Monday, June 23, 2014

Free RPG Day From the Trenches

This year's Free RPG Day was the best Free RPG Day ever, but it didn't have that much to do with the free stuff.  Oh, there was some nice stuff, don't get me wrong, but the best part of the event this year was the actual gaming.  Between getting to game with my daughter +Audra Rascher, and playing in games run by +Rob Barrett and +David Thiel, as well as getting to play in two RPGs that I have never had a chance to play before.  It was great.  But first things first.


I picked up the Dungeon Crawl Classics offering for Free RPG Day.  I was tempted to pick up the 13th Age adventure, but both Rob and my regular GM +Christopher Osmundson might have wanted to pick up and run the adventure, so I didn't want to peek at anything I shouldn't see.

The other loot I picked up was the quick start adventure for the Valiant Comics RPG.  I don't have a lot of experience with Valiant comics, but I know a little, and I'm a sucker for super hero RPG rules  (see also below).

I have yet to really dig into any of those offerings in depths, other than to note that the adventure map in the DCC adventure looks pretty epic.

My daughter picked up the Shadowrun/Battletech quick start flip book, and the Mage 20th Anniversary quick start rules.  Given that I've not spent a lot of time with either Shadowrun or Mage, despite how huge those RPGs were (ironically around the time I was starting to get out of RPGs for a while), its interesting that my daughter might have more of an interest in those games than I have shown thus far.

On the other hand--Battletech, oh, yeah.  It's been a while, but I spent a long time playing that game in my youth.


Rob ran a game of Supers! for us in the first slot of the day.  Rob did a much better job of summarizing the action on his own blog here, but I'll try to do my best to throw in my two cents from my angle.

I think it was a good idea to use the extra time in the session to highlight character creation, because the game is pretty simple when it comes down to it.  That said, because some superheroes are extremely strange and complicated, you can always find a corner case example that makes everyone at the table scratch their heads and wonder how you would pull off a given thing.

Way back on this very blog, I created a Mutants and Masterminds version of the character I ended up making for this game.  I forgot a few details, but I remembered most of what I had thrown together, so I could pretty quickly assemble the character in this system.  My daughter decided that she wanted an "edgy" super soldier like Slade from DC Comics, but instead of a sword or power staff, she carried a huge plasma cannon, and she came up with the name Ka-Boom.

One thing I'd like to point out that Rob probably blocked from his mind to save his own sanity is that since our first villain was an ice based villain.  I decided that since cold based villains use the worst puns, the Lawman was going to preemptively assault Cold Kill, our villain, with puns.  I mean, lots of them.  Really painful ones.

Everybody groaned, but I consider it a victory that other people at the table decided to preemptively pun the next villain we ran into.  For example, when he shot his finger at us and it missed, and someone that totally wasn't me said, "he just tried to give us the finger," or when he missed with his liquid metal claws, and yet another person said, "I think he missed the point."  Totally vindicated.

The system was quick and fun.  I'd play it again, but I'd be interested in tweaking a character a bit more for long term play versus a one shot.

Dungeon World

If you have read any of my posts on Dungeon World, you may have picked up on the idea that while I like the game, I just felt like I was missing something when it came to actually running the game, and it made me concerned that if I ever tried it, I would get it wrong.  I was looking forward to getting to play in a session and see what the system looked like from the player's side of the screen.

Thankfully, it was a whole lot of fun.  Turns out I wasn't so much missing something, as just over thinking how the elements worked in play.  It seemed to work really well, and for the most part the game went really well.

I picked the Bard, named him, then came up with about five titles for him.  I also made him Chaotic.  In Dungeon World, your alignment isn't so much something to tell you what to do and not to do as it is something that gives you some guidelines as to what you should get XP for if you push for that thing to happen.  In my case, my objective as a Chaotic bard was to convince others to quick, decisive action, good idea or not.  Mostly not.

