Friday, 19 December 2014

X-Wing - Wave 5 Test Drive AAR

Fantasy Flight Games hit the gold mine when they first released the X-Wing game a few years ago, starting with your classic TIE Fighters, Interceptors, Y-Wings and of course X-Wings. Through time they released more classic models in waves, such as the YT-1300 (Millennium Falcon), the Firespray (Slave) and more. However with the last few waves, we're seeing ships never shown in the original movies but taken from the novels and games. Not that I mind - there have been some very interesting ships like the elusive TIE Phantom and the great all-rounder E-Wing.

Recently Wave 5 was released, consisting of the YT2400 and VT49 Decimator.

Never heard of them? The Decimator is a big gun ship, akin to the Millennium Falcon. Where FFG got this ship was somewhat obscure - the ship first appeared in a MMORPG in 2004, "Star Wars: Galaxies" and then again in the Sony PSP/Nintendo DS game called Star Wars: Lethal Alliance (2006). It's not really found anywhere else!

Meanwhile the YT-2400, a lighter version of the YT-1300, was first found in the Stephen Perry's 1996 novel "Shadows of the Empire". The ship was later seen in various books and games, including the excellent Clone Wars animated series and The Force computer games.

So how do these ships act in the X-Wing game? I organised a151 point pitched  game with my younger brother (Spousal Crab) to test these ships out. I took command of the Rebels, leaving in the Imperials in the less experienced hands of Spousal Crab.

Copyright FFG/LFL

The Decimator is the first Imperial Ship with 360 degree firing arc, zero agility but lots of shields and hull points. Its got a respectable firing rate of three dice and interestingly, three crew slots. The most evident build that FFG make plain to see is that this ship is to bump into enemy ships on purpose and cause havoc. Here is the ship list I built:
  • Decimator Captain Oicunn, pilot skill 4, 53 points in total.
  • Mara Jade (crew) - makes enemy ships stressed with range 1 at the end of the Combat Phase.
  • Navigator (crew) - taken from another expansion, allowing the changing of speed.
  • Moff Jerjerrod (crew) - can make the Decimator's crew die instead if taking Face Up Critical Damage.
  • Intimidation (skill) - enemy ship in base to base contact lose agility.
  • Tactical Jammer (modification) - the Decimator counts as an obstruction similar to an asteroid when it comes to shooting.

Captain Oicunn's special ability is when he bumps into any enemy models, they take 1 damage!

This ship has less hit points than its bigger brother (unless you're taking the most basic YT1300) and a decent agility of two dice. Its rate of fire is a measly two however you can attach cannons for a very decent punch. It also has space for two crew. Here's what Spousal Crab will be testing out:
  • Dash Rendar, pilot skill 7, 53 points in total.
  • Heavy Laser (cannons) - four fire dice at range 2 to 3.
  • Outrider (title) - the secondary weapon has 360 degree firing arc!
  • Lando Calrissian (crew) - roll two green dice and gain whatever you roll.
  • Lone Wolf (skill)  - re-roll a blank die when attacking and defending, as long as there are no friendly ships nearby.

The one problem with this build is that as the ship cannot fire primary weapons due to the Outrider title and the Heavy Laser Cannons shoot between ranges 2 and 3, the ship cannot shoot at anything at range 1!

I couldn't be bothered shifting the table in order to deploy across the traditional long table edges so we instead deployed our forces in opposite corners (range 3 boxes). With only a handful of ships aside, this deployment isn't actually bad and gives a few more turns to manoeuvre.

The first couple of turns saw the Rebels split, with Jek Porkins and Airen Cracken fly side by side on one flank, Tycho in the middle and Dash on the other flank.

The Imperials moved towards the centre in a loose formation, although the two TIE Fighters were hugging the flank in the hope of circling around X-Wing and Headhunter.

As the turns proceeded the battle would be split in half: Dash's YT-2400 against Oicunn's Decimator and Terran Cowall, while Jek, Cracken and Tycho went up against the remaining assortment of TIEs.

The first round of fire was between the big ships - Dash managed to strip all of the Decimator's shields in a single round of shooting!

The first blood also went to Rebels as Jek and Cracken, with luck of a Direct Hit critical, blasted apart the Academy TIE Fighter.

