Three or Four of a Kind?

My local gaming venues for X-Wing Miniatures have been covered up the past couple of weeks with lists featuring ships and upgrades from the Rebel Aces expansion.  Posts on our local Facebook group have progressed from “Rebel Aces are now in stock, come get your copy whenever” to “Who still has some left?” within a week.

The debut of Aces Wild, featured in last week’s post, went well for me. Jake and the Bandit got a lot of attention early, which let Keyan Farlander get in close with his B-Wing and unleash chaos. With only three ships, the Z-95 Headhunter was just too squishy, though, and he never did get to fire his Proton Rocket, or survive the first round of shooting for that matter. Changing that back to an Assault Missile whenever I run that list again.

I think that all of the B-Wing named pilots are awesome, and properly kitted out they are true glass cannons. Unfortunately, with 100 point lists, it’s very hard to team them up with something functional and threatening enough to draw fire off of them. I’m sure I’ll revisit them later, but for now I think I’ll be sticking to my cheaper generics.

As far as the A-Wings are concerned, though, I really liked how Jake functioned though, and I’ve heard wonders about Gemmer Sojan and his extra defense die from other players. As a result, I pondered over lunch today what I would put into a list that featured one of them or the other. Then the following thought popped into my head, an adage from my Warhammer days: If one is good, thirty is better (I played Orks, a true horde army). So I decided to do the unheard of, an A-Wing only list. A bit of pontificating later, and I had not one, but three separate lists (again, if one is good…).

The Three A-migos

Gemmer Sojan (22)
Proton Rockets (3)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)

Jake Farrell (24)
Proton Rockets (3)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Outmaneuver (3)

Tycho Celchu (26)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Outmaneuver (3)

These three Aces are loaded to the gills, using every available upgrade slot. Combining the A-Wing’s friendly dial with 3-5 evade dice and the two actions from Push The Limit, the entire squad can take both a Focus and an Evade action every turn and laugh off most incoming fire, waiting for opportune moments to pick off enemy ships. I don’t think the A-migos will manage to wipe the table for big wins, but they’ll be a fun build.

At the same time, I wondered what a list might look like if I tried to run a swarm of A-Wings. With only an evade die separating them from Z-95’s, running them bare doesn’t seem worthwhile. Five Prototype Pilots carrying Proton Rockets might be worth a laugh, but PS1, no special abilities, and only posing a threat at Range 1 doesn’t really tempt me all that much, and I don’t care to buy that many A-Wings. Green Squadron, however, seems to be a sweet spot of frugal price, higher Pilot Skill than Academy Pilots in their TIE Fighter swarms, and a built-in Elite Talent slot before we add the Test Pilot title. So Green Squadron it is.

Four of a Kind, v0.1

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Another list that could be entertaining, but I’m not loving it yet. There’s enough ships in here to make it possible to box in a TIE Phantom, and they’re agile enough to do it, but if it gets loose that Phantom will tear these ships apart with impunity because of their lower Pilot Skill values. Meanwhile, you’re really leaning on your dice here, with only 16 hit points in a fleet that only fields eight attack dice with particular no bonuses.

Wingman isn’t my favorite Elite Talent by any means, but it fits for points and gives some extra flexibility to not have to pair green maneuvers with Push The Limit, and not be caught stressed for ion attacks. Maybe something else will appear in an upcoming expansion pack that will fit in its’ place, such as Lone Wolf (from the YT-2400 expansion), but since it’s unique, more options are still needed. Perhaps keeping one Wingman, trading one for Outmaneuver, and one for Veteran Instincts to fix the budget? Stay on Target (also from the YT-2400) may end up being a winner here, as the A-Wing has every move in the game (short of the unreleased Segnor’s Loop) available at a speed of 3, and anything except the K-Turn is also available at speed 2, but with only one copy included with each YT-2400, this would become an expensive A-Wing squadron.

In the meanwhile, if I get around to buying a 4th A-Wing I’ll probably tweak things slightly, and run something more like this:

Four of a Kind, v0.2

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Predator (3)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Predator (3)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Outmaneuver (3)
Predator (3)

We’ve traded a little bit of  flexibility here for a big boost in offense with Predator and Outmaneuver, and you’re no longer needing to take Target Locks on the three with Predator (you’re only rolling 2-3 dice anyway), so you’re able to play defensively and still have effective offense when the activation phase goes your way.

I believe that I’ll be fielding the 3 A-migos this week in casual games, but what do you think? Are any of these lists feasible, or have I lost my mind? How are you using the new upgrades and pilots available in Rebel Aces?

— The Tabletop General

 

 

Queen Vessel Prime STAW expansion preview

StarTrek.com’s preview of the Queen Vessel Prime went live today, and you can see that preview here. While these previews are getting stingier, no longer showing all of the cards included, I’m definitely intrigued after a bit of analysis. Borg players will buy one of these regardless, let’s get that out of the way, but while there’s a couple nice cards, it’s not the powerhouse ship that many players feared it would be. Instead, it’s the upgrades that are the big deal here.

There are a couple cards referenced but not pictured in the preview. Borg Assimilation Tubules are back, because we need so many copies of them. Power Node is used to treat a red maneuver as white, I’m assuming it’s a discard but the text only hints at it as being “activated”. And a new Tactical Drone is coming (surprise!), this one will likely spend drone tokens as though they were scan tokens, removing opponents’ defense dice.

The Queen Vessel Prime itself weighs in with a 6/0/8/6(7) stat line, with a base cost of 40 points for the generic version, comparable to the Borg Sphere‘s 38. With a grand total of six upgrade slots (2 borg, 1 tech, 1 weapon, 2 crew) and also including an Admiral version of the Queen, it will be relatively easy to see this ship in some juggernaut builds, but in that regard there isn’t anything new, as Borg already do that regularly. The named version of the ship comes with an extremely peculiar ability.

During the Roll Attack Dice step of the Combat Phase, your ship, or any friendly ship within Range 1-2 of your ship, may spend a Scan Token from beside this ship to gain +1 attack die.

Seems like it could be kind of useful… I guess… maybe… in the right situation…? If you’re not in range yet, but a friendly ship is, at least you get some sort of use out of that token. On the whole though, it baffles me that there are so many cards coming out that have you spend Battle Stations tokens or Scan Tokens for an extra attack die. The math just doesn’t work out, you’re statistically decreasing your damage by using these abilities!

For any of you who had been running out of ways to spend your points on Borg ships, fear not. You’ve got all the point sinks you can handle right here in the Elite Talents. Resistance Is Futile: 7 points (ugh), discard (ugh), spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to make that many of your attack dice immune to being canceled this attack (okay). So you’re guaranteed to get up to 3 damage through for 7 points and 3 tokens, but the remaining dice can be canceled normally. Comparing average defense dice and attack dice in Attack Wing, how often are you not already getting 3+ damage through per shot with the Borg? Meanwhile, We Are The Borg is a 6 point (ugh) discard (ugh) that allows you to spend up to 3 drone tokens (ugh) to gain an extra evade result on defense (cool). There are so many better ways to spend your points (although not many in the elite talent pool for the Borg, I’ll admit that), and in competitive builds, so many better ways to spend Drone Tokens too. So while both of these sound scary when you first read them, if you see either on your opponent’s ship for anything more than a modified “free” thanks to an Admiral, laugh at them for me please.

