The blessing and curse of being a gaming Collector.

I have an obsession with rare and limited edition gaming books. Not just collectors editions or limited runs (although it certainly includes those) but books that are also hard to get hold of or that hold a certain prestige in the wider gaming community because of their quality.

I haven’t always had this obsession, I wish I had as it’d mean that I’d have an original copy of Ptolus, but rather it has crept un on me over time. It started slowly, with me seeking out hard to obtain campaign books, but it has grown into a passion and a curse.

Beyond The Mountains of Madness, cover

I’d argue that it started when I was trying to get hold of a copy of Beyond the Mountains of Madness for Call of Cthulhu. It’s a campaign that I dearly wanted to run and that meant tracking on down but it constantly eluded me, attaining prices on ebay that I just couldn’t reasonably justify paying. Thats where my players come in, they bought it for me as a birthday present and I am eternally grateful, it’s just a shame it didn’t live up to it’s reputation.

Beyond the Mountains of Madness is a beautiful book, well written, detailed, complex and engaging, but it’s also immensely difficult to run and is not campaign I would suggest anyone pick up unless they are willing to put in considerable work to make it work. The cast of npcs alone is dozens strong and all have their own motivations for joining the expedition and all, every single one, requires a distinct personality in order to bring the plot to life and do it justice.

Since them my collection of rare, hard to find and limited or collectors editions has swelled. My obsession has lead to me dropping a significant amount of money on the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition Kickstarter in order to get the leatherette editions (despite the fact that it’s close to 2 years late at this point). It has lead me to backing Kickstarters such as Paranoia so I can acquire Kickstarter only editions like it’s red box and it has expanded to include board games, such as the Tiny Epic series of games, such as Tiny Epic Galaxies.

Tamurkhan, The Throne of Chaos, Cover

After Beyond the Mountains of Madness I acquired the Warhammer Forge (an imprint of Forgeworld) title, Tamurkhan- The Throne of Chaos. Tamurkhan was the first in what was supposed to be a line of books for Warhammer that mirrored the Imperial Armour books for 40k. It’s a stunning, leatherbound, tome that is printed in full colour on parchment like paper and the quality of writing is excellent. Aside from the more recent Horus Heresy series of books, this is the best book that Forgeworld have ever produced. It’s not so much rare or limited, especially since the Warhammer world was destroyed in the End Times campaign, but mine was one of the first 500 as is signed by Alan Bligh, making it prestigious to me.

Monstrous Arcanum, Volume 1, Cover

Warhammer Forge did produce a second book, one that wasn’t a campaign in the same was as Tamurkhan, but had equally high production values, the Monstrous Acarnum Volume 1. This book, which was as exquisitely well illustrated as Tamurkhan, serves to introduce a significant number of mythical creatures to the Warhammer world, creatures that could be fielded by many armies and would be fearsome in battle.

Monstrous Arcanum, Basilisk.

Again this was supposed to be the first in a line of books that never saw production and isn’t particularly rare or expensive but it’s beautiful enough to warrant a mention.

Next came more gifts from my wife, who bought me the limited edition versions of both Deathwatch and Black Crusade for my birthday. These books, produced by Fantasy Flight Games, are some of the most attractive and unique books in my collections and both deserve singular attention.

Deathwatch Limited Edition, Front of Ammo Tin

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, side of ammo tin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, Contents

Deathwatch is a book bound in black leather, printed on thick parchment paper with a stylised Inquisition I embossed in silver on front cover and silver edged pages and a silver silk bookmark. It comes in a large metal ammo box, with a chain and Librarian key that acts to bind it closed and with a skull symbol on the front and side, in addition to the stylised I of the Inquisition on the front. The book is held snugly inside the tin, on the right, secured by a belt with an Aquila buckle (although this is velcro and not a true belt). Inside the tin, on the left, is a hand written writ confirming that I am a member of the Deathwatch (individually personalised) that is held in place via purity seals.

