I have moved…

Since February, I have been posting via the 186th Squadron Medium Blog.

You can find all of my stories there from the last few months, including

Into the Garbage Chute, Flyboy!

Do you still write your blog?

Save the Rebellion! Save the dream.

What’s the Meta with You?!

Rebellions are Built on Hope

You don’t know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life

Don’t Call Me a Mindless Philosopher…

Green Rookie’s Report from Yavin

You can also find some great X-Wing material by Nicholas Yun, Ben Lee, Tom Tattersall, Janus F Avivson and Oliver Pocknell.

Why not drop by and have a good read?

 

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Exe-Wing Regionals, Exeter

After parts 1-3 of my Road to Regionals series, here is my battle report from the Exe-Wing Regional in Exeter.

It’s approaching my one year anniversary of playing X-Wing. Happy birthday to me.

I felt a real sense of trepidation when approaching this regional, my first of three in the next month.

Last May, I played at the Warboar London Regional and managed a pitiful 79th out of 92. I was very much the Green Squadron Rookie, I even took a Ghost and three crack-shot A-Wings. I learned a lot about my flying that day and how I really needed to work on sequences of play and using the abilities as read on the upgrade cards.

Though the alt art Hera Syndula pilot card looks much more like Grotbags, I was gutted that I hadn’t made the cut of top 64.img_3312

The droid eventually forgave me, but only on the condition that he take over as captain and I be demoted to cabin boy. He’s been in charge for a while now and, to be fair, he’s not done that bad a job.

With this regional, I felt that I had some things to prove to myself

  • would I remember to use upgrades?
  • would my flying be up to scratch?
  • would I qualify for my Red Ace card?

My list for this tourney was

screen-shot-2017-01-26-at-10-47-26

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-58-24

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-57-11

This comes in at 99 points, giving me a very small initiative bid to compete against Parattanni.

If you read my last article, Road to Regionals Part Three, you will have seen my predictions for the meta based on an exploration of the top 4 lists over six international regionals.  I expected to see lots of Defenders, Parattanni and a creep back of K-Wings. Quite honestly, there was a real diversity amongst the lists at Exeter including one list of four U-WIngs and lots of Ghosts, but the final still came down to Andy Cameron playing Parattanni versus Luke Pearce’s Commonwealh Defenders. It was Andy that took top position – well done!


Game One – Tobias Gillard 100-19

Tobias’ list was

YT – 2400 Dash Rendar

  • Lone Wolf
  • Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Recon Specialist
  • Outrider Title

K-Wing Miranda Doni

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Cluster Mines
  • Seismic Charges
  • Extra Munitions
  • Sabine Wren
  • Advanced Slam

I have to say, this was an excellent first game – thanks to Tobias for being such a jovial opponent on what was about to be a gruelling day of pushing small plastic space ships and rolling dice.

When approaching the table, I looked at both of Tobias’ ships and really found it hard to figure out which should be my target priority. Bombing K-Wings can spell sudden death for Fang Fighters, especially when you take the Advanced Slam into account. Equally, the HLC on Dash is horrid and can take out the Fangs in one easy hit if used correctly with a focus and target lock (never rely on your green dice).

I weighed up my chances as to which ship posed a bigger threat, and which would be a more consistent target.  You may feel differently here, but I thought Dash needed to be the first to go.  I based this on my previous experience of playing Oliver Pocknell at the Shoreham tournament back in October. Though both ships are turetts, you can waste an entire game chasing Miranda whilst she simply re-gens. Consider the Clusters and Seismic Charges she has, really, you want to keep all of your ships clear of her for a while. Dash, on the other hand, has a donut hole to exploit.


Tobias used his clusters to further block off areas of the board, ensuring that Teroch and Fenn would be split apart rather than flying in formation.


During the second round of combat, Roo had suffered from Miranda, losing four of her shields. fortunately, she was in range one of Dash, as was Fenn, so she used Feedback Array to ensure an extra damage and take Dash to half points.  After that, she ran and ran, trying her best to stay out of the fight.

After having successfully re-grouped Teroch with Fenn, Dash was out within the next combat phase, I can’t say that I wasn’t pleased that his threat had gone.

The two Mandolorian boys had to now concentrate on Miranda, who had thankfully gotten rid of her clusters. Roo stayed at range three, using a combination of K4 Security Droid and Unhinged to pick up a target lock and then barrel roll out of range, later passing her target locks to Fenn or Teroch.

The game went right down to the nail, with Fenn and Roo working well together. A great first game and a win.

Game Two Dan Parker 42-67

Dan’s list was

Firespray 31 Boba Fett

  • Attanni Mindlink
  • Engine Upgrade

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Attanni Mindlink
  • Latts Razzi

Z-95 Headhunter Kaa’to Leeachos

  • Attanni Mindlink

This was one of the most exciting games of X-wing I have played in a long while.

Dan was the embodiment of everything about the community that makes it so special. He was there to have a good time and ultimately remembered that order of the day should be to have fun and fly casual. If you’re reading, thanks dude.

I don’t really like taking netlists, so this is my take on a Mindlink list.

I took one look at Dan’s list and my esteem for him shot up instantly.  He was clearly flying a list of ships that he enjoyed and one that he had engineered to serve some of the same purposes as Fangaroo.  Kaa’to was there to take tokens from friendly ships, consequently dealing with any shenanigans from Teroch or a Party Bus.

With Dan’s list being 100 points, I had the choice of initiative and I stupidly gave it away (Read Road to Regionals Part One and you will see why). This was a mis-play on my part that I would pay for. With me having initiative, Teroch would remove tokens from a range one target and then Kaa’to would take a token from a friendly ship and then generate another one for any ships missing a token via mindlink.

I lost Roo early, setting up with a bit of a joust in an attempt to use the Plasmas. I stupidly passed her target lock on, thus not enabling her to use them anyway and left her really very vulnerable.  She spent the next few rounds kiting around the mat, generating focus tokens and surviving on one hull.


