J. R. Tracy
After a week off for the glorious ASL Oktoberfest, we were back in action Tuesday night with eight gamers last night for old-school wargaming and new-fangled X-Wing pew-pew adventure.
John and Dr. Rob got started on Beware the Hare, a 1944 East Front scenario from the Dos Equis pack produced by the Texas ASL club. This features a German panzergrenadier counterattack in Romania, against Soviet infantry supported by an antitank gun and a pair of AA cannon. The eponymous hare is Vasily Zaitsev of Stalingrad fame, here directing the AAA unit. The Soviets are falling back to defend several buildings, while the Germans are pressed for time to take their scattered objectives. John has rolled across the first board but is getting pretty banged up as he approaches the second set of buildings.
A wary hare checks a line of sight
On the big table, we finally broke out X-Wing. Jim and Bill handled the Rebels while Scott, myself, and Paul (head of our Sydney sleeper cell, topside for his biennial performance review) ran the Empire. The Rebel X-Wings had higher firepower but lower maneuverability than our TIE fighters; I had an advanced TIE Fighter, which has a bit of shielding and a targeting option unavailable to the standard models. Playing the basic rules, we dinged each other on the initial pass and then reversed course for another go. I was quickly destroyed and Scott soon followed, but Paul jinked and looped for several turns, seeking positional advantage. Alas, he eventually succumbed as well.
The Mollusc fights for his life
By then, Rob had headed off to Westchester so John joined us for a big 100 point scenario battle with the advanced rules. The Rebels had to escort a senator's shuttle across the table against a swarm of Imperial fighters. John joined the Alliance, who tricked themselves out with a pair of X-Wings and a Y-Wing (more of a gunship, with even more firepower but not much of a turner), while we opted for numbers with six fighters in total. This was a swirling affair as we tried to burn our way through the Rebel fighters for a crack at the shuttle. Unfortunately, the cunning Rebel scum selected Biggs Darklighter as one of their pilots; thanks to his special ability he draws fire away from nearby friendly targets. I nicknamed him the Fat Man as apparently he filled our targeting reticles to the exclusion of all else. Under Jim's command, Biggs bravely sacrificed himself, pulling alongside the senator to absorb the full weight of four TIE fighters as the shuttle escaped with only minor damage.
Whoosh - coming back around after the initial pass
We had a lot of fun with the game, though clearly the basic game is a brief stop on the way to the much richer advanced rules (which bring upgrades into play). The dial-driven plotting system is clean, the initiative scheme is simple and thematic, and there is a nice contrast between the opposing forces. As the Empire we made the wrong choice, favoring numbers over firepower in our scenario, so next time we'll try something different. For now, the excellent production values are enough to keep this on the table, but long term it will stand or fall on the strength of scenarios and expansions. The list price is steep, but I reckon it's not bad value from the likes of CoolStuffInc.