Archive for December, 2015

Although both are old hands at Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars – X-Wing Miniatures Game by now, Brad Harmer-Barnes and Ömer Ibrahim decided to take the new The Force Awakens Starter Set out for a spin.


Brad: I’m fielding Epsilon Leader and the Omega Squad pilot…who are you taking?

Ömer: I’ve got Blue Ace, with BB-8.

Brad: Blue Ace?  That’s a brilliant name.

Ömer: No-one’s named beside Poe Dameron, yet.  Genius, really.  Everyone’s “Ace”, “Leader”…

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Ömer: The Resistance player places his ship anywhere in the play area that is not 1-3 of either player’s edge.

Brad: So, the centre strip?

Ömer: Yeah. The Resistance Fighters have scrambled to defend a vital early warning satellite array from a First Order strike force.  the Resistance must hold off the enemy long enough to send off a distress call before the Comms are cut.

Brad: Right.

Ömer: At the start of each planning phase, the First Order player takes one tracking token and places it in his area…basically it’s a turn tracker. At the start of each Combat Phase, each First Order ship at Range 1 of a satellite token takes one stress.  A First Order ship that is overlapping a satellite token may take that token.  If a Resistance ship is over it, a First Order ship that is touching that ship may take it.  I also get one Novice reinforcement.  I get two ships, basically.

Brad: Okay…

Ömer: Resistance has to destroy both TIEs, or have at least one Satellite still in play at the end of round eight. The FO player has to either get both satellites, or kill both X-Wings.

Brad: Sounds good.  Barry the Jobber scoots forward and does a barrel roll.

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Brad: …and over to the X-Wing.  Then the second TIE…

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Ömer: Right…one of your guys is close enough to the Satellite to get a Stress marker.

Brad: So they stress me out, but I’ve got to get closer to them?

Ömer: Yup.

Brad: Great.  Hunh…TIE Fighters have shields now?

Ömer: Yup.  And the X-Wings have one extra.

Brad: And they said Palpatine didn’t change anything…

Ömer: He made the buses run on time, too.

Brad: TIE Fighter banks in toward the satellite…

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Brad: I really like how manoevreable the new TIEs are.

Ömer: Yeah, it’s like all the engines have gotten better.

Brad: Or the pilots have.

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Brad: Okay, I’ve swooped in and I’m ready to pick up that Satellite marker.  It’s combat phase, so I’ll just pick that up.  and your X-Wing…I take it he’s going to light him up?

Ömer: Oh, yeah.  Two hits and a crit…

Brad: Evasion roll and…fuck me…

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Ömer: That’s…

Brad: ‘ave it!

Ömer: I think an evasion like that should mean you’re out of control for the rest of the game.

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Ömer: So, that’s what happens when you boost on a tight turn.

Brad: Yeah, I really like these new ships.  I guess it’s like jumping from an F-4 to an F-22.

Ömer: …Yes?

Brad: Both of my TIEs now move…not lining up quite like I’d like.

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Ömer: X-Wing has line of sight and range to that TIE…opens fire…

Brad: TIE manages to evade.  It’s actually quite restricting to only have three models in the playing area, isnt’ it?

Ömer: Yeah, after you’ve been playing with the big squadrons, it does feel odd.

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Ömer: You wanna see manoeuvreability?  This is move…barrel roll, then boost.

Brad: Bloody hell.  And this isn’t even Poe Dameron…this is just “Blue Ace”; which sounds like a type of Special Brew…

Ömer: Exactly.  BB-8 allows him to do the barrel roll, which is proving very useful.

Brad: Do you think they’ll do a new Millenium Falcon for this new series?

Ömer: Possibly.  I think they’re going to do a new Falcon; because the new Falcon looks different, and people will want that.  People will want the new satellite dish.  Now, there are people 3D printing the satellite dish, and there are ways to “pop” it out, but FFG are never going to recommend that you do that.  Furthermore, you can’t modify ships for tournament purposes.

Brad: I think they may just issue new cards.  Possibly with a view to the “boxed campaign” that the massive ships do.

Ömer: I think new cards could work.

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Brad: Wow, that does get a shift on.

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Ömer: Exhange of laser fire here.

Brad: TIE loses a shield, the X-Wing is unscathed.

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Ömer: Wow, some serious slewing and skidding there…

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Brad: OH COME ON!  Look at that, you didn’t slip a fiver between that TIE and the Satellite…

Ömer: See, I say “fag paper”.  You can tell where we grew up, right?

Brad: You’re going to shoot him up the arse, aren’t you?

Ömer: Two hits.

Ömer: No damage again…we are rolling like absolute puddings tonight.

Brad: That’s pretty standard for us…The X-Wing chases after one of the TIEs, and the other TIE pulls a K-Turn so that he can give him a First Order Bitch Slap.

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Brad: X-Wing tries to light up the TIE…but he evades out of the way.

Ömer: I think that’s a victory for me, because you need to either pick up that satellite, or destroy me and my reinforcement in one turn.

Brad: Which is, to say the least, unlikely.

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Brad: You can shoot me, but that’s all we’ve got.

Ömer: Okay, I’ve got “Wired” which means when I’m stressed I can re-roll one or more of my attack dice.

Brad: Three hits…Two evades…one shield blown, and that’s the end.  I imagine that’s a victory for you.

Ömer: Yeah, but you got one of the satellites, and I didn’t shoot any of yours down.  Long story short, no-one came out of this looking good.

$_35

We are an astonishing species. Over the past millennium of plagues and exploration, revolution and scientific discovery, woman’s rights and technological advances, human society has changed beyond recognition.  Sweeping through the last thousand years of human development, Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is a treasure chest of the lunar leaps and lightbulb moments that, for better or worse, have sent humanity swerving down a path that no one could ever have predicted.

But which of the last ten centuries saw the greatest changes in human history?  History’s greatest tour guide, Ian Mortimer, knows what answer he would give. But what’s yours?

Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth is really engaging.  The entire concept for the book itself is – as you can see – a very interesting one.  I don’t know of any another book that has tackled a side-by-side comparison of different eras before; certainly on so grand a scale.

As you would expect, the medieval era is where this book really shines; hardly surprising considering that this is Mortimer’s speciality.  The sections on the twelth and thirteenth century, in particular, are worthy of mention.

There are a few glitches along the way.  The pacing feels very off, with Mortimer very obviously playing favourites with the eras that particularly  interest him.  Understandable?  Yes, but a little off-putting.  Overall, it seems to work, though, as the pace of the book overall is a gentle and easy, but highly educational, read.

The plates/photos are okay, but are actually totally unnecessary, not really adding anything to the experience.  There are too few of them to be able to offer any real relevance, and – for my money – the book would have been just as good without them.

All in all, this is a highly enjoyable light read, that offers a very unique take on things, and presents lots of thought provoking observations and stories along the way.  Highly recommended for Mortimer’s existing fans, and worth checking out for fans of Bill Bryson and Tim Moore.