19 February 2013

Maneuvering as a Formation, Part 1

Although this article is ostensibly about moving ships in a formation, the main underlying concern at hand is moving those ships without collision. As such, let's just go ahead and get this out of the way and define what a collision is in X-Wing Miniatures and what happens as a result. 

From the X-Wing Rules of Play book page 17- 

Overlapping Other Ships
There are a few situations that may arise where ships overlap other ships, and they are explained below.

Plastic Bases Overlapping
If a ship executes a maneuver that would cause the final position of its base to physically overlap another ship’s base (even partially), follow these steps:
1. From the opposite end of the template, move the active ship backward along the top of the 
template until it no longer overlaps another ship. While moving the ship, adjust it so that the 
template remains centered between both sets of guides on the ship’s base. Place the ship so that the bases of both ships are touching.
2. Skip this ship’s “Perform Action” step. Ships whose bases are touching cannot declare each other as a target during the Combat phase while their bases remain touching. As soon as either of these ships moves away (so that the bases are no longer touching), this combat restriction no longer applies.

Important: If the active ship is executing a <Koigoran Turn Symbol> maneuver that causes it to overlap another ship, 
instead treat its maneuver as a <Straight Maneuver Symbol> maneuver with the same speed and color revealed on the dial.

Plastic Figures Overlapping
Some ship figures extend beyond the edge of their base. If this part of the figure would touch another figure or obstruct its movement, simply add or remove one peg from the base to prevent this situation and continue moving as normal.

Ok, so long story long, it doesn't matter if the models overlap, it matters if the model's bases overlap. Secondly, if you do manage to pull a maneuver that causes you to overlap another ship, you lose your Action for the round even if that ship later moves away from you and move your ship's base back along the template until you're no longer overlapping. Thirdly, if the ship you overlapped doesn't move away (you're still touching it when Combat begins, in other words), neither of you can shoot each other though you're free to shoot any other ships that fall into Range and Firing Arc. 

One of the inherent difficulties of using a formation where your ships need to stay close together (usually to benefit from Swarm Tactics, a "giveaway" ability like Garven Dreis, Dutch Vander, etc. or Squad Leader, or Howlrunner's area-of-effect reroll ability) is moving all the ships around so they don't run into each other. TIE Swarms are especially dependent on this.

(*Note that just because you lose the ability to Perform Action, doesn't necessarily mean you can't do any Actions during that game round. If someone has an ability that passes you an Action token, Squad Leader, etc., you can pull an Action even if you've been in a collision.) 

You may have played as or against a TIE Swarm player especially who tries to be courteous and simplify his movement by moving one ship with the template then moving the TIEs next to him by hand without using the template; holding his formation intact. 

Does that time-saver accurately depict what happens when moving using the templates though or is some error incurred in that process? What moves actually are permissible when moving as a formation besides just flying in straight lines? I decided to find out. 

Clones or just BFFs?

In the picture above I've got two TIEs right next to each other. Both want to pull an easy 3, or to put it in the proper terms, a Bank 3 maneuver. 

Will they overlap or will they stay right next to each other? Let's find out!

Wheeee! (Sorry, can't think of anything remotely funny about this picture)

So the TIE on the right has performed the maneuver. If you're confused as to why I now have three TIEs on the board, don't be- I'm just trying to illustrate that the template hasn't moved or been bumped or anything- it's right where it needs to be. 

Kudos to you if you get my next caption joke...

Here you can see I've removed the maneuver template from the right side, but didn't remove the moving TIE- everything is still in its original position and the post-move position, again to illustrate that no unintended accidental movement has occurred. Now the movement template is on the TIE on the left as he too wants to execute a Bank 3 maneuver. 

<RileyMartinVoice> Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

So the second TIE completes his move and everything's cool, right? Uh, oh! Hold on a second! Let's zoom in there...

... Huh? </RileyMartinVoice>

We've got an overlap!

So, to answer my two original questions, no- if a player declared an Bank 3 for both of these ships, moving one then placing the second right next to it by hand without the template would not be accurate, and no- this would not be a permissible, advisable move for two ships flying in formation because it results in overlap which incurs lost Action in the ship that moved second. 

Why does this happen? It's relatively simple if you stop and think about it for a moment, but not entirely obvious (at least it wasn't to me- I've seen player after player at my club move one ship and drop everyone else in the formation next that that first ship and never called them out on it)- because it's a curved, not straight shape the distance along the inside is shorter than the outside because the template ends in a square end. Don't believe me? Look closely at the pics. Click on them, zoom in. If you still don't believe me, pull your stuff out and try it yourself. 

But wait, maybe that's just some strange permutation of the Bank 3 template that I've decided to make a big deal out of because it's a slow day, right? If the number was different that wouldn't happen. Or maybe if I'd have picked a Turn instead of a Bank. Yeah. A 3 Turn and they definitely wouldn't collide, right? 

