Variants and Variance

The intro…

Hello there and welcome to this week’s blog!

Things have gone a little quieter in the X-Wing world following the initial flurry of activity from AMG’s Ministravaganza and the initial community reactions (or overreactions…). Yes, we do have new ships coming this week, a particularly highly anticipated one coming in the next few months and some rules changes coming… well, we’re not quite sure when exactly, but at the moment it feels like everyone is just waiting with bated breath for the imminent points change.

With AMG having implied that it’ll be one like no other the excitement it building and speculation is rife.

What will it bring? Nobody knows (well, AMG and the playtesters do but you know what I mean…) but if the bid and first player rules drop at the same times as a huge points overhaul it’s going to be a super interesting few weeks as people adjust to the new way to play while also looking for the new shiny broken thing in the meta.

Any tournaments (of any size really) during that time will be really interesting for sure. Spare a thought for your TO who has to learn all the new rules inside out as well as all the other stuff they already do for us!

All in all there’s going to be a lot to digest, a lot to look forward to and a lot to learn. Exciting times for the game!

But in the mean time, there’s a tournament coming…

Yes on the 25th of September Firestorm Games in Newport are holding a tournament. It’s now the 3rd one held there since play restarted in June but, quite incredibly, the first one I’ve been able to make it to!

I know, right!

To say the tickets are in demand is a bit of an understatement with all 3 tournaments so far selling out in less than a day. A good local scene in addition to being relatively close for travel for both Cardiff Womp Rats and Bristol Vagabonds means that the 14 places go fast. We are hoping that the capacity will increase in future (especially with tickets being so popular and restrictions continuing to ease) but for now we’ll have to make do with the spaces we have!

So, for what must certainly be theast time in this current points meta (JARGON ALERT!!), it’s time to pick a list!

Let’s start with the obvious. Dash.

Dash Rendar (85)
Trick Shot (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Wedge Antilles (A-Wing) (35)
Outmaneuver (6)

Ship total: 41 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Total: 197

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW77W54WWWY463XWWWY452X126WWW&sn=Dash%2C%20Hera%20%26%20Jake&obs=

Ben Saunders’ build (this version being without the semi-optional False Transponder Codes on Dash) has done really well for him through the summer and while I do enjoy it, I’m not seeing the same sort of results as he has (i.e. he’s better with it than I am!). While I’m in this more for the fun than the wins, wins are nice too and since I expect this list to still be playable following the points changes, it can continue to wait in the wings for now. Perhaps next month old buddy.

Low-res Dash looking pensive…

Next up – the list I ran at Excelsior last month.

Kyle Katarn (31)
Jyn Erso (2)
Moldy Crow (16)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 3

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Rogue Squadron Escort (51)
Fire-Control System (2)
R3 Astromech (3)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Garven Dreis (X-Wing) (46)
R2 Astromech (5)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 3

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z48XWW40WWW156Y451XWWWY23XW113WW4WY6XWW2WW142&sn=Heratanni%20-%20evolved&obs=

I like this list. It takes the Heratanni base and swaps out Benthic in the U-Wing for the more mobile i4 E-Wing. I’ve got a decent number of reps with this (and I think more wins than losses) and it’s pretty solid. You lose 2 health (but gain an agility) compared to Benthic BUT the feature here is that the early locks can a) burn your opponent’s False Transponder Codes and b) get it’s first engagement double modded WITHOUT the help of Hera or Kyle, making it a great flanker. The main down side here is losing Leia crew for those turn around turns while also missing out on some extra tokens (Perceptive) and passing (Benthic). Both can be overcome though by having a decent plan. And sticking to it, of course.

The last option is another variation of Heratanni that Chris Burnett from Tin Squadron has tried out recently (it’s on stream here) and I kind of like it.

Kyle Katarn (31)
Hull Upgrade (5)
Moldy Crow (16)

Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 3

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Knave Squadron Escort (49)
Fire-Control System (2)
R3 Astromech (3)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 3

Garven Dreis (49)
Jyn Erso (2)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 5

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z48XWWW164WW156Y451XWWWY24X113WW4WY79XWW40WWW&sn=Heratanni%20-%20evolved&obs=

Swapping Garven’s X-Wing for a beefier ARC-170 is balanced by changing that E-Wing from a Rogue to a Knave and you also have space to throw a hull upgrade on Kyle to make him a bit more durable (but not quite enough space to put Leia back on). You could also keep the i4 Rogue by not having the Hull Upgrade.

I decide that with reps under my belt for the X-Wing Garven variant that giving the ARC version a try might be in order.

