02 April 2013

Named Pilots- Soontir Fel

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Soontir Fel (27)
Card Text: When you receive a stress token, you may assign 1 focus token to your ship.

Usage in game: Fairly controllable Vader-like Action functionality for 2 points less.
Breakdown: I never really got into the Extended Universe stuff. Sure, I read and loved (still do) the Zahn or Thrawn trilogy, and the Dark Empire comics were kinda cool, but after suffering through The Courtship of Princess Leia, The Truce at Bakura, and the first few chapters of the first Rogue Squadron book, I called it a day. I don't know if it was an actual conscious thing as this was literally like 15 years ago (and then some) or if I just kind of moved on. I was reading a lot of strange stuff back then- it would have been around the time I read the Illuminatus! Trilogy, so it would have also been around the time I got heavy into Lovecraft, and then a little later, some of Burroughs stuff and of course, Dennis Rodman's autobiography.

In any case, I have no idea who Soontir Fel is. I'm aware he's an Extended Universe guy, and I think he's Wedge's brother-in-law (not joking- I swear I read that somewhere) and he's also a Baron I believe. Of what exactly, I can't tell you, but I think his full name is Baron Soontir J. Fel, millionaire; he owns a mansion and a yacht.

All that said, not being an avid EU reader, I can't tell you why he becomes more focused when he gets stressed out, but I can identify as I was largely the same way during my 5-year stint working for Johnson Controls, Princeton, so I have a soft spot for the guy already. But I digress. Again.

Anyway, yeah. Fel's good with the potential to be scary good. He's one of those cards everyone is using and for good reason- in addition to his normal Actions, of which he has 4- just like any other Interceptor pilot (Focus, Evade, Barrel Roll, Boost), he gets a free Focus Token if he gets a Stress Token. And yeah, to answer your inevitable question, he can declare a Focus in his Perform Action step, get a Stress Token, then receive a second Focus Token. If you're fuzzy as to how exactly that works, check out Multiple Actions, Same Actions Explained!

Now, yeah, normally a Stress Token is a bad thing as it keeps you from declaring an Action and limits your movement options, so how exactly does this all play out?

First, note that the Interceptor is the 2nd best ship in the game for getting rid of Stress via green maneuvers- they have 7 different moves (the A-Wing wins with 8). The only red moves for an Interceptor are, of course, the K-Turns, so that's pretty handy in this context. I can't find a pic of the Interceptor maneuver chart and frankly I don't want to risk waking the kids up to take a picture of mine (note to self- if people complain in the comments, do this sometime tomorrow and update this article accordingly), but suffice it to say, all of the 2 maneuvers (banks, turns, and straight all available) are green for an Interceptor, as well as the 3 straight and 4 straight. Long story long, if you are going with a game plan that involves purposely generating Stress, you've got a pretty wide array of maneuvers you can pull to get rid of it almost as quickly as you got it.

Bear in mind if you invoke your Stress Token by performing one of those red maneuvers, you're screwing yourself out of Fel's Peform Action step- you still get a Focus token per his card text, but you won't be able to declare an Action, since you get Stressed before you can declare your Action. 
If only you could somehow generate that Stress Token after the Perform Action step...

Ah! Good news for us! Fel can take Elite Pilot Skills! A couple of those generate Stress, right? Right you are, my good readers!

So real quick here- Fel's a nasty enough customer with that Pilot Skill 9 and a TIE Interceptor's maneuverability and stats, just about any of the Elite Pilot Skills are going to work well on him, but for the purposes of this article, let's take a look at just the ones that generate Stress and see what they'll net us when coupled up with his card text.

There are three Elite Pilot Skills that generate a Stress Token as part of their card text- Elusiveness, Push The Limit, and Daredevil.

Daredevil has probably the least provocative, most straightforward use, so let's get it out of the way first. As I've mentioned before, any ship with a white 1 hard turn ability and Daredevil can effectively pull a 180 in a tight space and to the side. Usually the caveat is invoking the Stress Token, but in this instance, it's a good thing, so there's that. The downside of picking this is you need to have room to use it, which may not always be the case. It probably will be, but maybe not. As was pointed out in the comments of another article a week or two ago (be damned if I can remember which one now- can't find it looking back over the likely suspects), a K-Turn offers similar functionality in this context, is free, and takes up no Elite Pilot Skill slot. Other than the forward space required to do it, you're probably better off taking another EPS and leaving Daredevil at home in this context, though you can probably bait overly offensive players into driving off the board edge with it which is always fun.

