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Exe-Wing Regionals, Exeter

After parts 1-3 of my Road to Regionals series, here is my battle report from the Exe-Wing Regional in Exeter.

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It’s approaching my one year anniversary of playing X-Wing. Happy birthday to me.

I felt a real sense of trepidation when approaching this regional, my first of three in the next month.

Last May, I played at the Warboar London Regional and managed a pitiful 79th out of 92. I was very much the Green Squadron Rookie, I even took a Ghost and three crack-shot A-Wings. I learned a lot about my flying that day and how I really needed to work on sequences of play and using the abilities as read on the upgrade cards.

Though the alt art Hera Syndula pilot card looks much more like Grotbags, I was gutted that I hadn’t made the cut of top 64.img_3312

The droid eventually forgave me, but only on the condition that he take over as captain and I be demoted to cabin boy. He’s been in charge for a while now and, to be fair, he’s not done that bad a job.

With this regional, I felt that I had some things to prove to myself

  • would I remember to use upgrades?
  • would my flying be up to scratch?
  • would I qualify for my Red Ace card?

My list for this tourney was

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-10-47-26

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-58-24

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-57-11

This comes in at 99 points, giving me a very small initiative bid to compete against Parattanni.

If you read my last article, Road to Regionals Part Three, you will have seen my predictions for the meta based on an exploration of the top 4 lists over six international regionals.  I expected to see lots of Defenders, Parattanni and a creep back of K-Wings. Quite honestly, there was a real diversity amongst the lists at Exeter including one list of four U-WIngs and lots of Ghosts, but the final still came down to Andy Cameron playing Parattanni versus Luke Pearce’s Commonwealh Defenders. It was Andy that took top position – well done!


Game One – Tobias Gillard 100-19

Tobias’ list was

YT – 2400 Dash Rendar

  • Lone Wolf
  • Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Recon Specialist
  • Outrider Title

K-Wing Miranda Doni

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Cluster Mines
  • Seismic Charges
  • Extra Munitions
  • Sabine Wren
  • Advanced Slam

I have to say, this was an excellent first game – thanks to Tobias for being such a jovial opponent on what was about to be a gruelling day of pushing small plastic space ships and rolling dice.

When approaching the table, I looked at both of Tobias’ ships and really found it hard to figure out which should be my target priority. Bombing K-Wings can spell sudden death for Fang Fighters, especially when you take the Advanced Slam into account. Equally, the HLC on Dash is horrid and can take out the Fangs in one easy hit if used correctly with a focus and target lock (never rely on your green dice).

I weighed up my chances as to which ship posed a bigger threat, and which would be a more consistent target.  You may feel differently here, but I thought Dash needed to be the first to go.  I based this on my previous experience of playing Oliver Pocknell at the Shoreham tournament back in October. Though both ships are turetts, you can waste an entire game chasing Miranda whilst she simply re-gens. Consider the Clusters and Seismic Charges she has, really, you want to keep all of your ships clear of her for a while. Dash, on the other hand, has a donut hole to exploit.


Tobias used his clusters to further block off areas of the board, ensuring that Teroch and Fenn would be split apart rather than flying in formation.


During the second round of combat, Roo had suffered from Miranda, losing four of her shields. fortunately, she was in range one of Dash, as was Fenn, so she used Feedback Array to ensure an extra damage and take Dash to half points.  After that, she ran and ran, trying her best to stay out of the fight.

After having successfully re-grouped Teroch with Fenn, Dash was out within the next combat phase, I can’t say that I wasn’t pleased that his threat had gone.

The two Mandolorian boys had to now concentrate on Miranda, who had thankfully gotten rid of her clusters. Roo stayed at range three, using a combination of K4 Security Droid and Unhinged to pick up a target lock and then barrel roll out of range, later passing her target locks to Fenn or Teroch.

The game went right down to the nail, with Fenn and Roo working well together. A great first game and a win.

Game Two Dan Parker 42-67

Dan’s list was

Firespray 31 Boba Fett

  • Attanni Mindlink
  • Engine Upgrade

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Attanni Mindlink
  • Latts Razzi

Z-95 Headhunter Kaa’to Leeachos

  • Attanni Mindlink

This was one of the most exciting games of X-wing I have played in a long while.

Dan was the embodiment of everything about the community that makes it so special. He was there to have a good time and ultimately remembered that order of the day should be to have fun and fly casual. If you’re reading, thanks dude.

I don’t really like taking netlists, so this is my take on a Mindlink list.

I took one look at Dan’s list and my esteem for him shot up instantly.  He was clearly flying a list of ships that he enjoyed and one that he had engineered to serve some of the same purposes as Fangaroo.  Kaa’to was there to take tokens from friendly ships, consequently dealing with any shenanigans from Teroch or a Party Bus.

With Dan’s list being 100 points, I had the choice of initiative and I stupidly gave it away (Read Road to Regionals Part One and you will see why). This was a mis-play on my part that I would pay for. With me having initiative, Teroch would remove tokens from a range one target and then Kaa’to would take a token from a friendly ship and then generate another one for any ships missing a token via mindlink.

I lost Roo early, setting up with a bit of a joust in an attempt to use the Plasmas. I stupidly passed her target lock on, thus not enabling her to use them anyway and left her really very vulnerable.  She spent the next few rounds kiting around the mat, generating focus tokens and surviving on one hull.


I also forgot to act on Teroch’s Damaged Engine crit, dialing in manoeuvres that he could not complete whilst stressed and then ending up with two straight forwards that put me in unfavourable positions.  Learn from me – use your crit tokens; they’re a valuable reminder.

At one point I forgot to use my Concord Dawn title when defending with Teroch, Dan very graciously suggested that I lose one of the damage on him.

At the end of the final round, Teroch had one focus and a shot on Asajj that if successful would definitely give me half points and a better MOV (but no chance of killing her) and Teroch potentially surviving.  I rolled a hit, a crit and two eyeballs at range one, meaning I would have to spend my focus if I stood any chance of getting the hits through. Dan rolled an evade and then used Latts to de-stress me and generate another evade. Asajj was still to return fire and I had no focus token to defend myself with Teroch on one hull.

Dan rolled two hits and then changed this to four using his target lock. I rolled two evades, one eyeball and used my Concord Dawn title but had no evade token. So close.

Close counts only in Horseshoes and handgrenades.

Betrayed by my green dice? Not really. It was an unfortunate roll given my circumstances but I knew the high risk when I spent the token – I wouldn’t have got the half points otherwise.

A really close game and very exciting.

David Briggs 100-30

David’s List was essentially a mirror match, but his Roo did not have Feedback Array, putting his list at 97 points.

David gave me initiative and I felt quietly confident, having played this list for as long as I have. My Roo suffered early, again I had tried to play her a little more upfront, which is fine for using the Plasmas, but I feel my major mistake was not using her as a turret ship and getting her out of my opponent’s arc when the opportunities to use the torps had gone.


My Roo worked well as a blocker, but this leaves her very open to attack. With the second combat phase, David and I had traded Fenn Rou (mine) for Teroch (his). Not such a great trade – one that I would regret later. I’m going to go on a limb and say that this was probably the major turning point in the game.

David outflew me and I made some rash decisions that led to Roo being fenced off of the board; yep, I flew off of the board for the first time in a long time and she still had one hull left.

Teroch was left as my endgame ship, which isn’t awful, but using him defensively is tough.  we played until time was up and my greens blanked out in the final round of combat.

Game Four Sean O’Neill 100-67

Sean’s list was

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Ketsu Onyo

  • Expertise
  • Dengar
  • Engine Upgrade

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Expertise
  • Latts Razzi
  • Shadow Caster
  • Engine Upgrade

By now, my record was one and two. I needed to come back from the dead. It would be in games four and five where I would do this and renew my faith in my playing. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I really am not one to blow my own trumpet. When you read my next two games, I hope you will feel me justified in doing so.

As placed my ships on the table and shook Sean’s hand, he gave me a moment of recognition

Oh, you write the blog!

I cannot lie, it did make me feel a lot better.

My starting point was fairly slow, trying to consciously control my distances and avoid ranges 1-2 at any point and minimise the stress caused by Asajj. In contrast Sean zoomed in with each of his ships on a four or five forward.

I can’t really say that I remember that much of this game (sorry Sean), other than trading Roo and Teroch for Ketso.  It took both of them to take her down, leaving me with my Fenn against his two shield and seven hull strength Asajj. Things were not looking good.

Range three is your friend.

These were Lloyd’s words as he peered over my shoulder. With only two hull left on Fenn, I actually took a different approach; it seemed the most reasonable that I should charge into the back of the shadowcaster.  This meant that I would either bump her and be safe from a shot, or I would end up with a precise shot at range one and could take a target lock.

With my first attempt at this, we bumped and I was safe. On the second turn, Sean moved forward and changed the angle of his mobile firing arc, anticipating that I might try to fly to the right. In fact I flew two forward and landed in range of a clear shot and he couldn’t then return fire. On the third attempt, we bumped once more and on the fourth, I was able to kill Asajj.

It was high risk, and  I don’t know that I would do it again but I got the win I needed to take me to two and two.

Game Five Adam Wilson 100-67

Tie Interceptor Carnor Jax

  • Push the Limit
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Countess Ryad

  • Juke
  • Tie/x7

Tie Defender Colonel Vessary

  • Juke
  • Tie/x7

Back from the dead? You might think that I had already somewhat done that in my previous game. Check this shiz.

Like many who have been playing a list for a while, I have two or three opening set ups that I defer to based on my opponent’s list.  I have worked on these for a long time via Vassal offline and Tuesday nights with Tom, Lloyd and Full On. Why would I deviate from these tried and tested starting points when I know what works?

Cocky.gif

I write this as a tale of stupidity – a proper face palm moment. I’m reluctant to explain the exact mechanics of how I did this (it is still Regionals season, after all), but let’s just say that I slooped Roo to the left in the opening round and then attempted a three bank too close to the edge of the board on the next go.

I flew the ship off of the board within two rounds.

I couldn’t believe it. I actually felt worse for Adam, feeling this would be a quick and boring game for him. I honestly think there was a point where he would have let me take the move back – I wouldn’t have let him do this.

I continued with Fenn and Teroch, business as usual. My normal approach with defenders is to lead them into the rocks, minimising the opportunities for the 4K turns to be taken.

As I led Adam in, I ended at a point where both Fenn and Teroch were at range one facing Ryad and Vess. I used Teroch to strip the tokens from Ryad and both then focussed fire on her. After my opening debacle, I couldn’t believe it when Adam lifted Ryad off of the board. She had exploded.

One round later, it was the same with Vess.

Teroch earned his weight in gold in this match. When his greens did blank out, Adam quickly did the maths and declared that Fenn was more expensive than Carnor by one point. With thirty minutes left to go, I couldn’t justify running. I. Just.Couldn’t.

It may have looked like I might be running with Fenn initially, but I decided to use the space of the board to give him a chance to generate a target lock and then turn around without having to incur stress and gain a focus token just in case Carnor were to survive my attack.

It took a while, but I managed it. Nobody was more shocked than me.

Joel: How’s your day been so far?

Alex: Better. I’ve managed a few more wins now.

Joel: Great.

Alex: Do you know who you’re playing against? Have they put it up?

Joel: No. Hopefully it’s not you, otherwise I’ll shit my pants.

Game Six Alex Birt 0-100

Another mirror match, although Alex had Extra Munitions instead of Feedback Array.

We were both at 99 points. We rolled for initiative, Alex won the roll and then gave initiative to me.

I had sought Alex’s sage-like advice online a few times about the use of Fangaroo, and it seemed only fitting that my final game before the cut would be placed against him with this list.

He schooled me. He schooled me good.


I didn’t commit to a target, being too cautious to really make an aggressive front. At one point, I thought I might manage half points on Roo, but I couldn’t manage it. I can’t say it was game six fatigue – Alex flew better.

Alex made it into the top 16 cut and then the top 8.

Out of 120, I came 57th. That’s 22 places higher than last year. As a percentage, 92 were at the London Regionals last year and I came 79th, that means I was in the bottom quarter. This year, I made it into the top third and I have another two regional tournaments to go.

Full On came 17th, Tom 20th and Lloyd came 30th. Well done, lads.

What did I learn here?

The basics, keep your ships on the board – Don’t fly them off.

I need to figure out what I’m doing with Roo, I have a week to refine opening set-ups and the pace of them. I’m also not sure that Feedback Array is a good choice.  I have jousters in my list, but Roo isn’t one of them. I might experiment with Extra Munitions.

When faced with adversity, I have the skill to pull it put of the bag – games four and five proved that.

Do I switch to Parattanni? Not likely, it’s too late in the game and I made some silly errors here.

Do I feel prepared for Warboar? Maybe. I had some incredible news on Saturday that means there are some changes afoot, Tom did too. More of that later.

I actually can’t wait.

I found a friend.

 

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Road to Regionals Part Three: Know Your Enemy

This is the third in a series of posts where I prepare myself for a month of Regionals in the UK. I explore my fears about list building and the Regional Meta of January 2017.

Is there such a thing as X-Wing Hipster Chic?

Do X-Wing Hipsters exist?

Am I scared of being an X-Wing Hipster?

Unfortunately, the answer to all of these is: yes.

X-Wing’s a fun game, right?

After listening to the episode XLIX of the Kessel Run where they explore FAQ 4.2.2 and share their thoughts on the nerfing of Deadeye, I can’t think of a more saltier brand of  space chips. I didn’t finish listening to the episode after they began talking about how this FAQ would bring about the return of TLTs and how they hated average Joe buyer who was only interested in Heroes of the Resistance and flying re-genning Rebels with their ‘one forward to victory‘.

Prior to this, I loved the podcast – I haven’t returned to it since. Saltier than Brian Salt who lives in Salt Village, just north of Big Salting, feasts on salt and has sacrificed his children in the name of the Salt Almighty that He might be pleased and rain salt down upon us.

What was that Super Hans?

super-hans

I can’t deny that I have asked questions about the Imperial Veterans and Heroes of The Resistance expansions – they definitely present a move towards being able to take things out of the box with little else needed to help bolster the list; is this a good or bad thing?

FFG have a job to do, surely sets like these bring older players back into the game whilst also introducing new players. Surely an influx of players can only keep the game fresh?

Yet, this got me thinking – was I so offended by the Kessel Run‘s rant because it was holding up a mirror? Had Chumbalaya and Cowboy Kenny exposed my inner anxieties about being that guy and playing an it list?

Brief tangent about language (feel free to skip this paragraph): I first expressed my worries about being that guy when writing about my experiences of playing Dengaroo at Warboar. I had been using the phrase at school about two months earlier because I was struggling to express to the boys in my classroom how not everyone had been enjoying their brand of banter; ‘Don’t be That Guy would be something I would regularly say to them. I would like to think I am, in someway, responsible for it’s transference to the field of X-Wing, but then memes travel in all sorts of circles.

high-fidelity

It took me a while to realise that, in my head, there are two things my opponent will be thinking when I place my ships on the table.  I want to make it clear that the phrase ‘…in my head’ is all important here.  This does not mean that I believe the following of my opponent, it means that my head will distort reality and filter in the following:

Oh that’s an interesting list.

Translation: how long ago did you netlist that?

or

Oh that’s an interesting list.

Translation: it won’t take me long to beat it, you have little creativity and I will make you suffer.

Very rarely have I actually encountered these people. They are not only a reflection of my anxieties and my fear of judgement; but worse than that, I worry that, deep down, they might be me.

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I feel torn between both Rob and Barry in High Fidelity here.

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An anecdote: a Friday night in October. Tom and I are out with our respective families and it’s the beginning of the three day World’s 2016 tournament. We try our best to restrict our chat to other things that our children might be interested in, managing a pitiful seven minutes before I mention something to Tom about his Biggs double Arc list that he is working on.

Later, we’re eating dinner at a diner outside of the British Museum and word comes through via the Bothan spies as to what Heaver is playing at Worlds. Three time world champion; meta defining; Stay on Target, Boba Fett (now Bo Shek) card creating. This.

Lancer-class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Push the Limit
  • Latts Razzi crew
  • Black Market Slicer Tools
  • Shadowcaster title
  • Engine Upgrade

Y-Wing Syndicate Thug

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Unhinged Astromech

Y-Wing Syndicate Thug

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Unhinged Astromech

I don’t see it.  I might be a bit too green but I can’t quite figure it out. I cannot criticise Heaver, and that’s not my intention here.  If I could fly half as well as him on an off day – wow. I’m not saying it’s a shit list (it’s not). I just don’t get it.

They say Heaver drinks the blood of freshly sacrificed players at a fountain in FFG HQ; that he draws his power from the force; that he makes slides of possible meta encounters and how to best counter them (only one of those is actually true – I’ve seen photos of the fountain).

I don’t know what to believe

ForceAwakens7Text.gif

Heaver still came 15th in Swiss and was then knocked out of the Top 16. I know I’m not of the skill level to get that far.

My big question: what was Heaver expecting that made him bring this? What does it counter? What does it do best?

The TLTs seem as though they would counter Defenders pretty well and Assaj works by handing out stress without even needing an action or having to attack. It’s fairly solid, just uninspiring.

David Sutcliffe, of Stay On The Leader writes about netlisting here. As always, David articulates my thoughts better than I can currently mumble through them.  Whilst I risk alienating any readers I have by explaining my neuroses of bringing a list to a tournament, David categorises players as netlisters and innovators. Though netlisters might well be looked down upon by innovators, David argues,

Right from the very birth of ‘netlisting’ it was a tool for innovators as much as one for those who wanted to shortcut the process of innovation. A good innovator LOVES working with a rigid metagame where he knows the squads he’s going to have to play against, because he knows what he has to innovate a solution for.   If other people aren’t netlisting then your local metagame is very uncertain, and it’s very difficult to plan for an uncertain metagame.

Though I fear being labelled a netlister rather than an innovater, having read Sutcliffe’s article, I feel a lot more comfortable about it.

Dee Yun of Mynock Squadron summarises it well,

I’m a pragmatist…I know it works, why wouldn’t I take it?

Arguably, the meta is more diverse that it has been since the release of Wave 9, FAQ 4.2.2 and the brief snippets of Wave 10 we have been given (in physical form rather than previews). Contextually, any further analysis of Worlds 2016 data (I did aready have a brief exploration of this here) might prove fruitless when considering how this might map the meta for the upcoming regionals.

As James Dowdall of the 186th ironically dubs the UK a ‘silly little European meta’.

Luckily, List Juggler has a collection of all things X-Wing tournament related. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in this nebulous space slug cave; nonetheless, here is my exploration of the meta from the last six international tournaments recorded.

Starting with the Clevaland Regionals on 7th January, I have filtered the lists for all to show the top four in Championship rankings.

Cleveland Regionals 7th Jan.png

Next is the Krakow Regionals on the 8th January

Krakow Regionals 8th Jan.png

Next is the Sacremento Regionals on 14th January

Sacremento Regionals 14th Jan.png

Polish Regionals on 14th January

Polish Regionals 14th Jan.png

Springfield Regionals on 21st January

Springfield 21st Jan.png

Dublin Regionals on 21st January

Dublin 21st Jan.png

What does this all mean? Data only becomes data once you have made some conclusions, otherwise, it’s simply numbers and words. Well…

Based on the collection above, I have made the following observations:

  • Triple Defenders are definitely the most popular list, appearing 5 times in the top 4 across six regionals
  • Paratanni comes in a close second, appearing 4 times in the top four across six regionals.
  • Dash and Miranda appear twice, but in the same final.
  • Bombing Ks appear once
  • Common Wealth Defenders (Palp Mobile, Vess and Ryad) appear only once
  • Dengaroo appears only once
  • Fangaroo appears only once
  • Bossk with Gunner, Hotshot Co-Pilot and Dengar appears only once
  • The most popular pilot is Col. Vessary, appearing 7 times in the top 4 across six regionals
  • Fenn comes in at a close second, appearing six times
  • Miranda appears three times across six regionals

What do I expect to see over the next month?

I’m predicting Parattanni and Defenders, with a creep back from Dash and Miranda now that the TLTs have returned and are making an impact on the high PS re-positional aces.

