They’re Out There…

Arranging tournament-style dogfights is easy; just rock up with three obstacles and 200 points worth of ships and you’re ready to go. Balanced and straightforward, as long as FFG get the points right in relation to everything else.

Fortunately, playing missions doesn’t have to take much extra effort to arrange. The core sets and many of the first edition ship expansions have mission-related materials included (more on this shortly), and the plethora of missions and campaigns available to players might come as a bit of a surprise.

FFG missions and mission-specific tokens

Players who have bought 1st Edition core sets or ships will already have some FFG-authored missions (referred to in those rules as ‘Cinematic Play’ games). Both core sets from 1st Edition (the original one and The Force Awakens updated one) contained three different missions each. Many of the 1st Edition ship expansion packs, particularly the large-based ships and multiple-ship expansions, contained a mission that was specifically tailored to that pack’s ship(s).

The first edition release of the huge ships (the ones for epic play like the Rebel Transport, the Corellian Corvette, the Imperial Raider etc.) all included campaigns that focused on the newly bought ship, consisting of between three and six linked missions. Given that these ships are no small investment, you’d certainly want to devote some time to using them so this was an excellent move on FFG’s part.

Another FFG-sponsored resource for missions is their online mission builder, Mission Control, intended for players to create and share their own home-grown missions (of normal or epic size). I’ve been looking into it more while assembling these articles and it’s actually a very good resource. There are currently over 1300 missions in its repository (in English alone, I haven’t looked at missions in other languages) that one can download as PDFs.

After five years, still in open beta stage?

But… the Mission Control site hasn’t been updated in ages. It includes the first edition expansions up to Wave 6 which means no K-Wing, TIE Punisher, ARC-170, JumpMaster, etc.) so one needs to be creative to use it to write missions for ships that aren’t included in its database. While it was obviously released for 1st Edition there’s no reason that it couldn’t be used to author missions for 2nd Edition, but the limited list of available ships means restricting oneself to just those or using proxies for others when designing missions.

I’d love an updated version of Mission Control from FFG to cover the rest of the ships. Remarkably, missions are still being created and uploaded by users, which is good to see. However, part of me expects it to vanish from the web without notice, so check it out and download the good missions while it’s still there! FFG, if you’re listening… please give it some love and attention to bring it up to date?

We’ve yet to see any missions released for 2nd Edition; the new core set didn’t have any and nor have any of the newly released/re-released small- or medium-based ships. We haven’t had any large-based ships re-released for 2nd Edition yet, but I speculate that likewise, they won’t include missions. The new edition added in the Quickbuild and Escalation formats for the game, seemingly at the expense of missions. I’m somewhat disappointed in FFG’s decision to cut out this element of the game, of course.

Any discussion of X-Wing campaigns wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the player-created Heroes of the Aturi Cluster (or HOTAC for short) campaign material. A ‘print & play’ resource, it adds a massive amount to the game and is equally suitable for solo play or co-operative play.

Not bad for a print & play resource…

It’s good. It’s very, very good. I’ll discuss HOTAC in greater detail in a dedicated article soon, but here’s a brief overview of what it offers.

The original HOTAC campaign sets the player as a relatively new Rebel pilot (or players as a squadron together) facing the Imperial forces in the eponymous Aturi Cluster. The author created an effective AI to control the Imperial ships which is usually simple to manage and effective. Missions get harder as the campaign progresses but as the player’s pilots fight (and hopefully win, or at least survive!) they gain in experience and capability.

The mission structure is complex and variable, offering significant replayability, scaling to accommodate different numbers of players. It’s very professional looking and well-thought-out. FFG are rather missing a trick in not doing a deal with the author and adopting it as an official product.

Did I mention that it’s really good?

Of course, not everyone wants to play as Rebels so spin-offs of HOTAC have been created for Imperial or S&V players. The 1st Edition rules of HOTAC are being worked on by keen fans to create a 2nd Edition version.

Of course the other never-to-be-underestimated source for missions and campaigns is the players’ own imaginations. Tools like Mission Control are very useful for creating and sharing missions but the idea behind the mission starts off as a spark in the imagination… Parallel evolution happens too, of course, and I’ve found a number of missions on Mission Control that are very similar to ideas that I’ve had for missions, and it’s always interesting to see someone else’s interpretation of a given concept.

From my early days playing RPGs I’ve always enjoyed creating scenarios for the player group to enjoy, and really coming up with ideas for missions and campaigns is a similar outlet for that kind of creativity.

Hopefully I’ve got some of you pondering ideas and reaching for the keyboard…