Archive for February, 2017

Half support vessel, half big guns, Phoenix Home has arrived in Star Wars: Armada. Another vessel first featured in Star Wars: Rebels, the Phoenix Home can be played one of two ways, both of which are equally valid, depending on your battle plans, and your personal playing style. 


The miniature itself isn’t too bad, but doesn’t look quite dirty enough for the “lived in” feel of the Star Wars universe. In Star Wars things are grubby, or worn, rather than hoovered and shiny like Star Trek. Perhaps it’s a symptom of being based on a cartoon ship, but Phoenix Home looks a little too much like a child’s toy, and not enough like a wargaming miniature…


…yes, I know that, but this just looks a little too much on the toy end of things. 

The two base load outs for the Pelta-class ship (that’s what the Phoenix Home is) are surprisingly diverse. For the main part ships in Star Wars: Armada either come as “the ship you want to use” or “the slightly shitter version of the ship you want to use, but, hey, it’s ten points cheaper”. Here, however, with only a four point difference, what you actually get are different styles of ship. The Assault Ship load out is…well, not exact an über heavy hitter, but it packs a reasonable amount of punch. 

The Command Ship load out, by contrast, forgoes firepower in favour of an increased Squadron statistic. So, with this in the thick of it, a good chunk of your Squadrons will become much more powerful. I love that Star Wars: Armada is focusing more on injecting some theme and narrative into a tabletop war game. It’s what the game was lacking at the start, and it’s much better for its inclusion. 

And, of course, there’s all the juicy upgrades that are so fun to tinker with. Fans of Rebels and The Clone Wars will be pleased to see Ahsoka Tano make her Armada debut. Her ability – to essentially switch one Command Token for another – isn’t particularly impressive, but at two points, it’s fun to add her to your force. “Shields to Maximum!” is a useful ploy to give your ships some shields back. The main drive, though, is on Fighter combat, with “All fighters, follow me!”, “Rapid Launch Bays” and “Fighter Coordination Team” offering some serious buffs to Squadrons. 

This is a great support vehicle for Rebel players, but looking forward, the buffs that it offers to narrative play and squadron heavy players is a welcome progression. Recommended. 

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb

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When comes to Star Wars: Armada, the massive dreadnoughts may be both the eye candy and the focus of play, but – much like the battles in the movies themselves, it’s the smaller, single-man fighters that can make the difference between victory and defeat. We’ve had all the usual suspects released in previous waves, so are these two new packs capable of offering something more, or is it time to get the barrel scrapers out?

The Rebel Fighter pack is led by the star of Star Wars: Rebels…the Ghost. Hera is the named pilot you get included, and she packs some pretty heavy guns, as well as a couple of extremely versatile abilities. Firstly, she has Rogue which allows the Ghost to move and attack during the squadron phase; but the Grit ability also allows the Ghost to move if it’s only engaged by a single squadron. The Ghost is built for big, heroic plays, which is exactly what you want to be ding with it. The cheaper version – the VCX-100 Freighter lacks the decent firepower of the Ghost, but it does have some nice…if more strategic and less combative abilities. 


Another vessel featured in Star Wars: Rebels is Ketsu Onyo in the Shadow Caster. Lacking the firepower of the Ghost, but featuring a few extra abilities, including the aforementioned Grit and Rogue, as well a being a Bomber. The cheaper version – the Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft is nice enough, but is just a Tesco Value Shadow Caster

The last ships included are the Z-95 Headhunters. Some people love Z-95s, but to me they’re just a cheaper, shoddier version of the X-Wing, and their debut in Star Wars: Armada has done little to change that opinion. At 7 points a squadron, you could use them to burn up some leftover points during squad building, but that’s about it. The only point of interest is that they possess the Swarm ability, which was previously only used by TIE Fighters and their ilk. How useful this ability will be to you depends on your playing style, but it could come in handy. 


The Imperial set similarly brings three new types of vehicle to Star Wars: Armada. The TIE Phantom originally appeared in the video game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II (nope, me neither) but has since develed a following among players of Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars: X-Wing. These possess the Cloak ability, which allows them to get in a bonus move at the end of the squadron phase, even if engaged. They also carry a decent amount of firepower; both anti-ship and anti-squadron. 

Another X-Wing favourite, the Lambda shuttle, is also now available. While far from a combative vessel, its use as an ECM plane role – which never really works in the scale X-Wing operates at, is considerably better handled here, allowing orders from ships to squadrons to be sent further and more efficiently than previously. 

Last but not least, and another X-Wing bad boy, the VT-49 Decimator has arrived, and it brings a serious shotgun blast of close range damage to the table. With the a heavy weapons at its disposal and the Rogue ability, this has the potential to be a serious Squadron destroyer – especially if they’re full of cheap and nasty Z-95s. 

While both of these sets are not as strong as the squadron releases we’ve seen in previous waves, they’re still definitely worth picking up. The Ghost and the Decimator are great fighters for more aggressive players, and the others definitely add flavour, if nothing else. Armada just keeps getting better and better. 

