All posts by Simon Read

Hello! I’m Simon and I will be today’s guest writer! You will usually find me lurking around the store, prodding customers and shouting table numbers out. So while James is busy swashbuckling pirates on the English Channel or calculating the trajectory ready for his personal voyage to Mars (He’s a part time rocket scientist ya know), I’ll take you through this week’s latest Cardfight Vanguard spoilers and syphon off some of my incredible knowledge for you to gleam. And by incredible knowledge I mean my complete lack of understanding of any Clan other than Link Joker. So, onwards, to the cards!

I’ll start today by talkingHappiness Collector about Happiness Collector, the new Forerunner from Pale Moon’s first ever Trial Deck, G-TD07 Illusionist of the Crescent Moon (I started with a Forerunner, get it?). Her ability, with a GB1 condition, is to place her into the soul when another unit enters RG and in return you Soul Charge 1 and draw a card. Now that is good value from a Forerunner. Happiness Collector could potentially be a recurring source of draw by doing some Soul juggling (See what I did there?) and because there’s no CB/SB cost involved, it’s practically free! Hopefully the next Pale Moon card that pulls units out of the soul won’t be too Magia keyword specific but only time will tell there.

The Pale Moon TD also brings a beautiful delight in the form of a new Stride unit, Ardor Dragon Master, Amanda. Her sole ability (I’ll stop now) is an on-hit, Soul Charge 1, bounce any unit out of the Soul, give it +2k power and then return it whence it came at the end of Ardor Dragon Master, Amandaturn. Immediately I’m drawing a comparison to Miracle of Luna Square, Clifford which was the PM Stride from FC2015. Both units have a very similar ability but with enough differences to justify either inclusion in a deck. Amanda has the unique ‘Magia’ keyword which until we see more units utilising it will be difficult to judge so we’ll have to compare the rest of the ablity for now. She Soul Charges 1, Clifford doesn’t, and indiscriminate charging can be mixed in a PM deck. You can then call any unit, Clifford can only call G2 or lower, so she wins there. Then the unit has to be returned, whilst Clifford lets it stay out and play. Again this is a mixed point because some units want to stay on the field, others would benefit from being called out repeatedly. With all that in mind, I’m in favour of Amanda over Clifford but it really does depend on the deck’s construction and your preferences.

Let’s leave the Dark Zone to its tricks though and cast our eyes out over calm seas to Magallanica. Too calm. I sense a storm is approaching! Yes that was a torturous introduction to the new G-CB02 Commander of the Incessant Waves spoilers but we got there in the end.

Blue Wave Drago, Dagger Master DracokidFirst unit that comes in to view is Blue Wave Dragon, Dagger Master Dracokid, a new Forerunner for that makes anyone planning on playing Blue Waves go weak at the knees. Rather then reiterate, I’ll drop the rules text in and let you revel in the majesty. [ACT](RC) Generation Break 1:[Counter Blast (1) & Put this unit into your soul] Choose one of your vanguards with “Blue Wave” in its card name, until end of turn, it gets “[AUTO](VC)Wave-2nd time or more:When this unit attacks a vanguard, draw a card.” and “[AUTO](VC)Wave-5th time or more:When this unit attacks a vanguard, this unit gets [Critical]+1 until end of that battle.”.

“I heard you like restanding your Vanguard, oh, but you want to be rewarded for restanding them? Well sure, draw a card and then next time have an extra Crit, its on the house!” Ok so I may be bigging Mr Dagger Master up a little but he is a great supporter for a blowout turn, not only netting you cards but also forcing your opponent to seriously consider which attacks to guard or not. Some players will argue the +1 Crit at the end is redundant, but is it? This could cause your opponent to actually let early swings through, as Crit Triggers are not guaranteed, in order to keep PG’s lined up for that 5th swing. Either way I think this little Tear Dragon is something to watch out for and snipe away if you can.

 

Surfing up the Grades brings us to Battle Siren, Chloris, a G1 with an interesting pair of Battle Siren, Chlorisabilities. Her first one is on Wave-4th or more, Soul Blast 1 if she’s boosting to bind the top card of your deck face up. This is where it gets very interesting. At the beginning of a guard step where you’re attacked you can cast an inquisitive glance at the cards you’ve binded, maybe pensively touch a finger to your lips, venting over the tough predicament you’re in, then SNATCH THOSE BINDED CARDS UP AND SLAM THEM DOWN IN THE GC WITH +5K SHIELD! OH YES YOU CAN! Ahem. Sorry for that outburst. It’s just really awesome to see an alternative hand of sorts, something you can use to guard in a Clan known primarily for its aggression. Whilst your opponent will have total awareness of what’s happening and could potentially remove Chloris, causing you to lose those cards, the opportunity for that extra guarding is an intriguing one.

