28 February 2013

New toys!!!

Wheeee! One of my FLGS started selling Wave 2 stuff today!

(Holding off on the Falcon & Slave I as my birthday is Sunday- yes I'm going to be 39 & I'm still getting Star Wars toys for my birthday.)

Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained!

I was playing a game last night with my friend Sean over Google Hangout and as it was his first game of X-Wing Miniatures, naturally, he had a few questions. 

One of the questions that cropped up had to do with Squad Leader, what Action could be declared with the Squad Leader Action and then, subsequently, what Action could be declared with the Pilot's native Action- namely, could those two Actions be the same? Or what about Vader and his dual Actions pilot ability? Could Vader declare the same Action twice?

As this is something I used to get wrong, I'm kind of sensitive to it, so I thought I'd take a moment to talk about it here because it is a little convoluted. 

I find it's easier to use examples when talking about this stuff, but don't let it confuse you- even though I'm talking about Focus, the same would apply for any Action (and yeah, you could sub Target Lock throughout the following example and use Dutch Vander instead of Garven Dreis). 

Note also that a Free Action is defined by the rulebook as an Action that doesn't count against the one Action per Activation Phase rule. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less (top of page 8). 

First Example- 
Luke Skywalker has executed a maneuver and follows up with a Focus Action, completing his Activation Phase. Later, Wedge Antilles who has been upgraded with the Squad Leader Elite Pilot Skill, elects to give Luke a Free Action (per the Squad Leader card) from his Action bar. Can Luke select Focus again? 

In this example, no. Luke couldn't take Focus a second time because the rules explicitly state the same Action may not be taken twice in the same turn (Rulebook, bottom of page 9). 

Second Example- 
Luke Skywalker possesses a Focus token from his Activation phase when he declared Focus as his Action. As the game progresses through the Combat Phase, Luke still possesses his Focus after firing on another ship. Later in the same Combat Phase, nearby Garven Dreis uses a Focus token to modify his To Hit roll. Dreis has a special rule that allows him to pass the Focus token along rather than discard it. He elects to pass it to Luke Skywalker. Can Luke use both Focus tokens in this Combat Phase? 

Yes, in this example, this is totally cool. The reason? Luke has not declared the same Action twice- he has simply received a Focus token from Dreis. He then has two Focus tokens to help him fend off any attacks for the rest of that round.  

The key to understanding this is realizing where people get hung up- namely that the acquiring of a token and the spending of a token are not actually Actions, but the result of the Action.

Declaring an Action is the most common way of acquiring a token, but they're not the same thing. In other words, declaring a Focus Action gets you a Focus token, but just because you have a Focus token doesn't necessarily mean you declared a Focus Action. 

So long story long, if you're the beneficiary of a specific Action token from a special ability, maneuver, upgrade, etc., it doesn't matter what Action you declared back in your Activation phase and it doesn't matter what tokens you currently possess- you're good.

If however, you're the beneficiary of an additional Action, it does matter because you're declaring an Action and you can't declare the same Action twice in the same turn. 

Ya dig? 

Elite Pilot Skills- Expose

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Expose (4)
Card Text: Until the end of the round, increase your primary weapon value by 1 and decrease your agility value by 1.
Usage in game: When your primary attack value just isn't enough.
Action?: Yes.

Breakdown: Expose is one of those cards people have been talking about since the Kessel Run Tournaments were held and we started getting glimpses of Wave 2 cards, and with good reason. It's a pretty nasty Action, that really any ship that can take Elite Pilot Skills can theoretically make good use of, after all, who couldn't use a +1 to their primary weapon value?

To me, the question of Expose boils down more to who does it work even better with because it works pretty well with anyone. The reason it is so universally great is it has a rather significant downside- the whole sacrifice 1 agility thing, meaning of course, you're rolling one less green die when you're fired upon. You also need to keep in mind that this is Elite Pilot Skill that requires an Action, so it's kind of two downsides really.

I can see this card becoming one of those, "I find such-and-such a bit underwhelming" kind of things with a lot of players, but folks who know how to move and maneuver will absolutely punish people with this card. The main way to mitigate that 1 less Agility downside? Yup- you guessed it, don't give your opponent a shot back at you. Perhaps fly the bearer of Expose out on a flank on somebody with a high PR so you kill the one guy who can shoot you back then move on down the line? Hmmm?

