23 October 2013

Crew Members- Rebel Captive

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.

Rebel Captive (3)
Card Text: Galactic Empire Only Once per round, the first ship that declares you as the target of an attack immediately receives one stress token.

Usage in game: I can't believe you f@#kin' shot me, Harley.
Action?: No
Breakdown: I'm no games design guru by any stretch of the imagination. Hell, I'm not even a student of game design theory. I do like to troubleshoot though. I like trying to find patterns in seemingly random events (which makes me more than a touch paranoid at times) and understanding how things work. Had I been blessed with a bit more self discipline at a younger age, I might have tried to develop this interest into troubleshooting people as a psychologist instead of troubleshooting industrial equipment and processes, but I wasn't so I didn't, which is neither here nor there really, come to think of it.

That in mind, I do like to try to figure out why games designers create the rules and stuff they create in the games I play.

I don't know how many of y'all play Android: Netrunner, but one of the most fascinating things about that game to me is there are so many different strategies you can employ to try to win the game. I haven't played in awhile, but I used to run an NBN deck that, true to form, tried to do little else but Tag you up but good. Now, Tagging somebody alone doesn't really do much of anything, but coupled up with other cards, it can have some pretty significantly nasty effects. Basically, my line of thinking was that if you were spending all your clicks and credits buying off tags in fear of me dropping a Scorched Earth on your head or whatever, I might win regardless of whether or not I ever actually managed to get Scored Earth in my hand, er, my HQ, because you're wasting said clicks and credits on my tags rather than your cards.

Rebel Captive is interesting to me for kinda the same reason.

I've talked about Stress a lot on here in different articles, and much like a Tag in Netrunner, being Stressed in and of itself isn't really that big of a deal. You pull a green maneuver as soon as the opportunity presents itself and you're in good shape again. Captive says if somebody attacks you, again- we're not talking about somebody hits you or somebody damages you- just attacks you, they get a Stress Token for their trouble.

Not a big deal by itself, right? The attacker would get a Stress Token at a time when it pretty much couldn't matter less- the Combat Phase. They're going to likely have a chance to pull a green in their next Movement Phase, so you're not directly doing anything to them, really as it isn't like you roll less Attack or Defend dice because you're Stressed or whatever.

However, it can be the start of something bigger.

I've mentioned before on here that the best use of an Ion Weapon is on a ship with a Stress Token. The reason being? Ionized ships (unless they have R2 Astromech or Nien Nunb with them) have to do a 1 straight in their next Movement Phase which counts as a white maneuver. Since a white maneuver doesn't rid a ship of a Stress Token, that same ship doesn't get to pull their Perform Action step in the Activation Phase, which cheats them out of an Action, and as everyone knows, ships without Actions tend to get dealt with, and by dealt with I mean dealt wit.

That used to be somewhat difficult to set up against the average player as you were more or less relying on them to Stress one of their own ships because Kath Scarlet was just about the only mechanic for Stressing somebody on the other side of the table without their consent. Now though, Rebel Captive adds a couple more ways.

So who do you stick him on? Well, he's a Crew Member, so it's gotta be a big ship. Secondly, he's Empire only, so we're down to a Firespray or a Shuttle.

Where it gets kinda tricky is this- you need him on a ship dangerous enough to make your opponent want to fire on it. It's gotta be dangerous enough that he's willing to accept the Stress Token as a trade-off for trying to get that ship off the board. Otherwise he'll just ignore the ship until it's the last one left on your side and probably not care much about the Stress when he does finally attack you.

Secondly, it's gotta be hearty enough to uh, well, not get taken off the board. As the Firespray and Shuttle are both fairly beefy ships to begin with, this isn't so hard, but you ought to look into some other upgrade that helps to reduce damage, damage effects, or raise your Defense value one way or another. You want them attacking you, yes- what you don't want is them massing firepower and turning you into dust or sticking you with some hideous face-up damage card in just a turn or two of shooting.

Lastly, you gotta have an Ion Weapon floating around in there somewhere so you can really make some hay when the sun shines and he's getting Stress Tokens for daring to attack your ship.

To give examples of ship, pilot, upgrade, and playstyle/ combat role combinations that maximize the ability of Rebel Captive would be kinda exhaustive, and as I'm already kinda exhausted, I'll trust that you guys that are interested in making this combo will figure it out for yourselves based on the above blueprint. There are a bunch of different ways you could make this work theoretically, but they'll all likely involve you and your meta more than anything, so your mileage is very much going to vary. 

Off the top of my head, a list that includes a Kagi Shuttle with a Rebel Captive and a cheap Ion Cannon Firespray following closely seems like a good core to a list that could cause a lot of Rebel lists problems for several reasons. Or, if you wanted to save some points for a small wing of escort TIE Fighters, you could make that trailing Firespray an Ion Cannon packing Shuttle. If you have trouble flying Shuttles effectively like I do, consider sticking Anti-Pursuit Lasers on them, or just punt altogether and stick Rebel Captive in an Ion Firespray flown by Trelix and fly it next to Kath Scarlet also packing an Ion Cannon. See what I mean? There's a ton of possibilities here.

As for flying against a ship carrying a Rebel Captive? Pick your lamest ship that can legitimately attack and do it. Do you have a HWK-290 you're flying solely for support? There's your huckleberry right there- especially if it is at a higher Pilot Skill than the rest of your squadron because only the first ship to attack the bearer of Rebel Captive gets the Stress Token- not everybody who attacks. Jan Ors is seemingly tailor made for this kind of application.

