26 November 2014

Potpourri for $500- MM Sale, Work, Work, Work

Hey y'all, long time no talk. 

Ok, first of all, despite the fact that it's Wednesday, Miniature Market's Black Friday sale is now live! Click the link or hit either of their banner ads to access all the awesome discounts on your favorite gaming gear! 

Secondly, apologies for being so MIA lately. I've been called in to fix something that has my guys stumped at least one night a week for the past month, which coupled on top of the normal 55 or so hours I normally work, has really been putting a strain on things. As much as I love working on the Bikini, it does unfortunately have to take a backseat to family time and this other job that pays my bills and whatnot. 

With this week being a short week because of Thanksgiving, I'm hoping to free up some time and get back on track with writing for the Bikini next week. It's looking like we'll need to come in and work Saturday, but having Thursday and Friday off to try and get my sleep corrected is going to help. 

Those of y'all in the States, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Those of y'all elsewhere, well, you do the same too. Without the Thanksgiving, I mean. Or well, I guess there's nothing wrong being Thankful for the positive stuff in your life, right? So yeah, you guys do the same thing. 


17 November 2014

Community Spotlight- South Jersey X-Wing Alliance

Ok, remember in the Fletcher Hills article how I said I'd hoped to run more articles about successful X-Wing communitites? Well, Brian Theurer of the South Jersey/ Philly Area X-Wing Miniatures Game Alliance took the bait and did an awesome write-up not only about his club, but also the steps he took to build it into what it is today. 

Also, Brian and the gang are organizing a charity tournament he asked if I would promote on here. Being the charitable sort, I predictably agreed. For those of y'all without the Facebooks, the skinny is this: it's a tournament on Saturday, 29 November 2014 at 11:00am at All the King's Men in Pitman, New Jersey. The entry fee is a new, unwrapped toy which will be donated to the Gloucester County Toys For Tots.  That's it! As if you needed any more reasons to participate, there's going to be some pretty sweet prizes too- one of those metal edged KR Multicase cases, X-Wing related tokens form Applied Perspective, and some stuff from Loot Crate, as well as some other good stuff. Not bad, huh? For the full lowdown, click on that link above. 

Wish you had a club that could organize cool events like this? Take it away Brian and tell us how it's done! 


Allow me to first give some background about my X-Wing career. I bought into the game shortly after Wave 1 was released. Unfortunately, my life was incredibly busy at the time and I never even had time to crack those bad boys open from their plastic clam-shell prisons. Despite that, I followed the online community closely and continued to buy ships as Wave 2 was released.

A few months before the release of Wave 3, life became less crazy and I decided it was time to start playing. I conned my best friend into going through a couple of demo games with me, and I was instantly hooked. Although gaming with my best buddy was great, we live just far enough away that it’s not really convenient to play regularly. I knew I had to find some other people to regularly get my pew-pew on.

I live in Southern New Jersey, roughly thirty minutes outside of Philadelphia. We have an excellent area for gaming, as we easily have a half dozen game stores in the immediate area. As I started asking around, I found out that X-Wing had spiked in popularity in the local area, but fizzled out shortly after the release of Wave 2.

As I spoke with store owners and players, it became apparent that there were relatively few attempts to network players across different venues. Everyone mostly kept to their own venue. I’ve seen local communities for other games fizzle out and die from this, as players shifted their focus to different games or moved away from the area.

I began to take steps to build a strong, networked X-Wing player base in the area. From my experience managing a karate school in my younger days, I knew it would be key to build a sense of community amongst the members. We seem to have stumbled into a formula that worked. Here are a few of the steps and strategies that have served our local group well.

1. Speak to local game store owners. If they don’t currently have an X-Wing game night, talk them into hosting one. Establish a consistent night/time and ensure that SOMEONE (preferably at least two people) will be there EVERY week. Be ready to offer demo games, and be willing to sit out to allow other people to play or try a demo game.

If at all possible, try to play in a highly visible part of the store. X-Wing is an extremely impressive game when you see it on the table. As you play, you WILL have people coming over to ask about it. Be ready and willing to let them jump in for a turn or two, especially when you’re still building up your player base.

2. Be ready to “sell” the game to potential players. A lot of people have the perception that “miniatures game” means “expensive, complicated, and time consuming.” Stress the facts that you can started fairly cheaply, the rules are easy to learn (but have a lot of nuances as you start to master them), and that games are typically done in about an hour. Above all, tell them that the ships come pre-painted and look amazing out of the package.

3. Use social networking, especially Facebook, to your advantage. Create a Facebook Group for your community to interact and arrange games. To maximize the chances of new players finding you, include the words “X-Wing,” “Miniatures,” and the name of your region. For example, the name of our group is “South Jersey/Philly Area X-Wing Miniatures Game Alliance.” We’ve had a number of our players tell us the found us by typing “X-Wing South Jersey” or “X-Wing Philly” into the Facebook search bar.

There may also be general tabletop gaming Facebook Groups active in your local area. Seek them out and start posting about your game night. As much as possible, try to include pictures of games in action. When people see that you have an active group that is meeting consistently, they will want to take part.

Meetup is another spectacular resource for recruiting new players. If you live in a populated area, there’s a strong chance that there is a local group of gamers organizing meetups. It does cost money to create a new Meetup group, but it’s likely that an existing one will suit your purposes. Start creating event pages for your weekly gamining night. You WILL have a lot of people flake out on you and not show up, but we’ve found some of our strongest members by pulling them in from Meetup.

There may also be local “Geek” Facebook Groups or Meetups in your area that aren’t specifically focused on gaming. X-Wing has a low barrier to entry, and tabletop gaming is becoming more popular and well-known, so you might pick up a few players in those avenues as well.

4. Promote your group and gaming nights using online forums, including:

The X-Wing FFG Organized Play board:

The AFewManeuvers Tournaments and Other Get-Togethers board:

The Organized Play forum on BoardGameGeek:

Try to post updates every few weeks to bump the thread up to the top, to increase the chances of people finding it. You can do this by posting pictures or game reports.

5. Always encourage players or potential players to join your local X-Wing group. The more people you have active there, the larger audience you’ll have when posting about game nights or tournaments.