So who should you put it on? As it requires an Action (and you might not be able to Focus or TL as a result), I want to look at anybody who already has a buff to their primary attacks as with some careful maneuvering, you can hopefully kill off whoever would get a shot back before they have a chance to fire. So a guy like Wedge benefits like mad. A guy like Solo benefits to a nearly disgusting amount- you just need to find a way to mitigate the downside (Biggs, a nearby ship with Squad Leader that could throw an extra Action which would ideally become an Evade if you took the Falcon title, Chewie as a Crew member, Shield Upgrade, or a nearby friend with Draw Their Fire spring to mind as possibilities of varying degrees of validity). Other Rebel pilots benefit too, but again, everyone benefits on paper with Expose- I'm just calling out those two because they go from already powerful offense to really kind of ridiculous. Luke is the third person on here as his Focus-lite defense ability sort of mitigates the downside of the Expose and functions without an Action. An A-Wing isn't bad either as they have a 3 Agility stock and a couple of shields to boot, and Tycho Celchu can even do a K-Turn then use Expose with his pilot ability. That shouldn't be underestimated by anyone. It ain't cheap, but oh boy, if you opponent likes to fly his ships in a line and you sandwich him in between with Tycho as one piece of bread and the rest of your stuff as the other? Wow.

For the Imperials who have a defend die to spare in just about all cases and still come out fairly even except at close range, it's a similar line of thinking. Throw it on a guy with high PR who already does more damage, or somebody who is usually operating in a Swarm Tactics bubble that gives him an unusually high PR. Mauler Mithel gets pretty ridiculous too if you can get him in Range 1 to a target, of course Vader can deal with the loss of a Defend die with his two stock actions and shields to boot, and Maarek starts to approach dangerous with this card, but doesn't quite make it. I also like it with Kath Scarlet as it let's her roll another die to try and score a crit. You could stick it on the TIE Interceptor pilots, because of their superior available maneuvers just like you could stick it on a Black Squadron TIE, but other than that, there's no real synergy to speak of like you get with some of the other pilots already mentioned.

The thing to bear in mind here is it's 4 points. That's kind of not cheap in this game. I realize it's tempting to stick this on every ship that can take an Elite Pilot Skill, but to get your points worth, you want to use Expose at least a couple of times in your game, so try and stick it on somebody who will either really make the shot count and can live with the downside as they don't live and die by Focusing, Target Locking, or any other Action. Anything fair to middlin' ought not to be considered if you ask me.

27 February 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Elusiveness

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Elusiveness (2)
Card Text: When defending, you may receive 1 stress token to choose 1 attack die. The attacker must reroll that die. If you have at least one stress token, you cannot use this ability.
Usage in game: When you just have to get rid of a particular die result.
Action?: No.

Breakdown: I think Elusiveness is one of the more interesting upgrade cards of Wave 2. Although folks have definitely noticed that there are some builds, especially some Han Solo builds, that generate hits at a staggering rate, what might be equally interesting are some combos with Wave 1 and Wave 2 stuff that yield ships that are ridiculously hard to hit.

So Elusiveness just forces a re-roll, it doesn't flat out negate or mitigate, what's the big deal? First thing that jumps out at me is it's one of those, "When defending..." type cards. It's not an Action, it's solely up to you when it triggers, which is handy as you could conceivably take a hit or two from a primary weapon if you were out of shields, but if you see a crit coming down the road from a Heavy Laser Cannon or there's an A-Wing lurking nearby with Homing Missiles and Deadeye or something, you could hang onto it apply it then. Again, it's not a sure-fire way to get out of a hit or a crit, but for only two points and the fact that you can apply it to any attack die result, it ain't half bad.

The downside is generating a stress token for yourself, but look at when you're generating that token- the combat phase. You've already declared your Action for that turn, so as long as you pull a green maneuver in your next movement phase, you're not really incurring any penalty for using this card.

I think the key to using Elusiveness to its full potential will be to apply it to someone who is already difficult to land hits against for some reason or another. I don't think it's quite reliable enough to just tack onto just anybody and feel like you're definitely in better shape than you were before, but paired with somebody who's already a hard target? Especially someone who maybe doesn't have a no-brainer Elite Pilot Skill already associated to them?

Take for example Darth Vader. Two actions per round, one of which is an Evade. Stick Elusiveness on him and if you're Focusing as well, you've got the Focus to try and mitigate hit dice, you've got the Evade token to burn, and now you've got Elusiveness to re-roll whatever might have made it through all that. As early Wave 2 meta seems to be placing a premium on higher-point individuals rather than lower-point swarms, this would fit in nicely with most any Imperial list. If you really want to make things interesting, stick a Stealth Device on him as well. It could work on the named Interceptor pilot Turr Phennir with his boosting out of the way after an attack business too.

