30 April 2014

Huge Ship Rules, Part 2- Energy, Activations, and Actions

So before I got all side-tracked with work, landscaping, and rearranging the coax cable under my house last week, I was talking about the Huge Ship Rules that were revealed on the FFG site. Part 1 was focused on shooting stuff, because well, I mean, come on- like you weren't most interested in finding out about how much firepower these Huge ships were going to bring to the party? I was. Maybe that's my American showing. In any case, there was just way too much to talk about in a single article, so today in Part 2, we're going to look at this Energy business and also how Actions affect (or don't- read on!) the Huge ships and when and how they handle the Activation Phase. 

In case you missed it the first time, the Huge Ship Rules are available for download on the FFG site here

I mentioned this before in the other article, but Huge ships Activate after all of the smaller ships have Activated, regardless of Pilot Skill. Now, that's not to say that Pilot Skill doesn't matter with Huge ships- it does matter in regard to Activating multiple Huge ships. If that reads a little funny, dig on the example given in the Huge Ship Rules- 


So this is the big new thing for Huge ships, pun intended. When things were less nailed down, i.e. before the Rules were made available for download, we were all super curious mainly about how one of these ships gains Energy. We finally know, now. 

Huge ships gain energy primarily through their chosen maneuver, and secondarily through ship Upgrades and whatnot. 

What I mean by that is, if you look at the dials for the Huge ships, it becomes fairly apparent how the see-saw balancing act goes- long story short, the slower you move the ship, the more Energy you have to play with and vice versa. 

Factoring into that, however is the Energy rating on the Ship card itself and any of those aforementioned upgrades. 

For example, if you pick and then subsequently reveal a 1 Straight for your GR-75's maneuver, you'll not only uh, move ahead 1, you'll also have the opportunity to reach your mitts into your token bag and pull out 3 Energy tokens you can then put on your ship card. The Huge ship rules say these extra Energy steps occur between the "Clean Up" and "Perform Action" steps (which are steps 5 and 6, respectively) of the usual X-Wing Activation Phase and actually consist of three separate steps- 
  • Gain Energy
  • Allocate Energy
  • Use Energy

Main thing to keep in mind here is that unlike most of the tokens you're used to dealing with in X-Wing Miniatures, the unused Energy tokens are not removed at the end of the current round- they stick around until a card effect removes them. That may be something you're doing, it may be something that gets done to you, but they're persistent until they're consumed, kinda like Target Locks. 

This isn't quite as straightforward as it appears at first glance, but it's not too bad to get your head around either. 

So you've revealed your maneuver and moved your ship proceeding through the Activation Phase steps and you've gained the Energy shown on your Maneuver dial, so you're in the Allocate Energy phase. What happens now? 

First, notice the purple number on the Ship card and any Upgrade cards you have in play. That purple number is the upper limit of how much Energy the card can "store", which again, since you don't lose them at the end of the turn, is fairly significant in this context. This is where a lot of your Huge ship strategy is going to come into play- the ships are gigantic to begin with, so not only are you going to be trying to maneuver one without running over stuff you don't want to run over, but you've also got to bear in mind what Actions you need to Perform and what Upgrades you want to use in the future so you don't end up on the short end of the Energy stick when you most need it. 

Once your in the Allocation step, you have the option of moving any or all of those Energy tokens from your Ship card to any of your Energy Upgrade cards, so long as you don't go over their purple number. 

Ionization Reactor is one of those Energy upgrade cards. You can store up to 5 Energy on this card (per the purple number), which is convenient because you'll need to remove 5 Energy from it to actually trigger it. Again, you move Energy to this card, and any of your other Upgrades from your Ship card in the Allocation Phase. Reason I point this out is you have to do all of your Allocation Phase before you get to the Use Phase, so you kind of have to keep in mind where you're headed with your strategy before you start rolling dice or whatever. 

You don't have to get all 5 tokens on there in the same round (Energy tokens are persistent, remember), but you'll need to stick 5 on there before you can use it. And yeah, there are a couple of reasons you might want to "store' Energy on your Ship card itself, rather than just automatically Allocating all of your Energy to your Upgrades until they're full. 

Lots of other Huge Ship Upgrades are the same way- 

These guns use Energy, but also allow you to store Energy on them, so you can charge them up before you actually need them. 

These cards don't have purple Energy numbers on them though, so you can't store Energy on them. 

Recover is an Action Huge ships can Perform to regain their Shields. If you decide to Recover, you remove all of the Energy tokens on your Ship card and add that many Shield tokens. Simple as. If you have one Energy token when you Recover, you get one Shield. If you have five tokens, you get five Shields. It's an all or nothing kind of thing. Kind of important for ships that by default have 0 Agility, amirite? 

You probably remember that the GR-75 has one ship card while the CR90 actually has a Fore card and an Aft card. Functionally, it works pretty much the same, but I wanted to point something out- 

Note that only the Aft Section has an Energy value, so it's the Section that's doing the work in this new Energy subset of the Activation Phase.

Last thing I want to touch on about Energy- remember how I was all curious about a laundry list of stuff towards the end of the initial Huge ship reveal article one of which was how they were affected by Ion Weapons? Ok- now we know. Ion Tokens effectively consume Energy Gained that round on a one-for-one basis. This isn't a choice thing- if you would normally Gain 2 Energy because of the Maneuver you've chose and you have 1 Ion Token when you hit the Energy portion of your Huge ship's Activation Phase, you only Gain 1 Energy and remove the Ion Token. 


As we mentioned before, Huge ships do all of the Energy stuff before they reach the Perform Action step in the Activation Phase. Past that, Huge ship Actions are fairly similar to Actions available to their smaller brethren with the obvious difference that some of their available Actions require Energy. 

There are a few new Actions available I wanted to touch on real quickly though- 

Reinforce is an Action that lets you add an Evade result to a Defense roll. The thing I want to point out here is the reason FFG didn't just tell us to stick an Evade token on the ship like a Falcon Title for Huge ships or something- the Reinforce token stays until the end of the round. That is, whether one ship attacks you or 10 ships attack you, you get that extra Evade result each time one of those ships attacks, unlike a standard Evade which is spent and immediately discarded. The only significant limiter on a Reinforce Action is that it is assigned to the Fore or Aft of a Huge ship and therefore only modifies the attacks against that Section. 

Jam is a Huge ship Action that lets a huge ship pick a target at Range 1-2 and assign it Stress Tokens until it has two of the buggers. The wording on this card is pretty interesting and I've tried to replicate the important parts in that previous sentence. Notice that it doesn't say to stick two Stress tokens on the target ship- it says assign it Stress tokens until it has two Stress tokens. Long story short- if you've got somebody who can eat that targeted ship's Stress, he's still going to eat, but the target is still going to end up with two Stress tokens regardless. 

