01 April 2015

Wave 7 Revealed or the Gentle Art of Making Enemies

"George Lucas, Pasadena" by Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA - Lucas. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

So as I'm sure y'all have noticed, I've not been posting much lately again. I'd like to tell you that it's been because I've been super busy at work and because some relatively heavy stuff has been going down in my personal life, but that ain't the truth Ringo.

The truth is I'm bad about shooting my mouth off. There's a saying, one that I may or may not have made up, that teachers are the biggest smartasses. Well, I may not be a teacher anymore, but I was one for five years in what feels like a previous life, and as I've exhibited in bits and pieces over the years, I can be a real smartypants when I want to be. I can usually keep it in check, but sometimes I just can't quite feed the sarcasmatron enough and he breaks out like it's 1992 all over again.

And then there's trouble.

It all started one year ago today when I ran this picture alongside my trademark witty caption on TMB.com...

Well, turns out Mr. My Neck is Bigger Than My Head doesn't have much of a sense of humor. I know, right? I was surprised too. I mean, you'd think the guy that brought us Binks would appreciate a good smart remark, but alas. It was not meant to be. 

Not long after that, I received a weird voicemail. Not overtly threatening, and sounding a bit like a slightly peckish Lorne Michaels, but putting two and two together, I suddenly found myself faced with the cold realization that I had pissed off one of the richest and thin-skinned people walking the Earth. This was unlikely to end well for yours truly. 

I got over it after a couple of days, and to be completely honest, I'd kind of forgotten about the voicemail UNTIL LAST NIGHT!

Last night I got an email, y'all. 

To: cidmcdp@gmail.com
Subject: Order 66


I took back a little of that Disney money I gave to "the charity" and threw it at the guy who owns FFG. Good news; I now have full creative control over X-Wing Miniatures! 

First thing, we need to go back and fix some things that don't jive with what I had in mind. I was going to write up a FAQ, but I figured I'd just send you what I had in mind instead. 

1. There will no longer be points in X-Wing Miniatures. The term Points will be replaced by the new term Midichlorian Count. For example, Darth Vader does not cost 29 points. Darth Vader has a Midichlorian Count of 29. 

2. We will no longer have red and green dice in X-Wing Miniatures. These will be replaced by octahedral "Chance Cubes." The explosion symbols will be henceforth referred to as "Yahoo!", the unfilled explosion symbols will be referred to as "Eeechewawa!" and a blank will be called "A Bad Feeling About This." Focus results will still just be Focus results. Oh and wavvy arrows are rerolls. I guess. Maybe they're midichlorians too.  

3. While I realize it has no effect on the game in any way, shape, or form, players are assumed to have purchased all ship upgrades from Watto's Olde Junk Shoppe and Emporium and should refer to it as such whenever appropriate. Crew Members, regardless of neutrality or faction affiliation are similarly regarded to have been recruited from The Outlander Club. What? Are you kidding? It was the bar in Attack of the Clones. Yeah, the second movie. 

All of that taken care of, let's talk about the new exciting features I'm going to bring to X-Wing Miniatures. 

IV. I decided to throw Abrams a bone and let him help out a little bit. He really thought the art on the cards was missing something. I have to say upon review I agree. 


V. Cuse and Lindelof will be re-working the rulebook's text. Those two are pretty solid at tying up loose ends, so I'm confident they'll do a fine job with it. If not, they'll just time travel their way out of it. 

VI. I'll be releasing a large format, 3D, pop-up book, scratch-n-sniff version of the rulebook. It will basically be the same exact thing as the existing rulebook, but there will be way more people in the background and have some fireworks and stuff. The 3D glasses for the new rulebook will be available in kid's meals at Subway. 

Here's the news you've really been waiting for- I'm revealing the Wave 7 ships. 

First, two new Factions- The Republic and the Bad Guys. Republic will get Anakin's Yellow Spaceship and that Gungan submarine thing, but it'll be a Starfighter. Bad Guys will get Darth Maul's hoverscooter and one of the Droid Starfighters. Doesn't matter which one, really. 

Second, the old Factions will be replaced with the new Factions. 

Third, Scum and Villainy never existed. 

If you and your readers don't like the changes and stuff, just realize that this is a kid's game and probably the reason you don't like the game after these changes is that you're no longer a kid with a kid's sensibilities watching a kid's movie, er, I mean playing a kid's game. Now, nevermind that you guys can play nonsense like Trouble, Operation, or Sorry! and have a good time- the point here is that my new X-Wing game is the most awesomest technical achievement known to man and the reason you don't like it is, put simply, because you suck. 

And if you don't like it, I'll never make any more rules for it (until somebody with deep pockets comes along). 



That's it. I'm done with this game. Peace out, fools. 

16 March 2015

Tournament Talk- The Art of the Interceptor by Jeremy Williams

I received an email awhile back from a guy asking me how I thought Autothrusters would change the meta in regard to how tournament players view the TIE Interceptor. Now, I'm no genius, but I know when I'm being asked a leading question. Long story short, I had an idea that this guy already had some pretty solid plans for Autothrusters on a TIE Interceptor, so I asked him if he wanted to write an article about the subject. As you've probably guessed by now, he said yes. 

I asked if he wanted me to plug anything for his trouble, he told me he runs a Facebook group called Pew Pew Pew! and that he goes by Kommander Keldoth on the FFG forums. Jeremy also took home the plaque at his local Store Championship running a couple of PTL Royal Guard Interceptors with Autothrusters and Trelix with Rebel Captive and a HLC. Solid, no? 

Scum and Villainy is upon us! While there are a ton of new toys and lists to be played with in the new third faction, many Imperial players like myself are salivating over one card in particular: a little modification called Autothrusters.

Which sounds like a sweet 80’s hair metal band

Autothrusters is a two point modification that allows you to convert a blank defense die result into an evade result if you are at range three of the attacker or if you are outside of the attacker’s firing arc (i.e. if he or she is shooting at you with a turret). You can only equip Autothrusters on a ship with the boost action though, which limits it to A-wings, the new Star Viper, the new Aggressor (IG-88’s ship) and of course the long neglected TIE Interceptor!