The Rebel Flighter Squardons II and Imperial Fighter Squadrons II packs are available now. A base set of Star Wars: Armada is required to use the contents. 

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb

Don’t worry, no spoilers follow. 

Mansions of Madness was easily the best game release of 2016, but until now, new releases have been limited to the upgrade kits (which added in the gubbins for those who didn’t own the first edition) and one DLC scenario. Thankfully, there is now a small…well, medium, sized…boxed expansion.  

So, what do you get in this box of mystery?

Well, two brand new playable characters, for starters. Wilson Richards, the handyman, and Akachi Onyele, the shaman, are characters that are familiar to players of other games in the Arkham Horror Files series. Their special powers are pretty useful, with Richards becoming Focused every time he takes a Horror Check, and Onyele is able to instructions to discard Clue tokens. 

You also get some extra items, and a couple of new spells for your characters to discover in their “adventures”, as well as more than a few extra room tiles and monsters that are designed for use in the two new scenarios included, and they’ll no doubt also get mixed into the previously released adventures.

The new monsters are limited to just one type, the Thrall, and they’re a pretty nice looking design, calling to mind the later scenes of John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, with distorted faces and mutated limbs being the order of the day. They’re a cool design, and hopefully they’ll make an appearance in future (and past) releases, too.

The two new scenarios are what we’re most interested in, of course…so how are they? Well, actually, they’re really bloody good. The stories are, at first at least, less the killer monster on the loose sort, and actually start out as more the 1950s creepy house in the mist or murder mystery sort. For me, this is a great win, as much as I love all the Arkham Horror Files series, sometimes they are a little less The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and a little more Fright Night! A return to a more Call of Cthulhu RPG style of play is most welcome here!

The two scenarios included are superb, but the rest of the box set feels a little lacking. Two extra characters and just one new monster type in a boxed expansion feels a little thin. Hopefully a larger expansion is on the horizon that will give us a little more satisfaction on this front. 

Definitely worth picking up for the extra scenarios…but there is a feeling that the rest of the box is not what it could have been.

Mansions of Madness: Beyond the Threshold is available now priced £29.99. A copy of the second edition core set of Mansions of Madness is required to use the contents. 

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Brad Harmer-Barnes is a games journalist and comedy writer from Kent, England, and has written for (among others) Miniature Wargames magazine, Fortress: Ameritrash, Emotionally14.com and Suppressing-Fire.Com, which he also edits. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @realbradhb.


To celebrate the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, FFG released two new ships for X-Wing: The TIE Striker for the Imperial Faction, and for the Rebellion, the U-Wing. Being a predominantly Rebel player, let’s dive into the U-Wing!

As usual, the first thing I do is look at the physical model, and I’m glad to say that it meets the usual X-Wing standard. Like only a few releases before it, it has moving parts. The wings go from the forward “landing” position to the rear “attack” position in a very satisfying way, physically representing an in-game mechanic, as well as just looking really cool. The detail is as crisp as always, and the paintwork is nice, featuring the standard Rebel “used future” wear and tear. My only quibble is that it is a large-base ship, no longer than the K-Wing on its small base, and so looks a little diminutive on the table, but that’s really more of a game mechanic problem than a modelling one.

I’ve yet to see the ship itself make a massive mark on the game, but there’s plenty of promise in it. The expansion features four pilots, three of them unique, as well as fourteen upgrade cards, nine of them new as of this release. It boasts 3 Attack Dice, 1 Agility, 4 Hull and 4 Shields, and can take both the Focus and Target Lock actions. The dial is fair, with a nice range of motion. It cannot flip and turn around, but it can do a “0” manoeuvre, essentially not going anywhere for a round.
The highest skilled pilot is Cassian Andor, the only U-Wing pilot capable of taking Elite Pilot Talent upgrades, a 27 point, Pilot Skill 6 unique character. His special ability allows him to remove a stress token from any friendly ship, other than himself, at Range 1, at the start of the activation phase, making him a useful support in the current meta of ships handing out stress tokens.

Two other names pilots, Bodhi Rook and Heff Tobber are also included. Bodhi basically frees up the range that your squad can take target locks, by allowing them to use each other to lock on, meaning that you are not limited by only locking on to a ship close to you.

Heff is a blocking pilot, with his low pilot skill, he wants enemy ships to bump into him, and after stopping them taking an action, he gets a free action himself, allowing him to get multiple actions per turn if you put him in the right place. Give him something like Engine Upgrade, and when a ship bumps into him, he can then boost away from them, waiting for the next ship to touch him. That will cause chaos against swarm players.

More of the cast of Rogue One show up in the form of Crew Upgrade cards. I won’t do a detailed break down of each one, but as a quick list:

Jyn Erso can collate multiple Focus tokens if multiple enemies are bearing down on her.

Cassian Andor can take a sneaky look at your opponent’s dial, and change plan accordingly.

