While X-Wing is dominated by the 100-Point Tournament format, I always like to make time for the occasional Epic match. My usual partner, John D, coerced me out of hiding to come down to Game Empire for a 300v300 point game.
Turns out, it was quite the “epic” game indeed and makes for a fun little story. Below will be a play-by-play, as well as a short narrative of the dogfight from an in-universe perspective. Haha, cheesy I know, but hey, isn’t that the whole point?
UPDATE: We discuss this game on the Mynock Squadron Podcast! Here are links to some of the other GeekADD content we bring up:
One of X-Wing’s greatest strengths is, well, Star Wars! There’s no disputing that the 100-point tournament is a finely-tuned (well…sorta) format that captivates thousands of players. BUT, one of the primary reasons I play X-Wing is the Star Wars license. I love seeing groups of Interceptors dogfighting with a squad of X-Wings, or a formation of A-Wings screaming down the field to unload on a target, then break off and take cover inside an asteroid field.
Looking at the recent top tournaments lists, such as the Dallas, Texas Regional …well…I see Biggs, a couple of thug Y-Wings, but where are all the movie ships? No A-Wings? B-Wings? TIE Fighters?
Don’t get me wrong. The Shadowcaster is a rad ship, as are the Jumpmaster and Protectorate fighter, but they just don’t satisfy in the same way. Seeing a squadron of 5 TIE Interceptors on the table is basically tournament suicide, but in a 300 point game? Well, promote those Alphas to RGP’s with PTL, Title, and SD and now you’re onto something. Not only is it effective, but damn if it’s not satisfying to see that many traditional Star Wars ships on the table.
This, to me, is where Epic X-Wing play shines. It allows the combat to have more ebb and flow, leading to unlikely comebacks and heartbreaking defeats. I believe human beings crave narrative; in that sense, Epic would almost be the superior format, as it lends itself better to scenarios that emulate what the saw in the films. Even if you don’t use movie ships, it gives some of the lesser known content, like pilots or upgrades, a chance to shine.
I play a lot of X-Wing (or try to, anyway) and can’t possibly remember all of it. However, almost every Epic game stands out in my mind, even ones that occurred years ago. X-Wing is what I’d call a “tactical” game for sure, but Epic X-Wing moves it a notch or two toward “strategic.” Formations, Base of Fire, Area Denial, Flanking; all of these concepts can matter in standard play. In Epic, however, not only are the concepts easier to execute, they are essential! Employing them successfully can make or break the game!
So, I basically have three ships types and John has five. I don’t want to call it spamming, but building your squadron with uniform ships, pilots, and upgrades helps to define their roles easier, maintain your offensive capability, and just makes the game go smoother. I know it’s tempting to bring a list of every PS7 and above pilot decked out to their optimal builds, but that’s too much. You’re going to forget your upgrades/abilities, which isn’t fun for anyone and makes you feel like a stupid dummy!
The dim glow from the holo-table pushed back the shadows of the Rebel briefing room. “Reconnaissance reports indicate a high-value target will be travelling through this sector,” the commander gestured. A miniature of a Gozanti-Class Cruiser rose from the map. “Typically, a single transport would not warrant our interest. However…” the Commander clicked a button on his baton and a series of TIE Interceptors and Defenders appeared alongside the cruiser. “Such a well-armed escort is very unusual. Additionally, this ship’s transponder is not being logged as it passes through Imperial checkpoints.”
“Are those TIEs…red?” one of the pilots interrupted.
“Royal Guards,” Bodhi Rook, an Imperial defector, chimed in. “I’ve never actually seen them in person, but they have a…reputation.”
“We believe the Imperials are attempting to move something, or someone, without us noticing. Luckily, they don’t seem to know we’re in the sector, so Alliance High Command wants us to take advantage.”
A loud, but indistinct murmur hummed throughout the room as the pilots exchanged glances. Most were veteran pilots, but had never engaged Royal Guards in combat. The captain continued, purposefully speaking over the commotion.
“Red Squadron will engage the target using Proton Torpedoes, with support from Blue Squadron Pathfinders. Lieutenant Blount will lead the assault, borrowing a pair of fighters from Bandit Squadron.”
