Unboxing and Review: Kylo Ren Force FX Lightsaber

I would like to start off by saying how happy I am to see Force FX products readily available in Canada again.  It seems that our market just hasn’t been a priority for Hasbro the way it was for Master Replicas.  But that’s another matter.

So, here’s the box:

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It’s… well, it’s a box.  It’s long, and it’s wide, but it’s nice art.  I don’t really have much to say about it, so…

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The empty space is unfortunate, and ties into my one complaint about the product, but more on that later.  The up-side here is that the packaging is simple.  A few foam bars to remove, and you pull the saber up and out.

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The cover on the three blades slide away easily, leaving you with the saber itself.

This saber does come with an interestingly designed display stand- very minimal and basic in appearance.

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The stand can be displayed either, as above, as this sort of cradle that the saber just rests on, or it can be flipped over and become:

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This looks kind of cool, in that the saber balances and almost hovers, but it does break the immersion of saying “this is a lightsaber.”

Okay, now a minor downside.  Batteries are not included.  The battery port, however, is interesting.  Force FX sabers have always hidden access to the battery compartment in interesting ways, and this is now exception.

A tool is required to gain access, but it’s not a screwdriver, nor any kind of key… you need a coin.

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I used a nickel, and was easily able to unscrew the end of the saber, and expose the battery pack.

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So, with the batteries installed, and the pack replaced, the cap screwed back in, you’re done.  It’s a very straightforward product.

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With the unboxing complete, I will give a short list of pros and cons.

PRO:
-Metal hilt.  This gives a certain degree of authenticity of the feeling of holding the thing.
-Sounds.  The sound effects are amazing.  The raw growl as you activate the saber is beautiful.
-Swing and clash sensitivity.  Swooshes every time you swing it, and doesn’t take a very strong hit to register the clash and product the sound.

CON:
-Blades are not removable.  This is pretty big for me.  If the crossguard blades could be removed, they could have cut down significantly on the width of the packaging.  It also means that you can’t carry the saber without visible blades.  It also means…
-No belt clip.  As the blades cannot be removed, it makes sense for the saber to not have a belt clip, but I love the ability to remove the blade from the other Force FX sabers, and wear them as a costume accessory.  Not an option here.

RATING:
Over all, a good product that produces the feel that you want.
4/5

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Top 10: X-Wing Imperial Ships

Hi, there!

Today I will be presenting my picks for Top 10 Imperial ships in Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures…

Or, at least, that was my intention.  As I was writing my list, I realized that there are actually only 12 Imperial ships.  So, while I am limiting myself to 10 here, it’s almost like a brief review than an actual Top 10.

Anywhere, without further ado…

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My Top 10 Imperial Ships

 

#10: Lamba-Class Shuttle
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If I had written this list a couple years ago, this ship would have ranked much higher (and no, not just because there were fewer ships).  When outfitted with upgrades like Heavy Laser Cannon, the Lambda-Class Shuttle can pack a surprising punch, and with its 5 hull and 5 shields, it can take a lot of damage.  It’s options to stand still, rather than being required to move, can also be of strong tactical advantage.

So what’s the catch?  It’s.  Slow.  Though I have seen this mitigated through the Engine Upgrade card, giving it the Boost action, the fact is that this flying rock is easily out maneuvered by virtually every over ship in the game, and it’s lack of a turret option means that you’re doomed to have it spend the back half of the game trying to keep enemies in its firing arc.

It’s fun every now and again, and it comes with some fun upgrades, but I’m afraid that the ship’s overall performance clocks it in at the bottom of this list.

#09: Imperial Raider
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I had considered not including any Huge ships in this list, but that would have left me even fewer ships to talk about, and frankly this beautiful beast is eye-catching that I take almost any opportunity to discuss it.

The first Imperial Huge-size ship certainly cuts an imposing figure as it sits either on a shelf, or ready on the field of battle.  That said, I almost don’t feel qualified to discuss its actual game performance, as I’ve only had a chance to play it twice.

Playable only in Epic games of 300+ points, and sporting the highest retail price amongst X-Wing products, this ship is not a casual piece.  That said, the TIE Advanced (and associated upgrades) that it comes packaged with make it tempting even for the player who does not regularly play Epic (like me).  That’s why it appears so low on this list.

