Monday 25 May 2015

X-Wing: Death Star Trench Battle

Hi folks,

With Battletech Tuesday on hiatus while we get the new campaign organised, the guys I game with have had a chance to dabble in a few other random interests. A few nights ago we play-tested a custom Death Star trench run for the X-Wing miniatures game, set just after Garven Dreis orders the remaining Red Squadron ships to prepare for their attack run.
The game was highly enjoyable, even though we stopped and started frequently to discuss and develop the rules of the scenario. The scenario rules we used, and the reasoning behind the design decisions we made, follow on after the battle report. 
For those who don’t want to invest that much time in reading the technical side of things: the scenario was damn hard for the Rebels.  

Battle Report

Black Squadron moves in formation towards the Rebels. Dark Curse drops straight into the trench to take any early runs head-on. Wedge and Luke split off to the left flank, Biggs drops into the trench and the Y-wing splits right. Even with 6 TIEs it is hard to cover that many threats without at least one of them getting through to the exhaust port...

Luke and Wedge fire at two TIE fighters but they are saved by some solid defensive rolls. Over two turns of close maneuvering Luke is destroyed, Wedge is wounded and an "eyeball" is vaped. Wedge head back for the trench to support Biggs, who pours ineffective fire into Dark Curse as they fly towards each other at full speed. The Y-wing continues to sneak around the right flank.

Biggs sets himself up for a shot on the exhaust port whilst Wedge runs interference. Wedge pulls a K-Turn which incurs two attack dice from the trench, which manages to destroy him. After sneaking past a turbolaser turret with the help of effective ion fire, the Y-wing drops into the trench and lines up against the exhaust port as well. A lucky TIE fighter scores a critical hit, preventing it from making any target locks, making it impossible for the Y-wing to destroy the Death Star (denied!)

Following the death of Wedge, the Millennium Falcon drops in and scatters the TIE's. It begins pouring out fire but the TIE's manage to evade everything thrown at them. The Y-wing is destroyed by another turn of accurate fire.

Biggs missed his shot with the proton torpedoes, which should have ended the game. We decided to play on and allow him another go at the port, which he dive bombed over two turns and made the necessary critical hit. "Great shot Biggs! That was two-in-a-million".

The Trench Run Scenario
We used rules which reflect what occurs in the movie as closely as possible, which created a very strange gaming experience. More specifically, what is good for the movie makes for a demoralising game for the Rebels… unless of course they win very quickly due to a blisteringly arbitrary win condition. Prepared for this in advance, and being the group of guys that we are, we had a lot of fun and laughs. The scenario needs tinkering before I would unleash it on anyone else though.

1: The Rebels
Here is a rundown of the Rebel force. Luke Skywalker with Calculation can spend a focus to change one eyeball result to a critical hit. One of these hits is required to hit the thermal exhaust port and win the game, so I thought this would be a nice touch. Wedge is a TIE killer; with thoughtful placement, Outmanoeuvre and his special ability, watch the TIE’s agility advantage evaporate.  The Millennium Falcon acts as the 2nd Rebel Wave, which arrives when 50% casualties are incurred. Biggs… well, we all know why Biggs is there… 

The Gold Squadron BTL-A4 Y-wing was there to represent the lone Y-wing you see escaping with Luke, Wedge and Han when the Deathstar blows up. We didn’t give it an astromech as the Y-wings clearly didn’t have them at the battle of Yavin.

2: The Imperials
The first wave of Imperials consists of 5 Black Squadron TIE fighters and Dark Curse. As a 2nd wave we had Darth Vader with Predator and an Advanced Targeting Computer (keep twisting that dial Darth…). His wingmen Mauler Mithel and Howlrunner both had Wingman and Targeting Computer (let’s all twist dials!).

3: The Death Star Trench
  • Any ship with its base overlapping or at movement range 1 of the trench at the end of a turn may forgo its manoeuvre next turn, and instead "enter the trench". The ship is placed in the trench at the point nearest to it's last position and gets a free reorientation of facing. 
  • Any manoeuvres in the trench, other than straight moves, incur a 2 die attack. 
  • Any ships involved in a collision perform a random manoeuvre during the next turn.
  • Ships outside the trench cannot draw line of site to ships inside the trench and vice versa.

4: The Thermal Exhaust Port
  • Rolls 4 dice in defense to represent the difficulty of the shot. 
  • The Death Star can only be destroyed by proton torpedoes.
  • Any ship, apart from Luke Skywalker’s X-wing, wishing to fire upon the exhaust port must maintain a target lock for at least 2 rounds. They can make no attacks while they maintain target lock (can only defend, and use focus or evade tokens). Luke Skywalker may instead spend a focus token. 
  • Rebel ships must fire their torpedoes at range 1 and score an uncancelled critical hit to destroy the Death Star.

5: Turbolaser Batteries (we used 2 in this game)
  • 3 Hull points.
  • During the skill level 0 step of the activation phase, rotate each turret to choose firing arc. 
  • Should it choose to fire, a turret rolls 4 attack dice against all ships at range 2-3 in its firing arc.
  • The defender doubles his/her agility value against these attacks. 
  • Action. Reduce the agility of a ship within range 1-3 by 1 (to a minimum of 1). You cannot fire this turn.

Points to Ponder

Wade made a good point at the end of the game; there are two ways to approach this scenario as the Rebel player. You can go for the objective, in which case you will either win quickly or the TIE swarm will catch up with you and pull you apart. Alternatively, you can ignore the objective and thin out or destroy the TIE swarm like a normal game, in which case you may as well not have the objective. Setting a time limit will remove this choice, as this forces the Rebel player to gun for the exhaust port, but this still leaves the game in a precarious position: win as quickly as possible with a "1 in a million shot" or (far more likely) miss and face the TIE swarm from hell.

For what it is worth, I suggest:
  • Reducing the points assigned to the Imperials. Darth and friends didn't even make it onto the board, as they weren't needed. Seriously, there is no fat in an Episode IV Imperial force...
  • Allowing the Rebel ships unlimited proton torpedo shots. They need them.
  • When the Falcon arrives, bring it on within range 3 of the Rebel ship closest to the exhaust port, so that it can begin supporting the Rebels immediately.
  • Reduce the defense dice of the exhaust port (2 perhaps). Getting an uncancelled critical hit is hard enough.

See you across the table,


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