Following on from this, and its a tough few acts to follow, we have Blue Wave Soldier, Bright Shooter who is a simple supporter for Striding. His Wave-4th ability means after boosting, if you have a Blue Wave VG, choose a G3 from drop zone and slip it back in to hand. As I said, a simple supporter. This lets you get back anything you dropped for a Stride cost and at 7000 Power… Wait… He’s RR rarity? Oh. Ok. Let’s move on to the next card shall we?

Blue StorBattle Siren, Chlorism Battle Princess, Theta, who is also a RR, is a G1 that with the proper setup can swing in with a hefty punch. So long as you have a Maelstrom VG she gets +2k in battle and then if Wave-2nd she gains another +3k, making her in total a 12k G1 hitter if you have Mael. Which isn’t terrible and combined with switchers and other various AqF shenanigans she could prove herself useful.

 

 

Let’s be honest though, those cards were just warm-up acts, they’re the bread to your sandwich, necessary parts of the whole but they’re not the reason you’re making an Aqua Force sandwich. Oh no. You’re here for the spreads, the main meat, the delicious filling that overpowers everything else. And we have an classing filling revealed this week but with a twist. I present to you… Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom (Break Ride)! Yes, he’s back, and this time he’s ready to be ridden!Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom (Break Ride)

Drawn out analogies and terrible puns aside, the new Break Ride version of Maelstrom is making waves already (I couldn’t resist that one). My interpretation of his two abilities won’t do him just so I’ll copy them out below and you can devise delirious devastating turns in your own mind.

[AUTO] Limit Break 4:[Counter Blast (1)] When an <<Aqua Force>> rides this unit, you may pay the cost. If you do, choose one of your vanguards, until end of turn, that unit gets [Power]+10000, and “[AUTO](VC)Wave-4th time or more (This ability is active during the specified battles of each turn):When this unit attacks a vanguard, draw a card, choose one of your opponent’s rear-guards, retire it, and until end of that battle, your opponent cannot call grade 0 cards from hand to (GC).”

[AUTO](VC)Wave-3rd time or more (This ability is active during the specified battles of each turn):When this unit’s attack hits a vanguard, search your deck for up to one card with “Maelstrom” in its card name, reveal it to your opponent, put it into your hand, and shuffle your deck.

The end result of combining the new Break Ride with the Crossride is not only your opponent’s complete and utter inability to guard against your valorous attack, but they also lose a RG and you get to tutor out of your deck fodder ready for a Stride or to set up the same scenario again. That is just brutal. Do I need to say more?

Out there, on the horizon, that are other Grade 3’s then just the majBlue Wave Dragon, Anger-boil Dragonestic Maelstrom and GCB02 also brings AqF players Blue Wave Dragon, Anger-boil Dragon. Twin abilities show you his true aim, that of restanding your RG’s, primarily with the aid of striding a Tetra-boil Dragon (Yet to be revealed sadly, but he’ll be magnificent I’m sure). On GB2, Wave-2nd, if Anger-boil attacks a VG he gets a +5k boost then Stands a RG granting it a +10k power boost! That’s an amazing pump for no cost, although it will be a few turns in to the game at this point. Secondly if the afore mentioned Tetra-boil Strides, then a +3k boost is passed on and Wave-2nd allows two RG’s to Stand, albeit with just +3k boosts this time. A good ability but we really could do with seeing Tetra-boil before we pass too much judgement.

And with that my short time with you is at an end. This has been an enlightening experience for me, as my main protagonist is a lover of all things Aqua-ery and this I hope you’re enjoyed reading through my rant and you will be returned to your regular James-san broadcast next week!

Cardfight Vanguard singles are available to purchase at Big Orbit Cards: Cardfight Vanguard

All posts by Simon Read

android-netrunner-logo

Breaking news: Big Orbit Games learnt today at the UK Game Expo that Fantasy Flight Games’ next, and last, deluxe expansion for Android: Netrunner will be called Data and Destiny and that it comes with a nice surprise!

