22 November 2013

Named Pilots- Major Rhymer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Missiles and Torps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So kudos to Jeff- thanks for the heads up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 November 2013

HOWTO: X-Wing over Google Hangouts

X-Wing Miniatures over Google Hangouts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 November 2013

Crew Members- Saboteur

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 3 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11 November 2013

Half a Mil? Holy Mackerel!

So a couple of things- 

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

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

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

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


Crew Members- Recon Specialist

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.

Recon Specialist (3)
Card Text: When you perform a Focus Action, assign 1 additional Focus token to your ship.

Usage in game: Maintaining your Focus, excuse for singing the old Doublemint gum ad (but please, substitute the word focus for pleasure), even considering taking a Blaster Turret on a HWK-290.
Action?: No
Breakdown: This is one of those cards I kind of don't like talking about because pretty much everyone already knows the score. I feel like most of y'all come by the bar because of 1) Insightful or innovative uses of the cards, 2) You don't have your X-Wing stuff with you and you Google some card because you don't remember exactly how it's worded, and 3) Boredom. 

The really straightforward upgrades like Recon Specialist kind of make 1 hard to do.

All that aside, let's go through the motions here just to keep everyone honest and so I can cross it off the list.

As you've no doubt noticed in your own games of X-Wing Miniatures and as I've said on here plenty of times, Focus is an extremely useful Action. If you started out playing the "lite" or "demo" version of the rules presented in the starter kit (basically the game but without Actions), you know how much more difficult it is down enemy ships without Focusing. Subsequently, if you play ships with only a Defend die or two, you know how hard it can be to stay alive when the red dice start flying. Focusing can make a huge difference in whether or not you do or take damage and as lots of folks will tell you, "When in doubt- Focus."

This is what makes Recon Specialist such a no-brainer. Focus is a great Action- usually the only real decision you have to make is whether to burn it on offense or defense. With Recon Specialist, you don't necessarily have to make that choice as you effectively generate two Focus tokens every time you perform the Focus Action.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa- stop the clock. Did you notice that little hiccup there? Every time you perform the Focus Action. Some folks kind of gloss over this bit, but it's important. Recon Specialist only kicks in when you Perform Action: Focus. What does that mean? If you've bonked into an asteroid or another ship? No Focus for you. If you've been gifted a Focus Token from Garven Dreis or Kyle Katarn? No (extra) Focus for you. It's only going to kick on if you actually Perform the Action.

That said, I do think there are a couple of ways around that- if you're given a Free Action from some generous soul flying by with Squad Leader or from Lando, for example and you choose Focus, I think that'd work. Stuff that actually gives you a Free Action rather than a token, in other words. You just have to perform the Focus Action, of course.

There's no ship that can't benefit from having this as, once again, Focus is such a handy, Swiss Army Knife style Action, so trying to come up with some specifics where it's bad is difficult. That said, I think it works even better than usual in a couple of instances.

First and most obviously, Kyle Katarn. His card text allows him to assign one of his Focus tokens to a ship that's within Range 3 of him and also obviously, when coupled up with the Moldy Crow title, it gets even better. The other HWK pilots benefit not nearly as much, and it's perhaps not the best idea to throw Recon Specialist in with Jan Ors as Jan will probably spend a lot of her game stressed, which prevents you from being able to Perform Action, etc. etc. That said, with the Crow title, it'd likely go a long way keeping her alive if you can manage to lose the Stress long enough to Perform Action. 

(And yes, I'm of the opinion that if you're going to use a Blaster Turret, you really should take a Recon Specialist. I know that it makes it expensive, but if you're already paying for a Blaster Turret, you've decided you want to try and actually use this ship as a fighter and not just a support ship, so once you've started going down that road, you might as well keep on going. If you don't, you're going to feel really silly the first time you lose your Perform Action step from a collision or because you simply forgot to pick Focus as your Action and now you can't shoot your fancy pants turret.)

