EExperimentation

Coming off my (small) win on Saturday, I’ve decided that it is time to mix things up a little; other lists to fly, new ships to discover and new challenges to meet. Why? I’ve played relatively “safe” lists with Rebels since 2.0 dropped, using ships I had a lot of experience with in 1.0; namely X-Wings and Y-Wings, and I decided I needed to expand my horizons a little. Which brings me to the other Rebel ships I own: both YTs, B-Wings, A-Wings, a K-Wing, Z-95s, a HWK-290 and a pair of E-Wings. The larger ships bore me, I appreciate they have their value, but I just don’t enjoy using them. B-Wings are in a rough spot right now, I think, as the X-Wing does the same job but better. A-Wings appear to be better as low-Initiative blockers that don’t fit my preferred style of play, and the K-Wing gives me bad memories of NymRanda from 1.0

Which leaves the E-Wing.

In the lore, the E-Wing was meant to be everything the X-Wing was, but better: equally well-armed and armoured, but as fast as an A-Wing. In theory, this translates into X-Wing; it has similar firepower, but greater agility. It does (now) lack in Hull value, however, but the blue straights extend as far as four forwards so it’s considerably faster coming out of a Stress situation. That said, the cost is extortionate: an Initiative 2 Knave Escort is only 10pts cheaper than an Initiative 1 Defender of the Delta variety, and it lacks that built-in evade that arguably is why the Defender is so expensive. It also has one less shield. Still, it looks like it could be an effective fighter in the right hands! Dan, one of the local players at Warboar (home of TNX, which he is a member of) uses Corran in his Rebel list (from what I have seen) quite successfully, but I don’t believe he rates the other E-Wing pilots that highly (I should really talk to him more about that!)

One of my first builds on the X-Wing app was actually Corran and Gavin with a support ship (I think it was Jan Ors), but I wrote it off as “never going to work” and deleted it. The E-Wing has sat at the back of my mind since then, while I’ve played with Defenders, Interceptors, X-Wings and Y-Wings, until PhilGC (The X-Wing Hipster) posted a blog entry last week (and another this week) in which he too was looking for something different to fly and had picked the E-Wing as his ship of choice. You can find the articles here and here.

I quite liked Phil’s build, even if it wasn’t how I would build it, but he flew it to a reasonable degree of success on its first competitive outing, so I figured it was worth a go: did the list have legs, or did Phil’s piloting skill overcome the innate weaknesses of the platform? I took the very same list to Warboar this week, and this is what happened:

Game 1 (Martin) vs Boba, IG-88A, L3-37

The early turns were pretty painful on both sides: Boba escaped undamaged from the initial volleys thanks to poor dice on my part (not to mention bumping Corran into Gavin) and Boba re-rolls on Martin’s . The attention was instead focused on the “weak link” of L3-37, who died to successive volleys from Gavin.

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I’m just crashing into everything with these guys!

The next couple of turns saw Corran isolated and hunted down by Boba, the Elusive re-roll proving to be little help when recently recharged and the ship stressed. Gavin managed to bring IG-88A down to one hull with a Proton Torpedo, before being chased across the board by both ships. IG-88A managed to kill himself on an Asteroid moments before Gavin was hunted down and killed by Boba, ending in a well-deserved loss. Martin flew very well (aside from that Asteroid at the end) and I flew the E-Wing as though it were an X-Wing, a mentality that I need to shake if this list is to work.

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Gavin cowers behind the rock that will save him this turn, and kill IG-88A next turn.

Game 2 (also Martin) – Drea, Torkil, 2x Jakku Gunrunner, 2x Binayre Pirate

This was apparently Martin’s first 2.0 Scum list, but he’d not actually had a chance to fly it yet. I was a little nervous about flying such a list, because Jumpmaster Tractors and Drea (I’d forgotten what Torkil did), but if I could keep moving, I figured I’d have a chance. Again, I picked a flank and zoomed up to meet my opponent, but rather than turning in to engage in the middle of the field, I continued up the right-hand side of the play area to attempt to get in behind Martin’s formation.

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One Gunrunner down, one crippled.

The Gunrunners needed to die before they could start locking me, and die they did. Both were blown out of space in successive turns, but this was where I realised my mistake: yes I’d gotten rid of those pesky Tractor Beams, but now everything was within range of Drea and Torkil, which meant Corran was engaging at Initiative 0 and my opponent was rerolling more dice than I was really comfortable with. Uncomfortable I should have been, as there are only so many shots an E-Wing can take before it dies, and Corran was pretty quickly (and brutally) gunned down.

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Flying them like X-Wings still, and suffering for it.

With Corran dead, Gavin hurting, and Drea down to two hull, I called it there. Martin and I agreed that I’d made mistakes, namely flying the E-Wing as though it were an X-Wing, and that my dice weren’t co-operating (I think my Torpedoes did their job once all game). The initial engagement went well, I killed what needed killing, but my target priority was off. If I were to fly against this again, I think I’d go for Drea and Torkil first, and crucially remember to fly the E-Wing like a Defender: go forward, go fast. Don’t turn, engage when I decide, and keep moving.

Game 3 (vs Paul) – Wedge, Thane, Norra

This was going to hurt. I’ve flown against this list several times now, and though I’ve beaten it, it fills me with dread each time. Wedge is Wedge, Thane is Thane, and fire at Norra before she shoots back and you’re eating a fully-modded Torpedo if you dare to hit her. It’s not a pleasant prospect, especially for two small and nimble but not particularly rugged ships.

Thane or Wedge were going to be my priority targets, purely because Norra is cruel and Paul had handed me Initiative, so hitting her first would likely spell disaster for Corran. Zooming left along my board edge and then up the left flank, both E-Wings split the enemy formation, with Thane boosting out of arc to avoid eating multiple Range One shots; leaving Norra open to suffer the loss of her shields and a critical hit against her hull. Barrelling through the formation, the E-Wings disengage to try and isolate one of the X-Wings, preferably Wedge, which have scattered and are trying to encircle me. Wedge managed to avoid every arc for several turns, so the E-Wings turned their attention on Thane: two Torpedo shots strip his shields and drop him to half health (low rolling on that second Torpedo despite the lock), before Corran finishes him off next turn with his primaries.

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Cut off from support, it’s game over for Corran.

Corran has been attracting the majority of the enemy fire so far but surviving as Wedge and Norra dive back into the fight. That changed when Wedge, with one Torpedo, dropped Corran to one Hull remaining, while Gavin fluffs a Torpedo shot back at the X-Wing and does no damage. Though Wedge and Norra are shieldless and Gavin still has two, this is looking a little rough; Wedge is a monster, and if I don’t kill him, it’s game over.

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Thunderdome: Four Rebels Enter, Two Rebels Leave.

The next few turns hurt, with Gavin becoming target priority #1 for Paul, like Wedge is my priority. When the smoke cleared, Corran, Gavin AND Wedge were all down to a single Hull remaining, while Norra was still cruising having not been touched since the initial engagement. The four ships circled the Asteroid in contra-rotating formations, Gavin slotting into position and blowing Wedge out of space with four natural hits. It’s now two crippled E-Wings against a mostly-healthy ARC, which isn’t going to end well for me! Fortunately, my dice return to form and both ships are still alive when time is called.

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Hi Norra!

Did I deserve that win? That’s a tough one. I think I flew quite well, not making the mistakes I’d made in the previous games (or at least not so much), but Paul was tired from a long day at work, his dice failed him at crucial moments (re-rolling three blanks into three blanks with a Torpedo being an example), and had the disadvantage of not knowing how this list flew while I was not disadvantaged in such a way: my work day is fairly short, and I’ve flown against his list several times in the past.

