24 March 2014

Partial Reveal: The Evacuation of Hoth Missions

As has been the case the past several Fridays, FFG released some more X-Wing Minaitures news on their website. This time, it was about some of the scenarios included with the upcoming GR-75 Rebel Transport.

The first thing that was on my mind when I started reading this article was, "Ok- what are we talking about here? Epic or Cinematic?" For those of y'all who are a touch out of the loop, those are the two new game formats, for lack of a better term, that allow for the use of these Huge ships. 

Now, unless my eyes have failed me, they never actually say in the article whether the Evacuation of Hoth Missions which ones these are. There is a tidbit towards the end of the article, and by towards the end I mean like the last full friggin' paragraph before the footer they always use for X-Wing articles, that seems to indicate that more details will be revealed in the coming weeks, blah, blah, blah, including one where a developer will discuss the role the huge ships play in Epic format. 

So long story long, this leads me to believe the discussion on their scenarios and of course my subsequent discussion, are referring to Cinematic play. Or heck, maybe it's both kinda. Who knows? 

I know, I know, all you armchair, backseat drivers are warming up your keyboards to tell me, "Well duh! Of COURSE they're talking about Cinematic play! LOLS" in the comments. I'm just saying for all the good the three pages of italicized intro paragraphs reveal at the start of the article, they never do really come out and officially say it. It also doesn't do much good for clarity when you say stuff like, "...The Expansion launches X-Wing into the all-new reaches of Epic Play and Epic experiences in Cinematic Play." Which sounds, well epic and takes me back to my old band days when we used to play that song live and I'd put on some hockey gloves (because I didn't have any boxing gloves like Mike wore in the video, and well, because hockey gloves make everything better) and yeah, we even did the breakdown where we'd go into like 10 seconds of Technotronic's Pump Up The Jam at the very end just like FNM used to do when they'd play Epic live. But I digress. 

In any case, as I'm under the impression that Epic is going to be rules for big games (i.e. somewhere past 100 points, but I don't know the actual points or anything), I think Cinematic is going to be stuff like this- structured Scenarios that are at times, lopsided points-wise that recreate moments from the movies and whatnot with some special rules that make the campaign itself bigger than just a bunch of one-off games. 

Anyway, over the course of the article, they reveal some info on three of the four missions that'll be included with the GR-75 along with how those scenarios fit together into a sort of linked campaign system FFG has dreamed up. 

While FFG talks about the scenarios then the rules for the campaign, I figure y'all are probably pretty interested in playing the scenarios linked together as the campaign, so you probably want to know what's up with that while you're reading about the scenarios, so I'm going to talk about the two in the opposite order that they're presented on the FFG site. 

Right on. So it sounds like first and foremost, the main difference between the standard one-off dogfights and Missions we've been playing around with are rules governing the use of the named Pilots and/ or Crew Members for both the Rebels and the Imperials in this format. The Imperials have to sit down and plan out what named guys will be used in what Missions and don't seem to be able to deviate from that once it's set regardless of outcome of previous Missions. They say this represents the rigid Imperial command structure but also state that the Empire has the numerical advantage all the time throughout the Missions and therefore the campaign. 

Well into conjecture territory here, but my guess is the Missions themselves will tell the Imperial player what non-named fighters they'll be using or are at least available and in what quantities, then the player can add the named guys to that roster as he sees fit. Again, just my thinking here. 

For the Rebels, they don't have to nominate in advanced what the named guys are doing, but it doesn't sound like all the named guys are available all the time. FFG justifies this design decision based on the narrative of the Rebels being up against a wall pretty badly when the whole secret base on Hoth thing went sideways and the ground started shakin', the earth started quakin', and the AT-ATs started shakin' them all night laaawwwnng. And yeah, two old bands I was in back in the day used to play that song too. Man, I'm like running into an old band theme here and I totally didn't even mean to. 

Winning Missions in this linked campaign gives some nice advantages for the next round. If the Rebels win the Mission, they get to look at the Imperial forces on deck for the next Mission and have the opportunity to pick from the pool of available (Rebel) pilots the best squadron they can muster against those forces. If the Imperials win, they can remove more named pilots from the list of available personnel the Rebels have at their disposal. Additionally, any Rebel pilots who are killed in combat during the campaign are lost for good and cannot be selected for use in later missions. 

While harsh, I feel like this is going to add an entirely new level of complexity to X-Wing Miniatures- having to take into account the not only the notion that if you lose a guy he's lost for good, but just in the way that you're going to kit them out. Assuming a guy like Wedge is available for example, kitting him out to be a straight up offensive machine might not be the best approach if you feel like you need to have him available through the rest of the campaign. Conversely, if it comes down to maybe winning the Mission or definitely killing off some Rebel hotshot floating around with one Hull point and a crit, the Empire may have some difficult tactical decisions on its hands as well. I love this. 

As for the Missions themselves...

Mission 1 sounds as though it covers the initial breakout attempt. Rebel pilots are attempting to escort the Transport past some space mines and the responding Imperial forces. I'm guessing the Imperial forces in this Mission will be relatively thin as they indicate in the article the Imperial player seemingly has to choose between engaging the starfighters who are mitigating the space mines or going after the Transport itself. 

In Mission 2, the Empire's blockading forces muster a much stronger response to the Rebel escape attempt. The article says that the Rebels will need to survive wave after wave of fighters while the Rebel ground forces push Ion shots up from the surface like in the movie to provide covering fire and the Star Destroyers rain turbolaser fire into the fray, which likely explains those tokens we saw included with the GR-75 that look like, well, ion and turbolaser shots. 

I'm a little confused about whether the next paragraph in the article is actually talking about Mission 3 or Mission 4. I mean, it says "Mission 3" above the paragraph, but then it starts out saying, "If the GR-75 holds fast until the Campaign's finale", so I kinda think the following might actually be about the 4th and final Mission, and they didn't say anything about Mission 3. Or maybe the text is about Missions 3 and 4 combined. In any case, Mission 3 and/ or 4 has the GR-75 trying to make the jump point but first has to navigate through an asteroid field while the remaining Rebel fighters engage Imperial forces trying to stop her. I kinda think that maybe Mission 3 is the asteroids then Mission 4 is holding it together while the Transport makes it to the jump point, but again- just my own conjecture there. 

If you're stoked to fly some of these Campaign-style Missions in what I think is the Cinematic mode, by all means head on over to Miniature Market and get your pre-order on! FFG says the GR-75 is coming at us in May. 

Now, I know the jaded amongst you are already cracking up. 99% of the time I'm firmly right there with you. That said, I'm slightly optimistic this time simply because Regionals were said to start in May and the Assault at Imdaar Alpha is going down at the very tail end of May and there'll almost certainly be a FAQ and/ or Tournament Rules update before then to address some of the current Wave 3 rules interactions and stuff, so there is at least an opportunity to include the Rebel escort pilots for use in Imdaar and/ or Regionals. 

Again, not saying it's definitely going to happen, just saying I'm not immediately dismissing this "expected by" date like usual. If you put a gun to my head and made me predict, I'd say if they are available for either competition at all, the escorts will be legal for Imdaar but illegal for Regionals. Just my own thoughts on the subject. Again, I got no insider info on this at all. 

Oh, and for more info on the included pilots and whatnots, check out my GR-75 reveal article from before. 

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