Saturday, May 28, 2016

Meet the Fleet, part 15


   


Bounty hunters. Kings of the Scum & Villainy faction. All now assembled, here in my collection, to chase and harass the good guys, and possibly the bad guys, too.

Darth Vader: There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations.
Boba Fett: As you wish.
 

Very happy to have, with Wave 8, the complete set of tough guys from ESB. Haven't flown Dengar and Zuckuss, yet, but that will change in the very next game we'll play.


Meet the Fleet, part 14


   

Oddities of the EU. I originally decided not to buy these ships, but then I wanted the ordnance-related cards so I caved in and got one of each.

The strange "K-wing", first invented by Michael P. Kube-McDowell in "Before the Storm: Book 1 of the Black Fleet Crisis" (1996). This is a New Republic era craft, first flown something like 16 years after the Battle of Yavin. The jury is still out as to the look of the heavy bomber, but I think it's growing on me. We have not yet flown it in battle. Interested to try out the SLAM action.

Even weirder is the TIE Interdictor (here called TIE Punisher). A TIE Bomber + a TIE Bomber + one more cylinder. Ummmmm....yeah. First appearing in a video game, Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds (2001). Just at the edge of silliness, in my opinion.

Both of these craft are super big for the small-sized base, extending over all sides. Both can bring a bunch of ordnance to bear; they should be fun to mess around with, particularly in an Epic game.



Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Rogue Dreams

Two items. The next book that really lights up my radar is set for an October 4, 2016 release:

Rogue One: Catalyst

Described as a prequel to the events of the upcoming movie. Set in the early days of the classic trilogy, near the outset of the Galactic Civil War. Sounds awesome!

(I plan to ignore, or at most, borrow from Nate, the Wendig book at some point; just for completeness).

I have also been daydreaming about the Rogue One trailer since it was first posted. The spoken voice over near the end of the trailer, in particular, which appears to be directed at the central female protagonist, uncontrollable troublemaker and non-sanctioned rebel Jyn Erso:

What will you do when they catch you? What will you do if they break you? If you continue to fight...what will you become?

The end of the voice over  coincides with a closing shot of our heroine (?) outfitted in distinctly Imperial gear, apparently somewhere deep inside an Imperial facility (air vent or access tube?).

Curious question: is the trouble-maker-turned-secret-agent still a good guy at that point? Probably, but it is a very interesting idea to ponder. She's dressed like I might expect an "Emperor's Hand" like Mara Jade to dress. Could just be her infiltration gear, but she might have gone...dare I say it...rogue!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bloodline



Just finished this much-anticipated (by me, at least) new Star Wars novel by Claudia Gray: Bloodline (2016). I have to say it was a nice and very quick read. I liked it, but didn't love it. Lost Stars was a better book, as was Battlefront: Twilight Company. In the good column, we get to see old friends as the main characters in this book. Well, at least one old friend: Leia. The book has a lot of politics in it, as it takes place during the New Republic, some 20 years after the events of the OT (but still some years short of The Force Awakens). Before the First Order comes to fruition. Before the Resistance is formed.

It has a lot of politics, but not enough politics. Specifically, how can I read for 332 pages and not know what planet Senator Leia Organa represents in the Senate? No idea.

Let's follow the timeline. She'd have been the senator from Alderaan many moons ago (that's no moon...too soon?). Then, after the Senate was disbanded by you-know-who, AND her constituents having been blown up, she would have switched to being an outlaw and Rebellion figure. Then, 20 years later, she's back in a re-formed New Republic Senate...representing who? Where has she lived since the OT? Who elected her? They never say. The book says Leia has no other permanent residence than her modest living quarters on Hosnian Prime (home of the New Republic Senate...for now).

Another minor quibble: The new planet Gatalenta seems to come up far too often to be mere coincidence. The X-wing pilot Joph Seastriker was from there, Leia drinks some tea from there while aboard her personal ship, which is being escorted by the X-wing flying native. Gatalenta is said to be famed for its tranquility and its tea. In addition one of the Senators close to Leia, one Tai-Lin Garr, is also from Gatalenta. The one and only decoration to adorn Leia's living quarters is a painting from Gatalenta. A fountain in front of the Senate building (next to a statue of Bail Organa) is a gift from the citizens of Gatalenta. I suspect a conspiracy of coincidence; perhaps this world with factor in to the next movie? Whatever it is, it was mildly annoying to have some many mentions of this brand new world wedged awkwardly into the text. Usually only a few pages from each other.