I'll tell you who I think could conceivably make the most use of this though, and that's Luke Skywalker. Dig this combo for a moment-

(37) Luke Skywalker + Elusiveness + R2-F2 + Shield Upgrade

Could anybody reliably kill that? You've got Luke's built-in Focus-lite ability, amplified by R2-F2 or just an actual Focus. For the hits that still land, you can force the opponent to re-roll one of them, then if it still make it through all that, you've got an extra shield. Holy mackerel. Or if you feel that's overkill, maybe shave a point and trade in Shield Upgrade for Stealth, or perhaps just leave the ship mod off entirely and save the points. Of course, with that many points you're likely locked into a strictly starfighter force, but hey, you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet, right? Oh, and I know, I already hear it- "Oh, but he's got no offense." Fool-, he still flying an X-Wing, man.

Still though, much like our discussion on Y-Wings being inherently better to take R5 Astromechs than X-Wings because they have more hull and will likely be cruising around with crits longer, YT-1300s and Firesprays would make great use of this card too for the simple fact that they have more hull and shields, and are therefore more likely to stay alive long enough to use this upgrade a bunch of times. It doesn't mesh up particularly well with any of the pilots of these ships, but if I were coming in at 97 or 98 points and hadn't stuck on an Elite Pilot Skill, I'd consider it if I'd had trouble keeping one of those big ships alive the past few games. I still believe in general one should exploit that huge base on an area buff type EPS, but again- it'd depend on my recent experiences with the ship more than anything. I'd probably consider Nein Nunb a must if I were sticking it on a YT-1300 to give myself as much maneuverability as possible when trying to shake that stress token too. Which if you're going there, you might as well give Lando a pretty hard look as he's throwing around Focuses when he does green maneuvers, which he'll have more to choose from with Nunb as Crew, bleeding off stress tokens.

My New X-Wing Mat

Part of the appeal of miniatures games for me is it's one of the few activities I get to participate in on a somewhat regular basis that doesn't involve a computer. Now, obviously, I've got no problem with computers per se, I've spent the better part of my professional life making a living with them one way or another, but sometimes it's nice to back away from the keyboard and the glow of the monitor for awhile. 

I've passed that on, at least partially, to a long time friend of mine and fellow Star Wars nut named Ben. After hearing me go on and on about how awesome X-Wing Miniatures is, he took the plunge back around Christmas and picked up some ships. I posited that it would be possible, as so much of the game is nailed down by templates, that the game could be played in kind of a remote chessboard style setup via Google Hangout. Once he had some minis of his own, we decided to give it a whirl. 

It worked well enough, holding our dice apps up to our webcams and pointing the cameras at the tables when we differed on positions of ships, but there were definitely a few kinks- it was hard to convey over Hangout where your ships ended up after a Barrel Roll. It was also hard to convey the location of the irregular shaped asteroids at the start of the game. To be completely honest, many of the games we played via Hangout, we didn't even use asteroids. It was just too much of a pain in the ass. 

At some point, one of us suggested (him, I think) that if we played on a grid, we could nail down some of these variables and tighten up the tolerance between our boards, so to speak. I recalled a thread on the FFG X-Wing Forums where people were having gaming mats made with custom graphics, and the idea suddenly became completely feasible. 

I'm sure there are better ways to generate an image with a grid overlay, but if you're curious as to how I did it exactly, I'm lucky enough to use AutoCAD at my work. I drew up a large grid precisely spaced with letters on one axis and numbers on the other. As I couldn't really control the output directly not being the person actually printing the final product and knowing the mat printer probably wouldn't be able to do anything with an AutoCAD drawing natively, I just made sure that I had a lot of squares on there- it didn't really matter that they were any particular size, just that they were all 100% equal. Again, I'm sure there's probably some simple way to do this in Photoshop or something, but I've never had any formal training with Photoshop, and no real experience to speak of, whereas with AutoCAD, I've got about 10 years of experience and a working copy accessible to me at work on my desktop. 

After I had my perfect little grid, I stopped by HubbleSite.org and found a suitably cool looking image for the background, pulled that image into AutoCAD, and set my grid on top of it, cropping it to be as square as possible. 

This is where things got a little more tricky, but long story short, in order to upload to the mat printer's website, I had to generate an image. I had trouble getting AutoCAD to export my drawing as an image file, so I had to resort to exporting as a PDF, then taking a screenshot, and cropping the screenshot down into a square image which I could then upload. I invoked some pixelation, but it's not horrible and the grid is still true which is the main thing, really. 

After just a few days, the box with our X-Wing mats arrived in the mail, neatly rolled, in a square box. I opened it up and unrolled the mat to see how things looked. I'm pretty happy with the results. 

The site I ordered from, BannersOnTheCheap.com, adds a white border to your image by default, which finishes it off rather nicely if you ask me. 

I ordered a 3' x 3' mat, regulation X-Wing size. When I saw that border, the first thing that went through my mind was, "So, how wide is this thing?" I broke out the tape measure and found that my image itself is 3' x 3', the border is additional to the size. Whew!

