This is the second post in a series where I explore how my play has developed, evaluating my performance in preparation for the impending Regionals Season (You can read the first in this series here). Actually, the first Regional event has happened at IQ Gaming Huddersfield.
The final was Tom Reed Vs. Paul Smith, with Paul flying Corran Horn with PTL, R2-D2, Fire Control System and Engine Upgrade; Miranda with Sabine, TLT, Connor Net, Ion Bombs, Extra Munitions, Homing Missiles and Advanced Slam. Tom’s list was Ketsu Onyo with Push the Limit, Shadow Caster title, K4 Securty Droid, Glitterstim and Engine Upgrade; Assajj Ventress with Push the Limit, Latts Razzi, Glitterstim, Black Market Slicers and Gyroscopic Targeting. Paul took the win with Corran and Miranda – well done to you both!
It appears that double Shadowcasters are definitely a thing right now, as are the return of re-genning Rebels. Who would have thunk that handing out Corran Horn cards as part of the top prizes in Summer Kits would lead to Corran’s return in force? Well? It’s almost like someone is trying to gently shape the meta in the background. Like there are opposing factions in a war of attrition where nobody really knows what’s going on except a shadowy woman in a monkey mask on a holographic projection.
Taking a brief tangent, this series allows me to lay some ghosts to rest with unfinished posts where I had an idea but didn’t get a chance to fully finish it off. For instance, I haven’t yet published my exploration of World’s Meta or expressed congratulations to Nand Torfs properly. I meant to, I even sent a draft to Tom (fellow Sparkle Motion Squadron and player).
2016 Worlds finished a fortnight ago, with Nand Torfs, a Belgian from Ego Squadron, taking the title with a variant of Dengaroo.
If you didn’t know the winning list, it’s
Jumpmaster 5000 Dengar
•Punishing One title
Jumpmaster 5000 Manaroo
•Push the Limit
Congratulations to Nand – you flew well! Up until Top 4, I was rooting for Benjamin Lee of the 186th Squadron (Fangaroo), and then Thomas ‘Jack’ Mooney (Fat Han and Jake).
I’m still allowed to call myself European – Nand, you did it, Dude. Nice.
Contextually, the events that led up to Worlds 2016 – FAQ Version 4.2.2 and the release of HOTR mean that the analysis of Worlds meta data might not be that useful when considering how this might map the meta for the upcoming regionals.
DeadEye. Let the hate flow. The vitriol. All those triple jump contracted scout loo boats (stick another adjective in there somewhere). Everybody gets delusions of grandeur.
This year’s meta (via Major Juggler) was as follows:
This year’s Worlds top 16 was incredibly diverse:
•3 x Palp Defenders
•3 x Dengaroo
•1 x Double Lancer
•1 x Deci Whisper
•1 x Triple Defenders
•4 x TLT
•1 x Triple Scouts
•1 x Palp Aces
•1 x Han & Jake
•1 x Mindlink Scum
•1 x Coran & Miranda
•1 x Lancer and Y-Wing TLTs (Hi, Paul)
That’s two Rebel lists, six Imperial lists and a whopping eight Scum lists. With the FAQ and the HOTR not yet being tournament legal, how much can this be a reflection of the meta to come?
English Nationals 2016 – the top 16 lists contained a total of 13 Jumpmasters (ships, not lists)? The dropping of an FAQ two weeks before Worlds that nerfed triple jumps must have hit hard. I listen to many X-Wing podcasts and they often talk about the skewed UK meta and how they can’t understand why there are so many Triple Scout variants. One of those belonged to current UK National Champion Duncan Callendar.
With this in mind, the meta is a huge beast, much like the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal. Who knows what will happen? I make predictions for a return of the Falcons (VI Rey), with lots of Poe, followed by Dengaroo and Defenders. Now the Alpha Strike of the triple jumps has gone, we’ll see more TLTs too (so that’s K-Wings and Y-Wings) [shuddering to think of having to play against 4 TLT Ys; even the new Braylen Stram as a replacement Stresshog. Will Fangaroo go away? hmmm…]
Anyway. Target Priority (with a dash of Hubris)
Tom and I played at a tournament as part of the Tabletop Games Convention in Tring on 22nd October. I went 3 and 1 for the day with my newly modified Fangaroo list
I’ve dropped Black Market Slicers, taking it down to 97 points. We were both guilty of not making any sufficient notes for the day. By the time I got to Game Three, playing Tom againt his Rau-lob-Roo Link list, we were both at 2 and 0 and we knew that our progression for the day would depend on the victor.
