August 26, 2013 by catomighty
This past Saturday, 24 August 2013, was my first time running an X-Wing game with full squadrons of ships on the table as part of the annual Hobby Bunker Games Day organised by the Boston Trained Bands club. It ran very smoothly. 6 players participated, including 2 first-timers to X-Wing, and one of those a first-time gamer enitrely. Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable time. I certainly enjoyed running the game, was thrilled to see so many ships in action, and quite look forward to running more events like this!
Teaser alert — this scenario involves a handful of custom ships (mounted on the very wonderful CorSec flight stands) which will be detailed in a later blog entry. If you’re reading this entry before I write that one up, you’ll have to wait a little bit to see the details on those =^,^=
The populace of the planet Tangor, under the guidance of their beloved royal family have been leaning more and more towards joining the rebellion. Darth Vader and an Imperial Inquisitor have come to take the Royals hostage on behalf of the Emperor. To prevent the Royals escape, an Indictor Cruiser arrived at the planet just prior to the arrival of Vader. But a valiant Rebel assault has disabled that cruiser. Its gravity-well generator is still working though, and the surviving Rebel forces continue a desperate bid to take down the gravity well and allow the Tangori royalty to escape the Imperial clutches.
All that the Rebels have left to throw into the battle is Red Squadron, recently arrived in the system and at full strength, supported by Han in the Falcon and a Tangori pilot flying an old Delta-7 Aethersprite — an elegant star fighter for a more civilised age. The front line of the Imperial counter-attack includes more than a full squadron of TIE Fighters, with a variety of supporting craft, led by Vader himself. And seemingly endless waves of more TIE Fighters coming up behind them as more and more flights launch from the inbound Star Destroyer Executor.
The scenario involved 2 objectives for greater plot interest and to help insure that the battle would be spread across the table and avoid having all the ships trying to cluster at a single point.
The center of the scenario objective is quite similar to the escort scenario in the rule book, but in this case the shuttle in use is an armed version of the Sheathipede-class Neimoidian Shuttle (die-cast model by De Agostini).
But before the shuttle can exit the board to make the jump, the Rebels also have to take down the Imperial gravity well which was trying to prevent just such an escape. In one corner of the table is the upper command bridge of the disabled Interdictor-class Cruiser. The Rebels have to destroy the 2 sensor domes on the top of the bridge to take down the well. This portion of the scenario was taken from the Flytrap Scenario posted by Rogue Thirteen on the BoardGameGeek forum. Ships may freely fly across the top of the bridge, but the domes themselves count as obstacles. Each dome has Agility 0, Armour 1 (counts as a permanent 1 Evade token against every attack), Hull 4.
The part of the domes in this day’s episode are played by a pair of multi-faceted cabinet doorknobs from Lowes Hardware, and the asteroids are gas grill Lava Rocks.
The Rebels started with 366 points, not including the shuttle which is more of a target objective than a full combat ship. Imperials started with 319 points, not including the Star Cruiser (figuring out the points for that will be tricky and wasn’t actually important for the scenario, so I’ll work that out later, probably somewhere in the high 20’s), plus later reinforcements to replace small fighter losses. Fortunately, exact point counts and equal numbers for scenarios of this size aren’t critical. And in the end, the Imperials wound up receiving 7 Academy Pilot reincorcements (84 points).
On the advice of other players who have reported running large games, no upgrade cards were used, excepting some disposable ordinance. This did indeed prove to be good advice for helping to keep the game running quickly and smoothly.
Rebels Forces — (12) X-Wings, (1) YT-1300, (1) Delta-7, and the Sheathipede Shuttle:
Flight 1: Wedge, Biggs, Han, and a Delta-7 (Clix model) with a Seismic Charge — providing direct escort for the Shuttle.
Flight 2: Luke, and (4) Rookie Pilots — attacking the Sensor Domes.
Flight 3: Garven, and (4) Red Squadron Pilots (re-named personalised cards for: Red Sonja, Red Skelton, Redd Foxx, and Red Buttons) — running interference to keep the Imperials away from the Shuttle.
The Rebels also had (6) Proton Torpedoes to distribute among the X-Wings, 5 went to Flight 2.
Imperials — (14) TIE LN, (1) TIE Advanced, (1) TIE Interceptor, (1) Firespray-31, (1) Lambda Shuttle, and (1) Star Courier:
Flight 1: Vader, Mauler, Gundark, (2) Black Squadron Pilots, and an Imperial Inquisitor flying a Star Courier (Revell Easy Pocket Kit model) — defending the domes.
Flight 2: Dark Curse, Backstabber, (3) Academy Pilots, and Boba Fett — 1st wave attack on the Shuttle.
Flight 3: Howlrunner, Nightbeast, (3) Obisidan Squadron Pilots, Turr Phenir, and Commander Thanas flying a Lambda Shuttle (F-Toys model, using the dial and stats of the official wave 3 Lambda Shuttle which will arrive in stores here in a few weeks, and a custom pilot card) — 2nd wave attack on the Shuttle.
Reinforcements: each small fighter destroyed by enemy fire, but not any of the 3 large ships, would be replaced by an Academy Pilot appearing on the board edge in that Flight’s starting zone at the start of the next game turn.