On Falcons in general, I think it's handy because 1) most folks don't take more than a single Crew Member to begin with so there's usually an empty seat, and 2) it only has one defend die standard. If you can Focus that defend die, either twice on defense or once on offense and defense, so much the better. Works well with Han too as you know he's going to draw fire and he doesn't need it so much on offense with his card text. I think it makes Outer Rim Smuggler much more likely to live long enough to get some shots off too, what with being able to Focus twice on defense waiting for it to be his turn to throw around some red dice.

Firesprays it's a tougher decision as they're a one-seater, but with a pilot like Trelix who already has some attack buff in his card text, it makes downing him quite a bit tougher if he can choose to Focus two defend rolls with those two defend dice. Same thing for Scarlet and Fett, but I figure you're maybe using other Crew Members for them anyway. I do like it on Bounty Hunter for the same reason I liked it on Outer Rim Smuggler- much more likely to stay alive late in the Combat Phase if he can Focus two defend rolls.

I don't know that Recon Specialist works particularly well with any of the named Shuttle pilots- Jendon is ideally using Target Lock as his Action most rounds, Yorr is probably going to be Stressed much of the time like Jan, Yagi? Well, Yagi's not bad. I take it back- it actually works pretty well on him as he's probably going to be getting not only shot at, but shot at with Target Lock a lot. Packing a Recon Specialist would help keep him alive a little longer to work his magic.

Final note- this is a good card, don't get me wrong. That said, it's not a bulletproof vest, nor is it going to turn a ship into a force of destructive nature. It's highly unlikely this card is suddenly going to be the sole reason you win or lose games. Let me elaborate.

When the Wave 2 stuff dropped, I made a list with Dreis, a Gold Squadron Y-Wing, and Lando with Nien Nunb. The idea was you could pass around Focus Tokens and Free Actions almost at will. It wasn't the dumbest idea I've ever had, but it wasn't quite as smart as I thought it was either. On paper, it seemed very, very capable. In reality, it fell a little flat. 

Look at that spreadsheet- I had sooooo much more free time in my old position. Wow. 

It's not a terrible list, I just seriously overestimated how well it would work. At the end of the day, you're only going to use a Focus if you roll an eyeball. While that's nothing to disregard, it's also nothing to get crazy worked-up over. 

Long story long? Focus is like a condiment or a spice- it can drastically improve a dish, but you can't solely rely on it. Flying into battle with an X-Wing that has no access to Elite Pilot Skills, a Falcon that isn't flown by Han or Chewie, and a Gold Squadron Y-Wing ain't exactly a recipe for success against an opponent of equal measure, so by all means, use Recon Specialist, but don't expect drastically different results because you've now got two Focus tokens rather than 

EDIT: After re-reading this, I feel like I ought to point out a couple of things to the newer players. Were this a Wave 1 or Wave 2 card, I probably would have done it without even thinking about it in the copy body, but we're further along now in our exploration of the rules and stuff with X-Wing Miniatures, so I kind of didn't think it was necessary, but now I kinda do. Not enough to go back and fill-in though, so if you're an old pro, you probably don't need to read any further.

When you spend a Focus token, you change all the dice showing the eyeball symbol to that wavy arrow symbol on defense( and when attacking, you change all the dice showing an eyeball to the filled explosion symbol). Once you've spent it though, it's of course gone, so the rest of that round, anybody attacking you is going to do so against your unmodified defense rolls, which naturally aren't as likely to be as effective as a Focused defense roll.

So when I talk about being able to Focus twice on defense, what I'm saying is being able to use the Focus token on defense against two different attacks- not on two different dice against the same attack.

Secondly, when I talk about getting to Focus with Squad Leader or from Lando, bear in mind- you're still bound by the no performing the same Action twice rule, so no, you're not going to somehow end up with four Focus tokens. I wrote an article about this no performing the same action twice deal awhile back- it's a Bikini Battle Basics called Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained! If you're not quite sure how that stuff works, by all means, check it out.