A slight tangent from my primarily Death Guard orientated blog, but thought a review of the recent event I attended might be well received by those who play multiple wargames, especially as I had such a good time! Published by Fantasy Flight Games, the game appears to be surging, and although there are clear supply and demand issues at this moment in time, it’s a relatively affordable, quick and fun game – that’s easy to pick up and complex to master. You have models that represent a plethora of ships taken from the Star Wars universe, from which you create a squad that is either Rebel or Imperial. A somewhat different mechanism of manoeuvring to other games (models are moved using templates indicated on dials hidden from your opponent), matched with dice rolling and actions, makes for a rather intuitive game that leaves you guessing what the opponent is going to do next, and often cursing your luck and asteroids. You can find more information here: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/103885/star-wars-x-wing-miniatures-game
I’d bought into the game via the reasonably priced starter set and then grabbed swathes over the Christmas period, trying to amass a collection but without actively playing. I lost a starter game to my dad with quick start rules – and did wonder if I’d bought into something duff. But, I unpackaged everything (pushing out card counters will be a nightmare, I promise) and put it all in my new case, and hadn’t really thought much of it, until I was able to help orchestrate an Epic-sized game at my local club. Although we (Empire) were probably going to lose, it made me keen to want to actively play more, as it was immense fun!
I’d seen that Chaos City Comics was hosting a Star Wars: X-Wing ‘Assault at Imdaar Alpha’ Prerelease Tournament a couple of weeks later, and so thought this might be a great time to get a few games in, attend and learn a lot – and go from there. With that in mind, I created a Rebel and an Imperial List, one to use and the other for a mate at the club to use (Cheers Andy!), so that I could really get up to speed before the weekend. I lost both, although with improvements in the second game, and did wonder if this was a game I would ever win at. A few tweaks to my list, and some optimism, I thought that at worst, I would hopefully get a prize for finishing last. Knowing that it would take a four round Swiss-style, I would at least be paired with someone of a similar ability, so had hoped that I wouldn’t be too badly destroyed, and I’d come away with a better understanding of the game mechanics and list building finesse.
Turning up on what was quite a miserable day, I was really excited. I then realised I’d actually forgotten my manoeuvre dials and felt thoroughly embarrassed – not the best start. Thankfully, other generous players were able to lend me their spares so that I could fly the following list:
Chaos City – 100 points
Wedge Antilles/X-Wing with Swarm Tactics – 31pts
Biggs Darklighter/X-Wing – 25pts
Blue Squadron Pilot/B-Wing – 22pts
Blue Squadron Pilot/B-Wing – 22pts
My first highlight was getting one commemorative Bandit Squadron Pilot card for attending and playing on the day, and that alone was pleasing! Knowing that I was going into this realistically being 0-3 on the (vaguely) competitive games I’d actually played prior to the tournament, I intended to aim low, enjoy and learn. That said, with twelve players taking part, I’d only have to beat 2/3rds of the others to win a prize – as they cheerfully reminded us at the start of the day, although my problem would be beating anyone – let alone more than that!
The draw placed me on Table 5 against a really nice bloke called Simon – who was running an Imperial list, consisting of roughly: Lambda shuttle, Dark Curse, TIE Bomber with Missiles and two other TIEs. It was probably the closest to a swarm that otherwise would feature that day – and certainly the swarmiest list I would face. I set-up strongly, I thought, until I remembered that my B-Wings would rear-end my X-Wings, which meant I had to do a bit of re-arranging to ensure that I could actually start flying and not crashing. That said, I took first-blood – and it started to get messy. Eventually, I was able to grind out a modified win, taking a victory by 11pts – after taking Dark Curse out first, and a succession of fighters thereafter, for reasonable losses. Simon, although finishing 0-4, was a great opponent who started with as much as experience as I had, and will no doubt come back stronger for the experience. A great game, eased me into the day – and played in a great spirit. I was most certainly buoyed by this victory, but resolved not to make the mistakes I’d made in the first game cause me problems in my second.