Barring that, choose your attack ship carefully and try to find the one with a bunch of green maneuvers so you don't paint yourself into a corner getting rid of the token- A-Wings, YT-1300s with Nien Nunb, X-Wings or Y-Wings with R2 Astros, etc. Heck, the possibility of your opponent using Rebel Captive might just justify always including an R2 Astromech in one of those Rookie X-Wings you're always taking, Initiative be damned. Don't directly help if you're Stressed and Ionized both, of course, but for shedding Stress, any of those ships will do.

Is Rebel Captive for you? Well, again- it depends a lot on you and your opponents. If you're good enough to really make a guy pay for having a Stress Token- e.g. you are good at figuring out your opponent's maneuvers, you regularly run Ion Weapons, or your buddy relies heavily on K-Turns rather than effective maneuvering or is kinda bad at target priority, Rebel Captive will likely be totally worth the three points. 

If not, maybe not so much. 

Don't discredit the psychological effect though- somebody said in the comments on an article a week or two ago that running Fett with Navigator is nice for a lot of reasons, one of which he cuts down on the brain clutter you invoke trying to keep everybody's moves straight in your head during the Planning Phase. Rebel Captive can work against that and increase that clutter, so before you pass judgement on whether or not the card actually helped you win your match, keep in mind this card's effects may be much more subtle than you might observe if your opponent is flying differently the entire time trying to avoid the ship with RC on board.

21 October 2013

Just the FAQs Ma'am- Wave 3

A few of y'all noticed last Wednesday, FFG posted a new, Wave 3-centric X-Wing Miniatures FAQ update as well as a very brief addition to the X-Wing Miniatures Tournament Rules and shot me some emails about it. Before I had a chance to write something up for TMB, Larry from BoLS asked me to write a brief article about it for him. 

This article is not that article, but as they're both about the FAQ, they will probably be kinda similar in places. Also, I don't think my article has run on BoLS yet, but I could be wrong. My youngest is still getting over being sick, so I've been kinda out of it the past few days. 

In any case, on with the show! 

Tournament Rules 
As expected, the Wave 3 ships have now officially been added to the Legal Products listing. Aside from that, the only other addition is a tiny, no-brainer clarification on when a player may request a single range ruler and set of templates be used in their match (it's before the game actually starts now). 

As before, I'm not going to talk about every single little thing that got FAQed. It seems like a lot of stuff in the FAQ are just answers to questions that people have mailed in rather than actual necessary clarifications or whatever. In other words, unless I just completely botched a particular rule interpretation or interaction on TMB somewhere or I think it's kind of interesting, I'm probably not going to specifically call it out. There's a link to the FAQ itself at the top of this page and a link to it on the sidebar under the Rules and Resources section if you want to check out the whole thing (and I totally recommend that you do). 

So just kind of going along with the order in which this stuff's presented in the FAQ, here's some commentary. 

Oh, also- the FAQ and the Tournament Rules have more generic names than before now. For me, this is great because it means I (probably) won't have to ever update the sidebar links to the new FAQ and Tourney Rules addresses ever again. It's great for you because now you can just favorite them if you don't want to come here or drill down through FFG's pages to get to them when they change. 

Q: Can a ship perform the same Upgrade card
action or Damage card action more than 
once per round?

A: No. Having more than one copy of the same card 
that requires an action to trigger its ability does 
not allow you to perform that action more than 
once per round.

Q: If a ship has more than one copy of the
same card that does not require an action 
to trigger its ability, can it trigger all of 
those card abilities?

A: Yes. For example, when a ship equipped with two
Mercenary Copilots is attacking, it can change two 
results to two results.

Ok, so at a glance, you may be all kinda like, "WTF?" reading those two FAQ entries, but if you look closely, you'll see why their answers differ. 

In the first example, the question is in regard to an Action (emphasis, me) where in the second they're talking about stuff that isn't Actions. As you still can't (directly) perform the same Action in the same turn, non-Action stuff is totally cool to use any time they're triggered. 

Q: If a ship does not have a dial assigned to
it when it activates during the Activation
phase, can it resolve any effects that refer
to its maneuver dial?

A: No. For example, a HWK-290 with an ion token
cannot use the effect of Navigator to change the 
speed of its maneuver.

I'll admit, this one kinda surprised me at the time, but like a lot of stuff in the FAQ, upon close inspection, it really shouldn't have. 

If you read Navigator closely, the trigger for the card text is when you reveal your maneuver. As an Ion Weapon sticks you with that white 1 straight, you're not revealing the maneuver. 

(I thought this would go the other way because Nien Nunb and R2 Astromech were FAQed to still work on an Ionized ship. I know, I know- the wording is completely different)

Q: If a ship suffers more damage or critical damage than is needed to destroy it, are 
the excess Damage cards still assigned to 
that ship?

A: Yes. This means that a ship still in the play area
due to the Simultaneous Attack Rule can be 
affected by additional faceup Damage cards.

Additionally, it means that whatever cards are stuck to that ship are out of the game after that. That can be good or bad depending on the Damage cards the ship took with it, and it's unlikely it's going to make some big statistical difference, but there is always that chance that you've managed to deplete your Damage deck of some particular card(s) in some abberation of probabililty.

It's kinda the same reason why you shouldn't mix multiple damage decks, make sure your opponent didn't get his cards mixed up with yours, etc. I talk more about this kind of stuff in the Damage Deck Explained! Bikini Battle Basics article. 

Q: How does Veteran Instincts work with
other abilities that set a ship’s pilot skill value to a new number?

