Our local group played a few rounds of the new Battle of Yavin scenario pack this week so I thought I'd offer my thoughts on the experience!
TL;DR, it's a LOT of good, clean fun and I think every X-Wing player should try it at least once.
I ended up playing two games having rolled into the store with my special components already punched out and couple of 35-point squads already built. I had my special little Death Star targeting countdown tracker and a speaker with my Star Wars soundtrack playlist ready to go for a night of thematic fun.
Here are the basics:
- Rebels vs. Empire, 35 points per squad. Rebels can have one large base ship, otherwise all must be small bases.
- While you can theoretically build squads with just about any ships/pilots you like as long as you comply with the base size restrictions, the scenario was supposedly only balanced for the Standard Loadout (SL) build cards in the pack.
- Empire must set three ships in reserve which cannot be deployed until the Systems Phase of the third round.
- Rebels MAY assign their large base the "Yahoo" condition. That ship is then set in reserve and does not deploy until another Rebel ship has been assigned the "Attack Run" condition. Then it may deploy in the Engagement Phase of that round.
- The trench is set up at range 3 from the Imperial player's board edge and both squads are set up in prescribed range 5 by range 1 setup zones in opposite corners as seen below.
I built both Rebel and Empire squads to try but wound up playing Rebels in both games which helped with setup and moving from table to table. I stuck to the pilots included in the BoY pack because I wanted to try the scenario "as designed" and the simplicity of the single tarot-sized cards was definitely nice. My 35-point squad worked out neatly to include Han, 3 Red Squadron X-Wings, and 3 Gold Squadron Y-Wings. How wholesome! I didn't really bother trying to optimize the squadron to game the scenario, just picked 35 points' worth of ships that I like and seemed to work out well enough. I learned some things about each SL pilot that I think will apply when I start to use them in standard X-Wing listbuilding.
- Luke Skywalker: not sure if I prefer this Luke to 22LV buildable Luke for the same points, though he does most of the same things with the bonus of the super fun Attack Speed ability and Hope. I think my preference will end up being situational.
- Wedge Antilles: I've heard people don't like this version of Wedge but I actually found him useful. I5 is good enough and his ability triggers often enough if you're firing primary weapons and flying in formation. Plus the ability is just so appropriate! Wedge is going to be targeted and killed so why not pay a point less? I think he's probably the best 5-point X-Wing for now and you always have the option to upgrade to mature Wedge for just a point. BoY Wedge fits perfectly at 5, IMO: he's better than A-Wing Wedge at 4 but worse than Red Leader Wedge at 6.
- Biggs Darklighter: Okay, so I still think Wedge is the "better" 5-point pick but Biggs is a ton of fun and a great complement to his wingmates. I used every one of Biggs' abilities from his activation initiative shenanigans to Selfless to the shield regen astromech and he really pulled his weight. One thing our group discovered is that Biggs' ability to decide whether or not to copy a buddy's initiative in the Systems Phase, AFTER player order has been decided, lets you play fun little mind games with your opponent. Pour one out for our buddy, Biggs.
- Dutch Vander: My instinct is that I don't like this Dutch as much as his regular version at the same points but I'll concede that with a little bit of practice I could start to see some value. I kept forgetting to make sure he attacked first to ensure I could pass the lock and didn't position his wingmates to capitalize and I missed a few opportunities to use his astromech's rotate ability. The OG Dutch is probably more flexible but I think this version is nicely loaded and can be pretty effective if used well.
- Davish "Pops" Krail: Pops is just straight-up unremarkably good. Not great, good. Rerolls on your Ion Cannon Turret will be assigning some Ion tokens, so either pop off your Advanced Proton Torpedo or save it for the trench and put that turret to work.
- Dex Tiree: Dex is probably not the best of the Y-Wings but I thought he was the most fun. Rolling an extra green die when he's near a buddy led to some pretty hilarious situations, including him rolling a natural three evades while running the trench! In a Y-Wing!
- Han Solo: Battle of Yavin Han is awesome in the scenario since he gets to drop in behind everyone and go to work. His double ability pulling from the same pool of charges is very cool design. I have a hunch that at 7 points he'll be pretty good in regular squads but I honestly don't know. The trick with his version of Chewbacca crew to have Focus-Evade every turn seems quite powerful, but without regular Han's reroll ability that will only go so far on a single green die.