I only picked three of the six players to create bonds with, but it's kind of cool how many times the bonds came up in the actual game, giving people excuses to roleplay.  It's something I'm thinking of snatching even for non-Dungeon World games.

I spent a lot of the night convincing the party that all good adventuring parties should encircle their bard to ensure his safety so that he could record their deeds and give out advice in battle.  I hesitate to point this out, but I managed to go the entire session without getting injured.  Not a coward, just clever.

Given that very few people had played Dungeon World before, everybody seemed to pick up on how to play rather quickly.  There was one down side.  We had one player that isn't as assertive as some of the personalities at the table, and he was having a hard time jumping in and explaining his actions when he wanted to do something.  He felt much more comfortable in a more standard initiative structure than cutting in to explain what his character was doing.

In the end, he appeared to have a good time, but I don't think Dungeon World would be his choice for fantasy roleplaying.  That's not a knock, either on him or Dungeon World.  Its just the reality that we all have preferences and comfort zones, and even good games won't be to everyone's tastes.

My daughter was playing a druid, and she turned into a bear.  A lot.  Apparently she wasn't particularly good at swiping the heads off of goblins, but she could hug them into goblin jelly five or six at a time, and at one point managed to launch one of the party Halflings into combat when she came to a dead stop.

In the end, it was a whole lot of fun.  I'd play Dungeon World again, and it also makes me much more interesting investigating, and hopefully playing, more Apocalypse World Engine games.

Long story short . . . best Free RPG Day ever.  So far.

Valto Doomskimmer and the 13th Age Adventure that Turned into a DCC Adventure

First off I'd just like to say that I'm having a lot of fun playing 13th Age.  Thank you to +Christopher Osmundson for running this game for us every other Thursday.  I also really appreciate that "organized play" for 13th Age really seems to be "let's get some adventures in the hands of GMs so they can run the game for players to keep people interested."  That's my kind of organized play.

I'm hesitant to go into too much detail for the adventures that we are playing, because there may indeed be some people that are going to be playing these scenarios, and I don't want to ruin the adventures for them.  That said, I'll try to hit some high points.

The last session only consisted of Valto Doomskimmer, intrepid (if a bit mentally thick) ranger, Lilith the Demontouched Sorceress and her infernal puppy, and Syl the Elven wizard and his familiar  (and someday the next Archmage) Nutters.  It all works out, because I'm pretty sure that Trip, the Rogue and Loompa, the naked Halfling Barbarian, are easily distracted and probably had their own adventure nearby.

As I alluded to in the title, those of us in my Dungeon Crawl Classics games felt a few familiar elements looming over us.  For example, collapsing caverns cutting off passages, nearly drowning, and portals that we had to dive into lest we all die.

And perhaps the most DCC element of them all, especially from my games . . . we were all our own worst enemies.  There was an encounter where we were not in control of our own faculties until we made a save or were injured.  We all injured one another a whole lot.  In fact, the first time my bow's nasty ongoing damage has triggered since I have acquired it, it triggered against poor Syl.

But broken, battered, and bloodied, we had a lot of fun, and (barely) survived.  I'm just a little concerned with how easily Lilith can talk Valto into doing really dumb things.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This is What Happens When I Post a Journal/Write a Backstory

For all .75 of you in the audience eagerly awaiting more of Orts Freestar's journal--well, it's pretty much over.  Thankfully, this time it's not over just because I did some incredibly stupid thing the first time I played him, as with my late, lamented medic in the Only War game.

This time, I'm retiring Orts for the same reason that Gand the Gand accountant got retired.  I'm moving from a player chair to the GM chair to take over the Age of Rebellion game.

Even before I was playing in the game, I had an idea for an AoR game that centered around helping a native insurgency overthrow the Empire, and when casting around a bit for a likely planet, I remembered the Yevetha and the planet of N'zoth, and the secret Black 15 Shipyards.