6. As much as possible, try to have your game nights and tournaments be player-led, rather than led by a store owner/manager. First of all, X-Wing is not going to be their primary money maker. Games like Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh will be what keep their doors open. Offer to handle organizing game nights and events so that store employees can focus their attention on the other games.

The benefit for the store is that you’re bringing potential players in the door who might not have otherwise decided to visit. Even if they only buy a soda or some snacks, those are sales that wouldn’t have happened without X-Wing bringing new people in the doors. Every little bit helps.

The more important benefit is that it will give you some degree of control over scheduling. If you have multiple stores in the area, you don’t want them running game nights and tournaments over top of each other. Unlike the other active game systems in the area, our X-Wing players freely travel across to different game nights and tournaments. We don’t have that almost-tribal mentality that has led to the communities for other games to fizzle out and die over the years.

The main tenets to remember are:
1. Always be promoting. Using social media and the forums frequently will increase the chances of someone finding your group. Every person that joins your group brings potential connections that did not exist before they joined.

2. Be consistent. If you schedule a game night, make sure someone is there EVERY week. You’ll have people who see you play for months, but won’t decide to make the plunge until the dozenth time.

If you’d like to see our local community, you can join our Facebook Group here:


If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below or toss me a message at mightyspacepopeATgmailDOTcom.

Good luck and may the Force be with you!

Thanks again, Brian! And hey, for those of y'all who are new to the game or are just looking for a club to join, a little reading between the lines ought to generate some leads for you. 


14 November 2014

VT and YT Are Shipping!

Sean just messaged me with the info that the VT-49 and YT-2400 are finally shipping to retailers! 

Can I be the first to say, "It's about damn time!"? 

10 November 2014

Winners of the Deep Space Scenery Contest Revealed!

Hey, so, sorry. I'd hoped to do this last week, but work has been a real pain in the ass again. 

Anyway- thanks to everyone who entered the contest. We got some really awesome and inspiring entries! I kinda wondered if there was much of a scene for building X-Wing terrain, but it looks like at least some of y'all aren't afraid of busting out the plasticard and foam cutter. 

We're not giving out first, second, and third in this thing- just three winners. That being said, I was really hoping that somebody would do up an orbital platform like from X-Wing and TIE Fighter and knew if they did a solid job, they'd definitely be a winner in my book. 

I wasn't disappointed! 

That beauty is courtesy of one Jason Breitzman! Good stuff, huh? 

Not only that, he made cards for it too! Complete with flavor text! How awesome is that? 

The next winner I'll admit it- I was biased by advertising. Congratulations to Chris Chivers of Gloucestershire!

Chris made up some rules for his scenery too! 

The TBF space defence platform dates back to the first Sith War against Exar Kun's Sith Empire. Though effective in their time, they were left abandoned by the Republic after the later wars against the Sith.
This platform orbiting Toprawa has been taken over as a makeshift home by smugglers and traders over the years, who have repaired the guns in case they need to defend themselves from pirate raiders.
The current occupant is a frequent patron of The Bikini Bar planetside (He’s gotten a few droids to affix a banner of flimsi advertising his favourite hangout to passing freighters), and has a considerable stock of their finest ales on station with him. In the event of combat occurring near his station, he will wildly fire at the nearest target. Whilst the station’s guns are powerful, his aim is affected by the copious amounts of alcohol!

Attack: 2 (360o Turret)
Agility: 0
Hull: 12
Shield: 2

The TBF must fire at the nearest ship to the central dome of the station at the start of the end phase. Due to the gunner's drunkenness, he never receives a bonus dice for being at range 1, though the defender receives one if they are at range 3. In addition, each uncancelled 'hit' or 'critical hit' is doubled, due to the high power of the guns.

This last winner really impressed me with how technical and professional everything looks. Give it up for TC of York!

TC did a little write-up to go along with his entry. 

It's aimed at being an Imperial refueling and rearming platform that can be clamped onto a suitable asteroid. Hopefully you can make out the legs holding it onto the rock underneath the platform. There have also been some excavations into the rock too, as some bits of machinery and pipes are sticking out of the rock.

The landing platform (where the 41 is) fits a TIE bomber, or Defender for loading up on supplies.

The platform has two turbo laser turrets and you can hopefully see the firing arcs on the base card.

I thought that was pretty cool too.

I just really think that's solid. 

Thanks again to everyone who entered and to Miniature Market for sponsoring another awesome contest! Another tough time of picking the winning entries! I'll be posting up a gallery of all entrants in the next couple of days in the Arts and (Space)Crafts section. 

Winners- I'll be sending along your mailing info to Miniature Market. I'll notify you when/ if I get any kind of shipping/ tracking info.

28 October 2014

Community Spotlight- Fletcher Hills Presbyterian

Recently I wrote an article for BoLS regarding some ideas I had about starting up or growing an existing X-Wing club. This was in no small part in response to an email I received from a Bikini Aficionado named +Nate Murray.

I'd always kind of intended for TheMetalBikini.com to be something of a repository of collected knowledge and whatnot regarding X-Wing. As it grew though, in some ways, it became a community for the community-less, of which the irony is not lost on me: the Bikini's origins lie not only in trying to get Sean and BC up to speed to play, but also because I'd hoped to build a site to grow my local scene by giving the players around here a resource to hopefully get better, faster. 

Anyway, after y'all started showing up in rather unexpected numbers, I always thought it'd be cool to try and touch on some of the clubs and cool events and stuff that everyone was up to in an effort to publicize them to the larger X-Wing community as a whole. 

I largely became sidetracked away from that idea, as I'm wont to do. 

Anyway, I'd kinda forgotten about the whole community aspect until Nate emailed me a couple of weeks ago about his club. I read his email, checked out his pics, and was thoroughly impressed with what he'd accomplished, so I thought I'd share it with y'all before we dive into the Wave 4 pilot card breakdowns. 

And hey- if you've got a club that's doing something cool with the game, take some pics and send me some info and I'll feature you too. It's fun to talk about this stuff online, but it's even better to take some cool idea and bring it to the table of your own club, amirite? Surely we're not all just dogfighting at our FLGS... 