We play so often against each other in practise sessions, but we rarely get to play in a tournament setting. Tom mis-played where to decloak Palob in round two, leaving him open on a rock and unable to attack. I took advantage with both Teroch and Fenn, leaving him a ship down. By the end of the match, I had lost Teroch, but I still had Fenn and Roo. I had learned a valuable lesson about taking ships out of play when they were bleeding and I used it to good fashion here.
I finished second place, losing first place by 46 points, the exact amount that I had lost in my final game against Ed (who also had a Fangaroo list, but no Mindlink and came in at 96 points).
I finished 2nd, Tom came 3rd and we celebrated over a pint and some rather posh freshly made pork scratchings.
My best perfomance yet.
The following weekend, Tom and I played at the Conquest Tournament in Shoreham. After our success in Tring, I can safely say that we both approached this tournament with a little swagger.
Game One Olly Pocknell
YT-1300 – Han Solo (old Han, but Younger Han)
- C-3P0 crew
- Luke Skywalker Crew
- Millennium Falcon Title
- Engine Upgrade
K-Wing – Miranda Doni
- Long Range Scanners
- Twin Laser Turret
- Fenn first to die
- Manaroo landing on rocks; misjudged 1 turn
- Three times misjudged
- Not even half points
- Complimented my flying – 45 mins
I’ve written before about the intimidation I feel when placed against an opponent that has:
A) a store championship range ruler
B) regionals dice
C) a 186th Squadron T-shirt
I can go one further than this: Nordic Nationals Champion Oliver Pocknell.
Round One. Sad face. Heavy sigh.
If game one were an episode of Peep Show, the script would be as follows.
‘Haven’t we met?’
‘Maybe, I don’t think so.’ [I’m 99.9% certain we haven’t but I’m being far too polite and hoping he’ll go easy on me].
‘Yeah. It’s possible. I know of you.’ [uneasy laugh from me and a smile from him].
Oliver begins to talk me through his list:
‘It’s a rather chubby Han’
‘A Fat Han?’
‘Yeah, it’s a Fat Han. He’s been at the pies’.
[Dammit. He’s really jolly, somewhat nice, cracks jokes and is still intimidating. I’m too scared to try to be funny. Can’t look like a dick. Can’t look like a dick].
‘So yeah, do you know how Han and Predator work?’
[I nod. Eyes like a rabbit in the headlights].
‘The card says that you can re-roll the dice that you can, so I’m likely to Predator and then use Han’s ability.’
[Got it. Er…better ask a question to make it look like the panic hasn’t set in].
‘Could you do it the other way round? Han’s ability and then Predator?’
[Don’t be stupid, of course you fucking can’t. Ask any question except the really fucking stupid one with an obvious answer].
I talk to him about my list. He’s seen it. He knows what it is. He’s one of the few members of the 186th not running something similar.
‘So, a pretty scary match up for both of us.’
[Yeah that’s a statement, not a question. He means it. I might have a chance on this].
‘Yeah, but there’s only one of us that’s a National Champion’.
There it was. The bantha in the room. He smiles. I give him initiative. The rocks end up looking fairly symmetrical.
You’ve already read the score. It’s not like I’m posting a spoiler or anything. I’m writing this from the Bye chair (for the first time in months).
I’ve been practising my opening and I feel it’s pretty solid with this list. The approach works much like Dengaroo, play the Fangs up front and keep Roo on the back foot, passing tokens and hopefully target locks.
With this match-up, range control is key. I want to get Fenn into range one but if it’s range one of Han, that’s a potential four hits. Of course, if it’s range one in arc, Concord Dawn kicks in and I have a guaranteed evade. At the same time, if I’m out of arc, the Autothrusters kick in. Worse than that, if I evade the first round of fire, Luke will kick in and that’s really tough, especially if you’re relying on the green dice.