Letter axis

Number axis

Edge to edge length

All in all I'm pleased with the result. With shipping, the mats ended up being about $17 a piece. All told, I ordered three mats total, one for myself, one for Ben, and one for another old friend of mine who also doesn't live where I live just learning the game named Sean, so your mileage may vary on the final price based on how they calculate shipping. In any case, it's not terribly expensive and the product is nice. 

The vinyl itself is fairly thin, fairly heavy, but also pliable. The best way I can describe it, having no real frame of reference for describing vinyl sheeting, is think of a vinyl tablecloth in a restaurant like Pizza Hut back in the day. It's kinda like that. 

From what I understand, you can have another image printed on the backside. I honestly don't remember if I just skimmed over that part or if it added to the cost and I wasn't interested. Recall that I didn't really know exactly how clear this image was going to come out. 

So there ya go. Want to play X-Wing with a buddy who no longer lives in your neck of the woods? If you've both got decent sized collections of ships, consider giving it a go over Google Hangout sometime. It's good times!

Lastly, yes, I'm aware of Vassal. I'm not a fan, to be honest. I have nothing against it, it just isn't for me. I like my miniatures games to involve actual miniatures. Again- not hating on it, just not interested in it. 

26 February 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Veteran Instincts

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Veteran Instincts (1)
Card Text: Increase your Pilot Skill value by 2
Usage in game: Functions as advertised- move later, shoot earlier by boosting your PR by 2.
Action?: No.

Breakdown: I'll be the first to admit that I don't read every single X-Wing Miniatures forum or website out there, but I don't see many people talking about Veteran Instincts at all. It's all Expose this and Push The Limit that. I don't know that I've seen anyone really discussing Veteran Instincts. If I did, well, it obviously didn't make much of an impression.

That said, I can see why. It's a subtle, little 1 point card that you're most likely thinking to yourself, "So it buffs your PR by 2. Big deal. Most of the pilots who can take Elite Pilot Skills already have formidable PR ratings", right? So why would you get excited over a card like this, even if it only costs 1 point?

As usual, let's do some process of elimination here and first talk about what pilots we don't want to buy Veteran Instincts for and see if anyone's left standing at the end.

First and foremost, anybody who generally utilizes Swarm Tactics is off the list. So no Luke, no Howlrunner, etc. Gone also are the guys who can make use of several different Elite Pilot Talents depending on what fits your style- I'm talking about Wedge Antilles and Vader primarily here. We said yesterday that Draw Their Fire fits in nicely with Chewbacca, so he's gone as well.

On the Rebel side, all we've got left is Wave 2 stuff (which at the time of this posting, I haven't covered yet, but looking ahead). Solo already has a PR of 9 and a very offensive ability that can be further buffed by other Elite Pilot Skills like Marksmanship, so I'm not nuts about putting VI on him. Tycho Celchu, the A-Wing pilot, seems to have had Daredevil custom made with him in mind, and as he's already PR 8, I'm not really feeling it for him either. The Green Squadron A-Wing can take Elite Pilot Skills, but fall in kind of a PR no-man's land of 3. It's only a point, but I don't see the point (pun intended) of giving them a 5 PR. Early projections have them being great candidates for other Elite Pilot Skills like Deadeye, Daredevil, or Push The Limit depending on the role you plan on them taking for you on the table and the amount of A-Wings/ other ships you plan on fielding in your list.

So who have I left out on the Rebel side?

Lando has a Dreis-like Focus buff with a range of Range 1, but it's linked to a green maneuver rather than spending, so giving him Veteran Instincts would delay the gifting of this Focus token to another ship, which in this instance is useful as it'd be quite late in the movement phase now that Lando's stock PR has been boosted from 7 to 9, so ostensibly you could give it to the ship needing it the most. Lando also strikes me as one of those pilots that doesn't have a particular Elite Pilot Skill that works well with him; or to put it another way, has several available that are all sort of useful, but nothing just jumping out saying, "Pick me! Pick me!" like the nerdy kid in class that knows the answer to the teacher's question.

On the gearhead side of the fence, Mithel's a possibility as him shooting at the same PR as Wedge is scary to me as a primarily Rebel player. He's also one of those guys I don't usually give an Elite Pilot Skill to as none of them are flat-out obviously for him; you could always have a Black Squadron TIE take over his Swarm Tactics relay duty if you roll him like that. Speaking of which, what about a Black Squadron TIE? It'd kick them up to a PR of 6, which kind of isn't bad as they'd fire before any X-Wing except Luke and Wedge, and tie him with Garven Dreis. Not terrible for a 15 point TIE Fighter (total points, of course). 