Ever since Wave 4 came out last year the poor TIE Interceptor was laid aside by many Imperial players in favor of the TIE Phantom, a ship that has more mobility options and that hits with an extra attack die. Over all it was a better flanker and shifted the tournament metagame towards high pilot skill turrets as a counter. Meanwhile the TIE Interceptor sat on the sidelines gathering dust… and biding its time.

Autothrusters will give this iconic ship a chance to shine again by making it a turret counter. With that in mind, it’s time to dust off those dials and go back to flight school to learn the art of the Interceptor! Here’s a few of the old rules for flying a squint:

1) Come in at an angle
The TIE Interceptor lives and dies by two things: Green Dice and arc dodging. As we all know those green dice are about as reliable as Darth Vader in a child support hearing. Hence my motto when flying an Interceptor is: If you’re getting shot at you’re doing it wrong.

The last thing you want to do with an Interceptor is go for a head to head jousting match. It is much easier to arc dodge if you approach the enemy from an oblique angle. Being at an angle allows your barrel roll action to carry you farther towards the edge of your opponent’s firing arc.

How Autothrusters Will Change This: Our number one rule will be even truer in the age of Autothrusters. Turreted ships will now have an incentive to get Interceptors in their primary firing arcs (don’t feel too bad for those turrets though, they are merely being thrust out into the same cruel world that all the other ships have had to operate in).

2) Get in close
This rule goes along with rule 1. It is a lot easier to get out of arc when you are within range 1 of an opponent. A ship’s firing arc is just a big triangle and when you are close to an opponent you are close to the narrow end of that triangle. A cunning opponent will hang back at range 2-3 for as long as possible when engaging Interceptors.

The other benefit to being in range 1 is of course the extra attack die that you will gain when shooting at your opponent. Ouch!

How Autothrusters Will Change This: In addition to granting you a blank-to-evade result when you are out of firing arc, Autothrusters also grant you the same benefit when you are at range 3 of any attacker. This has the potential to change things quite a bit. All of a sudden you may have an incentive to play the Interceptor as a range 3 sniper. This makes a certain pilot very happy. His name starts with a ‘K’ and rhymes with Fir Fanos.

Kir Kanos (TIE Interceptor) 24 points
When attacking at range 2-3 you may spend one evade token to add one <hit> to your attack roll.
Upgrades: None

I can see equipping Kir with Autothrusters, Royal Guard TIE title and Stealth Device to create a very hard to hit long range cannon. You can even have him escort a Shuttle or Decimator equipped with Fleet Officer to toss him a focus. Unfortunately the designers at FFG decided not to give him or Lieutenant Lorrir an Elite Pilot Talent upgrade slot. Hopefully Autothrusters can give us a reason to fly some of the more lack luster Imperial Aces Pilots.

3) Know when to bug out

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.

-Sun Tzu

The last thing an Interceptor wants to do is bump another ship. It is important to remember that an Interceptor is just as fragile as a regular run of the mill TIE fighter, and TIE fighters are basically made of toothpicks, paper mache and the hope of a child. Interceptors depend on their focus and evade actions to survive, often gaining both in one turn with a handy little upgrade called Push the Limit

If an Interceptor bumps another ship, it gets no actions. Accidentally bumping is most common when engaging multiple ships at range 1 (see rule #2) in the fur ball that tends to develop after the initial jousting is over with. In those situations don’t be afraid to use that sweet, sweet 4 straight green maneuver to get the hell out of dodge. It is better to bug out and come around for another pass than to get blown up ignominiously like a lowly Academy Pilot.

4) If in doubt, Turtle up

Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.

-Sun Tzu

As with any flanker the TIE Interceptor is most effective when flown by a pilot with a high pilot skill, which allows you to adjust your position with your boost and barrel roll at your leisure. Now, not everyone can be Soontir Fel, so it also pays to be able fly an Interceptor with medium to low pilot skill. If you are stuck in a situation where you don’t know what to do, just ‘turtle up’. Push the Limit and grab a focus and an evade token to protect yourself.

Royal Guard Pilot (TIE Interceptor) 22 points
Pilot Skill 6
Upgrades: Elite Pilot Talent

How Autothrusters Will Change This: Remember these guys? They had a brief moment in the meta at the tail end of Wave 3 as a very points efficient flanking ship with a respectable pilot skill of 6. We may be seeing more of them again equipped with Autothrusters. Even if they are outclassed in pilot skill and cannot dodge out of arc, they can hang back at range 3 and be very difficult to hit. The same holds true for Saber Squadron pilots (but hey, why not spend the extra point for a nice pilot skill bump?).

I expect Autothrusters will put a damper on the rampant super/fat turret lists that have been dominating the tournament scene. Not only does it provide a pretty hard counter to turrets, it gives Imperial players a chance to play a flanking ship that isn’t the TIE Phantom. At the end of the day, that’s what makes for good game design: giving the player many viable strategies for how they want to play the game.

13 March 2015

Tournament Talk- Galactic Comics and Games Store Championship

Longtime friend of the bar Nic Murray brought to my attention that he's hosting a Store Championship in his new digs at Statesboro, Georgia's own Galactic Comics and Games next weekend, 21 March 15. You can register in person starting at 10am the day of the tournament or pre-register through this link. The tournament will start at 11am.

In addition to the usual box o' prizes provided by FFG for Store Championships, Nic says that Galactic will also have, and I quote- quality mystery prizes (maybe star wars armada, maybe scum and villainy most wanted, maybe a blockade runner, maybe a rebel transport - come on who doesn't want C3PO as a card for a Fat Han build...am I right? the possibilities are endless and mysterious!). 

In addition, we will be holding an alternate paint contest (all tournament participants will vote and I will take pictures and share with you [and by you, he means me- Clint]!). Top place receives a prize as well (TBD but I can guarantee it will be worth the trip even if you do not play in the tournament).

So that's pretty dope, right? Lots of prizes and a painting contest! Hell, if I didn't live 9 hours away, I'd even head down there. That's a pretty sweet haul and looks like a really nice store to play in!

Nic mentioned they already have some folks signed up, but they can accommodate up to 30 players, so if you're on the fence it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and register, lest you get disappointed trying to get in day of.

Cost is $6 and if you want more info or have questions you want to ask, check out the facebook page they made for the event.

Good luck y'all!

Arts and (Space)Crafts- Custom Debris Templates from Zuckuss!