Thoughts

The list is a lot of fun to fly, and requires a fair amount of thought as to what you’re doing with it. Can it work? Yes, Phil proved that in his articles on the subject, and I didn’t suffer any horrific 0-200 defeats, but you need to have the right mindset. I’ve come from flying X-Wings which turn and K-Turn to get their shots and can engage on my terms or my opponent’s with a decent chance of success, while E-Wings need to disengage, turn, then re-engage on my terms: anything else invites disaster. The number of ships involved can also be both a blessing and a curse: it’s less to think about, but it’s also less shooting opportunities and allows your opponent to focus fire more effectively.

Will it win any big tournaments? In my hands, no. With someone else flying it? Maybe? I think it has a lot of potential but needs to be flown boldly but carefully (which a lot of players probably feel are mutually-exclusive). I’m probably going to give it a few more games against other players with different lists before I start tweaking it (I’m probably only going to substitute the R3s for R4s which make the dial ridiculous), and I’m unsure whether Elusive was working for me. After our games, Martin suggested swapping the Fire Control for Advanced Sensors; I run the risk of running out of points, but it might be worth a go just to see whether a focus/evade followed by a red manoeuvre to recharge Elusive might be more effective than a single offensive re-roll.

I’d like to thank PhilGC for being such a Hipster and running two E-Wings and inspiring me to try it. It might not be “good”, but it’s certainly fun!

As always, thanks to everyone for reading, and I hope everyone has a nice weekend!

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(X-)Winging It (aka The 2.0 Tournament That Wasn’t!)

Today I went solo to an X-Wing event for the second time ever, the first one being way back when I took my twin Defenders to Rochester and won their small store event. Usually I don’t solo events as I sometimes have issues with meeting new people (a result of anxiety, as has been touched upon by other bloggers recently), and I prefer to have a friendly face or two around to discuss games with post-battle, especially if a game had gone badly for me. The tournament in question today was a three-round 2.0 event (opposed to extended) at Magic Madhouse in Stratford, London; several people I knew had been interested in going, and if Facebook was anything to go by there were twenty plus people interested. Sadly the people I knew decided not to go for one reason or another, but I’d already got my list sorted and had a free afternoon, so I figured why not?

When the event started, there were four of us. Two had 2.0 lists, two had Extended lists, so the 2.0 tournament became an Extended tournament, and both Extended players were running Imperials meaning, you guessed it, there were Punishers on the board! (There were in fact six Punishers split between the two). A fifth player rounded out our number, arriving slightly late, with another 2.0 list.

So, let’s get down to business! I’d practised on Thursday with my list, going 3-0 against “Other” Paul’s experimental Rebel lists at Warboar, but something wasn’t right: I did some tweaking before today, and hoped that my increased survivability and decreased ordnance capacity at the expense of bid wouldn’t come back to bite me in the behind.

My List

Garven Dreis – 52
Swarm Tactics
R4 Astromech
Servomotor S-foils

Thane Kyrell – 67
Predator
Proton Torpedoes
R4 Astromech
Shield Upgrade
Servomotor S-foils

Wedge Antilles – 72
Swarm Tactics
Proton Torpedoe
R4 Astromech
Shield Upgrade
Servomotor S-foils

Total: 191

Game 1 vs James – Darth Vader, Major Vermeil, Del Meeko, Seyn Marana

I’ve fought Vermeil before, but never the two Inferno pilots or Vader as a pilot before, so this initial matchup would be interesting. Crucially it was a 2.0 vs 2.0 game, as the two Extended-list players were playing each other and our fifth had yet to arrive. Vader had the potential to be nasty, but TIE Fighters are still squishy and Vermeil isn’t exactly tanky either, so I was leaning towards positive thinking at the start of this game.

Del and Seyn came barrelling down on my right while Vader and Vermeil swung in from my left to engage in and around the asteroids. All three X-Wings move up at a fairly rapid pace with their S-Foils closed, decelerating and opening their S-Foils only when combat is about to be joined. All pumped to Initiative 6, Garven and Thane stripped Vermeil of his shields and reduce him to two hull, while Wedge is unable to finish the Reaper and instead deletes poor Seyn with a Proton Torpedo shot. Had Thane remembered his lock on Vermeil, the Reaper may have joined its smaller cousin in death.

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There were two TIEs there a moment ago!

I messed up my next turn, leaving my shooting rather ineffective while Thane is stripped of his shields and one hull point (and two more Stress tokens thanks to Panicked Pilot), giving my opponent half points. The next turn sees my manoeuvring fail for a second time, denying me a shot on Del Meeko which I need to kill him while Vermeil flees.

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“Rebel Aces” need to go back to Flight School!

Despite his stress, Thane zoomed off in pursuit of Vermeil, itching to right the wrong of that forgotten lock. After a zoom of four forward, Thane finally hunted down and defeated the fleeing Reaper with a Torpedo shot before swinging back around to deal with the two remaining TIEs. While Thane is off on his adventure, Vader is trying his hardest to kill Wedge, stripping two of Wedge’s shields and losing his own shields in return while Garven manages to ping a single point of damage on Del.

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Round and round the Asteroid, like an X-Wing Ace!

The following turn, Vader scored another hit on Thane while Wedge killed Del, turning the game into a 3 vs 1 against the Dark Lord of the Sith. Crippled but unafraid, Thane continued to manoeuvre to draw Vader into making a mistake, which he promptly did; finding himself in Wedge’s sights and at range one of Thane (and in his Bullseye Arc for Predator). The Dark Lord tried his best, but even the Force could not save him, and Wedge blew him out of space for a 200-34 win (we reported as 200-37 because math is hard and I can’t count, apparently!).

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Goodnight, Dark Lord

Game 2 vs Simon – Redline, Deathrain, Cutlass Squadron Pilot

Uh oh… I’ve fought Punishers in 2.0 exactly twice, and I didn’t do so well. The Punisher itself isn’t the issue so much as the sheer amount of stuff it can throw at me. Redline would obviously be the priority target, followed by Deathrain and then the Cutlass, but I knew my opponent wasn’t going to let me have my way. I know Simon from my days with the 186th Squadron, though I don’t know that I’ve ever faced him! He’s practising for an event in Sweden, so this game was going to be a learning experience for us both!

The Punishers took the left flank while I advanced up the right, Deathrain coming within a hair’s breadth of a rock. The initial engagement took place within the asteroid field in the centre of the board, Redline was stripped of shield and reduced to an Agility of 0 in return for two of Thane’s shields.

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I’m sensing a bomb or two this turn…

Trajectory Simulator time! That means many bombs! That means run the hell away!

The X-Wings scattered, avoiding damage by the Seismic Charge that destroyed an Asteroid close to where they had started the turn. Redline found itself in the unfortunate position of being on a rock, which meant the target of opportunity changed to poor, unfortunate Deathrain. Wedge stripped the shields, Garven and Thane finished it off. I felt a little bad, actually, my dice had been pretty hot now for five games straight, and I was just landing damage after damage on my opponents for very little in return.

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One down, two to go!

The subsequent turn saw Wedge and Thane ganging up on Redline and destroying it, leaving only the Initiative 2 (and as-yet undamaged) Cutlass remaining. The Cutlass threw a Proton Bomb which Thane was unable to evade thanks to a bump (bombing and blocking is apparently what base Punishers are great at!) which resolves as a Fuel Leak. The following turn, the Fuel Leak gets Thane killed while Garven and Wedge once more dodge the bombs being thrown at them and strip the Cutlass’ shields. It’s two on one, but that thing is quicker than it looks and can reload ordnance while I cannot.