Stop by tomorrow for Maneuvering as a Formation, Part 2 and find out the answer to that question and more.

SPOILER ALERT! There probably wouldn't be a Part 2 if this was the only maneuver this happened with would it? :)

18 February 2013

Updated! I Wanna Play X-Wing Miniatures! What Should I Buy?

UPDATED: 5 February 14 to reflect Wave 3 release and beyond

I've been meaning to update this since Wave 3 dropped and just kept finding excuses not to, but as this article gets a ton of traffic from folks Googling how to get into X-Wing, I gotta do it, so here we go. 

For the longest time, when a person would ask me what they should buy to get into X-Wing Miniatures, I'd say the same thing that folks on the FFG X-Wing Forums would suggest when a new player would indicate interest. I re-examined this advice in light of Wave 2, and now I'm adding to it now that Wave 3 has dropped and we're looking down the barrel of the Huge ships being released as well as Imperial Aces. 

Surprisingly, the answer to this question has changed quite a bit, at least in my mind. Maybe not on the forums and stuff, but folks getting into X-Wing have a few things they ought to consider when they take the plunge. As such, this article is going to change somewhat drastically from its previous incarnation. 

First things first- the ships in this game are viable in some form or another, but some ships are easier for a new player to utilize effectively than others. This being the case, I always, always, always suggest to people they buy the stuff they think they'd have fun pushing around on the table. 

That said, you do need to buy at least one Core Set because it gives you the Damage Deck you absolutely must have to play the game. Most everything else in there you can get elsewhere- the X-Wing Miniatures Rulebook is downloadable for free from FFG and they sell extra dice and even have a dice app (for iPhone or Androidif you're phone-centric, there are 3rd party entities selling the movement templates, range rulers, and tokens, and assuming you can find them, you can always buy the Expansion versions of the X-Wing and TIE Fighters that come with the Core Set. 

The thing you should be aware of here is that the Core Set doesn't include all of the available X-Wing and TIE Fighter named pilots. The other thing you, you, you oughta know is that the Expansion X-Wing and Expansion TIE Fighters don't either. Long story short, if you want to have all of the available X-Wing Pilots and TIE Fighter Pilots, you'll need to buy both the Core Set and an Expansion of each. 

Lots of people will suggest you buy two Core Sets. This isn't bad advice. Even if you're paying MSRP for the Core Set, it's a better deal model-wise than buying a total of three Expansions as the Core Set retails for $40 and three Expansions (without the Damage deck, dice, etc., etc.) retails for $45. Again, the only caveat here is that you won't have all the available pilots for the ships. 

All that said, people that give you that advice are assuming you want to field 2 or 3 X-Wings in your list and 4 or 5 TIE Fighters, or at least would enjoy having the option. If you're dreaming of an all TIE Interceptor force or something and nothing else will suffice, it's probably kinda pointless for you to buy two Core Sets just because everybody on the internet says so. Although, full disclosure- if you're at all in doubt, just go ahead and buy two Core Sets. The extra set of dice is practically necessary and it's handy to have extra copies of the cardboard movement templates if you're not crazy about dropping cash on some 3rd party acrylic ones. 

Obviously there's a certain attraction to having at least one copy of every ship and multiples of your favorites. Most of the X-Wing people I come across have way more ships than they'd ever use in a single match. In fact, it's one of the few miniatures games I've come across where it's fairly common for players to own many ships for both factions. Sure, you probably favor one faction over the other, but very few people go exclusively Rebel or Imperial. 

How much stuff should you buy? Well... 

Even if you don't plan on becoming a tourney player, 100 points is still the level at which most folks play the game, and the level at which most of the scenarios are designed to be played. It can be played at lower or higher point totals of course, but 100 points is the number where the majority of pick-up games occur, so it's the number most folks shoot for. This post assumes you're doing the same. If you'd rather play less or more, adjust accordingly and bear in mind, just because you play at 100 points, you don't have to limit yourself to only having 100 points worth of models. It's nice to have a few extra ships so you can change up your lists to keep things interesting for your opponent. 

Taking the stuff that's available currently into account, here's some ballpark figures on ships and how many points they're worth to give you an idea of how many of what ships you have to buy. I won't say how much it costs in money; it'll just depend on where you buy your stuff from. 

Rebel Ships
YT-1300 (Falcon)- 27-70 points
X-Wing- 21-40 points
Y-Wing- 18-35 points
A-Wing- 18-35 points
B-Wing- 22-40 points
HWK-290- 16-30 points

Imperial Ships
Firespray-31 (Slave I)- 33- 75 points
TIE Fighter- 12-20 points
TIE Advanced- 21- 35 points
TIE Interceptor 18- 35 points
TIE Bomber- 16-40+ points
Lambda Shuttle- 21-40 points
Imperial Aces TIE Interceptors- 22-35 points

Please keep in mind these are ballparks- I may be off a point or two in either direction and obviously the spread depends on named pilots, upgrades, modifications, etc. which may or may not be available to all ships/ multiple ships in the same list.

