Posted in Deathwatch, iPhone games, Uncategorized, Warhammer 40K

Retro Gaming on the iPhone – Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion

Deathwatch CarnifexAs I move house, my paints and miniatures disappeared in boxes. Deprived of “proper” hobby time, I took to playing on my iPhone. Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion is a really cool retro game with shiny modern graphics

Playing Deathwatch feels a lot like playing Space Hulk or Imperial Assault (if set in Games Workshop’s grimy 40k-universe, not Star Wars).


What is Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion?

Genestealer Overkill Deathwatch

Deathwatch plays as a turn-based strategy game. You command a “kill team” of 5 Space Marine to battle hordes of the insect-like Tyranids.

You select one of your Deathwatch Space Marines and order him to move, shoot, attack in close combat or use one of many special abilities (like setting a Space Marine, Space-Hulk-style, on overwatch) with a limited number of action points.

After that, it is the Tyranid’s turn. And more than once I found myself nervously fidgeting, hoping a Space Marine of mine would make it to my next turn alive.

As I said, very retro. And a lot of fun.


Choosing & Equipping the Space Marines

A big part of why Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion is great fun is the ability to train, personalise and equip the various Space Marines serving in your kill team.

Deathwatch_Blood_Angels_Tactical_Marine
A newly recruited Blood Angels

At first glance, Space Marines would appear to be fairly uniform. It is also worth mentioning that the game (currently?) only comes with Space Marines from three chapters, the Ultramarines, the Blood Angels and Space Wolves and in four variants: Tactical Marines, Assault Marines, Devastators and Apothecaries.

Deathwatch_Ultramarines_Tyrannic_War_Veteran
A veteran of many bloody battles!

Though this might seem limited, the game more than makes up for this in the various skill-trees, equipment options and variants it offers within this selection.

Surprisingly, the developers truly managed to bring “personality” to the Space Marines. Playing the game, I really became attached to my band of grimdark heroes.

Rodeo Games even added a bit of banter between the Space Marines of different chapters, which sometimes plays during a mission. A cool touch!


Accomplish Different Missions!

Deathwatch Carnifex Mission
Take down that Carnifex!

Rodeo Games also added variety to the game by giving you different missions: Break through and reach a base, secure vital information, defend a position for a number of rounds or take down a particularly tough opponents like a Carnifex or Hive Tyrant.


Give Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion a try!

Does Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion replace the tangible gameplay of a board game with miniatures? No, not for me. Probably not for you, if you are coming from the miniature-games side of the hobby as well.

But if you’re plastic soldiers are packed away, as mine currently are, Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion is a great game to scratch that particular itch.

It truly plays like a miniatures board game on a touch screen and very different from most smart phone games. And it really makes you work hard to achieve those missions (on Veteran and Heroic difficulty) with some nail-biting challenges.

Give it a try. Highly recommended!

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Book Review – Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry

Book Review The Weapon of a Jedi

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure offers well-written and well-illustrated, fast-pace action scenes of X-Wing dogfights and lightsaber duels, strung together by a minimal story of, essentially, The Force telling Luke to go from A to B.

It is a good fast-food-read of Star Wars nostalgia and a bit of X-Wing and lightsaber-action, but nothing truly memorable stands out. No unique story is told.


A Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Disney acquired Star Wars and cleared out four decades of books, comics, games and other background material known as the Extended Universe. A few classics regrettably went down with it, but having a clean slate still seems like a good idea.

The novel series “A Journey to Stars Wars: The Force Awakens” is part of the new Disney lore, leading up to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens later this year.

That said, The Weapon of a Jedi, this particular book in the series tells a story set between the original Star Wars movie and The Empire Strikes Back. It holds no secrets, hints or spoilers for things happening after The Return of the Jedi.

The book itself has 184 pages, uses a large font and features several double-page illustrations throughout. It is a premium format with a short story, not a true novel.


The Story of “The Weapon of a Jedi”

The story follows Luke, before as a Rebel pilot – before he ever met Yoda, before he knew the identity of his father – along with C3P0 and R2D2.

The book kicks off with a bit of X-Wing vs. TIE-Fighter action, which I thought was great fun. Ultimately, Luke feels The Force nudging him to visit a backwater planet, and on the backwater planet an ancient temple quarantined by the Empire.

Once Luke finds the temple, he receives a bit of pre-Yoda Jedi-training and must immediately test his new skills, especially with his lightsaber.


The Good

There is a lot to like about this book. This book is clearly meant as a quick, fun read, and it delivers in that.

The writing flows well, the action is exciting and the C3P0 vs. R2D2 banter adds old school Star Wars comic relief. Likewise, the production of the book is great. The grey pages, the added artwork Disney veteran Phil Noto fits and the general visual design make this a very nice book to hold and read.

Thus, before I start nitpicking, I would recommend Jason Fry’s The Weapon of a Jedi to anyone looking for a fun, light Star Wars-read for an afternoon or two.