Blount cleared his throat and stood up. “Focus on maintaining your firing arcs. Either myself or our Bandit compatriot will paint the target with S-Thread Tracers, giving you a clean point to lock onto. We can then bombard the target and disengage before the escorts can react.”
“Any additional details will need to be communicated en route. This ship will be striking distance in a matter of hours. To your ships, pilots!”
Aboard the Imperial transport, a pair of lifeless, unblinking eyes pierced the void of space. He knew they would come, in fact, he counted on it. The rebels targeting this sector were an annoying, but elusive, nuisance. All that was needed to draw them out was a target both tempting and mysterious. Behind his mask, if his face wasn’t locked in an emotionless agony, a clever grin would have crossed his lips. The rebels had no idea what was in store for them.
We basically didn’t even use the second mat. In Epic games, John and I have both learned the hard way that you don’t spread your forces. While you do need room to maneuver, a tightly-maintained formation will be able to put all guns on a single target or group of targets. You don’t want to have 300 points of enemy ships engaging 150 points of yours, while the other 150 is struggling to get into position.
I had to place my Gozanti first (Huge ships always on the board first), so John knew where it would be. Because I had the PS advantage, I setup my escorts along 3 different lanes so John would have to pick which group to engage or split his fire.
“It’s the Suppressor, Lieutenant,” one of the pilots reported. “Standard combat cruiser with a Dual Laser Turret, but no indication as to why it has a Royal Guard escort.”
Something felt wrong in Blount’s gut. His instincts told him something was amiss, but the formation of TIEs screaming in from the left coerced him into immediate action. “Ok, engage the transport as planned. I’m out of range; Bandit Two, you’ll have to take the shot!”
The doubt gnawing at Blount suddenly tore its way out of his gut. He knew this trick, not from experience, but by reputation. No wonder the approach was this easy. “That’s Darth Vader on that ship! Red Squadron, Blue Squadron, we need to abort!”
“Negative, Lieutenant!” Bodhi called over the radio. “If that’s him, we need to take him out! It’s a just a light cruiser…we can do this!”
“For the Rebellion!”
“Freedom Never Sleeps!”
“Eat Laser-fire, scumbag!”
The radio chatter soon filled with the raging war cries of the veteran Red Squadron pilots. “Belay my last, light ’em up, boys!” Blount shouted, roused by the boldness of the other pilots. “I’ll paint ’em on the next pass!”
“Keep the lock on that Z-95 and reinforce our forward deflectors.”
“Yes, my lord, acquiring lock. Automatic protocols engaging, shields holding.”
A spattering of laser fire peppered the ship a moment later. Vader stood unflinching next to the viewport, slowly raising his hand toward one of the ships.
“They’re bearing down on us, my lord. Shall I take evasive action?”
The shields shuttered as a flash of light erupted in the Z-95’s cockpit. “No.”
“No?! My lord?”
“No, Captain. Remain on course.”
OH MY GOD I AM SO LUCKY!!!! PHEWWWWW!!! Suppressor title FTW! John’s plan, like in the story, was to hit my Gozanti with S-Thread Tracers from Blount (ideally) or the Bandit. Then, the Red Squadron Vets would Rage for fully modified Proton Torpedo shots. However, Blount was just a hair out of range and I was able to strip the focus from the Bandit meaning the X-Wings had to rely on their primary weapons. With Automated Protocols, I was able to reinforce my front section, adding an evade result to every attack I suffered.
While the Gozanti soaked up fire, the rest of the ships pulled their weight. PTL on Interceptors is always good, but I was pleased by Expertise on the TIE/Ds. Initially, I brought them along for their energy-disrupting Ion Cannons, but since John didn’t bring an Epic ship, they worked well to disrupt formations as well. But yeah, free offensive focus, two attacks, and the white 4k turn? They’re expensive at 42 points a piece, but definitely worth it.
“Blue Squadron, keep those Interceptors off of us! Red Squadron, prepare to lock on to my tracers!” Blount ordered.
“Gotcha, L.T.” one of the Pathfinders replied. “Covering now!”
Suddenly, an alarm blared from Blount’s console. “Proximity alert! Port Side!” He shot his head up to see Red Four, engines sputtering from expertly placed ion cannon hits, drifting right for him. “Blast it…I can’t get a shot!” he cursed, vering his ship to avoid a collision. “Red Squadron…take down that cruiser at all costs!!!”
