J.J. just dropped another juicy Ep. VII detail in the form of a new Omaze charity video.
In the video, J.J. reveals the new X-wing design for Ep. VII, and it looks sweet!
However, I can’t help but think that there’s more to these teases than just raising money for charity. These Omaze videos show just how brilliant the marketing for Ep. VII has been thus far for 2 reasons:
1. The videos show a focus on practical effects.
It’s no secret that many fans think the prequels focused way too much on the visual effects at the expense of the story. You’ll notice that a blue screen is nowhere to be found in either of these videos. This is no accident. I believe that J.J. and Co. are coming as close to apologizing for the prequels as they can without outright doing so. Seeing puppets reminiscent of Jabba’s-Palace and a real-life X-wing speaks volumes as to what Lucasfilm/Disney are trying to showcase from this film.
2. The videos showcase a sense of humor.
Another crowning aspect of the Original trilogy was comic relief. Whether it’s 3PO during the Carbon Freezing sequence, or Han Solo’s interactions with the Ewoks, humor has always played a large role in Star Wars. Interestingly, both of the Omaze videos feature a comical moment where J.J. is momentarily distracted from his charity pitch. In my view, this is most certainly intentional. Having a little laugh-moment indicates the style they want for marketing Ep. VII.
These charity videos have given fans a sense (though a small one) of the style and feel of the return of Star Wars to the big screen.
At the top of the show Teresa asks Aaron and Megan about their time at New York Comic Con. Aaron and Megan do their best to make Teresa jealous by mentioning all the cool people they got to meet. You know, they just had dinner with John Jackson Miller. No big deal. The news revealed at the Rebels panel is also discussed.
In response to some listener feedback Aaron and Megan talk about their personal EU fandom and what were the first things they read (Teresa had to briefly drop out but her answer can be heard in the bonus content at the end of the show). Aaron also asked Megan what her hopes are for the future of the Expanded Universe.
Teresa rejoins the show to help review the comic volume Dawn of the Jedi: The Prisoner of Bogan. Are the characters too one-dimentional? Is Shae Koda a stereotypical “strong female”? Is Aaron becoming a shipper? All this and more is discussed.
For many people, Star Wars has been a force for inspiration in their lives. It has brought together like minded people, it has helped build friendships in a welcoming community of fans, and it’s been there for people who’ve needed a few hours of stress relief from a harsher reality. Sometimes though, it’s quite difficult to measure how much, or how little, an effect different aspects of a franchise can have on people. Star Wars has impacted my life mostly through the people I’ve met in the fan community, and through the building of skills such as writing (which you see me doing now) and speaking, and learning such things like building a website, about audio equipment, interview techniques, and many other skills I’ve come to develop. If you go back to the beginning though, back to the movies that started it all, you’ll find many, valuable, life lessons. I will be writing about some of these lessons, and thought I’d start with a classic scene, one of my favorite scenes in the Star Wars movies.
There is a scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is training with Yoda in the swamps of Dagobah. Yoda is teaching him about the Force, concentration, and focus, when Luke’s X-wing he’d crash landed into the swamp starts sinking further into the mire. As Artoo sounds the alarm, Luke loses focus on his training and drops the stones Yoda was having him lift with the Force.
Looking at his X-wing that has sunk almost entirely beneath the surface, Luke says: “No, we’ll never get it out now!”
Yoda: “So certain are you. Always with you it cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?”
Luke: “Master, moving stones around is one thing, but this is totally different!”
Yoda: “No. No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned”
Luke: *sighs* “Alright, I’ll give it a try.”
Yoda: “No. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
Luke sighs, and tries to lift the X-wing out of the swamp using the Force, and fails. He tells Yoda: “I can’t, it’s too big.”
Yoda: “Size matters not. Look at me; judge me by my size do you? Hmm? And well you should not. For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. It’s energy, surrounds us, and binds us. Luminous beings are we! Not this crude matter. *touches Luke’s arm* You must feel the Force around you. Between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere. Yes, even between land, and the ship.”
Luke stands up to leave saying: “You want the impossible.”
As Luke walks off, Yoda closes his eyes and reaches out to the X-wing through the Force. Artoo starts chiming and beeping excitedly as the X-wing, seemingly by magic, floats up out of the swamp, and to a very surprised Luke’s feet.
Luke turns to Yoda saying: “I don’t believe it!”
Blinking wisely, Yoda simply states: “That, is why you fail.”