Coordinate is the last new Huge ship Action and it allows a friendly at 1-2 to perform a Free Action. 

Huge ships that have separate Fore and Aft ship cards are allowed to Perform an Action with each Section, but bear in mind that the Action Performed will only affect the "owning" Section. 

Other random bits about Huge ship Actions- 

Focus, Evade, and Stress tokens have no effect on Huge ships, so having Dreis pass a GR-75 a Focus doesn't allow the Transport the ability to Focus a die result. For rules mechanics purposes, note that Huge ships can, in fact, receive these tokens, but they are immediately discarded upon reception. 

Similarly, Huge ships cannot perform Free Actions. 

If a ship acquires a Target Lock on a Huge ship, it does it by Section. As long as part of the chosen Section is in range, it can be Target Locked and the red TL token is placed alongside the Section. 

Speaking of Actions, this little beauty was revealed in the FFG article- 

Last, and this isn't really pertaining to Actions per se, but as some Modifications do allow Actions, I thought I'd mention it here- Huge ships can only use Modifications that say, "Huge Ship Only" on them. 

I think that's it. Man, it's late. I'll cover Movement tomorrow as well as any other random stuff that hasn't fallen neatly into the other two articles. Peace!

Potpourri for $500- Clarification, GR-75s Inbound, Fab's Squadron Generator Update, Demo Game


Hey y'all! 

Apologies again for having to go AWOL on ya the past week or so. Long story short, I'm working the weekend shift at my work now which (usually) consists of working three 12-hour shifts Saturday, Sunday, and either Monday or Friday. This past weekend though, because of the way the pay period start and end dates fell (yeah, I'm back to being an hourly employee), I had to work four 12s instead of just three which further pushed back any real work on the site here. 

I also wanted to clarify something real quick- nobody gives me a hard time for not writing or whatever. That's just my own internal criticism and whatnot. My goal is to update each week day, which of course I rarely seem to be able to do with any regularity anymore, or barring that, at least three times during the week. Again, that's just me talking. The site is still just me writing stuff on my Chromebook- there's no corporate holding company that owns me or the site, there's no demanding sponsor, or whatever. I see the traffic stats and know that people are stopping by, so naturally I feel a little guilty when they do and there's nothing new to see. 

As always, thanks for being understanding and now that my work schedule should be a little bit settled down now, here's hoping I get more chances to write. 

That out of the way, let's talk a little X-Wing!  

GR-75s Inbound!

Many of y'all have been emailing me the past couple of days either telling me you've had a chance to pick up your Transport or that you've seen them on shelves different places. I got an email from UPS earlier saying mine is on the way from Miniature Market. I hope to have it tomorrow or Thursday. If you didn't order or pre-order and your store doesn't have them yet, you might check your nearest Barnes and Noble. I've gotten multiple emails from y'all saying they've had them on shelves. A couple of readers even said they had them out for sale last Saturday. 

I saw on my G+ feed earlier a store had shared a story about them having GR-75s for sale and they worded it something like, "Jek Porkins Expansion with free GR-75 now in stock!" That cracked me up and I had to mention it. 

Early reviews from the guys who have emailed me have been very positive. Everyone likes the detail on the miniatures and folks say in-game it's a lot of fun to play with. To be honest, I didn't hear much about playing against it, but playing with it on your team sounds like it's been good times. 

Fab's Squadron Generator Update!

Our man in France Fab has been at it again with his Squadron Builder. Remember when he asked me to post on here about getting help translating his Squadron Builder stuff into German, Spanish, and Italian? Well, it appears to still be paying off. I got a couple of emails from Fab last weekend! First, he was contacted by an individual named Toudi (probably not the chick from Facts of Life, but you never know) about a Polish Translation, then the next day he emailed me to say that a guy named Jorge had completed a fully Spanish version

I don't know if it's people using Google Translate or Babelfish or whatever, but you'd be surprised the amount of non-English traffic TheMetalBikini.com receives on a daily basis. Or at least I was surprised. I have to say, I'm super curious what these folks think when they read some of my trademark digressions or old school rap-isms, but unfortunately as a lazy, ignorant Yank I only really speak one language. Like I wonder if there are dudes running around Portugal dropping science on each other in Portuguese then saying, "Ya dig?" In any case, if you're from a place that speaks Polish or Spanish (or German or English), Fab's got you covered! 

Demo Game at The Gaming Guild

+Clifford Holm has been doing some X-Wing Miniatures demos around Evansville, Indiana recently. Unfortunately, I missed the first two, but the third (and at the time of writing, final) demo is taking place this Thursday evening at The Gaming Guild here in Evansville, Indiana. Unless something truly catastrophic goes down, I'm going to be in attendance for this one dropping science and perhaps even some TheMetalBikini.com stickers on the lucky folks who attend. Cliff tells me the shenanigans are supposed to start at 6pm. If you're free and in the area, stop by and say hi. He's also organizing a big game for the May 4th deal at Comic Quest, which unfortunately I'll not be able to attend and is also looking for carpool buddies to hit up an Imdaar Alpha event around here somewhere. If you're interested in either of those, contact him or email me and I'll pass along your question if you'd rather do it that way. 


25 April 2014

Tantive IV Shipping Status Update!

Hey y'all- just a heads up to let you know that the Tantive IV status changed today from "At the Printer" to "On the Boat", so she'll be turning up sooner rather than later! If you haven't already pre-ordered yours, well, there's no time like the present to visit Miniature Market, right? I mean, their pre-order price is $30.00 off suggested retail! 

Also, apologies for the lack of updates the past few days. As to why, it's basically the same story I always tell- tried burning the candle at both ends a little too much between work, family, and the site and ended up burning my fingers. I didn't get much of anything done on here, but my youngest's room has gone from being an office with a crib shoehorned in to something along the lines of an actual kid's room and the backyard is at least starting to go from a quickly eroding mess of dirt, random grasses, and weeds to something at least resembling sanity. 

I'm on weekends at work now, so I probably won't have a chance to finish my Huge ship rules breakdowns before Monday or Tuesday, but I'll take the Chromebook with me to work the next couple of days and try to get some writing done on lunch hours and stuff. God, I love having a cellular modem in this little guy. If I do manage to get anything knocked out, I'll post up over the weekend. 


23 April 2014

Huge Ship Rules, Part 1- Combat and Damage

Monday, FFG revealed the Huge ship rules and the new Epic rules. I talked about the Epic stuff yesterday, and while the FFG update covered both, I decided to break them up over a few days as the Huge ship rules really are kind of an entirely new game unto themselves, so rather than write one massive article, I wanted to break it down into several smaller articles on the topics.

Right on, so rather unexpectedly, we had the Huge ship rules dropped on our heads Monday. If you haven't seen them yet, you can download them direct from FFG here. The reveal article itself is more about what the designers were going for with the Huge ships, why they did what they did, and then a couple of spotlights on the way the Huge ships maneuver and they way they utilize Energy.