A: Veteran Instincts increases a ship’s printed pilot
skill value; it does not increase further alterations
to that ship’s pilot skill value. For example, while
Black Squadron Pilot is equipped with Veteran
Instincts, his pilot skill value is “6.” If Darth Vader
(pilot skill value “9”) uses Swarm Tactics on that
Black Squadron Pilot, that Black Squadron Pilot now
has a pilot skill value of “9,” not “11.”

I'm kinda glad they clarified this. While the above example may not seem like much of a head-scratcher, I personally was wondering what the order of operation was when adding Veteran Instincts benefit to a ship Mr. Roark was buffing. 

Hey, don't laugh- it wouldn't be the first time you got to pick the order in which your cards executed. Heavy Laser Cannon with a Mercenary Copilot? Bueller, Bueller? Anyone, anyone? I didn't think so. 
Q: Can Maarek Stele use his ability on a
ship that is dealt a faceup Damage card 
because of Draw Their Fire?

A: No. Maarek Stele’s ability only affects the defender.

Hadn't thought about it, but that's pretty lame really. As mentioned previously, Steele isn't exactly a bargain for the points to begin with. I get it though, I mean, I guess I get it. From a game mechanics perspective, I guess it makes sense, but if a ship is flying to try and draw Steele's fire away from the other ship- flying in between them or whatever, doesn't it stand to reason that they're going to take the consequence of his preternatural ability to damage ships where and when it counts?

Guess not. 

Q: If a ship equipped with Nien Nunb attempts
to execute a red maneuver but overlaps
another ship and must treat the maneuver
as a maneuver instead, does Nien Nunb’s
ability trigger and cause that maneuver to 
be green?

A: No.

Again, kinda surprised me, but only because they went seemingly the other way when it came to the Ionized stuff. 

Q: If a ship doesn’t have the action icon
in its action bar, can it acquire and/or 
maintain a target lock granted by some 
game effect, such as Captain Jendon’s 

A: Yes.

I remember some folks talking hypothetically about this on the FFG forums back in the day. I don't recall if I voiced my opinion on the topic or not at that time, but their argument was that you couldn't do a particular Action if it wasn't even available to you. 

... Which is of course, not the case. 

Q: Can Captain Jonus use his ability twice on
a nearby friendly ship that is attacking with
Cluster Missiles?

A: Yes.

Makes sense if you read the card. 

Q: When a ship’s maneuver template (but not the ship’s base), overlaps a ship equipped 
with Anti-Pursuit Lasers, does that ship 
suffer the effects of Anti-Pursuit Lasers?

A: No.

While we've talked on here before about how the ships in X-Wing just sort of magically teleport from one end of the movement template to the other in a game mechanics sort of way (and therefore wouldn't create an overlap which doesn't trigger Anti-Pursuit Lasers), I'm still glad they went ahead and clarified this. 

Q: If a ship overlaps another ship equipped
with Anti-Pursuit Lasers, but as the result 
of overlapping additional ships, it does not 
touch the ship equipped with Anti-Pursuit 
Lasers in its final position, does it suffer 
any damage?

A: No.

This is kinda interesting to me. 

What the question is asking is if a ship overlaps a ship with Anti-Pursuit Lasers, but there's another ship right next to the one with APLs, so the original ship has to move back along the template again because he'd be on top of that other ship, does APL trigger? 

The answer being "No", the takeaway here is that even though you totally did overlap the ship with APL, at the end of it all, from a game mechanics perspective, you actually didn't

Q: If a ship acquires a target lock by using
Fire-Control System, and that ship is within 
range of Captain Kagi, is the locking ship 
required to lock onto Captain Kagi?

A: No. The target lock granted by Fire-Control System
must be acquired on the defender. If the attacker 
acquires an additional target lock, such as from 
Weapons Engineer, that target lock must be 
acquired on Captain Kagi if possible.

Another one of those order of operation questions- which takes precedence? Fire Control System saying you lock onto the ship you just shot at or Kagi's bit about making you acquire him as a Lock if able? 

Now we know.

Q: If a ship attacks twice through some effect,
such as the Gunner upgrade, can the ship 
use the ability of Darth Vader (the Upgrade 
card) twice?

A: Yes, once after each attack.


Q: If a ship equipped with Darth Vader would be
destroyed by using Darth Vader’s ability, can 
it use that ability?

A: Yes

Remember the end of Jedi? The dude's a martyr, man. 

Q: If a ship equipped with Darth Vader has
a number of Damage cards that equals
or exceeds its hull value, but is not yet 
destroyed because of the simultaneous 
attack rule, can it use Darth Vader’s ability?

A: No.

If you take yourself out, it wouldn't be a simultaneous attack I guess. 

Q: If Saboteur causes a player’s ship with a
stress token to attempt to execute a red 
maneuver, does that player’s opponent 
get to choose the ship’s maneuver when it 
activates during the Activation phase?

A: Yes.

Hadn't even thought of that possibility. Probably won't happen much, but now you know what to do when it does. 

Q: If a ship with a stress token reveals a red 
maneuver, can it use Adrenaline Rush?
A: Yes. Treat the maneuver as a white maneuver; 
the opponent does not choose a maneuver for the 
stressed ship.


Q: If an effect “deals a damage card” (either
faceup or facedown), does the effect follow 
the procedure for “Suffering Damage” on 
page 16 of the core set rulebook?

A: No. For example, the effect of Proton Bombs deals
one faceup Damage card to each affected ship. 
This effect should not be confused with producing 
a result, thus this effect does not interact 
with shields, cannot be canceled by evade tokens, 
cannot be redirected by Draw Their Fire, etc.

