Mos Eisley Radio: Mary Poppins, X-Wing Miniatures, Galactic Starfighter and the burdens of life


imageGenerally when I offer myself as a front man my policy is that I don’t do committees, I don’t solicit opinions, and I expect people to do what I say without question.  If people, political organizations, or companies want success they can hook a chain to my star and I’ll take them where they want to go—and presently there are a lot of chains hooked to my star from those agreeing to those terms and expecting me to take them to their desired destination.  At 46 years of age, naturally now that the word has gotten out about some of my abilities, 2014 is shaping up to be the most pressure oriented year I’ve ever had.  I’ve never before dragged along so much hooked to me as I presently am, yet I fully expect such weights to not hinder my star’s trajectory.  One way I do that is to give my mind frequent rests to balance out the intense weight it otherwise would be encumbered with.  I thought it curious during this latest Holiday Season that two films, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and the Disney film Saving Mr. Banks both feature authors who were very much in love with the characters they created because it provided them with a secondary world which they created to reason things out.  I understand Tolkien’s apprehension to allow his work to be commercially shared, and even more drastic was the story of P.L. Travers who authored Mary Poppins.  Both authors confessed somewhat to using their stories as personal playgrounds of thought and were very protective over those worlds.  I can relate, my characters in my books, Fletcher Finnegan and Rick Stevens are very much creations of the same design for me—which is a work currently unfolding as my life shoots through the sky with the lives of many chained to it.  Disney did much the same with his Mickey Mouse, and of course there is George Lucas who guarded his Star Wars franchise more resoundly than anybody mentioned above.  Money is not the motive for any of the people mentioned—that comes later—it’s about the preservation of that secondary world—a world where the mind can vacation and relax where things make much more sense.  Personally for me, when the pressure is as intense as it is right now the way I deal with the real world most effectively is to spend as much time as possible in a secondary world to give my mind the needed downtime allowing it to be more efficient.  Vacations to Disney World, the creation of Uncle Walt is one of the ways I most enjoy a secondary world created by someone else.  Another is Star Wars, not just the movies, books, comics and any other little media tidbit—but the games, the new Galactic Starfighter, and the object of much obsession, X-Wing Miniatures.  Both of these games are discussed by the guys at Mos Eisley Radio’s Even Lewis and Leo Andrie—and to learn about both, listen to this broadcast.  They cover a lot of ground, but I think Leo’s opinions about X-Wing Miniatures most reflect my own—I simply love the game—I love that secondary world because it makes sense to me more than anything else presently can. 

Leo and Even did that broadcast prior to the release of Galactic Starfighter, so I can add to the report that as much as I love X-Wing Miniatures, Galactic Starfighter does the same thing for me, only the delight is much more immediate.  The computer combat flight simulator like PVP forum on Star Wars: The Old Republic is simply obsessive fun for me.  My wife and I have now played hundreds, perhaps even over a thousand matches over the last three weeks, and it is an absolute blast.  It takes all the action and strategy of X-Wing Miniatures and plays it out in real-time.  My wife oddly enough is topping the leaderboards nearly every match with her gunship.  I am less consistent—depending on who is playing.  When average players are against us, I typically join her at the top of the leaderboards with 5 to 10 kills per match in my Flashfire scout ship—which is like flying a kite that is very underpowered.  It doesn’t hit very hard and can’t take much abuse, but I use it because of the tremendous speed it has.   However, when elite players are on the other side, my job is to harass them and keep them uncomfortable—(kind of like real life) and my kill ratio goes down considerably.  The reason is to keep them busy while the other members of our team capture the satellite points.  I can’t say enough about the game.  It is truly an amazing time we live in.  My wife flies her ship on a computer right next to me.  We speak to each other like two pilots in a fire fight only the information going back and forth from the BioWare servers from her computer to the host and back to mine, and vice versa—then to all the other players 12 on our team, 12 on the opposing side is just an amazing feat.  A lot of people who play online games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are used to these forums, which is a few years old, but at my age I remember a time when all this was just a distant fantasy.  I remember a day when I worked all summer cutting grass so that I could purchase a $79 film role of Star Wars for a projector that I didn’t have and the reel didn’t even have sound. So modern DVDs and Blue Rays are amazing to me even after a decade of use—but the online gaming experience of Galactic Starfighter is simply stunning.  I can’t get enough of it.image

However, the computer game is something my wife and I can share with a few other people on our team, but when it comes to a tabletop game that an entire family can experience—or something that can be shared at conventions, comic book stores, and other very creative formats of existing secondary worlds X-Wing Miniatures is infinitely intriguing to me.  If you did not listen to the above video broadcast from Even and Leo please do so if any of this is remotely interesting.  Leo is a huge gaming nerd in all the wonderful ways that those people are full of imagination and hope—and his thoughts about X-Wing Miniatures reflects my own.  He has played many of the big games from the past, The Magic The Gathering and those types of things—and is presently obsessed with X-Wing Miniatures attending tournaments all over America.  And I totally get it.image