If you're curious as to what a particular named pilot brings to the table in the way of card text or the point cost of a particular Droid, Modification, or whatever you can either check out some of my Listbuilding articles or a couple of the Squadron Builders I've come across. My two favorites are Fab's Squadron Generator and (Yet Another) X-Wing Squadron Builder

If you've read about the Huge ships coming out- the GR-75 Rebel Transport and the Tantive IV Corellian Corvette, not a lot is know about them at this article's time of writing. I can tell you the Transport starts at 30 points, but no idea what the upper limit would be and nothing has been released on the 'vette yet. Bear in mind though, those ships are designed for the upcoming "Epic Rules Format" games and won't be allowed in "regular" games of X-Wing (although I gotta think the X-Wing model and named pilots that are included with the Transport will be legal for "regular" games). 

Like I said before, if you're just starting out with X-Wing Miniatures, some ships are much easier to get the hang of using than others. This is probably going to generate a lot of static in the comments and stuff, but here's how I'd rank the ships when it comes to how easy or difficult they are to fly for a beginning player, 1 being the easiest- 

Rebel Ships
1. YT-1300 (Falcon)
2. X-Wing
3. B-Wing
4. A-Wing
5. Y-Wing
6. HWK-290

Imperial Ships
1. Firespray-31 (Slave I)
2. TIE Fighter
3. TIE Bomber
4. TIE Interceptor
5. TIE Advanced
6. Lambda Shuttle

If you're wondering where in the world I came up with the criteria I'm claiming to be "easy for a beginner", it's kind of a mish-mash of stuff based on my own experience and observations. I'm trying to take into account how forgiving the ship is, how likely a novice player is to have success with the ship, it's offensive and defensive capabilities, the options afforded by named pilots, available mods, and Elite Pilot Skills, points cost, etc. Again, just my opinion so take it for what it's worth. 

Also, the Imperials are really hard for me to categorize, so if you're looking into playing Imperials exclusively, I think the list is more like 1. Firespray, 2-4 in no particular order, 5. Advanced, 6. Lambda. 

If you're looking for a jump off point for actual squadron lists, here's a couple of ideas that I think would be well suited to a beginner, again, for somewhat nebulous reasons including ease of use, how forgiving it is, damage output, survivability, etc., but not taking into account how many Expansions you'd need to buy to get the cards necessary really. 

Sample Rebel List- 100 Points
Chewbacca (YT-1300) w/ Falcon Title, Draw Their Fire, Gunner, Recon Specialist, and Anti-Pursuit Lasers
Rookie Pilot (X-Wing) w/ R2 Astromech
Rookie Pilot (X-Wing) w/ R2-F2

Sample Imperial List- 100 Points
Krassis Trelix (Firespray-31) w/ Heavy Laser Cannon, Mercenary Copilot
Mauler Mithel (TIE Fighter) w/ Elusiveness
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)

Now shut down your browser and go buy stuff!

... or barring that, maybe check out some of the other New Player Info articles here on TheMetalBikini.com. Bikini Battle Basics articles cover stuff like Pilot Ranking Explained and The Combat Phase Explained, but any of them are great starting places to increase your knowledge of the game. 

2013 X-Wing Regionals Venues Announced!

Friday or Saturday, the dates and locations of the 2013 X-Wing Regionals were announced on the FFG site. If you've not seen the big list, click here.

Are you planning on going? Will you continue to roll Wave 1 stuff and go with what you know, throw it all out the window and play strictly Wave 2, or try and hybridize Wave 1 stuff with Wave 2 stuff? 

Not sure which one I'll be hitting yet as I'm hoping a few friends attend with me, but it'll almost certainly be one of the Indianapolis, IN regionals, but there's an outside chance I may hit Edwardsville, IL, Louisville, KY, or Cincinnati, OH if none of my buddies are down for going along. 

No idea what kind of list I'll be running, but probably a mix of Wave 1 and Wave 2 stuff, just to make it interesting. Most likely will run the Falcon on principle though I'm a Guard player at heart- I really, really, really have a hard time talking myself into the "few elite models" over "hordes of average to crappy models", so you just never know! :)

16 February 2013

Wave 2 Previews from FFG- TIE Interceptor

I don't usually post on the weekends, but FFG has put up their official preview of the Wave 2 TIE Interceptor, so I thought I'd make an exception. 

Sweet lookin', innit? I predict you're going to be seeing a whooooooole lot of these dudes on X-Wing Miniatures tables for quite a looooong time to come. My goodness, those named pilots are scary on a stick, man. 

