Assault on Imdaar Alpha: Hope for mankind’s future in tabetop gaming

My regular readers usually don’t give articles like this one much notice—but often I gain new ones who aren’t specifically interested in philosophy or politics.  However, I would recommend for everybody to consider this topic because of the vast reach and scope of it which will conclude with an article tomorrow about gambling.  There is a changing paradigm of social behavior which is unmistakable and positive and deserves some attention.  We spend a lot of time complaining about the effects of long-established social causes, but seldom identify new causes before they take hold and the effects they bring with them.

I have written as reference more than once my intense love of the new tabletop game Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures.  To my view Fantasy Flight Games who produces that game is simply one of the best companies of its kind anywhere in the world.  Over this past week the new rules for their Epic Play formats was released and a good indication of the direction of the game was provided.  The much talked about Rebel Transport expansion shipped early from Barnes and Noble and within a week people like me who have had pre-orders out there for a while will receive their ships.  I can genuinely say that I am very excited about it.

Also a Wave 4 set of expansion ships is hitting at the start of June and Fantasy Flight Games is sponsoring a tournament as a chance to win first dibs on the lucrative new ships.  So I signed up to participate and realized quickly how vast this new game is across the world as I looked up the list of participating stores near my home.  It was actually quite astonishing to me because it allowed me to see just how popular this game is not just in The United States, but throughout the world.  You can see for yourself at the link below and preview some of the ships from Wave 4.  The participating countries are Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, The United Kingdom, and The United States.  And we’re not talking about just a few stores; each country has dozens if not hundreds of participating stores.  Just in Cincinnati for instance, there are two not counting additional stores in Dayton and Columbus.  So getting into the tournament called Assault on Imdaar Alpha is not difficult.

I had a particularly rough series of days this past week and to calm down I found myself shuffling through the game cards that I have for X-Wing Miniatures thinking about the squad that I wanted to enter into the upcoming tournament.  I found in the cards a soothing quality which made sense to me.  The pilot rating cards clearly establish the value of that particular character and the overall mythology of Star Wars plays largely in the context of how each ship is used under different circumstances.  But the operative word was value—it was refreshing to look at a card from Fantasy Flight Games and establish the value of a game character with the stats presented.

I pretty much picked my squad for the tournament, but the experience of doing it was actually relieving because of the exercise of value associated with the task.  Others across the world are doing the same thing for the same reasons.  The reason this is important is because of the modern trend pushed in public schools throughout the world has attempted to present this ideal that all people are equal no matter what their effort is, their skill, and all associated characteristics.  We know now in hindsight that this desire for equality is a task perpetuated by communists for years and this is how such a thing came to our public schools.  Yet society is rejecting such notions through their art—their movies, their reading material, and especially in the games they play.

The X-Wing Miniatures game is not just an American game, although it is an American invention.  It is growing in popularity enormously since I first started writing about it, and is about to explode.  For years I have watched with a level of suspicion how gamers played Magic the Gathering and other types of games with great intensity.  I knew that the reason they did such a thing was because the fantasy of the game was something that was more appealing than the options presented in real life.  I never enjoyed card games and board games much—especially games like Poker because of their association with gambling—which I personally despise.  But I do love stories and mythology and I see these new games which were just being invented when I was a kid with Dungeons and Dragons, quickly taking over the old games—which is good.

I have often listened for hours the broadcasts of the Cincinnati Reds and wondered how many grown adults found the stats of the baseball players so endlessly fascinating yet turned around and supported socialism in their workplaces, their education institutions, and even their families.  Each game in baseball is pretty meaningless in the context of plot—yet broadcasters have found ways to make every game sound compelling.  I have also watched for years gamblers obsessed with horse racing, dog racing, NASCAR racing and willing to spend their entire paychecks on a gamble as to who will win and how.  I now see that changing among the new generations—starting with my age group on down.