The set will feature the NBN corporation doing what they do, controlling the media and news in their usual style. But as anyone who plays Netrunner knows, there are four Corporation factions but only three Runners. So, who would herald the fourth deluxe expansion? The answer is none of them! Read on…

Data and Destiny will feature 3 Runner identities and each of them will be their own mini-faction! Not much was revealed about how they will work or what their abilities are, unfortunately, but we do know that one of the identities is not a person but rather a sentient virus program. This is a wonderful twist for the game’s last deluxe expansion and hopefully it will bring a whole new aspect to the game.

Sadly we were unable to get any photographs from the presentation, but look out for more information in the following weeks from FFG themselves.

All posts by Simon Read

Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Expansion Pack

Gladiator-class Star Destroyer Expansion PackThe Imperials gain a brand new ship in Wave 1, the Gladiator-class Star Destroyer. If you look through the old Expanded Universe stories, you’ll find that this ship isn’t named until The Force Unleashed as it was previously just known as the Demolisher, which was the title of the only version present in the stories and something we’ll see again later. In the pack you’ll find two variants of the ship:

  • Gladiator I-class Star Destroyer
  • Gladiator II-class Star Destroyer

And you’ll find a load of new and old upgrade cards:

  • Admiral Screed (Commander)
  • Admiral Chiraneau
  • Insidious
  • Demolisher
  • Weapons Liaison
  • Expanded Launchers
  • Assault Concussion Missiles
  • Engine Techs
  • Nav Team
  • Sensor Team

The Model

Even though the Imperials tend to have a “Go big” attitude towards ship construction, the Gladiator is a small-class ship used for patrolling and designed to quickly take down any opposition with a brutal volley of fire. However the model doesn’t look to be the right size for a small ship. The model fills the base its on, dwarfing the same-size class CR-90 and Nebulon, making it look more like a medium size rather then small. The detailing on it is as nice as always, but again its a bit of a let down as the overall look feels lackluster. A primary focal point, the launcher bay dominating the front arc, is left untouched and is just plain grey which is a real shame. I’m sure some re-painters will correct this but it would have been nice to see it already painted.

Ship Cards

Both versions, the Gladiator I-class and Gladiator II-class, carry on the “Go big” ethos in their stat line by packing a lot of close range punch in black dice heavy arcs. This means that they can deal out a lot of damage in just one salvo but it comes with the risk of rolling nothing but blanks too. A big gamble but if it pays off, bye-bye Rebels, plus Admiral Screed helps maximise your rolls by spending a die to switch another die to a face with a critical.

Both of them have 5 hulls and Evade, Brace and Redirect for their defence tokens so their endurance is a mixed bag. If the hits get through then they’re going down quickly and, because Evade doesn’t work at close range, which is where they want to be to use their black dice, they’re relying on just two tokens per turn (Insidious title changes this slightly but I’ll get to that later). On the approach this means they should be able to shrug off a salvo or two but they need to be dashed in, strike, and then quickly move out. I prefer the Gladiator II-class of the two versions because it comes with red dice on its side arcs, giving its attacks access to the ever useful accuracy result. The extra anti-squadron dice should also make your opponent think about swinging in with a bomber wing because, with good rolls, this ship can quickly whittle them down.

The Gladiator-I comes in 6 points under the Gladiator-II by trading in the red dice on the side arcs for pure black dice and by dropping down to just one anti-squadron blue dice. This means that, once it’s in range, its salvos really pack a punch with a potential 8 damage from one side shot, and that’s without any upgrades. Otherwise, however, the difference isn’t massive and it will come down to your preference and your desired role for the Gladiator.

Upgrade Cards

The Gladiator comes with 10 upgrade cards, 3 of which we already saw in the Core Set, so I’ll skip those for this article and instead focus on the 7 new cards. First up…

Admiral Screed

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Admiral Screed A new Imperial Commander and already a popular one, often being picked over Tarkin in a lot of lists I’ve seen. His ability allows you to spend a die during an attack to switch another one to a facing with a critical icon. You can only do this once per ship activation, but this makes black and red dice attacks that bit more devastating. Plus the black dice critical facing also has an extra damage, so you’re effectively turning a blank miss in to 2 hits with a critical effect. Can you see why he’s so popular already?