The other day, I was driving in my car with one of the high school students I mentor from our church youth group. This student had recently had made many poor choices that could have had lifelong consequences. During this conversation, he noticed the briefcase that contained my X-Wing Miniatures collection. He asked me what I kept in it, and I replied “Oh that’s my x wing stuff.” His eyes lit up and said, “X wing?”

I said, “You like Star Wars right?” He said “What sane person on this planet does not?” I briefly explained about the game and his immediate reply was, “When are you going to teach me this game?”

A few days later before youth group, we met up for our regular coffee and chatting session. While we were drinking coffee, I introduced him to X-Wing Miniatures. We played four TIE fighters vs. two X-Wings. He loved it…and then it began.

This particular student was at a very pivotal cross road in his life. He lives in a very broken home; his mother has very little income, and also had a brand new baby brother in the picture. His grades had been dropping and he recently gotten involved with troubled youths. In an attempt to steer him in a positive direction, I meet with the student regularly to provide a stable male figure in his life. I had been having difficulty finding common ground with him, but through X-Wing Miniatures I was able to connect to him.

Over the past five years I have served as a mentor and volunteer for my church. These students do not have strong father figures or parental guidance in their lives. By investing many hours into the lives of students I think I’m making a positive impact in the lives of our youth.Some of my biggest passions are Star Wars, playing games, and mentoring at-risk youth. All of my life, I have loved Star Wars I wanted to be Han Solo and Chewy, and flying the Falcon. After my Brother introduced this game to me, my dream finally came to fruition. After this, it was all downhill from there and I began to purchase any and all X-Wing Miniature’s I could.

Now I am proud to say that my collection rivals my brothers and I have at least one of every ship. 

However, after I taught the high school student to play he told his friends. He reached out to me and asked if I would teach his friends. The very next Thursday my gracious wife let me host a small get together with these students. It was pretty epic and they all got the X-Wing bug. So the next Thursday rolled around and more wanted to play. My little apartment was getting too crowed so we had to move our weekly sessions to a bigger space. Two months later, we have around ten students who attend on a regular basis. Many of whom have very broken homes and sad life stories. I know at least one of the kids is living in a foster home.
It all started out with my love of games and my passion for kids. Now I am using X-Wing as a spring board to get kids off the streets and to invest in their lives. Each week I get the privilege of taking at least one of them home and we spent quality time discussing what’s really going on in their lives and just listen to their amazing stories. Kids have some pretty cool thing to tell you if you just take the time to listen and it can change your life, because I know it has changed mine. Hopefully I am making a positive influence by simply playing games and talking.

Now to the purpose if this letter: My collection is over thirty ships but I only have around one of each ship. Currently, I am not in the financial situation to purchase more. Unfortunately, last Thursday we had five students show and I had to create a draft for the students to pick ships because I only have a limited supply. It really broke my heart to see some of the students even create 100 point squads on the nternet and print it out and then realize that I don’t have enough ships to fulfill these wish lists.

Everyone always wants the Falcon and the Shuttle, but I only have one of each. I want to ask if there was anyone out there who would be interested in selling some ships they no longer use at a discount or even sponsoring some ships to our little club. I’d even appreciate some new components like bases and stands. My very first 2 poor little tie fighters are about ready to be retired because they just barely fit into their stands. I’m sure you all are aware of how rough kids are on things, and it does not bother me at all. I’d give all my entire collection to see these kids succeed in life.
My aim is to have some spare core kits to give to each of the kids that come on a regular basis so they can start playing themselves and potentially bring other students to our game sessions in the future. They keep telling me they are going to get some ships and I know that most of their parents are struggling just to put food on the table.

Thank you so very much for taking the time to read this letter. It’s my proud honor to say that through fellowship and friendship the X-Wing Miniatures games is changing lives for the better. Thank you for such a fun product that has helped me build bridges with at-risk students, and hopefully enhance their lives.

Nate Murray

Fletcher Hills Presbyterian Church Youth Volunteer
(And huge star wars nerd)

How awesome is that, right? Good on ya, Nate. I hope you get some new ships, pal!

27 October 2014

Modifications- Advanced Cloaking Device

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Advanced Cloaking Device (4)
Card Text: After you perform an attack, you may perform a free cloak action.

Usage in game: Changing up the order of when Cloaking usually happens.
Breakdown: So when I talked about the mysteriously named and budget-priced Stygium Particle Accelerator awhile back, I mentioned that while it's functionality is relatively dissimilar, it was kind of a poor man's Advanced Cloaking Device because it's another Phantom only Modification and because it's only 2 points. Otherwise, I couldn't really see why you'd be interested in Stygium because the free Cloak from ACD is better than a free Evade token.

Of course, I also said I'd not really messed around with Phantoms much and that I might very well have that wrong.

Judging by your comments, I pretty much did have it right- in general, the Advanced Cloaking Device is much preferred to the Stygium Particle Accelerator, Cthulhu sounding technology be damned (which, yes, is redundant), but because of the timing involved with Cloaking and Decloaking and how that interacts with PS. Not to totally sidetrack this article talking about SPA, but long story short, SPA can be made to work with lower PS ships, but ACD really shines with the two higher PS pilots included with the Phantom.

Before I get too into the verbiage of the Advanced Cloaking Device card though, we need to talk about Cloak and Decloak for just a few minutes. Lucky for me, FFG provided the Cloak and Decloak rules cards on their Phantom preview last May, so I don't have to actually bust out my stuff and transcribe them.

Ok, so let's hit the high points of Cloaking here- 
  • So long as your ship doesn't already have a Cloak Token, you can declare Cloak as your Action whenever you could normally declare an Action (as the result of a Perform Action step, somebody dishing you a Free Action, etc.). 
  • Being Cloaked increases your Agility by 2.
  • Being Cloaked does not allow you to perform Attacks.
  • Cloak Tokens are persistent and are not removed in the End Phase (so like a Target Lock, then). 