Speaking of Admirals, the Queen Vessel Prime wouldn’t be complete without the Borg Queen herself. Making her second appearance in Attack Wing (the first being with the Borg Cube), the Borg Queen costs 5 points, adds an Elite slot, and gives +2 Captain Skill as an Admiral. Her Fleet Action ability is priceless for events including sealed boosters where you have no idea what to do with that extra ship. The ability reads as follows:

FLEET ACTION: Target a friendly ship at Range 1-2. Choose 1 Upgrade on that ship and perform that Upgrade’s Action as a free Action this round. If that Action requires spending Drone Tokens, spend 1 less Drone Token than required.

This ability is going to need FAQ’ing. Hard. There is nothing clarifying whether or not any other costs, specifically discarding upgrades, must be paid as a part of this action. So potentially, you may have reusable Transwarp Conduits, Biogenic Charges, Subspace Distortions, and more to use on your blind booster ship (or other ships in your fleet), and that’s just in faction pure settings. Regardless of that ruling, this allows FREE usage of Borg Assimilation Tubules, which will be insane. I’m assuming that as per other Admiral cards, the Captain version of the Borg Queen will make this same ability available only to her ship. It will be interesting to see how her Drone Tokens work, and see if you can replenish your supply of drones by jettisoning (disabling somehow) the Tactical Drone who had previously been at the helm.

Only one crew member listed here: Magnus Hansen, costs only 1 point, but all he does lets you do is discard him to spend 1 less Drone Token for something; Rather underwhelming on Borg ships that for some reason have very little room for crew. Maybe the drones don’t stack neatly into storage? Fits right in with the Elite Talent cards out of this pack that won’t see their way out of my card binders.

At first Transwarp Signal looks useless, it’s a 4 point discard Borg upgrade that lets you target one ship anywhere in the play area. You then remove one Evade, Battle Stations, Scan, or Target Lock token from this ship, and place an Auxiliary Power token beside the target ship. But Torpedoes are scary for the Borg, and they don’t fire without a Target Lock. More importantly, activating Transwarp Signal isn’t an action, and has no timing restrictions. This means that if you can guess the right time to use it, you can place an Auxiliary Power token on an opponent’s ship right before they perform a red maneuver. And if we look back at the rulebook, that becomes an illegal maneuver for your opponent, and you get to pick a legal one to replace it with, which generally means that ship flies off the board if possible, or at the very least in to harm’s way. It won’t work often, but this card will be a neat mind-game to play with the opponent, especially when they have poorly maneuvering ships. If it’s ever updated again (in doubt lately), this one will also need an entry in the FAQ.

Speaking of “in to harm’s way”, we haven’t seen a good mine card released in quite some time, and that’s been fixed now. Multi Kinetic Neutronic Mines (say that 5 times fast) are devastating. For 10 (15 + faction penalty on non-Borg ships) points, these mines have huge potential. These mines deal 4 attack dice of damage both the ship that overlaps them, as well as every other ship in range 1-3, with defense dice allowed for ships at range 2, defense dice + 1 allowed at range 3.

There’s one card left in the preview that we have partial text on, Borg Shield Matrix. As an 8 point Borg upgrade, this card gains one Shield Matrix Token each time the ship takes damage on shields or hull, up to a maximum of three tokens. While the exact effect of these tokens are presumably on a separate reference card, the article alludes that this Shield Matrix increases defense dice and protects upgrades on the ship. For 8 points, I hope the defense dice are permanent, but for balance’s sake, they may be one use only.

This completes the Star Trek: Attack Wing Wave 8 previews. The Val Jean, Enterprise E, and Queen Vessel Prime are available for to pre-order now. They are scheduled to be released in October 2014. I can’t get my hands on them soon enough.

– The Tabletop General

The best Offen(der) is a good Defen(der)

Just a couple of months ago, I had my first opportunity to serve as TO for an X-Wing Miniatures tournament. I may discuss the overall experience in another post, but what matters for the purposes of this discussion is that we ended up with an odd number of players attending, and not so many players that I was overwhelmed with questions or anything like that. I wanted to make sure that everyone got in their share of games, having paid to be playing, so while for results purposes the player with a bye received a full win, I played a casual game against each of them; their tournament list vs a list I had cooked up for experimentation purposes. I didn’t even bother to write the list on paper, because I didn’t think it would be worth keeping.

Since my actual win/loss record didn’t matter here, the focus of my list was trying to find a way to make use of both of my TIE Defenders. There seem to be two schools of thought regarding this ship. One group looks at it and sees a slightly overpriced ship (30 points for the PS 1 generic pilot) combining good stats with a weird maneuver dial and the distinction of having X-Wing’s only stress free K-turn. The other group played the original TIE Fighter computer game and sees game balance stomping all over a ship that “should” be better than any other ship in the game at everything, and might be deserving of the 6-straight maneuver from Attack Wing.

Falling into the latter category myself, I bought two before knowing the slightest thing about how they were implemented in X-Wing miniatures, and then cried inside as I searched in vain for redeeming qualities about them. Both named pilots seem to be sub-par in my book, as Colonel Vessery works off of target locks from other ships, a rarity in most Imperial lists, and Rexler Brath’s unique ability requires you to deal damage without spending your focus token on a ship that is not conducive to using abilities like Push the Limit to take Focus and a Target Lock actions in the same turn (having only straight green maneuvers). Rexler would certainly find use in Predator or Outmaneuver, two attack enhancing abilities that do not cause stress or require actions, and will be enhanced further with Fleet Officer’s focus granting ability in the next wave release, but I couldn’t justify taking him and a second Defender, as I would be cutting corners to fit anything more than an Academy Pilot in as a third ship once both Defenders were equipped well enough to justify their usage. Bringing either named pilot in standard games doesn’t leave enough points once they’re properly equipped (40 to 50 points for the one ship) to give them decent support.

So instead, I went in the opposite direction, and committed to bringing two Defenders on the cheap, and hoped to have enough points left over for another ship or two that would work well with them. Howlrunner seemed a decent choice, but would be even more of an obvious target than ever with so few other ships. I had heard others mention Captain Jonus along with two Defenders carrying Heavy Laser Cannons, and that may be a feasible list, but I don’t care to bring bombers in 100 point matches, especially with minimal points to equip them.