Perils Ahead

I’ve been playing Fangaroo since Wave 9 dropped – it seems the most logical thing to go with it for the next month? Right?

I straight out love Attanni Mindlink and I’ve been experimenting with it since Adleraan.

I’ve been playing the 97 point version of Fangaroo because I wanted the chance to give initiative away (you can read about my reasons for that here), but now Parattanni seems to be the dominant form of not only Mindlink use but Fenn too and it comes in at 100 points, I can spare two points for Feedback Array.

So at 99 points, My Fangaroo looks like this

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.47.26.png

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-58-24

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-57-11

Massive thanks to Alex Birt of the 186th Squadron for helping me come to this decision about the list – you’re a true gent.

I’ve taken this list to four tournaments (that’s just under 20 games competitively) and practised with it most Tuesday nights for months.

Some problems I’ve encountered come from the combination of VI, Hotshot Co-pilot and Gunner. The main problem here is who do you protect?

Try this

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.25.08.png

You must remember to use Roo to pass tokens to whoever is apparently the most vulnerable.  If your oppponent is using Gunner, they may well be relying on you to make a difficult decision that makes you spend tokens. With Hotshot Co-pilot, that decision is made for you; the card reads

When attacking with a primary weapon, the defender must spend 1 focus token if able.

‘If able’- if you have one, it needs to go regardless of whether you want to spend it or not.

Fangs face a real difficulty here, they have no shields to protect them from crits. Where you might want to protect yourself from taking a beating with Gunner by letting that one hit through – Vader crew can still activate anyway – here comes the crit.

What of Parattanni? I have practised and practised against this – it’s efficient and nasty. Who should your priority be?  Blair Bunke of Scum and Villainy writes a good post on this.  I’ll leave it here for you.

Triple Tap?

By now, this list has surfaced too

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.08.22.pngScreen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.12.09.png

The triple tap is born. exploiting th wording of IG88-B, that does not include the phrase ‘you cannot perform another attack this round’; it’s a list that seemingly relies on rewarding failure.

Use Bossk to fire with the Mangler and then use Dengar crew to re-roll your dice in order to maximise your potentially of missing. Then choose IG88-B’s ability to activiate the first Gunner effect; then actaully use Gunner.

It’s not infallable, but it does exploit a rule. Is it broken? Maybe.  You can still mess up your opponent’s plans by letting the first hit go through – no IG88-B, no Gunner. Easier said than done – especially if you have a ship without shields to take some of the heat.

Know your Enemy?

I began this post months ago but it has been a long and cold Winter.  I called it Know Your Enemy because  I wanted to explore how the meta might affect list decisions for regionals. There was part of me that always knew that the enemy was, in fact, me.

I am my most judgemental opponent. Not you. Me. The fear kicks in and then it’s fight or flight.

That’s not to say that if we pass tables in the next few weeks that I want you to take it easy on me – that would be an injustice to both of us. I write this really because I know there are more people out there who approach list building with the same agonising indecision.

Take it easy on yourselves and fly better.

In case that was a little too avuncular, hopefully not condescending, here is a final thought from Barry:

bird

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Road to Regionals Part Two: Target Priority and Meta Exploration (With a Dash of Hubris)

It’s another one where I catch up with my lost missions and evaluate what I need to get my head around before the busy Regionals season #itsgettinghothinhere #Xwing #Fangaroo

This is the second post in a series where I explore how my play has developed, evaluating my performance in preparation for the impending Regionals Season (You can read the first in this series here). Actually, the first Regional event has happened at IQ Gaming Huddersfield.

The final was Tom Reed Vs. Paul Smith, with Paul flying Corran Horn with PTL, R2-D2, Fire Control System and Engine Upgrade; Miranda with Sabine, TLT, Connor Net, Ion Bombs,  Extra Munitions, Homing Missiles and Advanced Slam. Tom’s list was Ketsu Onyo with Push the Limit, Shadow Caster title, K4 Securty Droid, Glitterstim and Engine Upgrade; Assajj Ventress with Push the Limit, Latts Razzi, Glitterstim, Black Market Slicers and Gyroscopic Targeting. Paul took the win with Corran and Miranda – well done to you both!

It appears that double Shadowcasters are definitely a thing right now, as are the return of re-genning Rebels. Who would have thunk that handing out Corran Horn cards as part of the top prizes in Summer Kits would lead to Corran’s return in force? Well? It’s almost like someone is trying to gently shape the meta in the background. Like there are opposing factions in a war of attrition where nobody really knows what’s going on except a shadowy woman in a monkey mask on a holographic projection.

emporor
A monkey, you say?

Taking a brief tangent, this series allows me to lay some ghosts to rest with unfinished posts where I had an idea but didn’t get a chance to fully finish it off.  For instance, I haven’t yet published my exploration of World’s Meta or expressed congratulations to Nand Torfs properly. I meant to, I even sent a draft to Tom (fellow Sparkle Motion Squadron and player).

sparklemotion.gif
How could I not include this?

2016 Worlds finished a fortnight ago, with Nand Torfs, a Belgian from Ego Squadron, taking the title with a variant of Dengaroo.

If you didn’t know the winning list, it’s

Jumpmaster 5000 Dengar

•Lone Wolf

•Zuckass

•Overclocked R4

•Glitterstim

•Punishing One title

•Countermeasures

Jumpmaster 5000 Manaroo

•Push the Limit

•Gonk

•R5-P8

•Seismic Torpedoes

•Feedback Array

•Engine Upgrade

Congratulations to Nand – you flew well! Up until Top 4, I was rooting for Benjamin Lee of the 186th Squadron (Fangaroo), and then Thomas ‘Jack’  Mooney (Fat Han and Jake).

I’m still allowed to call myself European – Nand, you did it, Dude. Nice.

Contextually, the events that led up to Worlds 2016 – FAQ Version 4.2.2 and the release of HOTR mean that the analysis of Worlds meta data might not be that useful when considering how this might map the meta for the upcoming regionals.

DeadEye.  Let the hate flow. The vitriol. All those triple jump contracted scout loo boats (stick another adjective in there somewhere). Everybody gets delusions of grandeur.

This year’s meta (via Major Juggler) was as follows:

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This year’s Worlds top 16 was incredibly diverse:

•3 x Palp Defenders

•3 x Dengaroo

•1 x Double Lancer

•1 x Deci Whisper

•1 x Triple Defenders

•4 x TLT

•1 x Triple Scouts

•1 x Palp Aces

•1 x Han & Jake

•1 x Mindlink Scum

•1 x Coran & Miranda

•1 x Lancer and Y-Wing TLTs (Hi, Paul)

That’s two Rebel lists, six Imperial lists and a whopping eight Scum lists. With the FAQ and the HOTR not yet being tournament legal, how much can this be a reflection of the meta to come?

English Nationals 2016 – the top 16 lists contained a total of 13 Jumpmasters (ships, not lists)? The dropping of an FAQ two weeks before Worlds that nerfed triple jumps must have hit hard. I listen to many X-Wing podcasts and they often talk about the skewed UK meta and how they can’t understand why there are so many Triple Scout variants. One of those belonged to current UK National Champion Duncan Callendar.

With this in mind, the meta is a huge beast, much like the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. Who knows what will happen? I make predictions for a return of the Falcons (VI Rey), with lots of Poe, followed by Dengaroo and Defenders. Now the Alpha Strike of the triple jumps has gone, we’ll see more TLTs too (so that’s K-Wings and Y-Wings) [shuddering to think of having to play against 4 TLT Ys; even the new Braylen Stram as a replacement Stresshog. Will Fangaroo go away? hmmm…]

Anyway. Target Priority (with a dash of Hubris)

Tom and I played at a tournament as part of the Tabletop Games Convention in Tring on 22nd October. I went 3 and 1 for the day with my newly modified Fangaroo listScreen Shot 2016-11-21 at 17.27.57.png

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I’ve dropped Black Market Slicers, taking it down to 97 points. We were both guilty of not making any sufficient notes for the day. By the time I got to Game Three, playing Tom againt his Rau-lob-Roo Link list, we were both at 2 and 0 and we knew that our progression for the day would depend on the victor.

We play so often against each other in practise sessions, but we rarely get to play in a tournament setting.  Tom mis-played where to decloak Palob in round two, leaving him open on a rock and unable to attack. I took advantage with both Teroch and Fenn, leaving him a ship down. By the end of the match, I had lost Teroch, but I still had Fenn and Roo.  I had learned a valuable lesson about taking ships out of play when they were bleeding and I used it to good fashion here.

I finished second place, losing first place by 46 points, the exact amount that I had lost in my final game against Ed (who also had a Fangaroo list, but no Mindlink and came in at 96 points).

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I finished 2nd, Tom came 3rd and we celebrated over a pint and some rather posh freshly made pork scratchings.

My best perfomance yet.

The following weekend, Tom and I played at the Conquest Tournament in Shoreham. After our success in Tring, I can safely say that we both approached this tournament with a little swagger.

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Game One Olly Pocknell

0-100

Oliver’s list

YT-1300 – Han Solo (old Han, but Younger Han)

  • Predator
  • C-3P0 crew
  • Luke Skywalker Crew
  • Millennium Falcon Title
  • Engine Upgrade

K-Wing – Miranda Doni

  • Long Range Scanners
  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Fenn first to die
  • Teroch
  • Manaroo landing on rocks; misjudged 1 turn
  • Three times misjudged
  • Not even half points
  • Complimented my flying – 45 mins

I’ve written before about the intimidation I feel when placed against an opponent that has:

A) a store championship range ruler

B) regionals dice

C) a 186th Squadron T-shirt

I can go one further than this: Nordic Nationals Champion Oliver Pocknell.

Round One. Sad face. Heavy sigh.

If game one were an episode of Peep Show, the script would be as follows.

‘Haven’t we met?’

‘Maybe, I don’t think so.’ [I’m 99.9% certain we haven’t but I’m being far too polite and hoping he’ll go easy on me].

‘Yeah. It’s possible. I know of you.’ [uneasy laugh from me and a smile from him].

Oliver begins to talk me through his list:

‘It’s a rather chubby Han’

‘A Fat Han?’

‘Yeah, it’s a Fat Han. He’s been at the pies’.

[Dammit. He’s really jolly, somewhat nice, cracks jokes and is still intimidating. I’m too scared to try to be funny. Can’t look like a dick. Can’t look like a dick].

‘So yeah, do you know how Han and Predator work?’

[I nod. Eyes like a rabbit in the headlights].

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‘The card says that you can re-roll the dice that you can, so I’m likely to Predator and then use Han’s ability.’

[Got it. Er…better ask a question to make it look like the panic hasn’t set in].

‘Could you do it the other way round? Han’s ability and then Predator?’

[Don’t be stupid, of course you fucking can’t. Ask any question except the really fucking stupid one with an obvious answer].

I talk to him about my list. He’s seen it. He knows what it is. He’s one of the few members of the 186th not running something similar.

‘So, a pretty scary match up for both of us.’

[Yeah that’s a statement, not a question. He means it. I might have a chance on this].

‘Yeah, but there’s only one of us that’s a National Champion’.

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There it was. The bantha in the room. He smiles. I give him initiative. The rocks end up looking fairly symmetrical.

You’ve already read the score. It’s not like I’m posting a spoiler or anything. I’m writing this from the Bye chair (for the first time in months).

I’ve been practising my opening and I feel it’s pretty solid with this list. The approach works much like Dengaroo, play the Fangs up front and keep Roo on the back foot, passing tokens and hopefully target locks.

With this match-up, range control is key. I want to get Fenn into range one but if it’s range one of Han, that’s a potential four hits. Of course, if it’s range one in arc, Concord Dawn kicks in and I have a guaranteed evade. At the same time, if I’m out of arc, the Autothrusters kick in. Worse than that, if I evade the first round of fire, Luke will kick in and that’s really tough, especially if you’re relying on the green dice.

Since the release of Wave 9, I’ve focussed heavily on controlling my range, making the most of repositional abilities and then moving wounded ships out of the fight to enable recovery time. Given my success of coming 2nd at the tournament in Tring last weekend, I felt that I really had a secure grip on these.
Not this game.

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The first 45 minutes were pretty tense. The first round of combat saw Teroch in range one and in Miranda’s arc, with Fenn just short at range two. To the left of these two, Han has a shot on both.

Somehow, Fenn manages to survive an attack from Han with only one damage. He uses this to attack Miranda and with focussed fire from the two Mandolorians, she’s down to one shield.

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After Miranda’s TLT attack on Fenn, he’s now down to two hull. This should have been the point where I flew him out of there on the next round. Should.

I actually attempted a 2 talon roll and didn’t make it, stressing all. I’d planned for this eventuality and given Fenn a green manoeuvre but it still meant the guns from Teroch were facing the wrong way.

Fenn was down two rounds later. I used him to block Han successfully, but it was the TLT that did it again. At that point, Miranda had successfully regenned her way back up to three shields.

Meanwhile, Roo spent two rounds landing on a rock, followed by another on a debris’. I rolled two hits for each of the rocks, taking away the final shield. The debris stressed everybody.

It wasn’t long before Teroch exploded, leaving Roo with her plasmas to try and make an impact on Han, who still had three shields left.

My target priority had been wrong the entire time. If I had gone after Han, the risk would have been greater, but at least I would have been looking at a potential half points on the Falcon instead of this right now:

 

Consolation Brownie? Check.

Roo died in a rather anti-climactic fashion on the 70th minute.

I knew my mistakes. Roo’s landing on the rocks were a real kicker. Despite this poor flying,

‘Your opening was spot on and for the first 45 minutes, it was pretty hairy’.

Smiling assassin.

Game Three  Nathan 100-47

Nathan’s list was

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Ketsu

  • Fearlessness
  • Dengar crew (for the re-rolls)
  • Black Market Slicer Tools
  • Anti-Pursuit Lasers

YV-666 Bossk

  • Fearlessness
  • Gunner
  • Tactician
  • K4 Security Droid
  • Engine Upgrade.

I needed a win, I got a win. IT WAS BRUTAL. Fearlessness on both big base ships was tough and I was lucky with my dice rolls. Fenn had a Console Fire crit and only two hull remaining; the stress from Tactician and Ketso stopped me from being able to flip it three times – each time I rolled a blank.

I finally got my act together and used the Plasmas from Roo to take out Bossk, leaving Ketso with 5 hull to take down. When I did mange to get Fenn in a good position – I had a target lock at range 1 and managed a stupid succession of five crits including 3 Direct Hits, Stunned Pilot, Loose Stabiliser and Console Fire.

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Fenn can be a bit of a dick at times.
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I’ve never seen so many crits in one go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Four Ben Cooper 22-100

YT-2400 Dash Rendar

  • Push the Limit
  • Kanan crew
  • HLC
  • Outryder title
  • Anti-Pursuit Lasers

Two Rookie T-65s affectionately called Shorty and Lofty.

The first round of combat saw me get shorty down to two hull so I decided to focus my fire there. My priority should have been taking out Dash as quick as possible; Fenn and Teroch were both very vulnerable to the HLC and target lock. I knew about the donut hole, but I just didn’t focus on it.

The things I got right in game three, I got so very wrong in game four. It’s unusual to see a Dash build that does not have Engine Upgrade, but Ben correctly blocked both of my Fangs, using APL to knock off a few points for two rounds.

Whereas game three and the previous weekend at Tring I would have used a bait and switch strategy, or at least moved ships out of play when they were damaged, this time I made poor decisions based on trying to desperately secure a much needed win. I was unable to see the wookies for the ewoks (or something like that).

So there you have it. I finished 11th and Tom finished 13th.

Three things to learn from this

  • Target priority
  • Obstacle placement (I will explore this in a later post)
  • Keeping things in arc with Roo to take opportunities with Plasmas (should I choose to keep them with this list).

What of Tring? Does it mean that we have got significantly better? Well, yes. Does it mean that we are champions of Tring? No. On that day, on that afternoon, out of those 16 people, we played better than 13 of them. That is all.

Do our failures at Conquest mean we have gone backwards? No. I made some silly errors and learned some serious lessons about target priority.

I still managed some loot for the droid.

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He didn’t have a Recon Specialist before, he does now.
Featured

Road to Regionals – Part One: Initiative and Positioning (bring the Sparkles).

I’ve been far too lax and the droid is cross with me. Super cross. He wants you to know how to learn from my mistakes before Regionals.

I have this curious sense of déjà-vu (how satisfying are the corresponding accents in that word to look at and to say?).

This has been another period of lost missions. September, October, November – it’s all been such an assault on the senses. Like a wookie on heat.

I have played in four tournaments over the last two and a half months; Wave 9 has dropped; a startling FAQ kicked in just before Worlds nerfing triple jumps; I came SECOND IN A TOURNAMENT AND GOT MY CORRAN CARD; Ben Lee of the 186th Squadron made it into the top 8 of Worlds; triple jumps got nerfed (semi-nerf for Biggs); HOTR came out; triple jumps got nerfed; We have a new World Champion in Nand Torfs with Dengaroo; triple jumps got nerfed – Sparkle Motion Squadron was formed (Me, Tom, Lloyd and Paul – FO).

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With this dawning of a new era, I feel re-invigorated and ready for battle.  Like the Greek audiences watching tragedies and experiencing catharsis at the downfall of the protagonist, I am ready  to start anew.

This will be my first in a series of blog posts where I explore how I refine a list and what I learned about it through battle.

When I embarked on this blog (call it a journey, if you will), it was because I wanted to get better at the game; I felt the need to evaluate based on my poor performance at tournaments. In the interests of authenticity, I feel it appropriate that I focus on what I have actually learned over the last two months and how I intend to get better in time for the busy Regional Season that kicks off now(ish) – although my first Regional will be at Exeter on the 28th January. I’m hoping for a better fair than my result of 79th at the last Regionals I attended at Warboar in May (you can read about it here).

Fenn Rau, isn’t he the new hotness right now?

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I’m reliably informed that’s Manaroo in the picture.

Whilst defending Alderaan, I was experimenting with Attani Mindlink, using Manaroo, Palob, a Binarye Pirate with Feedback Array and N’Dru Suhlak with Cluster Missiles. It was a list that I developed with Tom (although it was entirely his idea). I had planned to stick with it, replacing the Z-95s with Fenn Rau.

 

 

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Image appears courtesy of Nicholas Yun.

Since then, Andrew Pattison (Yavin Open Champion 2016, 186th Member and creator of the Patti-swarm) has been on the 186th Podcast talking about the power of Attanni Mindlink (follow the link for Episode 17); David Sutcliffe has written two posts via Stay on the Leader (you can find them here and here) and most importantly, Ben Lee took Fangaroo all the way to the top 8 of Worlds with an ill-timed Damaged Cockpit crit causing problems for Fenn Rau at the early stages of the game.

Well, What Have we here?

The first battle that I failed to report was the Well, What Have We Here Summer Kit at ibuywargames in Woking (October 16th).  This was my first run of Fangaroo in a competitive setting, I went two and two – my highlights were as follows.

My preferred take on the power house that is Attani Mindlink:

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Call it Bort-link (via Alex Birt of 186th), Fangaroo as it’s more commonly known or maybe ever Benn-aroo now, This list comes in at 98 points. I found that BMST is a good psychological threat, but there is an intitiave bidding war that comes with this list, more on that later (shhhhh. Come closer and I’ll tell you the secret…just not yet)

I won games one and two, tabling my first opponent who used a list involving the Shadow Caster and two Y-Wing TLTs, each with Unhinged Astromech. My next opponent, a Palp Aces list with Carnor and Countess Ryad, another win trading Teroch for the rest of the list.

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Game Three, I was paired against Pete Wood of the 186th.  This was a mirror match – with Pete playing his own take on Fangaroo.  Rather than the plasmas on Roo, or BMST, he had Feedback Array – putting the list at 96 points.

(Ready for that secret about initiative? The secret is to give initiative away so that you can really capitalise on Fenn’s arc dodging capabilities).

This is where I first learned the perils of being given initative. The green X-wing youngster that I am, I thought that having initiative was the best thing as it gave me the opportunity to shoot first, especially in mirror matches – right? Right?

