If you’ve followed The Tabletop General for a while, or if you’ve taken a scroll through the archives, you’ll be familiar with the custom player vs player campaign for X-Wing Miniatures that I started back in late 2014. After a particularly rough session in January of 2015, I left off with the following note in my recap article: Our campaign will be taking a short break… stay tuned, I hope to start up again in about a month.
*Checks calendar* Uhhh… better late than never?
In my defense, Heroes of the Aturi Cluster interrupted any attempt to revitalize or restart that campaign. HotAC, for the three of you who are just finally making the switch over from Star Trek: Attack Wing, is a fan-made cooperative campaign where a group of Rebel pilots go from random cannon fodder #’s 1-6 to S-Tier juggernaut ace pilots who regularly face overwhelming numbers of AI controlled TIE fighters while racing against the clock to complete scenario missions. The enemies follow a basic script with a touch of randomization for their maneuvers and actions, and it really gives the players a sense of having sheer numbers thrown at them by the Imperial war machine. HotAC addressed a lot of problems I encountered in my first attempt at writing a campaign rule set, and side-stepped others by making it cooperative. If you’re interested in giving it a try, all of the materials are freely available at http://dockingbay416.com/campaign/.
A couple of groups of our veteran players chewed through HotAC campaigns as soon as we could (the structure of the campaign limits the number of players that can be involved at a time), and then a few other local groups formed and played through it too over the following year or so. It’s a fun experience that I highly recommend, but some of the mystery runs out about the time you complete the campaign: It’s pretty easy by then to guess the behavior of enemy ships because you have the charts memorized by then, you’ve exhausted the best combos of upgrades you can find for X-Wings (plus whatever of the turret ships your team decided they like), and the surprise factor is out of the pre-scripted missions; there wasn’t a lot of “I want to do that again” feeling in our groups.
Fast forward to 2017. The past season or so of competitive play has taken its’ toll on the player base, recent new releases like the Scurrg H-6 Bomber, TIE Aggressor, and Auzituck Gunship haven’t met with a great reception (no real nostalgia attached and either under- or over-powered), and we find ourselves in search of alternate formats to revitalize the game a bit, and I thought it was time to dust off that PvP campaign idea and create version 2.
Borrowed from the preface of my rules document in progress:
Welcome to version 2 of the Giga-Bites Café PvP X-Wing campaign.
In version 1, run almost 3 years ago now, the teams were a little imbalanced and I felt like there was nothing I could really do about it as the game coordinator. Additionally, I’ll be the first to admit that I made a few mistakes on ship customization options (we had Green K-Turns before Ryad made them a thing). Despite the blunders made, the experience left for some excellent stories (from the alt-art card created for “Grandma” to the Trench Run-esque heroics of “Trident”), and we definitely wanted to try again one day.
To improve on those issues mentioned above, version 2 leans heavily on the popular co-op campaign Heroes of the Aturi Cluster to standardize the options available to players while still giving you a feeling of being a better than average pilot, and the experience gain structure is mostly standardized in the same way too. Additionally, player factions have been expanded to include Scum & Villainy. While it is a work in progress, my vision of the campaign’s story features the Rebels and Imperials in their ongoing civil war. But to be inclusive to all (and to give myself a tool for balance) I have mechanics in place for Scum & Villainy to act as mercenaries, available to either side in order to even things out when one side has a huge advantage in players or and/or average power for a given game session.
As of right now, this document goes on for 36 pages, and will be longer by the end of the day today. It’s not all a wall of text, 17 of those are prototype character sheets customized for any of the ship types players could reasonably have access to within the first few weeks of the campaign, and a few pages are dedicated to the ship progression charts I’ve created too.
It’s still X-Wing at the core, but the customizations on top of it are getting deep, and I expect to have something as extensive as (if less visually polished than) the Aturi Cluster materials by the time I’m done. For example: Piggybacking off of the HotAC experience system, I spent every minute of my spare time (and some that I couldn’t really spare but did anyway) yesterday deciding what named pilot abilities would qualify for granting extra experience via player assists.
But I’ve never been one to let the ink dry before putting something new to use; we’ve had two sessions now, and the third is planned for tonight. I hope to begin writing again to share some of those session reports with you semi-regularly; even if you don’t end up trying the campaign format itself, I think the individual games will make for fun scenarios to mix things up for casual game nights.
Sidebar: Folks, when you find a special someone who supports your nerdy habits or enjoys them alongside of you, go ahead an do the whole marriage thing. I’m glad to be going through the process now, and will have a new ring on my hand in a little over two weeks. But do yourself, your wallet, and your schedule a favor: elope. Still, we’re close enough to the finish line that I can start writing again and not feel like I’m procrastinating on too many other important things.
To be continued (in less than 2 & 1/2 years [probably])…
– The Tabletop General