Category: Table Top Gaming

Gaming, A Slippery Slope?

As a lifelong video game player I never quite understood the draw of tabletop games and had no concept of miniature/war games. Video games are convenient, the rules are programmed in, and you have access to thousands of players at any time. So to me, it seemed backward, to go to a store, find someone else willing to play, and play 2-3 games at most for a night.

Continue reading “Gaming, A Slippery Slope?”

Blood Bowl – Basics

So in the first effort at branching out a little I thought I would revisit an old article I wrote for my local Blood Bowl League.

Now, the objective of a game of Blood Bowl (despite what an Orc player may try to tell you) is to score more touch downs than your opponent.  Of course how you go about doing this is where the fun of the game comes in.
The first thing to think about (after picking your team colours) is how you  want to score your touch downs.  The two basic choices are to play a running game or a passing game.  The running game lends itself well to teams with a high Armour Value (AV), good Strength (ST) and a few players with the Block Skill  helps (I said a few not all, damn Norse Teams.)  To play a good passing game on the other hand you want players with high Movement (MA),  good Agility (AG) and having easy access to players with both Pass and Catch helps.
Now after looking at your team and matching it up to the style you want to play what else is there to consider?
Well the basic mechanics of Blood Bowl actually favours not rolling dice, I am going to say that once more just to help it sink in Blood Bowl favours NOT ROLLING DICE.  OK so I got to type something in capitals and bold but what do I mean by this.
Simply that because in Blood Bowl if you attempt to do something and fail this usually results in a turn over.  That means that if as your first action of the game you try to pick up the ball and fail (even though it is on 3’s with a re-roll) your turn is over and your opponent gets to start his turn.
So how should that little fact affect how we approach each turn?
Basically if there is a chance you can fail to carry out an action and there is something else that you could/should do first than do the other thing first.
So how does that fit in to either the Running or Passing game?
Simple really if you are playing a running game and want to Blitz a hole in the line to burst through you need to consider what can go wrong.  Mainly you could end up rolling an Attacker Down result (Skull) on the block dice, there by taking out part of your line and given the opponent a route to sack the ball carrier.  If you can position players a cover the eventuality of failing on the block to mitigate the risks do that first then pummel the opposing lineman into the ground.
If you are playing the passing game there are even more things to consider.  Lets look at  what could go wrong with a simple pass;
  1. You could fumble it (roll a one when attempting to pass is a fumble and the ball scatters from the throwers square)
  2. It could be an inaccurate pass (the ball is scattered three times from the target square and can only be picked up after the final scatter)
  3. You could just plain and simple fail to catch it (the ball scatters once from the target square)
All three of these result in a turn over and this does not take in to account the chance of an interception.
Obviously there is more to go wrong when attempting to play the passing game but there are still things you can do to help. Again try to move any players into a position where you will be passing from and to, so that they can cover in case something goes wrong.
So, if you plan on throwing a pass this turn there is no point moving players to cover where the ball is now.  You need to cover the launch point and the target to minimize you opponents chances of capitalizing on something going wrong.
This is also where we first have to consider priority of actions rather than relative safety of actions.  As if you have moved two players to cover the launch point of the pass you want to make and have two catchers through waiting to receive the ball and a nice 3 dice you chose block to throw what do you do?
Well the 3 dice block is a relatively safe action but if you were to fail, you have moved your cover for the thrower in to the position you want him to be in and left him exposed so I would throw the pass first even if it means letting that block slip away.
And with the end of the post approaching I should sum up the points I am rather ineloquently trying to make.
  • Have a plan on how you are going to score your touch downs
  • Understand how good your team is going to be at trying to carry out your plan
  • Safe moves first
  • If you have to start rolling dice make sure you roll them in an order that will minimize the risks of not only turning over the turn but also the ball.
Well thanks for reading guys and remember it will all go wrong on the last Go for it!

X-Wing: Pilot Skill

Pilot Skill is an important part of the X-Wing and how you put your squad together but just how important is it to be Top Gun?

