The Battle of the PAW Installation (Prototype Assessment Way Station) – an X-wing Miniatures Epic/Cinematic Play Asteroid Base Scenario (1.0)

The PAW Installation

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.

Something old

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:

The TIE Fighter video game and classic Saitek ST90 flight stick

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:

The prototype TIE models being tested at the PAW Installation were purchased from Mel Miniatures on Shapeways and painted by myself

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.

Something new

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:

My 19-1/2 inch Arquitens-class Command Cruiser, scratch-built by The Alternative Wargamer, Kenneth Lönnberg
To move my Epic Arquitens, I bought a custom Death Star II dial – one befitting a Grand Admiral. Purchased from BrainWares on Etsy

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:

Thrawn1995’s scratch-built Lancer-class Frigate

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:

Vult Skerris would Pilot the yellow TIE Defender Elite. The red one would be piloted by a generic prototype pilot. Madeline from Lightcraft Miniature Studios did an exceptional job painting the models from Alien Luxury Miniatures

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:

Sue at Masterpiece Miniatures painted my Inferno Squad TIEs

Something borrowed

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:

Not satisfied with available Maw Installation images, I borrowed from EVE Online and substituted the beautiful Yakura Harvesting Depot. It looks similar to the Maw Installation and the image had a much nicer resolution.
The custom mat was made by Inked Gaming from the image I provided.

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.

Something blue

The “something blue” is obviously Grand Admiral Thrawn

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:

My 3D printed DP20 Frigate as it arrived in the mail from ru-kirja on eBay. I also got my Nebulon-B Frigate from him. His shop seems to be closed now, unfortunately. Perhaps, he got issued a cease and desist order from The Mouse?
Sue at Masterpiece Miniatures did an outstanding job painting my DP20 Frigate
If you haven’t seen my Nebulon-B Frigate before, here she is in all her glory. It was also purchased from ru-kirja. It was painted by Luke at Exploding Car Repaint Studio, which doesn’t seem to be in operation anymore

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:

General Dodonna’s attacking fleet of 5 capital ships and a dozen fighters

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:

Thrawn’s defense fleet, the PAW Installation Base and surrounding defense batteries

The base would be further protected by proximity mines and Exogorths that Thrawn would sprinkle throughout the nearby asteroid field:

Thrawn seeded the nearby asteroid field with adolescent and juvenile Exogorths as well as proximity mines. The juvenile Exogorth is from Combatzone Scenery, the adolescent Exogorth is from Mel Miniatures and the proximity mines were purchased on eBay from painterdan4hire of Bitsbox-Armies on Facebook
I’m not an expert painter but I’m pretty proud of the job I did painting the adolescent Exogorth. I also painted the laser batteries, which were also purchased from Mel Miniatures on Shapeways

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:

The idea to have Zaarin attempt an escape with the TIE Prototype plans didn’t occur to me until late in the development phase of this scenario, when I added it as a secondary objective

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:

The escape pods are from Combatzone Scenery’s Large Asteroid Base Upgrade. The tea light explosion flickers and looks pretty convincing. There’s a video of it in action in one of the galleries below

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:

Synopsis

General Dodonna, operating on sensitive intel, has found the location of an asteroid base used by the Imperial Department of Military Research for testing TIE Fighter prototype models.


After luring the base’s Star Destroyer and one of its Arquitens cruiser escorts to a nearby system in a feint operation, General Dodonna springs his attack.


His force, consisting of the Nebulon-B Frigate command ship Vanguard, a CR-90 corvette, a DP-20 Frigate, 2 GR-75 fire ships, 6 X-wings, 2 Y-wings, 2 A-wings and 2 B-wings is bolstered by the presence of such superior starfighter pilots as Wedge Antilles, Dutch Vander and Derek “Hobbie” Klivian.


Meanwhile, Grand Admiral Thrawn has seen through the diversionary ruse and ordered the Star Destroyer and Arquitens to take the bait while he lies in wait.


Believing in economy of force, the skill of his pilots and his own supreme strategic intellect, Thrawn takes command of the remaining Arquitens Command Cruiser and 2 Raider-class corvettes.  He brings two TIE Defender Elites, led by Vult Skerris, from his pet project on Lothal and puts out a call across the Empire for elite pilots to deal a knockout blow to the upstart Rebellion.


Admiral Garrick Versio answers the call by sending 3 Special Forces TIEs (Inferno Squad TIE prototypes) led by Gideon Hask in his TIE Interceptor.


Already familiar with the ships, first-rate test pilots Maarek Stele and Soontir Fel are deployed by the wishes of the Emperor himself.  They are tasked to lead the 4 prototype TIEs being tested at the facility, two of which are advanced scout ships designed to locate the ever-elusive Rebel forces.  Protection of the scout ships is vital to the operation as they will provide precise targeting information for Thrawn’s defense force.


Rounding out Thrawn’s force are two brand new Assault Gunboats, the pride and joy of Cygnus Spaceworks.


Thrawn seeds the nearby asteroids with adolescent and juvenile Exogorths as well as proximity mines.  The defenses are completed with 4 laser batteries surrounding the base, which has its own point defense turrets.