The Yevetha as allies struck me as a fun concept, because the PCs will have to watch their step not only with the Imperials, but with their own "friends" as well.  I've also had some ideas on how to track the long term success of the insurgency and how the group manages their allies and coordinates their actions, and I'm hoping they work out well.

I'm also storing a good portion of the information for this campaign on Realm Works, since I already began playing with it.  I've already surprised myself a few times with the program automatically connecting entries that I forgot that I had made.  I just can't wait for the campaign material to be visible online to my players.

I know it's a bit self-serving, but you know, if you want to say "may the Force be with you," I'd appreciate the well wishing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Time to Crawl Inside Realm Works

For several months I've been eyeing Realm Works.  It got a lot of buzz and it appeals to me, because, well, it's an organizational tool for GMs, and I love that kind of thing.  The people at Lone Wolf Development actually offered me a review copy to look at, so I did just that.

I have to admit, I only had a vague notion of what Realm Works did before I received the review copy.  I mean, I knew it was an organizational tool, and that was enough to get my interest, but exactly what it let you organize and how was a mystery for me.

In short, it lets you organize just about anything.  The only thing it doesn't have is specific rules references.  And to be fair, if you are running a game supported by Hero Lab and you have a license for that game on your copy of Hero Lab, there is a short cut to any stats you have stored there.  Snazzy.

What Does It Do?

Let me get more specific on what Realm Works can do.  You can make up multiple campaigns and organize them all separately.  You can have a title page that has an introduction to the campaign and any house rules or special information you want to display.  You can enter NPCs, cities, locations, and dungeons into your database.  You can include images and maps.  You can create a storyboard that tracks all of the branches of a plot that you have going on.  On top of all of this, you can have the program open while you are running a game, and take notes on your ongoing session.

All of that sounds nice, but you can do that with other programs, right?  Well, yes and no.  I don't know of any single program that has all of that functionality, but beyond that, there is a structure to the database that is especially structured to entering RPG characters.  There are lots of options, like class, race, personality traits, and motivations.  If you have a system that isn't class based, you can delete that particular line from the NPC entry, or you can enter a descriptor into the "class" line that better summarizes the NPC's skill set.  One of the nice things about this setup is that if you don't already have an idea for a trait or a motivation or something of that nature, there is an existing list in place to give you some ideas, and you can add your own descriptors very easily.

You can add maps, then add pins to that map, and then connect entries to those pins so that you can click on the pin and see an entry for a location or an event tied to that spot on the map.  Even better, let's say you pin a dungeon outside of a city on your map.  You could have a picture of the outside of the dungeon, then pin the first level of the dungeon to the front door of the image of the dungeon, then pin the map of the second level of the dungeon to the stairs that lead down to that level.  If you really want to have everything ready to go, you can link the stats for the creatures in various encounters into each of the rooms that you have in that dungeon.

You can show your players the screen during the game session, or even hook up a second monitor and set that monitor up to display the player view from the program, so that the players see a specific piece of information that you want to display, while you open another tab in the program to look up more of the information that you have entered.

How easily can you limit what players see?  It's extremely easy to click on elements that you want to display to your players, so that when you switch to player view, they will see only those elements.  For example, you can have all of the game stats and secret plots for your NPCs entered into your information, but if you don't click on the elements that detail those stats or plans, the players will never see them when you switch to player view.  You can display an image, a description, and what the players remember about the NPCs without showing anything else.

When you display a map, you can chose how much to actually display to the PCs.  You can shadow out the entire map, then "erase" the fog over a given area of the map as the PCs are able to explore a given region.

My personal favorite part of the program is the storyboarding aspect of the program.  You can drop plot points onto a page, then connect what plot point branches from what plot point.  Not only is this fun for creating your own branching plots, but I can see this being extremely useful to have open as you are reading an adventure so that you can create a map of how the adventure should unfold.  I know there have been plenty of times when I realize how a plot should unfold and where it can fork, but I lose track of that at the table, because its all expressed in words and descriptions rather than having a literal map of where the plot goes.