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, Purity Seals

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, Aquilia buckle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, Cover

Deathwatch, Limited Edition, page example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deathwatch was limited to 2000 copies, with 500 of those not being personalised and therefore being less desirable as far as I’m concerned. I have heard that some people have had poor or faulty bindings that have perished and fallen apart after as little as an hours reading but that isn’t the case with mine and I genuinely feel that the production values are high. My only criticism is that the skull on the front has a rather poor plastic red gem as an eye and that couple have been easily upgraded to something made of glass or omitted to make it look a little better.

Black Crusade, Limited edition, Front of Slipcase

Black Crusade is another black leather bound tome, printed on the same thick parchment paper as Deathwatch and with a red silk bookmark. It has a gold embossed star of chaos on the front and the pages are edged in gold also. Black Crusade comes in a custom resin slipcase that has been painted to looked like aged and oxidised copper and brass, with a green patina. The resin is moulded to represent an evil and cursed tome and is covered in spikes with a large, central star of chaos on the front cover. The inside front cover contains a handwritten and personalised Writ Excommunicate Tratoris, confirming that I have been excommunicated from the Imperium of man and been branded a Traitor.

Black Crusade, Limited Edition, Front Cover

Black Crusade, Limited Edition, Writ Excommunicate Tratoris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Crusade, Limited Edition, Page Example

Black Crusade was limited to 1500 copies and comes with an additional dozen or so pages of content depicting example characters and NPCs.

After the two 40k books I had a little bit of a lull in my collecting of rarer or limited edition books. During that time I built a sizeable collection of other books, most notably Shadowrun 1st-3rd edition and I backed the presently ill-fated Call of Cthulhu 7th edition, also pledging for the new release of the classic Horror on the Orient Express. The latter is another campaign that i’ve long wanted to own and run and while an original copy would be an excellent addition to my collection, the new version, with it’s updated rules and additional content, looked far too attractive to pass up on.

Still, the obsession never left me and next I happened upon another opportunity to expand my collection, one I couldn’t pass up on. As I’ve said, during this lull I’d been amassing a sizeable collection of Shadowrun products, which tied in with my running of that particular game and, during that time, Shadowrun 5th edition was released. The release came with two limited edition versions of the core book, one was a little to rich for my blood, but the other, the Dragon Edition, was exactly the type of thing I like to own.

Shadowrun 5th Edition, Dragon Edition, Front Cover

The Dragon Edition comes bound in red leather with the head of a dragon embossed deeply on the cover. The lettering, on the cover and the spine, are both in gold, as are the page edges, and the book has a red silk bookmark sewn in. The content is much the same, except that there are two fold out posters incorporated into the pages. The first of these folds out to show Berlin on one side and individual A4 artwork on the other.

Shadowrun 5th Edition, Dragon Edition, Berlin Poster

The second folds out to show Tenochtitlan on one side and the front covers of each of the core books from 1st-4th edition on the reverse.

Shadowrun 5th Edition, Dragon Edition, Tenochtitlan Poster

 

 

The Great Pendragon Campaign, cover

Most recently I obtained 2 more books for my collection. The first was a birthday gift from my ever understanding wife, a copy of The Great Pendragon Campaign, another of my Holy Grails. This campaign is epic, quite literally, as it covers 85 years from the reign of King Uther through to after King Arthur disappears after the battle of Camlann. In it players take the role of 3 different generations of landed knights, founding their own dynasty and playing Grandfather, Father and Son, all serving as Knight of the Round Table. It is a mighty tome at 430 pages and is the life’s work of it’s creator, Greg Stafford. This book is considered one of the true ‘Great Campaigns’, for any system and is a magnificent product.

Shadowrun, Run and Gun, Limited Edition, Cover

Finally, and the catalyst for this article really, is my recent acquisition of the Shadowrun 5th edition supplement, Run and Gun. This book is bound in the same red leather as the 5th edition core book and the cover is deeply embossed with a sword, axe and gun, all crossed. Like the core book all of the writing on the cover and spine is in gold. This particular edition also comes with a double sided, A2 poster depicting many of the weapons from this book and the core book.

This last is the reason that collecting limited editions and rare books is a blessing and a curse. Owning just the core book as a limited edition version is fine, it makes sense and looks lovely on the shelf, but now i’ve added one of the core supplements to that it means that I need to get limited edition copies of all of the core supplements, it just wouldn’t feel right otherwise. In a weird way i’ve been outwitted by my own desire for shiny things.