To make the most of Screed’s magnificent ability you should be focusing on taking ships with black dice such as the Gladiator and the Victory I, but he still works with any attack the Imperials make as every ship uses black or red dice. At 26 points he’s a real steal, much lower then Tarkin’s 38, and that extra 12 points turns in to a Title card or TIE Interceptor.

Admiral Chiraneau

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Admiral ChiraneauDespite the misleading title, this card is an Officer upgrade who provides some utility to your squadrons. When you use the squadron command, your squadrons can move even if they were engaged but their speed is reduced to 2, half of the normal Imperial speed. I’ll put it here immediately: this works beautifully with “Mauler” Mithel if your opponent has tried to lock him in combat to avoid his move-to-damage ability, allowing you to just shift him around the engagement.

Really this Officer is better off being on-board a Victory in most situations because the Gladiator will want to be spending its command dials on manoeuvring and concentrating fire, not activating squadrons. Consider also that the Gladiator’s squadron value is one lower then the Victory’s and, with its lack of access to Expanded Hangar Bays, you can see this guy belongs on a different ship. On a side note, one day I will learn how to pronounce Chiraneau.

Sensor Team

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Sensor Team A Weapons Team upgrade that lets you spend a die, and exhaust the card, to change a die to an accuracy facing. Accuracy is always helpful in small quantities by helping you deny your opponent’s defense and at close distance you’re already ignoring Evades, but it costs a die and that’s the crucial part. With Screed being so popular you’re probably already burning a die to get the damage/critical facing so sacrificing another one, without having an upgrade like Expanded Launchers or a concentrate fire command, can be a tough call to make but potentially game changing.

There is definitely a time and place for Sensor Team and I’ll try it out in some builds, but right now I’m not seeing the value of it so long as I’m running Screed.

Expanded Launchers

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Expanded LaunchersWhat goes well with 4 dice? Two more dice! The launchers improve the Gladiator’s front hull zone by 2 black dice making for a devastating 6 dice attack from the front. This will rip through most ship’s shields and burn through defence tokens leaving the opponent vulnerable to secondary fire.

You’ll want to always be firing from your front hull zone with this equipped, so other upgrades such as the new Engine Techs and the Demolisher title help achieve this. At 13 points it’s a costly upgrade and should be taken with caution, otherwise your 5 hull Gladiator starts to become a very expensive, quite squishy points-sink.

Engine Techs

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - Engine TechsI mentioned this card above and this is one of my go-to upgrades for the Gladiator. She allows you, after taking a manoeuvre command, to perform a speed-1 manoeuvre. If you take a look at the Gladiator’s card you’ll see that, at speed-1, it gets two yaw meaning this is a great upgrade to get into position to utilise your front arc’s fire power. Your Gladiator is a nippy ship, for an Imperial, and should be used to get in behind an opponent’s ship, which this upgrade allows you to do.

The Demolisher and the Insidious titles combine nicely with Engine Techs. Demolisher because both abilities happen after executing a manoeuvre so you can choose which one to resolve first and, even though premeasuring is allowed, sometimes you might find you’ve slightly mispositioned, so you can use this extra move to get into a more favourable position and unleash hell on an opponent’s newly exposed side. With Insidious the extra move makes it easier to get in to a rear hull zone so you can gain those extra dice.

Demolisher

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - DemolisherI’ve covered this title a lot already because it combos so well with the other upgrades, but I will add that this title is a must for any Gladiator. It’s slightly costly at 10 points, but being able to take one of your attacks after you’ve moved is an ability worth its weight in gold and shouldn’t be underestimated until you’ve tried it. I can see that, if you’re going for a maximum-ships list where you want quantity over quality, then there’s no problem with leaving this off, but otherwise I would recommend it every time.

Insidious

Gladiator Class Star Destroyer - InsidiousI mentioned this title right at the beginning and now we’ve finally got to it. This title ups the range of your black dice to medium distance, but with the catch of the range only increasing when firing at an opponent’s rear hull zone. Three points is cheap for a title and, whilst on initial glance this seems fantastic, you soon realise that actually getting to use this ability is a bit more limiting. Speed 3 is high for an Imperial ship, but the Gladiator is still slow compared to the Rebel ships and you really need other upgrades to support this title, such as Engine Techs or Nav Team, and at this stage it’s a 10+ points.

