Battle Report: I am Your Father’s Day – Stevenage

I finish my final draft of this a week and a half after the event; I feel really very mixed about my results. This marks the third tournament where my final place is within the top 16. I came 14th at the Womp Rats: Back to Beggar’s Canyon (you can read about it here); 15th in the Dark Sphere Slow Grow (you can read about it here and here) and then coming 15th here(you can read about it in this post).

Does that mean I’m no longer a rookie? Can I progress to a mid-table player? Tom, am I coming for your crown?

If I feel good about the result and I can see some real progress in my rankings, why has it taken me over a week to write this post? Even then, the main body of it was written on the day – so why couldn’t I just get it finished?

Since my post exploring David Sutcliffe’s thoughts on Variance, I have really been evaluating my own relationship with the game.  My main conclusions from Sutcliffe’s article are that variance is:

  1. inescapable;
  2. neither a good nor a bad thing, simply a different play style and way of understanding the potential risk factor of the game;
  3. something to use to your advantage when you increase the competitive tournaments you attend.

I feel really privileged that David responded to me with the following:

You can’t escape it entirely but you can decide how much you want to minimise it, or risk big losses to chase big wins.

Thanks David. With this in mind, I began the day with asking myself the following question:

What does Success look like?

  • Keeping the balance between flying casually and being competitive
  • Winning at least two games out of 4
  • Learning something
  • Loot for the droid

Unless I commit to winning (with or without my A-Wing Crack Swarm), I have little chances of ever improving.

What list did I take?

Green Crack A-wing

Five of these.

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 16.02.23.png

I’ve named them Phoenix Squadron, they are: Phoenix (Orange); Inferno (Blue); Flame (Pink); Blaze (Yellow) and Flare (Red). You can read a bit more about my naming of the squad here.

Game One David Cooney 50-80

David’s list was:

T-70 – Blue Squadron Novice

  • R2 Astromech
  • Integrated Astromech

Y-Wing – Gold Squadron Pilot

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • R5 Astromech

Y-Wing – Gold Squadron Pilot

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • R5 Astromech

z-95 Bandit Pilot

z-95 Bandit Pilot

As we set up and David explained his list, the abundance of PS2 ships there filled me with joy. I would definitely be shooting first and was happy about this; I saw no need to lower any of my ships to PS2. I weighed up the biggest threat, assessed that it might be a waste to focus fire on the Y-Wings initially and so went straight for the T-70.

I managed this fairly successfully and the T-70 exploded in the first round of combat.  Due to my placement of ships, I then needed to decide if I was going to focus fire on a Y-Wing or Z-95. Flare had already lost her shields to a Y-Wing, so this is where I concentrated my focus. The Y-Wing was down within two more rounds, but Flare suffered and became a ball of flames without using her Crack Shot.

 

 

Some poor planning left Flame overlooking a rock if she were to enter the combat, so I took a risk and flew her out of the asteroid field, she later finished the game on full health.

Inferno, on the other hand flew over a rock and lost a shield.

It was around 45 minutes in when I realised that my potential victory depended on numbers. As it got to the 60 minute mark, I had two A-Wings left and David outnumbered me with two Z-95s and a Y-Wing.

In the final round of combat, it all rested on Blaze, who had the final shot and a target lock a Z-95 with only one hull left. First dice roll, she rolled two focuses. Second dice roll, she rolled two focuses.  With this, David then used his Y-Wing to take me out long range with a TLT. Thanks Blaze.

Game Two ‘Johno’ Swarm 80-0

John’s list was:

Tie Fighter – Howlrunner with Swarm Tactics

Tie Interceptor – Avenger Squadron Pilot PS3

Tie Interceptor – Alpha Interceptor x 2

Tie Figter – Academy Pilots x2

In the opening of the game, Blaze tried to fly off the board. I had set her up with a two hard turn to the left instead of the right. I showed this to John immediately and he was very forgiving. How did I repay him?

The gap in the middle is where one of the interceptors was before Phoenix, Flame and Blaze used their Crack Shots to take it down.

After this, it was a bit of a spaghetti junction in the middle, where my As proceeded to block John, taking out another Interceptor, before moving onto the Tie Fighters. You may think I was a little mad to leave Howlrunner for so long, actually, the blocking caused her to separate from the squad at more than range 1, therefore not allowing her re-roll abilities to proc.

By the end of the game, all five As were still on the board and John still had one interceptor left. Crazy, huh? When it works and you can spend all of your Crack Shots, it really does work.

As the game ended, John asked me what he should have changed and at the time, I wasn’t as clear as I am now as to why the win went off in the way that it did. My answer then was ‘Variance, we both played well but I think my dice were luckier’. I still think this but I will elaborate a little later as to how I should have been more critical of our (my) performance.

John Kane 68 – 40 (win?!!!)

K-Wing – Miranda Doni

  • Twin Laser Turret

A-Wing – Jake Farrell

  • Adaptability
  • Proton Rockets
  • Autothrusters
  • A-Wing Test Pilot title card
  • Push the Limit

Attack Shuttle – Sabine Wren (adds boost action)

  • Lone Wolf
  • Chewbacca crew card
  • Twin Laser Turret

By this point, I was as ready as I could ever be to take on John. He had beaten Tom earlier in the day and he has a rep that is a little intimidating, especially for a rookie like me.