As usual, reading my condensed take on this stuff should not be a substitute for reading the actual rules. Additionally, I'm not going to talk about every single thing regarding the Huge ship rules. A lot of this stuff is actually pretty close to the normal X-Wing rules with some tweaks and changes. I'll mainly be focusing on the tweaks and changes and not the stuff you already understand.

Ok, so first things first- when can you use these Huge ships? In Epic play and in Cinematic Missions that allow ships with the Epic icon.

Next big question- what's the story with that monster Range template that goes out to Range 5? 

Long story short- some of the Huge ship weapons specifically say they work out to a Range beyond three. If you're packing one of those weapons, you get to use the monster range template. Don't get too excited though- you know how when you fire a Primary at Range 3 your target gets another Defense die? Well he gets two when you shoot a Primary at him at Range 4 and three extra green dice at Range 5. Kind of a bummer, but keep in mind that just like in regular Small/ Large ship X-Wing, this only applies to Primary Weapons. 

Speaking of shooting stuff, another interesting point about the Huge ships is that not only can they fire their Primary weapon as normal during their Combat Phase, but they can also fire any and all Secondary weapons assuming you've got valid targets. No mention of having to fire on the same target or any of that hoo haa. I'd also venture to guess this is why you can't roll Crew Member Luke or Gunner- since you can fire more than one weapon, allowing you to reroll misses would probably be too much of an advantage. 

As for what makes a valid target, if you look closely, you'll see the Huge ships have firing arcs printed on their base inserts just like their smaller brethren, and in some instances even have weapons (both Primary and Secondary) with turret markings. As you'd expect, Turret weapons on Huge ships allow you to shoot at targets outside of the printed arcs. What works a little differently though is you measure from either the Fore base or the Aft base to the center of your intended target's base. If that line doesn't cross the blue line that sort of acts like an equator between the Fore and the Aft, you're good to go and may fire when ready with that weapon from that particular section. If that line does cross the blue line, no dice. 

See the blue line in the middle of the ship?

Final note on Huge ships shooting at stuff- the CR90 (and possibly other Huge ships to be released in the future) has more than just one arc printed on its base(s). Secondary weapons in that particular section, and by section I mean fore or aft, must use those additional firing arcs when making their attacks. Now, I'll be honest with you here- maybe my eyes aren't so good, or maybe this doesn't even really matter and I'm reading too much into it, but I don't see what differentiates a Huge ship's Primary firing arc from these Additional firing arcs. In any case, they call it out in the rules, so I thought I'd mention it. Maybe it'll become clearer to me when we get the models and bases in our hands. 

One thing I'm not entirely clear on is when exactly the Huge ships shoot. Not to completely spoil tomorrow's article regarding Huge ship Maneuvering, Energy, Activation, and Actions (jeez- this may turn into a three-parter instead of just a two-parter), but Huge ships Activate after all the other smaller ships, regardless of those smaller ship's Pilot Skill. They give this example in the rules- 

Again, maybe I've missed it somewhere or I'm reading too much into it, but I can't find any corresponding Combat Phase entry that explains when exactly the Huge ships fire. Maybe they just fire in standard Pilot Skill order like any other ship and it's just the Activation Phase that's different. Anyway, it's a question that's on my mind and I figure it's probably on y'all's as well, so I thought I'd throw that in there. 

Now that we've talked about Huge ships shooting at other stuff, let's talk about shooting at Huge ships and what happens when you ding one. 

First, as you'd expect, when you attack a Huge ship, you're either targeting the Fore section or the Aft section. If you're coming in from the flank, the choice is probably going to be up to you, but if you're more to the Fore or Aft, that blue line comes into play again if you're aiming for the section that is further away. 

Remember a few paragraphs back where we measured to see if a target was in a particular section's firing arc by drawing a line from the attacking section to the middle of the target's base? And if that line didn't cross the blue equator we were good to go? Same deal here basically- the ship attacking the Huge ship does the same line measuring and if that line doesn't cross the blue equator, you can attack the section you want (if it's in range, in your arc, etc.). If not, you can't. 

The actual Combat Phase portion of rolling to Attack, modifying, rolling to Defend, modifying is pretty well the same. Huge ships have a stock Defense of 0, but can gain dice through Crew Members, Upgrades, or obstructing Obstacles and whatnot it sounds like. 

Should you manage to land some hits against a Huge ship, understand that some Huge ships have a separate Fore Pilot Card and a separate Aft Pilot Card, while some Huge ships just have a single card to represent the ship. This goes on to make something of a difference in the way Damage is applied. 

For ships with a single card, you still have Fore and Aft Damage Decks, and as a ship attacking a Huge ship, you still target the Fore or the Aft of the ship with your attack. If you manage to land hits, you deal Damage Cards from that particular section's Damage Deck against the Hull value of that ship just like when you land hits on any other ship in X-Wing. Stick a number of cards to the Huge ship in an amount that equals or exceeds the Hull value on the card, and it's toast. 

For ships with separate Fore and Aft cards, it works similarly, but as you've probably guessed, the Damage card instead gets stuck to the Fore card or the Aft card as determined by the location of your attack and therefore counts against that section card's Hull value only. If you manage to equal or exceed the Hull value on that section card with Damage cards, then you've managed to Cripple that section of the Huge ship. This ends up being a pretty big deal. 

When a ship has a section Crippled, the owner of the Huge ship flips over the section card to reveal the Crippled face. Crippled sections have less Upgrade slots than the regular, full-strength section card, and if the guy with the Huge ship has more Upgrades than slots upon the Crippling, he has to discard down to the new Crippled limit. Crippled sections also produce less Energy, so if he has more Energy tokens than what's allowed under the new Crippled status, he has to discard those too. Titles and Modifications aren't affected by Crippling and once a section is Crippled, it can no longer be targeted or assigned further damage. 

If a Huge ship has both its Fore and Aft Crippled, it's destroyed. 

All that said, Huge ships still observe the Simultaneous Attack rules, so while Face-up Damage effects are still in play once they're applied, the Huge ship does get a chance to return fire on opponents before it's removed from the game. 

There are also a couple of mentions about damage that would affect both the Fore and the Aft are applied to one or the other as chosen by the Attacking player. I'm guessing those are Face-up Damage card text type effects, but again, not actually having seen any of these Damage Deck cards, it's kinda hard to say. I will say I sort of don't see how that could happen if it isn't some kind of card text effect, which is what's pushing me into that assumption. 

22 April 2014

Epic Format Rules Revealed!

Man, it seems like it's been ages since I did anything but talk about new stuff on here, but well, here we go again.

Yesterday, FFG pulled the curtain back on one of the new game formats they've been hinting around at since the Huge ships were first partially revealed. Yes, as you've probably already heard or at least perhaps noticed in the title of this article, it was the Epic Rules.

