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.
Lesson 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.
My 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.
I 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?
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.
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.