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Game over, Imperial!

Wedge and Garven pursued the fleeing Cutlass, who, predicting a fast move from Wedge, stopped right in front of him. Dice were rolled (or not rolled in the Cutlass’ case), damage was dealt, and I was now 2-0 with a 200-67 win.

Game 3 vs Rob – Fenn Rau, Old Teroch, Joy Rekkof

Being 2-0 I expected to fight the other 2-0 player and his three Punisher and Jendon list (the thought of which is only slightly horrific!), but I was paired up against Rob and his triple Fang list instead. Three Fangs all with Fearless, this was going to hurt: I knew that being at Range One of Fangs was bad from the Warboar tournament a few weeks ago, but this was going to be an exercise in pain I won’t soon forget!

I screwed up quite badly in the early game, meeting the Fangs head-on in the Asteroids. Garven found himself at Range One of Fenn (somewhere nobody ever wants to be) and was obliterated: four hits and a crit from Fenn, double blanks from Garven, and the crit was a Direct Hit! Wedge responds with a Torpedo that annihilates Fenn, leaving me up on points but down that crucial Focus-sharing ability.

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Wedge and Thane vs Teroch and Joy

This is where my hot dice suddenly went away. Thane failed to inflict a single point of damage on Teroch with a Torpedo shot (even after re-rolls) , and Joy managed to blow Wedge away and possibly destroy any chance I have of winning the event.

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This was NOT where Wedge wanted to be… However, Joy would pay for her actions next turn!

So, 2 vs 1 in a reversal of the previous game. This is going to take some very careful and very canny flying. Somehow Thane managed to get the best of Joy, K-Turning over the asteroid and critting her out of the game, bringing it to a 1 vs 1. Thane and Teroch embarked on a chase across the board, Teroch hampered by a Damaged Engine card, Thane suffering no such hindrance. The X-Wing had difficulty landing any telling hits on the Fang, however, and as the game next to me progressed I became certain that I’d be coming second. Until Thane found himself behind Teroch, at Range Three, with a stress token. Three dice were rolled, warming up again into two hits and a crit, while the tokenless Teroch rolled three blanks and a focus. Teroch was dead, handing me a 200-124 win.

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The game beside me wound down with the minutes, and looking like a clean sweep for the Punisher player. Vader and Seyn, both wounded, against Jendon and three Scimitars. As the smoke cleared, Seyn was dead and Vader was left on one hull! I still wasn’t convinced, losing 124 points in that last game would really hurt. Still, second is great, and I had three fun games against three great opponents. The results were read out, and as the Second Place was announced I was prepared to congratulate the winner, whose name was called instead of mine! I’d won! Victory for a 2.0 list over Extended! All because Vader refused to die in the closing seconds of the last round!

I left the event with some shiny things; a promo Damage Deck, metal Shield tokens, Saw Guerrera and Scarif Base Pilot Alt-Art cards, and some assorted 1.0 Alt Arts that I’ll put with my other 1.0 stuff in case someone wants to play “Classic” X-Wing at some point.

I made some mistakes in this event, especially against Rob’s Fangs. Overall though I think I flew fairly well, and I’m just glad that X-Wings work again (okay I’m ecstatic that the game’s namesake is competitive). Will my list fare so well in a bigger event against a broader variety of opponents? Maybe. I’ll just have to keep testing it and see what happens! That said, my dice were rolling phenomenally well right up until that third game, and I wonder how these games might have panned out had my dice been a little more average.

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One of the many unmodified rolls that contributed to my success.

It’s nearly midnight now, so I’m going to round this off by thanking James, Simon and Rob for playing, apologising to each of them yet again for my horrific attack rolls, and thanking the chaps at Magic Madhouse for a fun if small event! Hopefully this will also inspire me to attend more events “on my own” (though I know Simon, I went without knowing he was going), and expanding my X-Wing horizons and meeting new members of the community!

As always, thanks for reading!

 

Behind the Statline: Soontir Fel

Perhaps one of the best characters from the Legends continuity and former 1.0 powerhouse, today we look at Soontir Fel, Baron of the Empire, Ace of Legend, and leader of the feared 181st Fighter Group.

Normally there’d be a spoiler alert here, but as Legends are no longer “canon” and every book involving Fel or a member of his family is at least half a decade old, I’ll skip it and dive straight into the good stuff! I’ll warn you all now, this is going to be a long one!

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Baron Soontir Fel. Artist: Michael Sutfin

 

Name: Soontir Fel
Continuity: Legends
Year of Birth: 28 BBY (Before Battle of Yavin)
Homeworld: Corellia
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Affiliation: Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, Empire of the Hand, Chiss Ascendancy.

 

Born to a family living on a Corellian Agro-Combine (basically farming community), Soontir Fel followed in his father’s footsteps to become a pilot. As a teenager, he covered for his father when the elder Fel was unable to work, but incurred the wrath of his family’s employers by defending a young woman from sexual assault, injuring the perpetrator, the child of a senior manager in the process; taking the case to Corellian Security (CorSec), the manager’s son was arrested. The managing directors of the company, rather than allowing Fel to testify at the trial, contrived to secure him a position at the Imperial Academy which would force his immediate departure from Corellia. Fel excelled at the Imperial Academy, quickly becoming the best pilot in his class until one Han Solo arrived and contested that position; the two were not friends, but Fel considered Solo a heroic officer with a bright future ahead of him. (Oh the irony – Author.)

Fel served with the 6th Squadron of the 37th Fighter Wing against Lortan Fanatics, eventually rising to command the squadron and achieving the rank of Captain. Following two tours in TIE/ln Starfighters, Fel accepted a transfer to Fleet Command and commanded patrol ships working for Imperial Customs, though he longed to command one of the massive Star Destroyers, and only rose as high as to command an elderly Dreadnought. While engaging the pirate band of Drea Renthal, Fel ignored orders to retreat and abandon the TIE pilots still engaged in battle, a moral choice that he considered might impact or even end his career in Imperial service.

Transferred back to Starfighters (with the demotion to Starfighter Corps Captain), Fel was assigned to the Imperial Naval Academy on Prefsbelt IV as an instructor. Fel trained his Cadets hard, hoping to instil the values of the Empire and pressed his Cadets to become the best pilots they could be; among them legendary pilots such as Tycho Celchu, Biggs Darklighter, and Derek “Hobbie” Klivian.

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Fel instructs Cadet Biggs Darklighter.

 

At some point in this time, Fel ended up being stationed at the Imperial Classified Flight Yards, acting as a test-pilot for various experimental TIE fighters; including the Aggressor, Hunter, Defender, and Phantom.

Fel’s performance as an instructor attracted the attention of his superiors, and it was believed that when his tour was over, he would be assigned to a sufficiently prestigious posting – possibly Tarkin’s personal bodyguard unit itself. These dreams were dashed when Biggs Darklighter and “Hobbie” Klivian, Fel’s pupils, mutinied, stole the Rand Ecliptic, and defected to the Rebel Alliance. Fel was instead transferred to command the 2nd Squadron of the 181st Fighter Wing, also known as The One Hundred Eighty Worst.

