Abandon. Reckless abandon.
When faced with your first tournament, would you play a list you know well and have spent two months or so refining, or have a shit-fit about your list not being competitive enough and go with something you think might be able to deliver, and withstand, a little more firepower?
Esta indecision me molesta
My last post looked at my approaches to building a list for my local Slow Grow tournament, you can find it here. This was a long and arduous process but I actually learned a lot from it.
Whilst finalising my list, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Well, it’s just not Bro-bots.’ Or ‘I’ll go with Rebels but I’ll be thinking of Bro-Bots.’ Two Bro-bots together come in at 72 points, that would easily have given me 3 points to play with for the second round of my Slow Grow, giving me 25 points of upgrades for the final round.
Why didn’t I just go with Bro-bots, I hear you ask (all of you, at once, reading this en masse). The answer is too simple – I couldn’t get hold of a second IG-88 anywhere. So when I saw one in stock two days before my first tournament, I thought that Fate was smiling on me. As I took the box to the counter, I heard the voice of angels, hallowed and sweet. Harmonious.
It was too late for the Slow Grow as I’d already played a game and submitted my final list, this was Lady Luck’s signed apology.
I knew the list I would play without hesitation, I’d been constructing it in my head for a while. I knew the possible dangers of flying two large based ships, especially one without turrets. Regardless, I went for it.
This list comes in at 99 points. I suspected that I might end up with executing those red S-Loop manoeuvres, so being able to activate Glitterstim would be a potential saving grace. Equally, I thought that putting the Heavy Laser Cannon on B rather than C was a better idea because of the gunner style ability (yeah, I know that this needed some evaluation on my part) and my addition of VI.
VI on IG-88B, I thought was my best chance of pushing through four hits at once, especially countering the mediocre pilot skill of 6 on both bots.
Turrets? No fear – Autothrusters.
I thought including PTL on C rather than B might be a good move if faced with being a ‘lone-bot’.
How about swapping abilities – would I remember to do this? Only now am I beginning to contemplate methods that will help remind me to use my different cards.
My first game was against the lovely Tom Duncan. His ships sport a fetching Orange finish. He played a mini-crack swarm of Tie Fighters with Howlrunner and Darth Vader. Things started so well. I did the self-effacing British thing of apologising for my setup time and sharing with him that this was my first tournament and that I was actually quite nervous. In response, he was incredibly welcoming and jolly. Thank you Tom, if you’re reading.
Within the first activation phase, I took out Howlrunner – one shot. Achievement unlocked. And then it happened. For a moment, I thought that I was over-flowing with midichloreans and that this was just something that would come to me. It was as if I could see things before they happened. Time slowed down and I became at one with my ships.
I watched Tom, almost outside of my body, take me down in a paltry 25 minutes.
Second game – paired against Three K-Wings, Miranda and two Wardens, each with Tactician and TLT. As I aproached the table, the TO called two minutes to go, my opponent’s response, ‘Oh he’s got two IGs, this won’t take long!’
Within one move, I had set up to fly IG-88C off of the board. What do you do? In all honesty, I revealed my dial to my opponent and he simply handed it back to me, sage-like, ‘You didn’t mean to, it was probably nerves – let’s just put it in the right direction’. I’ll talk more about ‘fly casual’ later but, for now, this act of kindness is something I think exemplifies why the X-Wing community is one to be proud of.
I lasted the full hour in this game, with him taking out IG-88C in the final few minutes.
It doesn’t take long to realise how the Swiss format reflects on the tables you’re positioned at. I started at table 6, moved to 9, then to 15, then to 16.
John was a thoroughly nice bloke. He, like me, was yet to have a win by game three. We’d had lunch together and joked that we would be matched next. John’s list was a Latts Razzi with Gunner and Bossk coupled with Kath Scarlett. It’s actually quite a genius list, if the Slaver misses, Bossk and Gunner activate. In theory, he was waiting for his dice to fail on each round.
The eventual dogfight was glorious. This was my closest point to a win all day.
Game four – me vs Tom, my best friend and ride home (you can find his blog here). His list was Poe with R2-D2, VI and Autothrusters; Miranda K-Wing and a Stress Hog. We knew we were vying for last place. It was an excellent end to the day.
I placed 18th out of 18. Alt art C-3Po and a sneaky snooze for the journey home.
Keep your distance, but don’t look like you’re keeping your distance
In the eighties, this would be the bit at the end of a Mr T cartoon where the real Mr T would come on at the end of the show, ‘Hey kids, Mr T says stay in school and don’t do drugs’ (watch out for that tea they’re gonna give you B.A.). What did I learn? Well actually, this was my first real encounter of the incredible ethos of ‘fly casual’.
I also had a chance to meet UK nationals champion Jesper Hills (@jesperhills), Alex Birt (@Alex_Birt) and James Dowdall (@James_Dowdall) from the 186th Squadron Podcast (@186Podcast). It’s really refreshing to listen to a British podcast, give them a try.
Did the list work? What didn’t I use?
Knowing your list is vital. This tournament had only 18 players, that meant I played four games. I lost four games. Most often, this was beacuse I forgot to use PTL on IG88C or Autothrusters. How many times could I have activated Glitterstim and just not thought about it consciously enough (statistically, it would have been a maximum of eight). Being a beginner in such a welcoming community can be a real benefit when your opponent reminds you to use certain upgrades that might counter their hits but how long is it before this becomes a crutch?
Would I keep VI on IG-88B? I’m actually unsure. I’ve since changed the list to Glitter-Crack Bro-bots (see below), but with the amount of times I have forgotten to use Crack Shot, perhaps I might consider upping both bots to pilot skill 8, or maybe even lowering them with Adaptability if I get better at blocking. I agree with the consensus that Crack Shot is an effective psychological threat for your opponent, at least that’s how I hope it comes across.
Fire Control Systems are not needed when you consider IG88B’s gunner style ability. A much better choice, as I’ve found through listening to the 186th Squadron podcast is Advanced Sensors. This took me a while to get my head around. Ideally, it can add that element of unpredictability and still give you an action before potentially stressing yourself.
Having listened to Jesper Hills talk on the 186thSquadron podcast (he did win with Bro-bots), there’s certainly something in flying each IG-88 asymetrically. I’ve swapped the cannons with the corresponding bots too, leaving Mangler on B so that C will have that extra firepower if (when) my opponent takes B down.
Think about your rocks. I took large debris, the moustache and a medium sized looking potato. The debris made sense as I had anticipated misjudging manoeuvres and wanted to still be able to fire. I took the medium potato because I wanted to place an asteroid that would possibly make a larger impact on my opponents. Were these the right rocks? Maybe.
It shouldn’t go unnoticed that I’ve made quite a conscious effort to litter this post with a focus on remembering to use your upgrade cards. How do you go about this? One podcast I listened to recommended the method of placing that upgrade card on the mat at the beginning of each combat phase in an effort to remind yourself to use it. I feel mixed about this and view it as potentially obtrusive and offputting for your opponent. How about narrating your moves and then your intentions with your cards? It’s only just dawned on me that this is what my opponents might be doing as they talk me through their actions. I’m playing in a tournament on Sunday – how will I be trying to tackle my poor pregnant head? Write it on your hand. One will read Autothrusters, the other Crack Shot.
Has Wave 8 changed my list?
What would I experiment with now?