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Dave Rathbun
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Secure Holonet Receiver
Mission Background: A rebel spy has been sending intelligence reports from her Imperial squad.
Primary Objective: Identify and secure the rebel communications channel by escorting a HWK-290 on their mission.

Boomerang Squad Mission Participants:
Slo-Mo (Y-Wing), Chulo (X-Wing), Foh-kus (X-Wing), Broheim (X-Wing), Gutz (HWK-290), and Sred (X-Wing)

Boomerang Squad had been moving in the right direction. Our second attempt at capturing an Imperial officer went very well. That mission was preceded by a successful sweep of a minefield, clearing our supply routes. Two missions in a row in the win column! But, as a wise smuggler once said, "Don't get cocky, kid."

Our squad was once again tasked with escorting Captain Harris in the "Osprey" out to an Imperial holonet communications cluster. Our goal was to identify a specific channel in use by our rebel spy and secure it. We had made the attempt at this mission once before and failed. With our more experienced / better equipped squad we hoped for better results this time.

When we arrived at the communications cluster, we unfortunately found that Imperial forces were already in place. Not only were they already in place, but they were reinforced with an extra shuttle! Things were already looking grim.

In our previous attempt we did not manage to identify the proper channel until every single component had been checked. This time we were lucky! We found a signal tagged by our operative on the second turn. Based on prior experience, we expected Imperial reinforcements, and we were not disappointed. A second shuttle with two TIE Interceptor escorts appeared. Now we had two shuttles to avoid and a mess of TIE's all over the place. With six members of Boomerang Squad and 12 Imperial ships, the encounter area was one big mess.

To make matters worse, the agile but normally fragile TIE Fighters refused to die! Even with Predator instincts our squad was having problems taking out the lower skilled TIE fighters. By the time Gamma Squad arrived we had taken out a whopping two (yes, two!) of the pesky TIE pilots. Yes, we had already identified the communications channel, but we had to run to avoid being caught in crossfire from two different Imperial shuttles, not to mention those stealthy Interceptors...

And then things started going downhill. Fast. Foh-kus was the first to lose his ship. He survived the ejection, but failed to gain any experience from the mission. Next round Sred went down, and he lost his astromech in the explosion. The "Osprey" had lost all of her shields due to hits from the Interceptors, and Broheim was looking a bit beat up.

A round later, with none of our squad close enough to Protect the Osprey, she fell to a lucky barrage from a long-range Interceptor shot, suffering a hit and two crits from a single attack. We were able to rescue Captain Harris and his crew (again) but the mission was a failure.

Rubbing salt in our wounds: at that point four additional TIE fighters arrived, along with a TIE Bomber outfitted with Assault Missiles. The mission was already lost (due to the "Osprey" being destroyed) and now we were running for our lives. Broheim got pinned down between a shuttle and a squad of TIE's. He made an attempt to jump to hyperspace but failed, only to be destroyed. His proton rockets aren't coming back, but Broheim will live to fly again. Slo-Mo took out a TIE Interceptor, only to then himself be taken out by a shuttle.

If you're keeping score at home, that's five out of seven ships from Boomerang Squad destroyed. Gutz in his HWK and Chulo in his X-Wing managed to skate away with a few hull points left, so the mission wasn't a total loss. Hopefully we've learned enough to be successful next time... third time is a charm, right?

Commander Debrief:

Gentlemen, tough night. <sigh>

We can only hope that our second failed attempt to secure the holonet receiver doesn't tip the Empire off that someone is using their systems to our benefit. We'll give it a break for a few weeks. Hopefully they'll relax their guard if we don't pay any attention to it for a while.

Slo-Mo, you have to watch out for those shuttles. This is the second time you've basically been taken out by one of those space cows. Stay away from the pointy things on the front, okay?

Chulo, tough luck against those Interceptors. Usually it's Fok-kus that gets negated by a perfect defensive roll; tonight it was you. It's tough to see two boom + two kaboom results go for nothing.

We don't have time to dwell on our failure. We have another crew out scouting for a possible mission. Stay close, because we expect to hear from them soon. If the news is good, we'll be sending you to the Argus system for a possible strike against an Imperial base. Get your pilots back in ships as soon as you can. I understand you lost some gear this time; that's the cost of war. You'll have to make do with what you have left for now.

Pilots, dismissed.

A side note: You might want to buy Captain Harris and his crew a drink or two. After all, this is the second HWK that has been blown up while being escorted by your squad.

On second thought... maybe it's better if you just give him some space for a while.
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Kevin Bernatz
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Love your AARs...

We got lucky in this mission as we managed to tag the receiver fairly quickly (2 players, flying 3 ships...so flying as a '3p' team, not counting the HWK).

I agree that if you don't get some of the Tie's down, it is going to be a bear as the number of attack dice start to add up quickly. Even though they are only rolling two (usually), having four or five of them running around (not counting the specials) will wear you down.

Do you have R2D2 or other 'shield regen' options on any of your ships? We've found him to be a life-saver more times than not...

-K
 
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Dave Rathbun
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I'm glad you are enjoying our reports! Thanks for the comment.

As to your question: We've gone back and forth. I think we have R2-D2 on one X-Wing and R5-P9 is on another. I think R5-P9 belongs to Foh-kus and he died despite that... I think most of our X-Wings are running Integrated Astromech as well.

One of the things I've read - and it seems to be coming true for us - is that when playing HotAC you don't want to race to get to higher pilot skills. Imperial forces are based on two things - player count and average PS. Our average was 4 for this mission which triggered several upgrades to the opposing forces, and we almost always have 6 players which increases the number of opponents as well. Basic TIE Fighters are always PS1, and even in this mission the shuttles are PS2. Once you get to PS3 you're ahead of most ships, only some of the elites come in at 4 or higher.

After the mission failure we discussed spending XP on shield upgrades and other defensive options before we do too many more pilot skill increases. We'll see how that goes. You can stack shield upgrades (it's in the rule book or FAQ somewhere) so having multiples would really help.

We also have been running individual XP, which means everyone wants in on the action. The next time we're running this mission I am going to recommend pooled XP, where we divide up the total in equal shares at the end of the mission. That way we can send some folks off to draw away the TIE forces and keep them occupied elsewhere while the rest of the squad focuses on the mission objectives.

What I didn't include in the write-up above was that this mission actually spanned two nights of playing! I had a fairly good idea it was going to run long during the initial set up. Sure enough, we were only finishing turn 6 by the time the game store was closing. We took pictures of the board state, and last night we did our best to recreate it! That was fun...

Then the HWK died in turn 8, so it was a short session. By turn 10 everyone was off the board or dead, so the rest of the folks broke out regular 100 point squads.
 
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Kevin Bernatz
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We kept individual XPs, but allowed people to 'share' unused equipment. Now that my son has his PS9 T-70, he has it all tricked out and has bought spare cards that I can then equip on my A-wing or Y-wing (though the Y-wing is also now a tricked out PS9 .. .the A-wing...well...the less said about his luck, the better gulp ).

Since he's only 11, I expected him to scum all the easy kills/xps, so I focused on the mission objective while he went 'tie and elite hunting'. Worked out fairly well, though we did lose a couple missions (including one 'end mission' that we could not replay).

We have not done the Phantom missions yet...took a break before Thanksgiving and reclaimed our pingpong table (that had turned into the X-wing galaxy, LOL)....but we are hoping to do all the remaining Phantom missions over Xmas break.

-K

P.S. We left the Phantom missions to the end 'cause we ran into one of them early on and it just shredded us....one of the several times the A-wing ended up dead .
 
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