The whole program is set up to connect with every other element in the program, so if you have a plot point involving the mayor of a town, you can put a link to that NPC on that plot point, and if a plot point has to do with going to a specific city, you can link to that city as well.

Not only does Realm Works have all of these tools integrated into one package, but all of it is really easy to use.  You click on a line, and it's available for the PCs to view.  You click on a pin and post it to a map and it's set, and you click on that pin, and you can link it to an existing element.  Further, when you use a term that you have used as the header of a person, place, or thing in your database, it automatically links that name to the entry you have set up for that particular element.

In short, you have an unprecedented number of GM useful tools in one program that allows you to keep track of a database of NPCs, places, things, and even plots, as well as maps, and is set up to make entering these elements especially easy.  You can also set up your computer to display what you want to show your players when, and if you have the spare screen, you don't even need to lend them your screen to show that information to them.


Yes, but how serious the downside is will vary.

Even though it is extremely easy to enter items into the program, there are so many options that it's easy to be intimidated, despite the self evident nature of most of what you see.  Its very easy to want to play with everything and lose a lot of time instead of saving it, and you might be tempted to detail things about a person, place, or thing that don't really matter for your campaign because there is a section for those descriptors.

If you want a hard copy of a given tab, you can't directly print it out or export it as a PDF.  For example, if you wanted a physical copy of your plot map, you would have to do something like a screen capture to reproduce it, there is no current way to directly extract that element.

There is an ongoing fee for the cloud storage of your campaigns.  We'll go into this a bit more below, but the nice thing about this charge is that it doesn't start until all of the features are up and running.  But that does bring us to . . .

Not all of the features are ready to go.  There is suppose to be a player version of the software that allows your players to access all of your cloud stored information that is clicked for player access, but that program isn't ready yet.  Also of note, if you don't have players that are likely to want to spend money for their own stripped down version of the program, this feature isn't nearly as attractive.

There will also be an option to view the player enabled cloud stored campaign information from a website, but this will have an unspecified lesser functionality than the player version of the program.  I have a feeling that a lot of players will be using this option to view things between sessions, and if the functionality is too stripped down, it's going to cut into the usefulness of having all of that campaign information shared in the first place.

Should I Get It?

If you are a GM that already uses various programs to organize your campaign offline, and you are using multiple programs to do so, the initial cost of the program is more than worth it.

If you are a GM that is using an campaign website like Obsidian Portal or Epic Words to organize and share and consolidate information for your players, you may want to wait until the player version of the program and the online access is ready to go before you make the leap to this program.

If you are a GM that is "kind of" organized and would like to be more organized, you'll have to weigh the price tag based on your budget, but if you start playing with this program, you may not help but end up more organized because of how easy it is to use and how integrated everything is.

It is probably telling that the most negative things I can say about the program is that you might use it "too much" and that it has the potential to be even more awesome than it already is, but you can never fully dismiss the downside of an ongoing cost for a service.

Overall I was pretty impressed with the whole package, and I'm really looking forward to playing with this program some more.  I'm sure there are tons of tools that I haven't even found yet, and it should be fun to see everything come together.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Stitching Together My Ideal DCC Game

I never quite did a campaign post mortem for DCC, because I jumped straight into my Edge of the Empire dual campaigns that I was running at the time.  Long story short, it was a lot of fun, but the game didn't quite work the way I wanted it to work.  I don't blame the game system, but the game system does have some traits that lend itself toward some craziness that might undermine what I was trying to create.

My Expectation

I wanted to make a Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign that was closer in tone to Conan, Elric, and Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.  I think DCC's influences definitely lend themselves towards that type of game, but I was also attempting to "bridge" between an old school D&D game and DCC's tone.