 

The Wing was a mess, discipline was sorely lacking and it’s commanding officer was more interested in his arboretum than commanding men in battle. Finding this unacceptable, Fel strove to drive his command to the greatness he had expected of his Cadets. The 2/181st’s first mission was to retake the world of Ord Biniir from the Rebellion; outnumbered several times by Rebel Y-Wings, the 2/181st drive the Rebels from the planet at the same time that Biggs Darklighter was killed in the destruction of the Death Star. To distract the public, Fel was promoted to Major during a gala event on Coruscant, and meeting famous actress Wynssa Starflare, who he began dating. The 18st was transferred to Coruscant, and Fel began filling the 2nd Squadron with elite pilots such as Turr Phennir. After a year of dating, Fel proposed marriage to Starflare, who revealed she had a secret; her real name was Syal Antilles, older sister to Rebel Ace Wedge Antilles. Despite the shock, Fel did not care, and the two married and made plans for Syal’s safety if the truth of her real identity were revealed.

The 181st saw action at Derra IV, in which a Rebel convoy was ambushed and annihilated by Imperial forces. For his part in the battle, Fel was promoted yet again, made Baron of the Empire, and granted command of the entire 181st Fighter Wing. Fel began to doubt the Empire’s humanocentric policies and the war itself, as the ambush at Derra IV had been planned by a blue-skinned Admiral with red eyes (I wonder who that might be? – Author), and he took no pleasure in massacring a mostly-defenceless convoy and minimal fighter escort.

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Soontir Fel, Baron of the Empire

The 181st became attached to Darth Vader’s Death Squadron, serving at the Battle of Hoth with the assignment of picking off the fleeing Rebel transports, as they had done at Derra IV. Soon after Hoth, the unit was upgraded to the TIE Interceptor; those pilots of the 181st with more than ten kills also began marking their TIE Interceptors with red stripes along their wings, which would become a distinctive sign of the 181st Imperial Fighter Group; such was their skill and dedication, few if any pilots failed to meet the ten-kill requirement.

Fel and the 18st fought at Endor, where they destroyed many fighters from the Alliance’s Blue and Green Squadrons. However, due to the large number of Alliance vessels and the contradictory orders that he had received from his superiors, Fel was powerless to avert the destruction of the Death Star or the scattering of the Imperial Fleet. As the Empire began to fragment, Fel gained a rival in Countess Iran Ryad; a politician who joined the Starfighter Corps having purchased herself a TIE Defender. When Ryad went rogue, Fel hunted her down and killed her.

By this time, Fel was a legend among Imperial forces. A normal pilot considered himself lucky to survive a year of combat service in a TIE; Fel had not only survived but excelled for over six. A propaganda hero in the ailing Empire, his likeness was used on recruiting posters, and academy instructors spoke of him to their students as the ultimate example of piloting talent. To new Cadets, he was a legend, while those he had actually trained felt even more strongly of his skill, having seen it firsthand. Rumors throughout the pilot corps had the renowned Darth Vader himself fearful of Fel’s talent in the cockpit. Many younger Rebel pilots had not heard of Fel, as those who faced him rarely lived to tell the tale, but his reputation was well-known by Rogue Squadron members Tycho Celchu and “Hobbie” Klivian, whom he had trained prior to their defection.

The 181st was assigned to the defence of Brentaal IV by Ysanne Isard of Imperial Intelligence, propping up the defences of the depraved Admiral Lon Isoto, himself interested more in debauchery than his position as regional governor. During this time, Fel rejected a suggestion by Phennir to depose Isoto and become a warlord with Brentaal IV as his throneworld; though he had his doubts, Fel was still loyal to the Empire. Initial engagements favoured the 181st, but Fel soon began to realise that they were on a fool’s errand; Brentaal IV was an unwinnable situation, and they were considered expendable by those now running the Empire. During the final engagement of the battle, Fel’s Interceptor was disabled by Colonel Horton Salm and he was taken prisoner as the remaining Imperial forces fled the system.

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Fel and Antilles, Brothers-in-Law.

Captured by the New Republic, and his wife now in hiding with their children, Fel made the New Republic an offer; if they helped him locate his wife, he would fly with Rogue Squadron. The offer was accepted and Fel was immediately put to use as a propaganda tool, showing that even the Empire’s “Ace of Legend” could be made to see the evil of the Empire.

Many of his fellow pilots, however, were mistrustful; suspecting Fel of being a spy or still loathing him for his Imperial past, while others felt that his defection, even if genuine, was too little too late. “Hobbie” Klivian and Tycho Celchu, however, were much readier to give him a second chance, having known him personally and being former Imperials themselves. Even several months into his defection Fel remained distant from his fellow pilots, spending much of his time alone, longing to reunite with his wife. He recognised this as negative behaviour, but felt isolated from the unit.

Fel

Soontir Fel, Rogue Ten.

Fel flew with Rogue Squadron during their attempt to rescue former Imperial Grand Vizier Sate Pestage, and was present during the ambush by Admiral Delak Krennel’s forces. Pestage was killed, and Fel’s status as a traitor was revealed to all – the Empire vilified him in the media. Fel continued flying with Rogue Squadron long enough to get to know Luke Skywalker, and his confidence in his choice was vindicated five months later when he was reunited with his wife who, now safe in the New Republic, dropped her Imperial stage name and went by the name Syal once more. Reunited with his family, Fel served a few more months until his key role in defeating Isard’s forces in a critical battle caused her to take steps against Fel. With his disappearance approximately one and a half years after Endor, he was presumed dead.

Fel was not dead, however, he had been taken to the Unknown regions by Grand Admiral Thrawn, the alien that had masterminded the events at Derra IV, and who showed him the myriad terrors lurking outside of known space. Fel joined forces with Thrawn at the secret Hand of Thrawn facility on Niruan, joining the Empire of the Hand – a force comprised of Imperial and Chiss forces under Thrawn’s personal command. Fel accepted a position in the organization, convinced that it was doing vital work and that it was not the corrupt Empire of Palpatine or Isard but an unprejudiced, non-oppressive government of the sort he had once believed himself to be fighting for.

When Thrawn departed the Unknown Regions in order to assume control of the Empire’s military, Fel stayed on Niruan and retained command of the Empire of the Hand’s fighter corps, serving as a top lieutenant to Voss Parck, who was now an Admiral and had been

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General Soontir Fel, Empire of the Hand.

appointed as the steward of the Empire of the Hand. Fel provided the genetic material for Thrawn’s Mount Tantiss cloning facility, where hundreds of his clones were produced and seeded across the New Republic and Empire in sleeper cells ready to rise up if called upon or if the galactic invasion Thrawn feared were to take place. When Thrawn was killed in 9 ABY, Fel was devastated, but continued on with faith in Thrawn’s promise that, if he were ever reported dead, he would return in ten years. Fel was present when the con-artist Flim impersonated Thrawn ten years after Thrawn’s reported death, when he had a brief reunion with now-Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. In the wake of the events, Fel was made aware that Thrawn’s return had been a hoax, and the Empire of the Hand opened opened cautious relations with Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet Gilad Pellaeon, a protégé of Thrawn, and Chief of State Leia Organa Solo of the New Republic, though they concealed the extent of their territory and never cooperated very strongly. By 22ABY, Fel remained a prominent member of the Empire of the Hand and was the only high-ranking officer of the original three leaders seen to give orders; given his age, it was possible, though unproven, that Parck passed away and Fel inherited leadership of the Empire of the Hand.