I received an email from longtime Bikini Aficionado Zuckuss awhile back who wanted to share how to make some awesome debris Templates with the rest of the bar. It's pretty short and sweet, but you can't deny how much more badass these would be to whip out for your games instead of the stock debris shapes, amirite? 

Step 1:

Coat the debris template with grease or Vaseline to reduce sticking of the epoxy. Using a flat surface, tape wax paper to it and the template to the wax paper.

Step 2:

Cut up pieces of your debris. I used a TIE that was replaced by FFG because it arrived damaged. I also grated aluminum foil for the debris particles.

Step 3:

Mix epoxy (I used pour-on high gloss epoxy coating) and pour into template, but do not fill to the brim. I went slowly and added more as needed. Add debris pieces and effects, such as the foil.

Step 4:

Let it cure for 18 hours then, using a razor or X-Acto knife, slowly trim the edges on both sides of the template. The epoxy will be pretty malleable and easier to trim and remove from the template than if you waited the full 24-48 hours for it to cure.

Step 5:

Let the epoxy cure until hard (about 48 hours total) then sand the edges to make it look clean.

Pretty awesome, huh? Bet you wish you wouldn't have pitched your punched-out debris template thingy, huh? I love the idea of pouring the epoxy instead of trying to Dremel or jigsaw out the shapes, because well, I'm pretty much all thumbs when it comes to stuff like that. 

In any case, it shouldn't be that hard to trace the shapes onto some cardstock or cardboard or something and transfer Zuckuss' ideas on to that, right? I gotta say, I'm really tempted to cook up a few of these myself, maybe even with some extra fixins- maybe go a little more three-dimensional or maybe even add in a blinking red LED to one of them like a rescue beacon or something. 

Great stuff, Zuck! Thanks again!

05 March 2015

Two Million Pageviews!

If you'll recall, it took a little under a year and a half for TheMetalBikini.com to hit a million pageviews, it took a little less than a year to get from one million to two million. 

Pretty amazing when you consider how infrequently I've written over the past six months. 

It's funny, about two years ago I was freaking out because TMB had it's 10,000th pageview, now two years later it's two million. That's rad! 

Thanks again for all your support! 

03 March 2015

Tournament Talk- The Evolution of My A-Wing List

When Proton Rockets was initially revealed, the thing that jumped out at me first was the fact that TIE Advanced could now get off a 5 dice Attack at Range 1. Coupled up with the fact that they have a couple of Shields, 3 green dice standard, a decently maneuverable dial, and no real function in the current game I figured they could probably get close enough to their prey without getting pummeled, it might even be a viable tactic to try and play competitively. Or as competitively as I ever get, really.

I played around with the idea a little on (Yet Another) X-Wing Squad Builder, but couldn't come up with anything I really liked. Either I was going to have to run pretty well naked Advanceds other than the PRs, or I was going to have to run a 3-ship list, which at that time was anathema to me.

At some point, I realized that Jake Farrell was born to shoot Proton Rockets. His card text, in case you've forgotten, says anytime he Focuses, he can perform a free Boost or Barrel Roll. So basically, you almost always want to Focus with him anyway, and since PRs need a Focus to fire but you don't actually spend it while firing it, I switched the idea over to the Rebels and started tinkering some more.

Looking at Gemmer, I figured he was a pretty dang good candidate for this Proton Rocket mission too. His card text allows him to roll an extra Agility die when he's in Range 1 of an enemy ship. That's pretty sweet as it more or less gets rid of the extra (primary) Attack die my opponent would be getting while my A-Wing zooms in to touch off those PRs.

After that, things got a little murky, but here are the highlights in something of a condensed form.

For the points, you can make a four ship list with Gemmer and Jake along with a couple of Proto pilots, but either somebody is leaving their rockets back at the arsenal or no one is going to have an Elite Pilot Talent or something. I wasn't nuts about it, but the idea of firing 20 Attack dice worth of Focusable ordnance with no real setup work had me interested. Especially from such a small and maneuverable ship.

A-Wings are fairly hard to hit to begin with, but by giving them a Stealth Device, they get even harder to hit. With all the turrets out there these days, I liked this idea a lot, so Stealth Devices became a must have. Of course, as it turned out, I only had two copies of the card and wasn't all that hot about buying a Firespray just to get more, so it was a cool idea, but maybe not practical to stick it on everybody.

I'd already been considering running Tycho because of my new reservations about a 4-ship list mentioned above, then when it turned out I only had 3 A-Wing miniatures anyway (the expansion I won at Kessel Run, the normal Expansion, and one from Rebel Aces), I was firmly shoved into the corner just before the Evansville Store Championship.

So I've got three A-Wings and two Stealth Devices. I'm pretty well into Jake and Gemmer. Tycho comes along simply because I don't think I can spend enough points to get Arvel or a Green close to 30-ish points before I simply run out of spots to bolt stuff on.

Giving all three of them Proton Rockets and handing off my two copies of Stealth Device to Gemmer and Jake consumed 87 points. Tycho I want to give Push the Limit because of his card text, so now I'm at an even 90. PTL obviously synergizes with Tycho's card text and also because A-Wings have so many different Actions available to them stock, but with him not having a Stealth Device, I'm thinking he needs something else to help him stay alive while trying to get to Range 1 to drop his load. I kicked around the idea of Shield Upgrade or Hull Upgrade, but I couldn't quite talk myself into it. In the end, since he didn't have a Modification anyway, I gave him Enhanced Interface since its only real penalty is Stress and Tycho doesn't care about Stress really, and A-Wing Test Pilot which allowed him to take another Elite Pilot Talent which I wasted on Marksmanship. Gemmer got Opportunist and A-Wing Test Pilot because I only had two copies of the Test Pilot card and didn't notice that Jake can take an Elite because he has the medal on his card stock. Opportunist works well on Gemmer because he has a kind of middle of the road Pilot Skill and A-Wings have so many green maneuvers on their dials he can get rid of the Stress fairly simply. As for the benefit, a six dice Attack from an A-Wing just isn't expected.

I ran that at the Evansville tournament and did pretty badly. Mainly because not only had I never run a list with all A-Wings before, not only because I'd never run this particular list before, but mainly because I straight up hadn't played much X-Wing at all lately.

One week later I was to play in the SC at Armored Gopher, so I went back to work changing things.