Learning how to manoeuvre to maximum effect each turn is crucial to utilising Insidious because, with a 6 turn limit, you don’t get many chances to correct your course. In a mirror match you should be able to get in behind a Victory and use the added range to good effect (although you need to be careful that you don’t speed up and bump in to it by accident) but against Rebels you’ll have a tougher time finding the benefits of the increased range. Its a good title but it needs you to fly well to use it.

Overall

I really like the Gladiator. It’s fast for an Imperial ship, with a great array of dice with some interesting and amazing upgrade cards included in the box. Any Imperial should pick this up and give it a whirl.

Star Wars Armada cards, components and models are available to purchase at Big orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

All posts by Simon Read

Star Wars Armada Rebel Starfighter ShipsWe count 30 Rebel ships, Lord Vader, but they’re so small they’re avoiding our turbo lasers!” – Imperial Officer

Wave 1 introduces the first squadron expansions, with Rebel Fighter Squadrons expanding the Rebels snubfighter line-up to include:

  • A-wing Squadron
    • Tycho Celchu A-wing Squadron
  • B-wing Squadron
    • Keyan Farlander B-wing Squadron
  • X-wing Squadron
    • Wedge Antilles X-wing Squadron
  • Y-wing Squadron
    • “Dutch” Vander Y-wing Squadron

X-Wing: The X-Wings were already included in the Core Se,t but we get a new character squadron, Wedge Antilles, so I’ll start there. Coming in at a fair few points more than a normal X-Wing squadron, Wedge thankfully brings a lot for this extra cost. He keeps the Bomber and Escort rule and gains the ability of adding 2 blue dice to his attack pool against activated squadrons. Rolling 6 dice against other squadrons is deadly, even in the mirror, and he could easily take out other character squadrons in one salvo by denying the use of defense tokens with accuracy results. A nice little bit of synergy is with the Y-Wing character, “Dutch” Vander, whose ability causes a squadron to be switched to activated (more on him later). So use a Squadron dial, activate Wedge & Dutch, and pop an opposing character squadron in one turn. With double Brace tokens he has a good chance of survival, but combine him with his wingman and Wedge will be your sniping squadron.

A-Wing: A-Wings introduce us to the the new Counter ability. After being attacked, the squadron can shoot back (even if destroyed), making engaging squadrons beneficial in most situations. A single black dice against ships looks nice, until you remember that criticals don’t apply to them, so you really don’t want to be engaging ships with A-Wings (even if you want to try to recreate a certain infamous scene). They are however an exceptionally fast squadron at speed 5 and, with 3 blue dice against other squadrons, they fill the role of an interceptor perfectly. Tycho Celchu is the character pilot and he is allowed to move even if engaged, which fits in with how manoeuvrable the A-Wing is and will let him flee unfavourable engagements.

B-Wing: Now for the B-Wing, my personal favourite fighter. With 5 hull, blue and black anti-ship dice and Bomber, this squadron is designed for tackling the big boys, but the squadron is definitely a hybrid fighter-bomber as it can perform well in either role. A pair of these can easily put the hurt on ships late game and when you look at Keyan Farlander, who allows you to reroll any of your dice when attacking a ship, this squadron can do some serious damage in one turn. However this comes at the high cost of 20 points, which is steep for a single squadron with only double Brace and a slow speed of just 2. Combining Keyan with the new Nebulon-B title Yavaris, which allows him to attack twice in one turn, will be downright brutal and a ship-killing move. Right now with only X-Wings and TIE Fighters, squadrons have not been much of a hinderance to large ships, but now it has all changed with the B-Wings.

Y-Wing: Speaking of damaging ships, the last ship in this pack is the Y-Wing. In the stories, the B-Wing replaces the ageing Y-Wing in its role of anti-ship combat and this rings true in Armada. Having only 1 black dice against ships, still with Bomber, but now carrying the Heavy rule (They don’t prevent squadrons from disengaging), their damage potential isn’t as high as the B-Wing, especially their anti-squadron fire power which is a mere 2 blue dice. They do however come in 4 points cheaper and have an increased speed and hull so they can manoeuvre more easily with a bit more survivability. In the character slot we find “Dutch” Vander who brings an ability that sounds just like an ion cannon shot. When he damages a squadron they toggle to being activated, and if they already had activated they instead take 1 damage. A punishing ability if the opponent has flown in to tie you up, but otherwise its only a minor ability when used on its own, reflected by him only being 2 more points then a normal Y-Wing. However, as I wrote above, if you add Wedge in to the mix this becomes a nasty attack pattern.