I think the main benefit here would be having an extra ship firing at that PR. If your usual Rebel opponent takes the usual compliment of Rebel stuff, he's probably got a ship or two firing at PR 8 or 9, then everyone else going at 2 or 4, with possibly one ship at around 5 or 6. Most Wave 1 Imp players have anywhere from 1 to 3 ships firing at PR 8 or 9, then maybe one or two at 5 to 7, then the rest firing at 4 or less. In other words, Imperials usually have the top and bottom of the shooting phase with Rebels going in the middle. Shifting one of those ships from the bottom of the pile to the middle could be fairly significant especially if you have nothing else in mind for that Black Squadron TIE as far as Elite Pilot Skills.

To put it another way, as an Imperial player, do you ever wish you could get Biggs out of the way a little slower? Yeah. Didn't think so.

As for Wave 2, like the Rebels, most of the Wave 2 stuff has other Elite Pilot Skills that are probably better suited for use. Fett's high PR and gigantic base making his Range 1 that much larger, should look at Swarm Tactics pretty hard. Of the Firespray pilots though, Kath Scarlet jumps out at me as being a big beneficiary of VI. First, it pumps her PR to a formidable 9. Secondly, it lets her put those Stress tokens on somebody early which gives the ships accompanying her more time to prioritize targets later in the turn and well, helps to ensure she's still around to put those tokens on somebody.

Soontir Fel, the TIE Interceptor pilot, dovetails so nicely with Daredevil it's sorta disgusting, so I wouldn't think of giving him anything else. but Turr Phennir has some potential as a VI candidate. He would boost up to a PR9, and as his special ability let's him perform a Boost or Barrel Roll after he attacks, why wouldn't you want to do it earlier rather than later? Saber Squadron Pilots wouldn't be stupid for thinking they ought to consider VI as they're probably roamers or at most, in a group of 2 with another TIE Interceptor. Obviously, if their wingman is somebody cool possessing Swarm Tactics, this probably isn't the Elite Pilot Skill they're looking for, but if it's just the Saber and another Saber or an Avenger, it just might be.

So who's left at this point? Poor old Maarek Stele. Is this the card that finally makes him work? Nah, probably not. It makes him more effective, sure, but again, for only one more point you've got yourself a Vader who is PR 9 without having to use his Elite Pilot Skill on VI.

I'ma keep lookin' for you though, Maarek. I'ma keep lookin'.

25 February 2013

Elite Pilot Skills- Draw Their Fire

This post regarding Elite Pilot Skills is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 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 "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Draw Their Fire (1)
Card Text: When a friendly ship at Range 1 is hit by an attack, you may suffer 1 of the uncancelled <critical damage symbol> results of the target ship.
Usage in game: Critical damage placement mitigation
Action?: No.

Breakdown: First, and perhaps most importantly, note the word may in there. You don't have to use this card when the triggers for it are satisfied; it's solely up to you when Draw Your Fire comes into play.

The usage of this card is pretty straightforward- if you have a ship with a crit assigned to it, you can pass it to the ship bearing Draw Their Fire, so long as the ship with DTF is within Range 1 of that ship.

That in mind, let's look at what ships would benefit from carrying this upgrade.

First, recall that a hit and a crit both have the same effect against ship shields- they're both just hits in that context. In my mind, this is the main mechanism of decision making when it comes to choosing whether or not to utilize Draw Their Fire or just let the original target take the hit- if the target has a shield to spare and is unlikely to get hammered on by other ships in the vicinity, let them take it. If not, take it on the DTF ship (assuming of course it has shields and isn't likely to get hammered on either). The only other criteria I'd look at in this selection process is if Kath Scarlett was the attacker. She has a special ability that turns cancelled Critical Damages into Stress. It's too early to tell obviously, but if she sees heavy use post Wave 2, that definitely does limit the effectiveness of this upgrade.

So the ideal application would be to use this on a ship with a lot of shields and hull by default.  

Looking at it from a Rebel player perspective, I'm not really interested in considering an A-Wing though it is possible. A Y-Wing would be nice, but none of the Y-Wing pilots can use Elite Pilot Talents so the're out too. For a surprise, you could stick it on an X-Wing with Shield Upgrade and/ or a damage mitigation droid like R5 Astromech or R2-D2 perhaps, but again- this isn't a ship upgrade, this is an Elite Pilot Skill, so you're really only looking at Luke or Wedge who could take this and frankly, I feel as though there are other, better Elite Pilot Skills to give both of those guys, so like the A-Wing, it's an option, just not a particularly useful one comparitively. Long story long, a Rebel player is likely left with the YT-1300 being the candidate.

