This year I spent Australia Day at BennyW's pad where I squeezed in a terrific game of X-wing. I teamed up with Bizman who I have been mates with for about 20 years but very rarely see face-to-face. We were flying my "Imperoyals" list: Colonel Jendon in a ST-321 Lambda-Class Shuttle with Accuracy Corrector, Hull Upgrade and Darth Vader, protected by an escort consisting of two Royal Guard TIE Interceptors (one piloted by Carnor Jax) equipped with Stealth Devices, Autothrusters and Elusiveness. As you can imagine, those Interceptors are awfully hard to hit, but once you do they go down like a sack of concrete. The Shuttle usually offers support by providing Target Locks and long range sniping, augmented by the occasional force choke from Darth.
We were up against FurySevenSix with a little Rebel list he has been testing: Dash Render in a YT-2400 with Outrider and a Heavy Laser Cannon, backed up by Coran Horn in an E-wing with R2-D2. Taking a look at the Rebel fleet I knew the YT-2400 would be versatile, soaking up fire whilst applying pressure with its turret. Corran, of course, had that 1-2 punch supported by shield regeneration from R2-D2. Combined with his high agility, the E-wing would also be able to soak up a fair amount of fire.
I know from experience that games can be won or lost in deployment, but I had a hankering for something cinematic this game. So without much thought I placed the shuttle in the center of the deployment zone with the TIE Interceptors flanking it on either side. FurySevenSix set up for a pincer maneuver with the YT-2400 and E-wing in the corners of his deployment zone. To enact my plan of gunning for the YT-2400, I had to spend the first turn pulling some tight maneuvers to get into position! As soon they were in range they begin to chip away at the Outrider's shields and FurySevenSix began to realise just how shifty these Interceptors are.
Bizman flew the shuttle off to the right flank to take on Corran Horn, which drew some fire away from the Interceptors. It isn't what I would have done, but if he could use Vader to put a critical hit on the E-wing we would be laughing! Meanwhile, I maneuvered tightly around the shuttle putting as many shots on the YT-2400 as I could while it circled around pumping out shots with its heavy laser.
Bizman got some good solid hits against the E-wing, with the help of Accuracy Corrector, but we were never able to do it consecutively enough to actually take the ship down. What we needed was one good turn of shooting to get past the shields, but Bizman's best chance (below) didn't yield the dice rolls we needed. R2-D2 was working overtime to recover those lost shield tokens!
I pulled another set of tight maneuvers, which put me into position to take out the YT-2400. By this stage my TIEs were also running out of luck, taking one solid hit each and losing their Stealth ability.
At this stage it was three ships against one, except the TIEs didn't have enough hull points between them to make one ship and the Lambda-shuttle was one concentrated turn of fire away from space-scrap! I worked at keeping the E-wing in my sights whilst limiting the number of shots it could take; I was very conscious of Corran's special ability. This included intentional jamming my TIE into his ship to prevent it from getting shot :-) I also made a rookie error and chose a banking maneuver in the opposite direction to what I intended. It took the pressure off Corran during a vital turn and scythed my TIE off away from the fight. Ah well ;-)
We put a lot of shots into that E-wing but it refused to go down and Carnor Jax was finally destroyed as his wing man flew off on a tangent. At this stage I could see the writing on the wall, Carnor Jax was my best chance of eliminating the "undamaged" Corran and we were running out of gaming time, so hit full cinematic mode. The new mission was to save Vader! My other TIE snapped around for a suicide run on Corran whilst the shuttle burned hard for the side of the board. The TIE was vaped comprehensively before it could get a shot off. Corran got one shot off at the fleeing shuttle, getting it down to one hull point (thanks Hull Upgrade!). With that the shuttle just, just, just poked a corner off the board.
So, Vader escapes the long arm of CorSec law but it is a victory for the Rebels! I really underestimated how effective R2-D2 could be in an E-wing, with the combination of shield regeneration and high agility making it very hard to take down. I questioned why FurySevenSix hadn't used Corran's ability during the game, as I use it as frequently as is tactically beneficial. He replied that he had simply forgotten to use it! Gah! The Lambda-shuttle could have been taken out after all!
This was a fantastic game with a lot of very tactical maneuvering, coupled with silly mistakes that made us laugh. It was competitive, but also played in a palpably fun spirit, which is my kind of gaming experience. It made me reflect on how lucky I was to live in a peaceful country where we can enjoy these kinds of things.
See you across the table (of BBQ sausages),
P.S. A big thanks goes out to FurySevenSix for the great photos of the game, I think they really captured the tense maneuvering during the game.