So what about Elusiveness? Well, right off the bat, it's one of those passive, non-Action things that just sort of happens, so I like that. Secondly, timing interference with your Perform Action step isn't a concern as it triggers when you're fired upon, which means you have time to mitigate with a green maneuver, so that's good too. You could go into your turn burning your Perform Action Focus during an attack, knowing if you get shot at later in the turn, you can generate a Focus Token if necessary by activating Elusiveness (and even burn it in the same combat as the one you used to activate Elusiveness if necessary). 

Last, and perhaps most obvious, Push The Limit. Unlike the other two, you can always trigger Push the Limit so long as you've not done something to forego your Perform Action step (which again- with as many greens as an Interceptor has available, that ought to be about 99.9% of the time). PTL not only gets you a second Action, which generates a Stress Token, which of course gets us another Focus, but TIE Interceptors actually have a bunch of stock Action Bar Actions to choose from, so this isn't one of those things that sounds great in theory but is kinda useless on the tabletop. If you dig the idea of Fel having an Evade Token, two Focus tokens, and a Stress Token tied to him every round of the game, this is the Elite Pilot Skill for you. The only downside? You'll only be able to pull greens in your subsequent movement phases, which again, but this time- the last time, big effin' deal. That's some major functionality right there. And people complain that Interceptors are "too fragile." Please. Do you know how much focused fire it's going to take to reliably bring that down barring just astronomically good Attack rolls or flat out terrible maneuvering on the Fel owning player's part? With a little practice and non-aberrative rolls, Fel + PTL is going to see the clock run out on your game the vast majority of the time.

The biggest thing I think you have to be careful of with Fel is ships sporting Ion Weapons as they've got the potential to keep you from removing the Stress Token you generate with his card text. Is that likely to happen on a ship with Agility 3? Probably not, but the potential is definitely there and if they do manage to Ion you when you're stressed, you can bet they're going to have every available gun pointed at him during the next Combat Phase because they'll likely never have a better shot at turning him into dust. Fel is super dangerous, and super useful, but that doesn't mean he's an invincible tank you can just fly around without regard. Keep him away from Ion Weapons if at all possible since Range 3 won't get you an extra dice against them, and you'll be glad you did.

01 April 2013

Wave 3 Card Leak!!!

Oh my God, y'all. You're not going to believe this one. 

I was contacted via email by a guy claiming to have access to the Wave 3 cards for X-Wing Miniatures late last night/ this morning. I just happened to be checking my email before I went to bed when I saw his message offering me the chance to be the guy who breaks the news to the world that the Disney Effect has extended into X-Wing Miniatures. 

I told him I was ready to be that guy. 3 minutes later I had a new message in my inbox with attached PDFs of four of the Wave 3 pilot cards- 3 Rebel, 1 Imperial!

This dude was heartbroken over what's happened/ is going to happen to the game, which apparently he plays (and apparently really, really likes), but doesn't actually have anything directly to do with the development of. I still don't know what company he actually worked for (as in, he explains he resigned over this debacle rather than to be a part of it)- FFG, Lucasarts, Lucasfilm, Disney itself, hell the Andy Griffith Show? I don't know. All he would say was this- 

I thought it was bad when Lucas did tie-ins with any company who'd fork over licensing dough, man. You remember what it was like when Revenge of the Sith hit and you couldn't turn around without bumping into a promotional Jawa ashtray from Marlboro, the Extreme Dagobah Slop Bowl from Taco Bell, or cans of C-3GMO Sweet Corn from Monsanto? 

Well, that's nothing compared to what it's going to be like when these new movies hit if Disney has anything to do with it. I can't get into that- the NDA forbids it, but just look at what they've done to X-Wing Miniatures! I couldn't take it anymore man, I got up in the middle of that marketing meeting and walked out.

They must have thought I was just going to the can or something, and I guess they must have taken a break for lunch. Anyway, once I'd drafted and printed my resignation letter, I went back in there to go the eff off on them, but everyone was gone. 

All the stuff was still there though, including four of the Wave 3 pilot cards for X-Wing. I snapped some pics with my phone because I knew no one would believe this craziness.

The card art is still technically a proof, but it's close enough you'll defeiinitely (sic) get the picture, pun intended.  

My God, man. I still can't believe they ruined this game I've had such a good time playing this since last September. Bringing in a SD? Never gonna be the same after that, especially with the Mouse at the helm. Ah well. It is what it is, right? Enjoy it until the release date. Hope you don't mind your game being invaded by all the Disney franchises- your Wave 3 Listbuilding articles are going to be priceless. 

Mr. X

The images my eyes were assaulted with were offensive enough to make me seriously consider whether or not to call it a day here on TheMetalBikini.com. This is just such a kick in the nuts... I just can't explain what I'm feeling right now. Only a day after getting a little misty-eyed while typing up the 20k pageviews post and now this. Wow. It's been quite a weekend. I've made brash, spur-of-the-moment decisions before, but I'm going to get a little sleep and see what Tuesday, April the 2nd brings before I do anything permanent. 