Right, decision made, bring n the games!

The batreps… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Once again, with in-person play and the Sith Taker League both in full flow, I’ve got 2 games to talk about. I’ll take them on in chronological order…

Game 1 – Dylan mirror match

Having spent most of my life as the only Dylan I know, it seems my name has been making a bit of a comeback in recent years and my youngest son has 2 friends in school with my name. One of those friends plays X-Wing in our group and while, at 12 years old, he is the youngest of us he’s got a great tactical brain and is always a challenging opponent.

The last few weeks he’s been running this list:

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Blue Squadron Scout (43)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Partisan Renegade (43)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z1XWWW142Y1XWWW142Y1XWWW142Y37XWWWW140Y38XWWWWW140&sn=Heratanni%20-%20evolved&obs=

It takes the typical 5 x T-65’s archetype, drops 3 ofthem to the slightly cheaper i2 Blue Squadron Escorts which then frees up points to swap two of them out for the slightly beefier U-Wing. He said the only reason one is a Partisan Renegade is because they don’t have the cardboard to run two of the i2 Blue Squad Escorts (as they’re the same points). Dylan’s beefy list is quite something and a few people have come unstuck against it over the last few weeks. I think it’s definitely an upgrade on 5 T-65’s.

Time for some Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – With all 5 ships being worth roughly the same it doesn’t make a massive difference. That said, the X-Wings have the same agility and 2 less health (but same attack power) as the U-Wings so I’m thinking to take those off the board first if I can/
Obstacles – Both lists have ships that are not especially mobile so I’m not looking at tight clusters but not exactly massive open space either. Somewhere in between would do nicely.
Deployment – I’ll be sticking with my normal deployment to maximise the synergy of the token passing in my list.

I’ve got a 1 point bid and so I opt to be second player so that all of Dylan’s ships move first.

We place obstacles and ships and are ready to start.

I aim to draw Dylan’s ships over towards me by staying close to the edge with the Knave taking early locks on the closest two T-65’s and streaking ahead of the rest of my squad.

Dylan sends one U-Wing way ahead paired with a T-65 while the other U-Wing stops and rotates to follow the T-65’s who are angling in at the E-Wing.

From here it’s clear that while the E-Wing is in a prime position for striking at either of the locked T-65’s, the rest of my ships are lagging behind. Fast moves from the other 3 while the Knave hard turns sort of gives me the first engagement I was after.

Garven and the Knave both manage to shoot the leading T-65 but annoyingly Kyle is around 5mm short. Between them they strip shields from the X-Wing.

The E-Wing takes 2 range 3 return shots from Dylan but neither can get past the green dice.

Now we really get into the scrum as Dylan piles his ships forwards. Garven and the Knave both bump but Kyle and Hera don’t. Kyle passes a focus to Garven since Hera is outside of his arcs.

This time my ships hit a bit harder, aided by the token passing shenanigans and take the damaged T-65 off the board before it fires again and halve the remaing T-65 that isn’t already locked.

In response though Garven takes a beating, losing all shields and one hull while the E-Wing loses a shield.

Still, I’ve got all my ships on the board. Back to dials we go but now I’ve got an interesting dilemma. Dylan’s ships all move before me (allowing him to block) and my ships are not quite in initiative order in their neat little conga line.

I decide to send Garven and the E-Wing in for the kill, accepting the inevitable bumps because I can still pass tokens around. Kyle will hard turn away and rotate his arc to rear while Hera will go straight , in behind Kyle.

Dylan continues his advance and we do bump. He also lands what I thought to be an unlikely 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) with a T-65.

The Knave bumps a T-65 and Garven bumps the Knave but Hera and Kyle both clear and pick up more focuses.

This round of engagement was a real slug-fest. Hera doesn’t have a shot so Garven starts, picking the U-Wing as his target since the Knave can’t shoot at the T-65.

They combine to do 7 damage to the Blue Squadron U-Wing, almost killing it but not quite. Kyle picks the stressed T-65 to fire at since it’s range 1 and gets another hit onto it.

In reply, Dylan kills Garven in a hail of crits and manages to get 3 uncancelled hits onto the Knave, halving it.

Ouch.

Back to planning and I decide that the E-Wing should go for a 3 sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) to try and finish off the Blue U-Wing. Kyle is stressed and so 1 banks to clear it while Hera gest a 3 bank to push past Kyle. Or at least that’s what I thought.

Both U-Wings stop (but don’t rotate) while the undamaged T-65 K-turns over the debris for a double stress and the other T-65 crawls forwards to clear his.

