The PAW Installation
From the moment I started playing X-wing Miniatures, I wanted to play a mission that involved a 3D space station model. I searched the web and found a lot of great scratch-built space defense platforms and asteroid bases. Unfortunately, I’m not a talented scratch-builder. When I came upon Combatzone Scenery’s Large Asteroid Base, I decided I had to have it. It wasn’t exactly cheap to buy the base, upgrade kit and pay for shipping from the UK to the US but I had all these asteroid base ideas in my head and wanted something tangible I could drop on the mat and design objective-based scenarios around.
Typically, I have my custom miniatures painted on commission by people far more talented than I. However, the base is heavy (it’s made of plaster) and I didn’t want to pay for shipping it all over the countryside since I’d already spent plenty to import it from the UK. Considering most of it would be gray, I figured it would be a good place to practice my amateur mini painting skills. I ended up painting it myself and I’m pretty happy with the results. With the base in hand, it was time to draw up the story.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
The old wedding verse perfectly captures the inspirations for the narrative I would spin. Every Star Wars fan has their favorite content within the franchise. Mine happens to be the original trilogy. A New Hope was the first film I ever saw in a theater (before it was even known as “A New Hope”). When I first laid eyes on that opening scene, with the Devastator pursuing the Tantive IV, I was a fan for life. I’m no OT purist, however. I enjoy Star Wars of all eras and flavors. Hence, in the context of X-wing Miniatures, I found myself stockpiling ships from all over the Star Wars spectrum. I needed an excuse to throw them all together on the same table and had a brand new asteroid base to use as the setting.
For the first part of the rhyme, I drew from the old, venerable TIE Fighter video game. I spent countless hours playing this gem. From 1983 until 1999, Star Wars fans had no theatrical releases to look forward to. Crazy, I know, given the deluge of new content these days. In those days, we relied on comics, books and a string of excellent video games to satisfy our fandom. In my opinion, the best of those games was TIE Fighter:
If you haven’t played this excellent Star Wars starfighter sim, it can be purchased on Steam or GOG for 10 bucks. I’d suggest a good flight stick. I use my classic Saitek ST90 and it still works like a charm.
Grand Admiral Zaarin, Maarek Stele the TIE Defender and TIE Avenger all owe their existence to this game. It also features Grand Admiral Thrawn, who is always welcome in my book.
In addition to the TIE Avenger used in this scenario, I added a few other “prototype” TIEs from various Star Wars media. I took the TIE Hunter from Star Wars: Rogue Squadron 3 and the TIE Scout and TIE Vanguard from the old Star Wars Adventure Journals. I also painted these myself. I used a light gray to portray their relative newness as prototype models being tested at the PAW Installation:
Of course, the TIE Avenger would be piloted by the great Tan Maarek Stele from the TIE Fighter game. The TIE Hunter would be piloted by Soontir Fel, since he piloted them at the Imperial Classified Flight Yards as a test pilot. As far as I know, there were no iconic pilots associated with the TIE Scout and Vanguard, so those are piloted by generic prototype pilots.
Maarek Stele wasn’t an Imperial ace in the 1 BBY timeline of this scenario but I bumped him up because I simply had to include him since the game he stars in was such a huge influence on this whole undertaking.
Initially, I wasn’t a fan of the Star Wars Rebels animated TV show. I watched the first few episodes but grew tired of whiny Ezra pretty quickly. I wasn’t a big fan of Sabine either, to be honest.
That all changed when they added Grand Moff Tarkin, Maul and Grand Admiral Thrawn as villains. They even reintroduced Rukh to canon – voiced by Warwick Davis, no less! I’ve always found the villains of Star Wars to be more interesting than the heroes, so I was back on board.
Rebels introduced the Arquitens-class Command Cruiser. It also reintroduced the TIE Defender, in the form of the TIE Defender Elite, as Thrawn’s pet project. Initially, I attempted to commission a Lancer-class Frigate for this scenario. There’s just something about the design that I like. They first appeared in the original Thrawn trilogy and showed up fairly regularly in the X-wing series of video games. Basically, I needed a capital ship that had ties to Grand Admiral Thrawn, who would serve as the Imperial antagonist.
