printing money FFG could possibly do?  

Just remember how we all said that about Wave 2 about this time last year and that dropped in March. I don't mean to sound like a pessimist, and trust me- there's nothing I'd love to do more than be flyin' that Tantive IV around my dining room table while the snow blows around southern Indiana the evening of Christmas after the kiddos go to bed, but much like my feelings about the new Star Wars movies they're making, I'm kinda not getting my hopes up based on past experiences. 

Sidenote- those friggin' space tile things still haven't been released? Good Lord, how long has it been since they announced those? 

22 November 2013

Named Pilots- Major Rhymer

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Major Rhymer (26)
Card Text: When attacking with a secondary weapon, you may increase or decrease the weapon range by 1 to a limit of Range 1-3.

Usage in game: Shootin' off missiles like you're Kim Jong Il (God- why didn't I become a rapper?)
Breakdown: Secondary Weapon Systems, specifically missiles and torpedoes have kinda gotten a bum rap in X-Wing since their inception back in Wave 1. I think folks have finally come around now to their usefulness against big ships, but if you're one of those Luddites who still think that 4 or 5 (or even 6) points on a one-shot weapon is a waste, well, Major Rhymer probably ain't for you. I'm not going to waste a bunch of space in this article trying to talk you into the notion of Missiles or Torps- you either use them or don't, and at this point, it's probably unlikely anything I say is going to change your mind much (though going up against a list with multiple big ships might).

Additionally, the Rhyme Animal is going to be a points sink for you. There's pretty much no two ways about it. He's really only worth taking if you're going to load him up with some secondaries, and really, you're better off taking a double set of full tubes if you're going to roll him, y'know? Might as well make it worth it. If you're one of those people who don't like unbalanced points among your ships, The Young Cannibal is also probably not for you.

If you're cool with those first two paragraphs though, you can get some good mileage out of this dude.

First, as always, understand the card text. It's pretty straightforward this time, but humor me for a moment. Rhymer can increase or decrease a Secondary Weapon's range by 1, while staying in the 1-3 limit. Ok, great. So what secondaries can a Bomber sport? What are we really talking about here?

Missiles and Torps.

Notice I didn't say Bombs, just Missiles and Torps. Bombs aren't Secondary Weapons. Says so on the card that explains Bombs, but if you want the real reason it's because they don't say, "ATTACK: Blah, blah, blah" in their card text. 

That's not to say you can't use Bombs on Rhymer, just that his card text won't work with them. 

Moving on, ok, so are there any Missiles or Torps that get better or worse with Rhymer's card text? 

Well, first remember that the Bomber isn't an "or" kind of siutaiton unless you want it to be. All the bomber cards have two torpedo icons and two missile icons, so yeah, you can sport anywhere between zero and two Missiles and zero and two Torpedoes. Would it be expensive? Sure. Would it be absolutely terrifying to see Rhymer flying around with four full loaded tubes? Sho' 'nuff. 

I can't really think of a better way to do this right now, so I'm just going to break it down list style.

Advanced Proton Torpedoes- Expensive, but with Rhymer they become Range 1-2. Five Attack dice at Range 1 is scary enough, but Bombers aren't the most nimble of craft, so I always kind of look at it as something of a risk to bank on the idea of me getting into Range 1 with somebody- not to mention that Bombers don't have the shields to really survive close-combat and come out unscathed. Sure, they have the beefier hull, but with no shields to mitigate crits, I'm not nuts about the idea. Rhymer with APTs makes that much easier for me to get behind. Especially if you're running Jendon in the same list for free Target Locks or the other named TIE Bomber pilot Captain Jonus for the ability to re-roll two Attack dice. Again- is it cheap? No, but it does have the ability to one-shot an X-Wing at Range 2 which is pretty spectacular. Just remember you really do need to have a Target Lock and a Focus to make this worthwhile. Depending on your skill level (not to mention your opponent's), that might be easier said than done.

EDIT: Something I should have mentioned harder that was brought to my attention by +Jeff Wilder in the comments is using APTs along with Push The Limit on ol' Hard Rhymer. What can I say? I try to look at this stuff from multiple angles and skill levels, but sometimes the siren song of a warm bed makes me hit that "Publish" button a little sooner than I should have.

Of course, sometimes I just miss things too. I'd considered running APT with PTL on Rhymer, but it makes him a little too expensive for my tastes, so I'd never given it a shot. That said, I still should have mentioned it because it may not make him too expensive for your tastes, and it really does make him pretty scary. Just be careful of opponents ganging up on him to get him off the table. Rhymer's high PS is going to make that more difficult, but those of y'all who aren't aces with maneuvering just yet might want to watch it.