Still, my Defenders needed all the help they could get, so I had to find something that could both support them and give my opponents something to worry about, yet could survive on its’ own if the Defenders were ignored as being too tough for a first target. I ended up bringing a TIE Interceptor for my third ship, Carnor Jax to be precise, from the Imperial Aces expansion. Jax has a neat ability that strikes fear into a lot of opponents and causes them to second guess themselves a lot, he denies enemy ships within range 1 of his ship the ability to take focus or evade actions, or spend the matching tokens if they have them. Giving him Push the Limit allows for a Focus + Evade combo, and slapping on a Stealth Device modification on top of that makes him a truly tricky target, especially when he ensures that the enemy loses lots of Focus with his pilot ability. With a high pilot skill, he can dodge firing arcs and move his range 1 bubble as needed with a Boost + Barrel Roll combination if the situation requires it. And the points worked out perfectly to throw the Royal Guard TIE title on him and bring a Targeting Computer modification, which allowed for the deadly Focus + Target Lock combo if he was ignored for the turn.

DDI Jax [better name in progress]

Delta Squadron Pilot
Ion Cannon

Delta Squadron Pilot
Ion Cannon

Carnor Jax
Push the Limit
Targeting Computer
Royal Guard TIE
Stealth Device

My usual opening for this list is having the Defenders hold back for the first turn or two, using 1-bank maneuvers in alternating directions along with Barrel Roll actions into the turn and backwards in order to move much slower than it appears they would be able to. Meanwhile, Jax has an advantage of setting up long after the opponent has reacted to the PS 1 Delta pilots, and can easily maneuver for a flank with big movements and Barrel Roll / Boost actions. If the opponent commits to targeting Jax, I have him go fully evasive and only take shots on targets of opportunity, meanwhile the Defenders close in quickly, not being afraid to take range 3 shots with their Ion Cannons and then closing the gap on the next turn to deal the real damage. If the opponent goes after the Defenders instead, Jax goes on the offensive from a flank and closes in tight to deny focus/evade actions, and the Defenders can skirmish reasonably well once given that support. Against vulnerable targets, the Delta Squadron pilots would make use of primary weapons, but my Rebel lists have taught me to love disrupting my opponent’s formations and movement plans by handing out Ion tokens, especially to targets who would likely evade most incoming damage anyway such as stressed interceptors or support ships playing defensively (an evading Howlrunner or Biggs hiding behind an asteroid).

I also found that Defenders seem to benefit from approaching the enemy at an angle instead of going straight in. If your ship is turned 45 degrees away from a head-to-head course, following up with straight-5 maneuvers will carry you past the opponent, and at worst led me into a chase situation that the Defenders can later gain advantage in with the white K-turns. Taking a speed 3 banking turn back towards the opponent followed by a Barrel Roll into the turn takes you past them to set up for another run, and potentially out of firing arc even if the opponent turns to follow. At the same time, a speed 1 bank into the opponent can be just as effective as a speed 4 K-Turn in lining up on a ship ionized in the first round of fire, so there are plenty of options to keep your opponent guessing.

It’s a limited sample set, but in the three games I played in this tournament, this list managed to completely wipe out all three opponents, losing a single Defender in the third game.

Regardless of how you’re flying them, I feel that one of the keys to a successful Defender build is to make use of their unique dials. They don’t fly like any other ship in the game. K-Turns are not a desperation move, but a go-to that can become predictable. Try to keep your opponent guessing. Greens are rare on their dial, but reds are rarely needed; don’t be afraid to sprinkle them in anyway, a stressful hard turn to avoid a bad situation can be followed up with a 5 forward to clear stress and a 4 K-Turn to re-enter the fight. Your opponent will be hard pressed to follow such maneuvers, especially if they don’t see it coming. but make sure that you give yourself room to complete those movements before reaching the edge of the table, because hard turns are not your friend once you’re being pursued.

What are your thoughts on the TIE Defender? How do you use this ship? As always, your feedback is appreciated.

— The Tabletop General

Enterprise-E STAW expansion preview

Earlier this week, I discussed some of the options soon to be added into Star Trek: Attack Wing by the Val Jean. Now the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E preview is available, the second of the wave 8 ships to be shown in detail. As per usual for an Attack Wing expansion, there’s a couple of amazing cards, and then a large collection of upgrades that will never see the table except for fluff purposes.

Make It So: A 5 point one-shot item that prevents disabling of another upgrade as a part of that upgrade’s cost to use. That’s a waste of the paper it’s printed on.

Advanced Shields is another upgrade that should never see the table. For 5 points, this Technology upgrade costs your action for an extra shield that is discarded at the end of the turn if unused. Let’s rephrase that… for 5 points and a tech slot, you get access to another version of an Evade action that doesn’t trigger anything that works off of Evade tokens. True, if you have access to a second action, you can use Advanced Shields and take an Evade too, but this doesn’t combine well with Enhanced Hull Plating from the Enterprise NX-01, because that upgrade triggers off of having no active shields, and the Advanced Shields require you to still have active shields in place.

So what’s actually good in this expansion?

The NCC-1701-E is the first Sovereign class hull to be released, and it’s a beast with 5 attack, the standard Enterprise 1 evade, 5 hull, and 5 shields. The named ship ability reads as follows: “You may fire a Torpedo at an enemy ship without needing a Target Lock. If you do so, place an Auxiliary Power Token beside your ship.”. This is a pretty neat ability that reduces the actions required to fire a torpedo, and gives you the option of using your target lock for re-rolls, but with a basic attack of 5 dice, I really don’t see spending an extra 6 points to bring the included Photon Torpedoes for only one more attack die. But I do like the ship as a whole, maneuver dial pending.

The only place in my mind that Torpedoes really shine is when they are fired out of a rear arc when you otherwise do not have a shot. The Dorsal Phaser Array takes that out of the equation. Costing 1 point more than the primary weapon value of the ship it is equipped on, the Dorsal Phaser Array essentially lets you fire your primary weapon in any direction at range 1-2, and does not disable or require any actions to use. The wording does suggest that it is still a secondary weapon though, and thus would not give an extra die at range 1. Also, sorry if I got your hopes up, Dominion players, but this upgrade is restricted to Federation ships with hull value 4 or greater, so it’s of no help to your angry pregnant space whales battleships.

Now, most of the 5 point discard Talent cards are a waste of points in my book. Fire At Will! may be one of the exceptions. If you insist on bringing torpedoes, be sure to check out this Talent. Fire At Will! allows you to make two attacks in a turn, one Primary and one Secondary both against separate targets. Actually, even if you don’t bring torpedoes, check this out anyway (remember, the Dorsal Phaser Array from the previous paragraph is a Secondary Weapon).

Last but certainly not least, there’s now another version of Captain Jean-Luc Picard worth taking. With a captain skill of 8, he has 1 talent slot and costs 5 points. This version of Picard lets you add your choice of a Crew, Tech, Weapon, or Talent upgrade slot to your ship, making many ships more flexible than they previously had been. Additionally, after setup, you can choose a faction to give Picard a bonus against; he rolls +1 defense die against that faction’s attacks, and he can trade in 1 attack die per shot for a guaranteed critical hit result against that faction too!