After being told by two different scratch-builders that the Lancer-class Frigate would be too difficult to produce in X-wing Miniatures scale, I decided to go with a commissioned Arquitens from The Alternative Wargamer, Kenneth Lönnberg. Although I don’t have the same sentimental ties to the Arquitens, the scratch-build is a beautiful ship in its own right:
Incidentally, not long after I received my mind-blowingly awesome Arquitens model in the mail, Thrawn1995, on the official X-wing Miniatures forums, posted his scratch-built Lancer-class Frigate in the X-wing Epic Play subforum:
Of course, I’m more than happy with my Arquitens. The detail is exquisite and the turrets are magnetized and rotate 360 degrees. Also, Thrawn served as First Officer aboard the Arquitens Cruiser Thunder Wasp, so his character has a connection to the ship. The bonus is I can use it in a future scenario featuring the Star Wars Rebels TV show.
The TIE Defender Elites I used in this scenario were also lifted from Rebels. They are not simply repainted FFG Defender models, mind you. They are 3D prints from Alien Luxury Miniatures and were painted by their partner studio, Lightcraft Miniature Studios:
Another new product I drew from for this project was EA’s Battlefront 2 video game. Most gamers have their opinions on EA but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Suffice it to say, as short as it was, I enjoyed the campaign in EA BF2. I liked the concept of Inferno Squad and even bought the book, which I enjoyed. Inferno Squad didn’t exist in the 1 BBY timeline I established for this mission so these would be Inferno Squad prototype ships, flown by generic pilots, and led by a younger Gideon Hask.
My Inferno Squad TIEs were painted by Masterpiece Miniatures. It was their idea to use metallic red paint for the cockpit glass to simulate cockpit glare. I think they came out great:
Somewhere along the line, I decided my scenario would involve a facsimile of the Maw Installation. I’ve always found the facility interesting. I took to the web to find images for a custom mat but couldn’t find one I was satisfied with. In my search, I stumbled on a picture of EVE Online’s Yakura Harvesting Depot. The image had a much higher resolution than anything I could find depicting the Maw Installation:
To work my existing models into the framework of a knockoff Maw Installation, I decided to make the base a TIE Fighter testing facility with the moniker “PAW Installation”. My young daughter is a big fan of the Paw Patrol children’s cartoon show and the base is named in honor of her obsession.
Ever since I read Timothy Zahn’s original Thrawn trilogy, I’ve been a fan of the Chiss grand strategist. He was so different from any Star Wars villain up to that point. He didn’t win with overwhelming numbers, technological terrors or the Force – he won with cunning and guile. I considered pitting him against Admiral Ackbar for this scenario but it didn’t fit the timeline. Instead, I went with General Dodonna since the two faced off at the Battle of Atollon on the Rebels TV show.