The Knave’s sloop just about clears, Kyle’s 1 bank clears the stress and he focuses and rotates to point at the double stressed T-65. The bad news is that Hera’s 3 bank doesn’t clear and she bumps into the back of Kyle. Oops!

Hera and Kyle both pump shots into the range 1 T-65, stripping it’s shields and putting on a Fuel Leak crit. Dylan managed to get the two required hits onto the Knave from his unstressed T-65 as it’s greens continued to fail.

Simultaneous fire is a thing though and with it’s dying shot finished off the i2 U-Wing.

Back to dials then and I’m a little frustrated at myself for needing to stress Kyle over and over since his blues are so limiting. He gets a 1 bank left while Hera goes for the 3 bank again.

My concern here is that my heavy hitters are gone and I still need to, y’know, shoot stuff.

Dylan’s U-Wing 1 straights at me, the unstressed one takes a 4-K while the double stressed one takes a 2 bank over the debris away from the action, dropping one stress but picking it back up again.

Kyle’s bank clears stress so he just takes a focus while Hera banks, takes a focus and boosts left to get the angle for a shot.

This time I’m only taking 1 shot while making two 2 dice shots. Not terrible.

Hera puts another hit onto the T-65 but Kyle’s shot whiffs (JARGON ALERT!!). The U-Wing’s shot at Kyle fails to do any damage.

With just 3 minutes to go we start planning for the last turn.

Looking at the game state, I think I’m ahead but want to score some more points, just in case. I dial in 2 hard turns for both ships.

Dylan opts to run with his damaged T-65’s and let the U-Wing face the music.

Hera takes a roll and boost to get range 1 on both the 1 health T-65 and the U-Wing and Kyle passes a focus over.

Hera goes for the range 1 shot on the T-65 and nails it, wiping it out.

She’s also dodged the U-Wing’s arc. Kyle takes a shot at it but can’t possibly do enough damage to half it. The return shot takes 2 shields from Kyle but that’s not enough to score any points either and with that, the game is done.

Result: 136 – 105 win

Mini conclusion…

A tight game. Tighter than I would have liked I think. I’m not too happy with my initial approach. I think that getting the HWK in range for that first engagement would have made a decisive difference, perhaps taking an X-Wing off before the second engagement. I’ll need to work on range control and getting the ships to engage together.

I generally liked how sending the E-Wing ahead worked though and was (relatively) confident that it’s plentiful green dice would see it safe enough when isolated. Plus hitting that first engagement double modded without help from the others is pretty helpful too and allows me to split it off and flank.

The matchup against this particular list was tricky because they all moved before all my ships (I know I gave him first I don’t mind bumps though with Hera and Kyle still being able to throw tokens around and while I lost Garven sooner than I’d have liked he certainly hit pretty hard

My concern in the last few turns was that I wouldn’t have enough firepower but Dylan’s decision to run with the T-65’s meant I wasn’t facing much return fire and knowing that the last turn would be just that, the choice to polish off the limping Blue Squadron Escort was a simple one.

So, am I ready to use this at the tournament? I’m not sure. Another game with it should cement the decision either way. Speaking of which…

Game 2 – Bluenosemagi

I also had a Sith Taker League game scheduled for this week against the rather fantastically named Bluenosemagi (a screen name, of course).

Now, I had fully intended to fly the same list again. Honest. Reps are good and with the days to the tournament creeping slowly down I wanted to be focused on one list.

But.

When I get the odd few minutes to spare I sometimes open Launchbay Next and fiddle with things. Which is what I did.

I thought to myself ‘losing that extra focus from Benthic is a shame. Maybe I could bring him back in? After all, the E-Wing is pretty expensive and while it can go and do it’s own thing, is there more value in an extra focus?.

So here’s what I did:

Kyle Katarn (31)
Jyn Erso (2)
Hull Upgrade (5)
Moldy Crow (16)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 3

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Benthic Two Tubes (46)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 4

Garven Dreis (49)
Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 5

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z48XWW40W164WW156Y451XWWWY36XWW54WWW140Y79XWWWWW&sn=Heratanni%20-%20evolved&obs=

E-Wing out, Benthic back in. Both are i2 anyway but Benthic makes for a better blocker (for me, at least) because of his medium base and the ability to rotate. Garven stays in his ARC-170.

I’m a little torn over this choice. The ARC has the potential to live longer with the extra 3 health but the drop in agility balances it out. The other thing losing a green die does is reduce the opportunity of triggering his ability without actually balancing out the other way since both ships have 3 reds for attack. This could be debated back and for for a long time with no clear conclusion. It’s just personal preference I think.