Of course these aren’t the only shiny or special things in my collection, they aren’t even necessarily my most prized items, that honour probably belongs to my complete Planescape collection of which my copies of Planes of Conflict and Hellbound- The Blood War have pride of place. Or it could be another gift from my wife, my framed copy of Dragonlance’s Ansalon, signed with “May Dragons Fly ever in your Dreams” by Margaret Weis. It’d be hard, if not impossible, to pick a favourite item, all I know is that I won’t stop collecting, there are more Holy Grails (Ptolus is still out there) to be had, more “Great Campaigns” to find and run, more adventures to be had, in gaming and collecting.

Changing Games, the ongoing struggle of a DM to please everyone.

I roleplay every Monday evening, barring an issue arising that means not enough players can turn up or that prevents me running a game. Monday evening is my game, it has been for 14 years now (although not always on a Monday) and so, with a few breaks here and there, I’m always the DM. I relish being a DM, I prefer it to playing, because I enjoy crafting the story, providing the challenges and defining the world.

Being the DM of a long running group, year in and out, has it’s problems though, not just the normal issues of making sure everyone shows up, remembering rules (or making fair judgements to keep the game flowing), even crafting stories, but problems that are not so easy to solve. One of those is what to do when a campaign comes to a close and it’s time to start something new?

As a DM I firmly believe that everyone at my table has a say in what we play and who plays. If we need to introduce a new player then I’ll make sure everyone is ok with it and, when it comes to starting a new game I want everyone to have a say in what we play. That can lead to some difficult choices because, as a DM, I have a style of game I feel I’m best at running and certain games/systems that I really want to run but that doesn’t always mesh with what the players want to play.

At present we are playing Numenera, specifically The Devils Spine and have been for about 9 months. We are nearing the end of the campaign now and, from the start, I made clear that this was a short term thing (though I grossly underestimated how long we’d be playing it). I’m not continuing with Numenera post Devils Spine and while I want to come back to the setting, I’m done with it for now.

So, as I always do when nearing the end of a campaign, I raised the subject of “what next?” to my players. The intention always was to go back to Shadowrun, which we played for the 2 years prior to Numenera, because the campaign I had for that setting was only partially done (up to and including the end of the Renraku Arcology plotline). However, I know that at least one of my Numenera group won’t play Shadowrun as he just didn’t get on with it and at least one other was seriously tiring of it by the end (half a dozen character deaths will do that too you). Ultimately Shadowrun split the group, some likes it’s minute detail while others found it overly bloated and time consuming. From a DM point of view, the one thing I have against Shadowrun is that it takes much more of my time to get ready for a session that practically any other game, simply because I work very hard to do the rich setting justice.

Now, I didn’t just want to take suggestions from the players as to what they want me to run, after all I should be having fun too and there are certain things that I really don’t want to run, Cthulhutech is one, the 40k games are others and I’m not much in the mood for something like Starblazer Adventures at the moment either. Conversely, there are things that I really do want to run, like Trail of Cthulhu’s Armitage Files, Pendragon’s Great Pendragon Campaign and WFRP’s The Enemy Within.

Now, while I like my players to have input, I feel that it’s more important that I really want to play whatever it is I’ll be running, otherwise there is a good chance that I’ll lose interest and do a shoddy job. For this reason I compiled a shortlist of the games I’d be prepared to run and asked for further suggestions from the group, in case someone pitched something that I really liked the idea of. My pitch to the players went like this-

Shadowrun, Year of the Comet, Wake of the Comet

Shadowrun, we’d go back to the 3rd ed campaign we were playing and pick up 8 months post Arcology and begin the Year of the Comet plotline with a view towards playing 2061-2064 and concluding with the System Shock adventure that ended 3rd edition.

Shadowrun 5th Edition, Dragon Edition, Front Cover

Shadowrun, we’d give 5th edition a shot, starting fresh in 2075. This would mean the players would likely have to be willing to learn another relatively complex system though as it doesn’t bear much resemblance to 3rd edition 9though slightly more than 4th edition does).

