…of all the wings, the L wing feels the most pointless. There is no centre of symmetry, just one pilot seat….that is rear facing and only one solitary Ion cannon. What was the point? Did the design team get savaged by their guide dogs? Still, as part of the rebellion, we I suppose we have to take what we can get. Our ragtag outfit of decrepid, ancient, failing machines of war will, in the bitter end, win out against the advanced, highly efficient, highly funded, highly trained Imperial fleet…who am I trying to kid…quick let’s leg it and hide out in Jabba’s Palace!

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Jabba’s palace is no picnic ground and the draw of flying a snub fighter in a vacuum just as if it were a Spitfire is too great…and I find my self once more belted into a tin and cardboard replica of a Y wing with Tie solar array wings…is there no sanctity for design aesthetics?

 

INTRO:

The Man Made, Fan Made concept is to look at what fans of games have created to make otherwise non-solo games available to the soloist gamer. But do they have the skills of the professionals? Let us discover as we evacuate our waste and prepare to make a jump into X-Wing hyperspace.

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What Do All The Multi-players Get?

Dogfighting space craft from the ever expanding Star Wars universe. That’s what they get. Head to head battles of good versus evil…or evil verses evil…or good versus good…any combination it appears is acceptable. All rather confusing, really.

Highly detailed miniatures on ‘static’ stands for quite a hefty price, come to life with a plethora of card stats and upgrades.

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A nice touch allows a single model to be represented by a multitude of examples extracted from the franchise. An X-wing could be Biggs or some bloke with a beard or even Luke while R2threepoo can be his Astro mech co-pilot. Then there are the upgrades. Nav computers, go faster stripes, Ion cannons…in fact what ever you like so long as you keep to a points max and match your upgrade icons.

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Movement has always been a rather stagnant affair in miniature wargaming, in my opinion, but X-Wing made a pleasant detour from that mould. Each craft has its own specific movement stats which players select on a movement dial in secret, hidden in a very dark room. Then all dials are revealed and everyone moves…chaos…unless you all move in initiative reverse order. A selection of pre-cut templates aid the movement and then begins the shooting. Custom dice (fluffy ones hanging from the cockpit rear view mirror) for attacking and defending are then unceremoniously chucked into deep space and damage is awarded accordingly.

 

 

There is a high level of strategy trying to out manoeuvre your opponent to get in an optimal shooting position…or hide behind an asteroid because “yer yeller”

 

All For One And One For Solitaire Gaming

So how can an IA possibly be replicated in this situation. No matter how you write flowcharts for a Bot, it is unlikely a human’s strategy can be replicated. The question to be asked, therefore, is how do we, the soloist, benefit from X-Wing without the tedium of having to play both sides. A task, it feels to me, not unlike solo chess, is as pointless as Nettle Leaf Underwear…and equally irritating.

Well Ralph Barrett has devised a more than adequate solution to the problem in the form of an on-line app that makes the movement decisions on behalf of all the AI models.

(BGG thread to Ralph’s app https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/875898/web-based-applet-x-wing-ai)

There is a constantly growing list of ships to choose from.

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Link to the online app http://s-fear.com/xwing/

There is the chosen ship image in the centre of a target dial. Clicking the location of the closest enemy (your craft) selects a random choice of suitable manoeuvres in response. So, let’s say I am hurtling towards a Tie Advanced from 5 O’clock position, tapping the dial at 5 brings a list of random potential moves. The only thing a player need do is decide if the closest ship is approaching, retreating or if the AI previously made a RED manoeuvre. The result is transferred to the movement dials and onwards and upwards. Obviously it makes sense for the human player to select all their movement first before choosing for the AI.

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Now I will say that at times it can be a little limited in reaction to the human players actions but on the whole a system that works admirably well allows the human to battle against any foe.

To mitigate lack of action selection there is also a list of priorities specific for each ship so most decision making is taken out of our hands…and the enemy always get to use Target Lock (if available) regardless of actions. The sneaky little buggers!

Admittedly there will be a certain amount of book keeping for the AI ships such as Attack dice/defence dice rolls (all stats are on the bases and cards so no fiddling or looking up on charts), adding damage cards, adding or taking off the various markers shuch as Target Lock or Stressed markers but as that is part and parcel of this game. So in all, the soloist can, for the most part, focus on trying to out wit the AI and, just like a real opponent, it will be a pretty tall order to predict their possible moves. But this app really takes the headache out of trying to make opponent moves in secret, keeping such information away from yourself…not unlike trying to buy a secret birthday present for yourself

 

Me, Myself And I

I have used this an awful lot and, when I’ve been playing epic battles with 500-1000 point  fleets, it gets to be a serious carpark in space but loads of fun. I have always been a Star Wars spaceship fan and to be able to live out those childhood fantasies almost in realtime, is quite sublime. Me and myself were less enthralled by the lack of insinuated movement on the battle field…battle void…so I had to improvise by making re-positional stands.

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I had seen others try this with magnets and the like but that seemed too fiddly. My solution was simple. A flexi straw glued to the base of the model, slid over the stand.

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And hey presto…the shipd can tilt, dive, bank as you see fir. A lick of black paint and a few stars to help blend into my neoprene star field and Luck really can run head to head with Vader and his wing men.

 

Man Made Verdict

It is obviously not going to have any specific strategy as an opponent with any long term goals…so may not be quite as useful for spacific goal-driven games, but, for that head to head shoot ‘em up, this certainly fits the bill. Nor, I must point out, is it going to be anything other than reactionary but that said, it provides a strong opponent that can be used for any sized force with any of the recent additions to the X-Wing flotilla and opens up a whole universe of combat. It is simple to use and as it is free to use, hits a major selling point for me.

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If you love Star Wars but, as a solo player, have never been able to get into the X-Wing game, I think this may very well be the tool for your gaming kit bag

X-Wing AI blasts its way into a BSoMT 1d8 die roll of (7) At last the Star Wars universe is open to me as a solo player…

…now where did I put those old leather goggles and my ageing orange boiler suit? R2threepoo are you installed back there?…right! Time to blast off!…and once I have finished here in the toilet, I can take to the void and go hunt me some Tie!

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The fan made, online app to operate an entire AI fleet allowing the soloist to play either side against an AI opponent. Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game by Fantasy Flight Games https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/x-wing/

 

As a foot note I have recently discovered Masilotti.com have something similar on the app store but I have yet to try this out https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/x-wing-ai/id1170239055?mt=8… it also doesn’t look as pretty as Ralph’s!

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