Red Two, the lead X-Wing, watched as the cannon fire deflected off the Gozanti’s shields for little effect. On his starboard side he could see a shower of embers and flame spewing from Bandit Two’s console. “We’re out of time,” he muttered to himself. With a heavy sigh, he white-knuckled his controls. “R5, divert all power from the shields to the forward thrusters!”
R5-X2 protested with a squawk. Surely, the droid misheard the command.
“You heard me, R5. Take down the guns, too. We’re going in…”
“Comms Booster to Glaive Two!” The Gozanti captain shouted over the klaxon. Arrrrrrrrroooooo-uh! Arrrrrrroooooooo-uh!
A pair of heavy impacts rocked the bridge as the crew struggled to stay upright. Vader impossibly remained in place, as if rooted to the command deck.
“Shields are down, sir!” the technician reported.
The captain silently cursed him; had he known Vader intended to literally punch through the enemy line, we would have taken better care of his shields.
“Automatic protocols engaging for shield recovery,”
At this range, even the cannons from the remaining fighters would be dangerous. There wouldn’t be time to fully recover. “Negative!” the captain shouted, “ignore the ray shields, override to reinforce deflectors!”
“Captain,” Vader said calmly, “Why are your WED droids not repairing damage to the internal systems?”
The captain gulped. “We haven’t any, my lord. We had to dismiss them to make room for your chambers…”
Vader spun around, his cape swirling around his imposing form. “WHAT?!?!”
Yessss….yesssss!!!! This is one the strengths of bringing Epic ships to a battle, ramming your enemy’s formations and destroying them on contact.
Rules-wise the huge ship moves after all small and large based ships. Any overlap immediately destroy the fighter and the huge ship continues to move. The only consequence for the huge ship is potential damage; hitting a small base means you roll 1 die, a large base is 2 dice. Like an asteroid, you suffer any hits or crits rolled.
Again, I was super lucky as Blount had nowhere to go, mainly due to the ion cannon hits on the other T-70s. However, Range 1 on Rage’d T-70’s is no joke and my Gozanti paid heavily for it. The Inspiring Recruits on the U-Wings worked to great effect as well.
And while it didn’t end up mattering, I loved being able to perform a red move with a Glaive, then clearing the stress AND focusing him via Comms Booster. The Glaive needed to avoid those asteroids anyway, but if an X-Wing was somehow able to avoid the Gozanti, he would be able to provide cover for it.
“They got Blue Three!”
“Watch your back L.T., I’ll cover you!”
“Red Five, going down…”
The Gozanti captain felt his throat simply collapse on itself as his eyes began to bulge from their sockets. Even in certain death, or maybe because of it, Vader’s wrath was immeasurable. As the capitan suffered a pain that few humans have ever suffered, he welcomed the pair of X-Wings flying straight toward the viewport of the command deck.
“Red Three, cut to the left, I’m right behind you!” Blount shouted, coming meters away from the smoldering wreckage.
“We did it! We-We did it!” Bodhi exclaimed over the radio.
Blount didn’t respond; a TIE Defender flew right at him, so focused to close range that its wing clipped a nearby asteroid. A second TIE Defender also flew right at Red Three, the pair of pilots barely avoiding a collision.
Haha…noooooooooooo!!!! I lost the Gozanti to kamikaze X-Wings!!!! It’s ok, though, after watching Rogue One, I imagined that most rebel pilots, given such an opportunity, would have done the same.
At this point, I think it was pretty clear how the rest of the game would go, but given that we were only a few turns in, we wanted to finish it out.
Additionally, this is where I started to regret taking Stealth Device over Hull Upgrade. With the potential of defending more often than normal, I thought the extra die would give the Interceptors more opportunities to use their tokens defensively.
In the end, I suppose that guarantee would have been better. If I had taken Hull Upgrade, “Slow-Roll” (my nickname because I had to use an Ion token instead of an ID token) would have survived. In this instance he was tokenless due to the U-Wing blocking him, but normally an interceptor should have an evade token. Even if your Green dice blank out, you spend the token and suffer 3 out of 4 hits.
“Nice shot, Blue Two, we’re still in this fight!” Bodhi exclaimed as one of the TIE Interceptors exploded into cinders.