So kudos to Jeff- thanks for the heads up!

Proton Torpedoes- With the card text, you're gaining the ability to shoot them at an enemy at Range 1. Not exactly an idea I'd build an entire strategy around, but it does give you some flexibility if the opportunity presents itself and you don't think the Bomber's 3 dice (at Range 1) will do the job, but a fourth die would. Also nice as it has the little built-in "Focus-lite" ability to make one rolled eyeball a hit, which is nice as it (hopefully) allows you to save that Focus token for defense. As Rhymer can take Elite Pilot Skills, you can play the Marksmanship card here (literally) if you're so inclined. Personally, I'm not nuts about regular PTs on Rhymer as you're probably not really getting your money's worth out of his card text running a 2-3 Range weapon even with the "Focus-lite", but your mileage may vary- especially if your games tend to end up as big hairballs of ships running into each other in the middle of the map as it's a much safer bet than...

Assault Missles- The thing about Assault Missiles is that you can hurt your own ships with them. The fact that you only get to use Rhymer's card text by hitting yourself with the splash damage makes me say "Pass" on this card with this pilot.

Cluster Missiles- I've long caught flak over my advocation of Cluster Missiles, but a few people have read my articles and started to come around. Yes, your opponent has two changes to roll Defense dice, but again- against ships with only 1 Defense die, 6 Attack dice is going to hurt something. The fact that Rhymer can extend these two attacks out to Range 3 makes this as close to a must have in any list with the popularity of the YT-1300 in its various configurations. I mean, come on- with a fairly standard roll, you've got the opportunity to burn off a Falcon's shields entirely with one round of shooting from one ship. For 4 points. At Range 3. That's solid, y'all.

Concussion Missiles- Like their cousin Proton Torpedoes, Rhymer gets that fourth attack die at Range 1, which is only one more than he'd be normally getting. Is that and ability to change a rolled blank into a hit worth it for you? Only you really know, but if you're good enough to have a Target Lock and a Focus before the tubes empty, you're virtually assured of one hit result at least. Again, I think using 2-3 Ranged warheads with Rhymer is kind of a waste, but giving him a load of Concussions is probably not the silliest thing you could do that particular day.

Homing Missiles- Another 2-3 Range card, but this one I like a little more than PTs or Concussions. No, you don't get a ton out of the card text as previously mentioned, however don't completely discount the whole, "Defender may not spend Evade tokens" thing with Homers. Fired at Range 1, you get 4 Attack dice, but your target can't Evade. Against a Rebel player? Well, he probably doesn't have Evade anyway, but if you're heading to a tournament where you're going to be facing both factions with the same list, Homing Missiles become more useful in Imp v Imp matches. Bear in mind, I still wouldn't call them game-changing or anything because many people don't Evade, but there is some potential there.

Like I said a few paragraphs back, Rhymer can take Elite Pilot Skills as apparently he's kind of a big deal. As you know, there are many too choose from and old chestnuts like Marksmanship and Veteran Instincts would be well played here. For me though, and knowing that I'm going to run this cat with as many Missiles and Torps as I can afford to run on him, I'm taking Deadeye every single time. The ability to bust off those warheads with just a Focus token? Sign me up, yo. This is really cool as Deadeye was kinda fair to middlin' prior to Rhymer if you ask me. I can't think of too many times I tried to use it outside of a shrug worthy decision to stick it on a Green Squadron A-Wing. Push The Limit would provide similar functionality and would be especially useful if you favor a warhead that works better with a Target Lock and a Focus, but it's a bit more points than just rolling Deadeye and you're probably already spending more on Rhymer than you'd like. Adrenaline Rush might be fun just to see the look on your buddy's face when you pull that 5 speed K-Turn, TL him, then blast him with something.

20 November 2013

HOWTO: X-Wing over Google Hangouts

X-Wing Miniatures over Google Hangouts

So many of y'all have been reading TheMetalBikini.com long enough to have picked up on the fact that I play many of my games not in person, but instead over Google Hangouts. The main reasons for this are as follows: 

  • My wife is a charge nurse who works the weekend shift
  • I work a lot of Monday through Friday hours at my job
  • We have two boys ages 1 and 3
  • My only semi-reliable free time is from like 10:30pm until about midnight or 1 on Friday and Saturday nights

So long story short, it's tough for me to get out to the FLGS for games. Brief aside, I think that's partly why I got so into the rules of X-Wing (to the extent that I started TMB.com)- on the rare occasion I do get out to actually play some X-Wing with other people in the same room, I didn't want to let rules lookups get in the way of playing. Initially, I was also trying to overcome my own inexperience with the game.  