Although the initial turns found the Rebels holding the advantage, the Imperials soon began taking the good guys apart.
The Rebels threw everything in an attempt to destroy Reiker Brath's formidable TIE Defender but he held on with a single hull point. 
Terran Cowall turned his attention to help out the other TIE's and in a concentrated effort destroyed Cracken in his Headhunter.

Meanwhile the Decimator started to chase the YT-2400, continually bumping into it and causing damage and sometimes stress thanks to Mara Jade's ability. Dash's YT-2400 struggled to find a place without having to lose actions but dodged some of the incoming fire and blasted chunks out of the Decimator. However whenever it was too close, it had to instead shoot at the TIE's. The Rebel ship also had a few turns were, thanks to the placement of the Decimator, could not move at all!

The Imperial star fighters eventually surrounded Jek. The X-Wing had a final chance to destroy the already damaged TIE Defender but failed dismally. In a screaming fit, Jek was obliterated, leaving the a Rebels with an yet to be damaged A-Wing and the beat up YT-2400.

The brutal bouts of fire between the Decimator and YT-2400 ultimately ended. The YT-2400 finally succumbed through a battle of attrition, whilst the Decimator stood triumphant albeit with two hull points left. It then turned its attention to the lone survivor, Tycho in his nimble A-Wing.

Through some fine flying, Tycho boosted to point blank range and using his Outmanoeuvre skill, finally defeated the TIE Defender. The remaining Interceptor and Holwlrunner struggled to get a bead on the A-Wing for the moment.
The exasperated TIEs continued to try and find a way to shoot the A-Wing whilst Tycho in return managed to damage the Interceptor.

Within the Decimator, Oicunn debated with the Navigator on how to move as the nearby debris cloud could cause an issue. They decided for a very conservative approach and their choice landed them a fair distance away from the debris. A little bit more of speed would have seen the Decimator in a safe position that would have also forced the A-Wing into the debris and limit its effectiveness to fire.
However there was now plenty of space for the A-Wing to safely navigate around the debris. At point blank range, Tycho destroyed the Decimator.

The remaining three fighters circled around one another, trying to get the advantage. The Interceptor managed to strip a single shield off the A-Wing but then after performing a K-turn landed in debris. Although evading further damage, it left the Interceptor with two Stress tokens.
But it was not to matter anymore. Daring flying by Tycho put him in a prime position to possibly end the Interceptor. Tycho sacrificed his focus in order to boost forward into a prime position. Howlrunner was unable to protect his team mate and the A-Wing's three shots turned the Interceptor into a ball of flame.

It was now all between Howlrunner and Tycho, two nimble fighters with the same number of attacks and agility. Although Howlrunner shot first every time , Tycho had the ability to be stressed but still take actions and the Outmanoeuvre skill.

The turns that followed saw a respectable dog fight that slowly wore down both fighters. In the last few turns both ships had but a single hull point left.  Eventually Tycho's abilities finally put Howlrunner in a dangerous position, being flanked and point blank.With three attacks and Howlrunner being reduced to two agility, it was game over when all of Tycho's hits landed.

The Rebels just scraped in a Victory!

At one hull point each and similiar ships, you cannot get closer than that. I was extremely surprised to see a A-Wing do this - take on four ships and survive!

The Imperials did a great job mid game resulting in the destruction of Cracken, Jek and Dash. Somehow with a mix of bad luck and bad positioning, the Imperials somehow lost most of their ships! The last battle between Howlrunner and Tycho was an attrition of will and skill.

Unfortunately, the Wave 5 ships didn't get to shine as much as I hoped. They were so busy blasting at one another tit-for-tat. 

Spousal Crab did a great job of ensuring the Decimator kept smashing into the YT-2400. In future, I would give the Decimator the "Dauntless" title, giving it the ability to perform actions even if it overlaps another ship. With "Mara Jade" and the "Intimidation" skill, you want to see the Decimator bludgeon into as many Rebel fighters as possible. I would also maybe swap the "Navigator" out for the "Tactician", which would ensure more Rebels find themselves stressed. The "Tactical Jammer" I am not so sure about, although it sounds good on paper it would probably be better suited to a Decimator with a higher pilot skill.