Jumping to table three, I then played Alex – who had also won his first game. His list was tough: three Interceptors that were tricked to the max. My initial set-up made it extremely difficult to pull this game back – with asteroids dealing as much damage as I did throughout, and although I came close to wiping out two of his Interceptors, by spreading myself too thinly, I struggled massively. A damaged pilot card crippled Wedge earlier than I would like, making him a rather expensive rookie. Having never faced a list with that sort of manoeuvrability, it was somewhat of a shock to see them wilfully pop in and out of my firing arcs – but is something now that I felt better prepared for in future. A very hard game against a top opponent – who went on to finished second overall, so I can’t really be hard on myself!
Now 1-1, I was back to table five, where I played Sam – a really nice guy who played in the best spirit, and truly embodies ‘flying casual’. However, seeing his list – I was fearful. He was running two tricked out Millennium Falcon, and having never faced one, facing two looked like a fearsome prospect. Duly, I revised my flying pattern to a more conservative formation, akin to the my first game but setting it up correctly – which stood me in good stead! Biggs died early, as Biggs is want to do. He is truly a brave pilot that draws fire, and I have to be grateful for his regular sacrifices! I may invest some more in him in future, to make him somewhat more survivable, but he did perform well in his short life. Taking down the first Falcon was a major achievement, as they flew round the edge of the board, their turrets reaping a toll on shields with wanton abandon. Eventually, running both Wedge and my last B-Wing into close range finished the second Falcon, scoring me an outright victory – and taking me 2-1. I was becoming more confident with my list, and how to actually fly, and some downtime allowed Sam and I to chat and to better understand how to play. Very worthwhile! He was extremely happy that he didn’t fly a Falcon off the board as he had in a previous game – and we both enjoyed
My final game saw me go back to table three again, with a face off against Alex who had the same record as me, and a list that looked extremely difficult. This didn’t appear to be a good matchup for me from the outset, but I’d hoped to deal some damage before the end at least. With Soontir Fel in an Interceptor, and two Bounty Hounters in Firesprays, it was a pretty tough list – especially considering Fel’s abilities and the Firesprays being both kitted and resilient, and I was concerned that I’d be unable to actually whittle through both the shields and hull points in time. That said, if I’d managed with two Falcons, anything was possible!
One-shotting Fel early on worked a treat – and this set the tone for the rest of the game, insofar as I rolled superbly – and Alex simply didn’t. Removing Fel early was a great boost, but then he was traded off for Wedge quickly, after some difficult flying. I don’t believe now that I’ve ever flown over an asteroid and not taken damage – and both Wedge and Biggs suffered during this tournament! With three ships remaining against two Firesprays, it was going to be an uphill struggle.
Another trade over time saw both Biggs (who lived far longer than could’ve ever reasonably been expected) and a B-Wing go for the loss of a Firespray, leaving a solitary B-Wing, and a Firespray, to duke it out. I thought this would be a foregone conclusion, but started a classic game of cat and mouse that was immensely exciting and altogether dramatic. After pounding the shields from one another, I was able to continue aggressively pursuing and just keeping out of his fire arc, and despite having maintained a target lock for approximately five rounds, didn’t need to use this with some obscenely good rolls (four hits, three hits and a crit, four hits… four hits…) ultimately destroyed the Firespray. I was overjoyed – Alex is a top player and really made it tough, and to grind out a victory in such a fashion was a delight, which left me 3-1 for the day.
I’d known that prior to this game I was residing in 6th, and to my utter astonishment, this win took me to 4th place – a prize winning position! After everyone else had chosen, I came away with the Z-95 Headhunter!
It capped a superb day of gaming, with some great people. I learned a lot from some experienced players, and nice to meet several people whose names I recognised from the UK/Ireland X-Wing group as part of a fantastic tournament. My thanks to all at Chaos City for hosting, Efka for his TOing during the day, the other attendees for being so pleasant, and all of those I played for their gamesmanship. I’m very much looking forward to the next one!