Monday, October 5, 2015

Decoy Flares and Medical Droids - A Delve Into X-wing Miniatures Custom Card Making

                Good day, PGP fans! Today I am in quite a good mood and it is because two great things happened this weekend. The first was being able to hear the words of modern Prophets at the LDS General Conference. The second was that I discovered a wonderful program named Strange Eons.
                When it comes to a diverse game like X-wing Miniatures there are many different aspects that appeal to people. Previously I said that my favorite part of the game was being able to create squadrons and then see how they fared out on the playing field. But I think that there might be a new challenger in my favorites now that I have had a taste of creating my own custom X-wing cards. It was refreshing to take a momentary step back from number and strategy crunching and to just play in the sandbox of possible ifs. So for this week's article I eagerly present to you a look into the more creative part of my mind and into custom card making.
                For those of you who don't know, Strange Eons is free software that was created by and offered to enthusiasts of card games. You download the program and then it asks you which "plug-ins" you wish to attach. These plug-ins are the files for specific games and I was delighted to see that X-wing Miniatures is one of them. Once you've downloaded the plug-in then you can start creating X-wing cards to your heart's content!
                I got the program, jumped right in, and started playing with ideas I've had. So here is a look at what I have been working on. And of course, I have included all of my thoughts, ideas, and musings as to why I made the choices I did.

Decoy Flares & Counter Missiles
                FFG has worked hard to make Ordnance a viable part of the game and in return we, the gamers, have been working hard to learn the valuable skill of Ordnance use. However, I had an idea of another route we could possibly take to make sure that ordnance upgrade slots are used: Defensive Ordnance Loadouts. I have recently started re-reading the Honor Harrington series and I love the dynamic action sequences in the books. So drawing some inspiration there, here are my two defensive ordnances: Decoy Flares and Counter Missiles.

                Imagine for a second that you are a pilot about to shoot at a Star Viper. You have the ship locked in but before you can pull the trigger the Viper shoots off a pair of Decoy Flares. Your computer is now totally screwed up and confused trying to track 3 targets but you yourself can clearly see which is the real ship. So you have to forget your targeting computer and just focus to make your manual shot come through. Or think of another example, you have fired your Cluster Missiles at a vulnerable Tie Bomber. However, the Bomber fires a volley of counter missiles intent on intercepting your ordnance. Since you've already fired there is no way for you to just focus your shot past. You have to rely on the guidance systems of your missiles and hope that they can overcome the guidance systems of the counter missiles.
                Let's take a look at my reasoning for these upgrades. I chose small ship only because large base ships already have the Countermeasures upgrade. And it makes sense to me, lore-wise, because large ships are too big to have flares fool targeting computers. Instead they just toss tons of flares and pray for the best. I chose to make these upgrades ordnance slots instead of modifications because then a ship can take both. Moreover, ordnance platforms now don't have to either run naked or overcosted with upgrades. They can take a mix of offensive and defensive ordnance and have better survivability. I feel that they aren't overpowered because they are one-shot items. I made Decoy Flares 1 point since they are quick and won't last very long against sustained attack. The low cost also means that X-wings, E-wings, or even Heavy Sycks can make use of their usually-empty torpedo slot. And I decided on 3 points for Counter Missiles because it is an investment on your part to attempt to waste your enemy's squad points. Let me know your thoughts about these.

Medical Droid
                I am a fan of having strong ships that can last longer than the opponent rather than powerful ships that just blow things up. For that reason I have always enjoyed the Determination upgrade. It is exhilarating to be in the middle of a battle and be able to absorb a critical damage! However, I have felt that the card was too limited: only Elite pilots can take it. I wanted to capture the essence of Determination but have it more accessible.

                So I made the Medial Droid. Yes, I made it more expensive than determination but it makes sense. The Medical Droid can be taken by ANY pilot with a crew slot, not just Elite pilots. Furthermore, Elite pilots with crews are now free to use their EPT for something else. And even though 2 points still seems cheap, remember that it only activates on Pilot Criticals and takes up a crew slot. So it is a risk/reward type of play, it might help you or it actually might do nothing. I was going to limit it to Large ships but felt I didn't need to because it really is just common sense. You want a Medical Droid on your Decimator or Hounds Tooth, not on your B-wing or Phantom. And finally it was more fitting to lore, in my opinion, for the Medical Droid to take effect during the End Phase. But with that it means that a Pilot Critical on your last hull can kill you before the droid can take effect. I also made it Limited so that, just like with the Tactician, you can't stack the ability.

The Dogfighter Y-wing
                This custom upgrade is actually one of Major Juggler's House Rules. However, I felt it was more exciting as a Title rather than a turret refit. Honestly, it doesn't matter since this upgrade wouldn't conflict with the BTL-A4 Title because there is no more turret to work with! It adds a fun and new dynamic twist to the Y-wing: a jousting ship that trades high attack power for high hit points and low cost. This means you could field a swarm of 6 Dogfighter Golds and still have 4 points left over for Astromechs or Decoy Flares.

The Poor Grey Pilot
                I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself! While the rest of my ideas on this article are actual attempts at making viable upgrades, this card is just simple fun. The Poor Grey Pilot is a named pilot with PS 4, an EPT, and a unique ability. Yes, his pilot ability is actually overpowered. But that's what your opponent gets for flying overused, meta pilots! Ha! lol. It was just too perfect for me not to use. For those who are curious, the 2014 Worlds Top 16 included: Airen, Backstabber, Biggs, Chewy, Corran, Dark Curse, Han, Howlrunner, Jan, Soontir, Wedge, and Whisper.

                 I really hope you enjoyed this little excursion of creativity. Even though these custom cards won't be usable in tournaments, I will still have tons of fun using them in causal play. Feel free to use these upgrade cards for your own personal use. But if you post them online at all please give me credit, just as I give credit to the artists in my afterwards. And again, feel free to leave comments and discuss. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credits: The Decoy Flares picture was taken from the Tie Fighter Short Film (the film uses red missiles but they look a lot like flares!) The Medical Droid picture was taken from "The Hunt for Warlord Sarkasey" Star Wars Role Playing Game forum thread. The Dogfighter Y-wing picture belongs to FFG. The Poor Grey Pilot Y-wing picture belongs to me.

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