RogerBW's Blog

X-Wing at Home, January 2015 15 January 2015

I'm still taking advantage of my employer's leave year ending in January, so Ashley came over to play some X-Wing.

Both of us are fairly new to the game, so we probably made mistakes in choosing our forces, but on-line squadron builders made sure they were legal. I started off with an Imperial TIE swarm (one good pilot, the rest unnamed and barely-trained), on the "quantity has a quality all of its own" principle, going up against a three-X, one-Y force.

Howlrunner / TIE Fighter
 Swarm Tactics
Academy Pilot / TIE Fighter
Obsidian Squadron Pilot / TIE Fighter
Obsidian Squadron Pilot / TIE Fighter
Black Squadron Pilot / TIE Fighter
Black Squadron Pilot / TIE Fighter
Black Squadron Pilot / TIE Fighter

Hobbie Klivian / X-Wing
Tarn Mison / X-Wing
 R2 Astromech
Red Squadron Pilot / X-Wing
Gold Squadron Pilot / Y-Wing
 Shield Upgrade

By concentrating our fire, the TIEs were able to knock out one X-Wing in the initial pass.

Things rapidly became very messy. The TIEs went to constant evasive manoeuvres after the first pass, and this was very frustrating for my opponent. Where an X-Wing gradually has its shields and hull worn down (a bit like a D&D fighter), a TIE continues to be absolutely fine until it gets unlucky, takes a little damage, and is done for (like a GURPS fighter).

Further confusion, but no more kills yet.

We took out another X-Wing, and at this point it was looking distinctly bad for the Rebels.

TIEs started to go down, though, including the one good pilot.

"That's the guy who's actually been through the pilot training. Well, we say training. It's more like work experience."

In the end, seven on four came down to four on one, and then to four on none.

For the return engagement, I'd also set up an XXXY force, with astromechs spread among them (none of them turning out to be hugely useful, in the end, though they were slightly helpful). I popped a TIE on the first pass, and we were all sufficiently still in formation to come back for a second orderly attack.

Darth Vader / TIE Advanced
Mauler Mithel / TIE Fighter
 Squad Leader
Dark Curse / TIE Fighter
Academy Pilot / TIE Fighter
Academy Pilot / TIE Fighter
Academy Pilot / TIE Fighter

Dutch Vander / Y-Wing
Biggs Darklighter / X-Wing
Rookie Pilot / X-Wing
 R2 Astromech
Rookie Pilot / X-Wing

Then things started to come apart for both sides. I was feeling the lack of Evades after the all-TIE force (though my Y-wing pilot could boost his agility as his action, which helped a lot). Darth Vader in the TIE Advanced went down, leading to the happiest Rebel in the galaxy.

Briefly, until the TIEs caught him.

But when we were down to a single TIE against a damaged X and a fairly solid Y, it seemed reasonable to call the game.

This was games four and five for me, if I've got the count right, and I'm still learning a great deal each time I play. I was deliberately sticking to ships and cards from the first wave of releases, so that I can work my way into things a bit at a time. I'm getting a lot of the feeling that I used to get with BattleTech: the shooting phase is very random, so the player's skill is mostly deployed in the movement phase, working out where the enemy will be and putting oneself in a position to concentrate force on them. (Concentration is even more important when there's the possibility of regeneration. Ashley had R2-D2 on one X-Wing in the first game, and when I was scoring a hit here and a hit there it was able to regenerate shields quite easily. In the second, I had it on Biggs' X-Wing, and the hits just stacked up in a single fire phase so it never had a chance to achieve anything.)

I was finding the cards and special abilities less use than I'd expected them to be, though that may well be a thing that comes with time or more cunning combinations. Certainly the TIE swarm's victory over the Rebels in game one felt as though it had a greater margin of success than the Rebels' win in game two.

"Actually it's about ethics in colonial governance."

My wife approves of my wargaming at home (it means I'm not driving off to Oxford or Cambridge or Reading or London or somewhere), and so do I (it means really good food).

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 11:18am on 15 January 2015

    I was shattered at the end of playing both games yesterday. It's a lot different when you have to keep a squadron flying in formation, because it's a lot more difficult to do. It also changes the nature of the game from a a one-on-one or one-on-two spin around the board to something rather more brutal in many respects. As in less heroic (RPG story) and more brutal (grind of war in space).

    We missed some of the rules, and we both played various people wrong: Biggs and Vader in particular, and taking any cards without understanding the rules properly probably just makes the game more random than adding anything of benefit.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:26am on 15 January 2015

    I suspect Biggs didn't last long enough for it to be much of a factor. I didn't see what went wrong with Darth Vader: two actions instead of one, seems clear enough and I thought that was what you did.

    I'm trying to work my way into the game gently; I got this huge wodge of stuff all in one go, but trying to pick from all of it at the same time would be excessive and confusing. (Or I could borrow someone else's pre-made squadron design, but where's the fun in that? I always designed my own 'Mechs for BattleTech too.)

    I agree that the squadron game is more work for the player than the basic two-on-one, and I think it gives more opportunities to do well or badly in terms of concentrating forces. Sometimes entirely by accident. (It was the first time I'd played at this scale too.)

  3. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 07:20pm on 16 January 2015

    Biggs is a rear echelon guy. Vader is not a team player. using either as not intended will result in their early demise.

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