Hello all,
I wanted to spend a bit of time looking at something different for this article, rather than delving in to one specific ship or build its time to get a little more generic and talk about the Bid for Pilot Skill.

What is Pilot Skill?
Pilot Skill in X-Wing varies from Pilot Skill 1 up to Pilot Skill 9 (without any external factors) and is used to determine two things, who moves first (Lowest) and who shoots first (Highest) seems simple and in honesty it is.

End of article, and thanks for reading…

OK so there is a little more to it than that.

Whilst the advantage of shooting first is obvious there are also advantages to moving first and this is why it is important to think about not just what Ships you are trying to fit in to your squad but also at what pilot skills they are going to sit at, and why.

Why would I want Low PS?
The most obvious advantage of a lower PS is cost, as the Pilot Skill gets higher so too does the points cost.

Here are two TIE Interceptor based lists;

So here we have a PS 6 Royal Guard list, it did the rounds after the release of Imperial Aces and is really good fun to fly, Unfortunately with the PS 6 and Push the Limits each ships clocks in at 25 points so you are flying a 12 Hit Point list.

This second list keeps the core of 4 Interceptors but with the drop from PS6 down to PS1 saving 16 points and not spending 12 points on Push the Limits you can fit in 28 points worth of goodness.
In this case I went for an Omicron Group Pilot with Vader and a Shield Upgrade.

The Points you save by not even taking part in the Bid for Pilot Skill lets you add in some guaranteed damage with Vader and you never have to worry about someone beating you to the punch as you are expecting it.

So we drop from a 12 hit point list to a 23 hit point list with a couple of tricks.
The Head to Head match up on this is quite interesting as as I honestly think it could go either way. The Royal Guard should be pulling a Focus and Evade as good as every turn as should be able to kill one Alpha and put damage down on a second but it then comes to if the 3 remaining can down one whilst the Omicron downs a second, that first exchange will decide the game.

The strength of the second list only really comes to the fore when you take it out of the head to head and start to look at it against some other lists.  As soon as you run in to anyone at PS 7 and above a main strength of paying extra for Pilot Skill is wasted.

As soon as you are facing off against a Han or a Dash having Vader in the Omicron is looking a lot more profitable than spending 16 extra points on Pilot Skill.

That is only looking at the Combat Phase side of Pilot Skill though, it is important to cover the double edged sword that is Activation Phase.

Getting to activate and therefor move first can be a big plus.

Going back to the head to head with the above lists the Alpha player will get to move all of their ships before any of the Royal Guard get to move.  This means that the Alpha’s can move to occupy the space you are expecting the Guard to finish in in the hope of causing a bump.  The Alpha’s will still get their action and force a double hit on to the Guard denying them their action and the opportunity to use Push the Limits as well.
Whilst this is obviously skill based it can not be ignored that Blocking is a thing and has been since wave 1.

The fact that Enhanced Scopes for example even exists add credence to the point, FFG think it is worth 1 point to be able to move before your opponent whilst still being able to take part in the bid to shoot first.

So why would I ever Spend Points on a bid for PS?

This is easy, You get to Shoot First!

Ask Greedo if it matters…

The simple fact is that if you remove a ship from play before it fires it have zero chance of doing damage to you.

The counter point to this is that  if you are not removing the ship from play with your shot than it becomes irelevent if you shot first or not as effectiveness of a ship is not affected by loss of Shields/Hull and whilst this is true to a point Crits matter and Focus tokens that you can force to be used in Defense are a huge boon.

It is easy to get pulled in to the Low is best for Moving and High is Best for Shooting debate but getting to move second can be worth its weight in gold.  The Key is not your ships dial but its action bar.

This is because of the game mechanic of “locking in” your dial in the planning phase.

Getting to watch your opponent move and then performing your move with the confidence that you can Boost or Barrel Roll in to a favorable position is extremely powerful.

