I have this curious sense of déjà-vu (how satisfying are the corresponding accents in that word to look at and to say?).
This has been another period of lost missions. September, October, November – it’s all been such an assault on the senses. Like a wookie on heat.
I have played in four tournaments over the last two and a half months; Wave 9 has dropped; a startling FAQ kicked in just before Worlds nerfing triple jumps; I came SECOND IN A TOURNAMENT AND GOT MY CORRAN CARD; Ben Lee of the 186th Squadron made it into the top 8 of Worlds; triple jumps got nerfed (semi-nerf for Biggs); HOTR came out; triple jumps got nerfed; We have a new World Champion in Nand Torfs with Dengaroo; triple jumps got nerfed – Sparkle Motion Squadron was formed (Me, Tom, Lloyd and Paul – FO).
With this dawning of a new era, I feel re-invigorated and ready for battle. Like the Greek audiences watching tragedies and experiencing catharsis at the downfall of the protagonist, I am ready to start anew.
This will be my first in a series of blog posts where I explore how I refine a list and what I learned about it through battle.
When I embarked on this blog (call it a journey, if you will), it was because I wanted to get better at the game; I felt the need to evaluate based on my poor performance at tournaments. In the interests of authenticity, I feel it appropriate that I focus on what I have actually learned over the last two months and how I intend to get better in time for the busy Regional Season that kicks off now(ish) – although my first Regional will be at Exeter on the 28th January. I’m hoping for a better fair than my result of 79th at the last Regionals I attended at Warboar in May (you can read about it here).
Fenn Rau, isn’t he the new hotness right now?
Whilst defending Alderaan, I was experimenting with Attani Mindlink, using Manaroo, Palob, a Binarye Pirate with Feedback Array and N’Dru Suhlak with Cluster Missiles. It was a list that I developed with Tom (although it was entirely his idea). I had planned to stick with it, replacing the Z-95s with Fenn Rau.
Since then, Andrew Pattison (Yavin Open Champion 2016, 186th Member and creator of the Patti-swarm) has been on the 186th Podcast talking about the power of Attanni Mindlink (follow the link for Episode 17); David Sutcliffe has written two posts via Stay on the Leader (you can find them here and here) and most importantly, Ben Lee took Fangaroo all the way to the top 8 of Worlds with an ill-timed Damaged Cockpit crit causing problems for Fenn Rau at the early stages of the game.
Well, What Have we here?
The first battle that I failed to report was the Well, What Have We Here Summer Kit at ibuywargames in Woking (October 16th). This was my first run of Fangaroo in a competitive setting, I went two and two – my highlights were as follows.
My preferred take on the power house that is Attani Mindlink:
Call it Bort-link (via Alex Birt of 186th), Fangaroo as it’s more commonly known or maybe ever Benn-aroo now, This list comes in at 98 points. I found that BMST is a good psychological threat, but there is an intitiave bidding war that comes with this list, more on that later (shhhhh. Come closer and I’ll tell you the secret…just not yet)
I won games one and two, tabling my first opponent who used a list involving the Shadow Caster and two Y-Wing TLTs, each with Unhinged Astromech. My next opponent, a Palp Aces list with Carnor and Countess Ryad, another win trading Teroch for the rest of the list.
Game Three, I was paired against Pete Wood of the 186th. This was a mirror match – with Pete playing his own take on Fangaroo. Rather than the plasmas on Roo, or BMST, he had Feedback Array – putting the list at 96 points.
(Ready for that secret about initiative? The secret is to give initiative away so that you can really capitalise on Fenn’s arc dodging capabilities).
This is where I first learned the perils of being given initative. The green X-wing youngster that I am, I thought that having initiative was the best thing as it gave me the opportunity to shoot first, especially in mirror matches – right? Right?
If you were listening to the Mynock Squadron’s report on Worlds, Ben Lee is interviewed very briefly and he explains the importance of having such a high intitiative bid. Try this sequence:
Player A has initiative (me)
Player B Does not (Pete)
Player A at the beginning of the combat phase uses Old Teroch to delete tokens from Player B’s old Teroch and then uses Manaroo to pass tokens around.
It is now Player B’s turn, he uses his Old Teroch to delete tokens from Player A’s Old Teroch but then passes more tokens around with Manaroo, therefore not being bothered by the actions of Player A moments ago.
Player A now has an untokened Old Teroch.
Thanks intitiative. No. Really. You’re too kind.
Things were looking good when, despite me having intitiative, I managed to explode Pete’s Old Teroch. Things were looking even more positive when I managed to use Roo to fire the Plasmas and get a few hits off of Pete’s Roo.