That and my experience with it is somewhat mixed.  In the first game I played it with, the Raider didn’t take a scratch, tearing apart its opposition (mostly large ships) with volleys of fire.  On its second outing, facing up against a CR-90 Corvette and a trio of star fighters, it took a heavy beating and was destroyed before the rest of my fleet could come to its rescue (some errors occurred on my part, but that’s neither here nor there).

The Raider’s lack of a turret when compared to its rival, the CR-90 is significant, as is the lower (often) value of its Primary Weapon.

All in all, my conclusion is that the Raider NEEDS escort ships to survive when I wish it were more autonomous

#08: TIE Advanced
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I wish this ship was higher on this list.  I really do.

The TIE Advanced goes all the way back to the initial release of the game, being part of the first wave of boosters.  Sad to say, it shows it age.

When the other other ship available is a TIE Fighter, the 2 shields, target lock, and missile upgrade slot offered by the TIE Advanced are very attractive.  The 2 dice of Primary Weapon, however, are its downfall.  At anything farther than close range, that’s a pretty poor chance of damaging an opponent.

As an added factor, the Advanced does not offer much in the way of maneuverability.  With only 4 green options on the dial (1 banks, and 2 and 3 straight), Stress Tokens can become a major problem.

While it is true that the aforementioned upgrades packed with the Imperial Raider can do more to give the Advanced an edge, the inclusion of those cards only kept the Advanced on the list.

#07 TIE Defender
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Speaking of ships I want to like more.  Sigh.

I spent many an hour as a teenager in the late 90’s parked in front of my PC and playing the Collector’d Edition of TIE Fighter
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This game put you in the cockpit of Imperial fighters, and pit you against pirates, Rebels, and even Imperial traitors.  It was one of the most fun fighter games I ever played, and I credit it with the majority of my enthusiasm for getting into X-Wing in the first place.

The TIE Defender was created for and debuted in this game.  In it, the Defender dominates any battlefield- 4 lasers, two ion guns, a warhead launcher, shields, a hyperdrive, and maneuverability and speed to rival an A-Wing, I invested in X-Wing Miniatures in the hope that one day I would be able to field a wing of Defenders for the glory of the Empire!

And now I can, but it wouldn’t be a good idea.

Yes, the Defenders base stat-line is very impressive, 3’s all the way down, but again maneuverability becomes something of an issue.

Okay, yes, the Defender boasts a 4-speed WHITE Koiogran Turn, and that is amazing, but it’s 1- and 2-speed turns are RED and its only green maneuvers are straight.  This makes for a ship whose turns must be planned very carefully, unless you plan to eat up your Modification slot with the upgraded Twin Ion Engine Mk II.

This grace, rivaling that of the Lambda-Class rock above, keeps the TIE Defender, my favorite starfighter EVER from approaching the top 5.

Sigh.

#06: TIE Punisher
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From ships I wished I liked more, to a ship I didn’t expect to like at all.

When the TIE Punisher was announced, my first reaction on seeing it was something long the lines of “Holy crap, look at that thing!”  It’s clearly a Bomber with three extra missile tubes.  And if that’s all it was, I wouldn’t like it much at all.

Sure, it’s only got 2 Primary Weapon dice and 1 Agility, but it’s 3 shields and 6 hull ensures it won’t be going down in a hurry.  There also isn’t a whole lot of red on its dial.  Just a 4-speed Koiogran, and 2-speed turns.  There isn’t a whole lot of green to offset that either, but considering it’s a bomber, and that it can Boost, there’s a lot of maneuver options there.

My problem with TIE Bombers (note that they do not appear on this list) was that they would often be destroyed before they could deploy their payloads.  The Punisher has a much easier time of this.  Add the pilot abilities and upgrades that come in the pack, and you have an intimidating source of damage.

#05: TIE/fo Fighter
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Which brings us into the top 5, and the first ship on the list is also the newest ship on the list.

Introduced with the Force Awakens Core Set, the TIE/fo breaths some fresh air into an already good ship design.

On top of the 1 shield (no more 1 hit kills from X-Wings), the TIE/fo also sports a Target Lock action and a new upgrade slot at the cost of just a few points.

The TIE/fo also introduced a brand new maneuver into the game, the Segnor’s Loop, a bank that ends in a 180.

The addition of a green 2-speed turn, previously seen only on the Interceptor, helps the TIE/fo to stand out and contribute in spite of its Primal Weapon value of 2.