I lined up my two mini-squads in a pair of quasi-finger four formations and started out slow to see where my opponent's swarm of TIEs and pair of Interceptors would end up. We wound up with the X-Wings engaging most of the TIEs in the center of the board as cover for Gold Squadron's run on the trench. Pretty thematic!
The Red Squadron boys did their job pretty well but wound up overwhelmed. Biggs died quickly, as expected, and Wedge soon followed. Luke stuck around for a bit and very thematically pulled a Loose Stabilizer as his first critical damage! We all cheered and shouted the quote from the movie.
While the X-Wings bravely sacrificed themselves the squad of Y-Wings made their way to the trench and it became pretty clear that they'd be the ones to get the job done. I managed to get a ship in the trench in round 4, which is the earliest that the scenario rules allow. Dex Tiree got to play the hero with Dutch flying parallel to the trench at range 1 to allow the extra green die. Unfortunately the Y-Wing, as in the film, just wasn't fast enough to get past the swarm of TIEs. I tried to dial in a red 4-straight and he ended up without defensive mods. We forgot to read all of the rules on the Attack Run condition card and therefore didn't realize that Dex could gain a Deplete instead of Stress for the red maneuver and also forgot to have him engage at initiative 0. Oh well.
As mentioned above, Tiree's ability plus the "obstruction" from the trench allowed a natural three-evade roll and at one point he even rolled 4 greens against a range 3 shot. Han showed up and killed Wampa but was too late to have a real impact as Dex eventually took too many shots and went down in flames. Luke was then shot down and with him went my best second chance at destroying the Death Star.
Ouch. My few surviving pilots had to limp away and allow the Death Star to destroy Yavin 4.
I just carried my attack force over to another table for another attempt. I tried a similar setup, just flipped to try to use the Y-Wings as bait and utilize Attack Speed to get Red Squadron in a more favorable position. Attack Speed is so much fun! I managed to draw most of the TIEs toward the Y-Wings and blew a few of them away with Advanced Proton Torpedo shots (don't forget that those can be reloaded!). The X-Wings started to do their job but there were just too many enemy ships and I made the mistake of not turning a ship into position to start the attack run right at the 4th round. By the time I managed to get Biggs into the trench several of my other pilots had been destroyed so he didn't have enough cover.
Just like last time, Han's entry was too little too late. Biggs made a decent attempt at rewriting history as the hero of Yavin but eventually succumbed. As you would expect, though, the faster X-Wing made a much better run and nearly got a shot off. By the time Biggs was shot down (nearly by Vader, that would have been neat) I only had 3 turns left out of the 9 allowed so there really wasn't enough time to try and jam another ship into the trench and try again.
My Overall Experience
- I was grinning the entire time, even as I lost badly. This was pure tabletop Star Wars and I loved it. The developers designed in as many parallels to the movie as they reasonably could with the Yahoo! and Attack Run conditions but so many others, like Luke's loose stabilizer and Han blasting Mauler when he dropped in, happened organically. The group standing around the tables cheered and quoted the movie each time something happened.
- There are a lot of rules and you're probably going to miss a thing or two the first time unless you study beforehand, especially with all of the new pilot abilities. Don't worry about it. It all still works well so read the box insert and cards then refer to it as you go and just have fun.
- It is a challenge to win this as the Rebels, especially if the Imperial player builds their squad intelligently. I found this more exciting than discouraging and it makes me want to play again to try and win. Even though I didn't win either time we still managed to just about do all of the things aside from actually take a shot at the exhaust port.
- It's actually kind of fun to not have to keep score for once.
I was honestly feeling ambivalent about this until I had the box in my hands; I thought I'd buy the pack for the cards and for the sake of encouraging the steady stream of new releases we seem to be getting. I'm so glad that we insisted on spending a weekly meetup night trying the scenario, though! We can always go back to playing "normal" X-Wing next week and when playing the BoY scenario it really felt like we were just playing Star Wars. It was such a nice reminder of why I love this game.
What are your thoughts on the Battle of Yavin scenario?