Monday, November 2, 2015

The Ralph McQuarrie Y-wing - A Custom Ship Tribute

                One of the biggest things that makes Star Wars a memorable film is that it has such a stunning and visually-capturing universe. Whether it's the sleek snap of an S-foil, the surge of the Death Star vaporizing a planet, or the fearsome blankness of a Madalorian helmet, there is something that everyone has connected to when experiencing Star Wars. This vast galaxy of wonder was possible thanks to the concept artists, computer graphic engineers, sculptors, and many others who worked together on this amazing movie. Out of all of these people, I greatly connect with Ralph McQuarrie and his concept art.
               George Lucas told Ralph his vision and the talented artist took it and created it visually with only a few corrections needed. To give tribute to him, as well as to go back to the "roots" of Star Wars, JJ Abrams and the crew producing Episode 7 returned to Ralph's work for inspiration. It is fun to see that the T-70 X-wing actually draws on Ralph's preliminary X-wing designs.

                The BTL-B Bomber created for the Clone Wars cartoon series was also a product that drew inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie's original Y-wing. Honestly the bubble turret says it all, you just need to add some armor plates. I have hope that just like the T-70 X-wing, a "McQuirre Style" Y-wing could appear in Episode 7! In light of this, and to pay my own tribute, I present to you my custom Y-wing for X-wing Miniatures casual play:
                To me the McQuarrie Y-wing feels lighter and yet more fragile than the final versions we see in the Original Trilogy. To reflect this I dropped the Y's hull to 3 and increased its agility to 2. This won't make the ship overpowered because comparatively this means it will last only a little longer in a joust than an X-wing (and with Integrated Astromech the X-wing will last just as long).
                Ralph's artwork shows his Y-wings to have a gunner rather than an astromech. Accordingly, I removed the astromech from the upgrade bar. However, I ran into a problem when I wanted to add a crew slot to the ship. I crunched the numbers and possible combos and found that the crew slot on a Y-wing is really powerful. Therefore, in order to keep the cost low I opted to not include the crew slot and instead make a BTL-S3 Title with a crew. (Still playing around with that one so I won't include it here).
                In my mind this type of Y-wing would be a lot harder to fly, especially when you have to work to give your gunner a good firing angle. To reflect this I drew upon the idea behind ships like the A-wing, Tie Fighter, and Illicit Headhunter. All of these ships are much harder for pilots to handle and it made sense to me that they are always 1 pilot skill lower than other star fighters. So I made my McQuarrie Y-wings have 1 less PS than normal and as an interesting side note it also helped keep the ship's cost low.
                Next was to create the four pilots I would include in my "expansion". I named the lowest generic pilot to be from Shadow Squadron. I felt this was a good carryover of the connection this ship has to the Clone Wars. For the PS 3 I wanted a squad that had that same feel as Shadow Squad but was also unique. After much thought I decided on an appropriate Black Knight Squadron. And also in line with the T-70, I gave the higher PS generic access to the Elite Pilot Talent slot. As for the two named ace pilots, I didn't want to create names that would have no meaning or put Extended Universe pilots in a ship that technically never existed for them. So instead I felt it fitting to give a shout-out to Ralph McQuarrie himself as well as his co-worker Colin Cantwell. I gave Colin a pilot ability similar to the scum Kavil. However, instead of receiving an extra attack die for firing out of arc, Colin gets a free focus. That can help his gunner have the necessary dice modification for better attacks. It also means he can use a Blaster Turret effectively with both a target lock and a focus. Or he can save it for defense because, unlike 1 defense die, 2 agility can use a focus token effectively. And for my final ace I wanted to give Ralph McQuarrie a really good ability. The pilot that bears his name is so good that he can fly and use of his primary guns while his gunner fires as well. Just like with the upcoming Ghost freighter, I wanted a combo that allowed a ship to operate at full capacity.

                The final thing I did was price everything. I did my squad point number crunching with the help of the Pilot Generator made by Jason Fuller. (Which at this time I believe is now taken down.) Dropping the Astromech slot, 1 PS, and 2 Hull was more than my increase of 1 Agility and as such the final price was 17 points for the lowest generic. I kept my next generic at just 2 points above because the EPT helps turn 18.5 points into 19. And finally I scaled Colin by an extra point and Ralph by an extra two in addition to their increase in Pilot Skill.
                Have you created any fun, custom cards for your own causal play? And would you fly the McQuarrie Y-wing? Let me know in the comments below. I wanted a custom ship that captured the essence of Ralph McQuarrie's original concept art and I think it came out pretty good. Now I have to work on a good modification for a crew slot as well as come up with what kind of dial I want to have. I hope you enjoyed this fun, creative project. Please give me credit if you repost these, just as I give credit to the artists in my afterwards. Thanks for reading and have a great week!

The two art pieces are from Ralph McQuarrie's concept art. The artwork used on the Shadow Squadron Pilot and Black Knight Jockey also come from Ralph McQuarrie. The pictures used on the Colin and Ralph pilots were taken from the CGI work of Michael Hanson from


  1. Love this website, it's full of great new ideas. The custom cards look great, but might I suggest using Colin and Ralph's Star Wars names? Such as off one of those "What's your Star Wars name" websites?

    Just a thought. Keep up the good work.

    1. I've never thought of doing that! Haha, McQura and Canco!