Baze Malbus allows you to shoot at another target, if you miss your first.

Bistan lets you turn hits into critical hits.

Bodhi Rook has the same ability as his pilot card, allowing you to target lock all over the place.

Another upgrade of note is “Pivot Wing”, a free dual title card for the U-Wing that represents its mobile S-Foils. In “Landing” mode you can, after performing a 0 “stop” move, rotate the ship 180 degrees, essentially creating the tightest turn in the game. On the other hand, in “Attack” mode, you increase your agility by one, bringing its attack and defence level with something like an X-Wing. After moving, you may flip this card, so planning for the next round is essential. 

And then there’s “Expertise”. Expertise is a 4 point Elite Pilot Talent upgrade, and it has made a huge impact on the game, both in its effectiveness, and in the fact that people are planning whole ships and lists to counter it. It’s beauty is in its simplicity: As long as you are not stressed, when attacking, you may change all of your eyeball results to hits. That’s it, and in the right hands it’s brutal. If you read my review of Heroes of the Resistance you’ll have seen my list for Rey flying the Falcon. That list was getting me to between 10th and 8th in tournaments. I dropped Expertise on Rey, and instantly came 4th. The only lists that beat me were ones specifically built to counter how my list works. And you get two of these cards in the box!

Expertise aside, the U-Wing is a great little expansion, even if not a complete “must have”, even for Rebel players. It doesn’t capture the ship or the characters quite as lovingly as the aforementioned Heroes of the Resistance, but isn’t exactly inaccurate either. If you liked Rogue One, particularly the awesome space battle at the end, you’ll love moving this ship’s wings and doing K-2SO quotes.

Rebellions are built on Expertise/10

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Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work at Can’t Sleep, Must Paint.


When the Scum and Villainy faction was announced for X-Wing, it announced the first time that ships crossed into different factions. The Rebel Y-Wing, Z-95 Headhunter and HWK-290 and the Imperial Firespray-31could now be played in the new faction as well as their original factions. Since then, no ships have crossed over…until now. With the release of Sabine’s TIE Fighter, an Imperial ship is available to the Rebel Alliance. 

Slight spoiler warning for those not up to speed with the Star Wars: Rebels series, some of the cards in here reveal some characters that turn up, so tread carefully from here on in.

The model is, as far as I can tell, the same TIE Fighter that was released way back in the first Core Set and Wave 1, but with Sabine’s cool yellow paint scheme.

Stats-wise it is, again, a standard TIE Fighter, with 2 attack, 3 defence, 3 hull and no shields. It is able to take Focus, Barrel Roll and Evade actions, just like the Imperial version.


Four pilots are included in the expansion, all of them Unique, meaning that the Rebels can field not more than 4 TIE Fighters.

The highest costed pilot is the one-time apprentice of Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano. Costing 17 points and having a pilot skill of 7, her interesting ability allows her, or a friendly ship at range one, to take an action at the start of the combat phase, at the cost of a Focus Token.

At 15 points, Sabine herself pilots a 15 point fighter with the same pilot skill and ability as her previous release, PS5 and able to take a Boost or Barrel Roll before taking a manoeuvre. 

The clone Captain Rex pops up for 14 points at PS4, and is the first Rebel to use the new “Condition” abilities. Basically speaking, after Captain Rex attacks someone, if that pilot attacks someone that isn’t Rex, they lose one attack dice. As long as Rex keeps attacking, this can stick around, so it could be a tricky card to use, but nasty if you get the hang of it.


Lastly, “Zeb” Orrelios has the cheapest TIE at 13 points, at PS3 and using the same ability to cancel Critical Hits before Hits as he had in the Ghost expansion. 

Five upgrades are included, four of them new, and each of those are Unique.


“Sabine’s Masterpiece” is a Rebel only title card that allows the ship to take Illicit and Crew upgrades, vastly changing how TIE Fighters behave.

Captain Rex also appears as a Crew card, and with him equipped, if you miss your target you can assign yourself a Focus Token.

“Captured TIE” is another Rebel only card, a Modification that means that until you make an attack, pilots with a lower skill than you cannot target you.

Finally, EMP Device is an Illicit Upgrade that can be used to support the Captured TIE Mod. Instead of performing an attack, you can instead choose to discard the card to deal 2 Ion Tokens to every ship at Range 1. This isn’t an attack, so enemy ships still can’t target you, but you’re going to receive Ion Tokens too, being at Range 1 of yourself.

Cynics may see this as a cheap re-paint of an already released expansion, but I think there’s enough in here to have some real fun with. It’s too soon to see if it’ll have any great effect on the game as a whole, but I expect to see a lot of this ship playing support to bigger ships. I myself cannot wait to fly this with my Ghost and Phantom.

Grand Theft Autoblaster/10

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Ömer Ibrahim is a regular contributor to Suppressing Fire and you can check out his modelling work at Can’t Sleep, Must Paint.