“I uh…I could use some cover fire, guys!”
“Hang on, Blue Two, we’re coming around!”
So, John bluffed me by flipping his Pivot Wing the previous turn. I expected he would full stop+flip, so I set my Interceptors up for a bump. I didn’t expect that he’d continue forward, but most of my ships still had shots, so I was OK with that.
We both traded some damage, but ultimately the turn was fairly uneventful.
“They’re all over me, guys, I-” Bodhi’s transmission was abruptly cut off.
“I’m hiiiiiiiiit!” Blount shouted as his ship spiraled out of control before also going silent.
The final remaining U-Wing took stock of the situation. “Blue Two to Red Three, are you still with me?”
“I’m here!” Red Three replied, pausing for a moment before continuing. “I don’t think we’re making it home, buddy…”
“I know, but-” the U-Wing pilot lined up a shot and nailed another Interceptor. “Hoo-wah! I’m not going down without taking some of these nerfherders with me!”
John got unlucky and lost both Bodhi and Blount that turn. Like any smart Epic player, he started cleaning up during my movement phase (and all the time I wasted taking pictures). That’s one of the biggest drawbacks of Epic play; set-up and take-down time. Normally, that’s not behavior I’d be promoting, but John is a very considerate and attentive player. Besides, it’s almost necessary if you’re on a time crunch, such as the store you’re playing at needs to close. The time required to set-up and take-down is roughly tripled, but it can become even more if you allow your play area to descend into chaos, so good on you, John!
Anyway, the U-Wing I dubbed as “Blue Two” must have a vendetta against Interceptors, as he one-shotted two of them. My third casualty of the game, this Interceptor’s death further compounded my regret of bringing Stealth Device.
“Blue Two to Rebel Command! Mission accomplished, target destroyed, but enemy escort remains!”
“Copy Blue Two, what was the target’s cargo and destination?”
“It was carrying-”
“Lieutenant Blount? Do you copy?”
“Any remaining rebel pilots, please acknowledge!”
“Glaive Leader reporting…area secure, though we lost the Suppressor and precious cargo. Please send rescue and recovery teams to our coordinates.”
Summoned to the Emperor’s throne room, the surviving guards stood at attention, stone-faced yet ashamed. His Eminence stood facing them, shrouded by both cloak and shadow. Without a word, they could only see the dim glow of his eyes and the shine of his gnarled, wretched teeth. He smiled.
The door behind them opened followed by the sound of heavy footsteps. Uneven, as if limping, but determined. A strained, mechanized breath took in a gasp of air, held it, and released it.
The most senior pilot began trembling as a lightsaber ignited dangerously close to his ear. He kept his eyes on the floor; the Dark Lord was terrifying enough, but he couldn’t imagine how he survived such an ordeal, or dared imagine his appearance.
“You have…” Vader’s voice strained, “failed me…”
“My lord” the senior pilot begged, “spare my men…I accept full responsibility for failure.”
“Oh yes…” His Eminence sneered, “Your life will be taken. However, the consequences of failure are to be shared.”
For several agonizing moments, nothing happened. The pilot dared bring his eyes up, meeting His Eminence’s.
Suddenly, a blast of lightning struck the pilot’s second in command, violently arcing from pilot to pilot until they all collapsed to the floor writhing and screaming. Streaks of electricity engulfed their bodies for what seemed like an eternity.
The senior pilot willfully lowered to his knees and felt the lightsaber draw back for a strike. His eyes closed, never to open again.
Haha, ok…that last bit was just to wrap up the story, but I couldn’t let Vader go out like that in my head canon…sorry John, your rebels died for nothing!! =P
Basically that’s what goes through my head every time every I play X-Wing, even moreso when I play epic. It’s pretty…out there…so I hope you enjoyed it!
If you do try Epic, my best advice is to keep it simple. Make fireteams/flights/groups, give them a job, execute that job. Keep ships in a group as uniform as possible. In all honesty, I got super lucky. Those Rage-supported torpedoes should have shredded my Gozanti turn 1 and this game would have gone very, very, differently. If you ever meet John, ask him about his bomber Gozanti or Vader Raider, as I don’t want to talk about them (they’re nasty, haha).
Thanks for reading! And play Epic!!