Funny story though- while it might appear that it was the other way around, Hangouts was the reason I actually got into X-Wing Miniatures. 

So my pal Ben doesn't live around here. We talk and text a lot and played a helluva lot of games online together (mainly PC), but we're rarely able to get together and hang out in person. Ben and I used to play a lot of Dawn of War, which was my gateway drug into miniatures gaming in the form of 40k. I don't remember if Ben was still in college or he just didn't have anyone or any stores around to play with/ at, but in any case, I got into tabletop 40k and he didn't. We'd talk about games I'd played and I'd show him pics of stuff I'd painted and he was way interested in playing, but just never really had the opportunity. 

We'd talked several times about trying to play some kind of miniatures game over Skype or whatever, but I could just never think of any way to actually do it without it just being a total pain in the ass. We'd talk about trying to find miniatures games to play online, we'd do some searching around, find nothing, then we'd give up again for another 3-6 months. 

Until I read about X-Wing and the template movements- that sounded like it just might work. 

It's funny because we're both huge Star Wars fans, but like a lot of Star Wars fans in their 30's, the new movies had almost completely turned us off to the franchise. Me probably more than Ben, but we went from nuts about it as kids and in high school on into college and beyond to like "meh" around the time we saw Attack of the Clones in the theater together. When I first read about X-Wing Miniatures, I was not at all interested because I was just so over Star Wars after those prequel movies- and bear in mind y'all, I have an Alliance tattoo. On the middle of my chest, right over my sternum. That I got in 1994. Word. 

Anyway, we talked about it some, we kind of outlined how it'd have to work, and one payday, I picked up the X-Wing starter box at my FLGS which must have only been a couple of weeks after it came out. I got it out, looked it over, and found that it would indeed work over the net like we'd thought. 

We'd finally found the miniatures game we could play without being in the same room. 

How It Works
So basically, it works exactly how you imagine it does- there's no fancy boardgame Hangouts plug-in we ran across that you've never heard of that does the work for you and it's very close to how you play X-Wing currently, just with more setup and stuff. 

If you've ever played a game-by-email or seen Blade Runner, you have the basics of what you need to play X-Wing over Hangouts.  Again- there's really no trick to this. What you have is a remote chessboard type setup. 

See, people play chess apart from each other because if you own a chess set, you have all the tools necessary to play the game apart from an opponent- i.e. all the pieces for both sides and the playing surface. X-Wing is sort of unlike most other miniatures games in that you probably have the same exact setup- I don't think I've ever heard of another miniatures game where damn near everybody has every model for both "sides." It's also one of the few minatures games with basically no scenery, so no worries there either- the scenery that is present, the obstacles, are the same ones your buddy has exactly- no wondering if you both made your Basillica Administratum with the same footprint. 

Of course, you don't have to actually own every model your buddy intends on fielding- as I've mentioned on here before, the actual miniatures themselves are, from a game mechanics perspective, actually the least important part of X-Wing Miniatures, but it's much more fun if you do have them. It's also way handier because you can use the cardboard base inserts to remind you who your buddy has on the other side, but you can get by just by using an empty base of the appropriate side if your opponent gets all exotic on you. 

In addition to the playing pieces (again- bases), you need to have the playing surface. We played our first 5 or 6 games on either plain tabletops or my black felt photo backdrop/ starfield play mat. Now, if you kinda don't really care about the game and are mainly doing your X-Wing over Hangouts game to hang out and talk and stuff, that's totally enough. If you're a little more serious, you might need a mat that will let you more easily convey position. More on that in a sec. 

Setting up, it's the same as a regular game of X-Wing- both players make their lists, you decide on your game type, get all your stuff out, and get ready to deploy. Generally speaking, I don't usually get out the cards for my opponent's ships and upgrades. I usually just use the cardboard inserts to remind me who's who and what's what. I think my buddy Sean does actually pull out my cards and stuff, but I'm not sure. We usually play 100 points or less, so I don't generally have a hard time keeping track of everything, but if you're kinda new to the game, you're playing high points, or your buddy is using a swarm or something, you might want to take the few extra minutes and track all of that stuff though. 