Since the release of Wave 9, I’ve focussed heavily on controlling my range, making the most of repositional abilities and then moving wounded ships out of the fight to enable recovery time. Given my success of coming 2nd at the tournament in Tring last weekend, I felt that I really had a secure grip on these.
Not this game.
The first 45 minutes were pretty tense. The first round of combat saw Teroch in range one and in Miranda’s arc, with Fenn just short at range two. To the left of these two, Han has a shot on both.
Somehow, Fenn manages to survive an attack from Han with only one damage. He uses this to attack Miranda and with focussed fire from the two Mandolorians, she’s down to one shield.
After Miranda’s TLT attack on Fenn, he’s now down to two hull. This should have been the point where I flew him out of there on the next round. Should.
I actually attempted a 2 talon roll and didn’t make it, stressing all. I’d planned for this eventuality and given Fenn a green manoeuvre but it still meant the guns from Teroch were facing the wrong way.
Fenn was down two rounds later. I used him to block Han successfully, but it was the TLT that did it again. At that point, Miranda had successfully regenned her way back up to three shields.
Meanwhile, Roo spent two rounds landing on a rock, followed by another on a debris’. I rolled two hits for each of the rocks, taking away the final shield. The debris stressed everybody.
It wasn’t long before Teroch exploded, leaving Roo with her plasmas to try and make an impact on Han, who still had three shields left.
My target priority had been wrong the entire time. If I had gone after Han, the risk would have been greater, but at least I would have been looking at a potential half points on the Falcon instead of this right now:
Roo died in a rather anti-climactic fashion on the 70th minute.
I knew my mistakes. Roo’s landing on the rocks were a real kicker. Despite this poor flying,
‘Your opening was spot on and for the first 45 minutes, it was pretty hairy’.
Game Three Nathan 100-47
Nathan’s list was
Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Ketsu
- Dengar crew (for the re-rolls)
- Black Market Slicer Tools
- Anti-Pursuit Lasers
- K4 Security Droid
- Engine Upgrade.
I needed a win, I got a win. IT WAS BRUTAL. Fearlessness on both big base ships was tough and I was lucky with my dice rolls. Fenn had a Console Fire crit and only two hull remaining; the stress from Tactician and Ketso stopped me from being able to flip it three times – each time I rolled a blank.
I finally got my act together and used the Plasmas from Roo to take out Bossk, leaving Ketso with 5 hull to take down. When I did mange to get Fenn in a good position – I had a target lock at range 1 and managed a stupid succession of five crits including 3 Direct Hits, Stunned Pilot, Loose Stabiliser and Console Fire.
Game Four Ben Cooper 22-100
YT-2400 Dash Rendar
- Push the Limit
- Kanan crew
- Outryder title
- Anti-Pursuit Lasers
Two Rookie T-65s affectionately called Shorty and Lofty.
The first round of combat saw me get shorty down to two hull so I decided to focus my fire there. My priority should have been taking out Dash as quick as possible; Fenn and Teroch were both very vulnerable to the HLC and target lock. I knew about the donut hole, but I just didn’t focus on it.
The things I got right in game three, I got so very wrong in game four. It’s unusual to see a Dash build that does not have Engine Upgrade, but Ben correctly blocked both of my Fangs, using APL to knock off a few points for two rounds.
Whereas game three and the previous weekend at Tring I would have used a bait and switch strategy, or at least moved ships out of play when they were damaged, this time I made poor decisions based on trying to desperately secure a much needed win. I was unable to see the wookies for the ewoks (or something like that).
So there you have it. I finished 11th and Tom finished 13th.
Three things to learn from this
- Target priority
- Obstacle placement (I will explore this in a later post)
- Keeping things in arc with Roo to take opportunities with Plasmas (should I choose to keep them with this list).
What of Tring? Does it mean that we have got significantly better? Well, yes. Does it mean that we are champions of Tring? No. On that day, on that afternoon, out of those 16 people, we played better than 13 of them. That is all.
Do our failures at Conquest mean we have gone backwards? No. I made some silly errors and learned some serious lessons about target priority.
I still managed some loot for the droid.