 

In the face of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the Empire of the Hand detected Admiral Pellaeon’s call for all remaining Imperial Forces to unite, and Fel sent out three squadrons, including force Spike, to the aid of the Imperial Remnant, led by his son Jagged. Jagged participated in the defence of Ithor, where he served valiantly and was

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Fel and Skywalker meet again.

reunited with his uncle Antilles. Fel recalled those squadrons not long after, finding them better put to use at home, as he felt they were not receiving full enough support.He felt that the New Republic could handle the fight on its own while the Empire of the Hand fought its own battles, though his wife attempted to persuade him otherwise. In 27 ABY, Fel learned of the Battle of Coruscant. He was deeply concerned by that development, and now felt that the New Republic needed his aid. He called Jagged into his office, now in one of his secret bases, and they discussed once more deploying Empire of the Hand forces to aid the New Republic; Jag wished to do so, but Fel was more reluctant. He finally decided to send Jagged and his Chiss wingmate Shawnkyr Nuruodo to learn more of the Yuuzhan Vong and formulate tactics before large-scale forces were deployed against them. He was deeply uneasy, knowing that he might be sending his third child to die, but knew that hard decisions must be made in war.

 

By 28 ABY, Fel and his family had moved moved from the Empire of the Hand to the Chiss Ascendancy itself, with Fel taking the rank of Assistant Syndic in the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force and gaining an estate on the capital world of Csilla; a move that was public enough to be made known to the Skywalkers. Fel was one of the very few Humans to meet the demanding Chiss standards for acceptance, though they desired more Humans to bring galactic experience into their previously insular society. This incorporation occurred during the Chiss Civil War, with Fel coming in on the winning side, helping to destroy some of the three losing families. During the Dark Nest crisis, Jagged Fel brought dishonour upon the Fel family; he gave the Jedi Lowbacca his parole after capturing him, and the Wookie Jedi later used his freedom to attack a Chiss facility. Unable to pay for all the damages caused by Lowbacca, Fel was dishonoured and impoverished.

Fel would not remain in dishonor forever; in 41 ABY, with the aid of Jaina Solo and the Jedi Zekk, Jagged succeeded in restoring the family’s good name. Jagged soon after became the head of state of the Imperial Remnant as part of the Second Galactic Civil War’s peace settlement and in 43 ABY became engaged to Jaina Solo. Eventually, Jagged reestablished the office of Galactic Emperor and took the throne of the Imperial Remnant, transforming it into a new Galactic Empire which Soontir Fel’s descendants ruled for at least three generations.

 

Well, where to start? Fel is one of those characters who has never been the protagonist of a story, and yet has appeared so often as a secondary character that the source material is extensive.

Fel  was raised to take duty and loyalty very seriously, and believed that while the Empire brought stability and security to the galaxy, he did not for the excesses or the political machinations of those who inherited it from Palpatine. Fel and Syal Antilles were deeply in love, though their family life would be beset by tragedy; he was distraught when she disappeared, and they would suffer the loss of half of their children; something he accepted as a military leader, but was nonetheless deeply saddened by. They were soldiers, but they were still his family. The only member he was unwilling to risk placing in any danger was his wife.

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Soontir Fel, Ace of Legend

Soontir Fel was created by Michael Stackpole for the Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron comic series when editor Peet Janes asked Stackpole to come up with an “Imperial Red Baron” to complement the New Republic aces of Rogue Squadron, a concept Stackpole thought was in line with fan desire to see an Imperial fighter pilot perspective (something we’d only seen with the TIE Fighter game, which Lucas reportedly detested – Author). Stackpole used Fel throughout the X-wing series in order to explore issues surrounding the Empire, and had intended to explore Fel’s story further in the X-wing comics before they were cancelled, telling the story of his return to Imperial service. Later, Timothy Zahn decided he could use the character, causing Fel’s appearance in Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn Duology; Zahn and Stackpole worked together to outline Fel’s entire career as backstory material in preparation for his appearances

 

 

Fel’s only other novel appearances were in The New Jedi Order: Dark Journey and The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee, though he received frequent mention throughout the New Jedi Order series and subsequent Dark Nest Trilogy and Legacy of the Force series due to the prominent role of his son Jagged in those series.

Despite his relative scarcity of appearances and his existence solely as an Expanded Universe/Legends character, Fel has a significant fan-base, especially among X-Wing players, which I think shows just how awesome he really is! He’s essentially the anti-Wedge/Luke/Han in that he is a pilot of equal (or superior) skill, but fighting on the other side.

 

 

Putting the X-Wing back into X-Wing!

My first foray into 2.0 was with Imperials, the faction I had enjoyed most success with in terms of win rate and tournament prizes, but still my secondary faction. The last few games I have played have attempted to correct this oversight through the use of Rebels, the faction I’ve always enjoyed flying more, and importantly, bringing the humble T-65 X-Wing back onto the table to see how it behaves in 2.0.

The list I chose to fly was as follows:

Wedge Antilles – Servomotor S-Foils, Proton Torpedoes, R4 Astromech, Predator
Thane Kyrell – As above
Norra Wexley (Y-Wing) – Expert Handling, Dorsal Turret, Veteran Turret Gunner, Proton Torpedoes, R4 Astromech

I’ve always loved Wedge, ever since Wave 1 of 1.0, and Thane just looks horrific when used properly. Norra in the Y-Wing is there mainly because I wanted to fly a unique Y-Wing, and of the two new pilots, she seemed the most interesting. I am aware I have 27 points in ordnance with the Torpedoes, and this might be a waste/better used by throwing something like a Z-95 in as a blocker, but I haven’t used anything that goes boom in X-Wing for a long time…and I wanted to blow something up!

Game 1 – Countdown, Rexlar Brath (I think), Major Vermeil (I think) w/Vader crew

So…I made quite detailed notes about this game, then promptly lost my notebook. What I will say is this: Countdown is annoying as hell, and Strikers in general are nippy little buggers when they aren’t stressed. Reapers on the other hand…

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Major Vermeil begins to wish he hadn’t been selected to fly Lord Vader this evening…

Wedge got in an absolutely brutal first shot against Vermeil, dealing two hits and two critical hits; battering down the shields and reducing the agility of the Reaper to zero. Then Norra torpedoed it… All that was left of the Reaper and it’s Sith passenger were shattered hopes and dreams. This was turn two.

Wedge and Thane died in short order, leaving Norra to eventually kill Countdown (the little bugger just refused to die), while she and Rexlar circled or K-Turned past each other and failed to land anything but single hits that were promptly evaded until the game ended due to time.

Game 2 – Luke Skywalker, Thane Kyrell, 2x Green Squadron Pilots

This week, I’d swapped out my “generic” X-Wings with two of my Rogue Repaints because they look better on the board and the flappy S-Foils of the new X-Wing annoys me. This matchup was going to be interesting, as Luke was engaging at Initiative Seven, and the previous week I’d learned just how effective A-Wings were as blockers while still using my Imperials.

The initial engagement was fairly brutal; my formation had gone up the left side of the board in tight together for maximised overlapping of firing arcs.

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I’m surrounded and outflanked, the perfect position to be in!

My Thane lost his shields in the initial engagement, and thanks to some incredibly unlucky red dice from my opponent, that was all the damage I suffered. In response, Wedge stripped the shields from one of the A-Wings, while my own Thane and Norra torpedoed enemy Thane, stripping his shields and landing two critical hits.

Luke closed for the kill next turn, crippling my Thane (he would die as a result of the console fire next turn), while Norra finished off my opponent’s own crippled X-Wing. Things then took an unfortunate turn for my opponent, a misjudged bank placed Luke in front of Wedge and Norra, at Range One, inches from the board edge. The resulting barrage left Luke on one hull, only to fly off the board next turn. The A-Wings both fired at Norra, who, thanks to Luke being right next to her, comfortably evaded all three hits that were landed on her.