We all kinda knew that the Epic rules involved games at points above 100, but other than that, we didn't know much at all. Now of course we do.

First, here's a direct link to the Epic Tournament Rules.

You'll notice the Epic Rules pretty closely follow the Tournament Rules I talked about yesterday. Lots of the same verbiage regarding TO participation, component modification, sportsmanship, etc., etc., right? I'm not going to rehash all that business. Instead, I'll just talk about what makes Epic, well epic and we'll just kind of go from there, ok?

Epic Dogfight Tournament Rules
Right on, so the biggest difference between Epic and standard here is the points level- Epic Dogfights have the two opponents squaring off with 300 point lists. As the point total is three times higher than a normal match, the time limit is increased accordingly as well- 180 minutes is the standard which can be turned down to 150 minutes or up to 210 so long as the increase or decrease is conveyed to the players in advance.

In addition to the 300 points, players are also allowed 5 Epic Points which can be spent on Huge ships. Note that you still have to pay for the ship (and upgrades) in standard points like normal- Epic Points just more or less encourages you to not just buy three 'Vettes and roll that (I guess) for your Epic list. The Transport is worth 2 Epic points, the Tantive is worth 3 Epic Points, by the way.

Points aside, the final limiter on what you can field in Epic is another slightly modified standard dogfight idea- players are limited to no more than 12 small ships of the same type or 6 large ships of the same type. Again, just to clarify, a TIE Fighter is a TIE Fighter is a TIE Fighter. What I mean by that is different pilots don't count as ship types. Whether you're talking about the multitude of X-Wing pilots that'll be available very soon or the myriad of available TIE Fighter pilots, 12 total is all you have for that.

Much like upping the time limit, you'd expect that Epic matches are played on an area larger than 3' x 3'. You'd be right expecting that. Epic matches are played on a 6' x 3' area with the long edges being "player edges" (just like a 40k table's orientation, in other words with the long edges to the players and the short edges on the sides).

Deployment pretty well follows Tournament rules, but you drop 12 asteroids on the table rather than just 6 and in what I assume is an an effort to speed things up a bit, players drop them two at a time starting with the guy who holds initiative. Huge ships are then dropped before large or small ships and are deployed in such a way that at least part of its base is touching the player edge. Note that this Huge ship deployment step is actually separate from the large and small ship step, so you and your buddy are going to drop all of the Huge ships before you start dropping the smaller stuff. Oh, and the smaller, and by smaller I do mean both Large and Small, stuff can now be dropped at Range 1-2 from the Player Edge instead of just Range 1.

Past that, pretty much everything else is the same- win conditions, points earned for Match Win, Modified Match Win, 12 point differential, etc. The only difference here is a couple of restrictions-

1) Biggs' card text doesn't work for folks attacking Huge ships
2) Luke, Gunner, and Navigator can't be Crew Members on Huge ships

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, "Well, that sounds really cool, but man, I don't know if I have 300 points available in my personal collection. I wish there was some way I could team up with a pal to play one of these huge games."

Lucky you, because...

Epic Dogfight Tournament Team Rules
This has me more excited than a farm boy going to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters. Yes aficionados, you can play an officially sanctioned team game in this Epic format! How cool is that?

Differences between Team Epic and Epic are pretty much what you'd expect- essentially, what was a 1v1 game in normal Epic is now 2v2. The teams must both use the same Faction, and if your buddy uses a dotted card, that card is unavailable to your squadron.

Additionally, instead of 300 points with 5 Epic points, players build 200 point squads with 3 Epic points available. Similarly, instead of being limited to 12 Small ships and 6 Large ships of the same type, Team Epic limits you to 8 Small ships and 4 Large ships of the same type.

Teams must nominate a Captain who ends up being the guy that turns in the lists for both players on the team. Captains are also the guys who do the asteroid placement which works exactly the same as Epic- 12 obstacles total dropped in two at a time.

All of the players are required to show up with a core set (why? I don't know either- seems kinda redundant), and while point 3 under Deployment kinda gives the impression that the team shares a damage deck, later on under Damage Cards sub-heading, you get the impression that each player has his own damage deck for his ships. I think everyone will have their own decks and point 3 is just kind of an inadvertent copy-paste kind of thing, but maybe they'll clarify it a little for us in a newer version.

The rule in the main X-Wing Rulebook about Table Talk in team settings is overruled in Epic Team- you can talk as much as you want and you can even show your teammate your maneuver dials.

Past that, it's pretty well the same.

I don't know about you guys, but between this and Escalation, I'm pretty stoked about these new ways of playing the game. Seems like tournaments are going to take forever nowdays, but it oughta be fun regardless! If I'm honest, the idea of playing a 1v1 Epic game in an actual tournament setting seems daunting to say the least, but a 2v2 match seems like a blast, not to mention being slightly easier on the old wallet. I think most everybody who has been into this game for awhile could probably put together a pretty competitive 200 point list with the stuff they've got lying around, right? Even without Huge ships? I think so.

I do wonder if the Huge ships will be worth their points in this kind of setting though. I mean, right off the bat you kind of look at it and if you're Rebels, you're considering whether or not you go with your standard 100 point list, throw in a Huge ship or two, and fill-in whatever's left. You kinda feel like the Imperials get left out as they don't have any Huge ships yet. Still though, you start to consider just how many Small and Large Imperials you could stick in a 200 or 300 point list and you start to wonder if those Huge ships will be able to justify their points cost.

Here's to looking forward to finding out!

21 April 2014

Tournament Talk: New Tournament Rules v 1.5.2

As mentioned last week, there are some fairly significant changes lurking within the new Tournament Rules. Let's go down the list and see what jumps out at us, ok?

Intro (untitled lead-in section)
Reference to two different tournament types- competitive and premier.

Component Interpretation and Rules
The TO has the ability to overrule the FAQ when in the TO's opinion, "a mistake or error is discovered." I'll be honest, I'm not nuts about that little tidbit. I understand what they're going for there, but I worry that too many TOs will use that entry to justify bad rulings and/ or rulings where they didn't consult the FAQ. Maybe I'm paranoid or looking for something that isn't there, but this just smacks of something that's going to be abused by stores that don't have a strong X-Wing presence where most everyone knows the rules. Hope I'm wrong about it.

Tournament Organizer Participation
TOs can only play in casual level events or competitive level events if there is a second TO. TOs cannot play in premier level events and cannot participate in their own Regionals, National, or World event.

This decision may not be the most popular, but I think it's a good idea. While I realize it's no fun to organize as opposed to play, I think overall it's poor form to play in a tournament that you're also organizing. I remember reading a post on the FFG boards back in the day where this guy kinda felt like he'd been screwed over by a playing TO. Long story short, he kinda had really, but it wasn't necessarily because the TO was a playing TO, it just made things worse because he was a playing TO and the way in which he'd screwed up kinda favored him and not the guy who felt like he'd been screwed. Had the TO not been playing, the outcome wouldn't have changed really, but the guy's perception of the tournament would have. Know what I'm sayin'?

