I had the fortunate opportunity recently to spend the day with one of my son-in-laws who has brought to our family something very unique. He is a tabletop gamer and a rather good one, and the more I have come to know him, and watch him over the years I have learned of an important social trend that along with many other things is changing our social fabric. One year ago while on vacation in Florida, he and two of my nephews convinced me to play a Dungeon and Dragons type game called HeroScape which had been out of print for some time but my nephews actually had it. I enjoyed the experience as the ocean beat at the beach outside our condo balcony but saw something else sparkling in their minds while playing that I thought was very positive. Just a few weeks later while looking for a copy of the game on eBay I saw that Fantasy Flight Games had just created a Star Wars game called X-Wing Miniatures. So I picked it up as it was a brand new game at that time and started playing it with my table-top gifted son-in-law.
I ran across the term Imdaar Alpha during the 90s playing a game with my nephews when they were little boys called Rebel Assault II. The nephew who had the HeroScape game in Florida last summer used to stay up with me playing Star Wars: X-Wing and its sequel—Tie Fighter all night on the weekends—which was a computer flight simulator, and of course we played Rebel Assault nearly burning a hole in the CD disk that played over and over in the newly formed home PCs at the time. So these names were familiar to me.
Imdaar Alpha was a moon of Imdaar. Grand Admiral Martio Batch had a massive research station there which was fastened on the most part of one of the moon’s hemispheres. It developed an advanced cloaking device and the first of the TIE Phantoms. However the moon appeared empty since the station itself made use of the cloaking technology, being thus invisible.
The moon lost a significant part of its mass when the Imperial facility exploded.
The TIE Phantom, also referred to as a Phantom V38, was a prototype TIE series starfighter developed by the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War. A modified V38 assault fighter, the TIE Phantom was the result of a development project led by Grand Admiral Martio Batch and was equipped with both deflector shieldsand a hyperdrive, along with a technology not seen for decades—a stygium cloaking device.
The development process began in response to the Rebel victory at the Battle of Yavin. After some initial troubles, Batch was able to secure a supply of the stygium crystals required by the cloaking device, and the fighters entered production on Imdaar Alpha. When the testing process was completed following the Battle of Hoth, Darth Vader intended to use the new starfighter in a devastating assault on the Rebel Alliance Fleet. However, over a series of encounters, the Rebels learned of the new threat. Recognizing the danger, the Alliance dispatched pilots Rookie One and Ru Murleen to capture one of the fighters for study.
The Rebels successfully infiltrated the Super Star Destroyer Terror as it prepared to launch the fighters against the Alliance and escaped with one of them, which they used to destroy both the Terror and the facility where the fighters were produced. However, the Rebels’ acquisition of the fighter was short-lived—when the stolen TIE Phantom’s self-destruct mechanism activated before the Rebels could examine the fighter, the technology was lost.
Fast forward to the Fantasy Flight event nearly 15 years later taking place all over the world at the same time and it was obvious that the makers of the new tabletop game loved the old video games as much as I did and have carried over the mythology explored there into this new—and better X-Wing Miniatures game. So with all those events culminating together, I attended my first tournament and found layers of hope in the back room of Yottaquest in the players I met during the event. I learned a lot of cool little tricks that I had not even considered until competition brought the issues to the surface. But most pleasurable to me was in seeing how much reading comprehension goes on at these events from the players. I had been to gaming stores like Yottaquest because I have went to them with my kids a few times, but while playing in that tournament I was impressed by the level of reading comprehension that the players who averaged from their late 20s to mid-30s displayed and it was obvious that the recent explosion in tabletop gaming which Yottaquest represents is satisfying the deep human yearning for participatory mythology that cannot be experienced by just passively watching a movie—or even reading a book. X-Wing like the other games at Yottaquest is a recent rendition of pure mythology which is my primary interest due to my own background in comparative mythology through the Joseph Campbell Foundation. The players all shared a love for mythology as the game experience pulled them into that world to resolve a story driven by human need—not fulfilled by any other social mechanism.
After watching the final match between the store’s best two players that day, it was clear that out of the four new ships coming out during the upcoming Wave 4 release from Fantasy Flight Games that the TIE Phantom was the dominate ship. It is firing five dice at Range 1 with a gunner and a cloaking device. In the game I watched, it easily tore through the other ships flown by a very good player. It was obvious that once again, Fantasy Flight Games has managed to up the bar with their tabletop gaming experience and the new latest trend will be those TIE Phantoms. Three of those flying in formation will be terribly hard to beat—but that is the fun of the game after all—seeing what your opponent puts on the table and figuring out ways to beat it with all the variables available.
For me, it was wonderful to step away from the world of problems which is a daily burden and live in a functioning mythology with my son-in-law and those other X-Wing game players in that back room of Yottaquest. We had a uniquely bottled Coke imported from Mexico and enjoyed watching that final match learning more in just that one day than I had managed to learn over the whole previous year about some of the nuances of the game itself—that can only be realized through competition. If I were in my mid-twenties and did not have nearly the amount of responsibility that I do now, I would be inclined to travel the world playing in those types of tournaments every weekend—I enjoyed it that much. There wasn’t anything like that around when I was that age, not at this level. Places like Yottaquest and games like X-Wing are a fairly new invention driven purely by human desire for a mythic experience and I love it enough to spend as much of my time as possible experiencing them.
But the early scouting report is that the TIE Phantom will be dominate—very much so. If I were an Imperial player—which I’m not, I’d get four of them. Likely, I will get that many anyway just to practice against—because they will be hard to beat with their clocking device which grants two extra evasion dice when used. But their sheer firepower is so far the best in the game—which is saying a lot. They will have to be countered with pilots of a high rating shooting decent firepower at close range—and that will be a challenge. But that is what is wonderful about events like Assault at Imdaar Alpha and the world of X-Wing Miniatures in general. This game is far more enjoyable than the old video games and the interaction with other players also on similar mythic journeys is unique and indicates a major change in human value that is very positive. It gives me hope where it is difficult to find elsewhere.
Rich Hoffman www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com