We've talked about this difference on here before, but in case you thought that +Davyd Atwood and I were nuts, now you know we're not. Well, at least not when it comes to the difference between "suffering damage" and just getting a card dealt to you. 

18 October 2013

J. Song's Repaints- Arts and (Space)Crafts

After posting the link to that awesome X-Wing Repaints article on Bell of Lost Souls last week, I don't know about you, but I had to pick up the old paintbrush over the weekend and do a little work. Of course, as it turned out, I didn't get much more done than a couple of basecoats before my youngest decided it'd be cool to develop a 102 degree fever, but it's the thought that counts, and once I get a couple of ships done up, I'll post them on here for y'all to make fun of check out. 

That said, I got some pics of some pretty awesome repaints a bikini aficionado named J. Song sent me back on Monday. Check these out! 

Nice, huh? 

In the process of mailing back and forth, J. Song told me something that sorta resonated with me that I wanted to share with y'all- 

If I have any advice it's this. I been playing x wing for a few months now. It's so fun. I would say this: I been wanting to try and paint them but I have been so scared. But I would say to people don't be scared but rather just try. Because even if they completely mess up they can always take that paint off the same way they did the original. And they can start over.

Last I will say is... These are your x wings. Everyone has the factory designs. It's what we saw in the movies. But really ask your self... if you had your very own star fighter what would it be colored like?

And from there creativity flows. I really didn't know what colors to fully make my x wing but I know I wanted red wings I went from there and these came to life. I really wanted a white and red interceptor and this came to life . So I wonder what could come to life when a person lets there creative ability come out of the box.
It's funny because while I had absolutely no problem at all creating custom chapter colors for my Marines and regimental colors for my Guard, I was really having trouble thinking up anything remotely new or interesting for my X-Wing Miniatures models. Truth be told, the model I was working on over the weekend had basically no direction whatsoever. After reading J. Song's email though, I've got a whole new take on things and am eager rather than apprehensive to try and get a few more coats on that test model over the weekend here. 

Oh, and if you want some nuts and bolts advice from the dude, check this out- 

For designs... I see people putting like decals and logos. I don't really know how they do that but I will tell you the secret to painting tiny. Don't use a brush. Instead I find the smallest nail I could find and tapped it to the end of an old paint brush. But you could use any stick really. What I do is I dab the point in the paint and I make a dot or two then I dip again and make another small dot next to that one and so forth and so on. But every about three or four dips I wipe the ball the forms on the tip with my thumbs. The paint at that level is so tiny that it tries very fast and needs to be cleaned so the tip is as fine as can be. Then I take an xacto knife and trim over paint areas to get really fine and straight lines. I believe that as good as a person can imagine they can create. This requires patience but one you do it you can really make any design. I learned this by writing words on rice for name on rice jewelry. It can feel difficult but it is very rewarding.

Emphasis mine on the words on rice bit. That's just nuts if you ask me. Dig the nailbrush he was talking about- 

Anyway, J. Song is considering taking commissions, so if you're interested in him doing some work for you, talk it up in the comments and maybe he'll stop by and drop some science about it. I should have asked him if he wanted his terms posted on here or if he was just kind of thinking out loud, but didn't because I was just too busy drooling over his work. 

Thanks again J. Song! Awesome stuff my brotha! 

And if any of the rest of y'all have been inspired to take up the brush and acrylics and had something come out especially snazzy, send me some pics and I'll throw 'em up on here! 

EDIT: J. Song has informed me via email he'd like to put his email address and phone number (call or text him) out there as contacts for anyone seeking his painting services. 

Hope you get a ton of business, pal! Heck, I might even have you paint up something for me... 

Fab's Squadron Builder- Now With Sharing!

Got an email from Fab, our pal in France earlier today...

Hello Clint,

Just to let you know that I updated my Squadrons generator with a share feature.
Now with the share icon, you can generate a short url through Google Shortener api either in the Random Squadrons generator or the Manual ones.

This means that you can now share with friends your squadrons and by extension save your creation by storing the short url.

You can after reload them in the Manual Generator.

Here are some examples, they are some lists I build using the ones displayed on the FFG sites.

Rebel Squad : http://goo.gl/aOgekf

Empire Squad : http://goo.gl/UYpakX

Elite Rebels & Imperial Swarm : http://goo.gl/RS23bJ

Of course, I had to try it out myself and make a couple of quick squadrons too- http://goo.gl/drF2qX

Pretty cool, huh? Saves all that typing and no login required- Fab's code does the work for you. I love that! I like too that I can do up a Rebel Squadron and an Imperial Squadron and share them both at the same time. Would be cool for some of our Hangout games so the guys can set up their stuff easier having a nice, concise list right there in front of them on their screens and all. 

Thanks Fab! Good stuff as usual!

16 October 2013

Crew Members- Navigator

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.

Navigator (3)
Card Text: When you reveal a maneuver, you may rotate your dial to another maneuver with the same bearing. You cannot rotate to a red maneuver if you have any stress tokens.

Usage in game: Lying about your dial and getting away with it, er, uh...
Action?: No
Breakdown: Navigator is like that late-bloomer girl (or hell, guy I guess too- I shouldn't push my own sexual orientation upon y'all, right?) that you never really thought twice about in high school, but you run into in a bookstore four or five years later and go, "Oh, wow." 

When you first saw Navigator, if you're like me, you likely glossed over it in favor of easier to use, more sexy cards like Recon Specialist or Darth Vader, Crew Member, but now that all this stuff's been out for a little while, you're going back through your cards one evening and say to yourself, "Oh, wow. That's really kind of amazing." 