Component Modifications
3rd part tokens are now acceptable (surprised they weren't before, but they're marked pink so I guess they weren't) so long as it's clear what they represent. It's also now acceptable to use modified ship pegs, but bases still need to be stock though you can add weights. No change to the ruling on painting and modification to the ship models themselves- acceptable and unacceptable, respectively.

Asteroids and obstacles still can't be modified either and you can't use "setup templates" during your deployment, though it's perfectly acceptable to use your range ruler and stuff to precisely position your ships.

Players can't use their own playmats, though TOs can ask players to bring mats ahead of time and randomize their use amongst the participants.

Squad Building
After the first round (in which everyone is randomly paired up barring two family members playing each other or people who traveled together), the players are seeded by their tournament points where the TO is expected to pair people by their point totals as closely as possible. Also if there are an odd number of players, the bye goes to one of the lowest ranked participants and counts as a match win.

Squad Deployment
I don't think this is any different, but you can fully deploy everything before the TO says you can start playing.

Lowest squad total determines Initiative, if there's a tie, flip a coin.

EDIT: I should have spent a little more time on this when I wrote it. Lowest squad total still determines Initiative, but now, the player with the lowest total points gets to pick if he wants the initiative or not rather than just automatically getting it.

End of Match
If you destroy all of your opponents ships and have at least one ship of your own left, you automatically score a Match Win and your opponent scores a Match Loss. If neither have ships remaining, it's a Draw.

If your match is called for time, finish the current round then add up the points on the ships that you destroyed including upgrades. The person who scored more receives a Modified Match Win unless they outscore their opponent by more than 12 in which case they earn a Match Win.

EDIT: Some of the commenters on this article thought I should have called more attention to this points differential. It used to be 33, which I'm sure many of you know as I've mentioned it on here a bunch of times in various articles, now it is only 12. So there ya go- attention called.

Match Win- 5 Tournament Points
Modified Match Win- 3 Tournament Points
Draw- 1 Tournament Point
Match Loss- 0 Tournament Points

Tie Breaker
If two participants end up on the same point total, the tie is broken by adding up the match points earned by their opponents in the opponents other matches which FFG refers to as calculating the "Strength of Schedule." Long story short, the guy who had the tougher set of opponents (e.g. higher match points total) wins the tie.

Ok, so this is a new one on everybody. Long story short, the Dogfight rules still apply most of the time, but there are a few exceptions with regard to squad building.

Escalation Tournaments have four rounds and in each of the rounds, players are given more points to field their squad as well as more time to play their games.

I'm cutting out some verbiage and throwing the times and points at you in a condensed form, but basically it goes like this-

Round 1- 50 minutes, 60 point squadrons
Round 2- 70 minutes, 90 point squadrons
Round 3- 90 minutes, 120 point squadrons
Round 4- 120 minutes, 150 point squadrons

TOs can adjust those times up or down by 10 minutes. As you'd expect, you don't have to field the full amount of points; you can field less, but cannot field more.

Escalation Squad Building
Players can't field more than 8 small ships or 4 large ships in their squadron at any points level. EDIT: Worded this one poorly too. You can't field more than 8 small ships of the same type or 4 large ships of the same type in your lists.

In other words, you can't field 10 Academy TIEs for your Round 3 Imperial Escalation squadron.

Round 2, 3, and 4 Squadrons must include the full contents and upgrades of the previous squadrons and the upgrades must stay on the same ships that previously used them though new upgrades may be added.

Additional Tournament Rules
Score Piles
Basically, when your stuff gets killed, you're asked to put the pilot card and any upgrades into what is effectively a discard pile rather than back into your pilot card deck or whatever. Long story short, if your game ends on time, you add up the contents of your "score pile" and that's what is used to calculate your match outcome.

Only thing to watch here is you don't put in "discard this card to..." type cards (torpedoes, missiles, bombs, etc., for example) until the owning ship is destroyed.

Tournament Squad Pool
Legal Products
Gone is the list of ships that can be used in tournaments. Long story short, anything not sporting the epic icon is good to go for tournament play.

Tiers of Tournament Play
Casual- "Have fun" type games, leagues, etc. May include variants.
Competitive- Consistent rules, events like Store Championships and Kessel Run/ Imdaar Alpha type things
Premier- Regionals, National, and World type events. Interestingly, this is the only level mentioned where players are expected to play by the Tournament Rules and FAQ.

So there ya go. What do you make of all that?

Escalation seems fun though not having built an Imperial 150 point list that caps at 8 TIEs and 4 large ships, I wonder if some of y'all might want to debate me on that point.

18 April 2014

GR-75 Transport Now Shipping!

When I received an email from our old pal +Matthew Taylor earlier, I thought it was going to be regarding the butt-kicking his Sharks gave my Kings last night in Game 1 of their 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs series, but no! 

It was to inform me that he'd just seen that the GR-75 is Now Shipping on FFG's Upcoming page!

As always, TheMetalBikini.com encourages you to patronize our sponsor, Miniature Market


17 April 2014

Just The FAQs Ma'am- FAQ v 2.0.1

As I said on G+, I'd hoped to update TMB with this article night before last, which means it would have shown up yesterday, but long story short- I fell asleep on the couch.

I actually woke up a couple of times, early enough that I could have written the update, but unlike the previous FAQ and Tournament Rules updates, this wasn't some deal where I'd scan through the pink text, think to myself, "Oh, well that's different" or whatever, then talk about it a little bit. No aficionados, these were actually pretty significant changes and I didn't want to half-ass it or get a bunch of it wrong or whatever, so I really wanted to take some time and read through what all was changing before I wrote about it on here.

Before I jump into this, I want to mention something really quickly- I know that a lot of y'all are casual X-Wing players, and by casual I mean that you probably primarily play against your buddies in non-tournament settings the va-ha-ha-hast majority of the time. I get that. That being said, don't just tune this stuff out as tournament talk or un-fun rules discussion or whatever. Give this stuff at least a passing glance to be sure you're on the same page as the rest of the world and who knows? You might even come up with some new ideas to try out as the result of reading the latest incarnation of the FAQ. FFG has put a lot of work into updating this game and at least trying to address some of the larger rules issues and conflicts since the game dropped, so at least give them your attention for the time it takes to give this document a solid read through. Trust me. 40k players would kill to have FAQs as well done and regularly released as X-Wing's FAQs.

And for God's sake- if you're planning on running some kind of event- homebrewed, sanctioned tournament, Assault at Imdaar Alpha, whatever- read through this and get your head around it before the dice start flying and people start to get frustrated, aiight?