I had originally put Jyn on Garven but some Fly Casual testing had shown that, while it does balance the points better between the ships, he’s a main attacker, wanting to be in harm’s way to do damage and Jyn needs to stick around as long as possible. She goes back in the HWK, no question.

So, list tweaked and decisions made. Time for the game!

As we loaded up TTS and got a voice chat going over Discord I discovered that the real name of Bluenosemagi is Antony and so, because it’s less letters, I’ll be using that (with his blessing, of course) during the batrep.

But what list had Antony brought? Well, I’m glad you asked:

Manaroo (45)
Cutthroat (1)
Jamming Beam (0)
Gamut Key (6)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 5

Tel Trevura (44)
Cutthroat (1)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
Jamming Beam (0)
Zam Wesell (4)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Hull Upgrade (5)

Ship total: 69 Half Points: 35 Threshold: 5

Dengar (53)
Cutthroat (1)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
Jamming Beam (0)
Greedo (1)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Punishing One (5)

Ship total: 75 Half Points: 38 Threshold: 5

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z117X375WW12W386WW92WWY116X375W136W12W336WW92W164WY115X375W136W12WW83W92WW159W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Good Lord! Triple Jumpmasters! A slightly closer look revealed some nasty stuff. Two of them can potentially double tap, Tel will get free locks AND come back to life once dead AND will have 2 health when doing so because of the Hull Upgrade. I don’t fancy the looks of those Proton Torps either. Yikes.

Some quick Pre-Flight checks are in order:
Target Priority – Ummmm…… Dengar’s worth the most points but that revenge shot worries me, especially against Garven’s lower agility. Tel can also potentially double tap AND get free locks. I guess Manaroo is the easiest/least risky to take off first?
Obstacles – With 2 medium base ships I want lanes to fly into but clogging the board up may well hinder Antony more than it does me. I also know that Jumpmasters don’t like turning right. Can I leverage that somehow?
Deployment – We’ve got staggered overlapping initiatives but I’ll want my ships together to fully make use of the token passing. In a block (as best I can) in a corner sounds good.

We are both at 199 points and so we roll for initiative. I win and pick to go second.

We place obstacles and ships and are ready to go.

With a nice big open space to make use of in the top right corner, I want to head there. In my mind this also causes issues for Antony’s Jumpmasters once we pass the initial joust as he will have less space to turn around if he wants to avoid turning right. I mean, that’s the plan in my head, anyway.

It turns out that I’ve slightly misjudged Garven’s position and his 3 straight clips the gas cloud. Oops. No strain, no problem.

Tel and Dengar turn in while Manaroo goes straight. Hmmm…

I stick to my guns and go forwards again, this time a little slower since I don’t especially want Tel to hit with those Proton Torps, while Hera tucks in behind.

This time Antony turns in with Manaroo while Tel and Dengar shuffle forwards slowly.

Nobody is in range to shoot but the next turn is going to get very interesting.

I bank with everyone, trying to get in close enough to deny those torp shots.

I very quickly worry that Kyle’s 3 bank is too close to Benthic’s 2 bank and could leav him in trouble.

Like a glove!

But it turns out he’s ok! Phew!

Tel’s 1 straight blocks Garven who might be in a little trouble given that Manaroo has already given Dengar a hatful of focus tokens with his ability and Gamut Key. Dengar locks Garven.

Hera moves last of all and I stare at the board for a minute while I work out what the heck Tel can do to me. He focused into a rotate so his arc is sideways. If Hera rolls right she can get shot but if she stays where she is Tel can only use Jamming beam since he doesn’t have a lock. Cool.

Dengar fires at Garven with double modded Proton Torps and manages to strip shields. Ouch.

Hera then shoots Tel and takes 2 shields. Not bad. Tel reveals Zam and gets a lock.

Oh.

Tel fires double modded Proton Torp at Hera and halves her. Balls.

Garven wants to shoot Dengar but decides it’s a stupid move and goes for Manaroo instead but gets nothing. Kyle and Benthic both fire at Tel, range 1 and tokened up and roll a lot of pain between then, taking Tel’s last shield and putting on 3 hits and a Disabled Power Regulator. Not terrible.

In the next turn I move in close to either block Dengar or at least take away his Proton Torp shot. I’m semi-successful (just not with the block) and manage to halve Manaroo in exchange for just a crit on Garven. The bad news is that it’s a Hull Breach.

Time to start thinking tactically then. I 4-k (JARGON ALERT!!) with Garven while my other ships all turn to varying degrees.