First thing, Marksmanship. I already talked about why it had to go in previous articles so I won't rehash again why, but it had to go. I did like the pile of Actions available to Tycho, so I kept the Enhanced Interface but it limits you to something that says, "Action: blah, blah, blah." I started looking around for other "Action:" type Actions and recalled how handy it was to have that option to Boost or Barrel Roll with Jake, so I stuck Expert Handling on Tycho.

I went back and forth on whether to keep Opportunist on Gemmer because Predator would save a point and still give some good results on getting that 5-dice Proton Rocket Attack to be all hits, but in the end, I left him with Opportunist because I just couldn't really think of anything else to spend the points on that I would have saved going to something cheaper than Opportunist.

The point I saved from changing up Tycho, I gave to Jake in the form of Veteran Instincts. So long story long, that's what I rolled at Armored Gopher.

Yeah, so that's where we're at now. Post AG tournament, I still really like the list, despite my results with it. I'd go so far as to say that I like this list more than any other X-Wing list I've ever played. It's just really fun to fly and it's different enough that folks don't immediately know how to play against it. To have all those movement options and stuff is a trip and I honestly believe if I played a lot more, it could be a pretty competitive list. Knowing that the Titan Games tournament is at the end of the month, I'm tinkering around with it again since I've got some time to acquire cards and models and perhaps play a few more games. Autothrusters will probably make it in some form or another on at least a ship or two, but once again, what do you spend the points on you save? I'm still messing around with this.  

I guess the main reason I wanted to write this article was not to bore you all into submission with the evolutionary minutia of an X-Wing list that so far has 1 win and 5 losses, it was to show the process, warts and all, at how I arrived at it. 

I'm not going to get on a soap box and talk about not using "net lists" or whatever- that's up to you guys. We're all into this hobby for slightly different reasons, but when I read forum posts on the FFG boards about how the game is becoming scissiors-paper-rock with Fat Han (which let's be honest is just a revised Han Shoots First) vs. Phantoms vs. Swarms or whatever, it's disappointing to me because this game is not played on paper with stats. There's just so much more to it than that, but now that X-Wing is really picking up some serious steam in the amount of people playing it, I feel like a lot of new players feel compelled to take a net list to be competitive; much like how it is in 40k which is where many of you, me included, came from. 

I feel that this is very much not the case. Maybe that's my own naivete, maybe it's changed over the years and I don't see it, but I still strongly believe it. That Armored Gopher tournament had some really solid, competitive players, and nobody ran a Fat Han. Hell, the only lists that used the same ships were the guys who brought two Decimators and y'all know how differently you can kit those ships out. 

I worry that when these new players see these net lists and see people talking in absolutes about them, they probably feel as though they just traded one set of models for another, but have the same issue. Namely that if you're not running the list du jour, or in 40k terms what is usually the latest codex, you don't have a chance to compete. It kills innovation and creativity and there's so much room for that kind of stuff in this game where the balance is better between factions and does get addressed by the publisher trying to correct past mistakes, that it bums me out when I see stuff like that. 

So by all means, play whatever you want, but don't be scared to try new ideas and figure out ways to make them work. Just because people on the internet don't buy it means nothing. Including me!

02 March 2015

Tournament Talk- Armored Gopher Store Championship

As I mentioned last week, I ran up to Armored Gopher in Champaign-Urbana Illinois for a Store Championship this past Saturday. I went up last year, had a great time, so once Sean (who lives in relatively nearby Matton) got the info for this year's tourney, we decided to hit it again. 

After running my 3 A-Wings list in the Store Championship here in Evansville and seeing how it played, I decided to tweak it just a little bit for reasons I mentioned before. Here's what I decided to go with for the AG Store Championship. 

So the only real difference is Tycho- I traded out the not at all synergous (probably not even a word, but you get what I mean) Marksmanship, yes, even before reading Punning Pundit's article on the topic, and replaced it with Expert Handling. Why you ask? Well, with the cards I have available (though I did borrow one copy of A-Wing Test Pilot from Sean for the tournament), it was the best option for giving Tycho some extra moves. It seems like overkill, and while tomorrow I'm going to talk a little more in-depth about why I think I lost (whoops- sorry, spoiler alert!), the long and the short of it is Tycho is the only ship in the squadron without a Stealth Device, so keeping him out of the line of fire to begin with is the best way to keep him on the table. Being able to Boost and Barrel Roll does that pretty effectively most of the time. 

So slightly re-tooled list in hand, Sean and I made it to Urbana with a few minutes to spare. We saw a couple of familiar faces from last year we caught up with briefly, then it was time to start. 

My first opponent was none other than the guy who won this thing last year, but was also top four at Gencon Nationals. You might remember him from me talking about him on here and he even wrote an article for me after the Store Championship event last year. His name is +Nick Jones and he's pretty good at this X-Wing game, yo.

Nick was running a Scum Boba and Scum Kath list. I don't remember all of their upgrades (hopefully he'll fill in the blanks in the comments) as I'm still not all that familiar with the Scum stuff. We faced off and while I managed to kill Kath off with a Range 3 A-Wing shot (after unloading two tubes of Proton Rockets on her), Boba had his revenge on everyone except Jake Farrell who managed to jump, jive, and wail his way right off the board edge. Ugh- how embarassing. Good match and the A-Wings didn't do too bad against these big, maneuverable, decked out Firesprays. 

Second match I drew another big ship list. Grant was running a pair of VT-49s. I remarked how this match was funny because it was literally the largest (non-Epic, obviously) ships against the smallest ships available in the game. 

Again, I apologize for not remember the exact details of my opponent's list, but as I recall Grant was running one of the VTs as a Patrol Leader and the other was being driven by Captain Oicunn. I do recall one of them had Vader, Crew Member on board- the Patrol Leader VT if I remember right. Captain Oicunn had a Rebel Prisoner on board as well as some other upgrades. Once again, I managed to get one of the big ships off the table, but not both before my A-Wings were waxed. Note I didn't say I actually destroyed his ship- Vader self-destructed his subordinate's ship with a Hull point left to dig the shields off of somebody- Gemmer probably. Another match loss for the good guys and I'm 0-2 after two. 

Much like the Evansville Store Championship, my suckitude rewarded me with a bye, though Nick told me later I shouldn't have had it- apparently somebody else went 0-2 as well, but had less points than I did, but in any case, I bye'ed out of the third round, so also like last time, I walked around and took some pics of the other folks playing. 