200_s

If you were listening to the Mynock Squadron’s report on Worlds, Ben Lee is interviewed very briefly and he explains the importance of having such a high intitiative bid. Try this sequence:

Player A has initiative (me)

Player B Does not (Pete)

Player A at the beginning of the combat phase uses Old Teroch to delete tokens from Player B’s old Teroch and then uses Manaroo to pass tokens around.

It is now Player B’s turn, he uses his Old Teroch to delete tokens from Player A’s Old Teroch but then passes more tokens around with Manaroo, therefore not being bothered by the actions of Player A moments ago.

Player A now has an untokened Old Teroch.

Thanks intitiative.  No. Really. You’re too kind.

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It really was a mirror match.

Things were looking good when, despite me having intitiative, I managed to explode Pete’s Old Teroch. Things were looking even more positive when I managed to use Roo to fire the Plasmas and get a few hits off of Pete’s Roo.

Then what went wrong? I blame my flying really. My opening was strong, I managed to cause Pete some explosions, but then for three turns I flew Roo over an asteroid or debris, losing actions or stressing my other pilots, or both.

This was a tight game that I thoroughly enjoyed but I know I could have flown better. Pete congratulated me afterwards, telling me how tight the game was. Had I flown Roo better, I would have had a much stronger chance of winning.

Game Four Sim 0 -100 (Loss)

Sim’s list was:

Tie Defender Colonel Vessery

  • Juke
  • Tie X/7

Tie Defender Countes Ryad

  • Push The Limit
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk II
  • Tie X/7

Delta Squadron Pilot

  • Tie X/7

By this point, the pressure was severely mounting and my brain was entirely frazzled from Game three.  I know Sim really well, and we regularly meet at Dark Sphere on a Tuesday night; Sim had even told me that he knew what to do against a Fangaroo list because in his most recent bout at the UKTC 2016 because of our practise sessions.

It’s fair to say that I approached this game with some trepidation.

Sim and I didn’t even need to explain lists to each other.  I was 98 points, he was 100. We fist bumped each other good luck.

fist-bump

My further memories of this game are interspersed with parts of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that Ian was playing in the background (thanks again Ian, it made the day awesome).

With the initial round of firing, I had managed to knock Sim’s Delta down to one hull with with Fenn and Old Teroch at range two.  Some extremely lucky green dice had, once again, saved my bacon.

As we set up for the next movement activation phase.  It looked a little like this:

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What would you do?

I set Old Teroch with a Two Talon Roll left, hoping that he would be able to strip somebody’s tokens.  I then set Fenn with a one turn left to compliment this, hoping I might be able to reposition him for a good range one shot.  Roo, I gave a three bank right, hoping to get her into a good position with the target lock and then either use BMST or take a focus.

By the start of the next combat round, it looked a little like this.

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I had managed to get Teroch to strip Vess’ tokens and I didn’t reposition Fenn any further because I assumed that Teroch could still shoot at the Delta and Fenn would be able to shoot at Vess.  If all else failed, I hadn’t passed along the target lock from Roo, so she would still be able to fire her plasmas at Ryad, right?

Right?

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Take another look at what happens when you apply each of my firing arcs.

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Fenn misses Vess.

Teroch misses the Delta.

Roo can only muster two attack dice at range three on the Delta or Ryad, who each still have an evade token as well as possibly a focus.

Now look at what happens when you apply the Defender firing arcs

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Bye Fenn.  Not even the Protectorate Dawn title can get you our of this.

From this point on, my play was as messy as Lucas’ 2011 remastering of Jedi.  I can sum it up with one final image.

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Yep.  That horrid alien dude that verges on some sort of racist stereotype.  Take a good look at it.

Sim was angry with me, and rightly so – I had a win in my grasp and fluffed the angles, not only once but thrice; all in one turn. Teroch was the next to explode. I couldn’t even manage to get Roo to knock out that final hull from the Delta.

Once a secret is known, it cannot be unknown

My positioning in this tournament was shoddy at best.  I have gotten better at anticipating where my opponent will be heading, but the finer details of where my ships will land in relation to obstacles really escaped me at this tournament.

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Fenn hugging a rock after an ill thought out manouvre.

In both games two and three, I misread a 3 speed turn and landed Fenn on a rock. Luckily with game two, I didn’t roll a hit and was able to sort myself out to win the game.  With game three, I flew Roo over two debris cluds at the beginning of the game and rolled a crit with each one.  I then moved her over a rock and rolled a hit. In the combat round before that, I rolled five dice against Pete’s Roo via Fenn’s ability and came up with two focuses and three blanks – I had not tokens so re-rolled all of them with a target lock.  I managed three hits on that total.  Please don’t think I’m blaming my dice – had I flown better, I wouldn’t have had Roo go over a debris cloud and not be able to pass on the focus tokens.

Having the inititive bid is something Tom and I have been discussing at great length lately,  mainly because I anticipate seeing lots of people bring Fenn and I’m going to want to shoot first. My experiences here tell me that I’ve been having the right conversation, but for the wrong reasons. I don’t want initiative – what would be the point in that? I would be giving myself away, when really, what I want is to place Fenn last and have him in prime position to take advantage of his range one five dice ability.

The list is strong, but my judgement was off. If I am to stick with this, and there’s a fair chance of that – I need to strip it some more.  The first thing to go is Black Market Slicer Tools. Although I wasn’t to know this until two more tournaments later, I needed to strip away the Plasmas on Roo too, favouring Feedback Array and then taking the list down to 96 points.

What next? Asteroid placement. I have a plan.

 

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The droid got three bits of loot, with an additional packet of tokens being awarded for the paint job.

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With that, I will leave you with the original ending of Jedi – enjoy.

Featured

Battle Report: Defend Alderaan – Warboar, Bromley

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty slack this summer. Not with the playing – I’ve been chucking dice weekly and this is my fourth tournament over the last five weeks. You might even say that I’ve been a slave to the plastic crack, too busy thinking about lists and the mechanics of the game to update my blog.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty for not writing up the tournaments.  The droid is most unhappy that I haven’t shared the pictures of his loot. Much like the Cabin Boy on the Scum & Villainy podcast, I have been locked away in the brig; living off of space weavils and the dregs of rum that have slipped through the floorboards. It’s a hard knock life.

I promised him that I would share these with you:

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This came from the Deal or No Deal tournament at LVL Up, Bournemouth
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These beauties came from the Summer Kit at iBuyWargames, Woking

The Lost Missions

I didn’t make it to Nationals, I couldn’t quite justify the travel costs, hotel fee and entry (Gots to eat yo!). What I did manage to do was to attend two alternative format tournaments that really did encourage my creative thinking around the game. The first was the Deal or No Deal tournament at LVL Up, Bournemouth where Tom and I paid £50 each for a semi-randomised collection of ships from a particular faction and put them into play. Think about it: you could get a bunch of A-Wings in a Rebel box, but no Autothrusters because those only come in the Autothruster Booster pack (you get a free Star Viper in with that one). You might get a Mist Hunter in a Scum Box but no FCS as these only come with the Tie Phantom or B-Wings.

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Qui Gonn posing as Noel Edmunds

Long story short: I got a Punishing One and a Hound’s Tooth in my box and went two and two for the day. I have drafted version of the write-up but quite honestly, I think the moment has passed. These ships have flown.  In no way did I fly as well as Tom, who went undefeated the entire day (you can read his report here).

 

R4dNiC

 

I digress.

The important reason I have called you here today is because we have received word that the Empire has built a moon sized station with the ability to destroy an entire planet. They call this the Star Deather, er…Murder Planet (I couldn’t well make a joke out of Star Killer), and it is primed and ready to destroy Alderaan.

Who am I kidding? We all know what really happened:

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Tom and I caught wind of another alternative format, the conditions were as follows:

ALL FACTIONS:
– Up to 100pts cap per squad
– No more than 50pts to be spent on a single ship
– No more than 1 ‘Twin Laser Turrets’ allowed in a list
– No more than 2 ‘Crackshot’ Elite Pilot Talents in a list
IMPERIALS:
– No ‘Palpatine’ crew card allowed
SCUM:
– No more than 1 Jumpmaster 5000 in a list
REBELS:
– No ‘R2-D2’ astromech card allowed

Jason and his staff at Warboar work incredibly hard to really make their events fly. There’s a healthy helping of role play that goes along well with atmosphere in store, not to mention the amazing prize support, at one stage someone’s ship was destroyed by the Death Star and they were rewarded with a brand new Tantive IV. Where else have you seen that happen, especially with only a fiver entry fee?

I’m a firm beliver that set boundaries encourage some healthy variety and creativity. I couldn’t go with my Phoenix Squadron or Den-Bot build (no Dengaroo welcome either). I  had been working on a build that really relied on developing some synergy – two words: Attani Mindlink.

I took the following list

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I call this Jumpmaster Flash, it comes in at 100 points.

Recently, Tom and I had been discussing the fundamentals of building a list

I ask myself this one question: How do I beat Soontir?

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Check his pockets for tokens

Tom had come up with an excellent point, Imperials will often turtle up and the /X7 Defender title doesn’t make it any easier.  If you have a two attack dice ship, let’s call them, I don’t know…er… A-Wings, how do you break through the defences of something that has three agility dice, a focus and an evade token? My answer, a mixture of blocking and ordinance, as well as some Scum shenanigans. Palob steals tokens; Dengar crew helps Manaroo with re-rolls; Feedback Array ensures hits get through, whilst also damaging yourself and the guidance chips help to push the ordinance through. Simple, right?

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Before I go any further, the Death Star was a constant sword of Damocles throughout the day, interupting games and firing at ships. If your ship was hit by the lasers (not rolling an evade from a given number of dice that decreased with each round), your ship would explode and would be down for the game.

Game One – Henry Westcott 69-100 (Loss)

Henry’s List was:

T-65 X-Wing – Wes Janson

  • Veteran Instincts
  • R3-A2
  • Integrated Astromech

T-70 X-Wing – Poe Dameron

  • Push the Limit
  • BB8
  • Autothrusters

Attack Shuttle – Sabine Wren

  • Push the Limit
  • Kanan Jarrus
  • Autoblaster Turret

Henry’s list is an admirable one. I love the repositional aspect of Poe, using both BB8 and PTL (it makes a good change from VI and R5-P9). The Attack Shuttle’s dial wouldn’t normally suit PTL, but the addition of Kanan helps to shift the stress after executing a white manouevre. Wes at PS 10 ensures he’ll often be shooting first. In short, both Poe and Wes could wreak havoc on my ships without me having rolled any red dice.

Henry took out N’Dru in the first round of combat before he even got a chance to fire off the cluster missiles. Having looked at the combined shield and hull of my ships still on the board, I didn’t lose hope, especially not when I used the Plasmas to help Poe’s explosion.

The remainder of the game was incredibly tight, with the Pirate exploding and then the Hawk using the Autoblaster turret at range one to bring Wes down to one hull.

Roo then attacked Sabine, whose green dice blanked out. Pew. Pew. She was gone. Nobody was more surprised than me.

As Jason sounded the klaxon to signal the end of the game we each had one ship left, both Wes and Roo were down to one hull. Henry asked if I would like to squeeze in another round and I reluctantly agreed. Having worked out the maths, I had nothing to lose except perhaps 20 more points of MOV. If Roo somehow survived, it would be 69 – 80. I set up with me attempting to get into range three to maximise the range bonus.

Game Two Daniel Hammond 100-34 (Win)

Daniel’s list was

Tie Defender – Countess Ryad

  • Outmaneuver
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Tie/X7

Tie Defender – Rexler Brath

  • Juke
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Tie/X7

Tie/FO Fighter – Omega Leader

  • Juke
  • Comm Relay

Take a moment and look back at the limitations on the format: no more than two Crack Shots – but what about those pesky Defenders? They’ve come off unscathed here, with the /X7 title out in force. With that brief moan, I really like Daniel’s list. Outmaneuver on Ryad seems like a good idea because of her potential repositional ability and Juke on Brath seems fairly solid.

Ryad was down in the first round of combat after a combination of feedback array and the Revenge Bot but 20 minutes into the game Jason approached our table announcing that the Death Star had fired at my HWK.

I had five evade dice and needed only one evade. No pressure. Just one evade right? The probability of that one hit getting through 5 agility dice with no modifiers is less than 10%. I rolled one evade. Yup.One’s enough.

Daniel caused an explosion for the Pirate, who seemed to act as a good decoy during this game as my remaining ships then focused fire on Brath, leaving only Omega Leader to tackle. After getting her down to one hull, she found herself in range one of Manaroo with me using Feedback array again to kill her and reduce myself to partial points on Roo.

Game Three Lloyd Boman 33-100 (Loss)

Lloyd’s list was:

Tie Defender – Glaive Squadron Pilot

  • Juke
  • Tie/X7

Tie Defender – Countess Ryad

  • Juke
  • Tie/X7

Tie Interceptor – Carnor Jax

  • Push the Limit
  • Royal Guard Title
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Autothrusters

I’ve spoken to Lloyd at tournaments a few times and he is well known for his double Ghost list, although he wasn’t playing that today. He’s a thoroughly nice man, which makes it even harder as he smiles while throwing dice at you.

He killed the Pirate first and then I managed to use both fire and Feedback Array to kill Ryad.

This game was really tense and, again, it came down to having each of our ships on only a few hull points (his were on one more hull than mine, Grrrr Boman!)

N’Dru managed to survive an amazing bout of attacks but eventually Lloyd got through the hit that he needed and I was left with only Roo on the board whilst Carnor and the Glaive Squadron Pilot each ahd two hull left. Roo pulled the Major Hull Breach Crit at just the right time, with only one hull left it didn’t really matter. Lloyd flew better and he knew his list better. There were points where I forgot the Revenege Bot and Guidance Chips. Silly Boy. A pleasure playing against Lloyd (I’ll get you next time).

Things weren’t looking good for the Pirate.

Game Four Tom Clements 100-67 (Win)

Tom’s list was:

Aggressor – IG88-B

  • Ion Cannon
  • Mangler Cannon
  • Fire Control Systems
  • Autothrusters
  • IG-2000 title
  • Glitterstim

Aggressor – IG88-D

  • Ion Cannon
  • Mangler Cannon
  • Fire Control Systems
  • Autothrusters
  • IG-2000 title
  • Glitterstim

I didn’t bring a standard Bro-Bot list to a friendly tournament because I didn’t want to be That Guy.

You’re right Tom, I know all about being That Guy.

I often enjoy the last game of a tournament the most, it can be the most fun and the most challenging. This was no exception.

By Game Four, the battle had got even closer to the Death Star and if it fired at your ship, you would be given only three green dice to roll an evade. It hadn’t yet destroyed a ship through the day so Lord Vader had decreed that the attacks would increase to one every 10 minutes. The table next to ours was called upon to be attacked before they had even finished deploying their ships. Brown trousers all around.

It was in this round that somebody lost their Mist Hunter, only to be rewarded with a Tantive IV for their troubles. How awesome is that?

Back to the game: it was R5-P8 that really clinched the game. I knew the Bro-Bots would be a tough match but when I saw that Tom had only brought small obstacles with him, I thought I mgt be in with a chance.

Again, the Pirate served as fodder whilst Palob got in close and stole tokens which then rewarded the other members of the list thanks to Attani Mindlink.

N’Dru did manage to fire his Clusters, which made short work of IG-88D. Manaroo couldn’t quite get into the right range to deploy the Plasmas.

IG-88B spent a fair amount of time with one hull left whilst Manaroo couldn’t quite get into the correct range to get off the Plasma Torps. This meant keeping her facing 88B Inman attempt to stop Autothrusters kicking in. Eventually, 88B pushed a Blinded Pilot crit through to Roo, halting attacks, but not the Revenge Bot. This was the final shot needed. A really tense game for all involved. Awesome.

Blinded Pilot

1fjFbr

Moments before I used R5 -P8 to secure my victory in game four, something even bigger was happening in the trenches of the Death Star; Biggs Darklighter (James Dowdall of the 186th Squadron) fired a lone attack dice at the Death Star and caused a monumental explosion that would really piss off Lord Vader.

Well done that man!

A further digression. I finished 14th with a new list; I’m fairly happy with two and two. Would I keep the list? Certainly, perhaps with some refinement. Maybe there’s a Fenn Rau shaped hole in it waiting for the boat for Wave 9 to come in.

My biggest consideration for now, is what to do with N’Dru. Dead Eye? Lone Wolf? If I went for the latter of the two, what would I drop?

The Attani Mindlink combined with Roo and Paylob’s abilities is a win. Some might go with Unhinged Astromech and K4 Security Droid, using Dengar crew saves a point. What about dropping Dengar for Zuckass and taking the R4 Agromech or the Overclocked R4? Whilst Mindlink gets around the need for an action at times, therefore mitigating possible problems caused by Zuckass crew, I’m reluctant to drop the Revenge Bot. Like Feedback Array, it will often help to push through some damage in an Aces heavy meta.

It is by no means a perfect list, but it is one I enjoy playing, and I’m pleased that I haven’t come across much else like it. Massave thanks to Tom for helping me refine it.

A huge thank you, as always, to Jason and his team for a tournament that thoroughly made my bank holiday. Nice work.

I have no clue what he does with his loot.
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Summer Kit – Warboar Games, Bromley (or how I learned to stop worrying and say Zuck-Ass). 

I gave it far too much thought but I played #Dengaroo at the #Warboar #SummerKit last weekend and I got to meet ALEX DAVY!!! (bit of a geek out).

How badly do you want to win? One of the most important things to remember is that, despite the dice and the X-Wing swag, we’re still pushing little bits of plastic around a mat that looks like an imagined vision of space. Until now, I’ve been striving to find a list that contains ships I love; is fun to play; competitive and hopefully has a bit of fluff thrown in.

I say ‘until now’ because I have been faced with a bit of a moral dilemma. I’ve been to as many tournaments as I can muster since March 5th and written about every single one. I’ve tried to avoid netlisting and avoided lists that I thought might represent an instant ‘win button’. I dread the idea that I might come across as that guy, whilst still trying not to judge those that lay down triple jumpmasters or Palp Aces. I want to win, but I want to earn it. I certainly don’t want a win at the expense of my opponent’s enjoyment.

So – is playing Dengaroo putting all of my morals aside? Am I cheapening myself? Ultimately, am I being a bit of a dick by playing this list?

You can read David Sutcliffe’s thoughts on Dengaroo here. David’s blog is always a good read and I feel like I’ve learnt something from it with each pos. The main points are that Dengaroo reduces variance. If you’re playing this list, you’re aiming to win. He compares it to a Fat Han paired with a Palp mobile.

I’ve actually given Dengar quite a lot of thought since Wave 8 hit, I’ve tried to make it work with a couple of different variations, mainly focusing on my Den-Bot build. My post, Dirty Den(gar) hypothesises a number of different lists, and even looks at a Dengaroo (I want to add – this was months before JB’s Dengaroo, though I’m not sure why), but it wasn’t really like Jeff Burling’s at all. In fact, I’ve wanted to experiment with a Dengaroo build since playing Jamie at Marquee Models when I realised how great the potential synegy between the two could be (read about it here).

For those not in the know, Burling’s Dengaroo is as follows:

Dengar

  • Lone Wolf
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Zuckuss crew
  • R5-P8
  • Glitterstim
  • Punishing One title card
  • Countermeasures

Manaroo

  • Push the Limit
  • Recon Specialist
  • Unhinged Astromech
  • Feedback Array
  • Engine Upgrade

This beast of a list comes in at 99 points.

I’m not necessarily against netlisting but I think if you’re going to do it, you should see how the list works and then tweak it.

Tom had mentioned that he had played against a Dengaroo build where he had been bruised and battered by a Dengar with the Overclocked R4. This rang true with me when I thought back to Jamie’s Dengar and Manaroo list at the Spring Kit at Marquee Models. I hadn’t run Dengar with Zuckuss since then because of the mistake I had made with the stress. I had challenged Jamie to re-roll his agility dice at range three whilst already stressed – this gave me four tokens to clear. I lost the game because I hadn’t been anticipating the stress and didn’t know what to do with it all.  Jamie, on the other hand, had the Overclocked R4 and continued to gain focus tokens from Manaroo. Essentially, he had an infinite Glitterstim (which helps when you think about Dengar’s revenge ability), gaining another focus after spending it and gaining stress.  My Dengar, on the other hand, had no Manaroo and very little chance of clearing the four stress tokens. No actions. Pew. Pew. Boom.