I also forgot to act on Teroch’s Damaged Engine crit, dialing in manoeuvres that he could not complete whilst stressed and then ending up with two straight forwards that put me in unfavourable positions.  Learn from me – use your crit tokens; they’re a valuable reminder.

At one point I forgot to use my Concord Dawn title when defending with Teroch, Dan very graciously suggested that I lose one of the damage on him.

At the end of the final round, Teroch had one focus and a shot on Asajj that if successful would definitely give me half points and a better MOV (but no chance of killing her) and Teroch potentially surviving.  I rolled a hit, a crit and two eyeballs at range one, meaning I would have to spend my focus if I stood any chance of getting the hits through. Dan rolled an evade and then used Latts to de-stress me and generate another evade. Asajj was still to return fire and I had no focus token to defend myself with Teroch on one hull.

Dan rolled two hits and then changed this to four using his target lock. I rolled two evades, one eyeball and used my Concord Dawn title but had no evade token. So close.

Close counts only in Horseshoes and handgrenades.

Betrayed by my green dice? Not really. It was an unfortunate roll given my circumstances but I knew the high risk when I spent the token – I wouldn’t have got the half points otherwise.

A really close game and very exciting.

David Briggs 100-30

David’s List was essentially a mirror match, but his Roo did not have Feedback Array, putting his list at 97 points.

David gave me initiative and I felt quietly confident, having played this list for as long as I have. My Roo suffered early, again I had tried to play her a little more upfront, which is fine for using the Plasmas, but I feel my major mistake was not using her as a turret ship and getting her out of my opponent’s arc when the opportunities to use the torps had gone.


My Roo worked well as a blocker, but this leaves her very open to attack. With the second combat phase, David and I had traded Fenn Rou (mine) for Teroch (his). Not such a great trade – one that I would regret later. I’m going to go on a limb and say that this was probably the major turning point in the game.

David outflew me and I made some rash decisions that led to Roo being fenced off of the board; yep, I flew off of the board for the first time in a long time and she still had one hull left.

Teroch was left as my endgame ship, which isn’t awful, but using him defensively is tough.  we played until time was up and my greens blanked out in the final round of combat.

Game Four Sean O’Neill 100-67

Sean’s list was

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Ketsu Onyo

  • Expertise
  • Dengar
  • Engine Upgrade

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Expertise
  • Latts Razzi
  • Shadow Caster
  • Engine Upgrade

By now, my record was one and two. I needed to come back from the dead. It would be in games four and five where I would do this and renew my faith in my playing. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I really am not one to blow my own trumpet. When you read my next two games, I hope you will feel me justified in doing so.

As placed my ships on the table and shook Sean’s hand, he gave me a moment of recognition

Oh, you write the blog!

I cannot lie, it did make me feel a lot better.

My starting point was fairly slow, trying to consciously control my distances and avoid ranges 1-2 at any point and minimise the stress caused by Asajj. In contrast Sean zoomed in with each of his ships on a four or five forward.

I can’t really say that I remember that much of this game (sorry Sean), other than trading Roo and Teroch for Ketso.  It took both of them to take her down, leaving me with my Fenn against his two shield and seven hull strength Asajj. Things were not looking good.

Range three is your friend.

These were Lloyd’s words as he peered over my shoulder. With only two hull left on Fenn, I actually took a different approach; it seemed the most reasonable that I should charge into the back of the shadowcaster.  This meant that I would either bump her and be safe from a shot, or I would end up with a precise shot at range one and could take a target lock.

With my first attempt at this, we bumped and I was safe. On the second turn, Sean moved forward and changed the angle of his mobile firing arc, anticipating that I might try to fly to the right. In fact I flew two forward and landed in range of a clear shot and he couldn’t then return fire. On the third attempt, we bumped once more and on the fourth, I was able to kill Asajj.

It was high risk, and  I don’t know that I would do it again but I got the win I needed to take me to two and two.

Game Five Adam Wilson 100-67

Tie Interceptor Carnor Jax

  • Push the Limit
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Countess Ryad

  • Juke
  • Tie/x7

Tie Defender Colonel Vessary

  • Juke
  • Tie/x7

Back from the dead? You might think that I had already somewhat done that in my previous game. Check this shiz.

Like many who have been playing a list for a while, I have two or three opening set ups that I defer to based on my opponent’s list.  I have worked on these for a long time via Vassal offline and Tuesday nights with Tom, Lloyd and Full On. Why would I deviate from these tried and tested starting points when I know what works?

Cocky.gif

I write this as a tale of stupidity – a proper face palm moment. I’m reluctant to explain the exact mechanics of how I did this (it is still Regionals season, after all), but let’s just say that I slooped Roo to the left in the opening round and then attempted a three bank too close to the edge of the board on the next go.

I flew the ship off of the board within two rounds.

I couldn’t believe it. I actually felt worse for Adam, feeling this would be a quick and boring game for him. I honestly think there was a point where he would have let me take the move back – I wouldn’t have let him do this.

I continued with Fenn and Teroch, business as usual. My normal approach with defenders is to lead them into the rocks, minimising the opportunities for the 4K turns to be taken.

As I led Adam in, I ended at a point where both Fenn and Teroch were at range one facing Ryad and Vess. I used Teroch to strip the tokens from Ryad and both then focussed fire on her. After my opening debacle, I couldn’t believe it when Adam lifted Ryad off of the board. She had exploded.

One round later, it was the same with Vess.

Teroch earned his weight in gold in this match. When his greens did blank out, Adam quickly did the maths and declared that Fenn was more expensive than Carnor by one point. With thirty minutes left to go, I couldn’t justify running. I. Just.Couldn’t.

It may have looked like I might be running with Fenn initially, but I decided to use the space of the board to give him a chance to generate a target lock and then turn around without having to incur stress and gain a focus token just in case Carnor were to survive my attack.

It took a while, but I managed it. Nobody was more shocked than me.