I didn't catch the guy in the Chicago Wolves jersey's name, but the tall guy on the left (he really is that tall- that's not like a perspective error) was named Tyler and he ended up winning the whole shebang with a TIE Swarm and accompanying Interceptor. I didn't play either of these cats, so I don't really know what went down in their match. Wolves was using Dash and Corran Horn if I remember right. 

The guy on the right is Robert and I played him in the opening round last year. He was rolling a bunch of Zs and a YT-2400, the guy on the left I believe was named Joel. I didn't play him, but he said he started out reading the Bikini. I thanked him for the compliment! He was running a similar squadron to Robert, but instead of Dash, he was running a tooled up Tycho. This match was hilarious to me because inevitably, it ended up with the Z's snarled into a hairball that resembled a pretty amazing traffic jam. 

The table behind Robert and Joel was Nick playing another guy I didn't play against. I think his name was Patrick (again guys- if you're reading this and I've gotten your names wrong, please correct me in the comments!). Patrick was also running a dual Decimator list, though I have no idea how he had them kitted. 

Moving back, Rusty in the black Harley T-shirt was running a Shuttle, Firespray, and a TIE Fighter. Again, didn't play him, no idea how they were outfitted. He was playing my second round opponent Grant who only has his hands in the frame of this picture. 

The game next to them, the guy taking a picture of me taking a picture, which desperately makes me want to take this article in and Inception-like tangent, but I'm going to keep it on topic, was Mark who was playing against my pal Sean. Sean is in the red shirt trying hard to pretend like I'm not totally disturbing him. Mark was flying 3 B-Wings, all with HLCs and Fire Control Systems. There's still some points there, but since I didn't play him, I'm not sure what other tricks he had up his sleeves. Sean was rolling a list that I'm pretty sure was the same as what he sent me via Hangouts on Friday. Assuming that's true, here's his list- 

Sean ended up going 2-2 on the day, which put him probably around 5th place with that list. He was well impressed with Jake and Gemmer, so it's not just me!

I'm sorry to say there was one other table with guys playing that I somehow completely forgot to take a picture of. There's no reason I didn't take a pic of them- it was totally unintentional! I didn't even notice I'd missed them until I was writing this article and realized I'd missed my 4th round opponent in these bye round pics. What it was, there were the tables against the wall, but there was another lone table across the aisle that guys were playing on too. I totally forgot to take a pic of the guys on that table. I ended up playing one of them in my final round, the other player was using a dual Aggressor list. I didn't catch his name unfortunately. 

Last round rolled around and I was actually going to be playing again. I took on a guy using a vanilla Decimator with a couple of Phantoms carrying Imperial Agents. He had driven over from Springfield (Illinois) and his name was Patrick. 

This match ended up being kind of hilarious to me. His Imperial Agents allowed him to look at my maneuvers, which with the Phantom's cloaking ability, allowed him to then decide whether or not he would move then Decloak or Decloak then move, or just move. That fact coupled up with Jake and Tycho's ability to move then boost or barrel roll, or in Tycho's case boost and barrel roll, made for quite the little chess match of us trying to avoid each other's firing arcs. 

I can't really explain to you why, but for some reason I thought it'd be fun to go after the Phantoms first. Hey, it'd been a long day and I'm not that good at this game to begin with, all right? In any case, if you have been wondering whether or not shooting Proton Rockets at a Cloaked Phantom will result in much, I can confirm it doesn't although I did manage to burn off some shields with my silliness. 

What's perhaps more surprising is even after screwing around with the Phantoms for about half of the game, I did manage to smoke that Decimator off the board. Gemmer managed another six dice attack using PRs along with her Opportunist skill, but I didn't roll as well this time and only managed 5 hits instead of the max 6. I believe it was Tycho who actually finished him off. Jake had been lost to a well-timed barrage from one of the Phantoms. This match ended in a draw as there were only 9 points separating us when we ran out of time- Jake as I run him is 31, the Decimator stock is an even 40. 

If you're assuming we didn't stick around long after because I'd placed so badly, there was a little more to it than that. At the start of the second round, it began snowing. 

This pic I took at the start of the last round

Nick invited Sean and I to go play some boardgames with him and his crew, but unfortunately we declined on account of the snow and the fact that we had about a forty-five minute drive back to Mattoon. Of course, that hour ended up being more like almost two hours because of the snow and also because the Fighting Illini had a basketball game let out around the same time we were trying to get out of town. Long story long, we finally made it home around 10pm including a stop by Taco Bell. We did end up playing that new Elder Sign Expansion, Gates of Arkham, with BC which ended horribly with our party being devoured by the awakened Yog Sothoth. 

Now, I live about two and a half hours southeast of Sean. The snow was still falling pretty steadily and I briefly considered heading home late Saturday night on account of the fact that the snow was being forecasted to fall all night and at least all morning Sunday morning. In the end though, I was just too tired and wasn't at all enthusiastic about trying to drive home in the snow that late at night, so I relented and stayed the night. 

Anyway, I wake up at 8am and there's like 6-8 inches on top of what the snow plow guys had removed at like 3am. Knowing the forecast had changed and now central Illinois was supposed to get snowed on pretty much all day and then some, I decided to get while the gettin' was good and took off for home. 

That's Illinois state road 130 just south of Charleston. Completely snow-free road a mere 24 hours prior, it was pretty much that about 40% of the way home. I didn't get the speedometer above thirty-five the first two hours I was in the car, and was below 30 for probably at least 45 minutes of those two hours. I did finally make it back to Evansville, so it's all good though my shoulders are sore from gripping... the... wheel... so... tightly. 

With the bye, I ended up going 1-2-1 and just like last year, had a great time despite the result. According to their big wall calendar, it looks like AG has X-Wing on every other Thursday night, though there are some other game stores around where folks play X-Wing too if that time slot doesn't work out for you. 

I really can't say enough good things about the guys at the tournament. There were no arguments, nobody was stalling for time or any of that nonsense though it was most definitely a competition. Good bunch of dudes and if you're in that Champaign Urbana area and want to play some great opponents, not only skill-wise, but also in attitude and demeanor, I highly recommend you search these dudes out. Solid folks, yo! 