The Great Pendragon Campaign, cover

The Great Pendragon Campaign. We’d play the whole 85 years of the campaign from the reign of Uther through to after Arthur disappears at the Battle of Camlann. The group would play each play 3 generations of their own family of Landed Knights, founding their own Knightly dynasty within Dark Age Briton.

Trail of Cthulhu, The Armitage Files, covers

The Armitage Files. We’d play this in Trail of Cthulhu which is a Call of Cthulhu style game that uses a system named Gumshoe that is custom built for investigative games and relies much less on the luck that is so common on Call of Cthulhu. This is a really unique campaign in how it is set up and how it is played. This is, of all of the games suggestions, my personal preference because I think it’s just amazing and I think that my forte as a DM lies in horror style games.

Warhammer 3rd Edition, The Enemy Within, box cover

The Enemy Within for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd edition. This isn’t the classic WFRP campaign but a modern reimagining. It’s a simple game with minimal book-keeping and is similar in rules to both Decent and Imperial Assault. I’d go with a slightly friendlier chargen option that allowed the party to pick from a pool of classes together, rather than relying on pure chance.

There was a little bit of back and forth and I was actually a little surprised that only one player liked the idea of Pendragon, but the discussion went as I expected, with some voting for The Armitage Files and others for a return to Shadowrun, specifically to continue the 3rd ed campaign I was running. There was a general consensus, however, towards giving The Enemy Within a shot, both because it would involve significantly less work for me and because the original version has a reputation as being one of the greatest campaigns of all time.

So that appears to be what we are going with at this point, The Enemy Within for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition. My players had a hand in choosing it, no-one voted against it and the it’s one of my picks, so it actually manages to please everyone, although it’s no-ones first choice. That’s the compromise you have to make sometimes though, everyone getting their second pick is better than one or two getting their first and everyone else being lumped with something they don’t enjoy.

For me it works well enough. I prefer fantasy to sci-fi anyway, despite my love of Shadowrun, and I think the Warhammer World is grossly underestimated as a setting, having been significantly deeper and more interesting that 40k for a good number of years now. Obviously the campaign is pre End Times and so it’ll be in the Warhammer World that was, rather than whatever GW comes out with next. It’s a setting all of my players know, to some degree, and it has enough horror at its core for me to work with while remaining darkly funny at times.

It should be fun, I’m even thinking of trying to keep a campaign journal on the site for this one, updating my players exploits week by week and keeping count of the number of characters that a particularly unlucky player of mine goes through, just for fun, but we’ll see if I have time for that. I’ve got a few weeks left in the Ninth World for now and we need to see if my players survive the final chapter of The Devils Spine before I start tempting them with dark pacts, eldritch secrets and the whispers of Dark Gods while they investigate the greatest threat to the Empire, The Enemy Within.

TIE Fighter Unboxing

TIE Fighter, front of box

The TIE Fighter is a small ship expansion for the X-Wing Miniatures Game, released as part of the first Wave of releases for that game and forms part of the Imperial faction. The TIE Fighter also comes as part of the Core Box for the X-Wing Game but the included Pilots are unique to this set. In the Star Wars Universe the TIE Fighter is the most iconic Imperial Fighter ship and is instantly recognisable to anyone who is familiar with the series. It was the staple ship of the Imperial fleets as it was fast, manoeuvrable and cheap enough to produce to be expendable in vast number.

As normal the ship comes packaged in a blister style pack with the ship displayed front on so you can get a good look at it. The ship itself is stored safely within further plastic packaging to ensure it remains safe and secure during travel. The Cards and Tokens come in bags and are stored behind the planet artwork at the back of the packaging.

TIE Fighter, Contents

In this set you get-

  • 1 x TIE Fighter Small Based Ship
  • 1 x Small Ship Base and 2 pegs  
  • 1 x TIE Fighter manoeuvre dial
  • 8 x Cards (split between Pilot cards and Upgrade cards, more on the specifics soon)
  • 19 x Tokens (more on the specifics soon)

The TIE Fighter is a nice looking ship. As I’ve said, it’s truly iconic if you are a Star Wars fan and this recreation really captures the look and feel of the ship perfectly. It’s not the most imaginatively colours ship, being the classic Imperial grey and Black, but that’s fine as it looks generic, nameless and like it could be fielded by the thousand. The paint job is fine and does the job but, as with other Imperial ships, it’s hard to say that its awe inspiring just because it’s so deliberately basic. 