Joel: How’s your day been so far?

Alex: Better. I’ve managed a few more wins now.

Joel: Great.

Alex: Do you know who you’re playing against? Have they put it up?

Joel: No. Hopefully it’s not you, otherwise I’ll shit my pants.

Game Six Alex Birt 0-100

Another mirror match, although Alex had Extra Munitions instead of Feedback Array.

We were both at 99 points. We rolled for initiative, Alex won the roll and then gave initiative to me.

I had sought Alex’s sage-like advice online a few times about the use of Fangaroo, and it seemed only fitting that my final game before the cut would be placed against him with this list.

He schooled me. He schooled me good.


I didn’t commit to a target, being too cautious to really make an aggressive front. At one point, I thought I might manage half points on Roo, but I couldn’t manage it. I can’t say it was game six fatigue – Alex flew better.

Alex made it into the top 16 cut and then the top 8.

Out of 120, I came 57th. That’s 22 places higher than last year. As a percentage, 92 were at the London Regionals last year and I came 79th, that means I was in the bottom quarter. This year, I made it into the top third and I have another two regional tournaments to go.

Full On came 17th, Tom 20th and Lloyd came 30th. Well done, lads.

What did I learn here?

The basics, keep your ships on the board – Don’t fly them off.

I need to figure out what I’m doing with Roo, I have a week to refine opening set-ups and the pace of them. I’m also not sure that Feedback Array is a good choice.  I have jousters in my list, but Roo isn’t one of them. I might experiment with Extra Munitions.

When faced with adversity, I have the skill to pull it put of the bag – games four and five proved that.

Do I switch to Parattanni? Not likely, it’s too late in the game and I made some silly errors here.

Do I feel prepared for Warboar? Maybe. I had some incredible news on Saturday that means there are some changes afoot, Tom did too. More of that later.

I actually can’t wait.

I found a friend.

 

Road to Regionals Part Three: Know Your Enemy

This is the third in a series of posts where I prepare myself for a month of Regionals in the UK. I explore my fears about list building and the Regional Meta of January 2017.

Is there such a thing as X-Wing Hipster Chic?

Do X-Wing Hipsters exist?

Am I scared of being an X-Wing Hipster?

Unfortunately, the answer to all of these is: yes.

X-Wing’s a fun game, right?

After listening to the episode XLIX of the Kessel Run where they explore FAQ 4.2.2 and share their thoughts on the nerfing of Deadeye, I can’t think of a more saltier brand of  space chips. I didn’t finish listening to the episode after they began talking about how this FAQ would bring about the return of TLTs and how they hated average Joe buyer who was only interested in Heroes of the Resistance and flying re-genning Rebels with their ‘one forward to victory‘.

Prior to this, I loved the podcast – I haven’t returned to it since. Saltier than Brian Salt who lives in Salt Village, just north of Big Salting, feasts on salt and has sacrificed his children in the name of the Salt Almighty that He might be pleased and rain salt down upon us.

What was that Super Hans?

super-hans

I can’t deny that I have asked questions about the Imperial Veterans and Heroes of The Resistance expansions – they definitely present a move towards being able to take things out of the box with little else needed to help bolster the list; is this a good or bad thing?

FFG have a job to do, surely sets like these bring older players back into the game whilst also introducing new players. Surely an influx of players can only keep the game fresh?

Yet, this got me thinking – was I so offended by the Kessel Run‘s rant because it was holding up a mirror? Had Chumbalaya and Cowboy Kenny exposed my inner anxieties about being that guy and playing an it list?

Brief tangent about language (feel free to skip this paragraph): I first expressed my worries about being that guy when writing about my experiences of playing Dengaroo at Warboar. I had been using the phrase at school about two months earlier because I was struggling to express to the boys in my classroom how not everyone had been enjoying their brand of banter; ‘Don’t be That Guy would be something I would regularly say to them. I would like to think I am, in someway, responsible for it’s transference to the field of X-Wing, but then memes travel in all sorts of circles.

high-fidelity

It took me a while to realise that, in my head, there are two things my opponent will be thinking when I place my ships on the table.  I want to make it clear that the phrase ‘…in my head’ is all important here.  This does not mean that I believe the following of my opponent, it means that my head will distort reality and filter in the following:

Oh that’s an interesting list.

Translation: how long ago did you netlist that?

or

Oh that’s an interesting list.

Translation: it won’t take me long to beat it, you have little creativity and I will make you suffer.

Very rarely have I actually encountered these people. They are not only a reflection of my anxieties and my fear of judgement; but worse than that, I worry that, deep down, they might be me.

720054472-tumblr_lhnakco2m91qa169bo1_500

I feel torn between both Rob and Barry in High Fidelity here.

tumblr_ln3djfwvqv1qzxdgfo1_500

 

An anecdote: a Friday night in October. Tom and I are out with our respective families and it’s the beginning of the three day World’s 2016 tournament. We try our best to restrict our chat to other things that our children might be interested in, managing a pitiful seven minutes before I mention something to Tom about his Biggs double Arc list that he is working on.

Later, we’re eating dinner at a diner outside of the British Museum and word comes through via the Bothan spies as to what Heaver is playing at Worlds. Three time world champion; meta defining; Stay on Target, Boba Fett (now Bo Shek) card creating. This.

Lancer-class Pursuit Craft Asajj Ventress

  • Push the Limit
  • Latts Razzi crew
  • Black Market Slicer Tools
  • Shadowcaster title
  • Engine Upgrade

Y-Wing Syndicate Thug

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Unhinged Astromech

Y-Wing Syndicate Thug

  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Unhinged Astromech

I don’t see it.  I might be a bit too green but I can’t quite figure it out. I cannot criticise Heaver, and that’s not my intention here.  If I could fly half as well as him on an off day – wow. I’m not saying it’s a shit list (it’s not). I just don’t get it.