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Luke realises he has made a terrible mistake…

Tyhe next (and final turn) saw Luke fly off the board, while Wedge swept in and targeted the undamaged A-Wing at range one. Through more luck than skill, Wedge landed four hits, and my opponent rolled three natural blanks. With only a damaged A-Wing left against a healthy Wedge and Norra, my opponent conceded.

I felt a little bad about how this game played out; my dice were rolling hotter than usual (Predator is working better for my slower ships than my faster ones, it seems), while my opponent’s dice were colder than a Wampa’s smile. That said, do I think I made the best use of my list? Maybe: I used my opponent’s mistakes to my advantage, but I also made my own mistakes which meant Thane died early on, and that’s a large chunk of my list’s firepower to sacrifice in such a way.

Game 3 – vs Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, Norra Wexley (ARC-170) – aka Paul-Off, The Reckoning

I’ve never flown against an ARC-170 before, nor have I faced Wedge or Biggs in 2.0, so this was going to be different. The inclusion of Magva Yarro on Norra meant that trying to attack her before she attacked me meant that I’d be inviting (and eating) Proton Torpedoes, which make for a bad case of explosive indigestion!

The initial engagement was something of a mess; my opponent’s mistake was to send Wedge in first, putting him a position where my ships could not legitimately target Biggs and thus preventing his ability from triggering, which meant Wedge lost his shields and took a rather nasty critical hit early-on. What followed the following turn was hardly the expected behaviour of such skilled pilots, however…

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Back to Flight School, ALL OF YOU!

The engagement was confused and messy due to the range and amount of bumps and unmodified dice. Wedge and Norra pour enough damage into Biggs to deal critical damage, while Thane dispatched evil Wedge with his lasers. Evil Norra, safely out of the way and watching with what I imagine was a bemused (or confused) smirk, battered down Norra’s shields and dealt her own critical damage with a well-aimed Proton Torpedo.

The Norras continued to duke it out even as Thane Tallon-Rolled behind Biggs and blew him out of space, the Y-Wing suffering three more critical hits and floating sedately towards the board edge – leading to her demise at the hands of her larger (and evil) twin.

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X-Wings out for revenge!

Wedge, in a fit of rage at the loss of his favourite Y-Wing pilot, hammers Norra and lands a critical hit preventing her from spending her Target Locks, though the return fire from the ARC-170 leaves him with a Fuel Leak.

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Wedge and Norra face off while Thane stays out of the way.

The next several turns were fairly brutal on everyone involved. Wedge succeeded in bringing Norra down to one Hull Point remaining before his fuel leak turns into a bit more of a problem and reduces his X-Wing to charred wreckage. Thane, out for revenge for two of his colleagues now, dives in to take the kill-shot, only to be rammed by the crippled ARC – kill shot denied.

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Kill shot denied!

Norra’s luck was not to last, however; I’d been granted initiative, which meant that Thane moved first and he expertly Tallon-Rolled (which may be my favourite manoeuvre in all of X-Wing) in behind Norra, defying her attempt to force a bump by moving forward at speed one, and blew her out of space to secure the win.

My opponent made mistakes this game, much as mistakes had been made in the previous game. I capitalised on these mistakes where I could, but the effect of unnaturally good red dice for me and some unnaturally poor green dice on my opponent’s part cannot be ignored. That said, I made my own mistakes and my opponent capitalised on those quite effectively in the late-game with a largely-untouched Norra, who is even more of a beast (if not quite so manoeuvrable) in an ARC-170. In all three games, I think Norra wins MVP (though it was ARC Norra in Game 3), that extra evade result while at range 1 of an enemy is pretty brutal, and while it won’t prevent her being brutalised by focused and modified attacks, the damage mitigation it offers means she just may survive long enough to cause problems for her opponents.

I enjoyed flying this list far more than the Imperial lists I’ve tried, and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised; I’ve played Rebels since Wave One of 1.0, and only really got into playing Imperials outside of casual play with the release of the TIE Defender. I really like how the new X-Wing flies; Servomotor S-Foils allows them to get into (or out of) combat quickly, while the Tallon Roll gives them a more unpredictable edge in combat than the old Koiogran Turns did. The T-65 now flies like the T-70 (which was the ship I enjoyed flying most, especially with Flight-Assist Astromech) with just a few less blue (formerly green) moves, which can only really be a good thing.

To sum up, I really only have two comments:
X-Wings – great again!
Norra Wexley – ordnance slinging, turret spinning beast!

I think I’ve found the list I’ll be using for the foreseeable future, though I’ll need to give that Y-Wing an appropriate paint scheme. More testing is, of course, required, and I think this is likely what I’ll be taking to events in future (at least until the Resistance are re-released!)

Behind the Statline: Thane Kyrell

Welcome to the first instalment of “Behind the Statline”, in which I delve into the lore and backstory of everyone’s favourite characters, to try and bring a bit more life to them and maybe understand why they behave the way they do in our favourite games.

To set things off, we have Thane Kyrell, a Rebel pilot in the X-Wing Miniatures Game. But who was Thane before he became a character in a game?

WARNING: Spoilers for “Lost Stars” beyond this point!

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Thane Kyrell Artist: Yusaku Komiyama

Name: Thane Kyrell
Continuity: Canon
Year of Birth: 19 BBY (Before Battle of Yavin)
Homeworld: Jelucan
Hair Colour: Blonde
Eye Colour: Blue
Affiliation: Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, Corona Squadron

 

 

The youngest of two brothers, Thane Kyrell did not have a happy childhood on Jelucan; his brother frequently bullied him, and his father would often beat him in fits of rage following his elder son’s departure to join the Imperial Navy. His family were “second wave” colonists on the world, and enjoyed wealth and privilege over the original settlers, who had been reduced to a nomadic hand-to-mouth existence. Interested in flight at an early age, Thane defied cultural norms when he befriended first-wave colonist Ciena Ree and attracted the attention of Grand Moff Tarkin at an Empire Day celebration on Jelucan after defending her from fellow second-wave children.

Thane and Ciena would strike up a firm friendship, each pushing the other to be better so that they might win entrance to one of the Empire’s military academies. This hard work paid off when both were assigned to the prestigious Royal Academy on Coruscant. Their friendship soured during their time at the Academy, as their instructors pushed them to be more loyal to the Empire than their friends, going so far as to fabricate evidence implicating Ciena in sabotage against one of Thane’s engineering projects.

Graduating from the Royal Academy with honours, Thane was assigned to the Death Star as a TIE pilot. Fortunately he was investigating the abandoned Rebel base on Dantooine when the Death Star was destroyed over Yavin IV, and was later reassigned to the mining world of Kerev Doi. It was here that Thane realised that the Empire was enslaving local populations rather than bringing them peace and security, and promptly deserted his post and returned home to Jelucan. When Ciena Ree was dispatched to return him to the Imperial fold, the two had a romantic liaison, but Ree was unable to convince Thane to return, and later reported him as having committed suicide to her Imperial superiors.

Free of Imperial service, Thane served aboard a freighter as pilot and navigator for almost a year, before running into Rebel pilot Wedge Antilles on the planet of Oulanne. Antilles remarked upon Thane’s piloting abilities, and the two discussed the morality of the Alliance’s actions – Thane was still angry at the loss of so many comrades aboard the Death Star, but came to understand that the Alliance was the best hope for preventing such a catastrophic loss of life ever happening again. Leaving the crew of the freighter, Thane joined the Alliance just in time for the Battle of Hoth.