In the first session I introduced an elf character that was pretty vicious and cruel, but was a major hero in the campaign, which was my Elric stand in.  The point of this introduction was to get across the point that elves in this setting were weird, decadent, vicious jerks.  

I was still trying to introduce more "grey" versions of standard D&D races.  Orcs were a bit more "World of Warcraft."  Dwarves were a bit more "Dragon Age."  That said, playing a game where you have levels and classes (especially familiar classes), and familiar terminology, allows implications to work their way into the game.


Every time I introduced Elven things in the game, no matter how weird  ("here is where the elves kept their human slaves"--"here is where the elves kept their hallucinogenic drugs"), "Elf" seemed to translate to D&D Elf.

Thankfully the group did jump in at the end and lead a group of orcs versus the evil elves invading human lands.  But it felt like I was really forcing the subverted tropes on the group.  The final dungeon of the campaign was really "look how evil and weird Elves are!"

But more than all of that, it was hard to get anyone invested in their characters.  The assumption in DCC is that if you take a 0 level character and have them survive over time, you are invested in that poor guy that managed to survive against all odds.  That did indeed work for a couple of characters that did survive.  About half of the party was constantly dying, then killing one another, then not really care much about their characters.

I also made another huge mistake that I think did the opposite of what I wanted.  I allowed the players to bank their XP so that they could level up another character if their current character died.  The problem with this is that randomly generated characters that didn't look that good didn't get any XP spent on them, and died at really bad times in the campaign, causing us to have absolutely silly moments when another character had to show up to replace the dead PC.

So, in conclusion, the game was a fun gonzo old school fantasy roleplaying experience.  I like the system.  Pretty much everyone liked the system.  The campaign issues were from my expectations and how I presented the setting, and largely in my special rules that kind of played with the random nature of the game.  However, at its base, DCC does expect that you will eventually form a bond with a character that might have been hapless at one time.  It makes for some crazy sessions, but it can work a bit against long term character development and story.

What would I do if I did it again?

I still have a desire to create a Conan/Fafhrd and Mouser/Elric toned game with DCC.  There is a lot to like in the game.  But since I started running the game there have been some third party supplements that have come out.  Normally, I wouldn't lean this heavily on ripping bits and pieces from third party supplements, but for an old school game like DCC, it almost feels right.

What would I add?  I'd take some rules from Tales from the Fallen Empire and Transylvanian Adventures.  There are some great ideas in them, but I don't want to adopt either one completely.  Let's see what organs I'd pull out of them, then, eh?

I'd take some classes from both, to have an available class list that looks like this:

  • Barbarian  (Tales from the Fallen Empire)
  • Man-Ape  (Tales from the Fallen Empire)
  • Sentinel  (Tales from the Fallen Empire)
  • Witch  (Tales from the Fallen Empire)
  • The Half-Breed  (Transylvanian Adventures)
  • Thief
  • Warrior
  • Wizard

I think I'd use the monetary system from Tales from the Fallen Empire  (basically moving things more towards a silver standard rather than a gold standard).  

I'd definitely take the Ruin system from Transylvanian Adventures, as well as the "Party Like its 1899" table from that book as well.

All of the above are really to reinforce a different fantasy style than D&D.  No clerics.  No Elves, Dwarves, or Halflings.  The only non-humans are Man-Apes and Half-Breeds, which are just humans that have something in their bloodline that makes them "not right."  

The silver standard is another thing that feels more "grubby" and doesn't invokes the mounds of gold such as you would find in Smaug's horde, for example.  Heck, you can have tons of silver, and feel rich, but the noble that throws around gold still seems like he's beyond the grubby adventurers.

Without restating the whole thing, the Ruin system from Transylvanian Adventures replaces the "recovering the body" rule from DCC, and the rating for Ruin goes up the more the character falls below 0 hit points, and higher ruin means the character is more likely to die when they fall below 0 hit points.  Also, the GM can spend Ruin for his side if he feels like it, which I like, because it's like reverse Luck for GMs.

