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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.