They say Heaver drinks the blood of freshly sacrificed players at a fountain in FFG HQ; that he draws his power from the force; that he makes slides of possible meta encounters and how to best counter them (only one of those is actually true – I’ve seen photos of the fountain).

I don’t know what to believe

ForceAwakens7Text.gif

Heaver still came 15th in Swiss and was then knocked out of the Top 16. I know I’m not of the skill level to get that far.

My big question: what was Heaver expecting that made him bring this? What does it counter? What does it do best?

The TLTs seem as though they would counter Defenders pretty well and Assaj works by handing out stress without even needing an action or having to attack. It’s fairly solid, just uninspiring.

David Sutcliffe, of Stay On The Leader writes about netlisting here. As always, David articulates my thoughts better than I can currently mumble through them.  Whilst I risk alienating any readers I have by explaining my neuroses of bringing a list to a tournament, David categorises players as netlisters and innovators. Though netlisters might well be looked down upon by innovators, David argues,

Right from the very birth of ‘netlisting’ it was a tool for innovators as much as one for those who wanted to shortcut the process of innovation. A good innovator LOVES working with a rigid metagame where he knows the squads he’s going to have to play against, because he knows what he has to innovate a solution for.   If other people aren’t netlisting then your local metagame is very uncertain, and it’s very difficult to plan for an uncertain metagame.

Though I fear being labelled a netlister rather than an innovater, having read Sutcliffe’s article, I feel a lot more comfortable about it.

Dee Yun of Mynock Squadron summarises it well,

I’m a pragmatist…I know it works, why wouldn’t I take it?

Arguably, the meta is more diverse that it has been since the release of Wave 9, FAQ 4.2.2 and the brief snippets of Wave 10 we have been given (in physical form rather than previews). Contextually, any further analysis of Worlds 2016 data (I did aready have a brief exploration of this here) might prove fruitless when considering how this might map the meta for the upcoming regionals.

As James Dowdall of the 186th ironically dubs the UK a ‘silly little European meta’.

Luckily, List Juggler has a collection of all things X-Wing tournament related. It’s incredibly easy to get lost in this nebulous space slug cave; nonetheless, here is my exploration of the meta from the last six international tournaments recorded.

Starting with the Clevaland Regionals on 7th January, I have filtered the lists for all to show the top four in Championship rankings.

Cleveland Regionals 7th Jan.png

Next is the Krakow Regionals on the 8th January

Krakow Regionals 8th Jan.png

Next is the Sacremento Regionals on 14th January

Sacremento Regionals 14th Jan.png

Polish Regionals on 14th January

Polish Regionals 14th Jan.png

Springfield Regionals on 21st January

Springfield 21st Jan.png

Dublin Regionals on 21st January

Dublin 21st Jan.png

What does this all mean? Data only becomes data once you have made some conclusions, otherwise, it’s simply numbers and words. Well…

Based on the collection above, I have made the following observations:

  • Triple Defenders are definitely the most popular list, appearing 5 times in the top 4 across six regionals
  • Paratanni comes in a close second, appearing 4 times in the top four across six regionals.
  • Dash and Miranda appear twice, but in the same final.
  • Bombing Ks appear once
  • Common Wealth Defenders (Palp Mobile, Vess and Ryad) appear only once
  • Dengaroo appears only once
  • Fangaroo appears only once
  • Bossk with Gunner, Hotshot Co-Pilot and Dengar appears only once
  • The most popular pilot is Col. Vessary, appearing 7 times in the top 4 across six regionals
  • Fenn comes in at a close second, appearing six times
  • Miranda appears three times across six regionals

What do I expect to see over the next month?

I’m predicting Parattanni and Defenders, with a creep back from Dash and Miranda now that the TLTs have returned and are making an impact on the high PS re-positional aces.

Perils Ahead

I’ve been playing Fangaroo since Wave 9 dropped – it seems the most logical thing to go with it for the next month? Right?

I straight out love Attanni Mindlink and I’ve been experimenting with it since Adleraan.

I’ve been playing the 97 point version of Fangaroo because I wanted the chance to give initiative away (you can read about my reasons for that here), but now Parattanni seems to be the dominant form of not only Mindlink use but Fenn too and it comes in at 100 points, I can spare two points for Feedback Array.

So at 99 points, My Fangaroo looks like this

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.47.26.png

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-58-24

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-15-57-11

Massive thanks to Alex Birt of the 186th Squadron for helping me come to this decision about the list – you’re a true gent.

I’ve taken this list to four tournaments (that’s just under 20 games competitively) and practised with it most Tuesday nights for months.

Some problems I’ve encountered come from the combination of VI, Hotshot Co-pilot and Gunner. The main problem here is who do you protect?

Try this

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 11.25.08.png

You must remember to use Roo to pass tokens to whoever is apparently the most vulnerable.  If your oppponent is using Gunner, they may well be relying on you to make a difficult decision that makes you spend tokens. With Hotshot Co-pilot, that decision is made for you; the card reads

When attacking with a primary weapon, the defender must spend 1 focus token if able.

‘If able’- if you have one, it needs to go regardless of whether you want to spend it or not.

Fangs face a real difficulty here, they have no shields to protect them from crits. Where you might want to protect yourself from taking a beating with Gunner by letting that one hit through – Vader crew can still activate anyway – here comes the crit.

What of Parattanni? I have practised and practised against this – it’s efficient and nasty. Who should your priority be?  Blair Bunke of Scum and Villainy writes a good post on this.  I’ll leave it here for you.

Triple Tap?

By now, this list has surfaced too

Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.08.22.pngScreen Shot 2017-01-26 at 10.12.09.png

The triple tap is born. exploiting th wording of IG88-B, that does not include the phrase ‘you cannot perform another attack this round’; it’s a list that seemingly relies on rewarding failure.

Use Bossk to fire with the Mangler and then use Dengar crew to re-roll your dice in order to maximise your potentially of missing. Then choose IG88-B’s ability to activiate the first Gunner effect; then actaully use Gunner.