Too long; didn’t read version: Buy the Enterprise-E, but outside of Picard, Fire at Will, the Dorsal Phaser Array, and the ship itself, you might not want to bother with getting the cards out of the packaging.

Did I miss something great here? How do you plan to use the Enterprise-E? Leave me a comment and let me know.

– The Tabletop General

Luck Favors The Prepared

How many times have you played a game and had the result come down to one lucky (or unlucky) roll of the dice? Your lone surviving model almost made it off the field with the macguffin objective in hand, or you barely pulled ahead on at the last round of shooting… we’ve all had those moments. Some things you can’t prepare for; like rolling five armor checks on a 2+ and failing all five. Others, you can see from a mile away; when you know the score is in your opponents’ favor but you’ve spotted a tactical mistake on their behalf. You win some of those situations, you don’t win others, and it all comes down to a random roll of the dice.

In the aftermath of a recent Star Trek: Attack Wing Organized Play event with my local gaming group, there were some differing opinions regarding the role of randomness within gaming. The random event in question was more than just a point of damage or two riding on the results of a die. The scenario being played was the first out of three in The Collective OP series, in which a neutral Borg Cube Token dominated the battlefield. Specifically, at the end of each turn this ship does harm to (either removing upgrades from or shooting) the closest three ships within short to medium range, and then moves in a randomly selected direction which will bring it towards potential targets, dealing an additional small amount of damage to any ships which it collides with. Having the Cube move towards your fleet at the wrong moment in the battle could easily mean the difference in winning or losing, regardless of how well you were faring against the other player. The Cube cannot be stopped, “resistance is futile” after all, but the objective of the match was to be the last one standing between yourself and your opponent, for the most part this was regardless of whether you or the Cube scored the kill.

In my case, luck seemed to be on my side, as the Cube seemed to either interfere with my opponent, or at least not interfere with my fleet to a great degree. One of the more prominent members of our group expressed (in a polite manner) that he did not care for this scenario as the Cube’s behavior was too random. Having seen him lose half of his force before his ships could engage mine, and knowing that wasn’t the only time it happened that day, I initially empathized with his viewpoint. However, our Tournament Organizer for this event offered a differing opinion from this player’s and touched on the game’s setting in the process. He stated that “most of the encounters that a Star Fleet captain encounter are completely random and more about how they react to the randomness while continuing with their mission”. Having given more thought about the matter, I agree with him whole heartedly in this instance and beyond, but especially in the case of pre-published scenarios. We both knew at the start of the match what the Cube’s behavior could include, and it simply turned out to be the worst outcome my opponent could face. The problem was, in my opinion, that he didn’t have a plan for what to do in that case.

I’ve certainly had my runs of bad luck in games, as just about any gamer has. I gave up dice based games completely for about a month earlier this year because the law of averages just seemed to stop applying for a little while. But then I realized that my range of luck is the same as my opponent’s luck (loaded dice assumed to not exist for the duration of this discussion), and the difference between you and your opponent is what you do about the results. Elite miniature gamers know what the odds are, do what they can to improve them, and find a way to win whether the dice help or hurt them.

In Attack Wing, when you roll a handful of dice for an attack, every die has a 3/8 chance of rolling a hit, 1/8 of a critical hit, 2/8 a “battlestations”, and 2/8 a miss. You can then plan for the possible outcomes: you know how roughly how likely you are to hit your target, how much damage you can realistically expect to deal, what the consequences are if you fail to destroy your target, and the tactical benefits for succeeding. Except in extremely rare cases which have an associated cost (such as hidden abilities purchased by Captain Kirk or by Quark), you know in advance if the opponent has something that will change those odds or mitigate your results. There’s no chance that a butterfly flapping its’ wings in Madagascar will cause a chain of events in which your attack hits an ally instead of your target.

Similarly, the “random” elements of these scenarios are published in advance. In the Collective OP 1 example, if the Borg Cube is surrounded with targets, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the Cube is going to move in the direction you want it to move the least. As the board shifts, this can become as high as a 100% chance that you don’t want the Cube to move where it does. The first question is, can you change the odds? With Attack Wing’s attack dice, a Target Lock action gives you a second chance with your dice. A Battlestations action gives you better odds of success. Combining the two takes each die from a 4/8 chance of some form of success to a 7/8 chance of some form of success. In a similar fashion, the movements of our Borg Cube can be manipulated by our fleet movements. If your opponent sets up in the northwest corner of the map, and your fleet is in the southwest corner, the Cube can only move north, south, or west. If you deploy one ship further east, and keep it to the east of the Cube for a couple of turns, now there is less of a chance of the Cube moving directly towards the main conflict.

There’s no such thing as a guarantee when randomization is involved. You never know when you’re going to have an unlucky roll on what you expected to be your kill shot. A wise player plans for this eventuality and will have additional firepower available to them if finishing off that target is crucial to the battle plan. When looking at the current tactical situation in the game, you should always be wondering “what will I do if [XYZ] happens?”, and in order to be successful you should have a plan for each possibility, or at least the ones that have a reasonable chance of occurring. By that same reasoning, players can plan to mitigate the effects of the Borg Cube Token’s movements, because we know that each turn it will move a fixed distance in one of up to four directions. Perhaps you could be prepared to use the extra mobility afforded by Sensor Echo actions in order to stay out of range. Perhaps you can study the Cube’s potential movement combinations in advance to determine what maneuvers will keep you out of harm’s way regardless of how it moves. In my case, I decided to put all my eggs into one basket, so to say, and equipped my flagship with a Transwarp Device which served as an “eject” button and allowed me to move my flagship to the opposite side of the map in case I was cornered. It was a one-use-only sort of device, but it let me take the Borg Cube Token out of the fight as far as I was concerned, while with clever positioning I could ensure that my opponent would have to simultaneously deal with both my fleet and the BCT. This plan wasn’t quite perfect, and as you can read in a previous article about this event, I almost lost a match largely because of a run of luck with critical hit results, of all things.

I spent significant a portion of my free time for a week leading up to this event creating my battle plan. On the other hand, out of six players in this event, I think one other player might have read the rules before the day of the event, but I’m not even certain of that. Within a couple of days, I had a new battle plan ready for the next time we ran this event, and was just as successful with new tactics, because as usual, luck favors the prepared.

Aces Wild

With the Rebel Aces expansion for X-Wing Miniatures appearing in stores this week, I want to hit the ground running with the upgrades and pilots included within this pack. As you might have inferred from some of my previous post, Jake Farrell is going to be my primary A-Wing pilot for me thanks to his action economy boost, chaining movement actions off of focus actions/tokens. I also really like Keyan Farlander’s action economy, turning a stress token (normally a bad thing) into an offensive Focus token (a very good thing). Over lunch today, I looked at how I wanted to kit the two of them out and putting them both into a list to show off the new shiny toys.

