The Shuttle Tydirium Arrives
I’ve been pretty lucky in that I’ve been going to GenCon for a fairly long time now. It’s a long road trip almost annually, where I devote most of the weekend to a single game giving up on nearly everything, including food and sleep, to play. The past two years I’ve devoted much of that time to X-Wing. This year I decided I would reduce my time spent on X-Wing there so I could try out a few new things. I failed.
There are many podcasts detailing the art of list building and strategies in X-Wing, but there is one that has set a different course. The Shuttle Tydirium, for those unaware of it, spends a great deal of time on the mission packs that come with the larger ships, or epic, or entirely new created scenarios for players to experiment with. The crew of the shuttle had been planning something special for GenCon.
They had a series of events planned through the weekend from a Death Star trench run, to attacking a star destroyer to more casual X-Wing racing. Their main event though, Assault on Grayskull Base, was a story driven event in which the Empire is hunting for a secret Rebel base hidden in an asteroid field. Players must choose between the two factions (those that flew Scum could fly as mercenaries for either faction) and would score points both for individual glory and that of their faction. Each round would have 3 different mission objectives, the top table pushing the story further while the remaining tables would have one of two supporting objectives. The results would impact how the final mission would be played out, whether the Rebels would ambush the Imperial forces, or whether the Rebels would be forced to evacuate under fire. The Shuttle Tydirium podcast even went so far as creating a multipart audio drama to outline the story of Grayskull base and hype the event.
The lists could include only generic ‘close enough to the era’ ships and a stack of upgrades that you could equip to your ships prior to the mission as required. No First Order, no Resistance, no major key named characters from the movies were allowed here. Unique pilots were drafted and if they were killed on a mission they were gone for the remainder of the event. There were a few other rules, restrictions and even a few banned cards to help keep the balance and theme correct. Notably absent were the Jumpmaster, the TIE Phantom, and the Twin Laser Turret. When a player was provided their mission briefing and point limit, they would then decide upon which ships and equipment from their 250 point roster to use.
While each mission was playtested repeatedly, GenCon was a live fire test of the event. This was a much more complicated event to run than a standard tournament or a single scenario. Right from the start, 8am Saturday morning, there were a few problems that had to be overcome. Players turned in their tickets and rosters and were given two bound booklets containing rules and mission briefings. Checking 250 point list for each of the 24 players that showed up took time. Problems took further time. Some players showed up and tried to create their lists on the fly during setup. Players were then shifted so that an equal number of Imperial aligned forces were set against an equal number of Rebels. As it turned out, more Rebels showed ready than Imperial so the 3 Scum lists all ended up working for the Empire. Drafting was the next step, and clearly there were strategies being played here as well. One lucky player was able to unite Tarn Mison with M9-G8, while another successfully drafted Dash Rendar and the Outrider title for his list.
Through the day each mission was fully briefed by one of the shuttle’s crew reading off setup requirements, objectives and answering any questions for the players almost as though giving a full mission briefing to a roster of pilots. With each mission it was clear that the war was very costly for Imperial forces. They were scoring a few victories, but the Rebels were winning some decisive battles, including the top table missions, rescuing a key Rebel pilot to the narrative and killing a traitorous informant. Each round saw more and more named Imperial pilots killed off. It was quickly turning into a rout.
Late in the evening, the final mission was being prepared. The Empire had discovered the Rebel base, but the Rebels knew they were coming and would set an ambush. Players were grouped in pairs and faced off as teams on 6’x3′ mats in a final showdown. On the top table, Grayskull base was ready as the Empire arrived with a Raider corvette and a large escort of fighters. As the night went on more pilots would fall. In the end the Empire successfully destroyed the Rebel base inflicting a blow to the Rebellion, but the cost was too high to the Empire. The Raider was also destroyed on the top table, and despite this match being a victory for the Empire, many of the surrounding conflicts were dramatic victories for the Rebellion as fighters inflicted great blows to the Imperial forces.
Around midnight, it was all over. The Empire had won, but the Rebel side had scored more on points. The top team of Imperials who had scored the Imperial victory had first choice of a huge array of prizes donated to the event such as acrylics from Black Box Seven in Germany, and terrain objects from Combatzone Scenery. The grand prize, of course, was the beautifully painted Grayskull base from Combatzone Scenery. Remaining prize support went in descending order of points, heavily dominated by the Rebel players. There was enough prize support however that everybody walked off with something at the end of the night.
Special thanks to the Shuttle Tydirium for putting on this event. All in all, this was probably the most fun I had playing X-Wing at GenCon this year. It presented new challenges to overcome and there was a certain feeling of cheering on a team as I leaned over to see how the other Rebels were doing through the day. My squadron went 4-0 on the day, using Y-Wings every mission and named X-Wings in three. My unnamed Gray 4 was my star performer, surviving all four missions. The shuttle crew hope to release a slightly tweaked version incorporating lessons learned from GenCon in the fall. I’m going to be watching for it.