On the other side is Decloak, which is not technically an Action. 
  • Immediately before revealing your Maneuver Dial, you can spend a Cloak Token to Decloak.
  • Once you've Decloaked, you have to perform a 2 Straight, or a Barrel Roll using the 2 Straight template rather than the 1 Straight template. 
  • You can't Decloak if you'd end up overlapping another ship or an Obstacle, and in the case of an Obstacle, your template can't even overlap it. 

Ok, got it? Good. 

Now that we've covered Cloaking and Decloaking (at this point, I've typed Decloak enough times that it's starting to look like I've misspelled it, but I haven't- do you guys ever do that?), we can finally talk about Advanced Cloaking Device. 

As some of y'all pointed out in the Stygium article, the usefulness of Advanced Cloaking Device largely comes down to timing. Normally, if you want to Cloak your Phantom it happens in the Perform Action step as soon as you put the Cloak token next to your ship. Subsequently, as the rules for Cloaking forbid you from Attacking while Cloaked, the turn you drop that Cloak token, you're not going to be Attacking. Whether or not that's a big deal depends entirely on you and what kind of plans you've got in mind for your Phantom, but that's more or less the deal. 

Having that Cloak token more or less gets you two things- some slick moves when you Decloak and a +2 to your Agility, and once again, how beneficial those benefits really are largely amount to timing. 

If you follow the normal, non-Modified chain of events here (in other words, not possessing an ACD) starting with your Perform Action step, you'd declare that you're going to Cloak, put the token next to your ship, not Attack anything that Combat Phase, but be 2 green dice harder to hit for the entire time, then as the next game turn starts rolling, you pick up your Cloak token, do your 2 Straight move or Barrel Roll, and things proceed as (relatively) normal. What you're getting here is being super hard to hit through that entire Combat Phase at the price of not Attacking that turn for the cost of an Action. 

Following the ACD chain of events, you could declare an Action (but not Cloak obviously), potentially get attacked by anybody at a higher PS than you, Attack somebody yourdamnself, get your Free Action Cloak, drop the token on the table, be 2 greens harder to hit for the remainder of the Combat Phase, and so on. 

See the difference? Those four points are letting you get your shot off (with a Focus probably, no less) but still reap most of the benefit of being Cloaked. 

So who benefits from Advanced Cloaking Device the most? In keeping with the Wave 4 meta, high PS pilots, obviously. Echo and Whisper are the two high PS pilots included with the Phantom at PS 6 and 7, respectively. While that doesn't mean they'll get a chance to Attack then Cloak before really high PS guys like Wedge Antilles, Luke Skywalker, or Han Solo, they definitely will against those multiple low PS pilots that FFG seems to be really tired of Rebel players playing with- the Blue or Dagger Squadron pilots, Rookies or Reds, Gray or Golds, etc. Of course, you could always stick Veteran Instincts on Echo or Whisper if you're that worried about it as they can both rock Elite Pilot Skills. 

It's not often that I look at what cards go well with a Modification, but the time-bending nature of Advanced Cloaking Device kind of warrants it. None of the System Upgrades currently available make me overly excited, but I can see where if you just really, really, really didn't want to get shot, Sensor Jammers could work though I think it's basically overkill at that point. Assuming that you're not trying to go against the grain and stick ACD on some low PS guy, Flight Instructor isn't a terrible idea (though it doesn't come cheap), especially if you took my advice and went with Veteran Instincts. Gunner, Recon Specialist, and Rebel Captive are the pretty good ideas they pretty much always are for various reasons, but again, cost may be a factor at this point unless you're into running a two-ship list. Navigator seems tempting, but really if you're Cloaking and Decloaking a bunch, I think it's kind of unnecessary as you have three different options concerning where you set up your chosen maneuver. 

Assuming you go with a Crew Member at all, for the points, I like Tactician, Saboteur, or even good ol' Mercenary Copilot. Tactician and Mercenary Copilot I like for kind of the same reasons- with that funky Decloak move and some practice, reliably getting into Range 2 or 3 shouldn't be that big of a deal, and Saboteur is fun because it's an Action not an Attack so you can do it even when you're Cloaked. 

If you're looking for Elites besides Veteran Instincts, Decoy could work with the right setup, but I think you're kind of forcing it to make it happenSquad Leader could work here if you're getting a ton of mileage out of Cloaking after the Attack and don't really need your own Action. Another old standby that gets a mention here is Marksmanship because of that ridiculous Attack value the Phantom possesses, especially if you're trying to really make your shots count in a two or three ship list. The much maligned Expose I think ought to at least get a mention here as well as ACD works with it, though less effectively, but better than usual. 

24 October 2014

Deep Space Scenery Contest 2014 Brought to You by Miniature Market!

It's that time again, y'all! Time for another TheMetalBikini.com contest brought to you by the awesome folks at MiniatureMarket.com

For this contest, I thought it might be fun to get a little more crafty and challenge y'all to build and photograph some scenery suitable for your games of X-Wing Miniatures. Asteroid bases, gun platforms, space stations, derelict freighters, containers, comm sats, orbital relays, floating space taverns, whatever floats your proverbial boat! And while I'm not saying it's a requirement, if you've got some rules dreamed up for your scenery piece, like a custom scenario or a card full of stats, so much the better! Like with the other contests, I'll collect your entries after the entry window closes and host them here on the site for folks to be inspired to create their own awesome scenery and for you to brag to your pals about. 

Interested? I hope so! Here's the rules skinny (which is basically the same rules I always use for this stuff)- 

Entry Guidelines-
1) Ideally, whoever sends the entry is the same person who actually did the work. This being the internet and all, there's really no way for me to police this other than to ask you nicely to be honest and insist that you take a picture of the model with the TMB and MM.com Deep Space Scenery Contest image somewhere in the background in at least one of your shots. The idea here is not to go and grab some picture off the net and submit it as your own work. You can hold your model up in front of your computer screen when you take the pics so that the image is in the background or you can print it out on paper and set your mini on top of it, whatever- so long as the ad is visible, at least somewhat legible, and not Photoshopped into the image. Oh, and this doesn't have to be a piece you created specifically for this contest- it can totally be something you made earlier. It's fine so long as it or the pictures of it isn't somehow the property of someone else now.