Its one of the reasons that I like Imperial Boba Fett, reactionary movement is powerful.  Engine Upgrade costs 4 Points and is the (jointly) the most expensive modification available for just this reason.  Being able to change your facing and position after you have seen where your opponent’s ships are is in my opinion one of the most powerful abilities in the game
If my opinion is not good enough for you, World Champion Paul Heaver when given the opportunity to introduce an Elite Pilot Talent in to the game here is what he came up with.

If you want to read Paul’s thought on Stay on Target (and I suggest you do) follow the link to his article on the FFG Website

The problem with using moving last as an advantage is that it takes more finesse to get the most out of it.

OK, I get what you are saying so how do I build a squad with that in mind?
As long as you have a plan when building your squad and know why you have gone in at the Pilot Skill you have than it should all work out (Dice Dependant :p)
The Impact of upgrades like Predator and Flight Instructor whilst not being game breaking should be considered when putting your squad together but don’t let it dominate your thoughts too much.

I will try to give a couple of examples of what I mean;

So this list bids as low as possible to save points and allow access to more ships/better upgrades.

This is a typical Rebel List at the moment, it sacrifices any opportunity to bid for Pilot Skill instead going for a solid base of Hit Points and Fire Power.

The B-Wings provide a solid fire base that most lists that bid high for PS should struggle to take out in a single turn.

The inclusion of the two Bandits give you flexibility for Blockers and options for firing order due to the entire list sitting at the same PS.  This is something I covered at length in my Swarm Theory articles but the ability to choose firing order for your ships and the activation order adds a layer of flexibility that mixed PS lists miss out on and is often overlooked.  For example a Whisper with Rebel Captive can be shot by one of the Bandits first to reduce the impact of the stress on your key ships.

This is an example of a list that whilst makes a small bid at Pilot Skill but has its focus on other interactions.

So for this list the Pilot Skill is reasonable and whilst all the pilots maintain a consistent level of 6 to add versatility the actual PS is not what the list is relying on to function.

This list is relying on Maneuverability and raw damage output to keep it in the game.

The hope is that Echo can provide the Target Locks for Vessery to provide value whilst Backstabber is overlooked as a filler.  The list actually outputs quite a bit of damage easily being able to throw out 11 dice per turn.

It relies on positioning to survive against Higher Pilot Skill lists but can still hold its own.

This last list is all about Pilot Skill

This list is all about Han Shooting first.
Han fires and then the return shots have to go on to Biggs until he is dead all the while Han is shooting before your opponent.  Biggs allows Han to take offensive actions in the early game and Luke backs him up well for any Token Tanking.  Having Han alive and relativly unscaved in the end game and still firing at PS 11 is extremely nasty.

What does all this mean?
The sort answer would be to Go Big or Go Home, but that would be dismissive of quite a few options and list builds.

I honestly think that X-Wing is in a healthy place right now and that whilst the top tables may be dominated by styles of lists there are very few occurrences of the EXACT same lists facing off against each other on top tables.

The “Fat Han” is a style of list rather than a build as is the Swarm, people are still putting there take on the archetypes and finding ways to use them.

Whilst Pilot Skill has a big impact on the game, it does not out weigh actually flying your squad well.
There is no right or wrong answer to what Pilot Skill is the best as the synergy within your squad is going to be more important.

Scum and Villainy, Most Wanted Z-95’s

A look at the upcoming Most Wanted expansion for the 3rd X-Wing Faction, Scum and Villainy.

Hi Folks,

After some much needed time away from X-Wing after competing in the Canadian Nationals event I am back in the saddle and rearing to go.

First on my hit list was to start talking about the announcement of a third faction for X-Wing, Scum and Villainy.

Whilst I am more than happy with the game the way it is now I cant help but be excited about the announcement of a third faction and there is enough information around now for me to form some opinions on how I think they will fit in to the game and what I am looking forward to.

The first thing I wanted to look at was the Most Wanted expansion as it is a new take on the way things work being an expansion that not only features cross faction ships but also comes with dials and cards for stuff not even in the box.  This new marketing approach and what it could mean for future releases is a topic for another day however as I really want to look at the toys you get in there and what they can do.

As you can see, its got a lot of stuff in there and first to the table is going to be the Z-95 Headhunter.