Last thing, Nick mentioned that Titan Games in Champaign is running a Store Championship on the last possible day which apparently is 31 March. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it up for that one or not- depends on some work stuff. In any case, if you're around the area and things haven't panned out for you the way you wished they would in the Store Championships this year, or you want to get some Scum games in before flying them in an Organized Play tourney, Titan's doing the late tournament deal. 

I purposely didn't talk much about how I flew and why I lost and all- there's a reason for that. And by that I mean I'm going to talk about it tomorrow. As the old cliche goes, you learn more from your losses than your wins, and using my A-Wing list these past couple of weekends, I've learned a lot! Lols. Tomorrow I'll do another of those "Why Did I Lose?" articles like I've done in the past. Hopefully you'll not only see why my games went the way they did, but maybe it'll also help you dissect your losses so you can build upon them in the future. 

Thanks again to Nick and Armored Gopher for putting on another fun Store Championship. See y'all next year!

27 February 2015

Store Championship at Armored Gopher (Urbana, IL) TOMORROW!

Yup, barring any late developing Midwestern winter storms, yours truly will be at the Store Championship presented by Urbana, Illinois' Armored Gopher on Saturday (tomorrow, at time of writing). I have no idea if they still have open slots or not, but Sean called and got us signed up only yesterday, so you're probably good if you're on the fence about going.

If you're in the neighborhood, stop by and say, "Hi!". Or if you're lucky enough to draw me as an opponent, pick up a few easy points, lols. Tourney starts at 2:00pm according to Sean. We might be there a little early.

Hope to see y'all there!


X-Wing Kickstarter- Dynamic Colored X-Wing Template Sets

I know, I know.

You already have a really dope set of acrylic templates.

Yup. Now you're pulling out your credit card for another

Are those sweet or what, y'all? The thing's already funded, and the campaign doesn't even end until 7 March. Note also they're doing some pretty nice looking translucent acrylic tokens too. Looks like you can hook them up as a set or in the form of add-ons. Oh, and they're selling non-slip inserts for the bottom of your ship's bases.

I'm in for at least Mandalorian. How about you?

Big ups to +Clifford Holm for bringing this to my attention!

24 February 2015

Guest Article- Against Marksmanship by Punning Pundit

Against Marksmanship:

Hello hello! I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion about the card Marksmanship recently, and sat down to write a really annoyed missive about it. Our barkeeper, Clint, kindly agreed to host my thoughts here.

Before I dive in: online, I tend to go by “Punning Pundit”, and I’ll give 5 house points to anyone who can tell me- based on my cognomen- what my Major and Minor were in college.I blog about Class Warfare and Video Games over at Indignant Desert Birds, and tweet about the same stuff, and my dog Branson. I’ve been playing X-Wing since Christmas eve 2011, when my then-GF bought me the core set. Dear reader, a year later we were married.

So: I kinda hate Marksmanship. Probably more than it deserves, which is odd, given how much hate it does deserve. It’s the sort of card that looks good until you get to know the game better, and then you realize how little it actually does for you. The designers were still figuring the game out when they made the card, and players tend to only use it when they’re new.

Lets take a look at the text:
(3 points)

Action: When attacking this round, you may change 1 of your (eyeball) results to a (crit) result and all of your other (eyeball) results to (hit) results.

In effect, it uses your action to create a sort of pseudo-Focus. The biggest difference between Marksmanship and spending Focus on offense is that Marksmanship turns 1 (eyeball) into a crit. Because the action is not actually a focus action, it can’t be stolen by Palob Godalhi, nor can Carnor Jax prevent its being taken as an action, or spent as a token. Nor can it be banked by Mody Crow, passed around by Garven Dreis, or negated by Wes Janson.

Lets go all the way to the basics: this game is won by rolling enough more successes on red dice than your opponent rolls successes on green dice to account for every hull that your opponent has- and doing it faster than your opponent does the same thing to you. (As an aside: that sentence would be a lot easier in algebraic notation, or written in Latin/Greek. Sorry about that).

Lets take a break for today’s asterisk.

(Credit: some guy on YouTube)

When building a squad, points should be spent either on doing damage to enemy ships, or mitigating damage your own ships are taking. The Marksmanship action does not improve the odds of a hit more than a Focus action does. Instead, it marginally improves the odds that, if you cause your opponent to suffer damage, it will be a critical hit.

This seems like rather over-valuing critical hits. By way of comparison, look at the Heavy Laser Cannon and the Mangler Cannon. The HLC does 4 dice at ranges 2 and 3, converts (crits) to (hits)- before dice are modified- and costs 7 points. The Mangler Cannon tosses 3 Dice at ranges 1-3, converts 1 (hit) to a (crit) at any point before the defender rolls dice, and costs… 3 points less than the HLC. This tells us that a critical hit is worth significantly less than a fourth attack die.

Don’t get me wrong: All things being equal, I’d rather roll 3 (crits) than 3 (hits). But unless your name is Ten Numb [Most of this article has a giant asterisk next to it “unless your name is Ten Numb], those (crits) won’t actually make it easier for you to hit another ship.

Does the Marksmanship action give you a better chance to hit than the Focus action does? Nope. At least- not for any single attack. And if you roll an attack with no (eyeball) results, you’ve actually done worse than you would have had you instead chosen the Focus action- Focus tokens can be spent on defense as well as offense.

Crits are good though, right? Well yeah! They can annoy the heck out of your opponent. But for a crit to land, it has to A) Be against your opponent’s unshielded hull, B) Not be the final single damage that kills your opponent (so: a “direct hit” crit that dips your opponent into negative 1 hull is kinda wasted) C) Not be against Chewie.

All of this is a very long-winded way of saying that spending 3 points for the option of taking the Marksmanship action is overspending for the privilege of putting crits on your opponent. Compounding that, you’re also being a lot less flexible on defense.

Feeling a bit Numb from reading all this?

(credit: a different guy on YouTube)

If all you wish to do is modify your roll, Predator offers a lot more flexibility, does not require an action, costs the same amount of points, and can be combined with a Focus token to convert any straggling (eyeballs) into (hits).

When might Marksmanship be a good idea? I might put Marksmanship onto a build that was going to fire twice in one round, when it also had access to other ways to modify dice. For instance: Coran Horn, with Fire Controll System, and Marksmanship is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard of. I might slap Experimental Interface and an R2 unit on there, just for extra funsies. And then moan that I’ve just eaten half my list on a single ship with 5 hp.