2) Please, for my own sanity, send me no more than three pictures of your model. Three pics ought to be good enough to show off your skills and give me a good look at your scenery piece. And don't make the images massively huge either, please. I'd like for them to be large enough I can see your work, but not like 4096x5400 or whatever, ok? I don't want to set like a firm dimensional limit on this- just use your own best judgement, aiight?

3) Entering more than one model is fine, but please send me a separate email for each entry and abide by these rules for each entry.

4) When you send me your pics, please include your full name and mailing address in your entry so MM and I know where to send your prizes if you win (more on that in a second). Please note, this contest is open to everybody- Americans, Canadians, English folks, Aussies, Kiwis, the French, whoever- but you gotta, gotta, gotta send me your real name and address along with your entry pictures. You also need to send the pics from a valid email address, or at least mention one in your entry along with your real name and address so I can contact you if you win. Hopefully y'all know by now I'm not the spamming type.

5) I will announce the winners on here after the contest closes and I have a chance to go through the entries. If you're not cool with me using your real name on here, you need to tell me what you want to be called in your entry. If you win a prize pack, I'll notify you by email.

6) After the snafu of trying to keep all of your Pilot Card Contest entries separate from my normal email, I opened up an email solely for contests here on TMB. This is where you need to send your entries for this contest- do not use my GMail address that's linked on the page and that I've had y'all use in the past to enter this contest. As has been the case before, I'll check this email periodically and reply to those who have entered with an confirmation letting you know I've received your entry. The new email address for contest entries only is- 

If you have questions about the contest or life in general, email my normal GMail address as usual, but please send only your actual contest entries to the Yandex address.

Other Information: 
There will be three winners, but not really a first, second, and third place. MM has ponied up three X-Wing prize packs for this shindig, so that's what y'all are competing for. Additionally, I'm throwing in a TMB shirt for each of the winners too. If your entry is selected, I'll contact you for info about what size shirt you wear and all. It'd be right neighborly of you to send me back a pic of you in the shirt so I know you got it, but if not, I understand. 

While I will absolutely credit you with the work you've done, the pics you send me will become property of TMB and the really good ones will go up as part of an image gallery of cool scenery pieces that'll become a permanent fixture on the site here in the Arts and (Space)Crafts section. It's probably unlikely that you'd be sending me pictures that someone else owns the rights to, but I don't want anybody misunderstanding the intent here.

I'll be picking the winning entries. There's no real set selection criteria- just whatever I think looks the coolest, most original, and totally badass wins. I don't care if your idea is perfectly detailed canon or something wild and original- if it looks awesome, it's got a shot. Again, there will be three winners total.

I hate saying stuff like this, but I have the right to reject any images that I don't feel would be a good fit for the audience here or for any other reason. In other words, don't send me stuff with images that are pornographic or have curse words or whatever on them. No matter how well done it is, I can't be showin' stuff like that on here, man. Again, use your best judgement here people- I don't want to come up with a list of stuff you can't do for this. Kinda takes the fun out of it.

These rules may change if necessary, and if you live in a place where entering contests is verboten, you probably shouldn't enter.

Lastly, if you didn't follow the rules posted, your submission will be rejected immediately so please, please, please pay attention especially to those parts above that I've so helpfully underlined for you. If you get in a hurry and realized you screwed up your entry, just send me the whole thing, pics and all, over again rather than send me an email saying, "Oh hey- I forgot to put my address on my entry, here it is."
You can submit your entries any time from now until 11:59pm on Monday, 3 November 2014. It's a little longer window than usual because this contest demands a little more work than the previous MM and TMB contests. That gives you a couple of weekends to work on your project. 

Good luck and stay tuned!

14 October 2014

Modifications- Stygium Particle Accelerator

This post regarding Modifications is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Stygium Particle Accelerator (2)
Card Text: When you either decloak or perform a cloak action, you may perform a free evade action.

Usage in game: Making the difficult to draw a bead on to begin with even harder to hit.
Breakdown: I've been saving these last two upgrade cards (Stygium and Advanced Cloaking Device) for last because I kinda have the least to say about them. This isn't because they're simple or because they're not worth talking about, it's because currently they can only be mounted onto a single ship of the 20 Expansions currently available- the TIE Phantom.

I've also been saving them because I've been trying to decide whether or not Cloak needs it's own Bikini Battle Basics article or if I should just talk about it in these two articles. Currently I'm leaning towards the former, but that could just be my bad knee acting up again. Walking around on a concrete factory floor all day for anywhere from 10 to 18 hours isn't great on your undiagnosed knee injury from 2011, let me tell ya. 

Anyhizzle, Stygium Particle Accelerator, right? 

Ok, so it's a benefit with no real drawback save for the fact that it takes up a Modification slot, so this part is fairly simple because, well, why wouldn't you want to get a free Evade token every time you perform a Cloak Action or Decloak, right? I can't think of a reason, anyway. Seems like it's always on, nice, free boon to me. And two points is a pretty reasonable amount for something that's going to help keep that relatively expensive ship alive, right? It doesn't get in the way of any of the Named Pilots for the Phantom's card text, so that's no big deal either. And hey- if you're not Cloaking and Decloaking on the regular, you're probably doing it wrong, so it's not like you're not going to get some use out of the upgrade either. Oh, and finally, it's not an Action. So long story short, when it comes to good upgrade criteria, it's like check, check, check, check, check.

So again, what we're really talking about here is whether or not there's some other Modification you'd rather bolt onto your Phantom. 

Engine Upgrade would give an already very busy Phantom dial the Boost maneuver, but it's twice as much as Stygium and the Phantom already has pretty amazing movement options, so I don't really want to go on record saying that Stygium Particle Accelerator is better than Engine Upgrade or vice versa. That's going to depend on the the guy running the ship more than anything, so let's call that a push. 

Hull Upgrade is perhaps not a terrible idea on a ship that costs 25-32 points stock and only has a pair of Shields and a pair of Hull, but like Engine Upgrade, it's more expensive and definitely debatable in it's effectiveness in this particular context. I feel largely the same way about Shield Upgrade, but at 4 points it's even more expensive and again- I think a valid debate could be raised whether you're better off taking one extra point of Shields over a free Evade token that you can probably generate most any time you want.