It’s not infallable, but it does exploit a rule. Is it broken? Maybe.  You can still mess up your opponent’s plans by letting the first hit go through – no IG88-B, no Gunner. Easier said than done – especially if you have a ship without shields to take some of the heat.

Know your Enemy?

I began this post months ago but it has been a long and cold Winter.  I called it Know Your Enemy because  I wanted to explore how the meta might affect list decisions for regionals. There was part of me that always knew that the enemy was, in fact, me.

I am my most judgemental opponent. Not you. Me. The fear kicks in and then it’s fight or flight.

That’s not to say that if we pass tables in the next few weeks that I want you to take it easy on me – that would be an injustice to both of us. I write this really because I know there are more people out there who approach list building with the same agonising indecision.

Take it easy on yourselves and fly better.

In case that was a little too avuncular, hopefully not condescending, here is a final thought from Barry:

bird

Road to Regionals Part Two: Target Priority and Meta Exploration (With a Dash of Hubris)

It’s another one where I catch up with my lost missions and evaluate what I need to get my head around before the busy Regionals season #itsgettinghothinhere #Xwing #Fangaroo

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.

emporor
A monkey, you say?

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).

sparklemotion.gif
How could I not include this?

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

•Lone Wolf

•Zuckass

•Overclocked R4

•Glitterstim

•Punishing One title

•Countermeasures

Jumpmaster 5000 Manaroo

•Push the Limit

•Gonk

•R5-P8

•Seismic Torpedoes

•Feedback Array

•Engine Upgrade

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:

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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 listScreen Shot 2016-11-21 at 17.27.57.png

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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).

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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.

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Game One Olly Pocknell

0-100

Oliver’s list

YT-1300 – Han Solo (old Han, but Younger Han)

  • Predator
  • 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
  • Teroch
  • 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].

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‘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’.

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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.

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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.

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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:

 

Consolation Brownie? Check.

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’.

Smiling assassin.

Game Three  Nathan 100-47

Nathan’s list was

Lancer-Class Pursuit Craft Ketsu

  • Fearlessness
  • Dengar crew (for the re-rolls)
  • Black Market Slicer Tools
  • Anti-Pursuit Lasers

YV-666 Bossk

  • Fearlessness
  • Gunner
  • Tactician
  • 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.

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Fenn can be a bit of a dick at times.
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I’ve never seen so many crits in one go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Game Four Ben Cooper 22-100

YT-2400 Dash Rendar

  • Push the Limit
  • Kanan crew
  • HLC
  • 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.

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He didn’t have a Recon Specialist before, he does now.

Road to Regionals – Part One: Initiative and Positioning (bring the Sparkles).

I’ve been far too lax and the droid is cross with me. Super cross. He wants you to know how to learn from my mistakes before Regionals.

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).

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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?

attanni-mindlink
I’m reliably informed that’s Manaroo in the picture.

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.

 

 

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Image appears courtesy of Nicholas Yun.

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:

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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.

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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?

200_s

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.

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It really was a mirror match.

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

  • Juke
  • 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.

fist-bump

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:

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What would you do?

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.

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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?

Right?

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Take another look at what happens when you apply each of my firing arcs.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Fenn hugging a rock after an ill thought out manouvre.

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.

 

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The droid got three bits of loot, with an additional packet of tokens being awarded for the paint job.

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With that, I will leave you with the original ending of Jedi – enjoy.

Battle Report: Defend Alderaan – Warboar, Bromley

I have to admit, I’ve been pretty slack this summer. Not with the playing – I’ve been chucking dice weekly and this is my fourth tournament over the last five weeks. You might even say that I’ve been a slave to the plastic crack, too busy thinking about lists and the mechanics of the game to update my blog.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel guilty for not writing up the tournaments.  The droid is most unhappy that I haven’t shared the pictures of his loot. Much like the Cabin Boy on the Scum & Villainy podcast, I have been locked away in the brig; living off of space weavils and the dregs of rum that have slipped through the floorboards. It’s a hard knock life.

I promised him that I would share these with you:

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This came from the Deal or No Deal tournament at LVL Up, Bournemouth
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These beauties came from the Summer Kit at iBuyWargames, Woking

The Lost Missions

I didn’t make it to Nationals, I couldn’t quite justify the travel costs, hotel fee and entry (Gots to eat yo!). What I did manage to do was to attend two alternative format tournaments that really did encourage my creative thinking around the game. The first was the Deal or No Deal tournament at LVL Up, Bournemouth where Tom and I paid £50 each for a semi-randomised collection of ships from a particular faction and put them into play. Think about it: you could get a bunch of A-Wings in a Rebel box, but no Autothrusters because those only come in the Autothruster Booster pack (you get a free Star Viper in with that one). You might get a Mist Hunter in a Scum Box but no FCS as these only come with the Tie Phantom or B-Wings.

Qui_Gon_Jinn_(2014_redesign)
Qui Gonn posing as Noel Edmunds

Long story short: I got a Punishing One and a Hound’s Tooth in my box and went two and two for the day. I have drafted version of the write-up but quite honestly, I think the moment has passed. These ships have flown.  In no way did I fly as well as Tom, who went undefeated the entire day (you can read his report here).

 

R4dNiC

 

I digress.

The important reason I have called you here today is because we have received word that the Empire has built a moon sized station with the ability to destroy an entire planet. They call this the Star Deather, er…Murder Planet (I couldn’t well make a joke out of Star Killer), and it is primed and ready to destroy Alderaan.

Who am I kidding? We all know what really happened:

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Tom and I caught wind of another alternative format, the conditions were as follows:

ALL FACTIONS:
– Up to 100pts cap per squad
– No more than 50pts to be spent on a single ship
– No more than 1 ‘Twin Laser Turrets’ allowed in a list
– No more than 2 ‘Crackshot’ Elite Pilot Talents in a list
IMPERIALS:
– No ‘Palpatine’ crew card allowed
SCUM:
– No more than 1 Jumpmaster 5000 in a list
REBELS:
– No ‘R2-D2’ astromech card allowed

Jason and his staff at Warboar work incredibly hard to really make their events fly. There’s a healthy helping of role play that goes along well with atmosphere in store, not to mention the amazing prize support, at one stage someone’s ship was destroyed by the Death Star and they were rewarded with a brand new Tantive IV. Where else have you seen that happen, especially with only a fiver entry fee?