The YT-2400 is an interesting ship and not just a smaller version of the YT1300. It's the only ship that can fire its cannons 360 degrees, it can barrel roll, has decent manoeuvrability and promotes a lone wolf play style. 
"Lando Calrissian" (crew card) deserves special mention - he can potentially give two Evade tokens (or two Focus or a combination of both) even if the ship doesn't have those abilities! There is the potential to get nothing but statistically you'll get one benefit more often than not.

If you haven't already got them, both ships are worthwhile adding to your collection. There are a few cards I have not mentioned that may find regular use.
The Decimator provides "Fleet Commander" (Imperial only - give two other ships within grange 2 Focus and then get stressed) and "Ruthlessness" (if an attack hits, you must damage any other ship within range 1 of the target, even if it is on your side. Great swarm killer).
Meanwhile the YT-2400 provides "Dash Rendar" as a crew card if you want to make another ship be able to fire even if it is on an obstacle. The crew card "Leebo" gives you a Boost action at only 2 points (instead of buying a Engine Upgrade at 4 points) but your ship receives one Ion token if you do boost.

Thanks for reading!

- Cailus


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Who Relieves the Relief - A Force on Force After Action Report

With Dead1 recently having painted up the ASLAVS (Australian Light Armoured Vehicle), we looked to find a mission where we could include them.
Fortunately, the "Who Relieves the Relief?" mission from Donogh McCarthy's Defence of Wilson's Wadi ticked all the boxes, only having to replace the Brits with Australian type forces.

The mission saw two infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) and a truck fighting their way through a village in order to prove support to friendlies. However the truck hits a IED and the action goes from there.

With Dead1 being the commander of the Aussies (rated D8/D10 and well supplied), I set up my Taliban Groups around (rated a D6/D8). For the random asset I received heavy mortars and not having used such things before, I wasn't sure how they'd fare.

A small element of Australian troops were tasked with providing relief to embattled soldiers at Khaz Oruzgan. Their path would take them through the small village a few kilometres away, where there were no reports of Taliban presence.

The Bushmaster truck was escorted by two ASLAV fighting vehicles laden with fire teams and their commander.

Although they entered the village with caution, the Bushmaster triggered a mine on the road. Despite the violent blast, the vehicle and its crew were fine. Soldiers reported suspicious movements around the village buildings on both sides. With the urgency of their support needed by units ahead of this village, the Australian commander gave the order to push through.

Mission map from the Scenario

The unit enters the village

Taliban prepare to attack the Australian troops

Heavy Mortars deployed by the Taliban

ASLAV 1 provided covering fire as the Bushmaster and ASLAV 2 proceeded forwarded, reaching the position by the civilian jingle truck. The advancing units peppered the nearby targets which returned fire, with ASLAV 1 doing a poor job of overwatch. Where the mine failed, small arms fire by the Taliban disabled the Bushmaster. The two crew held their nerve and remained in the vehicle for the moment.

Soldiers reported an amassing of more troops by within the woods ahead of them.

The Australians advance and engage the Taliban

The Bushmaster is disabled!

More Taliban arrive by from the woods.

The Australians remained in control of the tempo for the time being. Reaction fire from the Taliban failed to further damage the Bushmaster and their RPG's failed to dent the ASLAVS.
The crew from the disabled Bushmaster made a break for ASLAV 2. Fortunately they embarked the vehicle before the flanking Taliban group had a chance to fire. The cell was engaged by ASLAV 1 and took heavy casualties but held their resolve. RPG fire from the cells either missed or ricocheted off the armour harmlessly.
However the Australians had failed to shift their positions for the last two turns and more Taliban were arriving.

The crew disembark and head for ASLAV 2

The ASLAV's gun rips apart the enemy.

Having stalled their advance, the Australians lost the initiative to the Taliban. The groups in the forest made a dash and broke cover. The Australians reacted and the fire all but wiped out two cells, however concentrating their fire meant that the convoy would not be moving just yet. Two RPGs flew at the Aslav but these bounced off the armour.

Further Taliban reinforcements arrived, whilst the Dshk gun positioned itself in the nearby courtyard in preparation for defilade fire. The heavy mortar spotter made his way into a village building that looked down the road.