Finally, and most blasphemously--I'd start characters at 1st level, 4d6, arrange how you like.  I know, I know, that's like a cardinal DCC sin.  That said, it almost seems like that level of customization for a 1st level character is the minimum to get someone interested in making the character they want.

No 0 level bonus abilities, like 0 level hit points or birth signs.  

So, that's my blasphemous thoughts on the game.  Someday I'd love to give it another whirl, and hopefully nobody comes to my house to confiscate my coveted DCC book, because I am kind of attached to it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Scenes from a Fast Food Restaurant--Modern Connectivity

Last weekend my wife and I had a very strange encounter with a gentlemen at a fast food restaurant.  We had a very busy day up to that point, and it all had started a bit backwards, but after getting everything done that we were trying to do for the day, and having gone to Mass later in the day, we were a little bit worn out and ready to relax.  Neither one of us wanted to cook, so we went out.  Both of us had been together for most of the day, and had been working hard, together or apart.

My wife and I were both on our smartphones, on social media, e-mailing, and otherwise interacting with the virtual world of the internet.  This is when the gentlemen we met entered the picture.  He began by asking us the day, the time, and some directions, and mentioning that he was walking across the country.

Okay, that sounds cool.  If that's the kind of endeavor you wish to embark on, it sounds like one that could be filled with interesting experiences and expanded vistas.  It's not for everyone, but hey, have at it.

Then he proceeds to lecture my wife and I on how we are looking at our phones and not concerned with the real world.  He tells us stories about people have died by being on their phones and not paying attention to the real world, and how people don't have real relationships anymore.  He tells me specifically that I will probably lose my wife if I don't pay attention to her instead of my phone.

For a brief instant, I thought this might be an interesting conversation.  I don't mind someone disagreeing with something I am doing, so long as I have a chance to present a counterpoint.  I briefly started to discuss how I probably talk more to my daughter, sister, and a friend that is living in England for school through social media than if I weren't using it at all, and he quickly began to talk over me and began lecturing me on how talking to someone via text or Facebook wasn't having an actual relationship with them.

Essentially he told us that if we really cared about people, we would find a way to go visit them in person, and that we should restructure our lives to be able to do so.

Now, I'm not going to say that none of what he said lacked resonance in these modern times.  We don't make as much time to see the people we care about as we should.  We are too materialistic, and we do dwell on things that aren't important.  However, his absolute bold lines don't quite fit the reality of who I am.

I am not an outdoorsman by any stretch of the imagination.  I've had bad allergies and sinus problems most of my life, and while they are less devastating as an adult, I'm still not inclined to spend too much time out of doors in the summer time, for fear of contracting vicious sinus headaches that render me unable to function.  This led me to have a lot of "indoor" interests, like comics, video games, books, RPGs, and the like.

I do have "real" friends, people that I have met in person and that I regularly see, and I have met many of them at the local game store.  Because of work and family and other obligations, I can't be at the game store 24/7, nor would I wish to be.  On the other hand, I have only one person at work that regularly games with me, and he doesn't work in the same department.

In other words, when I talk about games, comics, sci-fi movies, fantasy, etc., it's not something I can do with coworkers, the way other people might do so with sports or sit-coms.  There are places in the world where the things I like and the things that interest me are not alien, but I primarily access those places by utilizing the internet.

I know what it is like to be a geek that is isolated from geekdom.  I don't usually go into this much personal detail, but when married to my first wife, I had almost no one to talk to about anything geek related.  I had no friends that were still around, I had no coworkers, and she certainly wasn't geek oriented in her interests.  It was an isolated feeling that made me feel as if I was some kind of aberration.  I wasn't normal.

Since I have been able to use the internet, be it forums, Google+, or whatever, to communicate with others, I have been more comfortable with being who I am than I have ever been in my life.  In fact, the friends that I met at the FLGS I would likely not have met if my desire to be a part of gaming hadn't been kept alive by the discussions I had online over the years.