First and probably most obviously, the format of the FAQ itself has changed. Gone are the walls of text and added in are pics of the cards the FAQ is addressing. It's pretty nice and while it maybe wasn't entirely necessary, it does perhaps make it easier to reference your opponent's cards to see if he's playing them right or not. They've also gone through and simplified a lot of the card text wording in various places to make the text easier to understand and apply.

Secondly, all of the special rules cards (the 0 Maneuver, Ion Weapons, Boost, Large Ships, etc.) are now covered in the FAQ, so that's nice for folks with small collections or for folks who don't bring every single thing they own with them to a tournament. It makes things even simpler for TOs who don't have to track all of that stuff anymore.

Maybe the most significant portion is Section 3- Rule Clarifications. There's a lot of stuff in here that wasn't formally covered before. I don't know that any of it is really news to most folks who play X-Wing competitively or keep up with stuff on the various messageboards, but it's there should you need it and actually does a fairly solid job of addressing a lot of the little things like timing issues. Ironically, had this version of the FAQ always been around, there probably wouldn't have been much need for a TMB.com.

As for things that actually got FAQed- there's really only one pink text in the new edition of the FAQ.

Colonel Jendon
If you were one of those people who said that ships that didn't have Target Lock as an available Action couldn't be the recipient of Jendon's Blue Target Lock giveaway card text, turns out you were wrong. They can, no probs.

Long story long, not a lot has actually changed or been ruled on for this edition of the FAQ, but the layout is quite different and the change is most definitely for the better. I daresay we've kind of gotten X-Wing Miniatures version 1.5 for free here. And yeah, the FAQ is still comprehensively cumulative- you don't need to go and try to scare up old versions of the FAQ to get all of the info: the most recent version has everything you need.

As was the case last FAQ update, FFG has gone to an absolute value type web address for the X-Wing FAQ, so you don't need to update your bookmarks and I didn't need to update my link in the right hand sidebar over there. It's the same address as before.

That's it. I'll holla about the new Tournament Rules stuff tomorrow (Friday).

One Meeeleeeyon Pageviews

How ridiculous is that? 1,000,000 pageviews! 

Thanks again for your love and support, y'all. You're the best! 

I wanted to try and come up with something cool to do when we broke 1,000,000, but I really couldn't think of anything. I don't know, it seems extremely narcissistic to do like a AMA (not to mention more than a little redundant as I kinda don't really hold anything back here [even when I probably should]), but as the previous "x pageviews!!!" posts have pretty much all revealed a little behind the scenes type info, if there's anything you're curious about or whatever, ask away. 

Or hey, if you have a better idea of what we can do to celebrate 1,000,000, let a brotha know.  

14 April 2014

Predicting Possibilities with Matt Taylor: YT-2400

Last week or possibly the week before, I got some messages from a guy named Matt Taylor wanting to know if I was interested in some Wave 5 and beyond ship prediction-type articles. Always one for free content, I said of course. 

We mailed back and forth a bit, then today I received this gem regarding the YT-2400 in my inbox. Matty has put some really solid work into this article and I'm absolutely stoked to share it with y'all. If you dig it, let a brotha know and maybe we can talk Matt into cooking up some more articles like this as I'm just not familiar enough with the Extended Universe stuff to really make these kinds of calls. 

And also because Matt, being a Sharks fan, will probably have a little more time on his hands here in a couple of weeks after your Los Angeles Kings eliminate them from the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. :)


Predicting Possibilities- YT-2400

Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future. - Yoda

No disrespect to Master Yoda, but with Star Wars X-Wing, it's been pretty easy to predict the way FFG's releases would go. Aside from the HWK-290, which I don't think many people saw coming, the waves have followed the original trilogy movies until Wave 4, where Fantasy Flight dove full-on into the EU pool. Reason being, there just isn't much pure G-Canon (George Lucas Canon) material left from the Galactic Civil War period.

Let me Koiogran turn for a second here. My name is Matt Taylor (Twitter: @dak_ralter), and besides being an avid X-Wing fan, I'm also a Star Wars nut. I've played the games, read most the books, and my dog's name is Chewbacca.

Because of this, I'm always thinking of new ships, pilots, actions and other upgrades for X-Wing and how they would fly in the context of the game's mechanics. Clint has graciously allowed me a spot on TMB for my musings, where I'll be trying to predict the next waves of X-Wing miniatures.

As the basis of my predictions, I'm using a few sources. Primarily, I'll crack open my copies of:

1) The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels

2) Star Wars: Complete Vehicles

3) The Essential Guide to Warfare

4) The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia

5) Wookieepedia

(I like using the tactile stuff first before I turn to the internet, because... I don't know it just makes me happy and nostalgic).

Granted, by no means am I the end-all-be-all authority of this. The point of these articles is to spur discussion, and my suggestions are just that - suggestions. I'm shooting from the hip (under the table, and FIRST), and would love nothing more than tons of comments and feedback. In addition, I read a good amount about this game and have seen mock ups of many of the ships I'll be discussing, therefore I'm not always breaking new ground. If I do remember that I saw something specific somewhere, I'll always give the l/t (lightsaber tap) to the source and link them.

So, with all that being said, the first ship I'm going to tackle is one of my favorites, and one that I am almost positive will be announced soon: CEC's YT-2400 light freighter.

You may say that my overconfidence is my weakness, and it may well be. However, I think Fantasy Flight may have inadvertently tipped their Sabacc hand during their reveal of the TIE/D Defender. On the card "Outmaneuer" a TIE/D is trading volleys with a motion blur obscured ship in the distance. On first glance it appears as if it's a CEC YT-1300, but upon closer inspection the number and size of the vent plates (3 large) and the position of the cockpit, it's evident that this isn't the iconic YT-1300 freighter, it's actually a YT-2400.


Both the YT-1300 and the YT-2400 were designed and produced by the Corellian Engineering Corporation, one of the galaxy's largest ship manufactures. Their ships, and specifically the YT series, were known for their ability to be customized by smugglers and mercenaries for more... nefarious uses. As you're well aware, Lando Calrissian and later, Han Solo and Chewbacca, souped up a YT-1300 into the famous Millennium Falcon, which Fantasy Flight released in Wave 2.

There was a famous retrofit of the YT-2400 as well, and you'd likely know it by it's name, the Outrider.

The Outrider was a heavily modified YT-2400 flown by Dash Rendar, a Correllian smuggler and soldier of fortune who's story was told in the Shadows of the Empire novel and storyline. Shadows takes place in the time frame between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. In one of the main story lines, Rendar, (who also flew against the Imperial assault at the Battle of Hoth) assisted Calrissian and Luke Skywalker in rescuing Leia Organa (who apparently can only be rescued a team consisting of her brother and a random Corellian scoundrel). Dash became a popular character due to his wit and cunning... he's basically a Han Solo clone in a Han Solo clone ship.