While Boba Fett can also change his revealed maneuver, he does it in a somewhat different way than Navigator. To my knowledge, even including the leaked Royal Guard Interceptors from Imperial Aces, these are the only two cards in the game that allow you to affect the maneuver you've picked to reveal.

So let's break this down, shall we?

First things first- what's a bearing, exactly? Are we like talking boats and starboard and sextants here? Since I grew up roughly 800 miles away from the nearest ocean, I'm no sailor. Lucky for us, a quick glance at the X-Wing Miniatures Rule Book reveals exactly what a bearing is in this game- no compass or funny hats required.

Right on- so Bearing is the arrow on your maneuver dial. A straight, a left turn, a right bank, etc. So Navigator allows you to reveal a different maneuver than the one you picked with a different speed number, but the same arrow.

So a couple of things come to mind taking this all in-

1) You still gotta pick a maneuver your ship is actually capable of, so take a look at that dial and note the moves, especially the red moves. Some folks predicted this card would help make up for the crappy movement dial on a Shuttle, it kinda does, but obviously not completely as you can't just make stuff up and you can only take on a red move if you're unstressed.

2) K-Turns and Straights don't share the same bearing even though they share the same template. Don't let anybody con you on this one. Dig on the excerpt above- it's very clear as to what are the available bearings in this game.

"What about the Lambda's stationary move?" You ask. "What's the bearing on that?"

Well, lucky for you, I just got back up off the couch and checked the rules pamphlet included with the Lambda just be sure. I figured since I'd gone to the trouble of digging it out, I might as well take a picture of it with my phone (I'd already put away the wife's camera after finally taking some new ship pics- sorry the pics have been kinda recycled lately; I lost my favorite SD card for the camera and just found it earlier this evening), because, well, I don't know. I like pics. They tend to break up my wall o' text tendencies.

The bearing on the stationary maneuver is well, stationary. So despite what the rule book might have you believe, there's actually currently 7 bearings, post-Wave 3 release.

All that said, is Navigator good for anything besides the obvious benefit of being able to alter the speed of your chosen bearing? Does it work particularly well with anybody?

Well, as with the rest of these Crew Member cards, you're stuck with folks who have an extra seat in their ship- the YT-1300, the Firespray, the Shuttle, and the HWK are our candidates here.

Fett is pretty good choice if you aren't married to the idea of using him with a Gunner or Mercenary Copilot or whatever already. Using the Fett ability along with the options presented by Navigator lends some real flexibility. In case you don't remember and didn't feel like clicking on the link back up there towards the beginning of this article, Fett can flip a bank (the easy turn) maneuver from left to right or right to left at the same speed. The option to trigger this ability is upon reveal of the dial, which is also when Navigator triggers. Convenient, huh? So not only can Fett flip his turn bearing via his card text, he can change to any available speed as well if you stick a Navigator in there with him. If you're keeping score at home, that's having the option of pulling five other maneuvers than the one you actually locked in on your dial in the Planning phase. That's pretty handy if you're not so great at avoiding other ships and obstacles and for staying out of your buddy's firing arcs and Range 1 and stuff.

Past that, it benefits pretty much anyone who can take it, but not nearly to that degree. Off the top of my head, I'd say if you tend to run a small list (2-3 ships) of high PS pilots and face swarms a lot, you'll get some good use out of Navigator.

One thing it can't do though, is let you change your maneuver after you've physically moved your ship. You can't use Navigator to pick another move after you've put down a template and realized you're going to run into something. The reason? The rules state that you reveal your maneuver as the first step in the Activation phase, then set your template for step 2, and execute your maneuver as step 3. If you trigger Navigator, it'd happen between 1 and 2. That said, it's still useful in case an enemy (or maybe even friendly) ship moved into the space you were going to occupy with your ship carrying Navigator, but you gotta call it before you actually pull out the template and move.

Is it for you? Depends on how good you are at moving and guessing your opponent's maneuvers. If you find yourself the victim of blocking a lot, you'd probably get some good mileage out of Navigator, especially on higher PS ships as they reveal their dial later in the round. Like a lot of the more subtle X-Wing upgrades, I see this benefiting the new player or the very experienced without a ton of use between those extremes. This isn't to say that the average player can't use it, but I doubt that guy would see the benefit for the points as readily as someone who is still getting used to moving ships around in Pilot Skill order and maneuvering in general like a new player or somebody playing at a very high level who needs his Navigator-equipped ship to always retain it's Perform Action step or stay out of enemy arcs.

14 October 2013

Crew Members- Intelligence Agent

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.

Intelligence Agent (1)
Card Text: At the start of the Activation phase, choose 1 enemy ship at range 1-2. You may look at that ship's chosen maneuver.

Usage in game: I see London, I see France...
Action?: No
Breakdown: All right, let's just get this out of the way right off the bat here- when exactly does this card go off? That's what you're thinking, it's what I'm thinking, it's what dogs are thinking, right?

When does this card happen?

Namely- do I get to look at your maneuver before or after I pick mine? 

If you think about it for a moment, you probably already know the answer.

Since everybody effectively picks their maneuvers at the same time (the Planning phase), there's not really any way that Guy B could see Guy A's maneuver and be able to do anything about it without some kind of card text that actually alters when Guy B picks his maneuver.

This card has no such verbiage, so there's your answer right there.

To confirm, bust out your rulebooks and check out pages 6 and 7. Page 6 is all about the Planning phase, which is when you pick maneuvers for each of your ships. After everybody's assigned a move to their ships, then the Planning phase ends and the Activation phase begins.