Assigned to Echo Base as part of Corona Squadron, Thane made fast friends with Rogue Group pilot Dak Ralter, though remained wary of and distant from Luke Skywalker, the man responsible for the deaths of so many of his comrades. During the Battle of Hoth, Thane exploited a weakness in the design of the AT-AT by shooting out its vulnerable ankle joint with his Snowspeeder’s Blaster Cannons. Departing Hoth in an X-Wing, Thane became aware that he and his love were now on opposite sides of a war and could be forced to kill each other, prompting him to get drunk and requiring the help of a mysterious stranger to return to his quarters. The next morning, Thane was horrified to learn that the mysterious stranger he had told his sad story to was none other than Mon Mothma herself; Mothma stated that there was no problem loving someone on the other side, so long as Thane loved the cause he was fighting for more; something that would remain firmly stuck in his mind.

When Ciena Ree’s mother was indicted by Imperial authorities for corruption, Thane returned to Jelucan to support her in the tradition mandated by first-wave families; Ciena was surprised to see him, and the two argued about the Empire, before briefly rekindling their romantic relationship. When Thane returned to the Alliance, he admitted his actions to General Riekaan and was chastised, but no official action was taken. His comrades in Corona Squadron were concerned, and warned him to stop thinking about Ree, as she would likely lead to his (and their) deaths.

Prior to the Battle of Endor, Corona Squadron were deployed to the remote planet designated simply as “5251977”; from there, they launched a reconnaissance mission to the Hudulla system to investigate reports of an Imperial buildup. The squadron was ambushed and tried to flee, and Thane escaped death only because Ree blocked the shot of a fellow pilot with her TIE Interceptor. Thane and Corona Squadron flew at the Battle of Endor, attacking and damaging the engines of the Star Destroyer Subjugator. After the battle, believing Ciena killed aboard the Super Star Destroyer Executor, Thane did not partake in the victory celebrations with such enthusiasm as his comrades.

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Attacking Subjugator‘s engines. Artist: Mark Molnar

A year after Endor, Corona Squadron fought at the Battle of Naboo, followed by the Battle of Jakku. Promoted to Commander, Thane was assigned to command a boarding party to capture the Star Destroyer Inflictor for the New Republic. The initial boarding attempt was a success, and the Destroyer’s self-destruct systems were disabled, but the Captain opted to pilot the ship into the planet rather than allowing it to fall into Republic hands. Upon realising that Inflictor‘s Captain was none other than  now-Captain Ciena Ree, he broke into the sealed Bridge and after a brief scuffle, forced the woman into an Escape Pod with him before the ship crashed into the planet below. As an Imperial Officer, Ree was captured, though Thane promised she would be treated humanely and that the New Republic would not torture or execute her as the Empire might have.

 

Thane Kyrell is one of those characters who follows their heart; he joins the Imperial Navy to fly, then quits because it is ruthless; he becomes a freighter pilot to escape the Empire, then joins the Rebellion because it is the only way to prevent a repeat of other Imperial atrocities. He also never stopped loving Ciena, believing her to be better than the Empire she served, despite comments from his Corona Squadron colleagues that people who continued to serve the Empire despite its evil practices inevitably became evil themselves.

Given that “Lost Stars” was written as a Young Adult novel and thus is catered to readers aged twelve to eighteen, Thane is a fairly deep and well-rounded character who wouldn’t be out of place in a novel marketed at adults. Crucially I like the moral dilemmas he faces; Thane is not the clear-cut hero of the novel, he has great dislike for the Empire, but on the other hand he is not convinced the Rebellion is entirely innocent, either.

Lost Stars is a fantastic novel, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to get started with the “new” canon that exists post-Disney.

I hope that this has been an informative and enjoyable read. If people have requests or suggestions for who to do next, please feel free to let me know!

X-Wing 2.0 – A New Hope, or The Next Generation?

Last entry, I posted my last games ox X-Wing First Edition, now thankfully dead and buried under the new edition – X-Wing 2.0. Though I’ll always have fond memories of the game, it got to a point where I think it needed to change if it was going to remain viable.

That said, change it has, and let’s see whether it was for the better or worse! Will it be a fresh new adventure, like the original Star Wars movie? Or a continuation of the original which everyone initially hated at time of release, like Star Trek: The Next Generation or The Force Awakens?

Warboar Games in Bromley held a 2.0 launch tournament last weekend, originally meant to be using the Quick-Build cards included in the 2.0 starter set and Wave 1 expansions (which are nifty), but then extended to include all cards and ships from the conversion kits (in what has become known as the “extended” tournament format). Part of me really wanted to fly X-Wings again, but the rebellious part of me thought “fly Scum, three Fangs with Fearlessness will be hilarious!) Fortunately sanity quickly took hold on the morning of the event, and in the end I found myself flying Imperials, specifically:

Soontir Fel with Predator
Turr Phennir with Predator
Countess Ryad with Juke, Fire-Control System, and a Heavy Laser Cannon

I’d never flown this list before, and I don’t recall ever flying Interceptors competitively, so I was not exactly confident regarding my chances. This was reflected in my first game, in which I fed my force piecemeal into Ketsu’s tractor beams and new Scum Han (who really is scummy)’s turret. That was a humiliating 200-0 loss which I didn’t even have time to make notes for, and left me rather salty while everyone else still had forty-five minutes left in their round. It wasn’t my opponent’s fault, but there was definitely a bad taste in my mouth following that game, it already felt as though nothing had changed since 1.0…

Nonetheless, I persevered, though my second game went almost as badly as the first! I found myself flying Fenn Rau, Old Teroch and Palob, and learned just how nasty the combination can be. I knew what Fenn and Teroch did from theorycrafting the triple Fang list, but it was only when I was flying against it and dealing with Palob’s token-thieving skills that I realised truly how brutal it could be! I can’t say I flew any worse than the previous game, though it wasn’t much better, either! I managed to get Teroch down to half health, netting me thirty points, but I was still packing up my toys long before the round ended!

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“I’ve got you now, Scum… He’s behind me, isn’t he?”

Going into Round Three 0-2, but feeling a little better about myself, thanks to the fact my opponent was a generally nice guy and despite getting battered like Chip Shop Cod, I still had a lot of fun. I was also learning my list, which is, y’know, sort of helpful!

Round Three saw the Imperials facing off against Former Imperial Boba, now Scum-only, another Fenn Rau (shudder), and L3-37. Fel and Phennir both lasted about twenty seconds, blanking out in subsequent engagement phases to four hits apiece. Even my opponent was horrified by my dice rolls, and I think we were both prepared for a quick end and my going 0-3… Until Ryad went berserk… First she gunned down L3-37 in the round that Fel was destroyed, before taking Fenn out in the subsequent round.

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“Come on Fenn, give us a kiss!”

Now it’s Firespray vs Defender, and the Firespray has both more firepower and is faster and more manoeuvrable now it’s on a medium base.

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“Mister Fett, we meet at last!”

Cue several rounds of Ryad chasing Fett around the board, much in the manner Wile E. Coyote chases Roadrunner, except with a Heavy Laser Cannon rather than a collection of inevitably-defective ACME products. Each one nibbles at the other, with Ryad’s three evade dice plus token tipping the balance in her favour.

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“We have to stop meeting like this, Boba!”

The last round of the game was a nail-biter. Fett finally whittled down Ryad’s final shields, bringing her to half points, and I managed to just sneak through the one damage that took Boba to zero hull. End score, 200-148, and both players in need of a drink and a sit down!