I’ve not played against a K-Wing in a long time, but I saw it as something that I really shouldn’t take on. My plan was to aim for Sabine or Jake, then aim for the remaining Sabine or Jake, hopefully leaving enough space (and time) to avoid Miranda and take some unavoidable damage. I wanted a win but I didn’t expect it.

John played Sabine up front, keeping Miranda to the side and leaving Jake at the back and out of reach. As Sabine began to dole out some fairly consistent damage with her TLT, killing Inferno  before she had a chance to use her Crack Shot; I concentrated my fire here first. Surprisingly, I managed to use my Crack Shots from Phoenix and Flame and she was out.

Next up, Blaze made a dash forward, hoping to tempt Jake out from his spot in the back corner of the mat. Jake used his prockets to smack Blaze in the face, one shot and down! That will teach me for attempting a manoeuvre that was mid-way between a block and a bait and not really pulling off either.

Whilst this was going on, Miranda had crept her way within range of my remaining four A-Wings, with John using her ability to lose shields and increase the shots fired via the TLT.  This was actually where I managed to take advantage and leapt on a Miranda who was more vulnerable than usual.

By the end of the game, Jake was still alive but so were Phoenix, Flame and Blaze.

 

Steve Majer 0 – 100

Lambda Shuttle – Omicron Group Pilot

  • Emperor Palpatine crew card

Tie Phantom – Whisper

  • Veteran Instincts
  • Fire Control Systems
  • Advanced Cloaking Device

Tie Advanced X1 – Darth Vader

  • Veteran Instincts
  • Adv. Targeting Computer
  • Tie/x1 Title card

Let’s be clear: Steve schooled me.

I went into Round four knowing that I was doing better than Tom, being two and one. I felt the tension, especially when I found out my opponent was Steve Majer.  You know the one – awesome personalised ships Steve Majer (You can see his firespray and Z-95 here, they’re really precise and subtle).

I have faced and beaten Palp Aces style lists before with my A-wings and with my Rebels list at the London Regionals (you can read about it here).  I knew it was possible to emerge the victor but I also knew it would be a real feat.

I made the decision early on to go for Vader. I couldn’t see that my ships would make that much difference to the Phantom when cloaked and I perceived the shuttle to be a bit of bait that I didn’t want to tangle with.

It’s clear that after Blaze failed so spectacularly in game three when trying to bait Jake that this was not a good idea. Clearly, Flare wasn’t paying attention as she gave it a second try.

I wanted this

star-wars-darth-vader-spinning

I would have been happy with this

star destroyer

Actually, what I got was this

death-star-explosion-o

An over-exaggeration? I can’t. Even. Afterwards, Steve and I joked that the A-Wings had no clue what was happening. They spent the game chasing Vader, whilst the invisible Phantom kept popping them off.

Steve’s thoughts were that I shouldn’t have split the swarm at the beginning, I’m still not sure whether this was a good idea or not, but I’m willing to trust his judgement. I know the major mistake (sorry Steve, I couldn’t resist that one) was to allow Flare’s daredevil tactics at the beginning; I should have let Vader come to me.

fail
Last gif, I promise.

 

When I return to my success criteria for the day, I managed to achieve all four of my goals.

How did naming and colour coding my squadron help? At least twice during the day, I would look at the board and try to figure out where to move ships, then I would remember the plan. What dial was I holding? Where should that dial go? There were other times where I instantly went for the dial I wanted.

After looking at my analysis of my ship play, it seems Blaze has a fairly odd personality emerging.  She blanked out at the end of game one with her target lock on the Z-95 and then later got killed by Jake in game three. She also tried to fly off of the board at the beginning of game two.

What about my strength of Schedule (SOS)? This was 40, in comparison to those I played, David (game one) finished 4th overall with an SOS of 45; John finished 28th with an SOS of 30; John Kane finished 10th with an SOS of 41 and Steve finished 5th with an SOS of 30. What does this all mean? I got consistently better as the day went on, so my opponents became progressively harder. In a scenario like this tournament where game four fatigue kicks in, the chances of a win become fewer.

My biggest lesson was that I seem to have clicked with my player style. I know that when I try to be more aggressive, it just doesn’t work for me (yet).

In games three and four, my non-committal of a ship’s movement in an attempt to bait out my opponent caused a ball of flames. I know now that I really need to focus on developing my abilities as a blocker and reading my opponent’s potential movements. I played John again at Dark Sphere two days after the event, he beat me twice in a row, with me rarely focussing fire enough. Not only this, but we discussed how I might take advantage of Adaptability more.

I rarely put the PS of my As down, this is something I need to experiment with. I’ve also toyed with the idea of using Predator on two of the ships upfront, lowering their PS to 2 and losing the Autothrusters to account for the difference in point costs.

 

Am I ready to stop calling myself a ‘rookie’? Not yet.

 

 

 

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