Deploying and obstacle placement can be the toughest thing to convey to a remote player. I say "can" be, because it really just depends on the player. If you plunk down all your ships Range 2 away from your board edge and Range 2 from each other, it's really not going to be that tough, but if you're turning your Falcon's big base about 30 degrees towards the center of the table, measuring that distance in such a way that you can explain it so your opponent can replicate the orientation and everything can be difficult. Obstacles are especially problematic for the same reasons, but again, if you're just playing to have fun and don't really mind, you can always just measure to the bulk of the obstacle and say that over your mic. 

If none of that sounds that appealing, you need something besides range rules and yeah, probably even a tape measure, to try and convey your bearing and location information. We decided to get some starfield maps printed up with a grid on them. This helped tremendously. Now you could say stuff like, "Ok, I'm kinda between J and K, and 12 and 13. Oh, you know what? Actually, my shield valve on the cardboard base is like right on the intersection of K and 12 and I'm kinda hanging over into J and 13." You wouldn't believe what a difference having a grid makes. Obviously, as is the case with any grid, the smaller the squares, the better the resolution, which will give you more accuracy. 

So that's how we do deployment and obstacle placement. Well, that's how we did obstacle placement for awhile. Truth is, it was still a friggin' nightmare even with the coordinate system because the asteroids aren't like, inherently easy to describe. We got around that by me taking some pictures of the asteroids on my table and uploading them to my G+ account, which I then shared. Before the game, we'd say which of the four pictures we'd use for the asteroid layout and we'd all set up to that pic. Sure, asteroid placement can be an important strategic part of X-Wing, but we decided to make a concession in the interest of the game setup not taking forever. An alternative would be to place the asteroids then show it with your webcam so your buddy can get it right. 

Once you've got everything set up, the whole thing is pretty well downhill from there. 

You play your turns just like you would regular X-Wing Miniatures although you don't have to turn your dials face down of course (although I still do out of habit, which is kinda hilarious when you think about it especially when you take into account I did that for MONTHS before I realized it). When you move your ship, you say what maneuver you pulled and while you grab your template and move your ship, your opponent picks up his template and moves his proxy of your ship on his table, just like in a remote Chess game. 

Barrel Rolls are about the only kind of movement that can be kind of tricky because even though you use the 1 Straight, you can place it anywhere along the side of your base. If you're lining up the template with your leading or trailing edge, that's easy enough to describe. If not, we often just make the move then instead of trying to describe where the template aligned, we just describe the final location of the base using the grid coordinates. 

I'd say the things that trip us up the most are maneuvers in the wrong direction/ speed and collisions. Moving back along the template for a collision can be hard to do just like Barrel Rolls. Also like Barrel Rolls, we usually forget about trying to actually replicate the move remotely and instead just try to communicate where the ship ends up. Calling stuff out wrong is probably a by-product of us playing so late at night and being tired or just flat out getting it backwards because your ship is facing you instead of away from you like usual. Either way, it usually crops up when you're left wondering how in the heck that ship could possibly be outside your firing arc and after discussion you realize on your opponent's table, the ship is like Range 3 away and going in the opposite direction. Generally, the owning player has the final say on where his ships are when we play. Sometimes that happens because I said, "Left bank three" when I meant right bank three or maybe even left turn three, sometimes the other guy picks up the wrong template. In any case, we've found it's a good idea to stop every three turns or so and just call out where all the ships are on your table. 

Combat and stuff works exactly the same as in-person X-Wing. You call out your target, measure to see if it's in range, and if so, you roll your dice. Obviously there's a huge opportunity for cheating here. If you don't trust the guys you play with, you can always roll on your phone with the Dice App or you can point the camera at the table while you roll. Thankfully, that's unnecessary for playing with Ben and Sean. Or at least I think it is. Heeeey, what a minute...

Keeping track of critical damage can be hard to remember, and laying down cards from your own damage deck on your opponent's ships can affect outcome, so I usually just mark the ship on the map with the crit token and periodically ask what damage the ship has if I can't remember. Of course, you probably own more than one copy of the starter set, so you could always put that extra damage deck to good use as an alternative. I do the same thing with Actions too- I go ahead and place the token by my opponent's ship, and because I'm sometimes terrible at remembering my own, I place them by my own ships still as well too. 

Teh Ends.
This is probably the part where many of you are halfway into your email or comment about VASSAL. Let me just say, VASSAL is a perfectly fine product and I have no problem with it whatsoever, it just isn't for me. I'm not mad at you if you love VASSAL, I don't hate VASSAL, I just like to play my miniatures games with actual miniatures. That's all. Don't read into it more than what it is. It's just not my cup of tea. So save it. I'm not saying I'll never play via VASSAL, I very well may at some point as I'd like to check out one of those Team Covenant tournaments sometime. 