So, yeah. Long story long, you don't get to look at your buddy's maneuver dial before you pick your own maneuvers. I know- bummer right?

It's not all bad news though, while Intelligence Agent isn't quite as awesome as you'd maybe hoped, let's take off our disappointed looks and see if we can think of some ways to make this card text worthwhile.

First, realize that Intelligence Agent doesn't happen as the result of any particular game event other than the start of the Activation phase and affects any enemy ship within Range 1-2 of the ship with the IA on board. Reason I mention this is you don't have to wait until the ship with IA activates or makes it's maneuver or whatever.

Example- you got Han on the board with an IA along for the ride. Even though Han's going to be moving and declaring an Action very late in the Activation phase (if not dead last), you get to use IA at the start of the Activation phase. The point here is that while the ship carrying the IA may maneuver after the ships around it, the rest of your squadron can benefit before any of that from the IA reveal.

Secondly, while nobody can outright change a chosen maneuver, there are a couple of cards in X-Wing Miniatures that do allow you to alter it. Boba Fett can change his chosen bank maneuver from left to right while keeping the same speed and number rating, and while I haven't talked about it on here yet, the Navigator Crew Member upgrade bestows the ability to any ship carrying him in that you can choose to change to a different maneuver with the same bearing.

Another group I can think of that would benefit from advance notice of another ship's maneuver is anyone who can make some sort of maneuver in the Action phase- namely ships with Barrel Roll or Boost, but also those brave souls who have figured out how to make Daredevil worthwhile in their arsenals. I guess if you had Advanced Sensors but were on the fence about using it or not, Intelligence Agent could help you with the decision.

Past all of that, it's help in the more obvious ways- ships with both Focus and Evade as Actions have an easier time choosing which to pick if they Activate before the ship with the revealed dial, some guesses can be made as to your opponent's overall gameplan for that particular turn, and stuff like that.

As you'd expect Fett and somebody carrying the Navigator Crew Member sort of make this card much less effective if they're the guys you're trying to use it on as their revealed maneuver may or may not be the maneuver they end up selecting. Also, anybody who can Boost or Barrel Roll still have some wiggle room in where they end up in relation to their chosen maneuver, so be careful when you use this card- it doesn't make you Carnac in all situations. Shimshalabim, and all that.

Is it right for you compared to some of the other single point upgrades out there? As always, it depends. I think the majority of players probably won't get a ton of use out of this card, but your opponent will likely hate the idea of it- especially if you really do manage to burn him once or twice with it, even lightly. I'd suggest sticking it in a HWK-290 with not much else in the way of upgrades and stuff- use it to force your opponent into either going after a ship that isn't worth many points or ignore it and let it keep on revealing his maneuvers early, or if you've got a two-seater that usually has the second seat empty, try throwing an Intelligence Agent in there for a few games and see if it helps you out in your own particular local meta. For just a single point and no Action required you really can't go too wrong here.

11 October 2013

Crew Members- Flight Instructor

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.

Flight Instructor (4)
Card Text: When defending, you may reroll 1 of your <eyeball> results. If the attacker's pilot skill value is 2 or lower, you may reroll 1 of your blank results instead.

Usage in game: Defensive boost
Action?: No
Breakdown: Sometimes when I start writing these breakdowns of the cards in X-Wing Miniatures, I find at first I'm all kind of like, "I really don't see the point in this." Then maybe halfway through writing the article, I realize some subtle rule interaction that's pretty sweet, and the switch clicks, the lightbulb goes on over my head, and I'm all, "Ooooooohhhh." At which point entire paragraphs get re-written or outright deleted and the entire tone of the article changes from a sort of questioning, slightly suspicious point of view to a more confident, assured view that more effectively realizes (what I hope is) the intended use of the card.

I'm not sure how this article is going to turn out yet.

Look- there is a benefit to Flight Instructor; I'm not saying there isn't. But for four points? Holy mackerel. Let's take a closer look at this thing and maybe I'll figure out where I'm losing the plot.

Right on. So first things first, let's break out our green dice shall we, snatch one up, and take a closer look at him. Of the eight sides, we see that there are three wavy arrows, two eyeballs, and the remaining three are blanks. Again, I'm no math major, but even I can tell you that based on that, you've got a 37.5% chance of throwing a blank, the same for a wavy arrow, and a 25% chance of throwing an eyeball at any given time.

With that in mind, let's see what we're getting for Flight Instructor's 4(!) points.

Ostensibly, we gotta assume you're trying to throw a wavy arrow here, so 37.5% of the time you're going to be happy right off the bat, or to put it another way, about 62.5% of the time, you ain't gonna be happy if you don't have Flight Instructor along for the ride.

Couple that fact up with the knowledge that there are four ships currently that can utilize Crew Members- the Firespray, the YT-1300, the Lambda Shuttle, and the HWK-290. Two of those ships have a Defend of 1, two have a defend of 2. The conservative minis gamer part of my brain says, "Well, why not try and maximize those ships with just 1 die of Defense, because they both have two Crew Member icons anyway, right (convenient, ain't it)?

Well, maybe.

The fly in the ointment here is that this isn't some Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot pseudo-Focus, this is just a re-roll, so there's not a guarantee if you're not happy with that first roll that you'll be happy with the re-roll. Now, is it more likely to happen rolling then re-rolling than just rolling cold? Sure. Is it worth it enough to be worth 4 points and a crew slot which might be better spent elsewhere? Well, that's the question.

Ok, the bummer is those two ships with 1 Crew Member slot could make better use of this card because they're throwing down two Defend dice, and therefore have twice as many chances of rolling eyeballs. But do you want to give up the one Crew chair to do that?