The Dshk gun positions itself to flank the passing armour

Two groups of Taliban are decimated as they exit the woods

The Taliban started to turn up the heat. Mortar rounds rained on the convoy and the ASLAV 2's track drive was damaged, reducing its mobility. ASLAV 2 struggled forward and parked itself next to the jingle truck, while the other Fighting Vehicle provided reactive fire, which nearly destroyed one of the flanking cells.

A small cell rushed up near the spotter's building whilst the Taliban by the woods rallied into one large mob.
The heavy mortars engage the Aussies

The Taliban retained the initiative but the cells bided their time. ASLAV 1 bounded past the other vehicle when the Dshk opened fire. It turned out that the crew were better trained that the other militants and their fire was effective, damaging the armoured vehicle's turret. RPG fire from the two decimated cells proved ineffective.

Heavy mortar fire was unavailable this turn however cell by the woods had an RPG and with a very lucky shot, the Aslav 2 was knocked out. The squished in Australians consisting of the Bushmaster crew, the ASLAV crew, the fire team and commander quickly bailed out and checked their casualties.
The only fortune for the Australians was that there were no reinforcements for the Taliban, at least for the moment.

Disaster strikes

Emergency disembarkation by the troops and crew

The Australians deployed in a circle around the destroyed ASLAV and found that two of the soldiers were dead and one seriously wounded. The remaining ASLAV concentrated on the Dshk team and its crew was eliminated. The remaining firepower of the Australians was scattered but managed to finally destroy one of the  cells with a RPG and the spotter from the mortar team was killed.

Further fire from the remaining Taliban locals raked through the beleaguered Australians and they took heavy casualties.
Ultimately another four Australians would perish and another was seriously wounded.

A handful of Taliban continue to fight on despite numerous casualties

Things are looking grim for the Australian soldiers

With heavy casualties and unable to push through the village, the Australian relief force had to retreat, leaving two knocked out vehicles, two seriously wounded and six dead.
The Taliban had taken a large number of casualties but not even close to make a real difference.

AUSTRALIAN ARMY: 6 Victory Points
TALIBAN: 26 Victory Points

My plan from the get go was to stall the convoy using any means. However it did not start well with the free IED hitting the bushmaster doing absolutely nothing, despite the impressive stats that could have lifted the Aslavs of the ground!
I threw a few teams into the fray knowing I would lose them (see Turn 4) but as Dead1 opened fire with glee I smiled in return as he continued to fail his Reaction Tests, meaning he lost his ability to move.
Actually, the Reaction Tests went mostly my way, despite the Australian superiority, mostly die to Dead1 inability to roll decent results. However it wasn't all luck - I think Dead1 didn't utilise his firepower or speed to great effect. Reacting less and waiting to do Move & Fire Orders might have been the way to go.
The heavy mortars went well and that lucky RPG shot really helped too!

We'll be organising a rematch soon with Dead1 and I swapping control over the forces. No doubt it will be as action packed as this one.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Defence of Arghendab - Force on Force AAR

A few weeks ago Dead1 and I tried out first scenario from Enduring Freedom - the Battle for the Arghendab Bridge. ODA 574 and some Eastern Alliance fighters were tasked with defending a bridge against growing Taliban forces for 6 turns.
Saying that things didn't go well for my Special Forces is somewhat of an understatement - you can read all about the action here.

After realising we didn't play a few couple scenario rules correctly (specifically Out of Contact Movement for the Taliban and forgot about hiding) we organised a rematch.

What hurt last time was that the Taliban concentrated their forces to my left flank and the weight of fire bought the destruction of ODA574 Alpha team and their Eastern Alliance (EA) friends within the first two Turns. In all honesty I didn't utilise the team's firepower as I was afraid to lose them to a potential assault but this was a mistake.
Bravo team by the bridge didn't utilise their air support properly and the bad luck in die rolls didn't help in the slightest.

I need to hold the building by the bridge, call in an air strike off-board and have no Taliban past the dry river's southern bank (technically north) - this would net me a total of 15 points. So what do I do this time, knowing what the terrain will be like and some rule clarifications?

The EA are the worst stats you will see in Force on Force with a Troop Quality/Morale at D6/D8 with Low Confidence - I can't expect them to do much as they can only Return fire once a turn (being irregulars). If they get shot at they could quite easily get pinned before they do anything. As each killed EA grant the Taliban a point each so I can' the endlessly send them off to die.