#04: TIE Fighter
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It’s actually surprised me how high this ship made it on the list, and not to long ago it wouldn’t have.

As you may have gathered from reading this list so far, I consider base stats and maneuverability to be important.  My playstyle with Imperials relies on these traits, using my fighters speed and maneuverability to try to keep them out of the line of fire, and trusting to their Agility to help them survive if they can’t.  High damage is also a must to actually destroy the enemy.

On its face, the TIE Fighter does not live up to this well, being somewhat toothless with their 2-die Primary Weapon, though 3 Agility does help them avoid damage, a mere 3 hull can result in quick losses.

The new pilots introduced with the Imperial Assault Carrier, though, have seriously revitalized this ship-of-the-line, introducing a host of new abilities to plague the enemies of the Empire.  It doesn’t pack a big punch, but being one of (if not the) cheapest ships in the game means that you can field more of them, and there is strength in numbers.

#03: VT-49 Decimator
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If you’re not agile, you’d better be tough.  It’s not, and it is.  Zero Agility, only 4 shields, but 12 hull.  12.

If you’re not maneuverable, you’d better have other options for attacking.  It’s not bad, acutally, sporting a nice array of 2-and 3-speed turns.  But the star is the 3-die Primary Weapon turret (the only imperial ship with a 360 degree arc) that makes coming up behind it just as dangerous as coming head-on.

The VT-49 Decimator is a space-tank, blasting at its choice of targets while taking what they dish out.  Pick your pilot and upgrades right, and this ship becomes an absolute terror that lives up to its name.

#02: TIE Phantom
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This sleek little beauty came out at the same time as the TIE Defender, and at the time I just picked it up for completion’s sake.  Why would I play this thing I’d never heard of when I had a DEFENDER at my disposal?

Well, I’ll admit when I’m wrong.  I was wrong.  There, I did it.

Even just the baseline stats of this ship, including a 4-die Primary Weapon (the highest in the game) should tell you this fighter means business.  The hull of 2 may seem fragile, and the 2 Agility ill-suited to protect it, making the TIE Phantom a glass cannon, but once you get a handle on the cloaking mechanics, it is anything but.

Now, you do have to be careful with cloaking, especially with the revision that was handed down regarding when one uncloaks, but the 2-speed shift that happens, combined with a good dial results in a ship that can go almost anywhere at any time.

And if you can ensure the highest Pilot Skill at the table, you need never be rolling fewer than 4 dice for defense.

In my experience, TIE Phantoms have shredded more than their fare share of enemies, often closing to range 1 to get that extra die before cloaking again and flying off to the next unfortunate soul.

#1: TIE Interceptor

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Finally, we reach the Numero-Uno, the TIE Interceptor!

Part of the 2nd wave of releases for X-Wing, the Interceptor has long been a mainstay of my squadrons.  If I’m not building with a specific theme or trick in mind, I always look at my Interceptors.

Solid stats (3 in everything but shields), boosts, and one of the best dials in the game (those green 2-speed turns) make this a ship with only one real serious downside, and that’s the lack of shields.  A bad roll can doom an Interceptor in one or two hits, which is why it is so important to Boost and Barrel-Roll you way into the best positions possible.

A wide arrange of effective pilots and upgrades just adds to the versatility and usefulness of this starfighter.

And as if that weren’t enough, the Imperial Aces box introduced us to this:

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It’s stats aren’t any different, but look at that beautiful crimson predator, ready to streak through space and obliterate anyone who stands against the Empire.

The Imperial Aces box also introduced numerous upgrades, including Royal Guard Interceptor, which allows an Interceptor to have 2 Modification upgrades.

Pilots like Soontir Fel and Carnor Jax turn this already solid ship into a dangerous and deadly opponent.

It’s not the strongest, it’s not the toughest, but all-around I say that it is my hands-down favorite.

 

So there we have it, my Top 10 list/review of Imperial ships for Star Wars X-Wing Miniatues.

Agree, disagree?  Other comments?  Reply below!

The Force Awakens Friday

This Friday will bring on of the biggest events to hit geekdom in 10 years- the release of a new Star Wars movie!

But even more than before, since this is a continuation, we don’t know what the future will bring!

Help us to celebrate Force Awakens Friday by participating in our sales and events!

First off, the sale!  All Star Wars products are 10% off!  That’s everything with the logo or name on it, cards, toys, figures, models, games, books, shirts, everything!