On the bright side, I guess we finally know the stats on the B-Wing, and I gotta admit, Mater's rules are pretty thematic, as are Mickey's. Dunno about Captain Jack though- seems like they were out of ideas and kinda phoned it in with that one. 

31 March 2013

20,000 Pageviews on TheMetalBikini.com!

If you remember, it took about six weeks, give or take, for the site to accumulate 10,000 pageviews.

It only took us 16 days to get 10,000 more. 

I didn't get the 20k screenshot clean yesterday. It must have happened sometime between me cooking up some Lightning McQueen lightning bolt chicken sticks for my oldest and giving my youngest his bottle. Got close- only one pageview off, but not quite right on it. Ah well.

Once again, I'd like to take a second to thank all of y'all for your continued support. The comments, both good and bad, all serve to keep me honest and on my toes when writing this stuff; continue to push me to make every article as informative and entertaining as I can. Your emails run the gamut from thought provoking, to funny, to simply complimentary, but they're all reflected upon, taken into account, and most of all appreciated. 

As I thanked Sean and Ben last time we did this, I want to take a second to thank a few of what I call the TMB All-Stars, long-time or otherwise significant TMB supporters, when the topic comes up in conversation with people at work or when I'm talking about the site to my friends and family. 

I found an email from Jim "heychadwick" Chadwick all the way back on 8 February, which means he has been coming here long enough that anytime I write about a Black Squadron TIE, I always think of him (and dude, I swear- one of these days I'm really going to sit down and look at your campaign rules- I haven't forgotten, just been working too much). Similarly, I think of Patrick Acton anytime I present something that isn't the maxed-out, tournament standard option for a particular card. Those guys have been coming on here from practically the very beginning and while I have no idea who they are or where they're from in real life, I know just about everyday they'll be here reading my stuff. I'm also pretty sure they're friends in real life, but I'm not 100% sure on that. 

I'd also like to thank Ryan Redman for his continued support. He's been coming around here for quite awhile too and I have a feeling were I ever to make it to the great state of Maine with some X-Wings in my pocket, I'd have no trouble finding a game. I just hope he doesn't live in Derry- I'm not crazy about clowns with balloons to begin with, even less when they're hanging around inside of sewers. Brief aside, the easiest way to scare my wife by far is to say, "We all float down here" in a creepy voice. 

Also, I don't know who Wiles01 is, but thanks for getting the site added to the Reddit sidebar for their X-Wing Miniatures section! I don't really understand Reddit (is it like a big messageboard basically?), but it's pretty cool nonetheless and has resulted in a lot of traffic and readers which is awesome. 

The first site to ever link back to TheMetalBikini was Darth Meer's The Heralds of Ruin and while I don't remember exactly when that was, dudes, it was a long, long time ago. The sole reason I don't include it on the useful X-Wing links is because it's primarily a 40k painting site and I'm really trying to keep TheMetalBikini X-Wing specific. If you play 40k too, you really oughta check it out though- he's got some interesting campaign rules on there and maybe the best X-Wing Miniatures review I've ever read

Lastly, thanks to Rob Tyo. I don't know if he still comes around here or not, but in the immortal words of Billy Beane, he's a good egg. Rob sent me the first piece of "fan mail" ever. It was that email that made me go, "Y'know, I might be onto something here..." And Rob, I still may take you up on your offer sometime, bro. You just never know. 

P.S.- Shoutout to James Mattes who posted about TMB on theminiaturespage.com. That mention set the single day pageview record at the time (not to mention, stood for nearly two weeks), and was only eclipsed when the site got added to Reddit. Danke James!

Oh hell- almost forgot Robert from Team Covenant. He gave TMB a mention on his blog pretty early on and continues to do so even now with his own Wave 2 discussions. I never thought I'd wish I lived closer to Tulsa, OK, but I'd really like to stop by the Team Covenant store sometime. I don't know if you've checked out their site before, but dude, it's what every game store should aspire to. For one, it looks more like a cafe or a coffee shop than a game store, for two, it's obvious everyone that's part of TC really digs the games they sell. Put it this way, if I ever won the lottery or something and had a chance to open a game store I'd definitely rip off their aesthetic  Unquestionably a place I'd like to stop in and visit sometime if I'm ever out that way. 

So there ya go. I think my youngest just woke up. Gotta go. Happy Easter, y'all!

29 March 2013

Named Pilots- Tycho Celchu

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Tycho Celchu (26)
Card Text: You may perform actions even while you have stress tokens

Usage in game: When you need both high maneuverability and high Pilot Skill, maybe an alpha strike.
Breakdown: At a glance, folks who haven't flown A-Wings much may balk at Tycho Celchu. I mean, yeah, he's Pilot Skill 8, which is awesome, but he's flying an A-Wing and costs 26 points- same as He-Who-Bestows-A-Focus-Token, the ever-popular Garven Dreis.

