This last weekend I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friends +Jon Ellis and +Kyle Gifford and try out some fleet ideas. I have enough models in my collection that I was able to have 6 different squads to try out with each of them having their own input and squad ideas as well. The chaos that followed was some of my favorite experiences with the game in a long time.
|Biggs Darklighter, Devoted Meat Shield of the Rebel Alliance!|
The first fight was between my friend Jon fielding Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter in X-Wings, with a support HWK Shuttle and a modified A-Wing (called the "Daisy Chain" squadron found here) and myself flying my favorite undefeated Darth Vader Tie Swarm (found here). Keep in mind that by undefeated I mean in the 3 times I've got to play with the swarm. As he pieced his fleet together I provided some input that turned Biggs into one of the most annoying ships of that match.
During the exchange I found out very quickly why I don't play this swarm very often, even if undefeated. Trying to keep track of 6 ships without crashing into each other is a very time-consuming and difficult affair. And even though Darth Vader was crashing into his allies (the result negating one of the best benefits that his ship provides) I had enough ships flying around my friend's ships to keep him preoccupied while I tried to compensate for my piloting failures.
Things got real interesting by about the 4th turn in when Biggs dropped and a lucky shot from one of his ships ionized Darth Vader, resulting in his timely defeat a few turns later. With 5 Tie Fighters flying around I was still able to defeat the rest of his squad without Biggs getting in the way, though Jon made especially good use of his initiative trading, evade spreading, and Ionizing. It was only by grace of my numbers that I was able to destroy all but his A-Wing Prototype pilot that proved it's survivability by avoiding all 5 ships for 3 turns straight. Sadly by the time we decided to move onto a another game, the A-Wing was untouched and was boosting all across the board playing mind-games with my Tie Fighters.
|Darklighter's Rebel Aces reporting for duty!|
The next match included Kyle, and we decided to field a Tie Defender with 2 Tie Interceptors for escort for him, a random mix of a bomber, tie fighter, and Firespray for Jon, and I fielded a Rebel Squadron of Biggs Darklighter, 2x refitted A-Wings, and 2x B-Wings as described on Fantasy Flight Games' "A More Versatile A-Wing" news article (squad list found here).
Each of the opposing forces were fielding Assault Cannons, with the Firespray equipped with upgrades to include a means of modifying the Assault Cannons after all damage was converted into crits, and the Defender spending focus to convert all damage placed on a ship facedown to flip (basically if they hit me it hurts really bad). Both really bad news for my squadron that had basic skills and no fancy upgrades to mitigate the pain. All I could hope was for Biggs to keep my B-Wings alive long enough to layer all three of their firing archs on the big threats while my A-Wings evaded and dodged into a pincer.
The initial exchange resulted in a death spiral, with each side attacking the squad to their left. A solid hit from Soontir Fel landed a number of crits on Jon's Bomber (equipped with some really nasty bombs) making the ship useless after turn 3. Doing what I could to keep my ships into formation and behind Asteroids long enough to alpha strike the larger ships, my opponents realized that I had 16 shield tokens to break down. It wasn't long after that before I had heavy laser cannon fire heading my way, and what was worse was that they could all attack at range 3 much more effectively than range 1.
The rest of the match resulted in some lucky shots from my B-Wings and getting a little better with my fleet movement allowing me to get in close and take out all but 2 ships by the end of the match. Only the Firespray and Soontir Fel remained with all 5 of my ships intact or scuffed, and one of my A-Wings will full shields. We called the match win for the Rebels, which honestly was my first ever win with Rebels in the entire history of playing the game. And it was a flawless win in the face of a free for all. I doubt I'll be able to do it again, but it was a lot of fun visualizing the exchanges.
Their is something to be said about the level of intimidation of seeing a Tie Defender paired with two Tie Interceptors. I won't even get into how it feels to have two ships flying around with 4 Red Dice heavy laser cannons at range 3 with no hopes of evading outside of having debris to provide cover. Did I forget that those who had the Heavy laser Cannons could flip their damage results into more critical hits, or blanks into critical hits?
|The chaos after the first Tie-B loss. The Rebel Aces had to work their magic...|
By the end of the night I had one of the longest and most fulfilling games with X-Wing that I've had in a long time. Everyone in attendance has a new level of respect and understanding of the game rules, the ships that they want to play, and the importance of understanding ship size and asteroid placement. We learned some hard lessons on what it means to run into astroids/obstacles and how to interpret rules that rely on using those same obstacles during combat. We clarified rules that were somewhat confusing and got to really enjoy some of the most interesting combination of ships we always wanted to see in action. I am very thankful of my Wife, Jon, and Kyle for allowing me to enjoy the adventure and I am looking forward to trying out some more timed matches with various alterations and rules.
If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you to check your Local Gaming Store as many of them may have a playtest kit of the game that comes with 2 Tie Fighters and an X Wing with basic rules that can get anybody playing and enjoying the game in no time!