Stealth Device has some potential for use and abuse and I believe to be the strongest contender for Phantom Modification instead of Stygium Particle Accelerator (besides of course, spoiler alert- Advanced Cloaking Device) because you raise the Agility of your Phantom to that of a TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor until you take a hit, but again- with all the maneuvers and moves that a Phantom has at it's disposal, you're probably pretty good at not giving your opponent a target solution to begin with (unless he's just decided to roll a bunch of turret-bearing ships).

Targeting Computer I'm not really even going to bother talking about. The damn Phantom has a 4 Attack primary. If you can't make that work with the standard Actions available, spending 2 points on Targeting Computer probably isn't really going to be the answer either and being as how the Phantom has no tubes of any kind, Munitions Failsafe is pointless too.

All that being said though, what you're probably really asking yourself is do you take Stygium Particle Accelerator or Advanced Cloaking Device since those are the two Modifications that most fully play to the Phantom's unique strength. 

I'll be honest- I'm no expert with a Phantom yet. With that in mind, to me, they both seem pretty easy and effective to use, even for a relative novice. I think the Advanced Cloaking Device is more attractive, but it's also two more points than Stygium. Maybe some of you Phantom experts can sound off in the comments, but to me, it really just comes down to whether or not you have the points for SGA or ACD.

Sorry I really kinda don't have much to say on this topic, but like I said at the start, there's really not much of a counterargument to be had here, at least the way I see it. There's just no real downside to speak of here.

13 October 2014

Docking Bay 94?

Y'all are pretty cheeky sometimes, y'know that? :)

As I'm always one to reward initiative, here's a couple of treats for ya. Oh what could have been, right? Like I said though, now that we're like a year and a half into it, I can't really imagine the site being anything more than The Metal Bikini, even if it seems not everybody gets that the name of the domain is a nod to Leia's outfit from Jedi. 

I might have a couple more on the Chromebook, but I'm at work and it's at home right now. Of course, I might not too. Can't remember. Thought I had more than two lying around, but I could be wrong. Again, the name change happened very early on. 

If you have no idea what I'm talking about here and want to be in on the joke, check out my interview with the NOVA Radio guys. While I don't come right out and actually mention it by name, you can find waaaaay back in the day of like January 2013 I made a reference to the domain name change in this post

I remember thinking after the interview, I wonder how differently things would have gone with the site had I kept the original name. If like it would have been more professional or serious or if everything would have turned out pretty much the same. If it would have been more or less successful, stuff like that. Who knows? In any case, I like TMB and ultimately, happy accident or not, I'm happy that things have gone down the way they have. I mean, 1.6 million pageviews can't be wrong, right? 


Crew Member: Tactician

This post regarding Crew Members is part of a larger article regarding Wave 4 listbuilding- the rest of the posts in this series will be available in the coming weeks as I'm revealing a post or two per day on the various topics in that larger article. For more info, click the "List Building Resources" tab at the top of the page or simply click here.

Tactician (2)
Card Text: After you perform an attack against a ship inside your firing arc at Range 2, that ship receives a stress token.

Usage in game: Stress infliction.
Breakdown: I don't remember what the trigger was, but I remember having a discussion in the comments on one of the previous articles about whether or not FFG had intended to weaponize Stress from the beginning or if it was some kind of meta-adjuster they thought about along the way. To be honest, I still don't know. I kinda think it's the latter, but I have nothing but my own unique snowflake-like thoughts and beliefs to back that up.

In any case, Stress isn't just some game mechanic to keep you from pulling endless K-Turns anymore.

Tactician is a fairly straightforward card, but as always, there's a couple of things I'd like to point out. First, it goes off after you perform an Attack, any Attack. And by any, I mean either Primary or Secondary. 

Now, before you get all excited, don't forget the bit about your target needing to be in your firing arc. I've mentioned it on here before, but all of the ships (with guns) in X-Wing do in fact, have a firing arc. I know, we get used to talking about the Falcon's 360 degree firing arc and all that, but that's really not accurate from a rules perspective. The rules say that the Falcon does indeed have a firing arc, you just get to shoot out of it because it's also got a turret weapon, just like any other turret weapon. Similarly, the Firespray's rear arc does in fact count as a firing arc for purposes of Tactician according to the FAQ.

The last bit of criteria that needs to be satisfied is that you've got to be at Range 2. This is kind of an odd criteria, it almost kinda seems bolted-on as the result of some playtesting feedback or something. In any case though, if you're at 1 or 3, you're out of luck. You gotta be at two. It's kinda like the holy hand grenade, but in this instance, the number of the counting shall be two.

So how useful is Tactican? Is he worth the seat and the two points?

There are only a few ways to actually, directly inflict Stress on your opponent; Sean outlined them in his Stress Relief article awhile back (as well as a lot of other great points about Stress and if you missed it, it's definitely worth a look). I feel like Stress should be looked at kinda like how Ionizing a ship should be looked at- by itself, it kinda doesn't really do all that much. Sure, it's a pain in the ass and all, but other than being kind of annoying, it's not really a show stopper by itself.

Of course, me taking the time to actually highlight the text and hit that italics button leads you to believe there's a little more to it than that. And you'd be right.

First, inflicting Stress is a pretty good sight worse than just being Ionized. While your opponent does have some options to rid himself of the token rather than being forced into a white 1 Straight, unlike Ion Tokens, you don't just ditch them all at once upon pulling some maneuver. This is the main and probably most significant difference in this comparison. If you have a Stress Token and pull a Green, you're all set for your Perform Action step. But if you have two (or more) Stress Tokens and pull a Green, you remove only a single Stress Token and are still stuck with the other one(s). And being as how you're still Stressed and all, no Perform Action step for you. Which of course, is a very bad thing.