Here's the link-  http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_news.asp?eidn=3945

Also, they've done similar previews on the Millennium Falcon and Slave I. They were up before I started TheMetalBikini.com, so I'd not had the chance to post anything about them. Not anymore though! Boom! There ya go!

A-Wing is the only ship left to be previewed. I'll keep you posted!

15 February 2013

Droids- R5 Astromech

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R5 Astromech (1)
Card Text: During the End phase, you may choose 1 of your face up Damage cards with the Ship trait and flip it face down.
Usage in game: Critical damage effect mitigation.
Action?: No.

Quick Take: R5 Astromechs are pretty straightforward in their use, so there won't be a ton to discuss here. For one point, you get to flip down a face up Damage card (usually the result of a Critical Hit) on the ship with the R5. Pretty simple. 

What effect does this really have? Ok, first off, there are 33 Damage cards in a X-Wing Miniatures deck. Of those 33 cards, 8 are of the Pilot type, the remaining 25 are of the Ship type, so the likelihood of this card being able to be a theoretical benefit is fairly good (2/3 of a chance- me know math!) if you do happen to incur a face up Damage card.

So what kind of ships benefit from something like this? Obviously a Rebel ship as Imps can't use Astromech droids, so we're looking at X-Wings and Y-Wings. Can we pare this selection process down further? I think we can- Y-Wings, with their 5 Hull Points are more likely to incur Crit damage than an X-Wing, because well, X-Wings with only 3 Hull Points are more likely to blow up before the Crit takes effect. This isn't a knock on the X-Wing, there's just simply less Hull to go around. So a Y-Wing then? Yeah, most likely.

How big of a deal is this? Well, most Damage cards when flipped face up will have some sort of long-lasting effect- all maneuvers of a particular flavor are now red maneuvers, not being able to fire a primary weapon system next game turn, not being able to fire a secondary weapon system at all, suddenly finding yourself playing the rest of the game at Pilot Rank 0, stuff like that. There are some effects that are worse, there are some that are not that big of a deal, and they're fairly evenly peppered throughout the deck between both Pilot and Ship types. Of course, if you're really that concerned about Critical damage effects (which after Wave 2 drops, you just might be...), a Rebel could take both R5 Astromech and the Determination Elite Pilot Skill and hope to get rid of any/ all of those nasty Crit effects.

Don't misunderstand me here- R5 Astromech is not some ship-centric, droid version of Determination; there are two important differences. First, the effects of the Crit do have a chance to take effect with R5 as the text say to flip it face down during the End phase (Determination immediately nullifies) as opposed to immediately upon receiving it. Secondly, Determination makes the ouchie go away entirely- the card isn't flipped down, it's discarded. Not only do you not get dinged with the effects of the Crit, the damage doesn't even actually count against your hull! Not so with R5- the effect of the card is mitigated by flipping it face down, but the card does in fact, stay on your ship, so you are damaged by it, just not Critically. This is why if you scroll back up to my "Usage in Game" entry towards the top of this post, you see that I have "Critical damage effect mitigation". You still take the Hull damage, just not the effect of the Crit. Important distinction.

All that said, is it worth a point? On a generic Y-Wing, yeah, I'd say so. Especially so if you're running several Y-Wings in your list. Only one Y-Wing, I think you're better off putting in a real damage mitigation droid, but if you only have a point left, I think it's worth spending it on a R5. If you've got two or three (or more) Y-Wings in your list, they're each less likely to be the target of focused fire from multiple TIEs, so they're a little more likely to be floating around the board with Hull damage.

Droids- R2 Astromech

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R2 Astromech (1)
Card Text: You may treat all 1- and 2-speed maneuvers as green maneuvers.
Usage in game: Stress mitigation.
Action?: No.

Quick Take: R2 Astromechs are either invaluable or kind of pointless depending largely on your playstyle. There's really not a lot to talk about here- if you invoke Stress on your ships a lot in your games of X-Wing Miniatures, primarily by performing the K-Turn, you're probably a huge fan of the R2 Astromech as it gives you more Stress removing green maneuvers than what's present on the standard ship dial.

If you don't, you're probably not.

As that's pretty much the whole story, let's instead focus on whether or not you should be using the K-Turn. We'll limit this particular discussion to Rebel ships as they're the only ones with access to Droids currently.

Ideally, a K-Turn should be a recovery type maneuver after a Range 1 attack that didn't kill somebody it was supposed to, who is now nearly dead (e.g. 1 or 2 hull points). However, it's not a bad move to inflict on yourself from time to time if performing it will take you out of an Imperial's line of fire.

To put it another way, you probably shouldn't be performing K-Turns for offensive reasons, only defensive ones.