That's pretty much it, y'all. Like I said, there's no fancy way to do it, and yeah, unquestionably it's more work than a normal game. There are ways to make it easier, but you still kinda have to want to do it for it to be worthwhile. A grid map, some preset asteroid pics, and the ability to describe where stuff is on the table make the whole experience much faster and easier. Oh, and a large collection of ships doesn't hurt either. And an opponent you know and at least halfway trust. 

Good luck, and if you play this way sometime, let me know how it goes for you. Hell, who knows- maybe when things slow down a bit at work for me we'll try to start up some kind of Hangouts league or something. That might be fun, huh? To get to play with some of y'all? Might be cool! 

12 November 2013

Crew Members- Saboteur

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n 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.

Saboteur (2)
Card Text: Choose 1 enemy ship at Range 1 and roll 1 attack die. On a <filled explosion symbol> or <unfilled explosion symbol>, choose 1 random facedown Damage card assigned to that ship, flip it faceup, and resolve it.

Usage in game: Crit assignment outside of the Combat Phase. Also LOLs.
Action?: Yes
Breakdown: If ever there was a card in X-Wing Miniatures that made me want to affect a terrible French accent and twirl an invisible mustache with my finger tips, it's Saboteur.

For a measly two points, you have a 50% (there are four damaging faces on an Attack die- 3 filled explosion symbols and one unfilled) chance of turning somebody's hull damage into a critical so long as they're within Range 1. In the immortal words of that redheaded kid from Harry Potter, "That's bloody brilliant."

Think about this for a second- it may be because it's really late or it may be because my mind races with possibility while I think about this card, but in any case, there are some really interesting things to note about this particular Crew Upgrade that I'll now describe in a fairly stream-of-consciousness, rather unorganized fashion.

Note that unlike pretty much every other friggin' Crew Member card, this thing is an Action. That means for once, you're kind of almost better off sticking it on a low PS pilot. Also bear in mind that you'll have the chance to move into Range 1 with your target ship and trigger this business before a higher skilled enemy pilot has the opportunity to move away from you. That's pretty sweet. Just remember not to crash into stuff or otherwise cheat yourself out of your Perform Action step or it'll be kind of a waste. That kinda dovetails nicely with using it on a low PS pilot, assuming you can avoid hitting rocks of course, huh?

Also note this thing resolves in the Activation Phase. You have the potential to really ruin somebody's day with this card. As mentioned in the FAQ article, if you manage to flip up a damage card with a Stressful effect (Damaged Engine, Thrust Control Fire, etc.) and your opponent has selected a red maneuver, and hey- if he thought you were going to move into Range 1 of him, he very well may have done just that, you're going to finally get to bust out that "drive the other guy's ship" rule that nobody ever gets to use. Not only that, you might flip Munitions Failure (discard a secondary weapon), Weapons Malfunction (reduce primary attack by 1), Damaged Sensor Array (can't pick Actions from the Action Bar), or a host of other crappy, strategy ruining other cards.

I've talked ad nauseum on here about how important it is to inflict Critical Damage to neuter the capabilities of big ships. This card makes it that much easier to do. True, it still doesn't work on a Chewie Falcon, but on everyone else, it's totally going to suck for them if you can manage to get it off.

EDIT: After some of the Bikini Aficionados commented on the verbiage present on the Chewbacca Falcon pilot card, I'm inclined to agree with them that Saboteur does in fact manage to stick Chewie with a critical (if it goes off successfully, of course). Reason being? Chewie's card says, "When you are dealt a faceup damage card...", and Saboteur doesn't actually deal the damage card- it just flips over an already dealt card. This'll probably get FAQed when Wave 4 comes out, but until then, I'm quite comfortable flipping over a damage card if somebody Sabotages my Chewie Falcon.

Speaking of which, what ships should be packing a Saboteur?

As is usually the case, a YT-1300 is a great choice- two seats of which only one is usually occupied makes Saboteur a small sacrifice, a big base makes getting into Range 1 that much simpler, and the 360 degree firing arc means you don't have to worry about which way you're pointing when you do get into Range 1. If you've been on the fence about how to roll an Outer Rim Smuggler, this just could be your answer.