My main changes to the list were to consider how I might keep Dengar with an opportunity to modify his dice despite the stress induced by constantly saying ‘Zuckuss’ to anything on a green dice with a bit of paint.

I also wanted to give Manaroo some deterrants from others attacking her. I dropped her Unhinged Astromech and gave her R5-P8. The possible perils here are that the dials is great on left hand side so the Unhinged Astromech helps when clearing the stress induced by PTL. I also put Gonk on her rather than Recon Specialist (thanks again Jamie), building her defences and keeping her alive longer to best support Dengar.

After some playtesting with Tom, my take on the list was the following:

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 12.47.52.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 12.38.27.png

This is 98 points. It’s a list that I’ve tweaked rather than one that I’ve simply ‘stolen’.

My biggest problem when considering whether I should or shouldn’t play the list at this tournament was what my opponent might think of me. How would I feel being the guy that made them re-roll their evades? to quote Sutcliffe:

If there’s any part of the Dengaroo build that feels ‘unfair’ it’s probably this – the first time you roll three Evades and have to reroll them into two blanks and a Focus you’re going to feel like maybe Zuckuss is a problem for 1pt.

How much do I want to be that guy? What’s it worth? I practised saying ‘Zuckuss’ all week to see how it might feel.

To think back to my day job for a moment, even though it’s the holidays, I’m drawing on Atticus Finch

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it

How would I feel if someone Zuckassed me (I’m verbing it) at every turn? Well, actually is it any worse than Palpatine? How about Vader’s target locked crit? Is it broken, or is it levelling the playing field in an a meta that is already swayed towards the Imps?

Disclaimer: by referencing To Kill A Mockingbird, I am in no way comparing my X-Wing woes to the black civil rights movement. This is not a valid form of inequality.

On the morning of the tournament, I listened to Jeff Berling talk about the list on Stay on Target (you can download it here). Until this point, I had my five A-Wings in my bag as well as my two Jumpmasters. Whether it’s fate, or luck, or Karma – I took this as a sign -for a day, I was going to own being that guy and see what happened.

When I arrived at Warboar and saw that UK Nationals Champion Jesper Hills was playing a very similar Dengaroo list, I didn’t feel so bad.

Game One 100-57 (win)

Michael’s list was

Tie Advanced X1 Darth Vader

  • Determination
  • Advanced Targeting Computer
  • Engine Upgrade
  • Tie/X1 Title

VT-49 Decimator Rear Admiral Chiraneau

  • Veteran Instincts
  • Moff Jerjerrod
  • Anti-Persuit Lasers
  • Dauntless Title

Tie Fighter Tie Academy pilot

Looking at this list, the potential danger is RAC. He’s set up to bang straight into you and make you suffer for it.

The Dauntless title encourages you to overlap another ship whilst still gaining an action at the expense of a stress token. Anti-pursuit Lasers lets you benefit of an enemy ship bumps into you.

Both Vader and Chiraneau benefit from being able to dole out Crits through Adv. Targeting Computer and RAC’s ability.

I introduced the list sheepishly as ‘something nasty I’m trying out’ I was jolly and apologetic.

I went straight for Vader and then when Michael realised this, he held the Datk Lord back and I focussed fire on the Decimator.

When I did cause Vader’s explosion, He then took out Dengar through simultaneous fire.

What of Zuckuss? After the first few rounds of combat, I owned it.

Game Two – Ghost Busters

100-57 (win)

Paul’s list

VCX-100 Lothal Rebel

  • Fire control Systems
  • Auto lasted Turret
  • Extra Munitions
  • Proton Torpedoes
  • Chopper crew
  • Sabine Wren crew
  • Guidance Chips
  • Conner Net

VCX-100 Lothal Rebel

  • Fire Control Systems
  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Hera Syndula crew
  • Ezra Bridger crew

When you have a list where the strength lies in the manipulation of the dice, facing two ghosts with agility dice is an interesting match up.

My biggest mistake here was to get both ghosts mixed up. I could have asked Paul to clarify which was which but I didn’t, instead, I ran away because I anticipated a bomb being dropped on me.

Dengar was is trouble when the Ghost with Sabine aboard was close enough to drop a bomb but Paul didn’t take the opportunity. Dengar took a final shot at Ezra and caused the final explosion.

Dengar then drew a Weapons Failure crit, this was awful considering the Jumpmaster’s poor relationship with dice. Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf all the way.

Manaroo only really came into play once throughout this game. She spent her time running away and passing tokens to Dengar. This was where I learned that I needed to work on when to use PTL and planning a move ahead, especially when trying to clear her stress.

It was a win, but for the first 30 minutes, this game was fairly tight. Had Paul remembered to use Sabine and dropped the bomb, Dengar would have been down. He would have damaged his Ezra but it still would have had 8 hull.

Dengar’s Sloop cutting it incredibly fine.


Game Three
100-49 (loss)

Dimitri’s list was

YV-666  Bossk

  • Marksmanship
  • Heavy Laser Canon
  • Dengar crew
  • 4-Lom crew

Jumpmaster 5000 Contracted Scout

  • Deadeye
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • Overclocked R4
  • Guidance Chips

M3-A Interceptor Cartel Spacer

  • “Heavy Scyk”Interceptor title
  • Proton Rockets
  • Guidance Chips

After two wins, I was paired against Dimitris, who I had previously played at the London Regionals.

I wanted to stick to the plan; hold Manaroo back and play Dengar up front. By round two of combat, Dimitris had jousted me with both his YV-666 and Contracted Scout. Dengar melted. I should have flipped Counter-Measures early but I was so thrown by the unexpected combat that I fell to pieces. I managed to use Dengar’s revenge to make an impact on Bossk but I was still a ship down.

With everything resting on Manaroo and her pitiful two attack dice, my only plan was to run and use Gonk to build up shields whips using the range bonus to increase her agility dice.

I had an opportunity early on to use Manaroo to attack Bossk and change the odds a little, but I went for the Scout at range one instead without any modifiers for my dice. Silly move.

I eventually used the revenge bot to take out Bossk, ensuring that I wasn’t completely tabled.

“Keep your distance, Chewie, but don’t, y’know, look like you’re keeping your distance.”

As I went into Game Four, I noticed that the name just below mine on the leader board was Alex Davy. Coincidence?
As I approached the table, I noticed that said Mr Davy had an American accent.

“Excuse me, you’re not the Alex Davy are you?”

“Why yes I am!”

Shakes my hand.

He shook my hand?! Alex Davy playing on the table next to mine! I don’t really allow myself to use exclamation marks, but in this instance, I think it’s appropriate.

I took a moment to ask him his thoughts on Dengaroo. At first, he gave me a rather non-committal ‘It took Jeff Berling to crack the code’ but after I bought him a beer,

‘We always intended it to have synergy…it’s not easy to fly…we are going to have to keep an eye on it’

Me with Alex Davy


Game Four 64-100 (loss

Alex’s list was

Tie Interceptor Soontir Fel

  • Push The Limit
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Rexler Brath

  • Tie/X7 title

Tie Defender Countess Ryad

  • Tie/X7 title


I think that Imperial Vets has done an amazing job of re-invigorating both Defenders and Bombers. The Tie/X7 title is one of the main reasons I considered moving away from Phoenix Squadron (my A-Wing Crack Swarm) in the first place; gaining an automatic evade when you make a 3-5 speed manoeuvre ad then having the opportunity for your actual action is tough to break through. Then there’s the White 4K-turn, which might make them predictable, but is still sound. Countess Ryad might only be a PS5 but her ability to turn all straights into a K-Turn is just plain awesome, especially as you get to decide when you have revealed your dial.

This list’s inclusion of Foontir Sel the. Makes it difficult as you’re facing three ships that can turtle up, each of them with a higher PS than Manaroo.

I felt good when Fel was the first to explode with a combination of shots from Dengar and Feedback Array to deliver the final blow. Simultaneous Fire meant that Dengar was badly wounded and the Defenders made short work of him.

Alex went straight for Manaroo and I didn’t protect her well enough. With Engine Upgrade and PTL, she can be quite tricksy but with only two attack dice, she simply can’t cut through the /X7.

I managed to help Ryad explode before losing.

Game Five 34-57 (loss)

Mark’s list was

Tie Interceptor Soontir Fel

  • Push The Limit
  • Royal Guard Tie title
  • Stealth Device
  • Autothrusters

Tie Adv. Prototype The Inquisitor

  • Push The Limit
  • Tie/V1 title
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Maarek Steele

  • Adaptability
  • Twin Ion Engine
  • Tie/X7 title

There’s a point at the end of a tournament where I have found myself accepting my fate and often having a great game. Not today.

My opponent and I were both two and two. After two losses, I was happy to just simply play. I knew that winning might well take me into the top 16 still but I had already met Alex Davy; I was on a high that outweighed a further win.

Aside from the Defender, two of my opponent’s ships had Autothrusters; I think the lists are fairly evenly matched.

I killed Steele first, again using both Dengar’s Torps and Lone Wolf with a focus token from Roo, then a range one shot from Roo that successfully meant my opponent was a ship down.

Meanwhile, both the Inquisitor and Fel had done some work on Dengar and he was out too. Dengar’s revenge ability left a nice dent in Fel and then Roo used Feedback Array to leave him at one hull. This had all happened in the first 30 minutes, it was now that my opponent told me how scared he was of Manaroo with Feedback Array and the revenge bot. He then told me he was going to run away. I giggled and gave chase.

He continued to run with both ships. To run and run.

I managed to Gonk Manaroo back up to full health and gave good chase, engineering at least two more opportunities to get a shot in on Fel where My dice blanked out each time.

45 minutes of chase are really not fun. I mean, it could be fun but probably not when you’re opponent has declared that he is running away on several occasions and refuses to engage your ship.

Perhaps this game was my karma moment for all of my Zuck-Ass shenanigans. Who knows.

I do know that this win must have been really important for him to have played this way. I begrudgingly shook his hand and then attempted to make make small talk after the game had ended. He promptly packed away and left, not making the top 16.

“You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.”

So, I played a a variant of a ‘nasty’ It list and I’m proof that it wasn’t such an easy win button for somebody of my experience.

Is the list too nasty to play? What if your opponent’s play experience? I want to say that it can’t be much fun for them, but then there is a (perhaps more ruthless side of me) that says the game is what it is. The list doesn’t abuse any rules or even bend them. The point cost makes it seem unfair and perhaps Zuck-ass might need an amendment. Who knows?

The Mynocks interviewed Jeff too (you can find it here), fittingly titled Episode 27: If it aint broken…no one flys it!

Jeff vehemently defends himself when Dee refers to the lis as broken. Jeff states that he came up with this as a Rebel player who needed a counter to Palp and Omega Leader. At one stage he will only accept that the list is ‘broken’ if it can be agreed that other aspects of the game are also ‘broken’.

Blair Bunke is certainly no fan of the list


What have I learned about the Dengaroo?

The loss of Manaroo disrupts the synergy and then Dengar is inevitably too squishy on his own, especially if you have the Over-clocked R4 on Dengar who is then too stressed to take any actions.

A final point to address from Sutcliffe’s article is how he perceives the list to be tier two in Europe, losing out to Aces and other ships that have a better hold on their dice.

A key point of difference between Han and Dengar is precisely what cost Jeff Berling the final game against Soontir Fel: Dengar doesn’t control when his ‘Gunner’ second attack triggers.

Dengar’s revenge isn’t quite a gunner ability. If your opponent chooses not to attack you and you are without initiative, you lose out on your ‘double tap’.

Would I play the list again? Certainly. Am I That Guy? I hope not.

For now, I’m going to pack my tournament case with both Phoenix Squadron and Dengaroo. Let’s see how that plays out.

So I didn’t make the top 16 and come away with my alt art Predator card. I did, however, completely geek out over Alex Davy and buy him a beer. I had a quick chat with him about Dengaroo and he signed two cards for me and one for Tom. I’ll take that as a win.

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Embracing Variance

STAY ON THE LEADER 80%.jpg

Stay on The Leader published an article titled: “In my experience there’s no such thing as luck” – Variance, TIE Interceptors & Novak Djokovic, in March that’s been on my mind this week.

In the only way I know how, here’s my response.


Thanks for the awesome article, which is also analysed in Episode 19 of the Mynock Squadron Podcast, which you can find here.

 

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Phoenix Squadron

I decided to devise callsigns for my A-Wing Crack swarm. Thanks for the help from @theryanfarmer #Mynocksquadron

Note: This post was originally part of my battle report for the Wave IX tournament at ibuywargames, Woking (You can find the full report here). It was a lengthy post, so I decided to cut this. In the interests of my own evaluation process, I have decided to include this as a separate post (selfish, I know). Subsequently, you might recognise some of the text below.

Whilst getting to grips with how to fly an A-Wing Crack-Swarm (you can read about my thoughts on formation flying here), I came across the latest Mynock Squadron PodcastFirespray and Pray (you can find it here, jump to 32:00)  and Ryan Farmer has given each of his A-wings in the swarm different callsigns: Dragon, Mynock, Raptor, Tackle and Tex (each inspired by the different Mynocks). He has painted them individually and kept stats on each of them. Ryan addresses the concept of confirmation bias, fully acknowledging that he may well be ‘setting them up for positions of success and failure’.

Ryan was kind enough to send me this picture of his squadron.

Ryan has even created personalised cards for each ship with a justification of their names.

whoah

Famous Fives

I could go for Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy. This doesn’t fit, not to mention the embedded racism and xenophobia. Well, there’s the Ghostbusters: Venkman, Spengler, Stanz, Zeddemore and Slimer.  I have the lego kit for this, thus making it easier to remember who is who for the first few games, but I have no Slimer.

Then there’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leo, Raph, Michelangelo, Donatello and Kasey. I’m actually tempted to go with this, but I’m not fully committed.

I started to think about mythical beasts and went down two routes

•Beasts of the ground: Black Dog, Hydra, manticore, Wendigo (this one is awesome by the way, possessing humans and turning them into canonballs), Orthros, Cerberus

•Winged Beasts: Phoenix, Griffin, Sprite, Wraith, Roc, – drop Sprite for Shade

I began searching for creatures from Star Wars (both Canon and Legends) that would lend themselves to a squadron of A-Wings, it went a little like this:

In the end, it was when I was searching for Starbird, that I came across this:

phoenix
Sabine’s Phoenix logo from Rebels

 

Then it suddenly seemed straight forward:

A) Phoenix,

B) Inferno,

C) Flame,

D) Blaze,

E) Flare.

It might seem like I’m making more work for myself, but actually, I think it’s an important psychological step when getting to grips with various formations of a swarm. I have to add: as an experiment, I kept a log of which ships performed which actions and exploded (or not) as a way of evaluating my performance and getting to know my list. It was only when writing this report that I assigned each ship (previously denoted by my target locks A-E) with the titles above.

Does it make a difference? Here are some observations from my first tournament using this list:

  • Game one (matched against 2x Tie Defenders and a Tie Bomber) I didn’t forget to use Crack Shot, but I didn’t get to use them on Phoenix (A), Inferno (B) or Flare (E).
  • It was Phoenix (A) who turned the wrong way in the penultimate round against the jumpmasters in game two.
  • Game three (matched against 4 Baffaloes) Phoenix (A) went down against Baffaloes, along with Blaze (D), it was Inferno (B), Flame (C) and Flare (E) that held out and won the game.
  • Phoenix (A) exploded with the direct hit in game four (matched against thee T-65s).
  • Inferno (B) died without using Crack Shot in two separate games.
  • Flame (C) was the only one to land on a rock all throughout four games.

Did you notice the same pattern? Phoenix. She’s mentioned a lot.

It could simply be a reflection of how I move my ships. For instance, if Phoenix (A) is placed first and given an upfront position, she is more likely to see the action, right? Flame (C) and Blaze (D) might well be mentioned less as a result of simply being the Green Squadron equivalent of fodder. Maybe.

What I’m interested in now is what if my personification of the ships leads me to make different decisions about placement and strategy.

We’ll just have to see.

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Win Wave IX Tournament: ibuywargames

Here is my battle report for Win Wave IX at #ibuywargames #Xwing #itsgettinghothinhere #flybetter #Awing

Returning to Woking is always a treat for me, chiefly because of the history related to War of the Worlds. I love the 1953 Byron Haskin adaptation, the Orson Welles urban myth radio broadcast; the Jeff Wayne musical. It all begins in Woking

Returning to Woking is always a treat for me, chiefly because of the history related to War of the Worlds. I love the novel; the 1953 Byron Haskin adaptation; the Orson Welles urban myth radio broadcast; the Jeff Wayne musical. It all begins in Woking and they’ve gone to town – check the martian.


As an aside, my favourite part of the novel is where my hometown, Hounslow, is taken out by an obnoxious gas,

As I did so a second report followed, and a big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow. I expected at least to see smoke or fire, or some such evidence of its work. But all I saw was the deep blue sky above, with one solitary star, and the white mist spreading wide and low beneath.

Semantics are really important. Language is really important. I spend a lot of time exploring symbolism and figuraitve language in my day job. I like a good idiom more than most (though I try not to talk in them as often as I can). When it comes to the Chihuahua swarm, I couldn’t quite figure it out. Why Chihuahua?

It’s because they spend the game biting at your ankles and wear you down.

Thanks, Tom. I get it now. The A-Wings lack somewhat in bite without (p)rockets; there is no denying it.

It’s been just over a week since I published my thoughts on flying an A-Wing Crack swarm (you can read about it here), this would be my first time flying the list competitively. For those of you unsure of what the list comprises of, it’s five of these:

Green Crack A-wing

Famous Fives

I was listening to the latest Mynock Squadron Podcast, Firespray and Pray (you can find it here, jump to 32:00)  and Ryan Farmer has given each of his A-wings in the swarm different callsigns: Dragon, Mynock, Raptor, Tackle and Tex (each inspired by the different Mynocks). He has painted them individually and kept stats on each of them. Ryan addresses the concept of confirmation bias, fully acknowledging that he may well be ‘setting them up for positions of success and failure’.

Ryan was kind enough to send me this picture of his squadron.

I think it’s an interesting experiment.

phoenix.jpg
Sabine’s Phoenix logo from Rebels

With my love Rebels and the inclusion of A-Wings in the Phoenix squadron, I came up with the following names:

A) Phoenix,
B) Inferno,
C) Flame,
D) Blaze,
E) Flare.

It might seem like I’m making more work for myself, but actually, I think it’s an important psychological step when getting to grips with various formations of a swarm. I have to add: as an experiment, I kept a log of which ships performed which actions and exploded (or not) as a way of evaluating my performance and getting to know my list. It was only when writing this report that I assigned each ship (previously denoted by my target locks A-E) with the titles above. I have made some observations in the final part of this post that prove fairly interesting.

(As an aside, I had a really detailed breakdown of how I came to give the ships in my squad their names. It made my post too long so I’ve published it here instead).

Game One Craig Bradford 0-100

Tie Bomber – Scimitar Squadron Pilot 

  • Title Card – Tie Shuttle (allowing two crew slots but losing missile and ordinance)
  • Systems Officer Crew
  • Fleet Officer Crew
  • Twin Ion Engnine Mk.II

Tie Defender – Colonel Vessary

  • Title Card – Tie/D (allowing an attack from a secondary and primary weapon once per round)
  • Vetran Instincts
  • Tractor Beam

Tie Defender – Rexler Brath

  • Title Card – Tie/X7
  • Juke
  • Stealth Device

Think about it – your opponent sets up in front of you and has two crew cards that you’re unfamiliar with; you’ve heard about these Vessary and Rexlar characters and you think to yourself ‘Well, they’re PS8 – they’re clearly my biggest threat, that’s where I need to focus my firepower.’ Wrong. WRONG.

star-wars-falling.gif

Yeah, that much wrong. It was two rounds before the end of the match when I realised how the Scimitar Squadron and its crew fulfilled a vital role in the synergy of this list.