In the HWK-290, almost certainly not. I think overall your strategy there is to not spend a ton of points on the ship. Ideally, you make your opponent decide between going after more dangerous and expensive targets or a cheap, supporting ship that kind of isn't worth shooting down for the points, only to cease some card text benefit. If you put too many points into the HWK, it becomes desirable to blast out of the firmament for two reasons, which is just one too many for a ship with that maneuver dial. Not to mention there are better ways to keep that ship alive than Flight Instructor for the same points (hello Chewbacca, Crew Member).

The Firespray I think is a possibility here, but the same question has to be asked- would you be better served with a Mercenary Copilot, Recon Specialist, Vader, Crew Member, or Weapons Engineer sitting in that single passenger seat? Again, if this thing was a slam dunk that let you turn eyeballs to wavy arrows- hells yeah, it would be. As it stands though?

The 1 Defend die ships, the YT and the Lambda, its easier to make a case for Flight Instructor because you still have that other chair to put somebody else in, but also turns down the possible effectiveness as you're only potentially rerolling one die.

The YT, like the HWK, has more surefire options like Chewie, Crew Member or even a Shield Upgrade, but really it boils down to how defensive you think you need to be and whether or not you need those 4 points elsewhere in your list- obviously the Shield Upgrade isn't mutually exclusive with the Flight Instructor, so if you wanted to go a little overboard on your YT because your opponent is just hammering it every time you drop it on the table, you could use it to go a little overboard on defense. And really, with that much hull and shields, you're going to get at least half a dozen chances at using Flight Instructor, so it's bound to help you out once or twice, right?

The Lambda has more or less the same story, but without Chewie of course. I'm still not 100% convinced it's worth the points, but of the ships that can utilize it, I think it's the ship that likely could justify the cost the most with it's piss-poor maneuver dial and 1 Defend die. There again, even with a bunch of ships shooting at it, your hull and shields are going to give you the opportunity to use FI several times, and it's bound to work once or twice for you before the bitter end.

So here's the part where I stop and ask, "What am I missing?"

The second part of Flight Instructor's card text reads, "If the attacker's pilot skill value is 2 or lower, you may reroll 1 of your blank results instead." Basically, that means if I have a Focus Token and the guy shooting at me is PS 1 or 2, then I'm very likely to end up with a wavy arrow one way or another, right? That's pretty cool, right?

Yeah, but here again- don't get too excited over this. First, it only works against the lowest PS pilots in the game. Secondly, even then, it's still not a 100% guarantee. Back to kinda not feeling this card for the points? Yeah, me too.

Against a traditional, low-PS, high ship-count TIE Swarm? This card's likely worth it's weight in gold. That's kinda the problem though, isn't it? The card's neutral but trends toward Imperials if you ask me as the Rebels have better options for the points, but it's most effective against Imperials. Which, yeah, I know- at tourneys and stuff Imps play against Imps all the time, but I think most of us probably play Rebels vs Imperials, right?

I guess maybe the subtle use for FI that occurs to me is that it does sort of free you up to use that Focus token on offense instead of considering holding onto it for defense. I mean, it doesn't dovetail with a Focus token in the slightest, so if you hang on to your Focus for defense while flying with FI in the copilot chair, you're basically wasting either the token or the points. Sometimes that kind of thing is out of your control (you roll all hits/ crits in the Attack phase, etc.), but usually it's not, and maybe knowing that it's kinda pointless on defense pushes you towards going for the gusto and declaring a Target Lock instead to begin with.

I don't know y'all- I'll fully admit, this is another one of those few and far between cards where I'm going, "There must be something I'm missing here", but I'm at the end of the article and have spent over an hour trying to figure it out and I'm still coming up snake eyes. Where I'm worried that when I post this article somebody is going to get on the comments and say, "Uh, hello? Here's the like super-obvious and awesome use for this card, dude- it's blah, blah, blah." And I'll be frantically trying to rewrite before my bosses notice I'm working on my website instead of, you know, work and stuff.

X-Wing Miniatures Re-Paints Showcase on BoLS

I got an email from Larry at BoLS earlier that brought to my attention some really amazing re-paints a guy named Ratty has done. I'm not going to re-post them all because I want y'all to patronize Larry's site, but here's an appetizer- 

Feel like knocking the dust off your Citadel paints? Yeah, me too. Might just have to do something about that this weekend... 

Check out the full article and get inspired!

TheMetalBikini.com's 200th post!

Good Lord, I can't believe I'm still doing this. As I've mentioned before, this thing just kinda started out as a way to get a couple of my friends up to speed quicker on how to play X-Wing Miniatures. 

Now 200 posts and 400 some-odd thousand pageviews later, it's this like, crazy thing where I have people from all over the world stopping by the bar to give me their unique takes on this fun little miniatures game and read my highly suspect and decidedly goofy commentary. 


Thanks again, guys. It really is fun writing for y'all. Hopefully after this launch at work things slow down for me a bit around December or January and I can get back to more regular updates on here. Thanks for sticking around and putting up with my erratic posting these days. 


08 October 2013

Crew Members- Darth Vader

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.

Darth Vader, Crew Member (3)
Card Text: Galactic Empire Only
After you perform an attack against an enemy ship, you may suffer 2 damage to cause that ship to suffer 1 critical damage
Usage in game: When you need an <unfilled explosion result> by any means necessary.
Action?: No
Breakdown: I've been turning it around in my head how to approach talking about this card and while I'm not nuts about it, the best way I can think of is explaining what this card doesn't do. Normally, this is something I don't do- tell you what not to do. It's kind of a pet peeve of mine, as a matter of fact. Most of the time, anybody can tell you what not to do- it's telling you what you should do that's much more difficult.