So, is he worth it? Let's look at the differences.

First and most obvious, Dreis is in an X-Wing while Tycho's flying an A. Stats-wise, an X-Wing is the more capable ship, but A-Wings have a pretty ridiculous amount of movements available on their dial, and for folks who play this game rather than talk about points and stats in a vacuum, that's worth a lot if you know what to do with it.

The always courteous Fantasy Flight Games actually posted the A-Wing maneuver dial when they did their Wave 2 preview.

Look at all those green maneuvers and only 2 red maneuvers. A-Wings seem to be really good at getting rid of Stress Tokens, so how much is Tycho's card text really worth compared to a Green Squadron Pilot who costs 7 points less if A-Wings are so easy to fly when Stressed? 

Well, first, you're getting an increase of Pilot Skill by 5 points- a not insignificant amount. Tycho's going to shoot before everyone but the best pilots where that Green Squadron A-Wing is going after not only the mid-level pilots, but even behind some of the lower tier guys. 

Let's dig deeper though- there's gotta be some reason Tycho's got the card text he does, right? 

Remember awhile back when I talked about Push The Limit? For 3 more points, Tycho basically becomes Vader in a more maneuverable ship with one less hull and Boost instead of Barrel Roll. 

Funny how when you put it in those terms, 29 points for an A-Wing doesn't seem so expensive does it? 

Ok, so that's what everybody puts on Tycho, but you gotta be different. Are there any other Elite Pilot Skills that are fun? 

Well, as you see in the above pic, A-Wings have the hard 1 turn available as a white maneuver, so coupled up with Daredevil and Tycho's high PR and you've got a real, the hunter became the prey style table-turner on your hands. 

Deadeye is effective too if you want a high PR alpha-strike type setup. Sure, it works well on any A-Wing because of Homing Missiles, but dig on this little gambit if your usual Imperial opponent always sets up at the forward edge of Range 1 and always move forward with a 5 straight- 

As Tycho's in an A-Wing, he can also do a 5 straight. Two ships fairly close to being in line with each other across the table, both moving 5 straight end up being in Range 3 of each other after they both move from their initial deployment, but you (hopefully) will get to fire first because of Tycho's high PR.

The Ships both at the edge of Range 1 upon initial deployment

Both ships make 5 Straights and are now well within Range 3 of each other

Same deal, just more dramatic camera angle

Take Focus for your Action (or better yet, get one from a buddy like Dreis or Lando and declare Target Lock for your Action), then as the Combat Phase starts, fire your Homing Missiles at some really annoying pilot on the other side of the table at Pilot Skill 7 or less. An unsuspecting opponent may not have even declared a first-turn Action, or might have declared Evade as he probably wasn't planning on you pulling that. All the other Rebel ships top out at 4, which if my placement is right, leaves a ship just short of Range 3 even if the Imperial moves a straight 5. 

Maybe you don't off the victim outright, but then again, maybe you do since he can't spend Evades against those Homing Missiles and you're denying him that bonus Defense die firing a Secondary Weapon. Four Attack dice against 3 Defense dice? Yeah, I'll take that trade off any day of the week, especially if we're bustin' on some ship that doesn't possess a Secondary Weapon System of it's own to shoot back if it survives. 

Might not work after the first time you use it, but there again, having Tycho on your sidelines might be enough deterrent to delay those Imperial ships from roaring forward, which aside from the Firespray, tends to mess up their game plans to at least some degree. Might be worth it just for the threat factor, never mind the rest of the game that Tycho brings to your list.

All that said, A-Wings aren't for everybody. They're tougher to use effectively than X-Wings and definitely tougher to use than a YT-1300. They don't have the guns to reliably down enemy ships on their own and don't have the hull or shields to withstand the consequences of careless maneuvering. 

Me personally, I've had the most luck using A-Wings as the trailer ships finishing off whatever an X-Wing didn't kill on it's first salvo. Tycho would be absolutely murderous following around Wedge in this manner, especially if they're packing Stealth Devices or Shield Upgrades, or supporting the somewhat less offense-oriented Luke Skywalker, X-Wing Pilot. It wouldn't be cheap, but look at it this way- you don't have to install Swarm Tactics on Wedge or Luke to get that plan to work pretty effectively and that either frees up a couple of points or their Elite Pilot Skill slot, how ever you want to look at it. 

28 March 2013

Named Pilots- Arvel Crynyd

This post regarding Named Pilots is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Arvel Crynyd (23)
Card Text: You may declare an enemy ship inside your firing arc that you are touching as the target of your attack.