Veteran Instincts brings Vessary up to a PS8, therefore allowing you to have him shoot before Rexler if given the opportunity. Here’s a plausible sequence of events: Vessary gains a focus token beacuse of the Fleet Officer on the Scimitar Squadron, this means that his action is probably going to be a target lock. Using the Tie/D title he uses the tractor beam and has a target lock to adjust the dice, ensuring that the defender loses an agility and is then moved into a better position for the next sequence of attacks. Now, consider Vessary’s ability:

When attacking, immediately after you roll attack dice, you may aquire a target lock on the defender if it already has a red target lock token

Your defender is likely to have a target lock because the of  the Systems Officer when the Scimitar executed a green manoeuvre, therefore triggering Vessary’s ability for when he makes his attack with the primary weapon. Let’s not forget, you’re already missing an agility dice because of tractor token. Your opponent rolls the dice for Vessary and uses the acquired target lock to re-roll where necessary. This is potentially without having spent that focus token gained from the Fleet Officer.

I opened fairly slowly but by round two, we were jousting. I attempted to use two greens, Phoenix(A) and Inferno(B) to block the defenders and didn’t quite manage it. Had I moved them four forward instead of three, the first round might have gone differently. This goes back to my needing to master the rule of 11 which, belive it or not, I was thinking of at the time.

At range 1, Inferno was subject to the Tie/D from Vessary, losing an agility through the tractor beam and then being reduced to one hull before then being attacked by Rexlar. Inferno explodes without getting to use her Crack Shot.

The rest of the game was fairly similar after this. It’s very, very rare that I blame my dice, but both green and red came up with an extroadinary amount blanks throughout.  Not only this, Craig did an excellent job of keeping me at range two, therefore disabling my Autothrusters.

I didn’t forget to use Crack Shot, but I didn’t get to use them on Phoenix (A), Inferno (B) or Flare (E). They were dead too quickly.

I managed to get two hits on the bomber and to knock the stealth device off of Rexler (Craig drew blanks this time).

Game Two Tim Farmer 48-100

Triple Jumpmasters (note: not triple scouts)

Manaroo

  • Adaptabilty
  • Intelligence Agent
  • Unhinged Astromech
  • Feedback Array

Contracted Scout #1

  • Deadeye
  • Proton Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • Boba Fett
  • R4 Agromech
  • Guidance Chips

Contracted Scout #2

  • Deadeye
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • 4-Lom
  • R4 Agromech
  • Guidance Chips

This is only my second match up against triple jumpmasters, and my first using the A-wing swarm. Our lists were each at 100 points and I won the roll for initiative. Being as Manaroo is a PS4, I decided to use Adaptability to raise the PS on all ships.

I went into this fairly pessamistically, with my one aim to take out Manaroo and hope for partial points on the others. I changed my opening position so that I had three greens up front and two flanking behind.

“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”

The most valuable thing I learned (by accident) from this game was to get the two scouts to spend their torps early. In this instance, my ships were all focused and I managed to use this to fend off the alpha strikes. By round three, I had lost Inferno (B) and Blaze (D) but they had still been involved in fight and had used their Crack Shots to help take down Manaroo.

Incidentally, I have since learned another way to get your opponent to spend their ordinance early on in the game with (hopefully) minimal damage to your own list. If I had put an evade on all of my ships early on, this would have protected them well and forced my oppoenent to potentially waste their torps.

As Manaroo went down in a ball of fire, one of the Scouts took out Flame (C). My biggest mistake in this match was when I placed the dial for Phoenix as a left 1 turn instead of a right 1 turn. This actually took her away from the fight, not allowing her a shot on the scout with only three hit points left. I still got in another two hits with Flare (E), but had I not mis-dialed (I want it to be a verb that should be applicable in this situation), I might have just had one scout left to deal with. I know that I wouldn’t have won the game, but my MOV would certainly have been different.

As a result of this, they went down – Phoenix and then Flare.

“With wine and food, the confidence of my own table… I grew by insensible degrees courageous and secure.” [no prizes for guessing what John, Sim and I did for lunch…]

Game Three Mike Manners 100-40

Herd of Wild Baffalos [sic]

Omicron Group Pilot #1

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Darth Vader crew

Omicron Group Pilot #2

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Sytems Officer

Omicron Group Pilot #3

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Tactician

Omicron Group Pilot #4

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Tactician

What a list. Each Baffalo comes in at 25 points, but the total hit points (five shield and five hull per ship) comes in at 40.

Three games in and I felt like I knew the list fairly well. I stuck with the same opening formation but I felt somewhat like the underdog. Realistically, I knew that with each Baffalo at PS2, if I played this tactically and just focussed fire, I could be in for my first win – but that’s a lot of work to do.

This was my most challenging game of the day and my most stressful, but it was also a lot of fun. I couldn’t decide whether to go with the ship that had Sytems Officer or Vader crew first. Rather than taking a focus or evade, I set each ship up with target locks and tried my best to keep them at a distance of range one or three to maximise range bonuses on the dice or avoid tactician taking effect.

It was actually Systems Officer that went down first, with Phoenix (A) and Blaze (D) taking hits, but not going down yet.

I still had five As to close in on the Vader shuttle and did so. It was after this that Phoenix and Blaze sacrificed themselves. They flew well but it was their time.

This was just before the swarm took out the shuttle with Vader on it.

With Inferno (B), Flame (C) and Flare (E) left, I now had two shuttles to take down and a win was in my sights. After my unfortunate experience with round 6 at the London Regionals (you can read about it here), where I had a win pretty much in the bag and then forgot to use Crack Shot on several occasions, I wasn’t going to become complacent. I turned to Mike and told him the game wasn’t won just yet, even though I knew my points were now 10 more than his left on the mat.

It was only in the last few minutes of the game (Honestly, it was like minute 72!) that I managed to take down the final shuttle and with three green squadron pilots still in play. Pew. Pew.

Game Four John Wainscott 34-100

I’ve only ever played John once before at the Aldershot Store Championships back in March (you can read about it here). For this final round, we were both at two losses and a win. We had fun and, I hope, entertained those playing upstairs. John’s list was:

Rogue Squadron (Apparently)

T-65 – Wedge Antilles

  • Predator
  • R3-A2
  • Integrated Astromech

T-65 – Wes Janson (after you perform an attack, you may remove 1 focus,, evade or blue target lock token from the defender)

  • Adaptability (takes him to a PS9)
  • R7 Astromech
  • Integrated Astromech

T – 65 – Luke Skywalker

  • Predator
  • R2-D2
  • Intergrated Astromech

Neither of us played particularly well here. I forgot to use Crack Shot in our first exchange of combat, John forgot to use Wes, Predator, R2-D2 and R3-A2. This was a the tine of our game for the next 75 minutes.

Inferno (B), for the second time today, was the first to die and she didn’t use her Crack Shot. Flame (C) landed on a rock.

Phoenix died from a direct hit (she used her Crack Shot before this).

Laughter and woe. There were some instances where Autothrusters were my real saving grace.

I managed to focus fire on Wedge and took him down. I was really close to an explosion on Skywalker too but then John remembered the integrated astromech.

He won and came 6th in the overall tournament – well played. Even with both of us forgetting the merits of our list, he still flew better.

 

I actually forgot to take any pictures of this game – here’s one of John.

Twirling for Freedom

So, 1 and 3. I’ve played this list a few time before today but I actually feel I know a lot more about it as a result of my losses today. I have emerged from the crucible, cathartic and ready to begin anew.

 

“We will peck them to death to-morrow, my dear.”

Weaknesses of the List

Unlike the Tie Crack Swarm, the A-Wings are more expensive and lacking in bite in comparison for what you get. What’s more, there is no Howlrunner to enable re-rolls. This means that you need to use target locks to help those shots go through, leaving you potentially vulnerable when defending.

Crack Shot Use it or lose it. Though this is five points of your list – it’s essential. If a ship explodes before given the chance to use it, you are in a very weak position. My advice would be to use it when you have the chance as the ships are too fragile otherwise. When faced with lists like Imperial Aces where you wil regularly see a ship turtle up, this makes your job all the more harder.

Autothrusters An experienced opponent will exploit your Autothrusters. Your optimal ranges are one, for the bonus attack dice, and three for the bonus agility dice and Autothrusters. I spent the day trying to get a real handle on the pace of the list – this meant that it wasn’t until games three and four that I had managed to read my opponents correctly and gauged the ranges accordingly.

Aces When matched against high PS, there is a greater need to think about arc-dodging and/or blocking. Although I wasn’t paired against him, Tom Duncan was also at this tournament; he gave me some excellent tips about the psychological factors of this to work. Maybe I’ll expand on this in another post.

My Weaknesses 

Game One Not managing the attempted block and then jousting in round two of combat.

Game Two I’m still pretty cross with myself for putting the dial down the wrong way before the end of the game. Phoenix fled rather than fighting and it was all down to my silly human error.

Game Four I enjoyed it too much, we played for fun, with neither of us remembering our EPTs or abilities. At this point, John was 1 and 2, as was I. Had I not gone silly, I might be writing a different report.

What of the Callsigns? Here are some observations:

  • Game one – I didn’t forget to use Crack Shot, but I didn’t get to use them on Phoenix (A), Inferno (B) or Flare (E).
  • It was Phoenix (A) who turned the wrong way in the penultimate round against the jumpmasters in game two.
  • Game three – Phoenix (A) went down against Baffaloes, along with Blaze (D).
  • Phoenix (A) exploded with the direct hit in game four.
  • Inferno (B) died without using crack shot in two separate games.
  • Flame (C) was the only one to land on a rock all throughout four games.

The emerging pattern is that Phoenix has a lot to answer for.

What of the droid? John and Tom made some generous donations to his hoard. Have a look.

The droid and the A-Wing pilot are happy with their loot, even if they only earned one quarter of it.
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(I am your) Father’s Day

I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on being a father and fly casual.

I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on being a father and fly casual.

We bought our eldest son the original core set, Imperial Aces and the Millennium Falcon expansion when he turned eleven, that was eight months ago. Prior to this, I had wanted to be a table top gamer from afar but had never committed to a game.

Now that’s a name I’ve not heard in a long time

obi wan long time.gif

When I was about 10, my own father bought me Hero Quest. I was a real sucker for marketing and it was the early 90s – I wanted to wield the Barbarian’s ‘brode sode’; I wanted to be the dwarf with his kick-ass axe; I really wanted to be like Stuart.

My parents split when I was seven and my mum introduced me to her boss’ son, Stuart, as a way of helping me cope. His folks had been divorced for a long time and he was in his early teens, to my mum this seemed like a no brainer.

Stuart was a big gamer, a Red Dwarf fan and massively into Star Wars. I didn’t know it when I began writing this but I’ve just found another shadow that I haven’t thought about in nearly 20 years. Tangent.

I’m not going to go into the symbolism or Freudian readings of Anakin/Darth/Luke, I’d be saying nothing new and/or original.  The parallels of sons becoming fathers from Boba to Jango and failed father figures (Hi Obi Wan!) are rife throughout the saga (and yeah, maybe that is a prediction about Ben Solo’s eventual redemption) but that’s not why I’m writing this.

luke-face-dark-side-cave.jpg

Long story short: my attempts at painting the Hero Quest characters failed miserably; I was too young to really understand any of the rules and living in Hounslow didn’t really support a culture of fantasy games. It wouldn’t be until 20 years or so later that I would find X-Wing really affected my relationship with my children.

The Force is with you young Skywalker, but you’re not a Jedi yet

I’ve seen quite a few starter games in stores whilst playing competitively over the last few months and often, these involve a father and son. In the most recent episode of the Mynock Squadron podcast , Together we can rule the galaxy (you can find it here), Kevin Eide discusses the values that he wants his children to have from gaming, exploring both sportsmanship and fly casual.

When I played at the Womprats tournament in Aldershot (you can read about it here), one of the competitiors, Dan, bought his son along and we all joked about what we might do if placed against him. Many a truth(FEAR) is said in jest – what do you do in this situation? To simply let him win would be an insult, right? To go in lasers blazing would just be wrong.

When I began playing with Oz, I would beat him by accident. I didn’t want him to think that I was letting him win and my own poor relationship with my father had left me useless at navigating what should be a ‘fun’ experience.

Oz would put his lists together without reading the cards and then forget to use them throughout the game. As I got better at X-Wing, I tried to explain this to him and would offer to go through his upgrades to help make a list. He declined. It wasn’t stubbornness; he wanted to be independent and work it out for himself.

Each game would end in tears (not mine).

I could go through a number of bad dad moments where I have regretted a decision made over ‘rules’ and the concept of ‘Well, he needs to learn…’ I still think about each of these now. Especially today.

fly casual cockpit.jpg

It wasn’t until I listened to Doug Kinney discussing Fly Casual that I completely changed the way I played with Oz. I had heard a friend discussing Magic: The Gathering with her son:

For the next 45 minutes, I’m no longer your mother – I am your sworn enemy.

Though I laughed, I didn’t want this to be me.

My most memorable game was when I bought us each a Tie Phantom and we had a mirror match. This was, and still is, the only time I have played Imperials. The ships were fresh out of the box and neither of us knew how to use the cloaking device.

We set out the mat, our rocks and our formations. The biggest difference was how I presented this to him as us being on an even playing field. As we experimented with how to de-cloak and such, we planned together where the best outcome for our ships would be.

This was what had been missing: an exploration together.

More than a hobby, Oz and I have begun to paint our ships and play together in a way that I didn’t manage with my dad. Our youngest, a toddler, needed his own little X-Wing set (hello Micro Machines); he rolls my dice for me when we play at home.

The reason many talk about the welcoming community of X-Wing is because it genuinely exists. I’ve seen it online and through playing. When I think about the father that I want to be and the values that I want to instil in my children, it’s the one who solves things with my children, an adovcate for them. X-wing helps me do that right now.

I think I’ll try to get a game in later.

Spike.jpg
My youngest sitting alongside me painting his Tie Advanced with ‘Darth Layder’ inside.
Featured

Cracking Formation Flying

My thoughts on #flying a #swarm in #formation #XWing #AWings #Flybetter #itsgettinghothinhere

tumblr_n8d4475Yl41s44y43o1_500The time is now. I’m not saying my training is complete or anything, but I’m ready to start learning how to fly a swarm. A-Swarm.  You know the one, the Chihuahuas. [Shudders. Sad Face. Heavy Sigh].

I now have 5 Green Squadron personalised A-Wings (thank you, Liam), each with Adaptability, Chardaan Re-fit, the A-Wing title card, Autothrusters and Crack Shot. Obtaining each of these cards was a feat but let’s simply say that I will never need to buy a Kihraxz Fighter again.

In case you’ve missed it, the surprise list that sprung up (yeah, that was an intentional small dog pun) as a result of some of the new Wave 8 upgrade cards was the 5 A-Wing Crack Swarm. It comes in at 100 points and consists of five of the following

Green Crack A-wing

I feel a bit giddy. An A-Wing list that is truly competitive and doing the rounds. When listening to the Nova Squadron Radio Podcasts analysis of the Regionals lists (you can find this episode here) it turned out of the swarms that did make it through to the cut, the A-Wing Crack swarm had a greater chance of all other lists of being the top list. Because A-Wings.

My first blog post professed my undying love for these babies and explored the idea of a four strong A-Wing list that was a riff on the traditional Green-Arrow list (you can find it here).

This is different. Really special. I could try to push in another dog-pun but I’ll simpy say the path to learning how to fly a swarm successfully has no short cuts (Sorry).

If you’ve seen me attempt to fly my swarm in formation, you’ll know why I’m writing this post. When we bought our son the Core Set in November, he instantly picked up the Imperials and left me to take on the Rebels. It’s been the same ever since. My own Imperial ships have barely ever touched a playmat. No Vader. No Soontir. No Imp Aces. Nadda.

Just paws for a moment and think about that. It’s like I’ve skipped a massive step and I will never become a truly competitive player until I can grow some more. It’s really ruff. (I’m actually going to stop now).

awing-dial.png

Where to start? Well, I’m going with an A-Wing Swarm, so I need to know the dial. There’s no 1 forward or bank, but that’s the only thing that is pretty much missing. The A-Wing was in Wave 2 so segnor’s loops and talon rolls hadn’t yet been introduced to the game.  There’s a whole lotta green there too.

Paul Heaver’s Turn Zero articles are also an excellent source when considering how to approach your game. Part One focuses on asteroid placement (you can find it here).

Which rocks? I tend to bring the biggest rocks as I’m accurate with my flying 95% of the time. For the London Regionals, I took two large asteroids and one piece of large debris.  This meant that if I should mis-judge and end up on top of the field I could still get off a shot.

Placing your first rock.png

When I played in my first competitive tournament, I saw my opponents measuring where to place their rocks with real precision. I thought it a little pretentious at first; I had always thrown them down casually with some thought on making it awkward for my opponent, I hadn’t really considered how I could make the rocks work for me as well.  By placing my first rock as close to my corner as I can using the range rulers, I know exactly where the rock is and how best my ships can navigate around it.

Rocks two and three.png

What about rocks two and three? Well, this tends to vary for me depending on what ships my opponent brings; whether they are large or small base ships; whether they are flying a swarm, jumpmasters and so on – there are too many variables. What I can say right now is that a safe bet is probably placing a rock in the centre and then another directly opposite your first rock.

Read Paul Heaver’s article – it really does help.

The third Turn Zero article, Mastering Ship Placement, pretty much does what it says on the tin, you can find it here.

To simplify things, your goal in the opening round of conflict in X-Wing is to have all of your weapons pointing at the opposing ship you want to destroy first.

This is the best advice. No joke. I would always advocate focussed fire when assessing your opponent’s list and where you need to eliminate the biggest perceived threat.  My biggest mistakes have been in splitting up my swarm too early or arranging them so that they unintentionally bump early on.  There are two videos that I would really recommend watching when it comes to flying your ships together, they’re both from Sling Paint.

 

I love the look of the pinwheel formation, but I’m really not there yet. I found this awesome graphic on the Bell of Lost Souls: Swarm Theory Part 2

Pin Wheel Covenenat.jpg

There’s also some really useful diagrams and advice in Earning Your Wings Part 7: Formation Flying taken from the FFG forums.

So how do I begin to make this my own? My starting point was actually Vassal. I grouped four of ships together using the advice from the Slingpaint video, separating them by the width of a range ruler.  I know, my A-Wing crack swarm will have five ships altogether but I’ll get to that. Patience.

Starting position.png

Starting in the corner buys you some time to assess how your opponent approaches the game, you can then use this as a opportunity to set the pace over the next two rounds.

Starting 1 turn.png

A one turn puts you here, with a four forward clearing your four ships of the rock you placed at range two.

starting 1 turn and 4 forward.png

If you compare this to starting with a two turn,

starting 2 turn.png

Then moving with a three forward, you end up at the same distance from the edge of the board but slightly closer in.

starting 2 turn and three forward.png

How about that lovely diamond-like formation? take a two bank

Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 13.17.13.png

Perferct diamond. No bumpity bump.

I haven’t even begun to think about what to do with the little dude at the bottom of the screen.  Well I have, but I’m not putting everything here.  The A-Wing swarm is an entirely different beast to the Tie Crack Swarm, especially as this often involves Howlrunner or an anchor ship (Hi, Lord Vader!).

I’m beginning to get my head aroud the rule of 11.  Watch the video below

For now, the easiest thing to remember is that you need to move a total distance of 11 spaces before you can throw dice at each other. That’s a total of 11 between each side of the board.  So moving 1 forward is actually moving two spaces after you take the base into account; 2 forward is actually three spaces after youtake the base into account and so on.

This will become much more relevant when I evaluate my game playing against Sim below.

How has my swarm worked in actuality?