But it gets better!  Come in costume and receive an additional 5% off!

And then there’s the events!

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Our regulars will recognize the beautiful Imperial fleet owned by our owner, Chris Roberts.

Chris has written up a “squad” list that uses all of these models (plus the additional two TIE/fo fighters being used for demos)- a total of 850 points.

At 10:00 on Friday morning, this fleet will be deployed and waiting.  Chris will take all challengers on a first come, first served basis.  Single players or teams totally 850 points are welcome (though adhering to standard Epic play squad construction).  Come commemorate the release of The Fore Awakens with the most epic of epic Star Wars games!

Also available will be demos of X-Wing Miniatures and Imperial Assault!

TIE Punisher – A Review

I recently had the opportunity to climb in the cockpit of a TIE Punisher and take it for a whirl.  Not literally, of course, but as a component of the Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, and I must say I was rather satisfied.  I also completely neglected to take any pictures- silly me- so I’m going to grab some generic one to illustrate.

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So, there it is, somewhat unassuming isn’t it?  You can tell that it’s big, maybe- and it is.  Except for it’s release-sibling, the K-Wing, it’s the biggest “small” ship released so far.

Now, I’ve had poor results with warhead-leaden ships in the past in X-Wing, but I almost entirely attribute that to a clash between my playstyle and style in which they are effective.  I play Imperials exclusively, and prefer to play a largely swift and maneuverable style, offsetting the relatively fragility of my fighters with superior control of movement.

Anyone’s who’s played with a TIE Bomber will tell you that they don’t do that.

But when the spoilers for the TIE Punisher showed it to be capable of Boost, that got my attention.  I was also intrigued by this:

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Behold!  I cannot speak highly enough about this card.  I don’t usually use warheads of any kind- I’d rather have an upgrade that I can use over and over again than one I use once and it’s gone.  This changes that, and combined with a Munitions Failsafe, it ensures that you get the bang for your buck that you deserve!

So I set up a game specifically to test out the Punisher- hoping to put it through its paces and see what it’s made of.
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I’ll admit that I wasn’t thrilled with the Pilot Abilities presented in the TIE Punisher booster; I went with “Deathrain” sort of as the lesser of two evils.  “Redline” didn’t appeal to me- he has the ability to maintain two target locks, though he is limited locking the same ship twice.  But I’d never actually put bombs in a team before, and felt that “Deathrain” would give me the incentive to do so.  I loaded “Deathrain” with the following:

Cluster Missiles (4), Extra Munitions (2), Plasma Torpedoes (3), Cluster Mines (4), Proton Bombs (5), Fire-Control System (2), Munitions Failsafe (1).  I thought that made this guy a pretty intimidating salvo of death.  Then I did the math and discovered that he clocked in at 47 points.  There’s a little less than half my team in one ship.  Ah well, this was a trial, right?  May as well see what he can do with so much stuff.

The rest of my team was composed of two Alpha Squadron Pilot TIE Interceptors, and an Academy Pilot TIE Fighter.  Doing the math again, I see that comes in at 99, and I’m sure I had an even hundred.  Hmm.  I must have made a math error during the game.  Oh well.

My opponent fielded a team of Scum and Villany composed of a Headhunter, a Y-Wing, and a Firespray (I don’t remember any of the pilots, and was silly enough not to note them in any way, even though I was considering writing this review.  Bad Chris).

I’m not going to give a turn-by-turn commentary of the match, but I will say that I was pleased.  The Punisher proved an admirable weapon.  True, it’s four shields vanished all in one go as the result of an point blank blaster shot from the Firespray and a poor Agility roll, but it’s 6 hull ensured that it stuck around long enough to unload most of its payload and deal significant damage.  I found the cluster mines an interesting weapon, but they were never detonated.

The final round of the game saw the Punisher and the Academy Pilot my only surviving ships against the Firespray- all with only one hull remaining.  Feeling a need to control my destiny, even at the expense of my resources,  I detonated Proton Bombs, destroying everyone in one glorious ball of Imperial wrath.

I certainly plan to field the Punisher again someday, though I doubt it will become a go-to ship.  And I certainly don’t think I’d ever play it without the Extra Munitions upgrade.

But, all-in-all a worthy ship to blast your foes to bits, and a bomber without peer amongst the Imperial fleet.

Glory to the Empire.