Speaking of General Dodonna, I wanted him to command a fleet worthy of facing a Grand Admiral. His command ship would be the same Nebulon-B Frigate I used for my 3-part Battle of Scarif scenario but I wanted to add something new to the mix. Enter the DP20 Frigate:
Along with the DP20 Frigate and Nebulon-B Frigate, General Dodonna’s fleet would consist of a CR90 Corvette, two GR-75 transport fire ships (loaded with explosives that can be detonated upon impact), 6 X-wings, 2 Y-wings, 2 B-wings and 2 A-wings, for a total of 17 ships:
Grand Admiral Thrawn would command his fleet from the bridge of the Arquitens-class Command Cruiser Thunder Wasp. The remainder of Thrawn’s fleet would be composed of two Raider-class Corvettes, 2 gunboats, 2 TIE Defender Elites, 3 Inferno Squad Prototype TIEs, a TIE Interceptor and one each of the 4 TIE Prototypes being tested at the base – TIE Avenger, TIE Hunter, TIE Scout and TIE Vanguard. Thrawn’s fleet would have 15 ships in all:
The base would be further protected by proximity mines and Exogorths that Thrawn would sprinkle throughout the nearby asteroid field:
Also part of the Imperial forces are Grand Admiral Zaarin, in his cloaked Lambda shuttle, and his 2 TIE Phantom escorts. A late-developing idea for my scenario, they will deploy when the base nears destruction:
During play testing, I had another eureka moment when I decided to add a tea light explosion upon the destruction of the base as well as have the escape pods launch for a bonus objective. Sometimes, I impress myself with the ideas that randomly pop into my head:
That pretty much sums up the inspiration for the scenario and the custom pieces involved. Without further ado, I’ll move on to the scenario itself:
Imperials (1050 squad points):
PAW Installation asteroid base (100 HP)
– The first 12 HP of damage are applied to the 3 base turrets in order until all 3 are
destroyed. When the base falls below 30 HP, the Imperial player may attempt to
escape with the plans aboard Grand Admiral Zaarin’s cloaked Lambda shuttle,
escorted by 2 TIE Phantoms
Arquitens-class Command Cruiser Thunder Wasp (Grand Admiral Thrawn)
2 Raider-class Corvettes
2 Gunboats (Major Vynder)
2 TIE Defender Elites (Commander Vult Skerris)
3 Inferno Squad TIE Prototypes
TIE Interceptor (Lieutenant Gideon Hask)
TIE Avenger (Tan Maarek Stele)
TIE Hunter (Captain Soontir Fel)
Deployed when base nears destruction:
Lambda shuttle (cloaked, Grand Admiral Zaarin)
2 TIE Phantoms
2 Escape Pods
Other base defenses (placed within range 1-2 from center, on Rebel side of play area):
2 Proximity Mines
4 Asteroids (I forgot one during the play test – I always forget something when running
these huge scenarios)
4 Laser Batteries
Rebels (850 squad points):
Nebulon-B Frigate Vanguard (General Dodonna)
2 GR-75 fire ships (filled with explosives)
6 X-wings (Wedge, Hobbie)
2 Y-wings (Vander)
Destroy PAW Installation asteroid base
Stop Grand Admiral Zaarin from escaping with TIE Prototype blueprints
Eliminate both escape pods containing PAW Installation scientists
Destroy the Rebel fleet before the base is destroyed
Secondary objective (if base I’d destroyed)
Cover Zaarin’s escape
Bonus objective (if base is destroyed)
Cover the exit of both escape pods
Full battle report (22 page PDF file)
Initial setup gallery (31 pic Imgur album):
Director’s cut (abridged) play test gallery (48 pic Imgur album) – narrated:
Full play test gallery (two albums totaling 88 pics):
Pics 1-50: https://imgur.com/a/NcBwvTL
Pics 51-82 + 1 video: https://imgur.com/a/Y2DyhqU
Base destruction video with flickering tea light explosion:
Tea light explosion tutorial (not mine):
Arquitens (2 different angles):
Arquitens mechanics gallery (10 pics):
Nebulon-B mechanics gallery (17 pics):
DP20 gallery (3 pics):
PAW Installation gallery (12 pics):
Front and back of prototype TIEs:
TIE Scout closeup:
Custom cards, dials and bases used in this scenario
Redemption and Free Lance: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AD9mTxxEgQV7x6MCcbc-ONkpbNDeRuuA/view?usp=drivesdk
Arquitens-class Command Cruiser:
Asteroid base mission-specific cards:
TIE Defender Elite & Inferno Squad cards + Gideon Hask:
Fighter bases (includes some ships not present in this scenario):
Grand Admiral Zaarin:
Matt the Shield Technician:
Prototype TIE cards & dials:
Links to sources
Inked Gaming Custom Mats:
The Alternative Wargamer:
Alien Luxury Miniatures:
Lightcraft Miniature Studios:
Strike on Imperial Base Felucia (a land/air scenario):
https://imgur.com/a/k4bgv (11 pics)
Zaarin Returns (cloaking CR90 pocket carrier):
Well, this has certainly been a long blog article. If you’ve read this far, thank you! I put a lot of work into my custom scenarios and I truly hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoy designing them. See you next time on Felucia!