Usage in game: Blocking, anti-blocking strategy & mitigation
Breakdown: I've been talking about Arvel Crynyd in real life for a good little while now and he was even mentioned in the post I did when FFG did their A-Wing preview pre-Wave 2 release. I'm not going to say it's necessarily the most useful, but I think Arvel has one of the most interesting special rules in the game in that you absolutely can't fake it with other Elite Pilot Skills or combinations thereof, which is pretty cool in my book.

As mentioned in the BBB on the Combat Phase, normally, if you collide with another ship in your movement phase (official rulebook term- overlap), and you're still touching that ship in the Combat Phase, you can't fire on him. You're perfectly free to fire upon another valid (within your arc, within range of your weapon) target, but not the guy you're actually touching, which if you're like me, and by like me I mean sometimes you have brain problems and boner up your movement phase, the guy you're touching is probably the guy you were really wanting to get in Range 1 of to begin with. Normally, my reaction to this little event is to recreate Liz Lemon's masterpiece eyeroll (also my go-to look of disapproval pretty much every day I'm at work), but when I pull this daft maneuver with Arvel Crynyd, I usually catch myself about the time I'm at 11:00 on the eyeroll and say, "Oh, wait."

So there's that. At 23 points, only 4 points more than a Green Squadron Pilot and at 3 more Pilot Skill (yes, Patrick- I know, he can't take Elite Pilot Skills, which is bad, etc., etc.; gimme a sec. :) ), you too can forget to include the base of your ship while trying to execute advanced spatial thinking while operating on around 25 hours of sleep a week and still get to shoot your guns! Huzzah!

I think players who are better and more well rested would find good use in Arvel's unique ability employing him not as a blocking ship, but as an anti-blocking ship, especially in 3-ship Falcon lists as they're a little more susceptible to the idea of the blocking. How's that work? Simple. Give Crynyd a move that'll take him to where you think your opponent thinks the Falcon's gonna be, then give the Falcon something completely different. He moves a TIE or two into the space he thinks you're going to fly your Falcon, and surprise! Arveled.

Now, understand, just because Arvel can bonk into people and still shoot doesn't mean he can suddenly free of all bad overlap consequences; i.e. he can shoot and also utilize his Perform Action step- he can't. You'd hope it wouldn't matter at Range 1, but folks with extremely bad dice karma like long-time Bikini Aficionado and apparent gypsy-curse victim heychadwick can attest, even the bonus Range 1 die might not save you if the dice gods are against you that day. The good news is, the crash victim can't shoot back as they're touching you and are not Arvel, but their buddies flying nearby very well might be able to and you probably don't have a Focus or Evade to burn unless you got it from a friend of your own who passes along Actions or tokens.

So what's the downside? Arvel is one of those named guys that can't take Elite Pilot Skills, which is a real bummer. It also makes him a bit unpopular with some folks because you can take the aforementioned Green Squadron Pilot for the aforementioned 4 points less and get those aforementioned Elite Pilot Skills. As there are several of these which dovetail nicely with the available A-Wing Actions, maneuver dials, missle loadouts, or all of the above, taking Crynyd isn't really something you should do lightly.

If you play in a place with a lot of TIE Swarms that close on you rapidly though, with the intention of blocking or not, you can likely find a place for Arvel and have him do some good. Providing other targets for the TIEs to shoot at works well as a mitigating factor to keep him from getting fired on when he's Actionless, as is driving him down a sideline and then having him cut in on the flank, hopefully denying firing arcs to the target's wingmen. As you might expect, he has some real potential for screwing up a Howlrunner-centric TIE Swarm and splitting them up a bit, or even against a small, specialized, Action-dependent build as A-Wings are just so darn maneuverable.

While he can't take Elite Pilot Skills, he is perfectly free to have his pick of the missiles all of which I've covered before in detail on here. You can find a reason to pack pretty much any missile and make it work depending on your playstyle and local meta as even an Assault Missile could soften up some of the targets Arvel wants to crash into (hell naw it ain't a Dave Matthews link, come on man)- just don't ding yourself in the process.

Additionally, if you really want to throw some points at a guy who is basically the Star Wars equivalent of Admiral Bensen, you can hook him up with a Modification. Obviously Engine Upgrade would be redundant, but you could make a case for either Shield Upgrade or Stealth Device. Me personally, I'd probably lean more towards Shield Upgrade as he's going to get up close and personal, but Stealth Device could work too as it provides a ton of protection on the way in.