Meanwhile the ODA are rated D10/D10 but there aren't many of them.

I am not going to worry about holding the Taliban by the river and I can't see how it is possible - I don't have line of sight on it on the left flank and I can't risk pushing teams forward, especially when I don't have the guarantee of initiative and good fields of fire for overwatch.

The Taliban have the Initiative on first turn so I will be able to see whether dead1 uses similar tactics as last time - that being the bulk of Taliban fighters advancing along the covered right flank. This will once again split firepower and put pressure in Alpha but I will try to avoid this from happening. Alpha's sniper will split off and venture further to the left (and thus away from the bridge), supported by an EA team. Either the Taliban will try to engage them and (and thus such cells will have less opportunity to attack the right flank), or the sniper harasses the cells with a degree of impunity and take out important assets such as leaders (with D12 morale), RPG's and machine guns.

Meanwhile the two man Alpha team will try to play a game of cat and mouse - reacting first to return fire and then hopefully moving away out of fire if one of the larger cells sets their sights on them (Cell 5 is a worry with 9 firepower). Use of smoke grenades may improve survivability at the cost of fire effectiveness that's okay.
Meanwhile the JTAC from Bravo will split off and concentrate on providing air support. Meanwhile the remaining Bravo members, the second EA and PKM team hold the building by the bridge by all costs.

If things go particularly well, I could try to push back the Taliban away from the dry river in the last few turns but I doubt this will happen.

However if dead1 rushes the bridge directly, then my guys on the left can move to assist and it will all be a great clusterf$k!

Team Alpha and their EA friends at the rest.

Team Alpha supported by Eastern Alliance, including the PKM team

Al Qaeda cells on the right flank prepare to assault the village

Cailus: So the terrain set up is slightly different. The left flank has more buildings making firezones a bit more controllable but based on the enemy deployment, Alpha looks like it could get its hands very dirty! I will stick to the plan however.

The al Qaeda reached the dry river bed and picked out their target - the Eastern Alliance PKM team on the Objective Building (OB). Bravo provided return fire and caused some significant casualties amongst the al Qaeda troops but the two man PKM team was by now  sprawled on the ground.
Thanks to Fog of War effects, Alpha was considered to be "Caught Napping", however without tangos in sight that did not really affect them.
Having woken up to the fact they were under attack, the sniper (Bravo-Three, code name "Sides") split off and lead the Eastern Alliance team towards the far left.

Team Alpha are momentarily caught off guard.

The al Qaeda attack begins!
Al Qaeda retained initiative. Only a couple of their injured realised they were not dead  or seriously wounded but one of the cells had a single man left. Some minor reinforcement also arrived on the left flank. Both of the Eastern Alliance PKM team dusted themselves off and rejoined the fight, deeming the injuries to be just a "flesh wound".

The al Qaeda continued their advance across the dry river bed. All the cells that had line of sight opened fire on the PKM team with worse results than the turn before. Some of the cells were pinned by Bravo and their Eastern Alliance, limiting the amount of lead being thrown at the PKM team.
Sides and his band of EA took positions around the far left building. Tall walls proved an obstructed in sight, forcing any future al Qaeda attempts to engage them to be funnelled. Other members of Alpha, situated in the centre of the village, took cover in a nearby building, waiting to see where they would be needed in the coming turns.

Bravo and the EA PKM engages the enemy

AC-130 "Big Brother" confirms position of Bravo-Three "Sides"

Al Qaeda still retained initiative but it would have been in their interest to lose it as it would allow much quicker movement. A single al Qaeda reinforcement arrived on the right flank!
The bulk of cells reached the lip of the dry river and yet again engaged the PKM team. Although supported by Bravo and the other EA by the OB in the resulting firefight, both members the PKM team received hits.
The JTAC (Alpha-Four) used his SOFLAM and coordinated a support from a AC-130 gunship kilometres away, where al Qaeda troops were deemed to be amassing.
Sides took cover by the large building beside his EA friends and prepared to engage.

"Big Brother" observes enemy forces approach the village.

Both PKM gunners stood up again, bloodied but determined! They were glad to see The AC-130 in the sky, opened fire on the secondary objective.  They hit their targets but reports indicated it was not fully successful - most likely due to the sandstorm. Still, it counted to give the U.S. Player 5 Victory Points!

