After a few day's hard ride from your village it's late in the afternoon when you arrive at a fork in the road. Unsure immediately of which route to take you stop for a while to eat and drink before continuing, leaving your horse a moment to rest.
As you chew your bread and sip your water you're pondering the paths in front of you when a voice startles you:
"A way you must choose"
You spin to find an old man standing beside you on the verge, watching you with steady eyes that belie his obvious great age. You pause and take a moment to swallow your food before replying.
"I'm travelling to the castle. I intend to fight in the great tourney and prove my valour, and be made a great knight of the realm. Which road will take me to the castle?"
The old man turns to survey the fork for a few seconds
"West of here the castle lies, and both these paths head west"
"Which is the best way?"
"Best?" the man coughs, or was it a chuckle? "What is best for one may not be best for another. What is best? If I say chicken is best and you say beef is best, which of us is right?"
"Well, how do I choose?" you ask, "do you know anything of the roads ahead?"
"I've seen a little of both. The road on the right is open and wide, it heads west over the plains as straight as an arrow flies for as far as my old eyes can see."
"And on the left?"
"The forest road, the path to the left leads you through the woods. It's a narrower path, but the forest can be quite beautiful in the autumn, which is upon us"
"Is either path quicker? I can't be late for the royal tournament" you ask.
"Quicker?" the old man sighs sadly, "I do not know as I have never visited the castle though I've seen many others pass this way, like you. They have gone either way."
"Others have come this way already?" you blurt, and begin rapidly gathering up your belongings to depart, "I can't lose time, I must get to the castle as soon as possible! Tell me old man, which way should I go?"
"The choice is yours. Though perhaps if you do not know which is fastest, you should at least choose the path that will mean you like the journey? Whether you make it to the castle in time or not, at least you will have enjoyed the ride"
"Hmm, as good advice as any!" you exclaim as you quickly mount your horse once more, taking one final appraisal of your options. "And you say plains road is wide and open, but the forest road is winding but beautiful?"
"It can be, aye. From what I've seen of it."
"Thankyou sir, to the forest road it is! Perhaps I'll find some deer or boar in there that I can deliver to the king for his favour" and then with one final wave backward to the old man you kick your horse forward down the left branch of the fork, heading into the trees.
The forest rapidly closes in around you as you ride down the path, but true to the old man's word the roadway through the forest continues well enough and you make good progress. Also true to the man's word the forest is indeed beautiful in autumn, with the leaves falling golden yellow and rich red to the forest floor... the way ahead at times seems paved with gold itself. Although the path switches back and forth through the trees you can keep a view of the sun and know you're always heading west, and the castle must be drawing ever nearer.
After only a day's ride you come to another fork in the road with one lane branching off to the north, presumably to join the road across the plains that must be running parallel to your own route. You spend only a moment considering the option before continuing westward through the forest - the forest road has served you well thus far and it could cost you half a day's travel northwards, just to join a road that may be no faster!
You spur your horse on Westwards, towards the castle and glory.
It doesn't happen immediately but the forest path gradually begins to narrow and narrow again, and the trees gather in closer and closer around you. At times it becomes difficult to see through the thick branches to find the sun, and as the forest road continues to meander through the trees it's harder and harder to judge how quickly you're progressing westwards.
Pausing by a stream to refill your water bottles, you think hard. The tournament was due to begin in a matter of just a week or two's time by the time you spoke to the old man at the fork in the road. At the rate the forest road was taking it was no longer certain you would arrive in time. And yet to cut back now to the plains road would mean riding Eastwards for a day at least- the wrong direction!
No. There's still a week. You have to trust that the forest road will get you to the castle in time.
Somewhere along the road autumn appears to have passed into winter. Leaves that were once a golden trail beneath your horse's hooves are now a slippery danger. The roadway that at first had been so well maintained and travelled became a path, which became a trail, which became little more than a faint outline that others have passed this way before. Twice you lose the trail entirely and have to double back to find it once more. Any sign of the sun comes only occasionally, although reassuringly it tells you that you're still heading west. Progress has slowed, though.
Still, what choice do you have? The castle lies west of you, and west you are going. Turning back now would make it almost impossible to arrive in time for the tournament, you may as well return home to your village in defeat. No, you picked the forest path, and you must see it through.
The castle must surely be close!
Brambles whip at your face as you hack your way through the forest, fighting step by step. The trail had vanished abruptly the day before. You rode in circles for hours trying to pick it back up but to no avail, and finally you had to let your horse loose and proceed on foot. Hack. Slash. Hack. Slash. Your arms grow weary at thrashing a path through the underbrush with your sword.
Finally, you stop. Exhausted. Hungry. Despairing. The forest path is no path. It promised much, but it has long since become clear that nobody has tended to this route for some time except yourself, fighting a losing battle against the forest.
Slumping to the ground, you can go no further. Despair rapidly turns to anger, but anger with no aim. Anger at the old man for not warning you? He didn't know and said as much. Anger at yourself, for picking this path? You'd chosen the path you thought you would enjoy. Anger at the people who left the path unfinished? Perhaps the path had gone where it was always intended to go, and no further? Anger at the forest, for being a forest? Why not be angry at the dawn, the moon, and the sky at the same time. Madness.
Despair turns to anger, then anger turns to resignation. The tournament will be passed, now, or if not you'll never be there in time. Whether you press on through the brambles or turn back is now a moot question, as either is defeat. One, at least, holds the certain promise of reaching the castle eventually. You could stay out here in the wilds so long you become a crazed bushman lunatic, a tale to scare young children to stay indoors. Or you could turn back. Accept that you had chosen poorly all along. Recover your horse. Ride back to the fork, and take the other path.
Slowly you force your tired body to rise once more. You turn, putting the sun to your right hand side.
You begin the long walk back to the East.
You begin the long walk back to the East.
When I played my very first tournament with triple T-70 X-Wings the average firing arc of the ships in my squad was 90 degrees.
When I played Slaughterhouse TIE Swarm last year at UK Nationals the average firing arc of the ships in my squad was 90 degrees.
When I played Commonwealth Defenders at the UK Team Championships the average firing arc of the ships in my squad was 90 degrees.
When I returned to explore more T-70 X-Wings after Heroes of the Resistance came out the average firing arc of the ships in my squad was 90 degrees.
When I had fun with Snap Shot A-Wings in Phoenix Squadron the average firing arc of the ships in my squad was 90 degrees.
While I have been playing Nettling Imps - Vader, Vessery, Quickdraw - the average firing arc of the ships in my squad has been 120 degrees (though tbh I didn't use that rear arc on the TIE/SF that much anyway).
My favourite ships I've been trying in vain to make work for me, like the Upsilon Shuttle, the TIE Phantom, Deathfire in his TIE Bomber, have an average furing arc of 90 degrees.
In the Top-16 of the North American Continental Championships at Gencon, this past weekend, the average firing arc of the 43 ships that made the Top-16 cut was 236 degrees.
The average firing arc of those 43 ships. Was 236 degrees.
It's time to head East.