As I'm known to say around here and on the FFG forums, everybody is viable in this game, but some pilots are more accessible than others. Contrary to what you might think at first glance, Arvel is definitely one of those "others." He's a little too expensive of a pilot to not have Elite Pilot Skills and his special text, while potentially hilarious for you and frustrating for your opponent, isn't the easiest thing in the world to trigger against competent players. Still though, there's some good potential lulz to be had and if you're a mainly Rebel player who is tired of getting rushed by TIEs every single game, you might throw Arvel in there once in awhile just to keep your opponent honest.

27 March 2013

Titles- Ship Titles Millennium Falcon and Slave I

This post regarding Ship Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Millennium Falcon (1)
Card Text: Your Action Bar gains the <Evade> action icon

Usage in game: Declaring an Evade Action on a YT-1300.
Breakdown: I really thought I was going to dig this upgrade more than I do. It's a flavorful, thematic upgrade that ought to do you some real good, but if I'm being honest, all the games I've played with it, it's left me a bit wanting. Upon close examination, I think I know why.

So here's the deal- the YT has 1 Defense die standard, so almost without thinking, I grab the Falcon title because it gets me an Evade, right? Sure. And I'm usually mitigating one hit per turn, once in awhile (3/8 of the time) I'm mitigating two. That sounds fine on paper, so where am I screwing this up?

I think it's because the Falcon's so dang big, it's really easy for the opponent to get within Range 1 of her and nobody is rolling two Attack dice, the most I can possibly mitigate. Of course, she makes up for it by having more shields and hull than anybody else in the game, but if you're like me, you feel a little underwhelmed by the Falcon title.

So what did I expect for a point? Were my expectations too high? Is my ability to effectively fly her too low?

Yes to both, probably, but more likely the latter.

Slave I (0)
Card Text: Your upgrade bar gains the (torpedo) icon.

Usage in game: Uhh, it lets a Firespray take Proton Torpedoes.
Breakdown: Back in 1996, I was living in Austin, Texas. A buddy of mine who was my roommate at the time, took his girlfriend to go see this new movie called Ransom starring Mel Gibson. When I woke up the next day, he was all, "Dude- I saw Ransom last night. It was pretty awesome.", to which I replied, "So... Gary Sinise was the kidnapper, huh?" My roommate was shocked at my dead-on presumption and said, "How'd you know?" I said, "Dude, he just stole the show in Forrest Gump. Like he's really going to take some lame-o supporting actor work as a cop or whatever. He's obviously the bad guy."

I never did watch that movie because I was right, well that and the fact you kinda already know how 99% of kidnapper movies are going to end. I got nothing against Ron Howard as a director, but that's like the dictionary definition of telegraphing a punch. For the how to on not doing that, reference Fincher's brilliant Se7en and recall that Kevin Spacey wasn't mentioned in the trailers or promos or anything. Hell, they even kept that dude's name off the theatrical movie poster.

As I often do on here, I digress. There is a point, though.

When I saw teh internets dismissing the Slave I title card because it involved the most terrible of terrible upgrades, I immediately thought, "Ok- why?" Just like when I saw Gary Sinise's was apparently playing second-fiddle in Ransom.

First, like the brews at Delta Tau Chi, the Slave I title don't cost nothin', so there's that. 

Secondly, it doesn't replace anything in your upgrade bar, so if for some reason you fancy the notion of hauling around a double load of ballistic warheads, but aren't hip to a Y-Wing, you can do it for only the cost of what you pick to be in your tubes. 

I think the thing that kills it for most people is the Heavy Laser Cannon, as it's a 7 point Secondary Weapon System that isn't just one-shot and if you're looking at Proton Torpedoes plus a missile, you're looking at 8 points, at least. Keep in mind though, the HLC can't score crits by itself, where Proton Torpedoes gets you much better odds at rolling one, which again, I feel like has a much more tangible benefit in Wave 2 against the big ships. 

You could also kind of hedge your bets a little bit by taking both PTs and a missile of some type. PTs are a decent all-rounder, but having those at your disposal opens you up to having a more specialized missile like Assault Missiles, for example, to use if the opportunity arose. 

I've not tried any of these PTs + Missile gambits out yet, so don't nail me too hard in the comments, I'm merely saying it's a possibility that you ought to at least not outright dismiss, especially with the pilot abilities of Kath Scarlet and Krassis Trelix.

26 March 2013

Modifications- Stealth Device

This post regarding Ship Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Stealth Device (3)
Card Text: Increase your agility value by 1. If you are hit by an attack, discard this card.

Usage in game: Making the already hard to hit, darn near unhittable.
Breakdown: Once again, we're looking at a pretty straightforward Modification card that is a benefit to any ship willing to pay the 3 points. There's no ship that somehow gets worse with an extra Defense die, so there's no problem there. Like Shield Upgrade, we're really looking at this card in the context of what other Modifications you might be denying yourself rather than weighing pros and cons of the card itself, because really, there aren't any cons. 