TIE Fighter, Pilot Cards

Rather unusually you get 6 Pilots in this set, making it pretty much unique for a single ship expansion, at the time of writing. These 6 are split between 3 Generic and 3 Elite pilots-

  • Howlrunner
  • Backstabber
  • Winged Gundark
  • Obsidian Squadron Pilot
  • Black Squadron Pilot
  • Academy Pilot

This set includes 2 absolute must have TIE Fighter pilots for anyone who wants to run the standard TIE Swarm list. The first is the generic Academy Pilot, who at 12 points, is one of the most cost effective pilots in the game. These ships are hard to hit, have a fairly decent dial and can make excellent blockers to prevent enemy ships getting actions (something many 2 ship lists rely on). The second must have pilot is Howlrunner, who is most often seen in lists with 7 Academy TIE’s and sporting the Swarm Tactics card. If you run your TIE swarm as a close block then the re-roll afforded by Howlrunner’s Pilot Talent is priceless and add to that his impressive Pilot Skill of 8 and he is able to act before all but the most elite of pilots.

The art on the cards is ok, nothing special, with the named Pilots getting the better art overall. Howlrunner’s art is probably the best of the bunch because the TIE looks good being backlit by the sun above the clouds in the image.

TIE Fighter, Upgrade Cards

You only get 2 Upgrade cards in the set, which is, again, unusual and probably has something to do with the fact that there are 6 included pilots. Neither of the included cards is unique but as Swarm Tactics is a must in the standard Howlrunner TIE swarm it’s nice to see it’s inclusion in the same set as the Pilot.  The

Upgrade cards included are-

Elite

  • Swarm Tactics (also available in the TIE Advanced set)
  • Determination (also available in the Core set)

You get the standard pile of Tokens in the set, with more than the normal number of Ship ID Tokens being included. This is actually a fairly astute inclusion by FFG here, since TIEs tend to come in swarms and you need a good number of different SHIP ID Tokens to ensure that you, and your opponant, can identify them individually.

TIE Fighter, Tokens

A complete list of the included tokens is as follows-

  • 3 x Ship Base Tokens (all double sided as Academy Pilot/Winged Gundark, Obsidian Squadron Pilot/Backstabber and Black Squadron Pilot/Howlrunner)
  • 1 x Focus Token
  • 1 x Evade Token
  • 1 x Stress Token
  • 1 x Critical Hit Token
  • 12 x Ship ID Tokens (3 each of numbers 12,13,14 and 15)

All in all the TIE Fighter is a solid little set. There isn’t much here is you don’t have an interest in collecting Imperials and so Rebel and Scum exclusive players can probably steer clear of the set unless they absolutely need Swarm Tactics and, even then, you’d probably be better off picking up a TIE Advanced since it includes several other Upgrades. For Imperial Players this set is a must and probably in multiples as the TIE swarm still remains a strong list in the X-Wing Meta and is one of the best counters to ‘Fat’ lists and 2 ship builds. 

Star Realms Crisis Mini Expansions Review

Name: Star Realms Crisis Expansion
Type: None Collectable Deck Building Game
Publisher: White Wizard Games
Players: 2
Age: 8+
Playtime: 20 mins
Price:  £3.49 per Packet £12.00 per full set
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)

Star Realms Crisis Expansion, packets

Crisis is the second expansion for the none collectable card game, Star Realms and is actually 4 mini expansions rather than one larger one. The Crisis set is made up of 4 booster style packs of cards, each with a slightly different theme. The boosters can be bought individually or as a set and can be used in the same way. Each pack contains 8 different cards with 4 being duplicated for a total of 12 cards in each pack. All copies of each Pack contain exactly the same cars, much the same way as the Star Realms Starter Box as this is a none collectable card game.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Events front of pack