Starting Deployment on a 4′ x 6′ map. The wooden tray at the far end of the table is filled with Academy Pilot TIE’s coming in reserve:
Close up from left to right, the Sheathipede and Rebel Flights 1 & 2:
Close up from left to right, Imperial Flights 1, 2 & 3:
For the first two game turns, the flights all proceed smoothly towards their assigned missions as worked out by each team before the start of the game. Wedge, Han and the Delta-7 head over to help hold the line against the advancing Imperials, Biggs stays with the Shuttle providing close support. The Shuttle is advancing very slowly to allow Flight 1 ample time to destroy the sensor domes. At the end of the third move, battle is joined:
Luke quickly falls under a hail of concentrated Imperial firepower, but the Rookie Pilots valiantly continue on towards their target to take down the domes. Red Squadron Pilots with support from Flight 1 artfully swirl in formation through the oncoming Imperial waves. Waves weakening under intense Rebel laser bolts. By the end of Move 5, Rookie 11 has finished off the first dome, while the more experienced Red Squadron Pilots continues to hold back Imperial Flight 2. The Shuttle continues its slow advance. Perhaps too slowly as lead elements of Imperial Flight 3 are advancing to cut off its path:
By the end of move 7, the last remaining Rookie Pilots, #10 & 11, are closing on the second dome, but now under the concentrated guns of Imperial Flight 1. A daunting array of firepower. But given the long range, both Rookies survive the barrage of fire, and #10 will destroy the second dome. Meanwhile, Red Squadron Pilots and Rebel Flight 1 turns its back on the scattered remnants of Imperial Flight 2 in order to turn their attention on Imperial Flight 3 and hopefully come to the rescue of the imperiled Sheathipede and it’s royal passengers:
By the 8th move, Rookies 10 & 11 are both flush with their success at taking down the gravity-well generator and also fleeing for their lives from the wrath of Darth Vader, the Imperial Inquisitor, Boba Fett, and a parcel of supporting TIE pilots. But the Force is running strong with them as they successfully dodge a hail of hostile fire. Rebel Flight 1 and Red Squadron also continue their victorious sweep, taking down the Lambda Shuttle, but will it be in time to get the Sheathipede safely into hyperspace? And while the Empire has concentrated heavy firepower in a vain attempt to protector the cruiser’s domes, they did so at the expense of not pressing a hard attack directly against the Sheathipede, will they be able to stop it now?
By the end of movement on the 9th game turn, the Sheathipede is poised to make its jump. The Imperial forces are closing in, but many of their ships remain out of range, and not all of their ships within range will survive long enough to fire at the Sheathipede. Now it’s coming down to the final round of firing:
After most of the dice are rolled, the Sheathipede has lost its shields and only 3 hull points remain when there is but one TIE Fighter left to fire — Backstabber with an extra attack die for firing upon the back of the royal shuttle. Pew, Pew, Pew! Scores 2 hits and a critical. The shuttle evades one hit. 1 hit and a critical go through. Now it’s down to that critical hit result….. double damage, the Sheathipede explodes! If the Emperor cannot have the Tangori royalty as hostages, they will not live to rally a rebellious planet.
Backstabber is the TIE with ship ID token #1 seen just below Han and behind the tiny Delta-7. Piloted by the player trying his first ever miniatures wargame!
Imperial Losses: 2 Academy Pilots, 2 Obisidian Squadron Pilots, 1 Black Squadron Pilot, Nightbeast (killed by Wedge), Winged Gundark (seismic charge launched from the Aethersprite), Commander Thanas (Red Buttons).
Rebel Losses: Rookie 9 (Darth Vader), Rookie 12 (Mauler Mithel), Red Sonja (Academy Pilot), Luke Skywalker (Mauler), Sheathipede Shuttle (Backstabber).
The one part of the scenario that had to be adjusted on the fly was the exit point for the Sheathipede. Setting this up for the first time, I had no idea how many turns could be completed or how the scenario might actually unfold. By halfway through the game it was clear that the shuttle would not run the full 6′ length of the table (even if the player had been moving it at full speed from the beginning it couldn’t have made it). For future use of this scenario, asteroids will mark a goal-post for the shuttle about 40″ away from it’s starting position. The full 6′ length of the table works quite nicely for the dogfight to develop out beyond the goal post to see which side will control that portion of the battlefield. And the 4′ width is nice for giving each side a little reaction time to respond to the other’s opening moves.
The game with 9 full turns of play was done to its dramatic conclusion within a 4-hour time slot at the Game’s Day. I’m not sure who had more fun, all the players flying ships and going “pew, pew, pew!”, or me getting to run the game and getting to watch a full-fledged Star-Warsian dogfight unfold on the big screen, and after months of preparation for big games finally seeing full squadrons in action : 3
And in a very pleasant and rewarding surprise, this game was awarded the “Pushing The Limit” prize for the day on account of being such a great visual spectacle, everyone enjoying themselves so much, general innovation, and GM effort. The prize provided by the Hobby Bunker was a pair of TIE Interceptors, bringing my complement of squints up to a half-squadron of 6 now!