It was my birthday yesterday and I was given some Star Wars: X-Wing expansions sets by my partner. As you can see the plush toy kittens were very excited. A big box had arrived and I had sat patiently all day to wait for my partner to come home so that she could enjoy the surprise on my face when I opened the box. She'd kind of given away what was inside by asking me if I'd be disappointed if I didn't get a Millennium Falcon, which was on my Amazon wishlist, when she asked me if the Rebel transport would be a nice thing to have?
The answer to that is an emphatic yes.
Then we had to have a drink to celebrate my birthday, which we drank while I unpacked all the bits & pieces that come with each Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars set. And girl don't you get a load of stuff to go with each model. It took a while. Then we ate a meal I'd made, and it was suggested we should play a game to celebrate my birthday.
Not by me, but by my partner. How wonderful is that?
The kittens wanted to play with it all, but I suggested restraint, and a compromise was made where they'd get to fly the shuttle with an X-wing escort and have the freighter on the table to admire. My partner set up the kittens deployment, which was less than optimal it has to be said. They were flying Red Squadron's finest: Garven Dreis (Red Leader), Wedge Antilles, and Luke Skywalker escorting a vanilla captured Lambda shuttle. No extras in this set-up, which came 104 points, and is not tournament legal, because there is no Rebel Lambda shuttle cards at this point in time.
We took it in turns to operate the dials for the kittens, but both of us managed to not manoeuvre the formation very well for the first couple of moves as we kept flying into the shuttle. It moves very slowly, and has a big base that mucks up one's well laid cunning plans to fly around it. As an added wrinkle to how we played last time, when Susan ran the kittens fleet I controlled her force and vice-versa when I moved them. This idea worked really well, because it meant that neither of us could know what the other was doing and react accordingly.
Meanwhile the Empire swept in from both flanks. The scenario was to get the shuttle across and off the board for the Rebel scum to win. Above is Susan's tight formation, which she adroitly manoeuvred to good effect, mostly consisting of: a generic TIE Advanced Storm Squadron pilot in the lead, with Night Beast and Mauler Mithel for a total of 56 points.
Below are my TIE fighters all in a line, and I was slightly too clever for my own good in the first formation turn, ending up with them all touching each other at the end of the move. Still it was a cunning plan that mostly worked. My three pilots were; Howl Runner, Dark Curse, and a generic Black Squadron pilot that added up to 48 points. Together our force also came to a grand total of 104 points. Perhaps on hindsight we should have gone for Darth Vader in the TIE Advanced, because the kittens seem to play better than us!?
There was a lot of toing and froing around the board as we both tried to shoot the shuttle while not being blasted to smithereens by the X-wings. I lost a TIE fighter to the kittens and one could see how the game was going to play out from there on. Still a highlight was a lucky save by one of the Imperial pilots who had been targeted by Luke Skywalker, who got the nickname Dodgy Luke Skywalker on account of his ability to avoid being hit when shot at.
The Force was strong with my Black Squadron TIE pilot: I thought she was a gonner when Dodgy Luke threw three hits, but as luck would have it I threw three evades, which was very lucky indeed.
Basically if you haven't played the game the pilots all get to choose to play an option from there list on their pilot cards, and it generally pays for the TIEs to choose evade, because they're a bit brittle having no shields. I had done a reverse turn and my ship was stressed and therefore unable to choose an evade token, so this was a lucky roll of the dice.
And here is the moment where the kittens gloated in their moment of triumph. TIE pilot Mauler Mithel's last chance to destroy the shuttle whose shields were down, hull damaged and generally looking like a target, and he missed. He did survive being shot at by Wedge Antilles who was on his tail, but the kittens won again.
We played one more turn to see if the Empire could stop the X-wings from escaping. We managed to take down Red Leader Garven Dreis, but Mauler Mithel died, and the game ended with four of our six TIE fighters destroyed – Howl Runner and the TIE advanced Storm Squadron pilot having to go back and report their failure to Lord Vader.