Can General Dodonna slip his GR-75 fire ships through Thrawn’s defenses, dealing a blow to Imperial weapons development, or will Thrawn deal a serious setback to the Rebel scum?

Setup

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)

TIE Scout

TIE Vanguard

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):

Adolescent Exogorth

Juvenile Exogorth

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)

DP20 Frigate

CR90 Corvette

2 GR-75 fire ships (filled with explosives)

6 X-wings (Wedge, Hobbie)

2 Y-wings (Vander)

2 B-wings

2 A-wings

Objectives

Rebels:

Primary objective

Destroy PAW Installation asteroid base

Secondary objective

Stop Grand Admiral Zaarin from escaping with TIE Prototype blueprints

Bonus objective

Eliminate both escape pods containing PAW Installation scientists

Imperials:

Primary objective

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)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DieKRIhs8UP8U2pwXBU68s8VSStqcIu_/view?usp=drivesd

Galleries

Initial setup gallery (31 pic Imgur album):

https://imgur.com/a/H3tIBdk

Director’s cut (abridged) play test gallery (48 pic Imgur album) – narrated:

https://imgur.com/a/ypV7DHV

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:

https://imgur.com/a/RVNuNtE

Tea light explosion tutorial (not mine):

http://chatteringhorde.blogspot.com/2014/10/how-to-make-tea-light-explosions-and.html

Arquitens (2 different angles):

https://imgur.com/a/VMv4xdK

Arquitens mechanics gallery (10 pics):

https://imgur.com/a/4gg9alc

Nebulon-B mechanics gallery (17 pics):

https://imgur.com/a/x8pLl

DP20 gallery (3 pics):

https://imgur.com/a/KjKJQ

PAW Installation gallery (12 pics):

https://imgur.com/a/X0G9P

Front and back of prototype TIEs:

https://imgur.com/a/P0MaU

Juvenile Exogorth:

https://imgur.com/IKxcuSn

TIE Scout closeup:

https://imgur.com/a/VMKSf

Custom cards, dials and bases used in this scenario

Nebulon-B Frigate:

Cards: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B-UmHvwOszKrQksyOEdPdmp2ZWc
Bases:
Rebel & Scum: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1r6MklY6Q9re9DJJ_n18fRLJ3HV23cp-y/view?usp=drivesdk
Imperial: https://drive.google.com/file/d/10lM_3xlQx50Sg126p-UPuTLIdnWA5S50/view?usp=drivesdk
Redemption and Free Lance: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AD9mTxxEgQV7x6MCcbc-ONkpbNDeRuuA/view?usp=drivesdk

Arquitens-class Command Cruiser:

Cards: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OgEOIocPtankVB61_rzCI58cM86oOe_k/view?usp=drivesdk
Bases: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SpRK-X6kQFotnkUmrel3H8GHjfQvHHU9/view?usp=drivesdk
Upgrade cards: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xiQiBsA9MdEyJeu9GCQsT-btG1usMNEV/view?usp=drivesdk

Asteroid base mission-specific cards:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/13lcjQynXfkr3d5b0tQ71xKqSw4PhDfuU/view?usp=drivesdk

TIE Defender Elite & Inferno Squad cards + Gideon Hask:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1k4wVA1lDcR6R9xsOBHR8cyNqWMq9fxzY/view?usp=drivesdk

DP20 Frigate:

Cards: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gjfLpXfsxqpc-eSDfEBaOkPEqQZWDWGB/view?usp=drivesdk
Bases: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1w-snxFjA-Lde7X-YOlZ5A66jIF_wB7Mz/view?usp=drivesdk

Fighter bases (includes some ships not present in this scenario):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ssEYqsqgIjOdcoXkqRteUZvMzcT2ruuT/view?usp=drivesdk

Grand Admiral Zaarin:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NhOhlGTzlPnyJPQp-ryGtPUUpNNO4E7y/view?usp=drivesdk

Matt the Shield Technician:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1SVyr5PCIkimUSH7wrUda_Q3sCIKYo04R/view?usp=drivesdk

Prototype TIE cards & dials:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/121CN-XRiKBYgXoSKa2NOQc7V-B2Zbu6m/view?usp=drivesdk

Links to sources

Inked Gaming Custom Mats:

https://www.inkedgaming.com/

Combatzone Scenery:

https://combatzone-scenery.co.uk/

The Alternative Wargamer:

http://alternativewargamer.blogspot.com/

Alien Luxury Miniatures:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/alien-luxury

Lightcraft Miniature Studios:

https://www.facebook.com/LightcraftMPS/

Masterpiece Miniatures:

https://www.facebook.com/masterpieceminiatures/

Mel Miniatures:

https://www.shapeways.com/shops/mel_miniatures

Bitsbox Armies:

https://www.facebook.com/Bitsbox-Armies-142121882554536/

BrainWares:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/579632509/x-wing-dial-upgrade-imperial-death-star

Upcoming projects

Strike on Imperial Base Felucia (a land/air scenario):

https://imgur.com/a/k4bgv (11 pics)

Zaarin Returns (cloaking CR90 pocket carrier):

https://imgur.com/a/uonmL2U

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!

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