By looking at the pictures here of a match my family had during Boxing Day (the day after Christmas at my kid’s house) it is easy to see how we took a dining room table and made a battlefield out of it.  The strategies are very similar to Galactic Starfighter—the video game, but I find the slower pace and deeper strategies of X-Wing Miniatures to be infinitely more rewarding.   There is a freedom of movement that is simply amazing—every inch of the 3’X3’ game mat is up for grabs strategically—and that is very attractive to me.  But more so is the way the game allows you to visit this secondary world of Star Wars with the shared experience of family and friends on a group level.  In the game showed in the pictures it was a very tight match which went on for over an hour and it came down to a final dice roll of two evasion dice—which was highly unlikely—but occurred. It was a literal cliffhanger, and all our hearts were beating furiously at the end—both the winning and losing side—and I can’t think of too many activities that can be done around a kitchen table which provokes that kind of reaction.  It is blistering fun!image

I have several hundred dollars invested in the game from what is seen in the pictures.  That investment will easily excel into the thousands during 2014 and 2015.  As Leo mentioned in the Mos Eisley Radio broadcast the big excitement of 2014 will be the expansion packs of the Imperial Aces featuring two specially painted TIE Advanced ships, the massive Tantive IV CR90 corvette which looks spectacularly stunning, and the Rebel GR-75 medium transport.  Fantasy Flight Games who publishes X-Wing Miniatures has already produced something special even without these 2014 announcements.  If all they created were what has been seen through the first three waves of release, the Millennium Falcon from Wave 2 and now a ship I use all the time, the HWK-290,  (CLICK HERE TO READ SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THIS SHIP) I’d be content.  But Fantasy Flight Games is only getting stronger as time moves on—making the game constantly more complex and dynamic.  They are introducing a whole new play formatted called Cinematic Play which will specifically involve these larger ships on a much greater table top.  And in tournaments, they are introducing the Epic tournament format which will allow players to field ships of all sizes in massive battles that will echo thought the Star Wars universe.  In the game’s Epic format the Rebel transport can support the efforts of a squad with its frequency jammer, and the Tantive IV can fire its powerful lasers against opponent’s TIEs.  These mentioned items are not part of Wave 4 which hasn’t even been announced yet.  One can only speculate about what those ships will entail and new playing options that will come with them.  2014 will be a very exciting year for X-Wing Miniatures.image

I wish sometimes that I didn’t have such a complicated life with so many hooked to my star.  There are many days that I would love to be able to travel around and have the kind of free time that Leo does attending tournaments for X-Wing Miniatures.  I would be a very happy person with a table full of X-Wing ships and a pizza from LaRosa’s sitting on a nearby counter playing all day every day for the rest of my life.  That secondary world of Star Wars as it is specifically translated in that particular game is such an effective living mythology that it exceeds my personal creations.  I understand how P.L. Travers felt about Mary Poppins, and how Tolkien felt about Middle-earth, because I feel the same way about my own creations.  But when it comes to these Star Wars games, that secondary world smartly has been expanded in a unique way that Walt Disney—the new owners of Star Wars and the former owner, George Lucas have nurtured for decades.  P.L. Travers had a nervous breakdown at the premier of Mary Poppins because of the dancing penguins, and the portrayal of Mr. Banks who was essentially her father.  Lucas has allowed other independent minds to help shape his secondary world in a way that has held back Tolkien and Travers work in the past.  If The Old Republic had to get George Lucas to approve every addition to that world, it would have been stunted.  Even more so with X-Wing Miniatures, that game is great because as Leo and Even stated the game makes great use of the Expanded Universe—aspects of the Star Wars mythology that was created by the novels, comics and television shows by people only remotely guided by George Lucas with a thumbs up or thumbs down—and that is what makes this secondary world of gaming such an incredibly rich experience.  It takes an individual to drive the visions forward, but it also takes knowing when to let things go so the creations can take off on their own and flourish—kind of like raising children.  X-Wing Miniatures is the product of a successful metaphorical child of Star Wars and an offering into a secondary world that can hold a lot of excess pressure.  It does for me.image

I know my readers here want to see more fire and brimstone from me, and they will get it.  I feel the tug of those chains upon my star and I don’t complain.  I offer the free ride to see how much I can pull without it destroying me—because I want to know where my limits are—and I have not yet found them in my life.  But I do feel the pressure, and the way I cope with it is to become involved in these kinds of secondary world activities as the primary world is full of burden.  I play at real life like I’m playing a game—it takes the edge of the bitter realization that life is not a game, decisions are final, but chances must be taken to advance ideals.  By playing games for recreation, one can sort of work out what is a successful strategy and what isn’t.  Starting off a New Year, I enjoy thinking about these kinds of things, so I do it for myself more than anything—but I share it in case anybody wants to learn a thing or two about stress management.  At times like this I often would not mind having a simple nondescript job at some fast-food restaurant where I could live the life of Leo attending X-Wing tournaments all the time free of those chains dragging behind.  But I am grateful to have the release of these types of games in a time when I need them for my own sanity.  I have found that the more I utilize these things in my life, the more I can carry as my star shoots across the sky, and the many that are dragging behind hooked to it by my invitation will succeed.

Rich Hoffman