One more complaint, while we're at it: One of the big events of the book comes to be known, galaxy-wide, as the "Napkin Bombing". uuuhhhh.....

The story moves briskly, as I said, although the scope feels a bit underwhelming at times. Much is made of the stalemates and gridlock in the Senate chamber, and two fairly lame political "parties" are thrust upon us: the Centrists who favor a strong role for the New Republic and the "Populists" who would rather avoid repeating the mistakes of the previous Empire. Feels a bit too cute for my tastes. They constantly refer to each other by these two names, and claim silly things like "I could never be friends with a centrist" or "She's pretty good...for a populist". Give it a rest, people. You have important work to do.

A couple of side comments are made in support of the new Disney Star Wars equal rights push, which I support in theory, but seems a bit forced and to be awkwardly implemented in practice. One character is said in passing to have two moms. Not a big deal. In another scene a male fighter pilot is said to be acting like that because he has a "new man in his life" or somesuch. It doesn't quite seem like the non-PC versions of these statements would have ever cropped up naturally, so it seems odd when these are wedged in deliberately. Filling a quota or something, rather than an organic part of the story. Again, I am happy with a more inclusive (in every way) Star Wars universe, I'd just wish the attempts at inclusivity weren't so obvious and seemingly ham-fisted. Maybe I'm just not used to seeing these things in these novels, which, of course, is the whole point. I'll simply note it as an observation and move on.

The person I really want to read about during this Force-forsaken era is Luke. Where is Luke's story? Don't care about the rest all that much.

At the end of this novel is a sample of the upcoming Chuck Wendig affair, Truce at Bakura 4, uh, I mean Aftermath: Life Debt. As if we haven't been through enough, lately. Still choppy writing. Not quite as bad a random word salad as the first book, if this sample is anything to go by, Still don't care about the characters (especially Mr. Bones, and the rest of them). To top it off, Wendig now gets to write about Han and Chewie. Not a fan. Not. A. Fan.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Prequel-era Tragedy



Just finished reading Outbound Flight by Timothy Zahn (2006). A nice entry into the preferred canon, I believe. A tale set in the tumultuous time after The Phantom Menace and before Attack of the Clones. Most of what's wrong with the sometimes wayward Jedi Order is summed up in one character: Master Jorus C'baoth. He is arrogant and rude and considers Force users to be the rightful rulers of the galaxy. At the very end, his hatred and thirst for revenge send him to the Dark Side.

Outbound Flight is an ambitious project of the Galactic Republic to send six dreadnoughts, arranged around a central core, off into Unknown Space, then off much further toward the closest galaxy. A colony ship, with 50,000 beings aboard, including children. Political machinations, mostly on the part of one Darth Sidious, spell doom for the inhabitants of the exploration vessel. Along the way we meet a certain blue-skinned alien (future Grand Admiral), in his native environment.

A good old fashioned Zahn-style romp through the Star Wars universe. Crafty plans, high brow dialogue, brave smart people acting in high stress situations, mind games, including genius-level strategery, the art of the double-double-cross, lots of action and blasters and conflict. A few strange character names. A fun read, and a style-wise blast from the past.

Now it is on to the highly anticipated (at least by me) Bloodlines by new Star Wars rising star Claudia Gray. I am very excited to read this one, after her wonderful Lost Stars.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Meet the Fleet, part 13


   

The YT-2400. Dash Rendar's Outrider. Designed by Doug Chiang, as I recall. A great vessel. A smaller, more nimble cousin of the ubiquitous YT-1300.

I like this ship. I clipped the dorsal and ventral cannons much shorter, as they were way too long. Like longer than the CR90's turbolaser battery barrels. What?!

I'm not loving the strange nodules on the cockpit, but the rest of it is very nice. A great, solid, Star Wars feel.

In the miniatures game, we fly this as Dash. Recently I was reminded of the perils of equipping the heavy laser cannon in the Outrider-title granted turret: donut hole! I could not fight back against ships at range 1. That was a tough game. Next time I fly with Dash I am trying the Mangler cannon. We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, May 1, 2016