That in mind, what are some good YT-1300 pilots or upgrades that make this Elite Pilot Skill work better or help to mitigate the effect? Well, Chewie has the ability to turn a Critical Damage into a facedown Damage card without resolving the ability, so that's a pretty nice instance of synergy right there. Not only does the original recipient of the crit get away clean, the Chewie Falcon with DTF only gets a facedown Damage, worst case scenario. Not bad at all. Lando and Han have less inherent synergy with this card, and again, there are probably better Elite Pilot Skills for both of those guys, but with the amount of shields and hull a YT-1300 possesses, you could still make use of this card. You're likely to have already added Shield Upgrade and or Engine Upgrade anyway and both of those help to increase the effectiveness of Draw Their Fire.

I think rolling a Chewie Falcon with Draw Their Fire would be a great way to help an ship using Expose, another Wave 2 Elite Pilot Skill card, stay alive. That's kind of the thing that jumps out at me, but obviously it'd work well with any pilot you need to survive because of some bigger picture reason like the ability to push Swarm Tactics, for example. In it's usage, using DTF is sorta, kinda like a Biggs you can turn off as you need to. Obviously it's not always in play the way Biggs is, but being able to kick it on when you need to makes it more valuable in my book. An opponent can key on Biggs and know that he's going to take all the hits, then he's out. With this kind of DTF setup, he can't really do that as you may or may not elect to take that crit. It also neuters the effectiveness of Winged Gundark, which is kind of unfortunate as he was fair to middlin' to begin with.

On the Imperial side of the fence, nothing jumps out at me as particularly synergistic with DTF. That doesn't make it useless for Imperials, just not quite as effective as it plays for Chewie.

Picking ships that are good candidates for DTF is much like the Rebel selection process we went through earlier, but much shorter as half of the Imperial ships don't have shields to eat up the crits, I wouldn't consider sticking DTF on anybody without at least some shields, so that drastically speeds up the selection process here. We could talk about sticking it on a Black Squadron TIE with the aim of making it kind of a 14 point sin eater, but like the A-Wing, I'm not nuts over the idea.

Darth Vader I think you could make a case for DTF. Now, hear me out! As I said in the Vader article, Vader's bloody hard to kill for the reasons discussed uh, well, in... that ... article. As such, can he take a hit once in awhile to keep somebody important like Howlrunner or Turr Phennir from taking a crit? Sure. If he can pull it into his shields especially, it's not a big deal because let's be honest- he's probably not getting shot anyway with his ability to both Evade and Focus every turn. Am I saying I'm in love with the idea and it's a no-brainer selection? No. Can I see a dedicated player working it out with some practice? Sure, I can.

Boba Fett has his sneaky movement ability kind of works here as you could fool an opponent into thinking he's not close enough to use DTF and subsequently trigger it anyway, but honestly that's stretching an application pretty thin. Truthfully, I think any of the Firespray pilots who can take Elite Pilot Skills will probably have as much luck tanking it up with DTF as Fett would, and Fett would probably be better served with an Elite Pilot skill like Deadeye or Swarm Tactics. Really though, the Empire stuff just screams offense to me from every angle and as Wave 2 ships seem no different, I'd suggest leaving this card at home if you're a dedicated Imperial player.

23 February 2013

Wave 2 Articles Starting Monday, 25 Feb 13

With the Wave 2 Release announcement from FFG earlier in the week, I pushed up the schedule on my Wave 2 Listbuilding Articles from where I'd kind of originally penciled it in (uhhh.... later?).

Similar in style, content, and length to my Wave 1 Listbuilding articles, I'll be covering all of the Wave 2 Elite Pilot Skills, Modifications, Secondary Weapon Systems, Pilots, Crew Members, and everything else in the coming weeks!  

Like with Wave 1, with some of the shorter articles, I'll post multiples in the same day, but I guarantee you'll get at least one Wave 2 listbuilding article per day until we're through them. 

Articles will start showing up on Monday, 25 Feb 13 early in the A.M as always. 

See you then!

22 February 2013

X-Wing Miniatures Game Storage

A topic that comes up fairly regularly on the FFG forums is how one stores his X-Wing Miniatures game. To my knowledge, there's really only one company making a specialized storage system (and it's currently only available for Wave 1 stuff), so there's a lot of re-tasked or homebrewed storage systems out there to choose from or be inspired by. 

(EDIT: Eagle-eyed Bikini Aficionado Frank has mentioned in the comments for this article that Battle Foam has a new tray insert system that will accommodate more ships and Wave 2 ships. It's a two-tray system where one tray holds a bunch of ships and the other hold your dice, cards, etc. Looks pretty sweet and he says it works well. Check it out here.)

(FURTHER EDIT: Bikini Aficionado Groznit Goregut brought to my attention via the comments on this article of a company called KR Multicase who also has an X-Wing storage product. Check it out here.

In a completely uncharacteristic moment of foresight, when I bought my first X-Wing Miniatures Core Set, I actually kept all the packaging, and by packaging, I mean all the little ziplock bags. I know, completely unlike me to save stuff like that, right? Oddly enough, while I pitched the clamshells the Expansion ships come in, I kept the bags out of those as well. And when I bought my second Core Set, yup, you guessed it, I kept those baggies too. 