I’m a firm beliver that set boundaries encourage some healthy variety and creativity. I couldn’t go with my Phoenix Squadron or Den-Bot build (no Dengaroo welcome either). I  had been working on a build that really relied on developing some synergy – two words: Attani Mindlink.

I took the following list

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I call this Jumpmaster Flash, it comes in at 100 points.

Recently, Tom and I had been discussing the fundamentals of building a list

I ask myself this one question: How do I beat Soontir?

3555253-baron-soontir-fel
Check his pockets for tokens

Tom had come up with an excellent point, Imperials will often turtle up and the /X7 Defender title doesn’t make it any easier.  If you have a two attack dice ship, let’s call them, I don’t know…er… A-Wings, how do you break through the defences of something that has three agility dice, a focus and an evade token? My answer, a mixture of blocking and ordinance, as well as some Scum shenanigans. Palob steals tokens; Dengar crew helps Manaroo with re-rolls; Feedback Array ensures hits get through, whilst also damaging yourself and the guidance chips help to push the ordinance through. Simple, right?

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Before I go any further, the Death Star was a constant sword of Damocles throughout the day, interupting games and firing at ships. If your ship was hit by the lasers (not rolling an evade from a given number of dice that decreased with each round), your ship would explode and would be down for the game.

Game One – Henry Westcott 69-100 (Loss)

Henry’s List was:

T-65 X-Wing – Wes Janson

  • Veteran Instincts
  • R3-A2
  • Integrated Astromech

T-70 X-Wing – Poe Dameron

  • Push the Limit
  • BB8
  • Autothrusters

Attack Shuttle – Sabine Wren

  • Push the Limit
  • Kanan Jarrus
  • Autoblaster Turret

Henry’s list is an admirable one. I love the repositional aspect of Poe, using both BB8 and PTL (it makes a good change from VI and R5-P9). The Attack Shuttle’s dial wouldn’t normally suit PTL, but the addition of Kanan helps to shift the stress after executing a white manouevre. Wes at PS 10 ensures he’ll often be shooting first. In short, both Poe and Wes could wreak havoc on my ships without me having rolled any red dice.

Henry took out N’Dru in the first round of combat before he even got a chance to fire off the cluster missiles. Having looked at the combined shield and hull of my ships still on the board, I didn’t lose hope, especially not when I used the Plasmas to help Poe’s explosion.

The remainder of the game was incredibly tight, with the Pirate exploding and then the Hawk using the Autoblaster turret at range one to bring Wes down to one hull.

Roo then attacked Sabine, whose green dice blanked out. Pew. Pew. She was gone. Nobody was more surprised than me.

As Jason sounded the klaxon to signal the end of the game we each had one ship left, both Wes and Roo were down to one hull. Henry asked if I would like to squeeze in another round and I reluctantly agreed. Having worked out the maths, I had nothing to lose except perhaps 20 more points of MOV. If Roo somehow survived, it would be 69 – 80. I set up with me attempting to get into range three to maximise the range bonus.

Game Two Daniel Hammond 100-34 (Win)

Daniel’s list was

Tie Defender – Countess Ryad

  • Outmaneuver
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Tie/X7

Tie Defender – Rexler Brath

  • Juke
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Tie/X7

Tie/FO Fighter – Omega Leader

  • Juke
  • Comm Relay

Take a moment and look back at the limitations on the format: no more than two Crack Shots – but what about those pesky Defenders? They’ve come off unscathed here, with the /X7 title out in force. With that brief moan, I really like Daniel’s list. Outmaneuver on Ryad seems like a good idea because of her potential repositional ability and Juke on Brath seems fairly solid.

Ryad was down in the first round of combat after a combination of feedback array and the Revenge Bot but 20 minutes into the game Jason approached our table announcing that the Death Star had fired at my HWK.

I had five evade dice and needed only one evade. No pressure. Just one evade right? The probability of that one hit getting through 5 agility dice with no modifiers is less than 10%. I rolled one evade. Yup.One’s enough.

Daniel caused an explosion for the Pirate, who seemed to act as a good decoy during this game as my remaining ships then focused fire on Brath, leaving only Omega Leader to tackle. After getting her down to one hull, she found herself in range one of Manaroo with me using Feedback array again to kill her and reduce myself to partial points on Roo.

Game Three Lloyd Boman 33-100 (Loss)

Lloyd’s list was:

Tie Defender – Glaive Squadron Pilot

  • Juke
  • Tie/X7

Tie Defender – Countess Ryad

  • Juke
  • Tie/X7

Tie Interceptor – Carnor Jax

  • Push the Limit
  • Royal Guard Title
  • Twin Ion Engine Mk.II
  • Autothrusters

I’ve spoken to Lloyd at tournaments a few times and he is well known for his double Ghost list, although he wasn’t playing that today. He’s a thoroughly nice man, which makes it even harder as he smiles while throwing dice at you.

He killed the Pirate first and then I managed to use both fire and Feedback Array to kill Ryad.

This game was really tense and, again, it came down to having each of our ships on only a few hull points (his were on one more hull than mine, Grrrr Boman!)

N’Dru managed to survive an amazing bout of attacks but eventually Lloyd got through the hit that he needed and I was left with only Roo on the board whilst Carnor and the Glaive Squadron Pilot each ahd two hull left. Roo pulled the Major Hull Breach Crit at just the right time, with only one hull left it didn’t really matter. Lloyd flew better and he knew his list better. There were points where I forgot the Revenege Bot and Guidance Chips. Silly Boy. A pleasure playing against Lloyd (I’ll get you next time).

