Monthly Archives: October 2014

X-Wing Epic Play Game Review Part II: The Challenge (Tournament Format)

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In Part I we reviewed the CR-90 campaign and the first go at epic/cinematic play for the JDL. We also established we butchered the energy rules. A few weeks later we played our Hurricon 2014 JDL Challenge based on the epic tournament format and with a splash of cinematic flair in that there was some flavor text and the lists were built so they somewhat made sense for a mission taking place before the Battle of Yavin. You can find the scenario brief here.

Game Overview

Scenarios: Epic Tournament Format, 300pts

Imperials: Stinky Cheese, Pookie, CSI & Corpsman

  • Mauler Mithel (Squad Leader)
  • Backstabber
  • Dark Curse
  • 6x Black Squadron Pilot
  • Major Rhymer (2xProton Torpedoes, 1xMunitions Failsafe)
  • 2xScimitar Squadron Pilot (2xProton Torpedoes, 1xMunitions Failsafe)
  • Colonel Jendon (Heavy Laser Cannon, Rebel Captive, Stealth Device)
  • Bounty Hunter (Gunner, Stealth Device)

Rebels: Mr. Cupcake (me), Metalhead, Pawatrooper, & Papa Bear

  • Wedge Antilles (R5-P9, Proton Torpedoes, Squad Leader)
  • Jek Porkins (R5-D8, Proton Torpedoes)
  • Biggs Darklighter (R2-F2, Proton Torpedoes)
  • 3x Red Squadron Pilot (R2)
  • CR-90: Fore (Weapons Engineer, Quad Laser Cannons, Single Turbolasers, Sensor Team)
  • CR-90: Aft (Quad Laser Cannons, Engineering Team, Tibanna Gas Supplies)

Setup: We randomly selected teams and assigned ships then conducted the game per the tournament rules.

Summary of Rebel Strategy: On the Rebel side I deployed the CR90 on our left angled to traverse the play area lengthwise with the intent in engaging the Imperials early and be able to avoid the asteroids. Papa Bear deployed Biggs and a Red Squadron pilot on the left as an escort, ready for some early coordinate actions. Metalhead deployed Porkins and his wingman in the middle and were tasked with breaking up the TIE Bombers in anticipation that they would focus on the CR-90. And Pawatrooper took Wedge with his wingman to the right flank where he was hoping to draw off some of the fighters and be ready to cut back toward the center once he had thinned the ranks.

Summary of Imperial Strategy: TBP if a member of the Empire provides me with their strategy. As near as I can tell they intended on focus-firing on the CR-90 and then clean up the fighters.

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The Game

In the initial phase of the game things went about as can be expected. Very little maneuvering, just closing up on each other for the first pass. The CR-90 didn’t do a whole lot thanks to my less than stellar rolling (a problem that did not correct for the entire game), but, thanks to it not taking stress, it was able to ignore the Rebel Captive upgrade and open up the shuttle to fire from Biggs and wingman, who also targeted the Firespray. Backstabber’s flight, the shuttle and the Firespray shot forward and I got the distinct impression their goal was to pull in behind my Corvette in hopes of chewing up my aft section. In the middle, as we expected and somewhat feared, the bombers made a bee-line toward the CR-90. Porkins made a decent first pass, getting his red dice to show a good number of little blast marks. Unfortunately, Major Rhymer had an extraordinary run of good luck in which we were convinced he could roll nothing BUT evades and his flight was only scratched then left with clear space between them and their target (i.e. me). On the right Wedge was accomplishing his mission quite well, facing three TIE’s as well as drawing off an additional three TIE’s that were deployed in the center. In no time they had built up quite a furball.

With the initial pass complete the maneuvering and shooting began in earnest. The Shuttle and Firespray slowed and began to open fire on the Corvette as I scrambled to maintain shields and divert some power to the guns (still firing ineffectively). Backstabber directed two of his TIE’s after the Corvette and then, unexpectedly, peeled off to go after Biggs, who, after making a slow advance to maximize shooting opportunities, was coming about. The Red Squadron escort, who we will now refer to as “Ensign Meatshield,” turned into the traffic jam building in my engine wash and engaged all the ships that had me in their sights. Porkins and wingman did a fantastic bit of maneuvering to come in behind the bombers with target locks and focus stacked only to encounter stiff resistance when Rhymer’s luck held, leaving him and his flight free to unleash hell on the CR-90 in the form of multiple torpedo barrages which collapsed shields and slammed into my hull. On the right Wedge and wingman continued to mix it up with Dark Curse and Mauler Mithel, slowly splashing TIE’s and somehow staying in the fight despite being severely outnumbered.