I feel like I have a pretty average amount of X-Wing Miniatures stuff. I know a couple of folks who have more, I know a couple of folks who have less. In the end, if you want to try and use my storage idea, ideally you've got about the same amount of stuff that I do- much more and you're probably going to run out of room doing it my way. For a frame of reference, here's my current X-Wing Miniatures inventory- 

2 Core Sets (so 2 X-Wings and 4 TIEs)
2 X-Wing Expansions (2 more X-Wings)
1 TIE Fighter Expansion (1 more TIE)
2 TIE Advanced Expansions
1 Y-Wing Expansion
1 A-Wing Expansion (Yup! Got lucky at my Kessel Run Tournament!) 

Plus all the assorted tokens, movement wheels, do dads, and whatnots that come with all those ships. 

(And yes, I'll have to re-evaluate this system very soon upon the arrival of Wave 2. Until then though, here's some pictures of how I store and transport my X-Wing Miniatures. )

Everything that isn't ships, dice, the clear acrylic pegs, the Damage deck, the cardboard squares that go on the bases, and the upgrade cards goes back into the original Core Set box. I know not everyone's down with the Core Box, but it seemed really sturdy to me, so I wanted to continue using it if at all possible. I also dig the artwork. 

I keep the range ruler under the plastic insert. The movement templates except for the straight 4 and 5 go in the large baggie, then go into the front plastic well. The asteroids also go into a large baggie and the front well. The 4 and 5 straight go in the front well loose. All of the bases for my ships also end up in the front well. All of the other tokens go into bags separating them from each other and end up in the right side well. 

The left side well contains a baggie of my Rebel pilot cards, my Imperial pilot cards, and all the movement wheels for my ships. 

That big bag that's outside the box on the right is my "Everything" bag. I ended up with so many bags, I made a bag that has enough tokens and whatnots to cover a 100 point game with either faction- Evades, Shields, Paired Target Locks, Focuses, Stresses, you name it, it's in there. All the tokens inside are individually bagged still. I also have six sets of ship numbers in there. That Everything bag saves me a ton of time during setup. 

I can still fit the lid down on the Core Box when all this stuff is packed in, and yeah, I even put that plastic shell over the front well so nothing falls out the big hole in the front of the Core Set box. 

In addition to the Core Set box, I have a Plano-type box (I'm not sure if it's actually a Plano- it's just an old bait box I had floating around my 40k stuff for years that used to be a bitz box) that I store pretty much everything else in. 

It's not very big, but it holds all my stuff currently. Again, yes, I'll obviously need to come up with something else once Wave 2 drops and I pick up at least the Falcon (honestly, I'll probably just store and transport the Falcon and Slave I in the boxes they came in and just get a bigger Plano type box to hold all the starfighters). Although I forgot to stick it in there when I took the picture, I also keep my rulebook on top of the models in this plastic box. It keeps stuff from moving about too much and provides a little padding for when the models and stuff do move around. 

I don't carry everything from both Core Sets in the boxes. I have one Damage deck, one range ruler, and one set of movement templates that I leave at home most of the time. If I know I'm going to be teaching someone how to play, or one of my friends who hasn't bought-in yet is going to be playing, I'll stick them in. Generally though, I don't carry that stuff. 

The last bit of X-Wing kit that goes with those two things is the black piece of felt that acts as my playmat and appears in virtually all of the pictures here on TheMetalBikini.com. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about it, but it's held up quite nicely since I started using it back in October and is much better than playing on a wood-grained table top. 

Pepsi Cat not included

Folded up, it's just about the same size as the Core Set box, as you can see.

So there you have it. There are storage solutions out there that are much better and more expensive than mine, but I've been happy with how portable and sturdy everything in my system has turned out to be. It'll sound terribly dorky, but I take those three items to work with me nearly every day in a US Soccer Nike backpack along with my Samsung Chromebook and a ledger I jot down army list ideas, comedy bit dialogue, or whatever else happens to come to mind.

If I'm lucky, I manage to get some lunch hour games in here and there a couple times a month, and it's nice to actually be able to pull out models when I find somebody interested in the game who wants to know more. As it isn't that much to carry in a backpack I'm already taking to work, I figure why not, right? 

21 February 2013

Maneuvering as a Formation, Part 3

This post is yet another installment in a series of articles called Maneuvering as a Formation. Here's a link to Part the First, and the Second Part

Yesterday and the day before were all about what moves to not make when it came to flying in a tight formation where upon examination we realized with the assistance of my wife's super-nice Canon DSLR that you can't make equal numbered Turns or Banks with ships that start out 100% adjacent to each other. Today we'll talk about what moves actually don't end in overlaps and therefore Action robbing collisions. 