He was so popular, though, that George Lucas actually added the Outrider to a flyby shot of the Mos Eisley spaceport. This made the Outrider G-Canon, and to my knowledge, it's the only G-Canon ship within X-Wing's currently established scale not present in the game. So, you know it's coming.

On to the ship itself. As its model series and design suggest, it's very similar to the YT-1300. It's a newer model, though, and therefore it could be argued that an unmodified version would be faster and more maneuverable than its older stock counterpart. The YT-2400 also had 1D servo turret laser cannons mounted ventrally and dorsally, which took advantage of the ship's shape to achieve a 360 degree lateral firing arc and a 180 degree vertical firing arc. The YT-2400 also featured two front facing concussion missile tubes with magazines of 3 each.


I'm having a hard time thinking that FFG is going to release a ship with the same capabilities and talents as the YT-1300. It just wouldn't make sense to have a ship doing exactly the same thing, but looking slightly different. Each ship has brought something a little bit unique to the tabletop, and I doubt the YT-2400 will be an exception. The following are just my ideas, and I'm definitely up for your feedback and discussion!


In game, the YT-1300 has two stat lines:

Outer Rim Smuggler: 2 Attack | 1 Evade | 6 Hull | 4 Shield (27 PTS, PS 1)

Named Pilots: 3 Attack | 1 Evade | 8 Hull | 5 Shield (42-46 PTS, PS 5-9)

Reason for the differences is that the 360 firing arc with 3 die is too strong to stick on a cheap pilot, else you would see a lot of triple "Outer Rim Smuggler" builds mowing through tournaments. They also scaled the hull and shield back to prevent the annoyance of that type of build.

I think the YT-2400 should follow this overall trend. I'll get into firing arc in a second, but I'm feeling this ship should be a bit dinkier, but gain the extra green die. Here's my thinking:

Freelance Spacer: 2 Attack | 2 Evade | 3 Hull | 4 Shield (23 PTS, PS 1)

Named Pilots (LE-BO2D9, Dash Rendar): 3 Attack | 2 Evade | 4 Hull | 5 Shield (38-41 PTS, PS 5-8)

Now, a big question would be the firing arc. I can't say that I thought of this alone, as many of the mock YT-2400's I've seen have had an 180 firing arc, and I agree that approach may be the way to go. Unfortunately this doesn't directly line up with canon, but if you give it a 360 arc, it's too close to the YT-1300 to justify it's inclusion in the game. To give it extra pop, maybe the entire front arc is primary, meaning you can hit ships to the side with your missiles? I don't know if that's feasible… but, speaking of which, let's head to the upgrade bar.


First and foremost, I think it's a must to add the turret upgrade to this ship. It's a compromise, you get the 360 functionality that this ship is known for, but it comes at the cost of a few points and the loss of the range one bonus. I think that's a decently fair trade off.

To further differentiate from the YT-1300, I think it only gets one crew member slot. I'd assume that both Dash Rendar and Leebo would be available as crew members as well as pilots.

I also think that this ship could be the first Rebel ship with two missile slots. It lines up with the canon, and it gives the YT-2400 a unique edge.

Lastly, as I'm sure you assumed, I'd give Leebo and Dash the EPT slot, but not the Freelance Spacer.


You have your Focus and Target Lock, no question and no real explanation needed. The additional action I'd suggest is Evade, as it gives the ship that extra differentiator over the YT-1300.

I do also think that, like the Falcon and the Slave I cards, the Outrider should have it's own title card as well. Perhaps a two point card that adds boost to the action bar? Thoughts on this?


Again, this ship has to be different enough from the YT-2400 to make it unique. For reference, here is the YT-1300's maneuver grid:

Mobile in close with a range of low speed options, but limited by only a handful of green maneuvers. If we're going with the fact that the YT-2400 was faster and perhaps a bit more nimble, here's the grid I came up with.

I gave it a bit more green, and took away some of the one speed maneuvers. I went back and forth on this a lot, though, so I'm willing to take some suggestions!


So, that's that. Here's my idea for Dash, with a unique pilot talent that covers uncharted territory for the X-Wing game. I'm sure you understand what I'm trying to do here. Say you are up against a TIE with one hull left at range 2. They choose the evade action, and roll their 3 green dice and come up empty. You roll three hits, and inflict two damage. The TIE only has one hull left, so you have that leftover damage that would usually vanish into nothing. With Dash's talent, you that damage would be transferred to another ship within your arc.
It's not a great early game talent, but it could really clean up later on.

So whaddaya think, y'all? Good stuff, no? I think Matty's definitely on the right track here and I totally missed the YT-2400 in the Outmaneuver card until he mentioned it in the comments last week. 

Thanks again Matt!

11 April 2014

Potpourri for $500- Transport Status and Galactic Cup 2014

So just a quick update today on a couple of things.

GR-75 Now "On The Boat"!
I was texting with Sean and Ben earlier asking if they've pre-ordered any of the revealed stuff and was telling them I was considering breaking my "I don't pre-order" stance on things since the Transport and the 'Vette must be getting closer to being available when Sean took a peek at the Upcoming section of the FFG site and saw this-

Yeah, so take with salt, your mileage may vary, etc., etc., but the Transport is on the boat and is expected next month sometime! 

X-Wing Galactic Cup

My day of reconsideration didn't stop there either. Scott (MrFroggies) from Team Covenant emailed to ask if I'd mention an online VASSAL tournament he's setting up as well as invite me to participate in the festivities. Being as how I need to do some messing around with the wife's Win8 laptop this weekend anyway (I had my 3d printer software setup on my work laptop which I had to give back this week), I figure I'll try and get VASSAL set up and give it a shot. 

I was already kind of interested in the tournament just from reading Scott's email, but after I checked out the link he sent along and saw that he's using kind of a World Cup format for this shindig, I was pretty stoked about it. I mean look- somebody's gotta come in last, right? 

It sounds like a pretty interesting tournament. They're doing some things different than the standard X-Wing tournaments, so even if you're not usually a tournament guy, it might be worth your while to check this out. Here's the link to more info on the rules and format and whatnot as well as info on how to register and all. This tournament is open to folks all over the world, so don't feel left out if you're not in the US or whatever, dig? 

Deadline for registration is 27 April at midnight US Pacific time which Google says is GMT -7. I think. Double check me on that as I'm American and I can barely keep track of my own country's time zones, let alone this Greenwich Mean place which I think is a country where Eric Roberts is the Pope or something. It mustn't be that big of a place as I don't think they compete in UEFA. In any case, if you get off your butt and register before the 27th, you don't even have to sweat it. 

10 April 2014

TIE Defender Preview

Breaking recent tradition of revealing new X-Wing Miniatures stuff on Fridays, my pal Sean texted me today while I was at work to let me know that FFG had announced some more info on the TIE Defender.