“Impossible is only a word found in the dictionary of fools.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
There are many lessons that can be learned from Yoda. For instance the philosophies behind, ‘size matters not’, or ‘luminous beings are we’. However, today I’d like to focus on the differences between, and attitudes behind, trying vs doing. One thing I noticed right away was Luke’s negative attitude in the beginning. He started out with the assumption that it couldn’t be done, that he would fail, and in the end he lived up to that expectation. We’ve all heard of self fulfilling prophecies, but often we fail to recognize when we’re in the middle of one. Another way of looking at this is the idea that you get what you expect. If your mind is occupied with thinking about how or why you’ll fail, than it’s not thinking about creative ways to arrive at a solution. Some people tend to be stubborn, and when you tell them that they’ll fail, they try everything to not fail. But most people aren’t this way, and expecting anyone to do poorly, including yourself, is typically the fastest way to make sure they will do poorly!
“They succeed, because they think they can.” ~ Virgil
“Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.” ~ Les Brown
Luke is pretty sure before he tries that he won’t be able to succeed, but he only tells Yoda after failing that Yoda asks the impossible. Using the word ‘try’ can be used as an excuse. Anyone can say “I tried” and use that to excuse the end result. After all, if we tried, what more could be done? If we deem a task impossible, than we aren’t to blame when we fail, right? Obviously, there are times we sincerely try our best, and we don’t succeed. And that’s ok. Hopefully we learn from our efforts, even if we weren’t successful in that particular endeavor. But it’s the mindset behind the word ‘try’ that counts. Using the word ‘try’ to let ourselves off the hook when we don’t succeed is one way to ensure we don’t try our best.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ~ Jillian Michaels
“Action is the foundational key to all success.” ~ Pablo Picasso
What are you ‘trying’ to accomplish in your life right now? Don’t try, do! Decide you want something and chase after it! If you want to be a better person, become a better person! Take action and create goals where you can measure the results of your efforts. After all, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” according to Napoleon Hill. If you’re half-heartedly pursuing something, maybe it’s something you shouldn’t be putting your resources in. Or, maybe it’s something you need to re-invigorate and put more effort into. Why make the decision to do one or the other? Because if you don’t, that end goal that you’re putting effort into, but never arriving at, steals your time, money and energy, and becomes a discouraging part of your life. And if this is representative of how you approach everything, you drift through life, and life makes decisions for you. Sometimes this is easier. It’s easy to let others make decisions for you, to not make decisions, be embarrassed and fail at something. But the surest way to fail at accomplishing something is to never even start it.
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” ~ Zig Ziglar
“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford
Legendary soccer player, Mia Hamm once said: “Success breeds success.” Scientifically known as ‘the winner effect’, this principle means that those who succeed are likely to succeed even more. Why? Well, this may be because people are habitual creatures, and succeeding becomes a habit. Or the people who succeed are just talented and more likely to continue succeeding, etc. I think both are true, but I also believe that success tends to build confidence, and if failing is discouraging, than succeeding is encouraging, and brings the enthusiasm and self-confidence needed to whole-heartedly pursue other goals. The confidence to create plans, and believe from past (successful) experiences those plans will work, thus having the motivation to carry those plans to the finish line. If you believe you’ll fail, why bother to follow through with plans, or even make them in the first place? And if you’ve succeeded before, why should you believe you’ll fail? While it sounds trite to tell you to ‘believe and you can do anything’, it seems evident that beliefs and perceptions are powerful things, capable of affecting us in ways we don’t fully understand.
So is that the real difference between trying and doing? That, as Yoda says, the only difference is in our mind, and how we approach things? Don’t quit and use “I tried” as an excuse. Don’t think that you’re helpless. You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you can control how you choose to react to them. Try, and when you fail, try again with the determination to succeed. Keep doing something until you get it right. Perseverance, optimism and determination was what Yoda was looking for. Not perfection, it’s not about perfection. It’s about not giving up!
“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again.” William E. Hickson
I am a huge Star Wars fan. In terms of time, energy and money… it is my number one hobby. But, if I were to have another hobby, it would definitely be board games. I have always been a gamer, but somewhere along my path of growing up I moved a little bit away from video games and into board games. Epic, 60 hour RPGs just seem exhausting to me now, while sitting around a table for 20-60 minute sessions with friends is a lot more appealing. There are many types of tabletop games, and I generally enjoy all of the ones I try. The one genre I had not really given a shot until Celebration VI was the tabletop miniatures game.
You can imagine that I had been counting down the months to the release of, and reading all of the news I could find about, Fantasy Flight’s X-Wing Miniatures game. I had been around enough miniatures/tactics games to understand the basic setup. I will start at the beginning.
For a detailed look at what’s included in the starter set and initial expansions, check out Nathan Butler’s unboxing series at the Star Wars Beyond the Films Facebook page!