The first pack is Events and this pack doesn’t contain any cards that relate to one of the existing factions. Instead this pack adds natural space phenomena and other none faction specific events into the pack. These cards happens immediately upon appearing in the trade row and the events effect both players simultaneously. The phenomena are such things as Black Holes and comets and the none faction events take the form of Trade Missions and Galactic Summits.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Event Cards

All of the Event cards have positive effects such as drawing cards or gaining combat or trade and I think that including them in your base deck adds a little variety to the game. The art on the cards is good, it’s bright and lively and looks suitably sci-fi.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Heroes front of pack

 

The Heroes pack takes a slightly different twist on how the cards are used. Once they have been purchased they immediately enter play and then they stick around, a little like bases but they don’t actually do anything unless you scrap them. Once scrapped they provide a bonus, such as combat or trade and they also turn on ally abilities for the rest of the turn. Since they don’t have their faction icon in the top corner they don’t count as allies until they are scrapped.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Heroes Cards

You get the normal 12 cards in the set with each faction receiving 3 heroes, 1 duplicated and another more powerful, single, hero. As these are one use cards they are all fairly cheap to bring into play with the most expensive costing just 2 trade. The art on these is ok, I personally like the Machine Cult heroes as they look very Adeptus Mechanicus but the Blob heroes look a little uninteresting by comparison.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Fleets and Fortresses, Front of Pack

The third Crisis Mini-Expansion is the Fleets and Fortresses pack. This pack simply expands the cards from the base deck by adding more cards to each faction. All 4 factions get 3 new cards, a base and 2 ships which provide similar bonuses to the cards in the base deck.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Fleets and Fortresses, Cards

 

I think it would have been a mistake to make an expansion that just adds new card types to the set and so Fleets and Fortresses gives you something that gives you more of the same game you like. If you just want to expand the factions from the base deck then this is the first pack that you should look at picking up, along with the Bases and Battleships pack (see below). The cards are nice with the art being of a similar style and standard to those in the base deck.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Bases and Battleships, Front of Pack

Much the same as Fleets and Fortresses, Bases and Battleships adds extra cards to the factions in the Star Reals game that are played in the same way as the cards in the core set. Each Faction gets 3 new cards, 1 more expensive card (around 5 or 6 Trade cost) and a cheaper cards that is duplicated.

Star Realms, Crisis Expansion, Bases and Battleships, Cards

The Blobs and the Star Empire each get 2 bases and a more expensive ship whereas the Machine cult and Trade Federation just get 3 ships. If expanding the core game is what you are after then this, along with the Fleets and Fortresses expansion is what you want. Again, the art on the cards is nice and strongly resembles the base game in style and standard.

Overall the Crisis Expansion is a nice set of 4 Mini Expansions. I like the fact that each pack can be bought separately allowing players to pick and choose what they want to add to their game and it means that if they just want a bunch more ships and bases then they can pick up multiples of the Bases and Battleships and Fleets and Fortresses packs. the Heroes and Events packs bring a new element to the game, allowing a more random element to play when these cards come up but not so different as to make the game feel bloated by their inclusion.

Overall, for the price, the Crisis Expansion is a solid investment and well worth a look.

X-Wing Spring Championship Tournament , May 2015

X-Wing Spring Tournament Kit 2015

On 02/05/15 I attended my second X-Wing Spring Tournament of the year, this time held at Lvl Up Gaming in Bournemouth. I’d like to thank the folks at Lvl Up for their great prize support for the day which included the standard FFG Spring Tournament prize support kit and store vouchers for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last place.

X-Wing Sprint Tournement Prize Support

I signed up to this one on relatively short notice, just 2 days before it was held and so I didn’t get a huge amount of time to practice. This meant that I wanted to use a list I knew would work without too much preparation and so, despite wanting to try 4 Warthog Y-Wings I quickly narrowed my choices down to 3 lists-

  • Dash/Corran
  • Duel A-Wings (Tycho and Farrell) along with a Wild Space Fringer in the Outrider rigged with a Mangler
  • Firespray/Aggressor flown by Kath Scarlet and IG88B

Each list has it’s advantages and disadvantages and none has a particularly high damage output, which I was concerned might be a hinderance. To that end I elected to go for the list with the highest damage output of the 3, the Firespray/Aggressor combination-

