When I participated in my first tournament for X-wing Miniatures I was still learning all the rules—but knew enough to build a squad of ships that would be competitive against even the most seasoned players. However, when I revealed my squad to my opponents, they immediately assumed that my use of Han Solo on the Millennium Falcon which encompassed a point build of 55 points out of 100 meant that I was a rookie player who did not trust my piloting ability. The Falcon fires in a 360 degree arc as most of the other ships fire in a 90 degree arc coming off the front of their ship. Most seasoned tournament players at the time if they did use the YT-1300 were using Chewie or Lando and using two B-wings or some other assortment of support ship to save points. Nobody was using Han, which made no sense to me. He was after all one of the highest pilot rating cards in the game and he has a wonderful re-roll ability that makes him very powerful. His card on the Millennium Falcon looked to my eyes to be one of the most powerful combinations in the game, and I thought it would be crazy not to use him in a tournament.
Well, about three months later some of the best X-wing players in the world used almost the same build at the Nationals played at Gen-Con 2014. In reaction to the new TIE Phantoms released at the end of June 2014 a new type of Rebel build called “Fat Han” emerged in the meta game to deal with the incredible maneuverability and fire power of the new Empire faction ships. In fact Paul Heaver who is the current world champion used nearly the same build as I had to climb into the top four at the nationals.
I never published my build anywhere and Paul and I never spoke—yet to his experienced eyes he picked that particular build to deal with the new elements coming into the X-wing game. And he wasn’t alone at the nationals; there were many other top players who were flying “Fat Hans” in competitive play which changed the game for the better. It is doubtful that Paul Heaver received the same sideways glances that I did when I placed my YT-1300 on the board. I was a newbie, Paul was a seasoned champion. But it made me feel good to see that even in a game where I am not comfortable with all the rules and certainly lack the experience of that kind of competitive play, that I’m able to fairly quickly jump in and identify trends that are out on the edge and not yet fashionable.
This was an important observation as I spend a great deal of time pointing out trends that are coming as opposed to the ones that currently exist. If the ability is gained, it can be applied to virtually everything in life even in areas where others are much more proficient. The “Fat Han” builds are now the complaint of the X-wing Miniatures world because of their extreme effectiveness and they will continue for some time until something else knocks them off in the months to come. But for me the experiment was very telling, and useful.
I know much more about X-wing Miniatures now than I did during my first tournament, and I will know a lot more in a year than I do now. But the trend of seeing strategies and cycles beyond the curve of orthodox thinking is something I have been able to maintain even when others knew a great deal more about something than I did. It’s not some magic act, but simply a confirmation that Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality strategies are employable on every level of endeavor, even in gaming. I do pretty well in life staying in front of the curve of social trends in most everything I do—even leisure. So it was fun to feel the scorn of the X-wing community—even though it was friendly jousting at the time—then find just a few months later that the entire meta game is moving in that direction.
I have a shirt that I like to wear when playing X-wing Miniatures with Han Solo on the front of it—not unlike the kind of shirts I used to wear as a 9-year-old kid that says, “I’m in it for the money.” It is a very capitalist message and I first saw it in Hollywood Studios, Florida while coming off the Star Tours ride. I was surprised that Disney did not filter that pro capitalist message as there are many progressive executives who work for the large entertainment company. But, Han Solo is an unequivocal capitalist—an Ayn Rand type of capitalist in the Star Wars saga and he is one of the most popular characters there is. In fact, while downloading the new Star Wars game Commander onto my iPad I noticed that the characters on their load screen featured Han Solo, not Luke Skywalker because Disney knows where the money comes from in the series. It’s not the altruistic Luke Skywalker that people want to emulate; it is the capitalist Han Solo. This is a trend which will increase now that Star Wars is socially cool—altruism is out, capitalism is in.
That capitalist philosophy has spilled over into the X-wing game as the designers were careful not to weaken the message when designing the Han Solo game card. If played right, a “Fat Han” build can take being shot by opponents while dealing consistent damage during an entire match. It’s a very capitalist build and I think that the hatred for the build early in the game meta can be traced back to the fact that so many people are trained from their educations to hate capitalism. But—the meta of the game has moved by need of competition to utilize “Fat Han” builds just as the new Star Wars films and television shows soon will do the same on an epic level under Disney’s care. They know there in the hallowed halls of “Mouse Town” that capitalism is the key to social order and I could see that emergence as far back as the release of that Han Solo shirt featured at Hollywood Studios. We’re all in it to win, we’re all in it for the money—and that is why “Fat Han” builds have risen to popularity and why capitalism will emerge triumphant from 2020 to 2030 in ways that have never been seen before.
I’m so sure of it that I’d bet everything I have. With the same assurance that I built a “Fat Han” build in X-wing Miniatures during a time when it was considered too novice-like to even think of bringing it to a tournament—I can see that capitalism will crush socialism under the care of the Disney handling of the Star Wars franchise. Some people may bellyache and complain, but the trend is already emerging. I can see it as plain as a sun in the noon day sky on a cloudless day around the equator. It’s so bright that it burns. Meanwhile, I have to change my tactics to stay competitive. “Fat Han” will no longer work because everyone is using it. So my new build is something I’m called “Dashing Han” which is more akin to how the Falcon actually flew with Han Solo at the controls. It is very difficult to fly, but should provide an advantage that will last a while. Because the name of the game is to always stay out in front of the meta.
Rich Hoffman www.OVERMANWARRIOR.com