Once the “turn & burn” phase of the battle begins, B-Wings are solid for me, especially with mid/high pilot skill and Advanced Sensors. I haven’t run any this way in quite some time though, as I’ve been using B-Wings as multiple generic pilots carrying Fire Control Systems in this slot exclusively for their action economy boost for the past few months. But with only one B-Wing and a heavily equipped one at that, it becomes an obvious target for the opponent, and I need to find a way to protect this huge point sink.

With that being said, I had a really hard time trying to figure out how to equip a B-Wing with the options included in Rebel Aces. The new B-Wing/E2 modification is extremely tempting in order to bring a Crew upgrade onboard, but there’s nothing that jumps out at me as a must-have. I can’t see Navigator working well with the B-Wing’s dial, R2-D2 only works well with crew if you have a lot of hull points. Nien Nunb would be a little helpful, but I can’t see needing to do 4 – straight maneuvers with a B-Wing that often. C-3PO isn’t very helpful, as the B-Wing will be taking concentrated fire when it is shot at. All in all, I just don’t see many desirable crew options to put on a B-Wing right now, and a dogfighting B-Wing isn’t complete without the utility option of adding Enhanced Engines as your Modification and having the Boost action available for your Advanced Sensors. Advanced Sensors for a Barrel Roll or a Boost before my K-Turn that I will use to feed stress to Keyan Farlander? Yes please!

The problem is, with Jake and Keyan both armed to the teeth, I don’t have the points to spare to bring Biggs as my 3rd ship, an obvious choice for an escort. In fact, there wasn’t points for an X-Wing at all. With only 16 points to spare in my current configuration, I was trying to figure out a way to slip in a cheap Z-95 Headhunter with an Ion Pulse Missile and the Deadeye upgrade for a first turn disruption shot. That turned out to be too expensive, only Lt. Blount (17 points plus upgrades) and Airen Cracken (18 points plus upgrades) have elite talent slots.

I stared at Jake’s A-Wing loadout for a moment, giving serious consideration to dropping his shiny new Proton Rocket (from Rebel Aces) for the Chardaan Refit (yet another Rebel Aces card), a net gain of 5 points, so I could afford Lt. Blount and a missile for him. But I really wanted to keep the new Proton Rocket, and a second read of the text revealed a really good reason to keep it.

Proton Rockets – Attack (Focus): Discard this card to perform this attack. You may roll additional attack dice equal to your agility value, to a maximum of 3 additional dice.

The Proton Rockets not only have a built in Deadeye option (no target lock required), but you don’t have to spend your Focus token to fire it either, which means you can potentially roll up to 5 dice, and spend a Target Lock and a Focus on the shot too, for an average of 3.75 hits! Keeping this in mind, I went to the other extreme, and put Proton Rockets on the Headhunter for now (pretty close to equivalent to Concussion Missiles for a Headhunter, trading a long range shot for the option of firing without a Target Lock if I get lucky and catch a key target like Howlrunner or Whisper bumping during movement and stuck adrift without their defensive buffs).

Here’s the final list I’ve come up with for the day:

Aces Wild

Keyan Farlander – 29
Push The Limit – 3
Advanced Proton Torpedoes – 6
Ion Cannon – 3
Advanced Sensors – 3
Engine Upgrade – 4

Jake Farrell – 24
A-Wing Test Pilot – 0
Outmaneuver – 3
Push The Limit – 3
Proton Rockets – 3
Stealth Device – 3

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12
Proton Rockets – 3
Munitions Failsafe – 1

With essentially two and a half ships, it doesn’t look all that competitive at first. Really, it’s just an excuse to use lots of things from Rebel Aces in one list. But something tells me that it could be surprisingly good, provided that I can convince my opponent to break formation and dogfight with me. I’ll try it out this evening against anyone that cares to play against it at my local venue. Results to follow.

– The Tabletop General

Hit and Run tactics in X-Wing and Attack Wing

What’s better than blasting your opponents’ star fleet into sub-atomic dust? Doing it without taking any return fire, of course! But that’s easier said than done most of the time in miniatures gaming, including in X-Wing miniatures, but also especially in Star Trek: Attack Wing. The simultaneous movement phases, largely simultaneous combat, and universally equal firing ranges make it very difficult to arrange to be able to fire upon your opponent without them being able to fire back. Right now, your only options to do that are to fire first and score a kill, or completely outmaneuver your opponent with your initial maneuver, possibly assisted by having a 360-degree or rear firing arc thanks to a special ability or turret weapon. Y-Wings and Millennium Falcons can sometimes manage that in X-Wing, Borg and some Federation ships can also manage free shots thanks to their larger firing arcs or special abilities. What I want to discuss today is another method of avoiding incoming fire in both game systems; moving AFTER shooting.

My favorite X-Wing Miniatures ship released thus far is the TIE Interceptor. Fast and maneuverable, the Interceptor is tough enough on its’ own, but picking a named pilot that fits your battle plan makes the ship absolutely lethal. I tend to like Turr Phenirr, whose special ability is that he can take a boost or barrel roll action to move his ship after he attacks in the combat phase. This ability often lets him fire off his shot early in the round (PS 8 if I recall correctly, or perhaps PS 7), and then dance out of enemy firing arcs, hide behind asteroids, or even move beyond maximum range of the opponent’s guns. Pair that up with the Push the Limit talent, and he can follow that barrel roll with a boost (and vice-versa), or take a focus or evade action if you can’t avoid taking fire. Turr isn’t the only pilot that can pull these sorts of shenanigans; Jake Farrell, from the Rebel Aces expansion can potentially do similar tricks, as I’ve discussed previously in my Focus Factory Refit article.

Star Trek: Attack Wing doesn’t have an equivalent ability yet to allow you to move after shooting and avoid return fire, but there’s one coming, and you get some flexibility with it. Recently previewed on StarTrek.com, the Val Jean is an Independent ship with several really cool cards included. My group tends to play by Faction Pure rules, so the fact that these cards are Independent faction is a huge plus, as thanks to the Independent version of the Flagship resource cards from the Dominion War OP’s, any ship can be made dual faction between its’ original faction and Independent, and these cards become legal.

The two cards in particular that I’m most looking forward to out of this expansion are Chakotay and Tuvok. Chakotay allows you to use your action and take an auxiliary power token in order to take an extra movement, anything on your ship’s dial. Tuvok, on the other hand, lets you disable him after attacking in order to perform a speed 1 forward, bank, or turn maneuver.

So straight out of the box, Chakotay gives you lots of extra movement abilities and extreme positional advantage on any lower skill captains, and in some situations Tuvok can let you fly out of the opponent’s arc after you get your shot off. If you can increase your captain’s skill with something like an Admiral card and/or a Fleet Captain resource, those abilities get even better by happening later in the activation phase (more info available on where to make your second maneuver) and earlier in the combat phase (less incoming fire before taking your extra move).