  • Kath Scarlet- 38
  • Veteran Instincts- 1
  • Gunner- 5
  • Engine Upgrade- 4
  • IG88B- 36
  • Predator- 3
  • Mangler Cannon- 4
  • Sensor Jammer- 4
  • Autothrusters- 2
  • Inertial Dampeners- 1

Total-98

The list was deliberately targeted to be 98 points so that I would most likely get the initiative bid against Phantoms with VI and Fel, which, combined with Veteran Instincts, would allow Kath to move after them and shoot before them, before a Phantom would get chance to cloak. Gunner would mean that I could use the first attack to to strip off any focus/evade tokens and the Engine Upgrade means I would have more chance to bring Kath’s rear arc to bear and so getting the additional attack dice.

The Aggressor is set up to be as durable as possible. The idea is that I would generally take an evade action which, combined with Autothrusters, would allow the ship to soak up a lot of fire power. The Sensor Jammer makes opponents take and use focus actions on their attack or otherwise lose another hit, making the Aggressor all but invulnerable. On the attack the Mangler puts out a consistent critical hit, which can be massively detrimental to fat Falcons and Decimators which rely on upgrades and Predator helps up the average damage that the ship puts out. I prefer the Mangler/Predator set up to a straight HLC as I find it provides for more consistent damage.

Despite the Aggressor looking as though it is best used in pairs, with the IG2000 title, I find that it fairs well with the faster and more manoeuvrable Firespray and so both serve to support each other well.

On the day there was a small player pool, just 9 players but this was enough for the tournament and I reasonably fancied my chances at the top spot. Rather oddly the rounds were set an an hour and a half (which is the maximum FFG allows) each, as opposed to the more standard 60 minutes and we were told that we were going to be playing 4 rounds. In retrospect I think that this went against me as the durability of my list plays well in 60 mins as it’s hard to put both ships down and so I have a solid chance of winning on points. Even without taking this into account, I have to say that 90 minute rounds seemed a little too long and i’d much rather have played 5 rounds at 60 mins that 4 at 90.

On the day there were 2 Scum Lists, 1 Rebel and 6 Imperial, including the one matchup I feared facing, a TIE Swarm.

X-Wing Spring Tournament, Lvl Up, Round 1

 

Game 1 was against 2 B-Wings and 2 X-Wings, including Biggs. At 98 Points I had initiative and went first. Biggs was my initial target, simply because it made sense to focus him down rather than let him leach shots against other targets and I fortunately managed to take Biggs out by round 4. It then took me a few rounds to turn Kath around and bring her back into the fight, by which time the Aggressor had taken a few close range shots and was down to hull points.

The game ran to over an hour and by the end I’d lost the Aggressor, much to my surprise, but Kath managed to finish the last B-Wing off to give me the win. This game was a learning experience for me, I wasn’t used to using this set up on the IG and repeatedly forgot to use Predator, which could have meant the difference between losing the Aggressor or not. My opponent flew well, keeping the ships tightly together and making sure that I couldn’t arc dodge them all and keep arcs on them.

X-Wing Tournament, Lvl Up, Round 2

 

Round 2 was against a bold list, 4 TIE Interceptors, including Fel and Tur Phennir and 2 Alpha Squadron Pilots. It’s hard list to use but, used well, it can be devastating as it is nigh on impossible to get a shot at. My gamble of the 98 point list paid off and I got initiative against Fel, which was all important to to my chances of defeating him.  Soontir Fel is horrific in the end game, if left unchallenged, perhaps only beaten by Corran Horn with VI, and so that made him my number 1 priority in this game.

X-Wing Spring Tournament, lvl Up, Game 2, mid game

The match started off well, I managed to take out Fel in turn 3, before he managed to fire a shot, which boded very well for me. Soon after I managed to take down an Alpha Squadron after taking minimal fire in return. The game ended soon after, with all 4 Interceptors taken out with me losing a total of 3 shields between both ships. This is not slight on my opponent, 4 TIE Interceptors is hard to fly and my list is one of the worst possible match-ups for it.