If you're K-Turning just to get an Imperial in your sights and he's not close to being dead, you're unlikely to kill him because since you incur Stress at the time of the maneuver, you won't be able to perform an Action that round. You compromise yourself offensively by not being able to Focus or Target Lock and you compromise yourself defensively by not being able to Focus. Additionally, to rid yourself of the Stress, you have to pull a green maneuver for your next movement. As all ships in X-Wing Miniatures are limited in the amount of available green maneuvers to make this stress mechanic function, you're also compromising yourself in your next movement phase to get rid of that Stress token, assuming of course, that you actually want to be able to perform an Action next round.

Long story short, all of that heartache isn't worth it to score a single hit on a TIE most of the time. Target Lock him instead, fly away, then come back in a round or two for a second pass. Play patiently and you'll reap the benefits.
Now, that said, is it worth it to get Vader with one hull point left off the table sooner rather than later? Hell yeah. Again, don't misunderstand me here- there are times to pull K-Turns. Is it worth it to get yourself the heck away from the business end of a TIE Swarm? Oh fo' sho'. That's where your R2 Astromech comes into play.

R2 Astro won't help you with the losing of the Action and all that, but having all your 1 & 2 speed maneuvers be green for the purposes of Stress removal does put some options back into your hands as far as maneuvering in the subsequent movement phase.

So who do you put it on? Most named pilots would benefit far more from a named droid, but having an R2 Astromech on Wedge isn't a terrible idea if you've got plans for say R2-D2 and R2-F2 already as he can mitigate the no-Action Stress side effect with his card ability. Same with Luke and his defensive Focus-lite ability.

Note in a strange bit of canon-bending, the only way (currently) to obtain an R2 Astromech is through the purchase of the Y-Wing expansion blister. Now, your buddies may have different rules than what's the Tournament Standard, but if you want to play things 100% legit in your games, you have to have a copy of every card present on every ship. Bear that in mind before you make a list with 4 Rookie X-Wings doing K-Turns all over the place with R2 Astromechs as their backseat drivers.

Droids- R5-K6

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R5-K6 (2)
Card Text: After spending your target lock, roll 1 defense die. On a <evade> result, immediately acquire a target lock on that same ship. You cannot spend this target lock during this attack.
Usage in game: Maintaining a Target Lock on particularly tough nuts to crack.
Action?: No.

Quick Take: R5-K6 is a good droid to stick on an Rebel ship if you've got a few extra points and you plan on playing said ship offensively. He's not going to produce a massive difference in your damage output or anything, but as it's fairly uncommon to one-shot kill a ship in this game with anyone short of Wedge or some very lucky rolls, possessing a potentially persistent (look at that alliteration there! Whooo me!) Target Lock is a pretty handy ability to have at your disposal.

However, this isn't a done deal kind of agreement here. You only get the Target Lock if you successfully roll an Evade result on a Defense die after you spend the Target Lock token. So what's the odds of that happening? 3 in 8, or 37.5%. Not great odds, but considering it doesn't cost you an Action- just happens automatically, it's not bad for 2 points.

So the downside is you sort of wasted 2 points to do something you can do for free in the Action phase anyway. The upside is if it triggers, you can Focus with your normal Action instead. That's not bad at all if you really didn't have bigger plans in mind for the Astromech socket to start with.

Again, there are folks out there who will tell you that having points in your list that aren't utilized 100% of the time is inefficient. They're correct to a certain extent, but as having Initiative lends a fairly nebulous and convoluted advantage, if I were looking at a list that was 98 points that included a ship with an empty Astromech socket, I'd consider R5-K6 for sure. You also kind of have to take into account that line of "wasted points" thinking works a little differently in X-Wing than most other miniatures games because not all ships have the same access to upgrades.

I've seen people advocate the use of R5-K6 on Dutch Vander because the two card abilities dovetail in a rather interesting (and FAQ legal) way. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but I think Dutch Vander is enough of a priority target these days, I'd be more likely to give him a droid that helps to mitigate damage in some way. If you're curious about the particulars of that interaction, check out my article on Dutch.

Personally, I like using R5-K6 on a X-Wing of the Rookie or Red Squadron persuasion. If I know my opponent usually runs a roaming, loner type ship like Vader or Backstabber for example, I'll have that X-Wing with R5-K6 go after that ship in particular. Having a Target Locked X-Wing breathing down your neck who has a nearly 40% chance of getting that TL back for free isn't anyone's idea of a good day. Look at it this way, if he turns around and deals with that X-Wing, well, he's not going after Luke or Wedge or one of your other higher priority targets. If he doesn't deal with him, there's a better chance of putting some damage on him than there is with just a stock X-Wing. In my book, that's worth a couple of points.

14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Taking a break from the usual X-Wing Miniatures talk to drop some love on you TheMetalBikini.com style. Hopefully none of the folks who took these pictures will become too enraged at my linking/ posting/ whatevers. If you have a problem, yo I'll solve it. Mail me and I'll take it down while my DJ revolves it, or something like that. 