Rather than attempting to move out of firing arc, an alternative use for Tuvok may be to run away from the opponent and get out of range. Unlike X-Wing, Attack Wing features many ships that can fire secondary weapons from their rear arc. Playing cleverly with captain Chakotay’s extra movements and flying away from your opponent, keeping the opponent in rear firing arc, I think it would be possible to ensure that you are either on the edge of range 3, or out of range entirely. If you’re out of range, no harm done, try again next turn. If you’re in range, fire those torpedoes and then use Tuvok’s ability to move almost a full range band away from your opponent!

The following build of the Federation Enterprise NX-01, ridiculous as it may be, will be the biggest pain to kill that your opponent faces for quite some time. This ship is is only legal as it is listed without faction purity rules in place, but would likely be just as effective with a couple less crew members and using the Independent Dominion flagship card instead (which makes the ship dual faction and gives a free target lock for your torpedoes). In its’ present form, my hurried math is right (my usual list builder is bugged at the moment and I was in a hurry to finish this article), it checks in at 58 points including the resource card attached. That gives you enough just points in a standard game to add on a relatively spartan bruiser-type ship, such as Voyager helmed by Picard, or a mostly naked Borg Sphere.

NX-01 “Tactical Retreat”

Enterprise NX-01 – 16
Chakotay – 5 (Val Jean)
Fleet Captain Ind./Klingon – 5 (Collective OP 2 participation)
Cheat Death – 5 (USS Enterprise)
Superior Intellect – 1 (USS Reliant)
Adm. James T. Kirk – 5 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Tuvok – 3 (Val Jean)
Hikaru Sulu – 2 (USS Enterprise)
Pavel Chekov – 2 (USS Reliant)
Elizabeth Shelby – 1 (USS Voyager)
Sakonna – 2 (Gavroche, The Collective blind booster)
Tom Paris – 3 (USS Voyager)
Photon Torpedoes – 3 (Starter Set)
Photon Torpedoes – 3 (USS Voyager)
Tactical Station – 2 (USS Stargazer, Collective OP 3 Prize)
Enhanced Hull Plating  – 0 (Enterprise NX-01)

The whole idea is to keep your opponent behind you at range 3, fire your torpedoes, then use Tuvok’s extra movement to get out of range. Combining Admiral Kirk with the Fleet Captain gives a total captain skill of 9 for Chakotay, so there are very few captains who will shoot before you can get your extra move.

When somebody does get a shot at you, with 4 base evade dice, staying at at range 3 at all times, and using Sulu and Shelby as needed, you’re rolling 5-8 defense dice at a time, with some re-rolls and conversions available. For anything that gets through that, you can use the Enhanced Hull Plating to absorb up to two hits per attack at the cost of auxiliary tokens. If a lucky shot does get damage through, you’ve got Cheat Death available to bring you back to life.This is the toughest ship you’ll ever see with only 3 hull points.

Those auxiliary tokens are going to be added to by Chakotay’s extra movements, but not as many as you would think. Since Pavel Chekov doesn’t have any form of limit in uses per turn, if you use Chakotay’s action to take a white maneuver, the added auxiliary token should essentially bounce right off (ruling pending).

The “Tactical Retreat” won’t alpha-strike anyone right off of the table, but given time it can do some serious damage with those torpedoes, and it won’t go down easily. Once all the included pieces have been released, I look forward to bringing this out and just seeing the look on my opponents face as I spread out all the upgrades packed on to this one little ship.

– The Tabletop General

XBone; Dead on Arrival

This one is a slightly off-topic, but I’ve been surprised at how highly I’ve seen my page ranked in some Google searches already, and there isn’t a whole lot out there about the cryptic message of E305 00000001 80073CF, which I’ve recently had the misfortune of dealing with.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I had a taste of Destiny on my Xbox 360 last week, and I was quite pleased with it. I was considering moving up to a current-gen console. I have had relatively positive experiences with Microsoft over the previous two generations (one red ring of death in 13 years is a better track record than my PCs). Combining that with Activision’s offer of a free upgrade of the digital edition of Destiny from Xbox 360 to Xbox One (or PS3 to PS4), the recent un-bundling of the Kinect, a slew of pre-holiday promotions going on right now, and wanting to treat myself for the milestone birthday coming up, it was time for me to take the plunge.

Those same promotions I wanted to take advantage of had stock running low at local retailers, and I specifically wanted the Madden bundle (Free game that I would otherwise be buying? Score!) which was even harder to find. So I Purchased an Xbox One online over the weekend, and had it shipped to my home. Smurf followed suit, and we spent the next couple of days debating which games we were going to tear into first. My ears were tuned in for the rumbling engine of a UPS truck, and so I met a very surprised delivery guy at the door before he could knock. As he handed me the big brown shipping box with a confused look on his face, I grinned and said “Xbox.” That was all the explanation he needed, and he walked away laughing. I tortured myself with a couple more hours of work (working remotely, the blessing/curse of IT), opening the box just a little bit more during every loading screen or delay in message replies. Finally, all done for the day, I plugged it all in, booted it up and saw the following glorious screen…

E305 00000001 80073CF error message
“E305” translates roughly to “you had some bad karma built up”

Black screen of death on a new console, straight out of the box. Yay. Dejected, I pulled up the Xbox Support page as directed, and searched for all of the error code: E305 00000001 80073CF, then just certain pieces of it, getting no results on any of my queries (may have been related to the active Xbox Live Service Alert at the time). So I found the appropriate phone number and called support. After about twenty minutes of discussion I was directed to find a USB flash drive, and then go online and download a system update to apply manually.

The Offline System Update Diagnostic Tool, OSUDT1, is almost 2GB in size. OSUDT2, a second update, is about the same size. DON’T GO THERE YET, but there’s a link to the page you can download these from further down in this article to go there. Here’s the kicker: Neither of these updates worked for me. Several hours of downloading got me nowhere. But on a whim, I decided to download the 3rd package available, “restore factory defaults”, a paltry 20MB file. With it being a brand new console, it shouldn’t do anything, but I wanted to explore my options.

It worked.