X-Wing Spring Tournament, Lvl Up, Game 3

Game 3 was against another Scum list, made up of Boba Fett with seismic charges, Torkil Mux’s HWK with an Ion Cannon and a Warthog Y-Wing. This looked like a tough game from the outset and Mux was a threat as he could counter my high PS so I resolved to take him out first.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted, tactical play meant I was struggling to get shots on him. The up side of this was that I managed to focus some fire on Boba Fett and after weathering he initial storm of Fett at range 1, plus the first of the seismic charges (which was very well timed to hit both of my ships), I managed to reduce him to just a couple of hull points. Boba dropped his second seismic charge soon after and was destroyed the round after that while I was left with both ships with a shield left.

The Aggressor was the main target in the following couple of rounds and despite me causing a fair amount of damage to the Y-Wing in return, poor rolling caused me to be reduced to a single hull point on that ship while Kath was turning around. I managed to drop the Y-Wing just before the HWK destroyed the Aggressor. Still, at this point I figured i’d do ok, Kath still had a shield left and HWKs are pretty flimsy in my experience.

I rounded on the HWK, just out of arc for a shot before getting hit by an Ion blast, the second on the Firespray, causing me to be ionized the next round and my opponent to flee across the board, well out of range and arc. A sinking feeling came over me as I realised that there was a very good chance that this one would take me off he board. I moved the mandatory 1 forward as my opponent moved further away and plotted my next move, the tightest move I could, a hard 2. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough, I ended up about 7mm off the board on my rear left side to give me my first loss of the day.

X-Wing Spring Tournament, Lvl Up, game 3, end game

 

Full credit to my opponent here, it was a great move on his part, even if it did hurt a little to lose because a corner of my base went off the board. This was a tough game, and a tactical one and it turns out that my instincts were right, the HWK was the biggest threat on the table, I just failed to destroy it. My opponent went on to win the day and this was his closest game so I can take some solace in that.

X-Wing Spring Tournament, Lvl Up, Game 4

Game 4, the last of the day, was against another Scum list, this time Xixor with an Experimental Interface and Squad Leader and 4 Z95’s, 2 with Assault Missiles and Munitions Failsafes. This was a surprisingly tough game for me, something I genuinely didn’t expect since I though that the Aggressor would be able to tank the 2 dice attacks from the Z95s without too much trouble.

My opponent flew the list as a block, for the whole game and did a magnificent job of reforming them after being broken up by obstacles. His goal was to use Xixor to pass off target locks to focussed Z95’s so that they could use their Assault Missiles as soon as possible, a valid tactic that was only muted by the fact that my defence rolls were strong enough against them to only cause me to take single points of damage. Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said of most other attacks and I found myself down to hull on both ships by the time i’d taken out a single Z95, around an hour in.

Due to my opponent flying to tightly as a block I struggled to get shots without being in arc of all of his ships and so I found myself spending much of the game arc dodging rather than causing damage and this defensive play hurt me. I took a risk which destroyed a second Z95 but lost me Kath in the process and that meant that the endgame of IG88B against 2 slightly damaged Z95 and an pristine Xixor.

My Aggressor took out another Z95 and hurt the other a little more as the final minutes of the round played out. In the end I was skilfully blocked onto an asteroid by the Z95 on the final turn of the game, taking a critical hit which turned out to be a direct hit and enough to destroy me.

This was a close game, one I thought I had in the bag, but tactical play from my opponent and overly defensive play from me cost me the match and put me on a 2-2 score for the day.

After points were counted I finished up in 6th, which was a bit disheartening after my strong start but it was a fun day and I played some very skilful opponents  who fielded lists and ships I don’t generally see on the table. The overall winner of the day, my 3rd round opponent, gifted me the Tycho alt art card he won, as he doesn’t field Rebels, something that I am exceptionally grateful for as it was my main reason for entering that day.

X-Wing Spring Tournament Tycho Alt Art card

Additionally I picked up an extra Alt Art Push the Limit card, which is awesome as you can never have too many copies of Push the Limit an thats aside from the fact that the Alt Art looks awesome.

Spring Tournament 2015 alternative art Push the Limit card

It was a good day all around and I’ll certainly be going to more tournaments held at Lvl Up.