Things weren’t looking good for the Pirate.

Game Four Tom Clements 100-67 (Win)

Tom’s list was:

Aggressor – IG88-B

  • Ion Cannon
  • Mangler Cannon
  • Fire Control Systems
  • Autothrusters
  • IG-2000 title
  • Glitterstim

Aggressor – IG88-D

  • Ion Cannon
  • Mangler Cannon
  • Fire Control Systems
  • Autothrusters
  • IG-2000 title
  • Glitterstim

I didn’t bring a standard Bro-Bot list to a friendly tournament because I didn’t want to be That Guy.

You’re right Tom, I know all about being That Guy.

I often enjoy the last game of a tournament the most, it can be the most fun and the most challenging. This was no exception.

By Game Four, the battle had got even closer to the Death Star and if it fired at your ship, you would be given only three green dice to roll an evade. It hadn’t yet destroyed a ship through the day so Lord Vader had decreed that the attacks would increase to one every 10 minutes. The table next to ours was called upon to be attacked before they had even finished deploying their ships. Brown trousers all around.

It was in this round that somebody lost their Mist Hunter, only to be rewarded with a Tantive IV for their troubles. How awesome is that?

Back to the game: it was R5-P8 that really clinched the game. I knew the Bro-Bots would be a tough match but when I saw that Tom had only brought small obstacles with him, I thought I mgt be in with a chance.

Again, the Pirate served as fodder whilst Palob got in close and stole tokens which then rewarded the other members of the list thanks to Attani Mindlink.

N’Dru did manage to fire his Clusters, which made short work of IG-88D. Manaroo couldn’t quite get into the right range to deploy the Plasmas.

IG-88B spent a fair amount of time with one hull left whilst Manaroo couldn’t quite get into the correct range to get off the Plasma Torps. This meant keeping her facing 88B Inman attempt to stop Autothrusters kicking in. Eventually, 88B pushed a Blinded Pilot crit through to Roo, halting attacks, but not the Revenge Bot. This was the final shot needed. A really tense game for all involved. Awesome.

Blinded Pilot

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Moments before I used R5 -P8 to secure my victory in game four, something even bigger was happening in the trenches of the Death Star; Biggs Darklighter (James Dowdall of the 186th Squadron) fired a lone attack dice at the Death Star and caused a monumental explosion that would really piss off Lord Vader.

Well done that man!

A further digression. I finished 14th with a new list; I’m fairly happy with two and two. Would I keep the list? Certainly, perhaps with some refinement. Maybe there’s a Fenn Rau shaped hole in it waiting for the boat for Wave 9 to come in.

My biggest consideration for now, is what to do with N’Dru. Dead Eye? Lone Wolf? If I went for the latter of the two, what would I drop?

The Attani Mindlink combined with Roo and Paylob’s abilities is a win. Some might go with Unhinged Astromech and K4 Security Droid, using Dengar crew saves a point. What about dropping Dengar for Zuckass and taking the R4 Agromech or the Overclocked R4? Whilst Mindlink gets around the need for an action at times, therefore mitigating possible problems caused by Zuckass crew, I’m reluctant to drop the Revenge Bot. Like Feedback Array, it will often help to push through some damage in an Aces heavy meta.

It is by no means a perfect list, but it is one I enjoy playing, and I’m pleased that I haven’t come across much else like it. Massave thanks to Tom for helping me refine it.

A huge thank you, as always, to Jason and his team for a tournament that thoroughly made my bank holiday. Nice work.

I have no clue what he does with his loot.

Summer Kit – Warboar Games, Bromley (or how I learned to stop worrying and say Zuck-Ass). 

I gave it far too much thought but I played #Dengaroo at the #Warboar #SummerKit last weekend and I got to meet ALEX DAVY!!! (bit of a geek out).

How badly do you want to win? One of the most important things to remember is that, despite the dice and the X-Wing swag, we’re still pushing little bits of plastic around a mat that looks like an imagined vision of space. Until now, I’ve been striving to find a list that contains ships I love; is fun to play; competitive and hopefully has a bit of fluff thrown in.

I say ‘until now’ because I have been faced with a bit of a moral dilemma. I’ve been to as many tournaments as I can muster since March 5th and written about every single one. I’ve tried to avoid netlisting and avoided lists that I thought might represent an instant ‘win button’. I dread the idea that I might come across as that guy, whilst still trying not to judge those that lay down triple jumpmasters or Palp Aces. I want to win, but I want to earn it. I certainly don’t want a win at the expense of my opponent’s enjoyment.

So – is playing Dengaroo putting all of my morals aside? Am I cheapening myself? Ultimately, am I being a bit of a dick by playing this list?

You can read David Sutcliffe’s thoughts on Dengaroo here. David’s blog is always a good read and I feel like I’ve learnt something from it with each pos. The main points are that Dengaroo reduces variance. If you’re playing this list, you’re aiming to win. He compares it to a Fat Han paired with a Palp mobile.

I’ve actually given Dengar quite a lot of thought since Wave 8 hit, I’ve tried to make it work with a couple of different variations, mainly focusing on my Den-Bot build. My post, Dirty Den(gar) hypothesises a number of different lists, and even looks at a Dengaroo (I want to add – this was months before JB’s Dengaroo, though I’m not sure why), but it wasn’t really like Jeff Burling’s at all. In fact, I’ve wanted to experiment with a Dengaroo build since playing Jamie at Marquee Models when I realised how great the potential synegy between the two could be (read about it here).

For those not in the know, Burling’s Dengaroo is as follows:

Dengar

  • Lone Wolf
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Zuckuss crew
  • R5-P8
  • Glitterstim
  • Punishing One title card
  • Countermeasures

Manaroo

  • Push the Limit
  • Recon Specialist
  • Unhinged Astromech
  • Feedback Array
  • Engine Upgrade

This beast of a list comes in at 99 points.