So far, three losses and one win. I managed to beat Lucas’ Imperial Aces list which consisted of

TIE Advanced -Darth Vader (29)

  • Adaptability (Increase) (0)
  • Engine Upgrade (4)
  • TIE/x1 (0)
  • Advanced Targeting Computer (1)

TIE Avanced Prototype – The Inquisitor (25)

  • Push The Limit (3)
  • Autothrusters (2)
  • TIE/v1 (1)

TIE Interceptor – Soontir Fel (27)

  • Push The Limit (3)
  • Autothrusters (2)
  • Royal Guard TIE (0)
  • Stealth Device (3)

This was my first time flying the list. As we set up, I perceived the Inquisitor to be the biggest threat because of his ability to stop my Autothrusters and his additional range bonus ability. Lucas attempted to use him to get me to split the swarm, I feinted this as a counter and managed to take the Inquisitor out after boxing him in.  After that I wasn;t sure whether to focus on Soontir or Vader. I assessed that Soontir would probably be the bigger threat in the end game. I think I lost two A-Wings at this point. I did manage to take out Soontir and then Vader.

100 – 60

I then lost to Janus’ (Jesper) Hill Bot list (88B & C with PTL, Advanced Sensors, Mangler on B and Tractor and HLC on C). Janus beat me but I still managed half points on B. I also learned a valuable lesson about not using my target locks too early.

I also lost to Pablo’s Rebel Aces build which had Biggs, Ten Numb (with the Autoblaster Cannon and some ordinance I can’t remember – sorry). This was simply poor flying on my part. I split the swarm far too early.

The game that I have found really taxing and particularly enjoyable over the last few weeks was against Sim’s Imperial Aces. This list was identical to the one above and is also Nathan ‘The Kid’ Eide’s list that he played in the Hoth open.

This was only a 60 minute game and we started fairly late. This was my most present and alert when flying the swarm and I wish that I had taken some photos. I have re-created a moment taken from the game in images from Vassal below. Again, I began the game thinking that the Inquisitor needed to go down first. I kept my formation tight and by round three, we were ready to shoot. Whether Sim was aware of it or not (I’m sure he was), he played using the rule of 11 really well. Sim spent the game maintaining his shops at a consistent distance of range 2, stopping autothrusters in most instances from all of his attacks. He turtled up well throughout and I found it really hard to break down his defences.

What did I learn? Although I was planning my manouveres well, I wasn’t consciously blocking until round 3 of the game. Once I got my arse in gear, I managed to do this with a cheeky K-Turn.

Firing Arc Inquisitor.pngThe Inquisitor has its pick of three separate range one targets, but when you look at my firing arcs in comparison, it’s going to, potentially, be hit three times and with eight dice.

Firing Arcs on Inquisitor.png

You guessed it, he took out the A-Wing directly in front and managed to survive another round – but he only had one hull left afer I was done. He was gone in the next round.

I knew my job was blocking after this, but I really didn’t concentrate my fire enough and kept switching targets between Vader and Soontir. When the timer had gine off at 60 minutes, I still had three A-Wings left, Sim still had Vader and Soontir. I’m quite certain Sim had the upper hand but it was really fun. This was my first game since Regionals where I felt fully on the ball during every round.

I’m playing at the I Am your Father’s Day tournament in Stevenage on the 3rd July and Scum ships aren’t allowed. I think I’ve found my Rebel list.

I’ll leave you with this final image, uncanny isn’t it?

a-wing swarm movements

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Dirty Den(gar)

My response to Dhaus’ arc-dodging #Dengar build #Xwing #Scum #jumpmaster #itsgettinghothinhere

DHaus, of the Stay On Target podcast, published a Dengar arc-dodger exploration on Team Covenant last week that you can find here.

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DHaus’ optimal Dengar build.

I’ve been working on my own Dengar build for a while, Den-Bot, and wanted to throw my own into the ring. You can find the evolution of my list, along with my most recent successes and woes from the Womp Rats tournament in Aldershot here.

I see Dengar as a bit of a puzzle; he has an awesome ability that encourages players to fly the ship with your opponent in arc, rather than simply using the turret. Couple this with the ship’s dial and he is the most interesting PS9 large ship pilot, especially as he’s Scum.

Den Re-con

IG

Above was my previous list of Dengar with IG-88B, which barely left room for anything else to be removed unless I stripped down Dengar entirely, giving him just Predator and then Engine Upgrade.

I don’t want to leave Dengar naked, so I’m willing to substitute 88B in order to make room for EU and maximise Dengar’s potential as an arc-dodger.

Dengar with Predator, the Punishing One title, Engine Upgrade come in at 52 points. Through experience, Dengar also could do with Recon Specialist to make the most of his revenge ability, that’s now 55 points. I’m a big fan of the revenge bot, R5-P8, but it’s a little too expensive here, so I’m going with the R4 Agromech, which takes me to 57 points in total.

Jump & Fire (100 points)
Pairing Dengar with Kath Scarlet allows you the advantage of having a turret and a second ship with an auxiliary firing arc. Kath’s ability allows you to gain an extra attack dice from the back arc.

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Standard builds for Kath allow an Engine Upgrade, VI, the K4 Security Droid and some sort of canon. I think that the Outlaw Tech is a better as it’s less limiting than the Security Droid. Nonetheless, points are a factor so I’ve tried to be inventive with my Kath build.

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Firespray movements

I don’t have room for the Engine Upgrade on Kath and have swapped VI for adaptability, therefore still increasing the PS whilst not losing any points. Looking at the dial, the Firespray does have a one forward and a one bank.  It’s not a boost but it’ll have to do.

 

I’m determined to find a slot for the Boba Fett crew card and so therefore need to take the Mangler Canon to maximise the potential for using it.

This brings my Kath build in at 43 points and a 100 point total.

Den of Razz(matazz) (100 points)

John Wainscott played a Latts build at my first tournament in Aldershot (you can read about it here).

I like the Gunner ability and I love the irony of waiting for your ship to miss when you combine it with Bossk.

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Latts Gunner Bosk.png

To make Dengar fit the points here, I have to drop Predator for Lone Wolf. When you look at the odds here, you’re looking at a 37.5% chance of rolling a blank to enable the re-roll.

There isn’t room for an Engine Upgrade on Latts, but when you look at his dial the red zero makes up for it.

Denaroo (98 points)

Pairing Dengar with Manaroo allows a little room for fluff (she is his wife in the EU), as well as giving you a big bag of tricks for the pairing.

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Manaroo Torps.png

As far as the Dengar build is concerned, I am able to include Predator and R5-P8, as well as Glitterstim. I can load Up Manaroo with Plasma Torpedoes and Extra Munitions with Deadeye.  I haven’t yet used Feedback Array on any of my builds, this seems a fairly good spot.

For that final touch of fluffiness; Boba Fett crew card. See her soar over the Sarlacc Pit.

I could even substitute the Plasmas for Protons and make Boba earn his money.

Jamie’s Dengar Manaroo build from the Spring Kit at Marquee Models (you can read about it here) really impressed me and reminded me how my Scum lists could use a little more imagination and more synergy.

When I look at Manaroo’s ability, I can’t help but wonder if Deadeye and loading her up with torps isn’t a waste here?  What I do know is that once I’ve fully loaded both Dengar and Manaroo, the list comes in at 98 points, that’s not a bad initiative bid.

Even a Sith Lord is no match for my warriors. He put up quite a fight. Blasters, cannons, that glowy thing, voom-voom…

I started writing this a week ago. By now, Yavin has come and gone and the party bus build has emerged:

Slaver (29)

  • Gunner (5)
  • Bossk (2)
  • 4-LOM (1)

Slaver (29)

  • Greedo (1)
  • Fett (1)
  • Dengar (3)

G1a – Starfighter – Zuckaus (28)

  • Mist Hunter/Tractor Beam (1)

Look at that bag of tricks. All of it. What does this do to my thinking above? Nothing, except perhaps confirm that the Bounty Hunter crew cards are where it’s really at, rather than simply going for high PS.  Dee Yun had published a web comic with the Party Bus here

I like this version of the party bus, but I’m working on something a little more varied:

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If you’re interested, this comes in at 98 points.  I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out how I could get Gunner in there too – it just doesn’t work if you want Zuckuss.

I began this post wanting to explore how these list ideas measured up to my original Den-Bot list.  Each one offers an increase in shields; a decrease in agility dice; a loss of Autothrusters and slightly less manoeuvrability. I can’t see why you wouldn’t go with the fluff of Jump and Fire or Denaroo.

What are your thoughts?

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R2-D2, you know better than to trust a strange computer!

Here is a round up of the blogs I have found the most useful as a Green Rookie #Xwing

This post is a little bit different from my usual. I was talking with Tom about blogs that I had read and found really useful and it seemed that we had been reading different sites.

I wanted to share some links to blogs that I have found really useful as a complete beginner. A Green Rookie.

In no order of importance

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Stay on the Leader It’s well worth having a read through this blog, especially going back and having a look at the post on Wave 8 meta and pilot skill, you can find it here We all know that the meta is a transient beast, but I found the data in this really useful. The blog summarised a lot of my thoughts on the move from seeing lots of ps2 ships to ps4 to counter the triple U-Boats and explored the staying power of Crack-Swarms.

The post on Variance is also excellent. I find it befuddling when I see players shaking their hands before rolling their dice, probability is probability, right? It doesn’t work that way, does it? This article was explored in the most recent episode of the Mynock Podcast and it underlines most of my thoughts when people complain about dice. They are something that is integral to the mechanics of the game but they do not give us an excuse to whinge.

I think the article sums up a Reddit user’s frustration (rubsnick) perfectly here:

The root of rubsnick frustration isn’t just that the TIE Interceptors were bringing variance into his games, it appears. Rather it seems like it was bringing variance that he wasn’t really psychologically prepared for, and when it went against him he felt betrayed by his dice and the game.

Next up is Treatise on Starfighter Tactics

treatise.pngI find the information on this site to be logical, well thought out and easy to understand. I especially identify with the posts Evaluating 2015 and Thoughts about Losing. Here I find this anonymous poster to be frank and honest about their performance and how to improve via evaluation. The Q & A section is well organised and all list/upgrade queries are met with constructive feedback.

I’m also a fan of the Starviper and liked the approach in this article.

Not Such a Bad Pilot

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The meta analysis of Nova Regionals and Store Champs in this post is stellar. I also found the exploration of the ethos behind Fly Casual in this post to be quite intriguing. I love the X-Wing community online, in and around London. I have not ever been a table top player before and I hold this mantra dearly. I wonder what your thoughts are?

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Tom’s blog, Confessions of a Mid-Table X-Winger, inspired me to get off my arse and write a blog of my own. Thanks, Tom.

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Finally, the 186th Squadron launched their own website recently. You can find it here. The site seems to be growing by the day and I haven’t met an unfriendly member yet.

So there you go. Have a read and let me know your thoughts.

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Battle Report – London Regionals WarBoar Games

Being in the top 64 wins you an alt art Hera card. It also means you’re not in the bottom 36. Guess where I came…

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What does being in the top 64 mean?

You get an alt art Hera card.

And you’re not in the bottom 36.

This was a conversation I had with Tom a few nights before the regionals.  I think it’s a good starting point for this battle report.  I’m not writing this as someone who came in the top 64.  In fact, I ranked 79th out of 92.  Tom fared much better and did us both proud coming in at 58th against oppoenents such as James Dowdall and Jesper Hills of the 186th Squadron (you can read his battle report here).

I don’t believe X-Wing is a game that is entirely dice dependent, if that were the case, how is it possible that Paul Heaver has won three World Championships?  Why do members of the 186th Squadron often come in the top 8, if not win the competetive tournmaments they enter around and out of London?  Dice are involved sure, but they are a factor in a game of variables rather than THE factor when it comes to winning or losing (Indefinite vs definite article).

In my last battle report for the Womp Rats tournament in Aldershot (you can find it here), I stated that I had been practising and honing my Den-Bot list since the launch of Wave 8. Though I am pleased with it, as we all should be when we have devised a list of our own making and evaluated it through practise and tournament play, I began this week feeling concerned that the list was too fragile.  It had only 17 hit points before it would go down and though I feel like quite a practised blocker, I’m still only developing my arc dodging skills.  I know that Bro-bot lists have only 16 hit points, but they also have Autothrusters on both ships and three agility dice.

I gave it some thought and when I came across a Chopper build with the synergy of Fire Control Systems and the Han Solo crew card (playing against Andrew at the Womp Rats tournament last weekend), I felt I wanted to play around with this idea. Here’s what I came up with:

Ghost.pngGreen Crack A-wing.pngGreen A-wing no autothrusters.png

Green Squadron re-paints courtesy of the lovely Liam Scully.

I prioritised certain aspects of my Lothal Rebel build such as an Autoblaster turret to protect myself at range 1 and the Hera Syndula crew card that would allow an element of unpredictability when stressed.

I felt somewhat inspired by the A-Wing Crack Swarm that won the New Mexico Regionals last month and tried to fit it in with the remaining 58 points of my list. Each A-Wing comes in at 20 points, with my Lothal Rebel build being 42, I needed to drop the Autothrusters from one of them.

I’d now gone from 17 hit points to 28 with the protection of autothrusters on two of my four ships.  What had I lost in the deal? My Dengar build had his revenge attack, and 88B had the gunner ability – I’d swapped aggressive and fragile for zippy, tricksy and tanky.

I’d also come up with quite a nice and fluffy Rebels themed list with the exception of Han Solo (they could still work him into an episode).

It’s been two months since I started playing competitively.  In my first tournament, I made the mistake of playing a list that I hadn’t had the chance to test-run.  This week, Tom had very graciously spent some time throwing some competitive lists at me on Vassal but this was my first time that I would play my Rebels list in person.

There were 100 registered for this tournament and 97 turned up on the day.  By the end, there were 92 still remaining.  Unintentionally, I was the first to register and had a jolly good chinwag with Mark Radford from Marquee Models in Harlow.

Game One There is a point in every tournament where you know you have been drawn against an opponent that you will not win against; Tom (my Tom, not Duncan) would later play Jesper Hills (who would then go on to win the Regional), my time was now, against Tom Duncan and his seven Tie Fighter Crack Swarm.

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A blocked A-Wing is a dead A-Wing.

I had played against Tom (Duncan, not my Tom) and this list in the first round of my first competitive tournament at the Aldershot Games Shop Store Championships in March (you can read about it here). The main difference was that Tom was flying six Ties then and seven now.  his list was: Howlrunner  and three Black Squadron pilots, each with Crack Shot and then three Academy Pilots.

Howlrunner poses the biggest threat as she allows the others to re-roll when in range 1 of her. Tom gave me an expert lesson in how to block your opponent, which I then carried with me through the rest of the day. I managed to play Tom for around 65 minutes out of 75, I felt this a personal triumph.

Despite him completely tabling my list, I did manage to take out Howlrunner and then Tom’s personal favourite ship, Dropsy.  Another personal victory.

34 – 100 to Tom (Duncan, not my Tom)

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Game Two Craig flew Omega Leader with Juke, Stealth Device and Comm Relay; Carnor Jax with PTL, Autothrusters, Royal Guard Tie and the Twin Ion Engine Mk II and Echo with Veteran Instincts, Fire Control Systems, Advanced Cloaking Device and Intelligence Agent.

I tried a different tactic here, still starting with the Lothal Rebel at the side but my plan was to push him forward, using his four dice attack and utilising Fire Control Systems and Han.

I kept my distance of Carnor and focused my fire on Echo, who I managed to take down in the first few rounds of combat.  Craig became wise to the FCS synergy  of Han on the Rebel and then kept switching his attacks on the Ghost between Carnor and Omega Leader. My first big mistake here was to change my target lock from Carnor to Omega – what was the point in that? I wouldn’t be able to modify the dice as Craig was working his target locks on me well.

My next mistake was with where to position the Rebl and ended up on a rock.  Bad move.

38 – 100 to Craig.

Nadeem’s awesome alt art Imperial Kath Scarlet card.

Game Three Nadeem flew Darth Vader with  Veteran Instincts, Advanced Targeting Computer, Engine Upgrade and the Tie/x1 title; Kath Scarlet with Veteran Instincts and Tactician, and a Scimitar Squadron Pilot with Extra Munitions,  Plasma Torpoedoes and Proximity Mines.

This is where I hit my stride with the list and began to think about my qualities as a blocker.  This involves much more conscious thought of where your opponent will go and aiming to position yourself there, taking your actions but denying them theirs if you predict correctly.

I started my intial move slow, seeing where Nadeem might position himself.  It became clear that he was saving Vader for the end game, so I took the decision to focus all power on Kath.

This worked – I couldn’t believe it when the Firespray went down. Nadeem placed his Proximity Mines well, ensuring that they were in a place where I would have to go over them – luckily, the red dice were kind to me. I had already knocked some shields off of the Tie Bomber and so manged to take this out next when it flew into range one of the Lothal Rebel.  This left all of my ships in pursuit of Vader.

Nadeem took care of the Ghost first, and then took out an A-Wing. Pew. Pew.

The remaining 25 minutes of this round were really tense, with bith A-Wings chasing Vader until the klaxon was sounded.

38 – 35 to me (a modified win, but a win nonetheless).

Game Four – Sam’s list was called Troll.

Let me tell you about my list: Captain Kagi? he’s a dick.  Carnor Jax? He’s a dick. Omega Leader? He’s a dick. – Sam

 

She’s a girl, right?

Sam had Captain Kagi in a Lamda Shuttle with Sensor Jammer and Emperor Palpatine; Carnor Jax with PTL, Royal Guard Tie, Autothrusters and Stealth Device and Omega Leader with Comm Relay, Juke and the Twin Ion Engine Mk II.

By this point, I’d lost two games and had a modified win. I had a beer in my hand and a burger was on its way to me from the bar. Sam was very forgiving of me scoffing my way through our game. Thank you, Sam.

What happened afterwards was incredibly quick.  There’s a running joke about Glitterstim being a stimulant (I know, I just killed that, right?) It turns out the beer and my modified win (not to mention the bacon cheeseburger) actually helped my focus. I used the Lothal Rebel to block, positioning my A-Wings behind it and protecting them to ensure they got their actions.  This resulted in a spaghetti junction that halted Sam’s ships and allowed mine to fire from behind the Rebel.

100-41 to me (I know, right?!)

The leader board placed me at 62nd before the beginning of round 5. So close.

Game Five Bro-bots (B & C) with PTL, Advanced Sensors, Intertial Dampners, Heavy LAser Canon on B and Mangler on C.

I have to start by saying that this was the most stressful game of the day. I’ve given it a lot of thought since and I know that I have myself to blame for my lack of a win here. Before I go any further, I think it only important to add that I believe whole heartedly in the fly casual ethos of the community but there were points in this game where I knew that my decision making was not right.  I was too lenient on my opponent despite desperately wanting a third win.

Ultimately, my opponent continued to forget to take actions and then asked if he could still take them throughout the entire game.  I should have been firmer. When it continued, I could have called the TO, but then nobody wants to be a dick, right? It was only as I began to say no that his demeanor started to change.

There was also a point where my opponent pulled the Damaged Cockpit crit that had reduced his PS on 88B to 0.  You move first, you shoot last.  I forgot to pull him on it, I should have been more alert. Because of this, he took out one of my A-wings. I later pulled  the Blinded Pilot crit with the Lotahl Rebel ‘After your next opportunity to attack (even if there was no target for an attack), flip this card facedown.’ and then promptly landed on a rock with my next round – meaning I couldn’t atack for two rounds.

He beat me, but not necessarily because he flew better – because I wasn’t firm enough to say No. Maybe it’s because it was game 5 and I’d had only 3 hours sleep.  Maybe it was because I had started by being nice to a player who had told me he had only just put the list together the night before. I don’t blame him, I am responsible for the loss here.  Damn shame though.

I managed half points on each of his bots.

50 – 100 for my fifth round opponent.

Game Six By far the most fun I had all day.

I’m giving up on this game, I’m gonna play something else. like Game of Thrones – something that doesn’t involve any dice! – Phil

Phil’s list was Garven Dreis with R2-D2 and a Shield Upgrade; Red Ace with R5-P9, Comm Relay and Autothrusters and Kyle Katarn with the Moldy Crow title, Jan Ors crew and a Dorsal Turret. This is a list that I think works really well together. Both Garven and Red Ace have re-gen capabilities, which was later my undoing. Garven can hand out his focus tokens to a friendly ship rather than simply spending them, if it’s passed over to Red Ace with R5-P9, it can then re-gen a shield. Red Ace gains an evade token the first time she loses a shield each round and gets to keep it with Comm Relay. Kyle Katarn can give out focus tokens to those who need it and Jan Ors can give out Evade tokens. It’s quite nice and friendly really, they all look after each other.