Star Wars Armada Rebel Starfighter CardsSpeaking from a fluff perspective the Rebel Fighters really shine with their ethos of using small snubfighters to tackle the larger ships of the Imperial, as they simply didn’t have the resources to produce massive vessels. When you look through the stats of each squadron you see that they all threaten to damage any ship, including the A-Wing, who, even with just a single black dice, still has a 75% chance to inflict one damage. Over the course of a game, this begins to add up and chipping away at an opponent’s shields will take its toll.

Each expansion pack has 2 of each squadron so it’s enough to supplement your fleet, but I can already see the need to buy additional expansion packs. Having only two A-Wings seems a little low as it would be good to fly them in a larger group where they can bring their number to bear on unsuspecting squadrons, and Y-Wings need to be supported by further squadrons if you want them to survive contact with the enemy. I feel this pack will bring a much desired aspect to the game, squadrons will become much more important now and will have a much bigger influence on the game as a whole. Wave 1 is going to make a big impact on Star Wars Armada.

Pick up individual components, models, cards and accessories for Star Wars Armada, along with sealed items at Big Orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

Big Orbit are a hobby games retailer that specialises in the sale of individual trading cards and game components – Big Orbit also runs a Gaming venue in Evesham, Worcs, UK.

All posts by Simon Read

Star Wars Armada Imperial Starfighter ShipsEscorts, swarms, cannon fodder, the Imperial starfighters have many different terms but what you can’t deny is their effectiveness in their roles. The Imperial Fighter Squadrons Expansion pack brings with it four types of starfighter, three of them new entries to Armada:

  • TIE Advanced Squadron
    • Inc Darth Vader TIE Advanced Squadron
  • TIE Bomber Squadron
    • Inc Major Rhymer TIE Bomber Squadron
  • TIE Interceptor Squadron
    • Inc Soontir Fel TIE Interceptor Squadron
  • TIE Fighter Squadron
    • Inc “Mauler” Mithel TIE Fighter Squadron

TIE Advanced: Commonly known as Darth Vader’s personal fighter, the TIE Advanced, on paper, looks like a simple upgrade from the classic TIE fighter. Keeping the same movement and anti-squadron fire power, they boast an improved hull, a black dice vs ships and they’ve traded Swarm for the Escort ability. For the small 4 point increase, the Advanced brings a bit more to the field over a regular TIE. Utilising the Escort ability will be their primary role, flying alongside Bombers to keep them from harm. As I mentioned, Advanceds are known because Darth Vader piloted one in A New Hope and he appears here as the character pilot. With double Brace, 3 blue dice, 1 black anti-squadron die and 1 black anti-ship die you get a lot more punch from him, while his pseudo-Bomber ability means that his critical icons add 1 damage to the total. This means  that, against squadrons, he could potentially deal five damage in one shot, which is enough to insta-kill any squadron. However, this comes at a cost of 21 points, which is a bit steep for a sole anti-squadron ship. I can’t see the Advanced being used a huge amount, the same fate they’ve had in Star Wars X-Wing, as their all-round stats just don’t compare to the more specialised squadrons in most scenarios.

TIE Bomber: On to the squadrons they might be escorting, the TIE Bombers. A single black dice for both of its attacks looks lacklustre, but it has its namesake ability “Bomber” so against ships it can deal critical damage. They also have the Heavy rule, meaning that they don’t cause enemy squadrons to be engaged, which, when you add in their single black die, you can clearly see these squadrons should not be anywhere near opposing squadrons. At just 9 points they’re cheap and a swarm of these lumbering in late game could finish off ships easily. With a speed of 4, the Bomber is quite fast, faster then the Rebel Y-Wings and B-Wings who fill a similar role, and when you mix Major Rhymer’s character squadron into a swarm you get the added ability of being able to attack at close-medium range too. This dovetails beautifully in with escorting squadrons; the escorts move in to tie-up any surrounding flights, while the Bombers hang back and freely unload their bombs against the enemy ship.