Or maybe: Ibitsam + FCS, Marksmanship, E2 (modification), and Gunner. It will shave 6 points off the Corran build, and cost you 2 PS. Notice, though, that you could get rid of Marksmanship and Gunner in favor of Crew!Luke, and get very nearly the same chance-to-hit, be action independant, and it will actually save you a point.
For super trolling, try: IG-88B + FCS + HLC + Marksmanship + IG-2000.

Remember: you’re not paying for the privilege to turn an (eyeball) into a (crit), but rather for the privilege of turning (eyeball) into (successes) on more than one attack. Frankly, in all the times I’ve run Buzzsaws, it’s been extremely rare for me to need a focus in addition to a pair of target locks on a pair of attacks. Since the FCS/Gunner combo is action-free, it works even when you’ve been blocked. And yeah, writing this post just made me realize how awesome Crew!Luke is.

The StarViper expansion comes with a card called “Calculation”, which will do much of what most of us want Marksmanship to do, and only costs 1 point. It’s still a very situational card (but wonderful on Ten Numb. Pairs so well with an Ion Cannon on Ten Numb that it’s ridiculous.)

So Marksmanship: it takes an action to for marginal gain, uses an EPT, and leaves you incredibly vulnerable in your defense. Marksmanship: It’s a trap.

(I tried very hard to find something with “Ten Numb” and “trap”, but alas.)

23 February 2015

Tournament Talk- Evansville, IN Store Championship 2015

'Grats Cliffy- Evansville, IN Store Champion 2015!

So a month ago or so, my pal Sean messaged me the time and date for Armored Gopher's Store Championship in Urbana, IL. You may or may not recall, I played in their SC last year, met some cool folks, and had an all around good time, so after consulting with the work and the fam, I made plans to attend again this year (it's on 28 Feb, or this Saturday if you're scoring at home). 

Now, as you've likely guessed from my infrequent updates the past, oh six months? I've not been playing a lot lately. Work has been work, the wife is taking classes online to get her Master's, it's kind of a long story as to why, but I've been spending free time shooting guns a lot lately, and we've been playing games besides X-Wing on the weekends via Hangouts. I didn't really want to walk into the Store Championship tournament completley cold, but I was having a hard time making it by the X-Wing League Night that Cliff has going these days on Thursday evenings at Comics Quest in Evansville. 

Chas's Daughter did the sign. I didn't ask her name or take her pic because I thought it'd be creepy for a 40-year old dude in a Metal Bikini shirt to ask what appeared to be a 13-year old girl her name and if he could put a picture of it and her on his website

Then a couple weeks ago, Cliff sent out an email saying that he was going to be TO'ing a Store Championship at Comics Quest here in Evansville on 23 Feb, which surprisingly seemed do-able even with my goofy work, kid-watching, and gun shooting schedule. 

I spent the last week or so talking about lists with Sean and I'd decided that I wanted to try and run the following- 

Seems fun, right? Yeah, well, I thought so too. In fact, I thought it would be so fun that it didn't even occur to me until Friday afternoon at work that not only do I not own 4 A-Wings, I also don't have four Stealth Devices (I also probably don't own 4 Proton Rockets, but that seemed to be trivial comparatively at that point).

Anyhizzle, I was like, "Ah jeez, what the hell am I gonna do now?" 

After stopping by the local FLGSes on my way home from work and coming up empty-handed on both another A-Wing and a Firespray, I punted and tried to go back to my safe zone of a Dreis-Dutch list which also included Gemmer. I tried it out on Sean (who was running a bog standard Fat Han) Friday night. It didn't do well. Gemmer did ok, but I was kinda wishing I'd have found the points for Jake Farrell, and well, maybe I should try to make a Jake-Dreis-Lando list work somehow, or maybe I should just roll a couple of Advanced with Proton Rockets and Vader, and blah, blah, blah. Now, it's like 2am and I've got a Store Championship I'd rather not completely embarrass myself at in 10 hours and nothing in my head is fitting together well at all. 

So after some deliberation, I decided to get out of my safe zone and not only did I not play a ship that involved pilots I'd never actually played before Friday night, I also decided to go against my usual tendencies and run a 3-ship Rebel list that didn't include a Falcon.

With zero experience with the list and only a few hours of sleep between my late-night of coming up with said list and my youngest waking up at 2:50am from a nightmare, I arrived at Comics Quest ill-prepared and with a Diet Mountain Dew IV, and by IV I mean intravenous, not a Diet Dew Mark 4, about 10 minutes before the shindig was supposed to kick off. I was happy I'd get to play though, so it was all good. 

My first opponent was the eventual tournament winner and all-around good guy, +Clifford Holm. You may remember Cliff- I've mentioned him on here a couple of times in the past and if memory serves, he may have even written an article or two for the Bikini. He's been running a Biggs, Ten Nunb, and two Prototype A-Wings list for awhile now and he's gotten pretty solid with it. Obviously, I'd been banking on my ships being hard to hit until they could get to Range 1 and dump those rockets on somebody's head, but when Cliff told me the was rolling Ten with Autoblaster I knew I was gonna have a hard time. 

Sparing you the gory details, I managed to get Biggs off the map fairly quickly (no small feat as he was sporting R2-F2 and a Stealth Device), and things were fairly even as we got tangled up in a pretty good traffic jam for a few turns, but eventually, the Ten B-Wing got loose in the hairball as they're wont to do and starting auto-hitting my A-Wings, with no chance for them to evade damage because of the synergy between his card text and Autoblaster. After 1 match, I was 0-1. 

I went outside to catch a vape and when I came back in, I was informed I'd be bye'ed into the next round as we had an odd number of people present. I'm not 100% sure how I was selected for the bye, but I'm pretty sure it's because I had the lowest point total after the first round (31). In any case, I spent the next 75 minutes vaping, making small talk, deciding that I was probably being kinda distracting making small talk, thought I should be courteous and STFU, went back outside for another vape, posted some pics on G+, thought it'd be cool to take some pics of the other participants actually, you know, playing, for the site, went back inside to do that, and grabbed another Diet Dew. 