So, my best way to define the type of game you are getting with X-Wing is that it is a tactical warfare, board game… without the board! This means that a huge focus of the game is figuring out on your own how you will navigate around the playing area, which is just a 3′ x 3′ square. Not only is this a cool way of simulating space, it draws you into thinking: “What would I do if I were the starfighter pilot?” Right away, just like an actual starfighter pilot, you are anticipating your opponent’s move and hoping you can get where you want to be before the other pilot gets to where he or she wants to be! Moving around proves to be the most exciting part of the game and the one that requires the greatest amount of strategy.
The game has some actions that get thrown in but, with one exception, I find them to be pretty boring. Most of the actions rely on modifying the dice to improve your chances in your attacks and blocks. Because these actions are fairly easy to use for almost every turn, and most players use these actions the same way, it does not seem like they really impact the game in a significant way. The exception to this is the amazing Barrel Roll technique, which is unique to the TIE fighter units. This move isn’t dice-based and, instead, helps you move your TIEs into optimal positions by allowing you to move left and right in addition to the standard forward moves.
There are also pilot cards and ship upgrades and these can have a drastic impact on the game. Each team usually starts with a certain number of building points to spend on ships, pilots and upgrades. Obviously, with some pilots and upgrades being more powerful, they will cost more build points to use. As would be expected, a Luke Skywalker X-Wing with an R2-D2 upgrade is nearly unstoppable!
Pilot cards help you customize yourfighter team.
This takes me to the two sides of combat. In true Star Wars fashion, we have Empire vs. Rebellion. The Empire’s TIE fighters are developed for high-maneuverability swarming. They have low health, but more movement options. The X-Wings, on the other hand are designed to be tanks. With shields, they can absorb more base damage and are less vulnerable to critical hits. But, a big factor to keep in mind is that when building your teams, you can usually have around 2 TIE fighters for each 1 X-Wing on the field. This creates interesting combat mechanics in smaller games, but based on initial playing, seems to really bring things out of balance in larger scale combat… more on this later.
Let’s talk a little bit of strategy.
Because the TIE fighters are more numerous and more maneuverable, the goal is to close in and swarm an X-Wing. TIEs are often able to use their barrel rolls at close range to stay outside of an X-Wing’s firing arc while maintaining their own ability to fire on the Rebels. Being able to close in early and dance around an X-Wing will often bring victory to the Imperial side.
An X-Wing, on the other hand, is able to use its superior firepower to take down TIEs pretty efficiently. While the X-Wing strategy is far less clear or obvious than the TIEs, I have found that my most effective games are when I can keep a distance and close as slowly, and directly, as possible. This leads to a strategy where I try to approach slowly, getting as many shots in as I can before I am swarmed and then I try to break away as soon as I can to put some distance between myself and my tailing TIEs. Then I repeat the process. With good rolls, I can sometimes take out a TIE fighter during my opening volleys.
With that basic setup, I can say that the core set is incredibly well balanced and fun to play! Having the two TIEs take on the one X-Wing leads to fun matches that are pretty unpredictable. Like any game, the luck of the dice can really skew the results and I have seen that work in both sides’ favor. This would be my strongest complaint about the game: sometimes one really lucky roll ends the game before it feels like it has even begun. I have started experimenting with house rules that would increase the durability of the ships, but it is hard to do that in a balanced way because the Empire gets two ships for the Rebels’ one.
The Basic X-Wing starter set.
Another complaint, which I have gathered from reading online forums, is that in large scale battles, the Imperial team seems to be too powerful for the Rebels to stand a chance. Being able to flood the board with TIEs seems to be the winning strategy because no matter how powerful you make an X-Wing, it cannot stand up to being in the targeting range of, say, 6 TIEs during one turn. On the smaller scale of the 3 ships provided in the basic starter kit, though, the teams truly seem balanced to me.
With those complaints aside, I really have to say that I have enjoyed this game a great deal. I have played with several people and have yet to find someone who walks away unsatisfied. Some players enjoy the combat tactics, some enjoy the spatial dynamics and EVERYONE enjoys moving X-Wings around and saying “pew-pew”! It’s a game that is complex enough to keep a strategy gamer interested in the long run and is simple enough to teach to my mom in one sitting.
Hands down, the best aspect of the game is how well it captures the spirit of Star Wars. Being a huge fan of the X-Wing series, it is easy to put myself in the mind of Corran Horn or Wedge Antilles while playing. Guessing my opponents’ moves, having to discipline myself to certain strategies, looking for the moment to break away and surprise an opponent: All of this exists with the game and makes me feel like I am in a great space battle!
Who hasn’t dreamed of piloting the Falcon?
I am looking forward to experimenting more with the existing, and upcoming, expansions. What fan wouldn’t be excited to throw the Falcon and Slave I into the mix!?
Overall, I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys Star Wars and enjoys strategy and tactics games. If you pick up a copy of the game, share your opinions and your battle stories in the comments below.