Also remember that this card is a Modification which means that any ship in the game may take it as long as they have the points to pay for it and they don't already have a Modification.

Before we begin though, really quickly lets review what the card text means by "hit."

As discussed in the Bikini Battle Basics- The Combat Phase Explained! article last week, players often use the words "hits" and "crits" to describe attack dice results- namely the filled explosion symbols and unfilled explosion symbols, respectively. I call these hits and crits local parlance, because that's what they are- they're effectively slang terms.

In game terms, or rule book terms as I'm wont to call it, hits are what happens to those explosion symbols that aren't mitigated by a wavy arrow roll, the spending of an Evade token, or an eyeball result which the defending player spends a Focus Token to change into a wavy arrow result. If you roll three explosions and your opponent can only mitigate two of those, you've netted one rule book hit.

Ya dig?

So that's what makes Stealth Device go away- one of those rule book style hits. Scary, huh? 3 points for something that vanishes the first time you're hit? And it doesn't mitigate any Damage you received in the process?

Yeah, no. Not really. They still have to hit you to get it to go away. And trust me, as a primarily Rebel player who's been on the wrong end of Stealth Device a lot lately, that's much easier said than done.

Stealth device is pure evil and don't let anyone tell you any differently. There's a reason why everyone on X-Wing Miniatures messageboards all over the internet have been complaining about the Stealth Device cards only coming in the Slave I ship box, all the while drooling over the potential, especially for Imperial ships though of course, the card is faction agnostic and can be applied to Rebel ships just as well.

Rebel players, you know how hard it is to ding a TIE fighter at Range 3, right? Well, Stealth Device makes it Range 3 all the time. Except of course when it really is Range 3- then it's even worse. Ditto for asteroids, I mean Obstacles. And Dark Curse with a Stealth Device? I'll be honest, I usually don't even bother firing on him unless I'm Range 1 with four dice, and even then I don't bother if he has a token of some kind.

I'll tell you who else really benefits from a Stealth Device and that's a Firespray with a Heavy Laser Cannon and a Mercenary Copilot. Is it cheap? No, but man, if you can manage to keep that thing at Range 3 by having your other ships run interference? That's 4 Evade dice to enemy ships firing on him. 4. On a large ship. Let that sink in for a second.

4 Defense dice. I try really hard to keep it PG on here; if there was a beep button, I'd be sounding like Happy Gilmore missing that putt (which if any of you Bikini Aficionados can find that clip online, friggin' mail it to me- I've been looking for it for 25 minutes now and have come up with nada. I'm starting to think I made it up in my head.) On a ship that has 4 attack dice at Range 3 (remember I said it has a HLC). God help you if Trelix or Kath Scarlet with Marksmanship is driving the damn thing. Holy Mackerel (sorry guys, best I can do- skip ahead to about the seventh minute if you get tired of waiting).

On the Rebel side of the galactic fence (I know, I know, I said take Shield Upgrade on Rebel ships, but I said in general too), X-Wing Pilot Luke gets better being able to roll another Defense die with his defense-only Focus-lite ability, even more so if he's got R2-F2 as a backseat driver. I see a lot people talking about running it on Biggs too, but I personally have a hard time putting Stealth Device on a guy I actually want to be shot. In the interest of full disclosure, the people who advocate putting Stealth Device on Biggs 99% of the time follow it up with R2-F2, so it's not a bad idea, I just don't like the feel of it, personally. Now, A-Wings? That I can support. 4 Defense dice all the time with no other upgrades? Y'all got to feel me.

So all that said, let's say you've got a build of your own making in your hands that doesn't feature any of those pilots or ships and you're still trying to decide between Shield Upgrade and Stealth Device. I think there's two general criteria to keep in mind- 1) If the ship already has shields, stay with that and go Shield Upgrade- if not, throw on a Stealth Device. 2) If you intend the ship to get in very close to your opponent, opt for the Shield Upgrade unless you feel like point 1 outweighs this decision.

Again, at the end of the day, both of these upgrades are great upgrades that will benefit any ship that takes them- Rebel, Imperial, shielded or not. I strongly suggest, as I do with anything and everything in this game, you try both out and see which one suits your playstyle more. Don't rely on strangers you've never met telling you how to play your game- the choice is yours!

Yeah, you're right. I got a little cheesy in that last paragraph solely to set up some Black Sheep. What about it? :)

25 March 2013

Modifications- Shield Upgrade

This post regarding Ship Upgrades is part of a larger article regarding Wave 2 listbuilding- the rest of the posts n this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "Ship List Articles" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Shield Upgrade (4)
Card Text: Increase your shield value by 1.