Again though, that's only if you can manage to tag a couple of Stress Tokens on the same ship, so whether or not you want to try and make that your go to strategy, depends a lot on what else you plan on running. By itself, Tactican inflicts it's Stress Token at a fairly worthless time to inflict a Stress Token- that is, not right before the Perform Action step. Your opponent has the opportunity to pull a Green before you really stick him with any lasting effect as a Stress picked up in what's essentially the Combat Phase has no effect whatsoever on shooting or using an Action token.

Obviously I'm not huge on the tournament scene or anything, but I do try to at least stay somewhat current on what the really good players are flying if for no other reason than to try and understand what makes those kind of upper echelon lists tick, but so far I've not seen anybody trying a Stress infliction type list. I don't know if it's because it's too hard to make work in reality or if it's easier to fly Fat Han or Phantoms, but that's kind of what's dominating at the time of this writing.

With those lists in mind, conceptually, a list featuring multiple Tacticians could be tough on a Phantoms list, though I wonder how difficult it'd be to fly in reality. And by that, I mean reliably having those Phantoms in Range 2 and in arc enough of the time to make it work. Fat Han I think would still be a problem because a lot of what makes Fat Han work are the same things that made Han Shoots First work and unfortunately for the opponent, a lot of that stuff doesn't rely on Actions. That said, there would be an advantage to Stressing a ship constantly, even a Fat Han if for no other reason than to deny Focus.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out that there are a few named Pilots who would actually benefit from being shot at by a Tactician, so this card from not doing you any good to actually being a detriment, and unfortunately there's no "may" in the rule verbiage, so if you do wind up Attacking Soontir Fel or Keyan Farlander, you will end up buffing them to a certain degree. This is probably a good time to remind you that you don't actually have to Attack in your Combat Phase if you don't want to.

Truth is though, with a little bit of forethought and planning, Stress infliction can be a real limiter to your opponent simply because many folks aren't used to having Stress foisted upon them- they're used to putting it on themselves and then dealing with it shortly thereafter on their own terms. For that reason alone, it's definitely at least worth a shot in a few friendlies, especially if you fly against people who are constantly using K-Turns, Push The Limit, or other self-Stressing upgrades. And bear in mind, there is a lot of stuff out there, Named Pilots and upgrades both, that work only if the target doesn't already have a Stress Token. A well-timed shot from a Tactician can really muck up somebody's larger plans for Jan Ors, for example.

Being a Crew Member, there's not a ton of ships that can even roll Tactician. I could see it working pretty well on a Shuttle (especially one carrying Rebel Captive and being driven by Captain Kagi), a Firespray could be fun with that rear arc and especially nasty with Kath Scarlet driving, not to mention the possibility of loading up some Flechette Torpedoes (via the Slave I Title, of course) in her tubes, and while there's a ton of competition for that seat, I could see it working on a Falcon, though again- you gotta actually have them in arc for it to work. It might be fun in a HWK-290 simply because HWK-290s kinda get ignored a lot because they're fairly easy pickings even in late game, but the plus side is you don't have to actually hit with your Attack for Tactician to work, so you could conceivably put the points you'd normally spend on an Ion Cannon Turret or Blaster Turret to work somewhere else in your list and still have a fairly useful complimentary support ship. That B-Wing E2 crew upgrade card I'm not nuts about for Tactician- in my experience, B-Wings get their mileage around the inevitable hairball of ships in the middle of the table. I doubt you'd spend enough time with targets at Range 2 for it to really be worthwhile, but maybe that's just me. It's usefulness on a Phantom is pretty self-explanatory with the card being included with the ship. You either end up at Range 1 and get to roll more red dice than are even included in the Core Set, or you're inflicting Stress along with your attack because you're at Range 2. With so many moves available, it shouldn't be hard for you to always end up in one of those two scenarios.

Oh, and a couple of ships with Tactician has the potential to be super rough on Porkins. Which is just kind of hilarious to me for reasons I can't fully explain.

07 October 2014

Another Scum and Villainy Reveal!

So yesterday, FFG revealed some more info on the Scum and Villainy faction concerning the upgrades that are exclusive to these dudes: the Salvaged Astromechs and the Illicit upgrades. 

If you ever played the West End Games Star Wars RPGs or even the newer FFG ones, you'll know that much like in real life, there's a whole lot of fun stuff that's illegal in the Star Wars universe. Guns, drugs, awesome tech- you name it. I mean, Han Solo wasn't smuggling toys for underprivileged kids when he had to jettison his cargo, amirite? 

As such, it's not exactly a shock that the S&V dudes are able to rock the Illicit upgrade which is represented by this little guy-  

FFG mentions that not everyone that's Scummy or Villainous gets to use them though- Y-Wings don't have it nor do the SCYK, and apparently the StarViper only gets it through the Virago Title, which is kind of a roundabout way of saying that only the IG-2000 and the Z-95 get to take advantage of the Illicit upgrade. Oh, well, and the Firespray, or at least the Fett version of the Firespray. Not sure about the S&V HWK. I can't squint hard enough to tell. 

The first Illicit upgrade revealed is the "Hot Shot Blaster", which if that doesn't give you a good enough excuse to start talking like Dennis Hopper in Speed, I don't know what will. 

So this card is kind of interesting in that it seems to qualify as a Secondary Weapon System since it has the "ATTACK: such and such" writing on the card that would also qualify for Munitions Failsafe because it's a "Discard this card to attack" kind of thing, which frankly seems just weird to me. Weird enough for me to think I'm completely wrong about this entire paragraph. If so, I'm sure y'all will correct a brotha. 

In any case, it's kind of an odd card as it seems a little overcosted for what it does, but what do I know? I guess it could be handy if you stuck it on a Z because you really wanted that extra Attack die if a great opportunity presented itself, or you don't have the points to attach something like a Heavy Laser Cannon to your Firespray or you want a single use turret kind of thing. I'm curious to see if this card dovetails with something else that'll be revealed later, because I sorta don't get it right now. 

Feedback Array is another Illicit upgrade revealed yesterday, but it's not a Secondary Weapon type thing, which makes me think that Illicit stuff is going to kind of be a grab bag of upgrades that don't really conform to a given "type" or "genre" or whatever the way the current upgrades more or less do. 