And for the ladies... 

Oh, come on. Like any girls come here anyway. 
Happy Valentine's Day from TMB.com, y'all! 

13 February 2013

Droids- R5-D8

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R5-D8 (3)
Card Text: Roll one Defense die- on a <evade> or <focus> result, discard one of your face down damage cards
Usage in game: Hull damage mitigation.
Action?: Yes

Quick Take: First let's look at what all is going on with R5-D8- he requires an Action and doesn't have an automatic success rate, but the ability to remove a face down damage card is pretty huge, so is R5-D8 worth it or not?

So what's the success rate on R5-D8? Since rolling an eyeball or an Evade is what we're looking for, the only thing that screws us here is a blank. If you examine a Defense die, you'll see of its 8 sides, three are blanks, so there's a not insignificant 37.5% chance even after spending the 3 points necessary to buy R5-D8 and spending one of your valuable Actions, you still have nothing to show for it.

So with all that in mind, do we like him or not?

I like him, and the other R5's on Y-Wings in a general, blanket statement kind of way. Since X-Wings have only 3 hull, you might not live long enough to have a chance to use R5-D8 effectively. A Y-Wing though has 5 hull, so even if you blow an attempt at R5-D8's Action or two, you still just might be alive to get attempt three or four to work, and although it might not seem like much, there's a world of difference in how many TIEs statistically are required to take down a Y-Wing with 3 hull points left or 4 hull points. 

To put it another way, Y-Wings are much more likely to be involved actively in the game in some sort of (hull) damaged state for a longer period of game time than an X-Wing will be. That said, I could see him work on Luke as well because of Luke's increased longevity due to his Focus-lite defensive ability. As both R2-F2 and R5-D8 are dotted (unique and can only be taken once in a ship list), I could see making a case for sticking R2-F2 on someone like Biggs or Wedge and saving R5-D8 for Luke.

Again, like R2-F2, you can somewhat mitigate the spending of your Action on the droid ability by flying alongside someone who offers the Focus and Target Lock tokens normally available to an X-Wing or Y-Wing: Garven Dreis and/ or Dutch Vander.

Droids- R2-F2

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R2-F2 (3)
Card Text: Increase your agility value by 1 until the end of this game round.
Usage in game: Survival through stacking the deck.
Action?: Yes

Quick Take: For my own personal playstyle and taste, R2-F2 is the droid to have on a ship you're trying to keep in the game in Wave 1. Strange as it may seem as Luke and R2-D2 have this father/ robot son relationship kind of thing going on, I think R2-F2 is the best match for Luke in just about any build. Recall that Luke already has kind of a built-in Focus lite ability, spending an Action on R2-F2's ability just adds one more die to that possibility.

He also adds an interesting dimension to a Y-Wing as everyone is completely used to the notion of a Y-Wing having 1 Agility and you're sure to disrupt some game plans by using the Action and it suddenly has 2 Agility (to go along with the 3 shields and 5 hull).

The cons are obvious- he costs 3 points and requires an Action to work. The three points I don't feel is a bad price to pay for having the option of adding an extra defense die when you want it, and giving up an Action on an X-Wing isn't the end of the world. Again, you're only ever Focusing or Target Locking with most pilots anyway, so if losing those tokens is a big deal to you, try to work in Garven Dreis or Dutch Vander, respectively. Also note that R2-F2 is a "dotted" card which of course means he may only appear once in your squadron list.

Me personally, I don't find it's usually necessary because I don't usually activate R2-F2 every single round. There are some that might say that's a points inefficiency, but I usually have a handful of points lying around extra when making a 100 point list anyway, so rather than sticking on Proton Torpedoes or a droid for a pilot who probably doesn't really need him/ utilize him, I'll just use R2-F2 instead.

The last thing I'd mention about R2-F2 is figure out a system to help you remember you need to perform his action or that you've performed his action. As he doesn't have a special counter, sometimes he can get lost in the mix. I usually just turn his card sideways next to the owning pilot's card.

12 February 2013

Droids- R2-D2

This post regarding Astromech Droids is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: R2-D2 (4)
Card Text: After executing a green maneuver, you may recover 1 shield (up to your shield value).
Usage in game: Survival through shield maintenance.
Action?: No

Quick Take: The key to properly using R2-D2 and getting your points out of him is to not overestimate his ability. Getting a shield back after a green maneuver is awesome, but you can't just charge in willy-nilly like a Space Marine with a new suit of blessed power armor shouting "FOR TEH EMPRAH!!!", y'know?

First, understand that R2-D2's ability is going to trigger during the movement phase in the turn after you get shot up. This is important to understand- if you get focused on by two or three TIEs, you're still going to die. R2-D2 only helps you out if you survive the current round of combat. The other portion of the equation is you need to pull a green maneuver, which usually isn't that big of a deal, but there are some Damage cards out there that will effectively nullify your ability to pull greens, sometimes permanently.