Al Qaeda again retained initiative and half a dozen reinforcements arrived in the left flank. Determined to destroy the PKM team, a Cell engages them. Bravo react to assist but suddenly a sandstorm blows in from nowhere! The Cell lost sight of the PKM team. The sandstorm would reduce visibility and prohibit aggressive movement. Other cells engaged the EA band by the OB and caused a casualty. 

It was clear now that the Al Qaeda were trying to sweep the left flank and then head for the OB, meaning Alpha and their small band of EA were soon to be swamped.

The JTAC twiddled his thumbs, unable to see any potential targets due to the sandstorm whilst the other members jumped down from the OB and huddled up by the Eastern Alliance.

Thoughts by Cailus: The sandstorm  nullified Bravo's ability to engage the enemy, including sir support! However now al Qaeda could not rapid move which basically reduced their chances to get to the OB, unless they started receiving better reinforcements on the right flank, which just wasn't happening. I just hoped Alpha could weather the storm of bullets about to hit them.

An Eastern Alliance fighter is hit and killed.

A sandstorm sweeps through the battlefield.

"Big Brother" engages enemy reinforcements with its howitzer.

The Eastern Alliance by the OB checked out their hit comrade and found that he was dead. Al Qaeda scored their first Victory Point!
Al Qaeda retained initiative, despite the extra Initiative Die provided by completing a secondary objective last turn. The previous turns bombing must have worked somewhat as only a handful of al Qaeda reinforcements arrived in the right flank, joining up with the lone fighter waiting around from before.

The sandstorm was still in effect and hampered movement by Al Qaeda.
Nevertheless one of the cells entered the building right in front of Alpha and their EA detail. Reactions were slow by the U.S. Forces and machine gun fire peppered Alpha, and team leader Bull was hit! Sides and the EA managed to return fire causing the offending Cell to be eliminated. Suddenly the sandstorm had passed and it was back to clear skies! Some local civilians decided to take a stroll for some unknown reason.
The remaining Cells prepared to assault next turn.

With visibility returned, the JTAC attempted to designate targets for sir support but his request was denied. The rest of Bravo swapped positions with the EA, providing enfilade positions to any al  Qaeda deciding to assault Alpha.

Locals attempt to escape the besieged village.
The sandstorm is brief but hampers the al Qaeda's assault.

Alpha takes heavy fire. Team leader Bull is hit!

The Operator in Alpha checked on Bull - he was seriously wounded, giving al Qaeda 3 Victory Points. Some more reinforcements arrived on the left flank but were too far away to assist.

This was the final turn and al Qaeda retained initiative. The remaining three cells on the left flank would try to eliminate the operator alongside Bull, but the man was faster and dragged Bull and himself to the back of the building and out of immediate harm.
Sides, Bravo and the EA engaged and caused heavy casualties to the al Qaeda and pinned most of them without taking any further casualties in return .
The small band of reinforcements on the right flank engaged the PKM team. The PKM fired first and pinned the cell.

With heavy casualties and struggling to get through the defence of the U.S. and EA forces, the surviving al Qaeda retreated.

Bravo assists Alpha in repelling the final enemy assault.

Al Qaeda cells attempt to eliminate Alpha.

Bravo-Three drags the Bull outside of danger.

The U.S. had no operators KIA, secured and held the Objective Building and successfully called air support off board , thus scoring a total 15 Victory Points.
The al Qaeda had wounded an operator, killed one EA fighter and had forces past the North Bank, scoring a total of 9 victory points.
Victory to the U.S. and Eastern Alliance!

This was a very different game than our previous game, where every single operator and EA were killed. A few things helped out greatly - the sandstorm, the poor reinforcements by al Qaeda and that the PKM team just would not die! I did the right thing to take as many shots as I could and Bravo helped thin the ranks in the first two turns.
Alpha had secured their position well but Bull still got hit. I generally have awful luck rolling on the First Aid table when it comes to Operators and I was greatly relieved to see a Serious Injury rock up. Had Bull died my victory would have turned into a 10/11 defeat!

Surprisingly the EA performed well and accounted for a considerable amount of kills, whereas in our previous game they just died. This game they had only one killed, what luck!

Thanks to dead1 for the good game.

ODA574 secure the village.