I’m not saying this will work for everyone facing error code E305 00000001 80073CF or something similar, but the reset to factory defaults worked for me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that will ever face this issue. So here’s the steps to resolve it:

0) Don’t panic.
1) Locate a USB flash drive. Just about any size will do if the factory reset is required, but for OSUDT1 and OSUDT2 it needs to have at least 2GB of space available.
3) Go to http://support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/system/offline-system-update-diagnostic-tool.
2) IMPORTANT – Follow the directions at the bottom of that page to ensure that your flash drive is formatted as NTFS, this is not the default setting for most flash drives, so don’t assume yours is right.
3) Download the “Restore Factory Defaults” package.
4) Unzip this file, and place the contained folder (called “$SystemUpdate” or something similar to that) onto the root of your flash drive.
5) Power down your Xbox One, and insert the flash drive into the USB port on the back.
6) Press and hold the sync button (towards the front of the left side of the console) and the disc eject button (to the right of the disk slot). Continue holding these buttons down and press the power button on the console.
7) After about ten seconds, you’ll hear a couple of beeps, you can let go at that point. If you don’t ever hear those beeps, something went wrong with the process (might not have held the buttons, they’re tricky, or make sure you moved the right UNZIPPED files to the flash drive)
8) Watch the little green bar on your screen and hope.
9) If you’re returned to the same error message, then repeat the above steps for OSUDT1 and OSUDT2. OSUDT1 may give a different error, E301, which indicates that it doesn’t need to be applied. If none of those work, call support, or like they suggested to me, take the console back where you got it and exchange it.
10) Otherwise, if you see the following screen… game on!

Xbox One splash screen
Voila!

 

I hope none of you ever have to deal with this issue. But if you do, and this works, you’re welcome. On the other hand, if anything catches on fire, don’t mention me when you call support / 911.

A year behind the release, and with one night of potential gaming lost to troubleshooting the issue above, I’ve got some ground to make up. On deck for me:
Destiny
Diablo III
Madden NFL 15
Titanfall
Watch Dogs

– The Tabletop (and occasionally IT) General

X-Wing Miniatures Epic battle report

I put out a general (no pun intended) challenge to my local X-Wing community last week for a game using the Epic rule set. I’ve had an opportunity to play one Epic game previously, and I got absolutely flattened by a well flown Rebel fleet because I underestimated the effectiveness of actions like Jamming (give out stress tokens to nearby ships) and upgrades like Slicer tools (deal damage to nearby ships with stress tokens), and because I let a large portion of my fleet get more literally flattened by a battering ram Medium Transport. A little older, a little wiser, and a little more rebellious, it was time for me to bring my huge ships out to play. Our X-Wing group actually had two simultaneous Epic matches going on, as several other players pooled their ships to have a 3v3 300 point game as well. It’s not every day you see multiple CR-90 Blockade Runners in use for casual play, at least not until Star Wars: Armada releases next year!

Rebel Alliance Patrol

CR-90 Blockade Runner Fore – 50
WED-15 Repair Droid – 2
Jaina’s Light – 2
Sensor Team – 4
Engineering Team – 4
Quad Laser Cannons – 6
Single Turbolasers – 8

CR-90 Blockade Runner Aft – 40
Slicer Tools – 7 – My biggest mistake in this build was not putting this on the fore!
Quad Laser Cannons – 6

Medium Transport – 30
Combat Retrofit – 10
Navigator – 3
Dutyfree – 2
EM Emitter – 3
Frequency Jammer – 4

Lt. Blount – 17
Veteran Instincts – 1
Assault Missiles – 5

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18
Ion Cannon Turret – 5

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18
Ion Cannon Turret – 5

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22
Ion Cannon – 3

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22
Ion Cannon – 3

Imperial Assault Force

Bounty Hunter – 33
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7

Bounty Hunter – 33
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7

Bounty Hunter – 33
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7

Omicron Group Pilot – 21
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7

Soontir Fel – 27
Royal Guard TIE – 0
Hull Upgrade – 3
Shield Upgrade – 4
Push The Limit – 3

Howlrunner – 18

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Academy Pilot – 12

Pre-game photo
The Rebels are outnumbered, but not necessarily outgunned! [Click for full size]
Since my opponent won the initiative, eight TIE Fighters and the Lambda had to deploy blindly in what I will refer to as the northeastern corner. I paired a Y-Wing and B-Wing to the southeast to serve as harassment, and had a matching pair in the southwest (partially hidden by the Transport in the photo provided). The Bounty Hunters set up in the northwest, anticipating correctly that my capital ships would follow in the southwest. I made sure to set the Medium Transport aligned with both the Lambda and the Firespray beside it.

With so many TIE Fighters on the field, I had to find a way to delay them and reduce their numbers, and Howlrunner had to go! Seeing that both mini-swarms of Fighters deployed on one side of the map, I put as much distance as possible between them and my CR-90 Corvette (I never know whether to call it a Corvette or a Blockade Runner) both to thin their numbers before engaging and have time to store some energy. Howlrunner and Soontir Fel joined in with the swarms, while Lt. Blount got lined up for a suicide shot with his assault missile.

The first hour or two of the game could have been handled as completely separate matches on the east and west halves of the map, each won in a relative landslide by the player with the most firepower available there.

If one (or both) of the TIE Fighter squadrons decided to take a hard right turn and come screaming over on a coordinated attack run, I wanted to have a little surprise available. So in the west, the Transport reinforced its’ front and charged straight ahead at it’s intended ramming targets, and allocated all available power to charging up its’ ionization reactor. This beastly upgrade requires 5 energy to trigger, but deals an ion token and one damage to all ships at range 1 when used! With the reinforce token in place (reducing incoming damage by 1 per attack), and a total of 15 hit points, the Transport held its’ own against incoming fire, and the Corvette began whittling away at the closest bounty hunter at extreme distance (range 5).

Capital ship engagement
Imperial heavy assault craft making an attack run. [Click for full size]
The Transport took fairly heavy damage, but kept barreling forward over several turns. Leaning on my experiences from my previous Epic battle, and knowing that a potential collsion was eminent, I had the fighter escorts make a sudden surge forward at full speed, and at Pilot Skill 2, they were able to move ahead of the PS3 Bounty Hunters, and clog up their intended movement lanes. It didn’t work as well as I had hoped, so I leaned on the Navigator’s ability for a little extra speed out of the Transport, but the ramming attempt still only took down one of the Firesprays, missing the second by about a quarter inch. Combined fire from the fighters and the Corvette took down a second Bounty Hunter, and the lone survivor followed the Shuttle, both fleeing regroup and hopefully return with reinforcements. The Y-Wing pilotgot a little too excited and managed to put himself directly in the path of the Medium Transport, but the B-Wing gave pursuit to the east.

Imperial-dominated dogfight
Operation Distract in progress, working surprisingly well! [Click for full size]
Speaking of the eastern front… Q: How many TIE Fighter pilots does it take to change a light bulb? A: I don’t know, they’re too busy chasing a Y-Wing to bother! “Operation Distract” started out with mixed results, Lt. Blount lost his shields to Soontir Fel, but countered with an Assault Missile shot that stripped Soontir’s shield modification in return, and scratched up a trio of Academy Pilots, all while missing his original target entirely. The TIE Fighters returned fire on Blount, and quickly removed him from the fight. Meanwhile, the Y-Wing and B-Wing pilot on that flank may have earned themselves an honorary spot in Wraith squadron with their flying antics. Soontir got ion-ed once. Howlrunner got ion-ed once, Academy Pilots scattered everywhere, and a couple were given landing instructions onto asteroids by more ion tokens. Only one TIE Fighters went down over here on this side of the battle, but by the time these two heroes were almost out of the fight, the reserve B-Wing had arrived to cause more chaos, and Operation Distract was considered a major success.