No just to clarify before I get too deep, the Scum Z’s have the same dial as the Rebel Z’s other than the fancy colour for scum.  The official ruling is that for any cross faction ships the paint job can be whatever but the dial, pilot card and pilot insert must be matched to the faction you are playing.

The Stats for the Z-95 is the same 2’s down the board that Rebel players are used to but there are some interesting differences non the less.

Despite sharing the same points cost as their Rebel counterparts the Binayre Pirate and Black Sun Soldier come in at one less pilot skill than the Bandit and Tala respectively.
With the stats, dials and action bars being the same what is this reactive points hike getting you?

Access to the all new Scum and Villainy exclusive Illicit Upgrade Slot.  Personally I am not a fan of paying points to grant me the ability to pay more points for something  but I have faith that FFG has the balance in mind when they made the decision but with only a limited knowledge of the upcoming illicit upgrades its hard to be sure just yet how worth while it will be.

Some of the Illicit Upgrades do sound fun though.

I can see some value in a few Binayre Pirates with Dead Man’s Switches whilst I think I would rather have Feedback Array on something a little beefier but arch dodging with Black Sun Soldiers and letting rip with the Array or Hot Shot could be fun too.

The named pilots is where the Scums play style really starts to show itself though.
Kaa’to Leeachos stealing your own tokens to beef himself up and has access to an Elite Pilot Talent so he can get access to the one turn Target Lock/ Focused attack to make Missiles a consideration.  With Veteran Instincts and Homing Missiles he comes in at a respectable 21 points but should provide a good bit of Alph damage to a squad.  I actually like the idea of playing him in a counter intuitive way for Scum and Villainy though and running him with Wingman along side something like a Push the Limit/Rec Spec Boba Fett as both ships could then be quite offensive with With Kaa’to taking Target Lock as an action whilst Boba takes Target Lock and Pushes the Limit for the Double Focus, then once the combat phase starts Kaa’to clears Boba’s stress and steals a Focus Token for his troubles.

N’dru Suhlak on the other hand is very much the loaner,having a built in Lone Wolf but for Attack only again having access to the EPT and coming in at PS 7 I can see value in sticking Predator on him, hugging the Flanks early and just re-rolling all day long on your attacks.
For a change I am not as much of a fan of paying for Veteran Instincts on this guy as though the PS 9 would be nice he is no Whisper with a 4 dice attack so unless you are going to pay for some Missiles as well it feels a bit wasted.

One build I am looking forward to trying out once Scum Hits is my Chaff with Chaff list;
Chaff and Chaff

Mandelorian Mercenary (43)
Firespray-31 (35), Recon Specialist (3), Lone Wolf (2), Counter-Measures (3)
Binayre Pirate (14)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Dead Man’s Switch (2)
Binayre Pirate (14)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Dead Man’s Switch (2)
Binayre Pirate (14)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Dead Man’s Switch (2)
Binayre Pirate (14)
Z-95 Headhunter (12), Dead Man’s Switch (2)
Squad Cost 99

The not so subtle plan is to Bum Rush people with the Binayre’s whilst the Merc does his thing, your opponent then has the choice of taking the longer ranged shots at the relatively tanky Merc leaving the Headhunters to output damage of deal with the Z’s while they are up close meaning that they will be Self Destructing in his face for extra splash damage.

Should be fun to fly and a bit of a headache to play against!

Thanks for reading guys and I should be getting more of Scum and Villainy written up this week so check back soon!

X-Wing: Rebel Aces B-Wings and HWK’s

We have looked at the upgrade to the A-Wing with the impending release of Rebel Aces now lets look at whats happening with the B-Wing.

Already considered a very solid ship what have FFG done with the B-Wing?

We will start by looking at the two new Pilots.

First up we have Nera Dantels.  Nera is a bit of a lose cannon who I was surprised to see in a B-Wing but she did have a brief stint flying with Dagger Squadron rather than flying her freighter Starduster.