Usage in game: An extra layer on existing shields, or adding one where before there was none.
Breakdown: Again, the current crop of Modifications are all pretty straightforward in their application; Shield Upgrade being no different. Want to add 1 to the blue number on your ship's cardboard insert thingy? Shield Upgrade's your huckleberry.

So, we'll get right to it- is it worth it? And what ships is it worth it on?

As I've mentioned before, I think face-up Damage cards (that's crits for us common people) and your ability to tack them onto ships is going to play a much larger role in Wave 2 matches than it ever did in Wave 1 matches because it's a good way to neuter big ships with tons of hull.

Of course, that's much easier said than done. Not only do you have to find the points and the right combinations to try and actually inflict those crits, you still have to stay alive long enough to strip all those Shield Tokens off of a Firespray or a YT-1300 in the process. Not exactly what you'd call easy, against a decently competent player.

Now, not only that, you have stuff like Shield Upgrade making it that much harder.

All right, so it's sort of a no-brainer upgrade if you have the points; I mean, there's no ship that actually gets better when it has its shields stripped away, so there's no real downside to taking Shield Upgrade. That said, let's move straight on to why you wouldn't want to put it on your ship.

Shield Upgrade is a Modification, and as such, you can only have one. The other choices being Engine Upgrade and Stealth Device, neither of which are bad choices, are what can make picking Shield Upgrade a little tougher than just automatically trading in your Proton Torpedoes.

I'm going to be talking out of turn a little bit as Stealth Upgrade isn't actually posted yet. I'll talk more about it tomorrow, but essentially, Stealth Device grants you an extra Defense die, but disappears after you take your first hit, for one less point than Shield Upgrade. With that in mind, I think as a general rule, the generic, and by generic I mean no-name, non-dotted pilots, Rebel starfighters ought to take Shield Upgrade and the generic Imperial starfighters ought to take Stealth Device- reason being is you're already capitalizing on something you have. I'm not one of those math whiz types, so I may be fully wrong on this, but to me, a Y-Wing with 4 shields is better than a Y-Wing with 2 Defense dice (again- dropping back to 1 after the first successful hit), and so on. Same way with Stealth on Imperial stuff; I think a TIE Fighter with 4 Defense dice is better than a TIE with one shield. I can already hear the keyboards of the would-be commenters clattering away, but let me just say again guys- I don't think either of these are a bad upgrade for any ship, and there may be math that proves my statement wrong, in which case, I'll change my viewpoint, but until then, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Could be an old ghost rattling around in my head from playing 40k for so long- in that game, you never try and make yourself good at everything if you want to win- you make yourself even better at what you already do well.

Big ships, I don't know. I want to say taking a Shield Upgrade on ships that already have so many shields to start with is kind of overkill, but as I've yet to finish a match with any shields left on my big ship du jour, I can't honestly say that in good faith. Of course, if you're capable of that feat, you'd probably be better off with a Stealth Device, regardless. Making things tougher is the fact that you can take the Falcon title for a measly point and just get yourself an Evade Action. On a Firespray, I could see a pretty strong case being made either way, but I'd lean more towards Stealth Device. I'll elaborate on why in tomorrow's article, though I'm sure you can figure it out.

With the named pilots, this becomes much more contextual- X-Wing Pilot Luke, for example, would benefit more from a Stealth Device because of his pilot ability, and an Imperial that sees a whole lot of close-combat like say, Mauler Mithel, who almost certainly will be shot and shot early on, might benefit more from a Shield Upgrade than a Stealth Device. Of course, Rebel X-Wings and Y-Wings further complicate this selection process by adding Droids like R2-D2 and R2-F2 into the mix, so if you were hoping I was going to produce some big table saying which pilots should take which Modification, well, sorry to disappoint.

Largely, the selection between these devices is going to depend on you and your playstyle. If you're great at maneuvering and staying out of people's firing arcs to begin with, and just need to mitigate the occasional gaffe or forced maneuver, Stealth Device may be a better fit for you than Shield Upgrade, regardless of which Faction you play. Conversely, if you end up with a lot of hull damage because you scream forward into the enemy's guns, Shield Upgrade may serve you better in the long run. Like a lot of other things in this game, your own experience and playstyle counts for a lot when it comes to listbuilding- don't just automatically assume the internet is right about everything when it comes to listbuilding advice. If you find something that works for you, especially if it works well, stick with it.

A few final thoughts regarding Shield Upgrade. First, yes, even ships with no shield value (TIEs, TIE Interceptors) can use the Shield Upgrade- any ship may select a modification. Secondly, yeah, if you've already got R2-D2 for your backseat driver, taking Shield Upgrade is probably a smart idea. Third, yeah, if you were to stick a Shield Upgrade on a YT-1300 piloted by Chewbacca, you're going to be really tough to take down. Ditto for another guy driving a YT-1300 with Chewie in a Crew Member role.