So let's check out some more moves! First up- Turns. I want to get 3 Turns out of the way first and since we know what happens if we do double 3 Turns, let's look at what happens when the outside ship pulls a 2 Turn and the inside ship pulls a 3 Turn. 

Oh, that's right out. No good. 

Ok, moving on. Let's switch those templates and try the reverse- the outside ship pulling a 3 Turn and the inside ship pulling a 2 Turn. 

Friggin' finally! Now we're getting somewhere! In the first time of the history of this blog, two ships Turned and didn't crash into each other! Holy Mackerel!

So we've covered 3-2 and 2-3, let's try a ship on the outside Turning 3 and an inside ship Turning 1. Should be cool, right? 

Oh fo' sho'. No problem there at all either. Let's try a 1-3 and finish off the 3 Turn permutations. 

Smooth like Colt .45. 

At this point we can probably make some pretty valid assumptions about how to make Turns of differing values work, but since I went to the trouble to take all these pictures and upload them to Picasa, humor me and we'll see how this plays out. Next up, a 2-1. 

Ok, so a 2 Turn for the outside is cool with a 1 Turn for the inside. We already did a 2 Turn outside with a 3 Turn inside (wasn't cool- scroll back up if you already forgot that result and consider seeing a doctor about increasing your ADD meds), so let's switch them and see if a 1-2 nets the same results as a 2-3 did. 

Same results- overlap. 

Right. So that's it for turns. Here's a handy summary of the above- 

(Where ships are adjacent and Turning Left)

2-3 Overlap
3-2 Safe
3-1 Safe
1-3 Safe
2-1 Safe
1-2 Overlap

Want to place any bets on Banks? 

Same deal- let's go through the various permutations starting with the 3 Banks. I'll go in the same order as I did with the turns so I don't go completely crazy here trying to keep this straight. 

First up we've got 2 Bank outside, 3 Bank inside. 

They're really, really, REALLY close, but it's a valid move- no overlap. 

Let's flip the templates. Now we're looking at a 3-2. 

Oh yeah! No problem there whatsoever! Two for Two! I spelled that out so nobody would think I was talking about a 2-2 which we already covered the other day. I'm serious. And by nobody I mean me, primarily, for when I go back over this and proofread it later. 

All right, next on the list is a 3 Bank outside, 1 Bank inside. 

Not a care in the world, those two. They're just rollin'. 

Switch templates to a 1-3. 

Ditto for these moves. All good. 

Last set of moves starts off with a 2 Bank on the outside and a 1 Bank on the inside. 

No problemo. Hasta la vista... baby. 

Switch templates to a 1-2. 

Damn right it was a good day.

Bank summary time- 

(Where ships are adjacent and Turning Left)

2-3 Safe
3-2 Safe
3-1 Safe
1-3 Safe
2-1 Safe
1-2 Safe

I'll admit it- maybe it's the kids waking up in the middle of the night the past couple weeks and depriving me of sleep, maybe it's the fact that I kind of just decided to mitigate the whole formation thing all together in my own game by spreading my ships out and forget about playing adjacent or even close to it, but I thought a couple of the Banks would surely result in collisions. Color me surprised. 

And no. No, no, no. No way in hell am I gonna make a Color Me Badd joke and/ or link there. I never liked those guys. They always sounded flat as pancakes to me. Esepcially the one with the curly hair and the fivehead. I tripped out when I saw a picture of English Welsh National Treasure and Manchester United poster boy Ryan Giggs back in the day because they looked alike and it was around the same time (1991-ish). 



Anyway, to summarize all three parts of this Maneuvering as a Formation business in a concise way, consult the following numbered list- 

1. You can make any Bank or Turn with two ships adjacent to you at the same number so long as you don't mind overlapping, colliding, and losing an Action. In other words, don't do that. It's bad and people will make fun of you. 

2. You do not talk about Fight Club.

3. Banks with adjacent ships, so long as they're not performed at the same number, are all good, all day

4. Turning adjacent ships is acceptable so long as you don't Turn at the same number or sequential numbers where the lower number is the outside ship and the higher number is the inside ship. 

5. Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother. 

In all seriousness, I'd been meaning to research this ever since the Kessel Run Tournament when I kept crashing my ships into my other ships but I watched Swarm after Swarm just casually maneuver three adjacent ships around the entire game. I was like George Costanza and they were like Jason Hanky: they were scattin' and beboppin' and I was losin' it.

I thought to myself, "Y'know, when I get home, I'm going to break out the templates and see if you really can make those moves, because I swear I'm making the same moves, but I'm crashing into myself left and right." 

Of course, then I forgot about it for what, two months? Ah well. Better late than never.