The Bad

There are a few things that keep the book for being truly excellent.

  • The story, in any sense of the word, is nonexistent. The Force tells Luke to go to this place or that. Luke, after some hesitating, follows and the next action scene occurs. A bit more plotting would have added a great deal.
  • The whole idea of Luke receiving separate Jedi-training, distinct and before he meets with Yoda, for me, does not sit that comfortably with the original trilogy of movies. If scrapping the old Extended Universe meant to clear out inconsistencies, it seems odd to bring them back in from the get-go.
  • It is a brief tale. 184 pages sounds like more than you get, given the large font, plenty of artwork and more. The book is beautifully produced, but with a regular font and less white-space, this story would only fill 40-50 pages. There is an element of making it appear more than it truly is.

Conclusion

I had fun reading the The Weapon of the Jedi and would usually recommend it for Star Wars fans looking for a light read.

The book probably holds little interest for a broader audience, as it really tells no distinct story of its own. There is no room to lose oneself in a fantastic universe or become engrossed with the twists and turns of a thrilling story.

This isn’t what The Weapon of a Jedi aims to do.

This is a book for a quick, fun lightsaber-battle and some nostalgic Star Wars quotes to read about on the subway, which it nails pretty well.

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X-Wing – Z-95 Headhunter Unboxed

Z-95 Headhunter for X-WingThe Z-95 Headhunter, predecessor to the X-Wing in the Star Wars universe, was, I believe, a game-changer for the Rebels in the X-Wing Miniatures game.

The Z-95 offers Rebels a small, useful little ship for as little as 12 points – the same as an Academy Pilot TIE-Fighter – though it plays quite differently. It is a staple in many of my X-Wing lists for the Rebels, so it deserves a moment in the limelight.


Z-95 Headhunter – Inside the Box

The Z-95 Headhunter is a regular small expansion for the X-Wing miniatures game.

It includes the ship itself, a flying stance, the maneuver dial, tokens and cards. No new missions, unfortunately, but one cannot have everything.


Z-95 Headhunter – The Pilots

The Z-95 Headhunter Expansion contains four pilot cards, two named pilots, Lieutenant Blount and Airen Cracken, and two generic pilots.

Bandit Squadron Pilots
The generic pilots of the Z-95 Headhunter

The generic pilots of an X-Wing expansion usually are not that interesting. However, with Z-95 Headhunter, things are different. In X-Wing, even to this day, Rebel ships generally are more expensive than their Imperial counterparts.

The very modestly priced Bandit Squadron Pilot first allowed Rebel players to field “swarms” of starfighters, either on their own or in support of a bigger and/or more pricy ship. The Tala Squadron Pilot with a pilot skill of 4 is also a steal.

Z95NamedPilots
Lieutenant Blount & Airen Cracken

That said, the named pilots of the Z-95 Headhunter are also both interesting and useful. I have fielded both at different times.

  • Lieutenant Blount gives you a guaranties hit, even if the defender dodges, which works very well with missiles that provide specific effects after hitting (like the Ion Missile). In this day and age of slippery autothruster-arc dodgers, a single guaranteed hit (with effects) on … say … Soontir Fel, can easily decide a game.
  • Airen Cracken is the most expensive pilot for the Z-95, and still cheaper than a Rookie X-Wing. Extra actions are a powerful thing. Airen Cracken works well with Cluster Missiles, which allow him to perform two attacks in a round.

Z-95 Headhunter – The Upgrade Cards

The Z-95 Headhunter for X-Wing comes with five different upgrade cards.
Munitions

Three of these cards deal with missiles.

Though the Z-95 comes at roughly the price of a TIE-Fighter, it is a less manoeuvrable ship. And while it has shields, only 2 defensive dice to dodge also make it a fragile ship on the board. The Z-95‘s main advantage over the TIE-Fighter is its ability to load missiles. The expansion adds an interesting options to the arsenal.

  • The Ion Pulse Missile is obviously useful to ionize large ships, which require two tokens. As large ships become more nimble – as for example the YT-2400 and the Aggressor – these become more useful.
  • The Assault Missile is in many ways the opposite of the Ion Pulse Missile, hoping to find a swarm of ships instead of a single large one.
  • Munitions Failsafe is useful, but its best synergy is probably with Flechette Torpedos, which deals stress even if it misses, not the missiles included here.

Z-95 Elite Talents

There are also two elite pilot talents.

They are, truth be told, probably the least interesting part of this expansion. While both Decoy and Wingman look like they could interesting, they clearly pale besides some of the better elite talents already in the game.


Final Thoughts

Ok, I did not want to end on a sad note there with the elite pilot talents. The Z-95 Headhunter is a fantastic expansion for the X-Wing Miniatures game.

  • A beautiful little ship, easily fitting into most lists
  • Interesting named pilots
  • Cool ordnance with useful effects

I own multiple Z-95s and cannot recommend them highly enough.