Scattered Imperial ships turning to face the capital ship out of frame
The Imperials are finally ready to swarm the Corvette [Click for full size]
Not wanting to be picked off from long range, most of the Imperials all turned East save for a couple of the Academy Pilots who stayed to finish the B-Wing off. These ships aren’t as coordinated as they had been, though, and would be approaching in both firing arcs of the Corvette without quite as much concentrated fire as I had been worried about earlier. Academy pilots did manage to swarm the transport, and even with its’ shields replenished, it didn’t survive the turn (and couldn’t muster the energy to fire off its’ reactor). But Soontir got a little too eager, and took a direct hit by being the only one in range of the CR-90 for the first turn. Howlrunner had survived the melee, but wasn’t nimble enough to avoid the big guns either. One by one the Imperials began to fall, but they closed in quickly and started piling on the damage on the Corvette, which could only fire its’ guns so quickly. Without escorts to provide assistance, the Imperials began to find blind spots behind (and even beneath) their target, and the damage was piling on fast. In an attempt to cause collisions or at least line up a shot, I began to occasionally jink the Corvette from side to side.

Firespray under the engines of a CR-90 [Click for full size]
Now that’s some tight maneuvering! That Firespray is literally UNDER the CR-90!
Academy Pilot strafing heavily damaged CR-90
With a crippled aft section and a damaged fore, killing this CR-90 might make the remaining Academy Pilot into a legend! [Click for full size]
Feeling a little close for comfort, one of the TIE Fighters K-Turned away, only to be destroyed with a gambled use of Slicer Tools (using he Slicer Tools, being on my Aft section, prevented me from using a Recover action to refresh my shields that turn). One of the turn maneuvers finally got me enough of an angle to fire rear quad-lasers, and down went the last of the Bounty Hunters, but the lone TIE Fighter crippled the Aft section of the ship, and there was already five damage on the Fore. The damage was piling up (another three hull damage would finish the CR-90), the Imperials were down to their last ship, the store was closing soon… and then I ran him over with another banking turn.

Apparently, in the Imperial Academy, they don’t teach you to give capital ships a wide berth.

Clocking in at just under 5 hours to completion (we weren’t in a hurry), this was officially my longest game of X-Wing yet, and one of my favorites to be certain. With that being said, I think I’ll stick to 100 point dogfights for a little while…

Thanks for reading!

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP scenarios

Wizkids released the scenarios for the Star Trek: Attack Wing “Resistance is Futile” event series this week, and my first impression of the rules is very positive. All three scenarios can be found here. Participation prizes for these events are “Enhanced Shields”, “Advanced Targeting Systems”, and “High Yield Photon Torpedoes”. While the full text of each card is not yet available, I could pick out that benefits of all three are available to your entire fleet, and appear to give a reserve of spare shield tokens, allow multiple target locks from each ship, and cause torpedoes to do more damage, respectively.

The Collective event series showed us why civilization should fear the Borg. The ever-present and nigh-invulnerable Borg Cube Tokens that punished players for showing up to play throughout the Collective are gone for Resistance is Futile, and instead the Borg are now the undertones of the events, the reason the scenarios work as they do, a spectre in the night ready to assimilate any who fail at their mission. Gone are the “cooperative” events; now it’s kill or be killed, because only one fleet is going to make it back home from the Delta Quadrant.

Scenario one of Resistance is Futile, Dark Frontier, plays as a standard combat engagement, with a caveat that both players fleets are attempting to hide from the Borg while destroying each other. Each ship starts the scenario with 4 mission tokens, and loses one of those tokens each time they end the activation phase or fire weapons within range 1-2 of any board edge. These tokens are also worth 5 fleet points each if they are retained to the end of the game. This will become a chess match for many, as players will have to weigh the value of being unpredictable and/or safe from enemy fire against the cost of losing fleet points for moving and firing from the edge of the map. Borg ships will do well in this event thanks to their tight maneuvering, while Klingons and Romulans will have their agility hampered by the tight confines of the safe zone. Winning this event will earn players the The Avatar of Tomed, a Borg-assimilated  Romulan D’Deridex class ship.

Scenario two, Unimatrix Zero, introduces a completely new element to OP play: multiple fleets. Players must build two separate fleets, one designated as “Borg”, the other designated as “Rebel”, gaining appropriate bonuses and discounts in fleet building for each fleet. Players will use each fleet once in the first two rounds, and the higher ranked player of the two chooses which player will play each side in the third round. I love this concept on the surface, and would very much like to adapt it for a casual X-Wing Miniatures event, but I can hear the hate boiling now. Many players will legitimately complain that they are at a disadvantage in Unimatrix Zero if they do not own Borg ships, although the difference is very small (a one point discount on 5-8 items essentially buys a Borg fleet one extra upgrade at most). This does have the appearance of Chris Guild, current lead designer of STAW, continuing to push his golden child Borg on to players. Imagine the outrage of Warhammer 40K players if they were told they would have to bring two armies to a tournament in order to play, and one of them had to be Space Marines! Still, the prize is worth the hassle, as the winner of this event walks away with an assimilated Klingon B’Rel class ship, Assimilated Vessel 80279.

Scenario three, appropriately titled Endgame, is the most interesting setting of the series in my opinion. The play area is divided into four sections: two physical (Open Space, Borg Space) each occupying half the board, and two virtual (Transwarp Conduit, and Alpha Quadrant aka “home”). Any ships in Borg space are fired on by unseen Borg ships each turn, but have an opportunity to escape via a transwarp conduit at the edge of the board. Ships within this conduit may either just go home to the Alpha Quadrant (Ship survives, +20 fleet points) or attempt to destroy the conduit for +40 fleet points and all ships currently in the Conduit except the one which got the kill shot take up to 4 damage with survivors count as returning to the Alpha Quadrant. Once the Conduit is destroyed, no other ships may enter the conduit, and are stuck in Borg Space or Open Space, but still count for normal fleet points if they survive to the time limit. The victor of Endgame takes home yet another ship assimilated by the Borg, Assimilated Vessel 64758, a Dominion Galor class ship. Additionally, the overall victor of the series will win Tactical Cube 001, which is obviously the nefarious ship behind all of these assimilations!

With the first of my home venue’s runs of The Collective now complete, I’m very much looking forward to Resistance is Futile, and as usual the gears are already turning on my fleet builds. The Collective was all about whether or not you could outplay your opponent at beating the scenario. Resistance is Futile appears to be a better balance, conflict while respecting the rules of engagement, which will make a lot of our locals happy.

What are your thoughts? Any key points I missed? Let me hear about them in the comments!

– The Tabletop General