The 2 points more than a standard Dagger gets you an extra point of Pilot Skill bumping you to Pilot Skill 5 and access to an Elite Pilot Talent which justifies her points cost even without taking in to account her Pilot Ability.

Having a 360 degree arch for Torpedos makes her an interesting addition to the squad but unfortunately I her lower Pilot Skill makes it a little less useful.

There are a few ways that I would field her, either running her as a Stress Generator with two lots of Flechette Torpedoes, Deadeye and Munitions Failsafe.  This allows you fly her as a normal B-Wing and when appropriate just launch a Flechette at who ever needs stress adding to them.  She lacks a little damage for a 32 Point investment but adds a lot of utility.

Another way to go is to have her as more of a clean up crew with Advanced Proton Torpedoes where
you fly her with the rest of your squad and plan on the launching the torps just after the initial pass, this does require a bit more set up and racks up the points even more but thats what happens when you take APT…

The second B-Wing pilot in Rebel Aces is Keyan Farlander

Farlander is another option for the people who are looking at an all Jedi squad.  He is a member of Blue Squadron and flew with them when they still flew Y-Wings and was involved with the protection of the facility where Admiral Ackbar developed the B-Wing project.

His 29 points make shim the second most expensive B-Wing and his Pilot Skill of 7 is quite respectable.  The real value in this case does come from his Pilot Ability of allowing you to spend Stress tokens in attack to modify eyeballs to hits.  I like that this fits with his background of struggling with the Dark Side in his earlier years as the offensive eyeball manipulation while stressed is fairly evil.

Build wise it is easy to just throw Push the Limits on to him for the stress generation but remember he is not Fel in an Interceptor so getting what is essentially a double focus is not always the most useful option due to him only rolling one Evade dice.  (if you have the Jan crew card in there somewhere changing that focus to an Evade is quite good though…)  In my opinion his ability opens up the dial on the B-Wing rather than making him a PTL monkey,  I think that just having him with Veteran Instincts and a Fire Control System gives you a very maneuverable platform at PS9 and is still an offensive power house for only 32 points where as if you spend that 32 points on just Push the Limit than you still want to add more to him which I think will negatively impact the overall squad.

In addition to the new pilots we do get a new Modification for the B-Wing, the B-Wing/E2.

You also get two new Crew Cards in Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors.  I do think that the E2 mod opens up the B-Wing to become more of a Support ship in a similar vain to the Imperial Shuttle but with a better offensive capability due to its more versatile dial.

I do think that putting it on to one of the Named Pilots racks up the points extremely quickly but maybe on to a Blue or Dagger.  For Example, putting the new Jan card on to a Blue Squadron pilot comes in at 25 points which is 7 points more than putting her on to a Rebel Operative but you are gaining 2 Attack Dice, 3 Hitpoints (- 1 Hull but + 4 Shields) and a better Dial for the los of 1 evade dice. A more realistic comparison would be with an Ion Turret so you are only 2 points more but have a more offensive oriented build.

Touching on Kyle and Jan, they quite obviously have excellent synergy on each others HWK-290 but I think the optimal build would be Jan as the pilot and Kyle as the Passenger with a Blaster Turret.
I do think that there is more of a place for Jan in most squads as being able to add an extra Evade Token to a Fat Han for example can push it into silly levels.

Something like this could be viable;

Han and HWK’s

Han Solo (56)
YT-1300 (46), Push the Limit (3), C-3PO (3), Recon Specialist (3), Millennium Falcon (1)

Rebel Operative (22)
HWK-290 (16), Blaster Turret (4), Jan Ors (2)

Rebel Operative (20)
HWK-290 (16), Blaster Turret (4)
98 points

This would be all about pushing Han in to stupid levels of tanking being able to ignore a minimum of 3 hits a turn makes you want to ignore Han and focus on the HWK with Jan onboard but that is exactly what a Han list want you to do, ignore the YT-1300 while it chips away at your ability to deal with it.
Some food for thought on possible builds and more choices from the that Rebel Aces brings to the table.  What are you looking at for new ways to fly your B-wings? If you want to add anything feel free to comment!