Manaroo runs, Tel starts coming back in and then Dengar sloops (JARGON ALERT!!) which I 100% didn’t see coming.

Dengar initiative kills Garven with the last crit coming out as a Direct Hit. Boooooo! Tel gets a shield from Kyle before he and Benthic manage to finish off Manaroo.

Garven for Manaroo and half of Hera for half of Tel. Not a terrible trade off.

Now I have a dilemma though. Zam is fully charged on Tel and so if I end up in the wrong place or take a shot that I shouldn’t, I’m potentially going to get double tapped.

Tricky.

Over the next few turns I think very carefully about who can land where and what shots (if any?) I want to take.

I only take shots on Dengar with ships outside of his arc and at one point Hera barrel rolls towards Tel’s front to get to range 1 in order to prevent a Torp shot while also dodging the side arc AND dodging Dengar’s front arc.

Nice.

Kyle loses another shield while I manage to take all of Dengar’s but as we enter the last turn neither of us has scored any extra points.

I examine the board state and ship positions.

Dengar will have to turn in order to shoot anyone. Tel will have to jump over Hera and not block Dengar. Hmmm…

I decide to see it out with as little risk as possible. After all, 1 more hit on Kyle and he’s halved. Benthic’s in the least amount of danger, needing 3 hits to be halved while Hera could die with 2. Benthic goes 3 (or 4?) straight, takes a double focus but (with Jyn) picks up one as an evade. Kyle takes a 4 straight and boosts. Hera takes a 5 straight, focuses and boosts behind the cloud. Cowardly.

Tel has taken a left turn but bumps to stay there while Dengar takes a 4-K which puts him on the debris. No damage but no action either.

Tel is the only one with a shot and it’s range 3 at Hera with 2 dice and no mods. She evades it and the game is over.

Result: 90 – 70 win

Mini conclusion…

I have to admit, this game felt very mixed. I didn’t think I was going to be able to win given the potentially double tapping beefy ships I was facing but once we got into the scrum, my ships’ ability to block and/or token up proved key as Antony’s predominantly unmodded red dice failed to consistently push damage past my consistently modded green ones.

So did variance win me this game? That’s not a simple one to untangle. From a certain point of view, yes it did.

Antony’s poor reds in the last 4 or 5 turns meant that he didn’t get the damage onto my ships he needed to score more points.

Then again, another way to see it is that it was my choices during those turns (i.e. blocking, not shooting and arc dodging) that prevented some shots and stopped the ones that did come in being modded.

The further we got into the game the more confident I got that I could keep dodging damage and stay ahead since I wasn’t especially keen on shooting either of the ships that were left!

I had fun playing this game, Antony was a great opponent and we had a good chat after the game about the pros and cons of each of our lists and what we might see in the points change.

The conclusion…

But here’s the real question – which list am I taking on Saturday?

Option 1 – Dash, Wedge, Ahsoka

Option 2 – Kyle, Hera, Rogue (E-Wing), Garven (X-Wing)

Option 3 – Kyle, Hera, Knave (E-Wing), Garven (ARC)

Option 4 – Kyle, Hera, Benthic, Garven (ARC)

Crikey.

I’m just so great with decisions…

With points changes imminent I think that, for the moment at least, Dash is out of the running. That iteration of the list is pretty likely to at least remain the same (if not go down…?) whereas all the lists with Hera, Garven and Jyn crew are likely to go up and therefore will be unplayable (or at least need adjusting) soon.

I’d rather get some final games in with those lists before they get nuked and then look at what’s possible after ‘the change’.

Antony and I chatted after our game and he is of the opinion that Hera doesn’t need to massively up in points. After all, she’s just a 2 dice gun who can take 1 token and pass it if needed. What makes her powerful is the synergy of the other parts of the list (Kyle, Benthic, Garven, Jyn, Perceptive Copilot).

I know I may be (am definitely) biased but I’d argue that Hera doesn’t need to go up by much, if at all. If, for example, the other cards all went up by 1 or 2 points (e.g. Kyle, Garven, Jyn, probably not needed for Perceptive Copilot though) then there are choices that need to be made if you still want to make it work. Hera on her own isn’t a danger but she enables potentially powerful combinations and that (to me) represents what the faction identity of Rebels should be. There for each other, helping and sacrificing for each other.

Anyway, I’ll keep my thoughts on that to myself for a little longer and discuss it more once points are out!

In the mean time I’ve got a big decision to make. I guess I’ve got a few days to figure out exactly what I’m going to do. Bring on tournament day!

The outro…

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