Round four and I’m 1-2, it could be a lot worse, but it could have been a lot better. Good news is, I now know my list, bad news; Han and Ketsu again, though a different player this time. Part of me wonders if John was new to the game, or just to 2.0 Scum, as he made a fundamental mistake with Ketsu early on by not keeping her turret arc forward for the tractor shenanigans, but that didn’t stop him claiming first blood when Phennir was blown out of space.

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“Hello over there, have you heard about out Lord and Saviour, Sheev Palpatine?”

Phennir’s death hurt, but didn’t stop the two remaining ships piling the damage onto the Scum freighters, though with so many shields and hull to chew through, it wasn’t looking good for the Imperials.

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“These ships are really big, Soontir!” “Just keep shooting them until they go away!”

The clock was ticking down, and though I had both enemy ships to half health, my own fighters weren’t looking too healthy. Han spit the Autopilot Drone Escape Craft out (something I am now unsure was legal, given the apparent lack of “Lando’s Millenium Falcon” upgrade), which promptly started to get in the way of everyone. Worse, if that was within range 1 of Soontir when it ran out of energy in three turns, I could potentially kiss my Interceptor goodnight. Fortunately, the large ships began to fall soon after: Soontir killed Ketsu and Han in subsequent turns, with time being called just as Han was removed, preventing dials being placed and the Autopilot Drone’s self-destruction, denying me 12 points for the full list. Still, 188-46 is a respectable and solid win, given I was worried I wouldn’t even make a dent in the list!

Overall, I came 19th out of 30. Not a bad result given I’d not practised with the list and flew like a moron. Looking back, placing didn’t matter for me – everyone got the Launch Party Alternate Art cards, and I had three games that I really quite enjoyed.

Looking at the players gathered around the top tables towards the end of the event, I foresee Trajectory Simulator Punishers being a strong contender in early 2.0, which worries me somewhat. That said, nobody is sure whether official FFG tournaments will be “Second Edition” (meaning limited to whatever wave of 2.0 is released) or “Extended”, so such lists may remain the terror of local gaming tables for a while yet.

Regarding 2.0… I think the changes that have been implemented were needed; there was a lot of variety at the event, nothing seemed too broken, and certainly no list was unbeatable. I think 2.0 is a breath of fresh air to a game that had long been festering in the filth of its own making, and I’m looking to future waves and releases with optimism that the mistakes of the past won’t be repeated…

I hope everyone enjoyed reading this, and that my new system of battle report highlights is easier to read than seventy-five minutes of play-by-play with accompanying photos (the taking of which kills my phone battery!). If people have comments or suggestions, please feel free to leave one below or drop me a message!

Thanks again!

X-Wing – Farewell to 1.0

Well, this week is the last week that First Edition of X-Wing will be the official and “current” version of the game. Thank God for that! Fourteen (I think) waves of products over five years, with power creep and iffy combinations becoming a major problem towards the end, it’s about right that the old edition goes to wherever games go when they die, and a new champion takes its place.

That said…

I wanted to give 1.0 a proper sendoff, not let my stuff continue to gather dust as I waited for 2.0 to bring my ships out of retirement with the 2.0 release (bring on Thursday!) Last Thursday, I ventured down to Warboar Games in Bromley for a friendly game of X-Wing or two to round out my 1.0 journey – I was there at the beginning, and after a lengthy break, I would be there at the end.

Of course, I was unaware that the local gaming group had organised a tournament for that night as their own farewell to 1.0. I was content to sit back and watch, as I’m not a member of that group, but they insisted I join in so my totally non-competitive Triple T-70 list (see my previous Battle Report) once again saw itself thrown into a competitive environment for which it was ill-suited…

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Game 1 vs Paul S – Poe Dameron, Biggs Darklighter, Jake Farrell

I’ve run similar lists in the past (I replaced Biggs with Wes Janson for token-stripping shenanigans), so I was confident I knew how to deal with this list. That said, knowing how to deal with it and actually doing it are two completely different things…

Irritatingly, I forgot Flight Assist Astromech in the first couple of turns, which denied me some key early re-positioning (though in retrospect I wonder if this was really as much of a hindrance as I thought at the time). The initial engagement was fairly brutal, with both Blue Ace and Biggs being blown out of space within two engagement phases!

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Things developed into…well they got a bit silly, really; Jess and Red Ace chased Poe across the board, while Jake harried them from behind. With Poe down to one hull point remaining, the Resistance’s best pilot fled while Jake cleaned up, killing Jess. Poe finally re-engaged late in the game, stripping Red Ace’s shields while staying out of arc to prevent any return fire and deny her her much-desired revenge.

Result: 24 – 60 Defeat

Game 2 vs Barnado – Soontir Fel, The Inquisitor, Countess Ryad

Another Ace list, another list that out-Pilot Skills me. This was going to be fairly rough, but Aces vs Aces is always fun.

This game started off brutal; in the initial engagements Blue Ace stripped both of The Inquisitor’s shields, and when he fled, turned his cannons on Countess Ryad’s TIE Defender and stripped not only all three of her shields, but also landed a Direct Hit! result on her now-naked hull.

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Then the chase began. Round and round the Asteroids went the starfighters; for sixty four minutes, dice were rolled, damage was suffered or denied. Before long The Inquisitor joined Countess Ryad in the “one damage from doom” category, but those vital kill-shots were agonisingly denied through poor red or excellent green dice.

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With eleven minutes to go, Red Ace finally smote The Inquisitor! The Resistance closed in on Ryad, hoping to deal that one piece of damage to secure the win in the name of hope, but the Imperials had other plans as they focused their own attacks on Blue Ace; bringing him down to a single Hull Point before time was called. Both Blue Ace and Ryad were crippled, but would live to fight another day.

Result: 31-0 Victory

Game 3 vs Danny the Sicilian – Darth Vader, The Inquisitor, Major Vermeil

I’ve never faced a TIE Reaper before… i know what it does on paper, but I’ve never fought one… Inquisitors and Sith Lords, on the other hand, I know how to play against!

Not that it helped much!

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The game took about twenty-five to thirty minutes; my approach was poor and I allowed myself to get outmanoeuvred by the high-PS pilots (the lowest was 7 thanks to Vermeil’s Adaptability). Jess Pava was the first to die as a result of my incompetence…

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Realising that attempting to do Ace-y things like arc-dodge or, y’know, attempt to win, I decided to instead attempt to frustrate my opponent’s efforts by using my Red and Blue Aces as blockers. This had some positive effect, but ultimately only prolonged the inevitable…

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Blue Ace was next to die, leaving Red Ace to fight alone, but she too found herself battered into submission. Looking back, I made some fundamental mistakes playing this game, though I have yet to ascertain what they actually were beyond “not flying well”.

My final ranking was 13th out of 16, which is ironically the best placing this list has ever got me. The three games I played were all great fun, and though I’m not convinced the win in game 2 was deserved, it justifies the Triple T-70 concept in my mind – a fitting end to not only 1.0, but also the list as I know it: the T-70 won’t have 2.0 rules until around Christmas, and we don’t know what pilots will be included beyond what has been spoiled already (my money is on “Joph Seastriker” being the new “Blue Ace”).

With 1.0 now at and end, it’s time for me to pack away my cards and tokens, and prepare my card sleeves and folders for the new stuff arriving on Thursday.

A big thank you to the folks at TNX for allowing me to play in their tournament, and a big shout-out to Paul, Barnado and Danny for being three amazing opponents and providing a more than fitting end to this chapter of the X-Wing journey!