As most of y'all will recall, we spoke about the TIE Defender a bit already when FFG initially revealed the Wave 4 stuff back in February, but we got some new info that warrants some major discussion. 

First, I think it's pretty obvious that FFG is tired of the TIE Swarm. I think they were kinda tired of it when they made Wave 3, I think Imperial Aces was supposed to rekindle people's initial love affair with the Interceptor in an effort to lure them away from the Swarm, I think to a certain extent even the Tantive IV campaign is a nod to beating up on the TIE Swarm, and I definitely think that Wave 4 was designed to, at least in part, to try and shift the meta away from the Swarm both by giving the Rebels some new tricks to combat the Swarm and the Imperials some interesting new options to drop on the table. 

There have been several low ship count Imperial lists that have made the rounds in the past, but they've not enjoyed the longevity of the Swarm because low ship count lists are more unforgiving in every way but maneuvering and the rise of turreted Rebel ships made flying only a few Imperial ships versus just going with the flow and flying a Swarm fairly unappealing, regardless of tricky card text on named pilots or high amounts of available green dice. 

Well, it would appear the Defender was designed specifically to combat that idea. 

We knew this ship wasn't cheap when we first squinted at the Wave 4 cards and now that a couple of the named pilots have been revealed, it's really been confirmed. Dig this- 

Rexler Brath is the high PS named pilot for the Defender and at 37 points, he's gotta be the most expensive small ship pilot revealed to date (though that may very well change we we find out more about the E-Wing pilots). 

Still though, he's PS 8, flies a ship with 3 for every stat category, possesses arguably the three most awesome and versatile Actions available, and can upgrade with Elite Pilot Skills, Missiles, or Cannons. Sure, 37 points is a ton, but good Christ look at what you're getting! Sheesh. 

Oh, and there's the card text too- don't forget about that. Perform your attack (note that it can be any attack- primary weapon or secondary missile or cannon) and so long as you stick at least one Damage card on the defender, you can spend a Focus to flip that card which effectively makes it Critical Damage. Note that FFG took the time to stick the "s" on the end of the word "card" there at the end just to make sure we all get it- any and all hits that result in you dealing your opponent some damage cards from Braths' attack get flipped face up. Not just one. Cards. Well, I mean if you only inflict one card, then yeah, it's just one, but if you get two or three, they all get flipped so long as they came from Brath's attack. 

So first thing that jumps out is until you've gotten through your target's shields, (hiiiiiiii, my name is) Brath's card text isn't much use, but after that? Hoo boy.

How will Brath be received? In a weird way, he's sorta like the pilot version of Missiles or Torpedoes- he's really going to make his money against big ships as they have a lot of hull and his ability to turn those cards over even on the mighty Chewbacca will be invaluable to folks who face a lot of big ship meta. Against Y-Wings or B-Wings too maybe, but mainly he's Falcon kryptonite. 

I usually try to wait until I've actually had a chance to play with a ship a couple of times before I start talking about upgrade combinations and whatnot, but anything that helps Brath hit more that doesn't involve burning a Focus is going to be great for him.

For example, the new Elite Pilot Skill called Outmaneuver-

This card sorta gives anybody with an Elite Pilot Skill upgrade slot Backstabber functionality. While this card gets a bit neutered by a ship that can sport Crew Member C-3PO, it's still pretty awesome especially when you consider this is not an Action- it just automatically happens once you buy the upgrade. 

Of course, if you're looking for Focus-ish functionality in general, how about the other new card they revealed called Predator?

So that's pretty cool, huh? Another non-Action Elite Pilot Skill designed to tear up the prevalent high ship count, low PS meta. Also note that it's just "when attacking", so yeah, it works on Primaries or Secondaries so long as it's an Attack. 

The other Defender pilot that was revealed is a cat by the name of Colonel Vessery. 

Vessery is two points less than Brath, but a still pretty expensive 35 points.  That said, he and Rexler are quite a lot alike with only their Pilot Skill value and card text separating them, which long story short means that the new EPS cards work basically as well if not maybe even a little better with Vessery as his card text is sort of a free Target Lock. And it really is free- we're not talking about a Dutch Vander type ability, more like a sort of Fire Control System type of thing here. 

The wording on this card I think is a little bit trickier than it might appear at first glance. First couple of times I read the text, I thought, "Oh, ok. So it's more or less Fire Control System as long as somebody has already TLed him. Got it." On about the fourth read through though, the wording finally clicked and made sense. 

Think back to how the Combat Phase actually progresses for a moment...

Yeah. Cue up the Jackie Martling, "Oh, oh!" soundbite, am I right? 

Immediately after you roll the Attack dice, as in before you get to Step 3- Modify Attack Dice, you get a Target Lock on your target, which means, yes Virgina not only is there a Santa Claus, you get to actually spend that Target Lock to modify your Attack roll (assuming of course he's already wearing somebody else's Target Lock). 

Did I mention I thought that FFG was tired of TIE Swarms? 

Ok, so all that's well and good, but it's all a lot less sexy if the Defender's dial is a disappointment, right? 

Yup, white K-Turn. The rest of it is pretty solid too, it doesn't turn so well, which I guess represents the flat out speed of the Defender, but this thing is made for jousting, and that's just what it'll do- one of these days a Defender is gonna joust all over you, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo

Do I think that Imperial players are going to morph into a 2014 version of Groucho Marx doing a "Take my TIEs please!" routine? Nah. The Swarm is the Swarm is the Swarm. The things that make it viable don't get rendered obsolete or anything because of the Defender and her bag of tricks, but I do think it does present some potentially awesome builds that could end up being just as strong once folks get to really sit down and look at all of these cards that are going to be released with all of the stuff we've got coming at us. 

That said, recall that Black Squadron Pilots provide TIE Swarm players Elite Pilot Skill functionality for only 15 measly points- literally half the cost of the vanilla Defender. As Sean observed in his texts to me today, stick Predator on each of them and you've now got a 5 TIE swarm with the same functionality of a Swarm with Howlrunner but doesn't have to stay in such tight formation to get the reroll. That's pretty awesome. And of course with that many ships flying around, one could just as easily give some or all of them that new Predator skill instead and now you've got a bunch of pseudo-Backstabbers flying around. Sure, you might be good enough at maneuvering your Rebels to deny a ship or two that extra die, but one of these veteran Swarm jockeys isn't going to let you get away from all of them and a TIE with a third (or fourth if they get close enough too) Attack die is some scary stuff, man. 

So whether you plan on buying Defenders with the thought of actually playing them or you buy some Defenders just to get some of these interesting cards to re-imagine your current Swarm, I think this is going to be one popular ship once Wave 4 drops. Good thing Miniature Market is already taking pre-orders, huh? :)