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:
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
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.