This new form of gaming is centered on mythology.  Each game of X-Wing Miniatures forces players to embark in a kind of story during their play.  The value of the cards drive the dialogue—for instance a typical squad build for me is one called within the gaming community as a “Han Shoots First.”  It is because Han Solo has such a high pilot rating and typically gets to shoot first during the combat phase of game play.  This build involves the Millennium Falcon and one or two ships of lesser pilot value to provide wingman support. Just the construction of that build creates a storyline which must be played out, whereas in Poker or Blackjack there is only the value on the card which a player then uses to their advantage or not depending on circumstances.  In these new games the same thing is happening, but there is much more to it—mythology is a part of the experience and that driver of the drama in these stories is brought about because of values that must be attributed.

It is for this reason that I am absolutely salivating over the arrival of my huge Rebel Transport.  Just this past week Fantasy Flight Games published the new rules for using the “Huge Ships” in game play and after reading them I was immensely impressed.  X-Wing Miniatures is very interesting to play and it is ever evolving.  It literally changes every three months and this seems to be the appeal of these new games over the old ones.  Check out some of those rules for yourself at the following link:

The reason that Baseball is declining in America is because the new generations cannot relate to it.  The game is too slow and the plots of the game do not provide an entertainment value that can compete with games like Magic the Gathering and now X-Wing Miniatures.  While baseball a few years ago looked the other way to allow Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa to fight it out with a season long steroid driven home run derby, the passion for the game really didn’t exceed beyond the borders of The United States.  Japan took to the drama, but really, nobody else could relate.   However in just a year, Fantasy Flight Games has published a game that has people lining up for weekend long tournaments all over the world—and it isn’t just because a movie which is three decades old is so popular, but because players can immerse themselves in a storyline that reflects their values.  The very act of playing such a game is an exercise of identifying value—and this translates directly to the real world.

Most of the people who play X-Wing Miniatures are smart.  They love to think.  The whole premise of such a game is to think.  It’s not based on random luck, or the hope that a passive third-party will be successful and garner victory for the bet placer, X-Wing Miniatures is all about participating in a mythology that is very similar to reading—but exists in a kind of in-between world where the storyline is the responsibility of the players.  Players are responsible for making their own drama, their own stories—and the stories are value driven.  In order to be successful, players must learn to ascertain values.  This is a tremendous new element to recreational gaming.  The participants aren’t passive, but are in fact very active in that process which is why these games are so vastly popular.

It is why I sought those cards after a rough week; it is why people all over the world are looking forward to tournament play for the Wave 4 ships, and why people like me everywhere are watching their mailboxes for the new Rebel Transport.  Many of our modern problems are due to the fact that the games the previous generations played often put the burden of decision-making on randomness and passive participation—such as guessing the outcome of a gambling scenario be it horse racing or a roulette wheel.  Players of those types of games have also voted in their republics in the same manner—they have passively participated then grumbled when the results did not go in their favor. These new gamers, the X-Wing players are “active.”  By watching how this new Fantasy Flight Games invention has taken off—literally, the people who play that game will have a much different role in their future decision-making endeavors—such as how they vote, and who they vote for in democratic elections.  And it gives me assurance to know that the mistakes of the past will not proceed into the future which makes X-Wing players some of my favorite people anywhere.  Their numbers are likely already greater than those in any Tea Party activity and is expanding by the day.  They represent a new demographic that will approach the future with a new sophistication that simply wasn’t present at any point in the past prior to the 1970s.

In 1974 Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson first published Dungeons and Dragons and have since grown into over a billion dollars in sales.  It was the first tabletop strategic game of its kind.  Star Wars: X-Wing is the natural evolution of this gaming type and evidence that human beings in all their vast capacity to think and imagine—can actually create recreation to heal themselves—as a species.  Because that is what these games represent to me—healing—they bring to the human mind what it most desires, to think, to assess value, and to create their own storylines.  And I can’t think of anything more valuable than that—and I love to see that America is exporting to the rest of the world something that does such things in a positive and creative way.  I am really looking forward to the Assault on Imdaar Alpha.

Rich Hoffman


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