Community Service is a new series of articles here on TheMetalBikini.com where I spotlight something different, cool, or fun made by someone in the X-Wing Miniatures community that I think you guys might dig.
Updated 26 September 13
Occasionally I get an email from a random Bikini Aficionado asking if I've checked out a particularly cool or useful link. Often, these links are to list builders. As I write all of these blog posts in the dead of night (not at 4am necessarily, but in the dead of night, nonetheless), I frequently can't/ don't have a bunch of lights on in the house and all my cards strewn out across the dining room table or whatever, so listbuilders are something I don't just use, but really kind of rely on.
Usually I'm sitting on the couch, lit only by the monitor glow of my old Samsung Series 5 Chromebook, flanked by a couple of sleepy dachshunds, listening for my youngest to wake up crying, typing away on whatever random topic I'm discussing on here in the next few hours, puffing obsessively on my personal vaporizer (or e-cigarette, in local parlance).
As I get these emails though, I always kind of think to myself, "I wonder how many people don't use these list builders?" It sort of begs the question, y'know? Especially when the email is from someone that I kind of know through the site and I know they've been playing for awhile.
To me, a list builder isn't just about having your list typed up in some nice format- obviously anyone with a little free time could do the same thing in a Google Docs Spreadsheet, Excel, or a bunch of other programs. It's more about all the little things a good listbuilder will provide- namely, not allowing mistakes and quickly viewing all of the cards at once without having to flip through the, well, actual cards.
I used a listbuilder when I started playing 40k largely to keep me from screwing things up in the unit loadouts. Being my first miniatures game and there being a lot of kinda fiddly rules when it came to the options while building a list, Army Builder was invaluable for me for that very reason. Once I got the hang of the FOC, heavy weapons, special weapons, vehicle upgrades, and the option for unlocking the Wargear armory (this was 4th ed- a Sergeant with Terminator Honors in a Tactical Squad worked a little differently back then), I found myself using it less and less.
You may think that X-Wing Miniatures is too simple of a game to require a listbuilder, but really there's nothing worse than thinking you've figured out some awesome combo that you've never heard anyone else mention only to realize it's illegal because for some damn reason, FFG didn't want Horton Salm to have Elite Pilot Skills even though he's Pilot Skill 8. Using a listbuilder saves you that embarrassment. Or at least saves you from making it in person during your next game- you might still say something silly on a messageboard or something. Not that I'd know anything about something like that of course. : )
Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, a good listbuilder will put all of the card information in front of you in an way that's easier for your brain to process. Well, easier for me anyway. Your mileage may vary. If I had to actually sit down and put all the cards on the table to figure out combos and synergies, I'd be better off just trying to memorize them instead. Having the card text in front of you with just a mouseover or in a list? Maybe it's just me, but that makes all the difference in the world.
So which X-Wing Miniatures List Builders do I dig the most? Well, first, I live online. You might have realized that when I said I use a Chromebook. In any case, I use listbuilders that are also online. I have no experience whatsoever with any offline listbuilder programs, Excel files, or anything else. I only use the stuff that's online because I can't install programs on my work computer and I'm never really on my PC or Mac anymore at home. Long story short, I can't speak to any offline versions- to be honest, I don't even know if there are any. If you know of any good ones, mention them in the comments and why they're so good and I'll do some checking and edit this article if necessary.
This one is Voidstate's X-Wing Squadron Builder. It offers solid functionality in a polished package. It runs fast on my machine which is nice, and offers a bevvy of options when it comes to sharing and saving your squadrons. If you haz Facebooks, you can login with that, but as I don't, I can't really speak to that or the additional options that affords.
(I know, I know, but I swear it's not some "I'm too cool to like Facebook" thing with me- I just never really got it. I do have Twitter and Google+ accounts, if you're curious. I'm not on either of them much anymore mind you as I'm usually either working on the site or looking at the site stats, but I do drop a lot of football (soccer) science on my Twitter. G+ I kind of still don't really understand, so I just pretty much re-share stuff on there. You're much more likely to get some of my original material, so to speak, on Twitter. Hey also- if you guys follow me on G+, send me a message or something- I get random strangers following me all the time on G+, but I think most of them are spammers, but I don't want to seem like a dick by not following you back if you're a TMB reader, y'know?)
Another great listbuilder comes from our pal Fab in France. His listbuilder, if I remember correctly, actually started out as a random squadrons generator, but soon after became both a listbuilder and a random squadrons generator.
Runs quickly despite including the box art from all of the expansions and card art from every card, random squad generator is fully configurable to your collection, and Fab updates the site based upon user feedback and new stuff punctually. Tres magnifique! No idea if I typed that right, but it's supposed to be a compliment, yo. :)
Last but not least, TMB.com reader Geordan has a pretty swanky listbuilder of his own.
I like the background art behind the pilot's name, the options are cleanly and efficiently laid out, and mousing-over anything pops up a window on the right side with the full stats are card text. Really handy to use like that. Like Fab, Geordan has also been keeping up with recent events- he already has the Imperial Aces stuff on there that's been revealed so far. He also features a "Card Browser" button that just lets you flip through all the cards very quickly which is another great feature.