It is true that people can spend way too much time online looking at ultimately worthless information.  It is true that we don't make enough time for our loved ones and the people that really matter.  It is true that we can be too materialistic and focused on what we want next and not thankful for what we have now.  But much of that is human nature, and a refrain that has been repeated over the years by multiple generations decrying whatever is "new" in society.

Not losing touch with the important things in life is a constant battle, and not a battle that is won decisively, but one fought over the course of a lifetime. That doesn't preclude the use of modern tools to fight, rather than succumb, to that enemy.

Rising from the Ashes of Fear--Mediocrity Unchained!

Since I posted about my anxiety regarding strategic gaming a few weeks ago, I thought it only fitting to follow up on my previous post with a bit of real life experience.  Mainly because I didn't want to feel like I was "running scared" from something, and also because I actually wanted to play the game, I made sure that I participated in the Assault on Imdaar Alpha event at Armored Gopher Games.

This is the second time I actually played X-Wing since getting the game.  If you read the previous column, you will see that I was terribly afraid that my native stupidity and lack of tactical skills would cause me to be so bad at the game that not only would I embarrass myself, but I would actually ruin the enjoyment of my fellow players.

This did not appear to be the case.  Through blind luck I managed to come in 4th and win a Z-95 Headhunter.  I truly mean blind luck because I got a bye in the first round, otherwise I'm almost certain I would have racked up another loss before the tournament was over.  That said, I wasn't as bad as I had thought I would be.

Actually playing in the event let me see that while there are some really intimidating tactical geniuses playing, my skill level isn't totally unrepresented at these events either.  The intimidation factor of what the really good people can do can make it feel like a whole other game to novice players, and how those top tier guys treat the less tactically minded can do a lot to change perceptions in the novice.

My second round after the bye I lost.  I had a fun opponent that I know was better than me, but at the same time, I wasn't clobbered nearly as badly as I thought I might have been.  In fact, I screwed up by letting my YT-1300 get into a corner I couldn't turn out of and fled the field because I wasn't quite as used to eyeballing the turn radius of the ship.  Not a terribly bad way to lose.

The next round, my squad actually acted the way I expected it to act.  We crossed over the enemy a few times, at least two of my three ships focused fire on one opponent at a time, and when the Falcon was finally taken out, my two X-Wings were unharmed versus two damaged B-Wings, and they won out over the other two ships.  I really felt adequate, if a bit on the lucky side.

I am glad I didn't have my last game first.  Wow.  This is the guy I was afraid of when it comes to competitive tactical games.  He set up this TIE swarm in the corner in a manner that left me wondering how deployment would even work, and yet it did.  I think that initial set up and deployment spooked me, because I got my movement dials mixed up for my X-Wings, and ended up have them both fly the opposite direction than I wanted them to, and had no firing arcs for either of them.  I did at least pull off an insanely close k-turn to land my Falcon right next to the TIE swarm, but then proceeded to roll impossibly badly considering I could reroll with Han and reroll again with Luke as the crew on the Falcon.

I had one X-Wing isolated and cut to shreds, and the Falcon is an obvious target that just got pounded.  After losing two ships and doing virtually no damage, I conceded before we continued with the firing squad on my last X-Wing.

As I said, this would have been a terrible first round given my misgivings about this kind of game.  It could have still shaken my confidence, but my opponent was a really class act.  Instead of gloating or making fun of the really bone headed moves that came up, he asked me what I was thinking with each of those moves, told me he had gotten his dials mixed up when he first started and how he avoids it now, and pointed out a few things I might want to try next time.  My terrible play hadn't ruined his play experience!  Awesome!

So, now with the warm glow of 4th place washing over me, and some ideas on what I might try if I were to do this whole thing again, I am actually thinking of doing this whole thing again, and it's not nearly as intimidating to me as before.