I set up with flying my A-wing off of the board. I’ve only ever done this once and I’m gonna put it down to it being game six. I revealed my dial and then showed it immediately to Phil, who could have demanded I do the manouvre, but simply changed my dial to an inconvenient direction. How nice is that?

What happened next reduced me to a quivering wreck of apologetic nervousness. Phil’s dice rolls were incredibly unlucky bu he rarely took a target lock.  In comparison, my A-Wings did nothing but take target locks as their actions so that I might be able to re-roll and help to push through the damge from only two attack dice.

Red Ace was the first to get caught in the Rebel’s firing line and really suffered a five dice attack at range one.  It then took another blast from an A-Wing and was out.

Next was Kyle Katarn, who also fell foul of the Rebel and then an A-wing.

With Phil despairing, I told him that I had lost games where I had had a similar advantage. Each of my A-wings had only one hull (two at best) and the Rebel had only one hull left.

The Rebel was the first to go, leaving three A-Wings to pursue Garvin.  There was a point where I had him down to one hull and he then regenerated a shield; this was the beginnig of the end. Over a really challenging twenty minutes, Phil moved re-genned his way to safety and then killed two of my A-wings.  In the final round, I took a ballsy move and did a 5k turn over a rock with only one hull left.  I could have slow played but that’s just poor sportsmanship.  I went on for a position where I thought I would have a chance to get a shot off.  What happened? You’ve probably guessed, I rolled a hit after going over the rock.

What went wrong? I’m actually really happy with my flying but I know exactly why I lost – Phil told me so – it was Crack Shot.  I couldn’t knock off enough damage because of R2-D2 but I kept forgetting to use Crack Shot.  Had I managed that, I would be in the top 64.

 

 

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Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to thank Jason Grimwood and his staff for such an awesome day.  There was a charity raffle with all proceeds going towards Chartwell Cancer Trust – Tiger Children’s Ward.  This helped to raise over £1650 on the day and it was great to be a part of it.  There were some amazing prizes including lots of lovely X-Wing swag.  I came away with Star Wars Guess Who? (Yeah, I did!)

Well done to all involved.

The final ended at gone 2am and Jesper Hills won with bro-bots.  Jesper posted a breakdown of the lists from the top 16, you can find it here.

 

What now? I can’t blame the dice for my poor decision making or my lax manner with Crack Shot.  I need to get better.  Six games in one day is a lot, mistakes are made.  I could beat myself up over it, or I could simply learn to fly better.

In the most recent episode of the 186th Squadron Podcast, Mike Dennis mentions that he has spent so much time playing competitively that he hasn’t had a chance to play fun lists he has had in mind.  I completely identify with this.  I’ve wanted to run the A-Wing Crack swarm for just over a month but have been too busy refining Den-bot.  My Misthunter hasn’t yet seen or felt what a playmat is.

I have some tournaments over the next few months but nothing as big as Regionals.  It’s a bit gutting to think of how close I was to getting into the top 64 after round four; I only have myself to blame.

I still like this list.  Most importantly, with my two wins, they were because I remembered to use Crack Shot.

I can get back to having some fun now, seeing what works and what doesn’t, saving up for that Crack Shot tattoo for the back of each hand.

Droid and friends look down with disappointment.  No loot.
Featured

Battle Report: Back to Beggar’s Canyon

Here is my battle report of the Womprats Tournament #Xwing #Womprat #Scum

A long time ago…

Well, about two months ago, I played in my first competitive tournament – The Store Championship at The Games Shop in Aldershot (you can read about this here).

At last count, my win rate was a measly 20% – that’s lots of room for evaluation.  I’ve spent my time honing the one list that I’m determined to crack; I’ve committed to it until the Regionals at War Boar in Bromley next weekend.  This tournament was my last opportunity to interact with human beings in the flesh whilst playing, as opposed to Vassal, before Regionals.  There’s 100 players registered for that, I’m not sure of my chances for making top 64.

Today’s refinement of my list swapped R5-P8 and Glitterstim for Recon Specialist and the R4 Agromech. Why the change? I wanted to focus on being able to give Dengar the necessary resources to make the most of his revenge ability; Recon Spec gives me two focus tokens and the R4 Agromech gives me a target lock when spending a focus token. This still brings me in at 100 points.

Den Re-con.pngIG.pngWhere better to try out this list than where it all began?  Visiting the Womp Rats in their fetching orange t-shirts.

Game One Table seven – This was a bye. I’d messaged Tris, the TO, and told him of my woes on the Sunday service trains and he managed to pair me against another played who had not turned up.

Tris, being very lovely, managed to source parts for a list to give me a quick friendly before the first round was over.

I’ve had a lot of success with this list but that was before Autothrusters.

This was how Tris introduced the list to me, it consisted of a Millenium Falcon with Han, Kyle Katarn, Jan Ors, The Falcon title card and PTL. Tris’ second ship was a YT-2400 (a PS2 Wild Space Fringer) with the Outrider title, HLC and Mercenary Co-pilot crew.

I need to be honest – there are many crew cards, particularly Rebel ones, that I haven’t yet gotten to grips with. If, like me, you could do with a quick run down on these, have a look at the picture below (Looking back, this was one of my lessons in my previous post, May the Fourth be With Us All (or Games Where I Got Schooled – Part Deux, you can find that here).

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Kyle Katarn (Rebel Aces) ‘after you remove a stress token from your ship, you may assign a focus token to your ship.’ Sounds good, huh? Epecially if you combine it with PTL but, like R2-D2, if you want to really benefit from it, your movements become somewhat limited to green manoeuvres.

Jan Ors (Rebel Aces) ‘Once per round, when a friendly ship at range 1-3 performs a focus action or would be assigned a focus token, you may assign that ship an evade instead.’ Now, my understanding (please do correct me, I make no secret of being a rookie) is that the term ‘friendly ship’ can actually be applied to yourself – get yourself a free evade when you focus. Win.

Tangent.

How did I fare here? Pretty, pretty, preeetty good. Han is a PS9, as is Dengar – he seemed the most likely threat so I attempted to pummel him with red dice.  It worked.  I couldn’t believe it when I handed the Falcon to Tris to put at the side of the board.

I did have a poor succession of two crits, thanks to a certain card. Yep. I rolled a hit (three in eight chance, don’t you know?), so I took another crit. That pretty much finished Dengar off.

After that, it was down to 88B and Dash, who was already at three hits and a crit (I forget which).

img_3232100 – 52 to me (Actually counted as a bye but a good way to start the day – the best bye I’ve had)

Great, Kid. Don’t get cocky!

Game Two Table one, yeah, that’s right – I got to sit at the Captain’s Table for 60 minutes. To my right, UK Nationals Champion, and member of the 186th Squadron, Jesper Hills.

My first tournament, played just over two months ago, was here. Round two, just over two months ago, I played Andrew and he was incredibly forgiving of how green I was with my Bro-bot list. Round two today, I was paired against Andrew.

His list was: Dash Rendar in a YT-2400 with PTL, HLC, Engine Upgrade, The Outrider Title and Kanan Jarrus crew. Andrew’s second ship was a Lothal Rebel Ghost, Fire Control Systems, Autoblaster Turret with Hera Syndula and Han Solo crew.

Andrew and I both took some time to look  at each other’s lists before beginning. Even now, writing this, I’m beginning to see a pattern emerging where I know little about crew members who aren’t part of the Scum faction. Both Hera and Han I’ve encountered before but Han just doesn’t stick in my head, despite it being in Tom’s current list (You can find Tom’s blog here).

Take that Lando – Sabacc!

Take a moment to consider synergy (that buzzword of all the X-Wing Podcast Alliance).  Han Solo crew combined with Fire Control Systems is a no brainer, like shooting fish in a barrel and all those other idioms that symbolise requiring little thought power.

Anyway. I digress. I assessed Dash as my biggest threat and focused all firepower on him.

Two months ago, Andrew allowed my mistake of putting my dial the wrong way when I revealed my first manoeuvre. He could have let me fly of of the board. I was determined to get my initial interactions right here.

I attempted a cheeky barrel roll on Dengar after a one left turn, to discover that I had actually put myself right into range 3 of Andrew’s Dash. With HLC being his primary weapon, I gained no agility range bonus. Four attack versus my two agility and I rolled two eyeballs without a chance of a re-roll from Lone Wolf. Why didn’t I have my focus tokens from Recon Specialist? Because stupid cheeky barrel roll.

The droid watches on. He knows all.

Four shields gone in round one. That stupid move on my part pretty much cost me the game.

I continued with caution throughout the remaining 70 minutes, thinking consciously about how Andrew might block me and how I might best use my, now very vulnerable, ships to gradually chip away at his 26 hit points.

Andrew tabled me.  This was still a challenging game and it did help lay some ghosts to rest.

29 – 100 to Andrew

Game Three Back down to table seven. Lee had a Decimator – Rear Admiral Chiraneau with Mara Jade and Ysanne Izard as Crew, Expose and EU.  MJ gives out stress at the end of the combat phase if you are at range 1 and do not already have stress.

Ysanne gives the Decimator a free focus token if it has no shields and a damage card at the beginning of the combat phase.

Alongside Chiraneau, Lee had Vader with Predator, Adv. Targeting Computer, Tie/X1 title and EU.

This list was very similar to one I played last weekend at the ibuywargames Winter Kit in Woking (you can find it here).  I had learned from this experience and tried to keep both ships back at range three to benefit from the defensive range bonuses.

I have you now

My biggest mistake in the game last weekend was to concentrate on the Decimator as I needed to work away at its 16 hit points.  Bad move.  This time, I had Vader in my sights.

I’m also now at the point where I am able to recognise a bad move after I’ve done it; I’m actually very pleased with how critical I have become of myself.  In the second round of attack, I had Dengar at Range one of Vader.  With four red dice, I rolled two hits and two focuses.  I already had two focus tokes and a target lock.  I should have spent the token but didn’t because I had a brain fart and decided to use the target lock.  I could have had four guaranteed hits, but I re-rolled my eyeballs and got blanks.  Foolish.

After a while, I shot down Vader with IG’s gunner ability. He used his focus when attacking me and then evaded on my first attack. I then rolled two crits and a hit.

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Betrayed by my own Autothrusters.

With the final round, I was in range one of the Decimator with 88B out of Chiraneau’s firing arc.  With the higher PS, he shot first.  I had an evade token and three agility dice and I needed to beat four hits with only one hull left.  I rolled two evades and a focus. No Autothrusters to kick in.  No chance.

I managed to get Chiraneau down to half points but Lee killed both ships. He flew better. Pew. Pew. Boom.

68 – 100 to Lee

Game four – win!!! That’s right – two competetive wins in a day! (Can you see the excitement symbolised in my exclamation marks?) Mark’s list was Dengar with PTL, Bossk, Unhinged Astromech, Glitterstim, EU and the Punishing One title alongside Boba Fett with Adaotability, EU and the Slave 1 title (just for good measure, you understand?). Table eight.

I can’t believe I have no pictures of this match.

I began quite cautiously after my Autothruster incident.  88B was still spluttering through this game and suffered quite badly in the first round of fire.  I remember watching the shields go on each of Mark’s ships, I started dancing inside as I realised they were both at partial points.

Something seemed to click with my formation and eventually, Fett was caught in both firing arcs of Dengar and 88B.

Mark got half points on Dengar.

100 – 26 to me

Game five Finishing on table six. Graham’s List was two Scouts with Plasma Torps and Deadeye (one with 4-Lom and Feedback Array, the other with Glitterstim) and Palob with a Blaster Turret and the Moldy Crow title.

My Hwk dial actually squeeks when I turn it.  That’s how often it has been used.

Palob most often stole evade tokens from 88B, who then suffered most of Graham’s fire.  I really let myself down when I landed 88B on a rock – quite rightfully Graham shot that bot down.  In the next round, I did the same with Dengar.  I don’t know how I managed to survive a further two rounds but I did.

I took out one scout and very nearly took out the second; Palob got Dengar in the end. I managed half points on the second Scout.

Graham was a fantastic opponent at the end of five rounds.  He was jolly, we joked – it was the definition of fly casual. Thank you, Graham.

53 – 100 to Graham

So that’s that.  A bye (with a friendly win), a win and three losses. 14th out of 25.

The droid has loot and he is happy.

I know where I went wrong with each of my losses and am beginning to realise that one foul move can cost you the game, no matter how early on it is.  More importantly, I’m becoming able to recognise the move – I need to start thinking ahead.

A massive thank you to Tris for organizing the event. You were excellent and jolly.  Thanks for having me Womp Rats.

Next week: Regionals.

Loot!
Featured

Never Tell Me the Odds!

I’ve Been trying my best to earn my wings – here are a few guides that might help #Xwing
#Movement #Flybetter #OuterrimSmugglers

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So a while ago, I can’t remember which podcast I was listening to – I think it was the Mynock Squadron, and they mentioned a trick to help fly better: lay out all of your obstacles randomnly on a mat (asteroids, debris, bombs) and then attempt to manouvre around them.  Which movement temlpates work and where?

The morning before playing in the Winter Kit at Dark Sphere I did just this (you can read my battle report here).  You know what? It pretty much worked.  It’s been a while since I landed on an asteroid because my abilities of eyballing, my powers of guestimation (Using The Force, if you will) have become so much better.

Yet it still happens, I still guess incorrectly now and again and leave myself unable to attack and on a rock without actions (unless of course it was uavoidable and I’ve used Advanced Sensors to help mitigate the damage).

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 23.49.24.pngI’ve just got to grips with Vassal and discovered that it’s a little like starting from the ground up again.  What has been really useful is having a play with it offline and working out where my ship will land according to markers I have set myself;  trying to figure out the rule of 11 and focussing on different starting points in tandem with this.

Whilst searching for a few tips on flying large base ships in formation, I came across a few guides that I wanted to share with you.

The first guide was one that Tom came up with, you can find it here.  There is some excellent information here, particularly when you think about the comparison of your base to the movement templates. Tom also makes an effective compariosn of the angles to remember when using the bank and turn templates.  Tom’s guide is  good because it explores the difference between large base ships and small.

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

Finally, you should try watching this video by The Outer Rim Smugglers.

Once you’ve given it a go, you’ll find it’s actually quite addictive – plotting a course and then focussing on how your ship will work through.

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Winter Kit – ibuywargames 

One day, I will write a battle report that details a glorious win. I’m not asking for much. Top 10? Top 12? To go three and two?

This is my battle report for the Winter Kit Tournament at ibuywargames, Woking. Here is how I ended yet another tournament without any significant wins.

One day, I will write a battle report that details a glorious win.  I’m not asking for much.  Top 10? Top 12? To go three and two?

This is my battle report for the Winter Kit Tournament at ibuywargames, Woking.  Here is how I ended yet another tournament without any significant wins.

It’s not as though I want to blame my dice or my hippocampus.  I’m not even sure it was the list.  My last post focussed on a premature evaluation of my list that I proposed to play at this event, you can find it here.

My chosen list wasAttack Dengar88B Pred

Game One John’s list was IG-88B with PTL, Advanced Sensors, Mangler Cannon, Proximity Mines, Autothrusters and the IG-2000 title card.  Partnered with this was IG-88C with Calculation, Fire Control Sytems, Heavy Laser Canon, Inertial Dampeners, Autothrusters and the IG-2000 title card.  As well as this being the most adventurous Bro-bot combination, John also sported a super-cool paint job. Jealous? I was – it’s awesome.

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Look at these stylish Tron custom re-paints.  IG-88B is in blue.

I actually began the game feeling really tense.  I finished my last tournament with a poor MOV and the title of King of the Wooden Spoons.

As opening games go – this has been my best performance.  I managed to take out IG-88B, seeing the gunner ability as the biggest threat.

John took out both of my ships but not before I managed to get partial points on IG-88C.  That gave me an MOV of 75.

John was also an exellent and friendly opponent, he helped me evaluate my performance, hypothesising that had I remembered to use the revenge bot more often, I could have won the game.

100-75 to John.

Mara-jadeGame Two Tim’s list was Rear Admiral Chiraneau in a Decimator with VI (hello pilot skill 10); Tactician, Mara Jade, Rebel Captive and an Engine Upgrade.  Running with this, Tim had a Phantom Echo, Recon Specialist, Fire Control Systems, Veteran Instincts and the Advanced Cloaking Device.

Where to begin? Have a look at all of the stress factors on Chiranou.  As a representative of the Scum faction at this tournament, I’d like to say that Rebel Captive should be one of those upgrades of which I give very little fucks for.  In actuality, this simply just isn’t the case.

Where did I go wrong? What I should have done was used both ships to focus all fire on the Phantom and take it down, keeping my distance from the Decimator. I attempted to stay back but discovered that Tim’s plan very early on was to use Chiranou to get all up in my (space) grill.

The best I could muster was half points on Chiranou whilst trying to break through Tim’s blocking (I’m not quite sure how he managed that, being as he had the higher PS).

100-30 to Tim.

Omega-leader.pngGame Three Jamie – with his Aces Wild MK2 list (in five tournaments, this is the first time I had come across a quippy name for a list – nice work). Jamie had Soontir Fel (he’ll fly for anybody that captures him!) with the Royal Guard Title, PTL, Stealth Device and Autothrusters; Omega Leader with Comm Relay, Juke and the Engine Upgrade; and finally the Inquisitor with PTL, Prockets, Tie/V1 and Autothrusters.

Two ships there with Autothrusters as a counter to my turret with a primary weapon of three dice.

I have to say, this was my best flying of the day but I still came away without a win. This photo was my favourite moment, it happened minutes before I managed to knock out Soontir with my boxing him in.  Actually, my favourite moment was right after 88B had taken him out.  Then Omega leader moved further in front of Dengar and was out too.  I thought I could see a win in sight but it was the Inquisitor that nailed both ships; they were too weak for the end game.

100-65 to Jamie.

Game Four Tom (Sand, not my Tom) flew a Ghost with a Lothal Rebel, Fire Control Systems, Hera, Intelligence Agent, Autoblaster Turret. As a partner to this, he took a YT2400 with Dash, using the Outrider title, EU, PTL, Kanaan and HLC.

This was a particularly nice game for me as I had a chance to play Tom from the second round of the Slow Grow Tournament again (you can read about my report on this here).

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I have no picutres of this game, so I thought I’d stick this one in because badass.

Despite Tom forgetting to use Fire Control Sytems throughout, he still beat me.  Why? My major fault here was aiming for the Ghost rather than Dash.  With the higher Pilot Skill on Dengar, I should have focussed on Dash and then gone for the Lothal Rebel.  I didn’t, I lost.   Poor strategy.

I also forgot to use my range bonus just before Tom took out my IG-88B in the last few minutes of the game.  Annoyingly, we looked at what would have happened had I remembered to do this by rolling an extra agility die, wouldn’t you know – I got an evade. Tom being the gentleman that he is, offered me the chance to accept the evade and have another round.  This wouldn’t have made a difference to the result of the game but it would have improved my MOV.  I ummed.  I arred. I couldn’t accept. Not rolling the extra die in the first place was my mistake, not Tom’s.

100 – 55 to Tom.

Have you identified the weakness in your list?

Glitterstim-1
This was the lovely John Wainscott attempting to console me in the transition from round three to four.What didn’t I use? If you couldn’t tell from my visual clue, it’s Glitterstim.

During the last two games, I thought to myself, ‘Now would be an excellent time to trigger Glitterstim.’ Why didn’t I? Who knows?

I actually played a few games online after this and made a conscious effort to use Glitterstim at points where Dengar was the only one who could be attacked and it worked a treat.  Glitterstim wasn’t the weakness in my list, it was me.

I saw someone with a similar build to mine but Dengar had a K4 Security Droid with an Unhinged astromech.  This actually makes a lot of sense – your action would normally be a focus and most of the time, you have gained a target lock through the green maneuvre.