As such, putting R2-D2 on a bullet magnet like Wedge or Biggs then driving right into the middle of a TIE pile isn't the best application for him. I don't know that R2-D2 is a great droid for either of those guys in general really- they take too much fire. Does R2-D2 help? Sure. Are there other droids that can do the job of keeping those dudes alive more effectively? I think there are. There's some disagreement here to be had, I'll fully admit and in the interest of full disclosure, sticking R2-D2 on Wedge or Biggs probably won't be the dumbest thing you do that day, if you do decide to try it.

So who is R2-D2 good on? Sticking him on Luke I feel is a bit overkill, but depending on the droids your other pilots are taking, it might be a good move. Depends too if you're using Luke in a more offensive role or if he's more support because you've dished him Swarm Tactics.

I know it'll sound silly, but I like putting R2-D2 on a low priority target- a Red Squadron Pilot preferably. It seems like my opponents focus on getting the A-Listers off the table as quickly as possible, then deal with the B-listers like a Red Squadron Pilot when they feel like it with whatever ships remain. A Red Squadron Pilot with R2-D2 is unlikely to get focused on early in the game, so when it starts to get late, that dude will likely be completely unscathed and since he's facing less TIEs now, will suddenly become the MVP of your force. R2-D2 isn't going to be able to mitigate the damage from two or three focus-firing TIEs with Howlrunner letting them re-roll, but he sure as hell can mitigate a TIE or two firing on their own and that's a match-up that's going to go the X-Wing's way every time.

I tell ya who else I like sticking R2-D2 on, a Y-Wing. The downside is they have relatively few green maneuvers, but the upside is they have 3 shields standard, so they're fairly hard to burn off anyway so long as you keep them from getting ganged up on. Horton Salm with R2-D2 and 2x Proton Torpedoes? Madness you say!

Named Pilots- Darth Vader

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 1 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Card: Darth Vader (29)
Card Text: During your "Perform Action" step, you may perform two actions.
Ability is an Action?: No.
Excels at: Being the black private dick that's a sex machine with all the chicks.
Quick Take: Vader is like the John Shaft (and I'm talking Richard muhfuggin' Roundtree here, y'all) of X-Wing Miniatures Wave 1. He's a bad mother- shut your mouth. No doubt about it. Two actions every turn? Right on. Pilot Rank 9? Can you dig it?

Unlike Shaft, Vader is understood by everybody, not just his woman. Having two Actions is simply massive in this game and to be totally honest, you really have to screw something up to even get Vader's shields burned off, let alone get him killed. You can't repeat the same action twice, but even if you just Evade and Focus every turn for your two actions, you're unlikely to get hit by much of anything as you've still got the usual 3 Defense dice on top of that!

Personally, I like letting him roam around the flanks of a TIE Swarm filling in where necessary, but really you can use him just about anywhere and have him excel in the role you give him.

Elite Skills/ Upgrades: Who is the man who will risk his neck for his brother man? Shaft! Er, Vader with Squad Leader. So you give up an action- big deal. Vader still has one, and whatever lucky bastard with an Imperial Gear on his helmet at Range 1-2 now gets to pretend like he's Vader for a turn, pulling a Free Action in addition to his own. Recall this Free Action kicks in immediately, so you can use it to fake out your buddies too. Declare a Focus on that lead TIE, then before the fun begins, have Vader throw an Evade on him.

Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about? Vader with Expert Handling. I know, I know. I said I'd be unlikely to pay 3 points for an ability I already have (Barrel Roll), but you can bet any Rebel worth his Jawa Ashtray will be gunning for Vader first and foremost if at all possible. As such, you're likely to get Target Locked quite a bit even by dudes who aren't carrying Proton Torpedoes. Expert Handling removes some of those worries. Vader pulling an Expert Handling barrel roll and declaring an Evade is unlikely to incur any significant damage unless he's getting focused on by three or four Rebels, and flying a TIE Advanced, you just gotta not let that happen.

Of course Swarm Tactics is always an option on high Pilot Rank named pilots, but really I think you can do better with Vader than just letting someone shoot earlier. Go for Squad Leader or Expert Handling and mix it up a bit.

If all that isn't enough for you, there's always adding Concussion Missiles or Clusters. Either are fine options on Vader and increase that measly 2 Attack he's got going on. Again though, at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter- Vader could have a 1 Attack and he'd still smoke fools because he's just so damn hard to hit.

11 February 2013

Why Do You Lose?

I was reading the FFG X-Wing Forums over the weekend and I ran across another thread regarding how terrible Y-Wings are and how underpowered Rebels are in general

I also was lucky enough to play a game last Friday night over Google Hangout (there's another article I need to write- screw Vassal man; play this game the way it was meant to be played) with a good friend of mine who was nice enough to run a 50-point list with no pilots above Pilot Rank 4 in order to playtest some ideas I've got for a campaign system. 