The card comes with the HWK-290, but I'm not 100% behind the idea of putting him in there. I'm not saying it's a terrible idea, just that I'm not completely sold on the notion. On the one hand, lots of folks roll a cheap HWK as some sort of support, and not really combat capable. This can lead to your opponent just ignoring the ship entirely unless you're just absolutely master-class at making that whole support thing actually work. Putting a Saboteur in there lets you not only support your allied ships with Garnet, Katarn, or Ors card text, but also lets you put a pretty good dent in any enemy ship that happens to wander too closely to you. I also like the idea because it makes the setup much harder to outright ignore, especially when you're playing against low-count, high cost Imperial lists.

On the other hand though, the HWK-290 has a terrible dial, which assuming your opponent is about the same skill level as you, makes the idea of trying to actually get within Range 1 of him relatively difficult. It also has the small base which doesn't help, and the fact that we're using an Action to fire this thing off can make for some tough decision making if you're trying to fly to live with the light shields and aforementioned crap dial.

A Firespray can make good use of a Saboteur, but I think there are other better crew options for the named Firespray pilots. As previously mentioned, Navigator with Fett is just nasty, Scarlet has Gunner or Mercenary Copilot, Trelix the same. If there were two seats in a Firespray or some way of adding another Crew Member via some Modification or something, I'd absolutely recommend it for Fett in an instant, but there isn't so I won't. On a Bounty Hunter that you've tooled for more closeup work though? Sure, why not? Much like the Outer Rim Smuggler, if you've been looking for some way to throw one of those on the table and not be staggeringly vanilla or cheap about it, it'd be worth a go- big base, great maneuver dial, why not?

The Lambda falls somewhere in between Firespray and HWK-290 for me. It's a safer bet because of the two seats and big base, but you've got an even worse dial which makes getting into Range 1 theoretically tougher, but less reliance on Actions just to survive, so I think it comes out slightly ahead. Again, I think you go with Saboteur on a low PS flavor of Shuttle pilot like the Omicron or possibly Yorr (YOOOORRRRRR!) although me personally, I'd probably just stick with Omicron in a kind of suicide boat setup where I'm basically just going to make for the center of the board and hope for the best. And yes, pairing Saboteur up with Darth Vader is particularly bad form and I 100% stand behind the spoil-sporting nature of that idea as absolutely hilarious until it is done to me at which point I'll probably write some whiny post about this game is becoming too win-at-all-costs these days.

All that being said, you can make a case for sticking this on a high Pilot Skill pilot if you're good at maneuvering or guessing your opponent's maneuvers. Any pilot who can take Elite Pilot Skills and drive a crew worthy ship could make pretty amazing use of this card as perhaps the best thing about it (critical damage allocation outside the Combat Phase) still happens. True, your opponent will have probably already performed his maneuver and declared his Action, but it's still only two points with a pretty decent chance of affecting if not wrecking their Combat Phase.

It's also cool because there are those damage cards that say, "Action: roll a die and on a something result, flip this card face down." If you stick them with Saboteur after their Perform Action step because you've gone against the grain and used this on a high PS pilot, they have to live with that effect during the subsequent Combat Phase before they can get rid of it.

I think most folks will probably opt for more sure-thing type upgrades on those ships though and leave the chancy stuff like Saboteur to the lower PS guys though.

11 November 2013

Half a Mil? Holy Mackerel!

So a couple of things- 

First, apologies once again for my infrequent posting lately. We're going through a new product launch at work and I've been working six days a week for the past month and a half. While that kind of workload wasn't entirely uncommon in my last position, I had a lot more downtime during the days than what I do now, so it wasn't impossible to keep the site going. It kind of has been lately. Good news is this thing launches a week from today, so one way or another, I ought to have a little more free time in the pretty near future. Hopefully. 

Also factoring into this infrequency was one of our dachshunds passing on us very unexpectedly two weeks ago today. You know those people who dress their dogs up because they don't have kids? Well, that was the wife and me up until three years ago. Me and that dog were tight, and after he died, I just couldn't go to the place in my head I need to get to for TheMetalBikini.com articles. Still kinda bummed out, but like with everything, each day it gets a little easier. 

Lastly, it seems like the Blogger scheduler deal I've always used is messed up. The past two posts I've made have not gone up at 4am like old times. Maybe I've got some kind of settings conflict, I don't know. In any case, going forward, my updates might not always be up at 4am for a bit. I will definitely try to get it back to that, but I'm not guaranteeing anything for the near future. If any of y'all know anything about this, by all means- email a brotha.  

So half a million page views in less than a year for my little 'ol website. Crazy, innit? Thanks again to all of y'all for your continued support.