How often do I use the three speed manoeuvres? Not that often with Dengar so the Unhinged Astromech would be a waste of a point.  I also don’t think including Lone Wolf with a target lock ability is potentially a waste of three points (four if I include the extra point for the Unhinged Astromech).

Recon-specialistI could afford to stick Predator on both, drop Glitterstim and have a 99 point initiative bid. Maybe make room for an Engine Upgrade on Dengar?

I feel the biggest problem here (despite my lack of using Dengar’s native barrel roll) is how he actually would benefit from being a dual action ship – what’s the point of Dengar’s Revenge if you don’t have a focus or target lock?

With this, I propose two possible solutions – Recon Specialist paired with the R4 Agromech (this would definitely mean dropping Glitterstim) or The Overclocked R4 paired with Wired instead of Lone Wolf.

its_a_trap.jpgThe latter seems ballsier and I’m not sure if it shouldn’t be setting off Ackbar alarm signals. Hear me out, though. Recon Spec plus the Agromech comes in at 5 points.  If I traded this for Wired and the Overclocked R4, this would only cost three points and wouldn’t require the need for Lone Wolf because I would be gaining the re-rolls of the stress via Wired.  This would actually give me 5 points remaining to play with – I could put Glitterstim on both ships for that and have a 1 point intiative bid.  My biggest concern though is the limited dial on the Jumpmaster; I would only be able to clear the stress if I was heading left.  This makes my manouvres so much more predictable.

Worth the risk? Let me know your thoughts.

As for the Winter kit, I came 19th out of 21 with a Bye on the final round.  John came in at 11th and Tom (my Tom) came in at 7th, you can read his battle report here. I got an Alternative Art Poe Dameron and a Gunner for my troubles.

Seems familiar.

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Cheeky droid crept in for the photo again.

 

Featured

I Can Fly Anything!

Ordinance vs a more effective EPT? What about that revenge bot? He looks badass, right? Illicit upgrades?

There’s always room to evaluate your list, even if I have spent lots of time trying to remember complex sequences of actions…

With the week leading up to the Spring Kit at ibuywargames, Woking, I resolved that the answer wasn’t changing my Den-Bot list, but to play it as much as possible in an attempt to fly better.

Then again, ordinance vs a more effective EPT? What about that revenge bot? He looks badass, right? Illicit upgrades?

There’s always room to evaluate your list, even if you have spent lots of time working on remembering

Spend focus + acquire target lock + roll four dice + spend target lock to re-roll all dice except hits or crits + adjust one blank with Guidance Chips (if applicable) + possibly remove a shield after damage has been taken into account.

This was me trying to remind myself of my sequence of attack on my previously ordinance heavy Dengar build. You can read about the first time I used this list at the Dark Sphere Winter Kit tournament here. Have a look at the build below


Plasma Torps; Dead Eye to activate the torps without needing a target lock; the R4 Agromech to gain a target lock to immediately re-roll dice where needed and guidance chips to adjust a blank to a hit or hit to a crit. As well as Extra Munitions to allow me to repeat this trick.

When you do the maths, that’s a total of 8 points being spent on what is essentially a double alpha strike (alpha & beta?).  What about that title card? 12 points for an extra attack dice.

How much is an extra attack dice worth?

As a basic comparison, if I look at a Green Squadron A-Wing, I’m paying 19 points (17 with Chardaan re-fit) for a two attack dice ship with two shield and two hull.  Your average Zeta Squadron Pilot has similar stats (swap a hull for a shield) and that comes in at 16.  Rounding up, that’s 17 points for a two attack dice small ship (not very accurate, I know).

What about large base ships? The Contracted Scout comes in at 25 points for two attack dice.  The Wild Space Fringer comes in at 30 points for two attack dice. A Mandolorian Mercenary comes in 35 points for three attack dice.  So are we roughly estimating that you should be paying around 10 points for that extra attack dice rather than the 12 on the title card? Maybe.

Regardless, if I look at my previous Dengar build, I have spent 12 points on the title card and 8 points on making the ordinance work.  Am I spending 12 points on the title that isn’t really being used as a consequence of the ordinance?

I found that when encountering the triple Contracted Scout list at the Spring Kit in Marquee Models, Harlow (you can find the battle report here), there were three rounds in the first game where my opponent didn’t take an opportunity to attack Dengar, fearing the revenge shot of his ability.  That’s right, I managed some pretty good flying and managed to keep the Scouts in my primary firing arc whilst still keeping myself out of theirs.

How can I strengthen this fear of Dengar? I have eight points to play with if I drop ordinance. First stop: EPT – I’m a fan of Lone Wolf and I can see it will come in handy for the end game.  Next, Astromech: though I like the R4 Agromech’s  ability of providing a target lock when spending a focus, I’m keen to give R5-P8 a try as it isn’t an action based form of attack/defence. There is a 1/8 chance that it could backfire but those are pretty good odds.

Finally, for my illicit upgrade, I feel torn between Glitterstim and Inertial Dampners. I like the potential threat of each of these, the question is, which am I more willing to gamble upon? If I were interested in initiative, I would definitely go with the Dampners but I find the Jumpmaster’s 1 forward is an adequate substitute. Right now, I’m leaning towards Glitterstim, especially if I take into account the re-roll ability of Lone Wolf.

Attack Dengar.png

What about IG88-B? The other change I’ve made from the Dengar build is dropping Zuckuss so that I might play around with the EPT on 88B. I’ve gone with Crack Shot in the past and have made a great effort to remember using it; of all the EPTs, it’s really cost effective.  My other considerations are VI, Predator or PTL.

The standard pilot skill of 6 is fine by me, if anything, I’m interested in the possibility of Adaptability so that I might give myself a blocking or firing edge over other IGs.  With the point cost of 0, it would give me either a 3 point intiative bid or the opportunity of an illicit upgrade.  Tempting.

With PTL, I’m attempting to avoid stress so that leaves this card out.

Why Predator? My answer is linked to Fire Control Systems; the option of a continuous target lock is an attractive one but Advanced Sensors is a much more beneficial systems upgrade.  With Predator, as long as I can remember, I can take a re-roll when attacking and it isn’t limited to ‘once per round…’

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100 points total.

What are the pitfalls? If I go with Predator on 88B over Adaptability or Crack Shot, I have no initiave bid.

I have to remember to take advantage of both Predator and Lone Wolf.  I have to remember I have Glitterstim on the table and that it’s not just for show, even though the Twi’lek on the card looks pretty cool.

I’ll let you know when Sunday comes.

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May the Fourth be With us All (Or How I Got Schooled Part Deux)

This is my final post where I look at the progression of my first competitive list from start to finish in the Dark Sphere Slow Grow Tournament.

Introducing this post is a bit of an odd one.  It is my final post where I look at the progression of my first competitive list from start to finish. You can read about how I got on in the first two rounds of the Dark Sphere Slow Grow tournament here.

This is also the second part of a two part post that explores what I have learned playing X-Wing over the last four months. You can read my first post on this, titled Games Where I got Schooled (Part One) here.

Before we go any further, here is the list I was playing for this third round of the Slow Grow tournament at Dark Sphere, Waterloo.


Lesson our: Listen when your opponent explains their list to you

This final lesson is about knowing the strengths of your list and knowing how to cause your opponent aggro. Ask your opponent about their list if you don’t know what their pilots do or about their upgrades. They’re unlikely to be secretive or think you’re cheating; the cards are all on the table. Ask questions.

I’m not saying ‘Don’t fly casual’, but I am saying ‘Pay attention if you want to fly better and win.’

How does this apply to the final round of the Slow Grow?

My first game of round three was actually really intense, practically a mirror match. Chris flew: Poe with Predator, BB-8 and Autothrusters; a stresshog and Miranda in a K-Wing with C-3PO and TLT.  As we set out our rocks and positions, I decided to treat my A-Wings as Canon fodder, playing them up front and trying to use Crack Shot to cancel any evades that might come my way.

I aimed my offensive at Poe being as this was the first Poe I had come across without R5-P9 or R2-D2.

Both Y-Wings stayed out of the game pretty much until Poe had gone down.  The ensuing face off between my A-Wings and Y-Wing and Chris’ Y-Wing formed a pretty nonsense war of attrition taking all four ships out of the game. This left Ello and Miranda.  Both re-genning rebels in a dogfight that lasted the remaining twenty minutes of the game. With both ships still on the board at the end of 75 minutes, we worked out that my Ello was worth 37 points and Chris’ Miranda was worth 38.  A modified draw there then.

Game Two didn’t start well, I had forgotten a base so had to buy a ship before starting. Yep.  That kind of a no brainer that I have only myself to blame for.

Carnor_Jax

Keep your distance, but don’t look like you’re trying to keep your distance

I played Alex, his list was a Tie Advanced Prototype with the Inquisitor; Carnor Jax; a pilot skill 3 Tie Fighter and a pilot skill 2 Tie Advanced. Secret plans and clever tricks were afoot with this list that really left my ships in a mess.

Take Carnor, for instance.  No seriously. Take him.  Like away.

Carnor’s ability reads: ‘Enemy ships at Range 1 cannot perform focus or evade actions and cannot spend focus or evade tokens’.  Thanks for that. Winner. (Check your sarcasm radars if they’re not beeping right now).

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Look at that amazing artwork.  The At-At in the background is a real winner.

How about the Inquisitor? ‘When attacking with your primary weapon at Range 2-3, treat the range of the attack as Range 1’.
Defensive range bonuses? None.
Autothrusters on Ello? Denied.

On reflection, it seems that Alex’s list was actually the worst thing I could have come across, it had lots of counters to my ships that seemed rather action reliant. On top of this, I really didn’t fly well.  Alex flew better.  Alex won.

The real turning point was when I misjudged an angle and flew my Y-Wing onto a rock. Funnily enough, had I not done that, I could have taken a target lock; I could have attacked.  What I did was render myself defenceless.  Wide open.

I still had Ello for the end game but against three aces, it wasn’t ever going to end well for me.

100-0 to Alex

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They’re closing in! The Y-Wing was on the rock seconds ago.  Poor angle judgement on my part.

Game Three of the Slow Grow Third Round: Simon played a Stress Hog, Two Green Squadron Pilot A-Wings each with PTL and Juke and Tarn With R5 (or R7, I think it was R5. Let’s say it was R5. Or R7. Some Astromech). Another similar list to my own.

100 – 0 to Simon

This was my best flying. I knew the dials and used my ships to block and consciously think ahead. My ships fulfilled their potential as arc dodgers yet I still finished with my ships floating in small pieces wildly through space.

So where did I go wrong? The initial engagement was really tricky for my first Green Squadron Pilot, I misjudged where he might go and he landed in line of Simon’s two A-Wing firing arcs.

My plan was to use the A-Wings in an attempt to block Juke. I remembered to use Crack Shot on both ships in order to force a hit through being as Simon wanted to save both his focus and evade tokens to maximise the potential of Juke taking effect.  This worked on the whole, but trying to get damage through on ships that have three green dice, a focus and an evade token is incredibly hard when you only have two attack dice.  Chipping away.

Ello was the first to go down. I deliberately tried to play him at range 3 to make the most of Autothrusters but I stupidly ended up in range of Simon’s Stress-Hog. This resulted in me having two stress tokens to clear, I knew he would be out from that point. I managed to make Ello last another two rounds because I really did make the most of his role as an arc dodger. In the end, it was Juke that nailed Ello. A stressed Ello is an unhappy Ello.

Check the stress!

I know my flying has improved. The problem isn’t my ability as an arc dodger, it’s the concentration of where my fire power was going.

When I first started playing, I was clumsier, I hit asteroids more and I flew off of the board 1 in 5 games (I guesstimate) but importantly, I began each game by identifying my main threat and concentrating my firepower in that direction. During the course of the Slow Grow, I practised and honed my flying but at the sacrifice of offensive tactics.

Am I likely to play this list again? Who knows?  I don’t necessarily think the list is at fault.  I put it together before Wave 8, so it might not be reflective of the current meta, but it still containse an arc dodger, two jousters and a (locked) turret.  I also encountered similar variations during this round of the tournament.

It is now that I realise that I’ve been playing the list wrong. I held the stress hog back to maximise the use of TLT, using the A-Wings as fodder because of their high agility count and 4 hits taken before they go down. It occured to me that what I should be doing was use the Y-Wing for it’s tanky capability, especially in this match up.  I pitted Y-Wing against Y-Wing, when atcually what I wanted to do was double stress the A-Wings and stop my oppoenent’s actions taking place. It might have been unlikely that I would have got a shot through because of the high agility count, but the stress is what mattered here.

What do you achieve with an end-game where you have only a Stress-Hog? Zip. Nadda. In the last few rounds, I had a lone Green Squadron pilot (without Autothrusters, I might add) hanging in for a further three rounds, dodging firing arcs and then chipping away at one of Simon’s Green Squaron pilots until my pilot inevitably got caught.

What was the big lesson? When you’re opponent explains their list to you, identify the threat and then focus on how you might counter it.  This doesn’t mean simply put all of your egg-ships in the same basket but it means think carefully about how you might deploy the separate elements of your list and for what purpose. Game One – Miranda Vs Ello in the end game? Really? When was she going to go down? I should have used the Stress-Hog sooner and taken her actions away. Game Two, I should have focussed more on taking out Carnor. What would have done that? Stress-Hog.  Game Three, I really should have stressed at least one of the A-Wings.

The current meta in my area sees those U-boats creeping in, leaving little room for Stress-Hogs. Right now, I can’t help but see many missed opportunities in this and they’re all Y-Wing shaped.

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Games Where I Got Schooled (Part One)

With what looks like the rounding to a close of the Slow Grow at Dark Sphere, I thought it was time to explore what I had really learned over the last four months. A bit like that episode at the end of a series that is all filler where it’s simply just clips of all the other shows.

With what looks like the rounding to a close of the Slow Grow at Dark Sphere, I thought it was time to explore what I had really learned over the last four months. A bit like that episode at the end of a series that is all filler, where it’s simply just clips of all the other shows.

I could talk about the loot – I’ve now played in four tournaments and acquired an alternative art C-3PO, Veteran Instincts and a set of Ion Tokens.  Of those tournaments, I can list my wins on one hand.  Out of a total of 25 competitive games, I have won four and drawn one (I’m not including the Bye at the Marquee Models Spring Kit). That’s a whopping 80% of losses.

The whole point of me doing this blog was to evaluate my game and learn how to fly better.

Blue-squadron-pilotLesson One: Fly better – Two B-Wings vs Two A-Wings

It was playing two B-Wings against Lucas in my second 50point game of the Slow Grow, that’s where the losing began.  I went straight from a win on my first game and got cocky.  We had spoken beforehand about our lack of experience and how we both didn’t really have a clue what to play.  Lucas had told me he was going to try two Blue Squadron B-Wings and I had said that Fire Control Systems was a good bet in my (limited) experience. I went for two Green Squadron A-Wings.

When you look at the stats, the A-Wings were always going to be the underdogs here.

Other than playing against Tom, this was my first experience of an opponent who was flying in formation.  I split my A-Wings up and attempted to zip around the mat.  Lucas kept his ships on target, flying side by side.  Each time I came into attack on the primary arc of the two B-Wings, I would suffer two attacks from Lucas that each had the benefit of a target lock.

What should I have done? I had the right idea with separating my ships in an attempt to split Lucas’ formation but I didn’t go about it in quite the right way.  Had I spent more time on focusing how I might arc-dodge rather than straight up jousting, I might have had a chance.

There’s also something to be said for taking a target lock here instead of a focus, or perhaps a target lock at the earliest point of engagement where I might still be at the furthest range possible and then a focus on the next round.

Lesson Two: Have a game plan – Tom Duncan – Tie Fighter Mini Crack Swarm with Howlrunner and Darth Vader in a Tie Advanced

I still think that Tom Duncan is one of the loveliest opponents I have played.  Full stop.  I have always found the X-Wing community to be incredibly welcoming and forgiving of my rookie naïveté but this game against Tom was quite special.  You can read about my experience of the Store Championships at The Model Shop, Aldershot, in my post here.

Let’s be clear, when you’re new and you set up against an opponent who has a 2016 Championship Range Ruler you know that you’re suddenly playing with the big boys.

Tom (not Duncan, but my best friend – you can read his blog here) and the group I play with at Dark Sphere regularly get to see members of the 186th Squadron play.  They all seem to be nice guys and the podcast is ace but playing one of them in the first round of a swiss pairing isn’t what you want to see.

Howlrunner.pngMy first real competitive day tournament and I couldn’t decide on the list to take.  Tom (not Duncan) and I had discussed my different ideas in the car journey to Aldershot and I just didn’t think my 100 point Slow Grow List was competitive enough.  I came up with flying four A-Wings or Bro-bots.  I decided on the bots – both with FCS, Glitterstim and Autothrusters, a Heavy Laser Cannon on 88B and Mangler Cannon on 88C.

Initial engagements started well, Tom (this time Duncan) had explained his list to me and I perceived Howlrunner as the biggest threat because of her re-roll ability that would pass onto other ships at Range 1. I went for her.  I took her out in the first round but then it all went wrong and my ships were down quicker than you can say ‘bro-bots’.

I don’t think I underestimated Vader, the game didn’t go on long enough for him to become involved. It was the swarm that got me.

Where did I go wrong? Although I had given my list lots of thought, I didn’t actually test fly it before going to the tournament.  Flying two large base ships is hard.  I took rocks that I thought would cause hassle for my opponent but I also needed to fly around them myself.

IG88 dial.pngI hadn’t really thought about how I might use my different upgrades and often forgot to use them.  EPTs for instance, I had Veteran Instincts on 88B and Push The Limit on 88C.  I rarely remembered to use Push the Limit but I put it on there blindly without looking at the dial.  In this respect, I was really lucky as the dial is actually really forgiving of stress with lots of green.

I gave little thought to my approach. I zoomed in looking for conflict because I could, gaining a free evade with each boost by sharing 88C’s ability.

I rarely remembered to use Autothrusters throughout the day. This meant little in this match up, but made more of a difference when flying against triple K-Wings in my second game.

I’ve since refined my list and even moved onto Den-Bot. Bro-bots are still a really solid choice and I’ve traded FCS for Advanced Sensors so that I can put my actions in early and still execute a red manoeuvre if needed.

Lesson Three – Synergy

My final lesson here came from my experience at the Spring Kit Tournament at Marquee Models in Harlow.  You can read about it here.

I have never heard the word synergy as much as in the last four months listening to X-Wing podcasts.  I work in education and language is imprtant to me.  Semantics are important.  I fear the mis-use of words that results in a loss of meaning. As a consequence, I’ve been avoiding this buzzword for four months. How wrong was I?

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My second game, playing Jamie, was by far the most fun of the day.  I played Den-Bot and he had two Jumpmasters, one with Manaroo and another with Dengar.  For his final 12 points, Jamie played a naked Binarye Pirate in a Z-95.

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Jamie took me down bad because he flew better but, more importantly, his list worked well together. It synergised (even saying the word feels dirty).

Manaroo’s role of passing on a focus was so simple but perfectly complimented Jamie’s Dengar that, in his words, ‘wasn’t bothered by stress’.  His Overclocked R4 meant that he could pile on the stress and not worry because he would still be gaining focus tokens from Manaroo.  I’m not yet at that point where my lists are fully making the most of abilities that play a supporting role for the rest of the squad.

Not only this, but Manaroo had the revenge bot (R5-P8), so each time I tried to lay a hit on her, she would roll an attack dice on me and I would suffer the consequences. Clever girl.

That’s Three lessons.  Three’s enough for now.

I have moved…

Since February, I have been posting via the 186th Squadron Medium Blog.

You can find all of my stories there from the last few months, including

Into the Garbage Chute, Flyboy!

Do you still write your blog?

Save the Rebellion! Save the dream.

What’s the Meta with You?!

Rebellions are Built on Hope

You don’t know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life

Don’t Call Me a Mindless Philosopher…

Green Rookie’s Report from Yavin

You can also find some great X-Wing material by Nicholas Yun, Ben Lee, Tom Tattersall, Janus F Avivson and Oliver Pocknell.

Why not drop by and have a good read?