So how do these two seemingly disparate topics end up in a post called, "Why Do You Lose?" 

Long story short, I used to be the Y-Wings are terrible/ Rebels are underpowered guy, but I've since evolved. If you want to get better, you need to evolve too. 

After going on a 8-10 game losing streak back in November and early December, I had to figure out why I was playing so terribly before the Kessel Run Tournament my club and FLGS were hosting. I'd chalked up my main reasons for not being good at the game to Rebels being underpowered, because try as I might, I never could get past the good TIE swarm players at my club. 

Being as how I fix stuff for a living (computers, fire alarm systems, manufacturing processes, whatever), I stopped bitching about imbalance and applied my troubleshooting skills to my X-Wing game and found some flaws that needed addressing. 

1. Movement Phase
In short, I was colliding with stuff way too much as a result of trying to play too aggressively. If you're an Imperial player, this isn't such a big deal because you have lots of ships to mitigate the loss of a few actions as the result of some collisions with other ships or asteroids. If you're a Rebel player however, this is unacceptable and frankly, uneccessary. As I've mentioned before, the game favors the Rebel player the longer it goes on- there's no reason to risk losing Actions for a turn just to try and get some more shots in on a TIE in turn 3. Play patiently, play safely and away from other stuff and you'll be fine.

I've alluded to this before, but if you're having trouble running your ships into each other, make a list of ships at all the same Pilot Rank- this helps to mitigate some of the issue by allowing you to move your stuff in any order you wish. If you still have trouble colliding with your own stuff, well, you just need to play more and develop your spatial thinking for this game.  

2. Learning Curve
One of the main knocks against this game I see on forums and similar sites is how X-Wing has no depth. I absolutely don't subscribe to this notion in the slightest. I do think however, that some folks approach the game from this perspective, and when they don't win every game, they blame the game rather than the learning curve associated with every game. 

This game uses two mechanics that are quite different than most other miniatures games- the maneuvering and movement of the miniatures and the Pilot Ranking mechanic. 

Pilot Ranking has it's own article, so I won't rehash, but suffice it to say, the movement and subsequent activations of your miniatures is different in this game than any other. As such, it'll take you a little while to get your head around it. 

X-Wing isn't the first game to allow some units to move differently than others, but when you couple that along with not being able to move backwards at all, and using templates to cover every possible move you can make, you get a pretty interesting and different set of rules to move your miniatures around at able with. Like Pilot Ranking, it's also going to take a little while to get your head around it. 

Once I got better at those two things my Win-Loss record improved, but what about the Rebel-Imperial imbalance? 

3. There is no "Tournament List"
Unlike many other miniatures games out there, there's no optimum tournament list build. There's not even any must-have pilots in my opinion, and I think anyone whose actually played the game extensively versus just read cards, read internet forums, and thought about it a lot would agree. Are there pilots who are easier to use than others? Most definitely, yes. Is there an X-Wing equivalent to a Draigowing or Necron Flyer Spam List? Most definitely not. Will this hold true in Wave 2 with the Falcon and TIE Interceptors seeming to dominate the pre-release tables of those lucky enough to win them from Kessel Run Tournaments? I don't know, only time will tell. My gut feeling is no, it'll still be balanced, but it's tough to tell at this point. 

I've mentioned it in other articles around here, but the only way to get good at this game is to play it. You're not going to run across some internet list that's impossible to beat even if your idea of tactics and strategy is push everything forward as fast as possible and roll buckets of dice. It ain't gonna happen, so stop spending hours and hours searching and trying to create the perfect list and instead, spend those hours playing the game. You'll be better as a result. 

Playing that 50 points or less, PR 4 or less game last Friday evening showed me once again, this game is very finely balanced. Where the perception of imbalance comes into play is with Named Pilots whether or not most people realize it. I feel that much of this perceived imbalance comes from Imperials being largely easier to pick up and being more forgiving to a new play by nature than an actual imbalance. Or to put it another way, I think that if you play Imperials, you have an easier time mitigating the learning curve associated with both maneuvering and Pilot Ranking than someone who exclusively plays Rebels. 

Being able to deconstruct your game and determine the real reasons why you're losing is an important skill to possess. It's that same line of thinking coaches apply in post-game analysis in sports and it's one I learned years ago when my dad taught me how to play golf. It's also why folks say you learn more from your losses than your wins, but you have to want to learn for it to work. If you blame your losing on a bad list when in fact you lost half your actions due to collisions, well, I can't do nothin' for you man

So the next time you end up on a losing streak, instead of jumping on the internet to complain that Y-Wings are terrible and the game is imbalanced, take a few moments and objectively examine why you're really losing and seek to mitigate those reasons. 

Now, shut down your browser and go play!