Monday, September 21, 2015

The Sub-Light Acceleration Motor - A Truly Unique In-Game X-wing Miniatures Mechanic

                One of the greatest things I enjoy about Fantasy Flight Games is their ability to accurately capture attributes in game mechanics. The Y-wing has always been my favorite ship and that didn't change an ounce when I started playing X-wing Miniatures. 
                Now when they announced the K-wing I was quite curious to see how they would pull off the SLAM. In the Extended Universe the SLAM is a non-hyperdrive engine that greatly increased the speed of ships in normal space. While the Hyperdrive is a delicate and genius piece of engineering, the SLAM is nothing more than just a really, really big engine. It is similar to comparing Warp and Impulse drives in Star Trek. Installing a SLAM on the K-wing made it one of the fastest ships for its size in normal space.
                So when I first got my K-wing I started experimenting. I wanted to see if FFG held up to their standard of capturing the essence of ships in the game. And the results are quite impressive. For my comparison I took ships right out of the box without any upgrades. Measurements were taken in units of small ship bases.
                The first thing I did was compare a straight forward race. In this context the SLAM beat out most competitors. But in the end there wasn't a clear winner. The SLAM tied with the A-wing, Tie Interceptor, and the Outrider. (The Falcon wasn't a contender because it gets most of its movement speed by applying its large base to the Engine Upgrade). All 4 contending ships came in at 9 base units when they moved forward and utilized their maneuver action. Yes, you could argue that an Interceptor with Push the Limit would beat the SLAM and you would be correct. But the K-wing can just as easily take the Advanced SLAM with Leebo and still match pace. (Although I would not recommend this, haha).

                However, I didn't put much merit into this part of the test because, honestly, there are very few applications of the straight forward speed in actual X-wing matches. What is more applicable is turning power. This is especially true when the K-wing relies so much on position for ordnance and A-wings and Interceptors must be pointed the right direction to shoot out of their forward firing arcs. In this category there really was no contest. The A-wing and Tie Interceptor get most of their speed from forward movements and have the small boost action to help with turning. But this isn't enough when compared to the turning power of the SLAM. The K-wing can take sweeping, evasive maneuvers and still match the forward speed of an Interceptor. Next, the SLAM always beats the boost when it comes to banking. And finally, the K-wing wins in a full out U-turn. The A-wing and Interceptor need the Daredevil upgrade to squeak out that last part of the turn. In fact, the only ship that can match a 2 speed U-turn is the Blue Ace T-70 X-wing.

                 My conclusion from these results is this: The K-wing is the fastest ship in the game when it comes to maneuverability power on the playing mat. But what does that mean for us, the players? It means that the K-wing's SLAM provides a unique in-game mechanic that we can learn, master, and utilize when we fly. However, that is easier said than done. I know for me, I seriously stunk at flying the K-wing when I first cracked it open from its box. I felt like I was a beginner again and my ship maneuvers were completely uncoordinated. And in several of my first games my K-wing didn't quite make it to the right place during bombing runs and was easily blown up. But just like with any new part of a game or new skill, it just takes practice. I got some good play time under my belt and I feel now that I have enough of a grasp on the SLAM to have it help me in games. It can really be a game changer if you can utilize this brand new game mechanic and your opponent can't. So get out there and SLAM away!

Pardon my photography skills. I'm a analyzer and writer, not a snap-shooter. lol

Also, did you know that the the Imperial Missile Boat also had the SLAM? So keep your fingers crossed!


  1. Advanced slam is a mod though isn't it? So a K-Wing can't take Advanced Slam and Engine Upgrade. Advanced Slam and Leebo maybe.

    1. Oh, good catch. I'll fix that. But yes, the point is that forward speed isn't as important as banking speed.