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Coming into the back half of the game the situation balanced on a knife’s edge and it looked grim for the Rebels. Thanks to the multiple torpedo hits both sections of the Corvette were severely damaged. Wedge and Biggs both lost their wingmen, though they took TIE’s down with them. Major Rhymer’s wingmen made an extremely gutsy maneuver that landed them millimeters away from being run over by the CR-90 and allowed them to fire point blank into the aft section, which was now critical. This prompted Porkins to try for an equally risky maneuver that, unfortunately, ended in disaster as his ship clipped the port side of the Corvette. Uncharacteristically he ejected, knowing he couldn’t hold it together, and his ship disintegrated along my hull, but luckily caused no additional damage. Our luckiest moment was when, by chance, the Firespray miscalculated a maneuver and rammed the back of the CR-90. It didn’t cause any damage, but the follow on laser cannon fire was enough to finally cripple my engines and many crewman were lost as the aft section of the ship was sealed off.

With victory slipping through our fingers and time running out there appeared to be only one viable course of action: I diverted all the power I could scrounge to engines and began to calculate a jump to light speed. With most Imperial threats behind me this seemed the best chance at preventing the ship from being completely lost (and for us to retain as much of our squad point value as possible for the final tally). While I was effectively out of the fight, the fight was not out of the Rebels. The fortunes of war began to turn our way as Wedge splashed some TIE’s out front, opening a nice, clear lane for my escape, then raced down my starboard side to join Biggs and Porkins’ wingman in a brutal assault on the remaining TIE’s. They quickly reduced several of the enemy ships, including Major Rhymer, and disabled the Imperial shuttle. While not an overwhelming victory, it was enough to encourage the Imperials to withdraw and gave the Alliance force a chance to recover a jettisoned (and much chagrined) Porkins, board the Lambda shuttle. With their rebel ally liberated and a scowling Imperial officer in restraints they returned to their base on Yavin 4 looking forward to some much needed downtime.

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Summary

The game was extremely well balanced. At several points it could have gone either way and, frankly, we got really lucky with the Firespray ramming the CR-90 as its presence in the endgame could have spelled my doom (to CSI’s credit, she is a relatively inexperienced player and had never handled a large ship). One big Rebel mistake was that we failed to take into account how much effort it would take to get through the TIE Bombers’ hulls and prevent them from delivering their ordnance, which was one of the Imperials most successful attack runs and might have won them the game had they been able to follow it up with concentrated fire on the fore section of the Corvette. Also, with the exception of the first few turns, my inexperience with the Corvette kept showing as I had trouble maximizing the effectiveness of my target locks, which was part of the strategy with the selected upgrades. Also, with a little more experience maneuvering, I might have been able to take a less safe route across the board and prevented Porkins’ demise, crushing the bombers instead. On the Imperial side I think, in hindsight, they made one, critical mistake – sending the middle TIE group after Wedge and wingman instead of escorting the bombers to their target. Unbeknownst to them, but beknownst to us, that was playing right into our strategy. Any other setbacks they experienced were just due to capriciousness of the dice and inexperience navigating a swarm to get the right angle on the CR-90 (my one “huzzah” maneuver was fishtailing to block LOS to my fore section in the next to last turn). All in all both sides played a close match that was a lot of fun.

MVP Rebels: Pawatwooper for using Wedge effectively to isolate and destroy so many TIE’s despite being outnumbered 3:1.

MVP Imperials: Pookie for using Major Rhymer’s flight to effectively deliver all ordnance, thus allowing his forces to render the Corvette almost totally combat ineffective.


Epic/Cinematic Play Conclusions

First off, I love the feel of cinematic play and definitely think that larger games with themed lists is the way to go for a truly immersive experience. While not necessary to achieve this goal, the huge ship was definitely an enhancement and not a detractor. I especially like how the CR-90’s upgrades can be used to fit it to many different play styles or simply give it a different feel game to. On the downside I’m not a fan of its primary attack as, with a 3’ wide table, it’s too easy to get “under the guns” (i.e. hug the Corvette’s belt). And, even when you do get a shot at long range, it is really tough to hit targets that are rolling at least two more dice than you AND have access to focus/evade. In other words, I would much prefer the primary to be less like the turbo laser and more like the quad-laser, which is a “no-brainer” upgrade in my opinion. It’s also really important to keep in mind that it is easily damaged and, thus, relatively easy to marginalize early in the game, especially if you can cripple the aft section and cut its energy supply to a trickle. That being said, managing the energy felt like a game within a game and really added an enjoyable layer to the overall strategy. The entire game I was picturing my crew scrambling to keep the shields up and desperately trying to pick out targets as they screamed by the ship.

Bottom Line: If you like your games to have theme, context and a depth of strategy, then the huge ships are a solid investment that will give you endless returns.

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