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


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