Cliff v Craig

Jeff v Cameron

Troy v Chas

For the third round, I drew Craig, who had driven up in the sleet, snow, and ice from Dawson Springs, Kentucky where he'd run a Store Championship tournament of his own, and I think won. Craig is a super cool guy if you've ever met him- he gets around the X-Wing scene; went to Gencon and checked out Nationals as a spectator and is a fixture on the FFG Boards as Bjorn Rockfist. He was running a Fat Han with 3 Z-95s in support. 

Craig doin' his thang

If you thought my game against Cliff was underwhelming, I managed to get zero points off the table against Craig. The highlight of my match against him was touching off Gemmer's Proton Rockets after the Falcon had been stripped of it's Evades and/ or Focus tokens which allowed for Gemmer's Opportunist to kick in and give me a six Attack dice rocket shot, of which I actually managed to roll three hits and three Focuses, which I subsequently was able to turn into hits. Wasn't enough to down the Falcon as I'd only managed to take off a shield point or two in the turns leading up to that point, but it was pretty cool to see a little ol' A-Wing rip off six hit points. 

To be honest, I'm not sure what place I came in. Cliff won, I believe that Craig placed second. I have to assume if I wasn't in sole possession of last place, I was at least tied for it. We were all trying to get out of Dodge before all the rain and slush turned completely back into ice, so once we'd all been given our swag and congratulated Cliff on his victory, we split. It was a good time though, and I'm glad I got to try my list out before I went to the tournament in Urbana as it would have been even more disappointing to realize this list had a couple of fundamental flaws after driving all the way up there. 

Main thing I noticed was Marksmanship on Tycho the way I have him set up didn't result in the synergy I'd hoped for. It seems so obvious now, having played the list twice and, well, you know having some sleep and all, but I'd somehow got it into my head that having the Focus and the Marksmanship would be totally handy as I could use the Focus defensively then use Marksmanship to affect the rocket roll, but in reality they kinda conflict with each other. You have to have the Focus to touch off the Missiles, so paying for three points for Marksmanship when you have to have the Focus anyway, but not spend it, is a waste in a list this tight. I'm still not entirely sure about the way I had Gemmer set up with Opportunist either, but Jake Farrell was and is, simply awesome. That dude I absolutely love now. If you've not flown him before, give him a try. Especially if you're a mainly Imperial player who likes (or liked) to run those three ship lists with like Vader, Soontir Fel, and Turd Ferguson. You'll find Jake is right up your alley. Having an A-Wing that can Barrel Roll doesn't seem like that big of a deal on paper, but I found myself wishing I'd had it available on Tycho especially too. Hmmm... 

The prize spread. Box of tissues not included. P.S.- If you squint, you can see my hand-written list in there. Printer wasn't working, so I had to go old school.

So the Urbana tournament is this weekend at the time of writing and I'm in something of a quandary- Sean has enough models and cards that I actually could run the 4-ship A-Wing list with Gemmer that I'd initially dreamed up, but I keep thinking with a bit of work on the upgrades, I could make that Tycho, Jake, Gemmer list work a lot better than it did yesterday, so I don't know. I'll have to think about it a bit before the weekend. I'm also going to try like hell to make it by CQ this Thursday to give the list Mark 2 a trial before I pack it up north. I'll let you know how it goes. 

On the bright side, I did get an alternative art Soontir Fel card and a super swanky X-Wing dice bag for participating.  

Yes- I am mixing my gaming metaphors, so to speak. I didn't want to pack my entire collection up there, so I put my stuff in my Imperial Bolter Ammo can (which got some compliments, by the way- it is pretty dope, after all).

It was cool getting to meet the guys from the X-Wing group that Cliff has put together and I was totally impressed with Craig driving all the way up in the ice and whatnot from Kentucky. Was fun to talk some shop in person for a change too- not that I don't love all y'all's emails and G+ posts and whatnot of course, just good to get back out into the community for a little bit before I sequester myself out beyond the Dune Sea again, y'know? 

Oh, and in an effort to show some solidarity to the store for hosting the tournament and to console myself after such demoralizing losses, I picked this up too- 

... which I'm like totally stoked to check out. I don't know if y'all are up on this Golem Arcana business, but it sounds friggin' awesome and seems as though it'd work over Hangouts without a lot of the work we normally have to do playing stuff over the internet. Give me a couple of weeks to play around with it and I'll post a review. 

So once again, congrats to Cliff, shout-outs to all the other participants, and I hope to see some of y'all in Urbana this weekend at Armored Gopher! 


20 February 2015

Store Tournaments, Scum and Villainy

Store Tournament- Evansville, IN

So I don't know how many of y'all are somewhat local to the area, and by the area, I mean my area, but lo and behold, it would appear that I might actually get to play in my local store tournament. 

If you do happen to be around Evansville, the tournament is going to be at Comic Quest and starts at noon on Saturday (21 Feb). Entry is $10, 100 point lists, etc. etc. 

I'm under the impression this is an actual FFG Sanctioned Store Championship with the usual trappings as such, but to be honest, I'm not 100% sure on that. I don't want to sound negative or anything, just saying that although I'm literally like 5 minutes away from this store, I've had zero involvement whatsoever with this, so take this more as information rather than an endorsement. Mainly saying that in case some of y'all out-of-towners see this and feel strongly one way or another about officially sanctioned tournaments. In any case, I do plan on attending assuming nothing crazy in my personal life goes down. 

As for what I'll be flying, well, it'll either be really effective or really stupid. I've not had a chance to play much at all the past few months, but as I'm wont to do, I shunned the usual tournament lists for something of my own devising. It's slightly cooler than my 4 TIE Advanced list I rolled at the Urbana Regionals last year, and by cooler I mean more dangerous, but who knows if I'll actually be able to do anything with it. I'll tell y'all all about it on Monday. 

Those of y'all playin' in your Store Championships- what are you flying? Are you sticking with Fat Hans and VT/ Phantoms or what? 

Scum and Villainy Release TODAY!

As usual, I'm actually writing this in advance, but from everything I've seen, by the time you read this (or very shortly thereafter), S&V will finally be available. I don't know if the same West Coast longshoreman's slowdown is what's been affecting S&V's release date, but it's definitely been causing some issues with overseas parts here at the plant. In any case, they're supposed to be available from your favorite retailer today, so for those of y'all who didn't pre-order, you oughta be able to swing by your local FLGS or your favorite internet game store and get hooked up with S&V.