TIE Interceptor: After all this talk of escorts and bombing, what about offence? That’s where the TIE Interceptors come in. At 11 points they’re only a small bump up from a TIE Fighter and they bring a deadly stat line to your fleet: they have a speed of 5, 4 blue dice against squadrons, the Swarm ability which grants them a reroll and, if that’s not enough, they also have Counter 2. When a squadron attacks them, even if the Interceptors are destroyed, you get to roll 2 blue dice back against the enemy. These fighters are a threat to any squadron and if left unchecked they could quickly ruin an opponent’s bombing run. Soontir Fel, the character pilot, adds a nasty ability to these already vicious fighters. If a squadron attacks someone else whilst engaged with Soontir, then they suffer a damage for not attacking him. Your opponent’s plans to deny you your Swarm rerolls or to take out the Bombers will need to be reconsidered if Soontir is in play flying as a wingman because that damage will soon add up. Additionally, weilding a Brace and Scatter defense token he won’t be easy to take out even if he is targeted. All this for just 18 points is fantastic and I will be happily fielding Soontir with accompanying Interceptors in the future.Star Wars Armada Imperial Starfighter CardsUnlike the Rebel Fighters, the synergy between these squadrons outside of the usual escorting roles doesn’t seem apparent, but there is something to be said about joining Soontir up with “Mauler” Mithel, the TIE Fighter character pilot. He has the same stats as a normal TIE Fighter, but its his ability that the 15 points pay for. After he moves, each squadron engaged with him automatically suffers one damage. That’s painful. Stick him to the side of Soontir, fly them in to an opposing swarm and watch your opponent try to prioritise who to take out first. Again, as seems to be standard for Imperial characters, Mithel has a Brace and a Scatter token to keep himself alive.

I won’t cover the iconic TIE Fighters because we learnt all about them from the Core Set and this expansion doesn’t add much to them, other then enabling you to fly an even larger swarm. Comparing this expansion to the Rebel Fighters, I feel that the Imperials come off marginally worse because the variant TIEs don’t add huge amounts over the original Fighters, but they are all still inexpensive which is the Imperial way. Mass-produced, cheaply made and thrown at the enemy en-mass is the classic strategy and that rings true in Star Wars Armada.

Pick up individual components, models, cards and accessories for Star Wars Armada, along with sealed items at Big Orbit Cards: Star Wars Armada

Big Orbit are a hobby games retailer that specialises in the sale of individual trading cards and game components – Big Orbit also runs a Gaming venue in Evesham, Worcs, UK.

All posts by Simon Read

Modern Masters 2015Everyone is excited for the second Modern Masters set, due to be released on May 22nd 2015, but right now we only know about a limited number of cards. I’ve picked a few of the more interesting cards and given a few thoughts on them below.

The Eldrazi

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was one of the first cards spoiled for MM2 and it was an easy guess that the other two titans would follow, but now its official: Kozilek and Ulamog will be reprinted in this set along with All Is Dust. So, that covers the big guys, but what about the rest? MM2 still needs to be playable in Limited formats, so I’m certain that we will see the other Eldrazi cards such as Spawnsire of Ulamog and Hand of Emrakul in the set. However, I wouldn’t bank on the coloured cards such as Kozilek’s Predator being present, simply because the MM2 draws from a lot of older sets and pushing all of the Eldrazi support cards would take up a lot of room.

Vendilion Clique

Faeries isn’t a big deck right now but I’m sure with this reprint and a few other supporting cards in-set we may see a very small resurgence in the popularity of this archetype. There’s not much to say about this card other then to mention the ‘broken glass’ moment with the artwork, pointed out to me over social media. The new artwork looks like two girls using a selfie stick. Check that artwork. Yep, you see it now.

All The Commands

The full cycle of Lorwyn Commands is being reprinted in MM2 which will help players finish off their Scapeshift and UW Control decks with slightly easier access to Cryptic Commands. The other Commands make for interesting plays and will work well in Limited play but otherwise its really Cryptic that we’re after.

Splinter Twin

Another card that has spiked in popularity, especially since the banning of Pod, is Splinter Twin and its great to see it being reprinted in MM2. A lot of players are keen to get a hold of this card and funnily enough it’s quite a key component to the Twin Exarch deck.

Tarmogoyf and Bob

Both of these powerful cards were reprinted in the first Modern Masters and were arguably the most popular cards from that set and now they’re gracing MM2 with their presence. Bob, or Dark Confidant to use his real name, is being reprinted with his new ‘Skrillex’ artwork that we saw in the first Modern Masters which has divided players slightly. Some prefer the original, others the new style, but it all comes down to personal opinion.