Then what went wrong? I blame my flying really. My opening was strong, I managed to cause Pete some explosions, but then for three turns I flew Roo over an asteroid or debris, losing actions or stressing my other pilots, or both.
This was a tight game that I thoroughly enjoyed but I know I could have flown better. Pete congratulated me afterwards, telling me how tight the game was. Had I flown Roo better, I would have had a much stronger chance of winning.
Game Four Sim 0 -100 (Loss)
Sim’s list was:
Tie Defender Colonel Vessery
- Tie X/7
Tie Defender Countes Ryad
- Push The Limit
- Twin Ion Engine Mk II
- Tie X/7
Delta Squadron Pilot
- Tie X/7
By this point, the pressure was severely mounting and my brain was entirely frazzled from Game three. I know Sim really well, and we regularly meet at Dark Sphere on a Tuesday night; Sim had even told me that he knew what to do against a Fangaroo list because in his most recent bout at the UKTC 2016 because of our practise sessions.
It’s fair to say that I approached this game with some trepidation.
Sim and I didn’t even need to explain lists to each other. I was 98 points, he was 100. We fist bumped each other good luck.
My further memories of this game are interspersed with parts of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi that Ian was playing in the background (thanks again Ian, it made the day awesome).
With the initial round of firing, I had managed to knock Sim’s Delta down to one hull with with Fenn and Old Teroch at range two. Some extremely lucky green dice had, once again, saved my bacon.
As we set up for the next movement activation phase. It looked a little like this:
I set Old Teroch with a Two Talon Roll left, hoping that he would be able to strip somebody’s tokens. I then set Fenn with a one turn left to compliment this, hoping I might be able to reposition him for a good range one shot. Roo, I gave a three bank right, hoping to get her into a good position with the target lock and then either use BMST or take a focus.
By the start of the next combat round, it looked a little like this.
I had managed to get Teroch to strip Vess’ tokens and I didn’t reposition Fenn any further because I assumed that Teroch could still shoot at the Delta and Fenn would be able to shoot at Vess. If all else failed, I hadn’t passed along the target lock from Roo, so she would still be able to fire her plasmas at Ryad, right?
Take another look at what happens when you apply each of my firing arcs.
Fenn misses Vess.
Teroch misses the Delta.
Roo can only muster two attack dice at range three on the Delta or Ryad, who each still have an evade token as well as possibly a focus.
Now look at what happens when you apply the Defender firing arcs
Bye Fenn. Not even the Protectorate Dawn title can get you our of this.
From this point on, my play was as messy as Lucas’ 2011 remastering of Jedi. I can sum it up with one final image.
Yep. That horrid alien dude that verges on some sort of racist stereotype. Take a good look at it.
Sim was angry with me, and rightly so – I had a win in my grasp and fluffed the angles, not only once but thrice; all in one turn. Teroch was the next to explode. I couldn’t even manage to get Roo to knock out that final hull from the Delta.
Once a secret is known, it cannot be unknown
My positioning in this tournament was shoddy at best. I have gotten better at anticipating where my opponent will be heading, but the finer details of where my ships will land in relation to obstacles really escaped me at this tournament.
In both games two and three, I misread a 3 speed turn and landed Fenn on a rock. Luckily with game two, I didn’t roll a hit and was able to sort myself out to win the game. With game three, I flew Roo over two debris cluds at the beginning of the game and rolled a crit with each one. I then moved her over a rock and rolled a hit. In the combat round before that, I rolled five dice against Pete’s Roo via Fenn’s ability and came up with two focuses and three blanks – I had not tokens so re-rolled all of them with a target lock. I managed three hits on that total. Please don’t think I’m blaming my dice – had I flown better, I wouldn’t have had Roo go over a debris cloud and not be able to pass on the focus tokens.
Having the inititive bid is something Tom and I have been discussing at great length lately, mainly because I anticipate seeing lots of people bring Fenn and I’m going to want to shoot first. My experiences here tell me that I’ve been having the right conversation, but for the wrong reasons. I don’t want initiative – what would be the point in that? I would be giving myself away, when really, what I want is to place Fenn last and have him in prime position to take advantage of his range one five dice ability.
The list is strong, but my judgement was off. If I am to stick with this, and there’s a fair chance of that – I need to strip it some more. The first thing to go is Black Market Slicer Tools. Although I wasn’t to know this until two more tournaments later, I needed to strip away the Plasmas on Roo too, favouring Feedback Array and then taking the list down to 96 points.
What next? Asteroid placement. I have a plan.
With that, I will leave you with the original ending of Jedi – enjoy.