As for what it does, it's a sin eater kind of thing where the ship bearing this upgrade can decide to get an ion and suffers 1 Damage to make an enemy ship at Range 1 also suffer 1 Damage rather than performing a normal Attack. 

Two things jump out at me when I read this card. First, is the whole "Suffer Damage" thing. I've talked about this before on here, but if something makes a ship "Suffer Damage", the long story short version is this: while the ship can't try to avoid the damage by rolling green dice or using an Evade token, if the ship has shields, then the damage is applied to the shields as normal. The point is, it doesn't say, "Dealt a Damage Card", so shielding would still be in play. It also wouldn't take out a Stealth Device as the ship wasn't actually "Hit." 

The second thing that jumps out at me is the seemingly odd wording there at the start of the card. You'll notice that this card is not an Attack, it's some stuff that happens instead of an Attack. The reason I bring this up is I think somebody could make a pretty strong debate for this card still working even if the bearer is on top of an Obstacle. If you read The Rules regarding Attacking and Obstacles, you'll find that "... during the Combat Phase (any ship overlapping an obstacle) cannot attack any other ship." Of course, that may be how FFG intended it to work all along, in which case a debate would be kinda pointless, but whatever. You get my drift. 

 So here's another non-Attack, Damage dealing Illicit card. This time though, it's when the ship bearing this upgrade is destroyed, it dings everybody at Range 1 with some more "Suffer Damage." Hard to say how attractive this is in context without knowing the rest of the Illicit cards, but for relatively low-cost ships like Zs and HWKs, you gotta think somebody's going to try a kamikaze list with stuff like this at some point. I don't think that any of the S&V ships can take multiple Illicit upgrades, but man this would be a real pain coupled up with that Feedback Array I just mentioned, huh? 

Inertial Dampeners, aside from sounding like a fancy name for a seatbelt, further reinforces the notion that Illicit upgrades are a potpourri of random upgrades rather than an organized set. 

It triggers when you reveal a Maneuver, so no using it after you've been Ionized, and you discard it to instead perform a stationary. Unlike the Shuttle's stationary move, this one is white instead of red, but then says you get a Stress Token. At a glance, there's no real difference, but the thing here is that if you just pulled a K-Turn or should I say a Segnor's Loop the turn before, your opponent doesn't get to pick your maneuver because you just pulled two reds in a row. Also note the lack of "You can't pull this if you've already got a Stress Token" verbiage we're used to seeing on cards like this. I don't know if any of the S&V pilots or other upgrades will benefit from having a Stress Token, but this would be another way to invoke it if necessary. It'd also be handy if you'd totally guessed wrong about your maneuver in relation to your opponent's or if you just straight up picked the wrong maneuver by accident. 

The Salvaged Astromechs are kind of limited in their use by the S&V guys, at this time at least- they can only slot up in Y-Wings and they're represented by this icon- 

The titular (huh, huh, huh) Salvaged Astromech is a two-pointer that lets you discard a dealt Damage card with the Ship trait. As the majority of the cards in the Damage deck are actually Ship cards, this isn't such a bad deal. Admittedly, it's a one-shot kind of deal, but with Salvaged Astromech being a "You may" rather than an automatic trigger, you can kinda wait and see if you want to just let the Damage happen or if you want to discard it along with SA which is nice. 

First, I like that this Droid is named Genius, but it's in quotes like it's an ironic nickname rather than a true description, y'know? 

So "Genius" allows a Bomb-toting Y-Wing (yeah, that can happen now- more on that in a sec) to drop Bomb after you execute your Maneuver rather than before, which is of course, usually the case. Yeah, you're probably going to get hit with some Damage, but you're flying a Y-Wing. It's not like you can't take it, right? Well, probably. 

Unhinged Astromech is the last revealed Salvaged Astromech, and in this case, they seem to have saved the best for last. Rebel Y-Wings, and one would assume to at least a certain extent the S&V versions as well, aren't the most maneuverable of ships. For one measly, stinkin' point, this guy changes that pretty significantly by making all the 3-speed Y-Wing Maneuvers count as Green Maneuvers. 

How big of a deal is it, you might ask? Well, I popped over to (Yet Another) and pulled up the Rebel version so I could see the available maneuvers. 

How's that treatin' ya? 

Now, again, we've no guarantee that the S&V Y-Wing will have the same dial as the Rebel version, but if it does? Wow. Suddenly Y-Wings have 7 Green Maneuvers! 

There were a couple of other cards revealed in the FFG article as well. 

So for 0 points, your Y-Wing can now haul Bombs. The only real downside here is you use up one of your Torpedo tubes to do it, which may or may not be that big of a deal depending on how different the S&V Y-Wing pilots are compared to the Rebels and how you feel about ordnance in general. It being "Limited" you'll recall means that you can only use one instance of it per ship, so no, you can't take it twice and fill both tubes with Bombs. 

The Virago Title for the StarViper was also revealed. Assuming your SV pilot is PS 4 or higher (again- no real idea what the significance of that is without knowing the cost of the pilots), he can spend a point to take the title and unlock Illicit upgrades as well as Advanced Systems. Hard to say how big of a deal this is at this point with so much still being unknown, but it seems like a pretty reasonable payoff if for no other reason than to sport the always handy Advanced Sensors

Binayre Pirate is basically the S&V Bandit Squadron pilot and he looks much the same as his Rebel counterpart save for the Illicit upgrade slot, one less PS, and the sweet checkered paintjob on his card art. 

The last card revealed (at least I think it's the last one- Christ! I gotta get to bed here at some point!) is a named Z-95 pilot for the S&V called N'Dru Suhlak. As you'd expect, his stats are the same as a standard Z-95 pilot, but he costs 17 points, is PS 7, and has access to Elite Pilot Talents. Well, that and some sweet card text that says if he's lone wolffin' it, he gets an extra Attack die. Cost-wise, he's the same as Blount, and has the same upgrade options, but has one more PS and access to the Illicit upgrade, which kinda makes you wonder if he's not maybe a point undercosted. Suhlak, I mean. I mean, yeah, Blount has the auto-hit regardless of damage thing, but Suhlak has a pretty nice card text ability too.

Anyway, pretty interesting stuff all around!