It's like a couple of weeks ago, I read an article that showed up in my Twitter feed about how not to get an (literary) agent (recall that I do write more than just on this blog and all). I'm sitting there thinking, "This is stupid- I already know how to not get a friggin' agent, y'know? I have the 33 rejection emails to prove it. What would be infinitely more useful to a wannabe fiction-writer would an article on, well, you know- how to actually get an agent." The fact that it's borderline insulting to anyone with a brain (what? You mean I shouldn't harass the piss out of my agent with endless phone calls? Whew! Glad I read this article!) doesn't help either.

Again- whether or not you've realized it yet, pretty much anybody can tell you how to not do something. I mean, I've never played pro football, flown an airplane, or designed a skyscraper, but I'm pretty sure I could come up with a list of stuff not to do on any of those topics and a thousand others I also know absolutely jack shit about.

Sorry, I'll put away the soapbox now, just accept my apology for a moment that I'm going to tell you how Vader, Crew member doesn't work for a little bit.

You may have noticed in the comments for Proton Bomb, bikini aficionado +Davyd Atwood calling me out for not being completely clear on the fact that Proton Bomb's card text is fairly unique in that it actually gives the victim a face-up damage card, period.

I bring this up, of course because this card does not do that.

Note the card text- "... to cause that ship to suffer 1 critical damage." When a ship "suffers a critical damage", that's essentially the same thing as you attacking it and throwing an unfilled explosion result (or crit, in the local parlance) on one of your red dies- in other words, and this is the TL;DR part you were waiting for- yeah, shields can mitigate the effect of Darth Vader, Crew Member if they're still protecting the target ship.

Did you notice I said "essentially" the same thing? I threw that in there for a reason. It's not 100% just like it- for example, Draw Their Fire can't be used to move that critical damage because it isn't a result. 

Ok, if you were like all hot to trot on the idea of sticking Vader, Crew Member in your shuttle, you're probably a little bit bummed out about this card right now because I've told you what it can't do, so let's cover what it can and what it's good for.

First, note the start of the card text- "After you perform an attack against an enemy ship,...". Sounds a little like Gunner, right? Major difference though that some folks seem to have missed on initial read-throughs: you don't have to miss to trigger Vader, Crew Member.

The cool thing here, obviously is you get to decide when you trigger this card. You attack, roll the red dice, your victim rolls his greens, modifications get made, damage gets dealt (I'm simplifying this, I know- if you want the detailed version click here), and that's it. So after all that stuff gets said and done, if the guy you really, really, really want dead still has 1 hull point left, you can decide to suffer those two damage and make him dust.

(If you're wondering how exactly I've come to this conclusion, note that in the rulebook on page 10, the very top left, it says-

During this phase, each ship may perform one attack 
against one enemy ship that is inside its firing arc 
and within range. Starting with the ship with the 
highest pilot skill, players resolve the following 
combat steps in order:

So to me, Peforming an Attack is resolving the Combat Phase for the ship that attacked. My usual "but I could be wrong" disclaimer applies as always, but I don't really see how else this could work because...)

You don't have to hit to trigger Vader, Crew Member either. So long as you attacked somebody, you can opt to suffer the 2 damage and stick 1 critical damage on that ship.

So how does this interact with Gunner and similar cards? The same way, basically. Gunner happens during the Combat Phase, so all that stuff would resolve before Vader, Crew Member. This does bring up an interesting question though- what if you go after two ships using your attack then gunner roll? Remember that it's possible in some circumstances to generate attacks at two different targets. At this point, I'd say you could Vader either of them as you technically did attack both of them.

Wow. Ok, so now you're probably not quite as bummed about Vader, Crew Member, right? I mean, yeah, the two damage is definitely a downside, and 3 points isn't super cheap, but you're more or less buying the ability to make somebody suffer a critical damage almost anytime you want; assuming you can get into at least Range 3 of them. That's nothing to dismiss.

It may kind of seem like it doesn't matter, but since this damage is happening after all the steps in the Combat Phase, it's kinda like taking the usual "cancel <filled explosion results> before <unfilled explosion results> a step further here. Unless you rolled horribly, horribly badly, you probably bled an Evade or Focus or both off your target in the initial resolution (Christ- I almost typed "resolvement"; I gotta get to bed soon) so you really are going to be pretty likely to stick them with an actual crit when you play Vader, Crew Member. Of course if you did roll terrible or they still have a shield left or whatever, you can always choose to not turn on the ability- it's not like you're forced to do it.

All that being said, there are only two ships that can take this Crew Member- the Lambda and the Firespray. The Lambda is perhaps a safer bet because it has two Crew seats, but the Firespray is just so much more maneuverable and dangerous in my opinion. Maybe it's because I have more experience flying it, but well... that means you do too. Not saying it doesn't work on a Lambda, but I think it works easier on the Firespray. I know it'd be totally overkill, but imagine stinging somebody with Trelix flying Slave I, launching Advanced Proton Torpedoes with a Focus Token, then triggering the Vader, CM text too. That's gotta hurt.

This is a tough card for me to 100% get behind as I'm a fairly conservative player at my core and the idea of purposely taking damage is something of anathema to my mindset, but it does afford the owning player a predictable outcome (for a price) 100% of the time which is worth a lot even to somebody like me. If you've analyzed your game and concluded you're losing because you're not inflicting enough damage, give Vader a fly and see if your luck changes some.