With regards to Tarmogoyf, it’s an important card and highly sought after which combined with MM2’s limited print run means its unlikely to change its price. I hope that this second reprint might have an impact on reducing the price but it stands to reason that it could follow last year’s printing and actually shift the price up.

Spellskite and Fulminator Mage

These two cards are solid sideboard choices in Modern, especially Spellskite, it’s fantastic to finally have better access to the card. This is first time these two have been reprinted since their initial releases years ago. Whilst Fulminator Mage is mostly used in Living End and Jund to help against decks such as Scapeshift, Spellskite is great to side in against Infect plus it fits well in the sideboard of Affinity thanks to it being an Artifact creature.

The Missing Red Mythic

At the time of typing we are missing any rumours or confirmation of a Red Mythic Rare for MM2. Wild speculation of what it could be:

  • Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker – He was reprinted in MM1 but Wizards has shown they’re not against reprinting again with Bob and Tarmo, so Kiki is high on my list of potential cards.

  • Thundermaw Hellkite – He was much beloved back in his Standard days, could he be in MM2? Unlikely but I’m already running short of good, reprintable Red Mythics, which leads me to…

  • Ajain Vengeant – As suggested to me by a regular in the store, this guy could possibly be the reprinted here. He fits the known sets that cards are being pulled from, he has been used in Modern, plus it brings another Planeswalker into the set.

In the following weeks we’ll start to see a lot more of the set including the Commons and Uncommons and we can see how well the set will play on its own in Limited formats. Right now the headline cards are fantastic and I can understand why players are so excited for this set to be released.

All posts by Simon Read

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What is Magic Origins?

Magic Origins was first called M16 being the next in the Core Set cycle, but this year Wizards is morphing the Standard formula and changing the structure of the blocks. As a result the Core Sets will be no more and this release has thus been renamed Magic Origins. With a focused storyline and brand new features this set is looking set to be much grander then the usual summer Magic releases of past.

So, what’s different?

The main point Wizards wants to get across is that this set should not be seen as a ‘rebranded Core Set’ but instead it should be viewed as a unique set of its own. We should see less reprints and a shift towards new content that will make Magic Origins stand out.

There are a few key changes that definitely differentiate this set from a normal Core Set:

  • There will be 2 new mechanics in Magic Origins. (Core Sets never contain new mechanics)
  • A lot less reprinted cards then “normal” Core Sets.
  • An overall storyline will be present in the cards, creating a more cohesive feel to the set.
  • 272 cards in the set, three more than the usual 269.
  • Double-faced Legendary Creatures/Planeswalkers!

Double-faced Creatures/Planeswalkers?!

That’s right! Magic Origins focuses on the origin stories of five returning Planeswalkers: Gideon Jura, Jace Beleren, Liliana Vess, Chandra Nalaar, and Nissa Revane. Each of these characters gets a Legendary Creature card representing their former self that when a certain condition is met, will flip over and become the Planeswalker we know them to be! This, in my humble opinion, is a fantastic way to represent these character’s sparks igniting and adds a new layer to the game with creatures becoming Planeswalkers.

Will we see more double-faced cards in the set? Based on the knowledge that double-faced cards require their own special sheet to be printed out I feel positive that we will see more cards that flip over in this set. Perhaps we’ll see the evolution of other fringe characters as we get to see the moment that changed their life too.

The rest of the cards in the set will have a focus on telling the story of these characters according to Doug Beyer (Senior Creative Designer), “we’ll see these characters’ home worlds, learn about the joys and crises of their early lives, and discover how they became the Multiverse-traveling Planeswalkers we know today.”

What else do we know?

At the time of writing there is not much more solid information available on Magic Origins. We know the set will be tied in to Wizard’s next digital release, Magic Duels: Origins, which will be out on Xbox One, PC and iOS tablets, with a PS4 release later on. After that, aside from the normal speculation of “Fetches being reprinted!” not much is known about any of the cards in this set. Spoiler season will start soon after the release of Modern Masters 2015 at the end of May and hopefully we’ll start to learn more about this ‘new beginning’ set that has supplanted the Core Sets to lead us in to a new era of Magic.

We will update you once we know more!