I’m not necessarily against netlisting but I think if you’re going to do it, you should see how the list works and then tweak it.

Tom had mentioned that he had played against a Dengaroo build where he had been bruised and battered by a Dengar with the Overclocked R4. This rang true with me when I thought back to Jamie’s Dengar and Manaroo list at the Spring Kit at Marquee Models. I hadn’t run Dengar with Zuckuss since then because of the mistake I had made with the stress. I had challenged Jamie to re-roll his agility dice at range three whilst already stressed – this gave me four tokens to clear. I lost the game because I hadn’t been anticipating the stress and didn’t know what to do with it all.  Jamie, on the other hand, had the Overclocked R4 and continued to gain focus tokens from Manaroo. Essentially, he had an infinite Glitterstim (which helps when you think about Dengar’s revenge ability), gaining another focus after spending it and gaining stress.  My Dengar, on the other hand, had no Manaroo and very little chance of clearing the four stress tokens. No actions. Pew. Pew. Boom.

My main changes to the list were to consider how I might keep Dengar with an opportunity to modify his dice despite the stress induced by constantly saying ‘Zuckuss’ to anything on a green dice with a bit of paint.

I also wanted to give Manaroo some deterrants from others attacking her. I dropped her Unhinged Astromech and gave her R5-P8. The possible perils here are that the dials is great on left hand side so the Unhinged Astromech helps when clearing the stress induced by PTL. I also put Gonk on her rather than Recon Specialist (thanks again Jamie), building her defences and keeping her alive longer to best support Dengar.

After some playtesting with Tom, my take on the list was the following:

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 12.47.52.png

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 12.38.27.png

This is 98 points. It’s a list that I’ve tweaked rather than one that I’ve simply ‘stolen’.

My biggest problem when considering whether I should or shouldn’t play the list at this tournament was what my opponent might think of me. How would I feel being the guy that made them re-roll their evades? to quote Sutcliffe:

If there’s any part of the Dengaroo build that feels ‘unfair’ it’s probably this – the first time you roll three Evades and have to reroll them into two blanks and a Focus you’re going to feel like maybe Zuckuss is a problem for 1pt.

How much do I want to be that guy? What’s it worth? I practised saying ‘Zuckuss’ all week to see how it might feel.

To think back to my day job for a moment, even though it’s the holidays, I’m drawing on Atticus Finch

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it

How would I feel if someone Zuckassed me (I’m verbing it) at every turn? Well, actually is it any worse than Palpatine? How about Vader’s target locked crit? Is it broken, or is it levelling the playing field in an a meta that is already swayed towards the Imps?

Disclaimer: by referencing To Kill A Mockingbird, I am in no way comparing my X-Wing woes to the black civil rights movement. This is not a valid form of inequality.

On the morning of the tournament, I listened to Jeff Berling talk about the list on Stay on Target (you can download it here). Until this point, I had my five A-Wings in my bag as well as my two Jumpmasters. Whether it’s fate, or luck, or Karma – I took this as a sign -for a day, I was going to own being that guy and see what happened.

When I arrived at Warboar and saw that UK Nationals Champion Jesper Hills was playing a very similar Dengaroo list, I didn’t feel so bad.

Game One 100-57 (win)

Michael’s list was

Tie Advanced X1 Darth Vader

  • Determination
  • Advanced Targeting Computer
  • Engine Upgrade
  • Tie/X1 Title

VT-49 Decimator Rear Admiral Chiraneau

  • Veteran Instincts
  • Moff Jerjerrod
  • Anti-Persuit Lasers
  • Dauntless Title

Tie Fighter Tie Academy pilot

Looking at this list, the potential danger is RAC. He’s set up to bang straight into you and make you suffer for it.

The Dauntless title encourages you to overlap another ship whilst still gaining an action at the expense of a stress token. Anti-pursuit Lasers lets you benefit of an enemy ship bumps into you.

Both Vader and Chiraneau benefit from being able to dole out Crits through Adv. Targeting Computer and RAC’s ability.

I introduced the list sheepishly as ‘something nasty I’m trying out’ I was jolly and apologetic.

I went straight for Vader and then when Michael realised this, he held the Datk Lord back and I focussed fire on the Decimator.

When I did cause Vader’s explosion, He then took out Dengar through simultaneous fire.

What of Zuckuss? After the first few rounds of combat, I owned it.

Game Two – Ghost Busters

100-57 (win)

Paul’s list

VCX-100 Lothal Rebel

  • Fire control Systems
  • Auto lasted Turret
  • Extra Munitions
  • Proton Torpedoes
  • Chopper crew
  • Sabine Wren crew
  • Guidance Chips
  • Conner Net

VCX-100 Lothal Rebel

  • Fire Control Systems
  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Hera Syndula crew
  • Ezra Bridger crew

When you have a list where the strength lies in the manipulation of the dice, facing two ghosts with agility dice is an interesting match up.

My biggest mistake here was to get both ghosts mixed up. I could have asked Paul to clarify which was which but I didn’t, instead, I ran away because I anticipated a bomb being dropped on me.

Dengar was is trouble when the Ghost with Sabine aboard was close enough to drop a bomb but Paul didn’t take the opportunity. Dengar took a final shot at Ezra and caused the final explosion.

Dengar then drew a Weapons Failure crit, this was awful considering the Jumpmaster’s poor relationship with dice. Lone Wolf. Lone Wolf all the way.

Manaroo only really came into play once throughout this game. She spent her time running away and passing tokens to Dengar. This was where I learned that I needed to work on when to use PTL and planning a move ahead, especially when trying to clear her stress.

It was a win, but for the first 30 minutes, this game was fairly tight. Had Paul remembered to use Sabine and dropped the bomb, Dengar would have been down. He would have damaged his Ezra but it still would have had 8 hull.

Dengar’s Sloop cutting it incredibly fine.


Game Three
100-49 (loss)

Dimitri’s list was

YV-666  Bossk

  • Marksmanship
  • Heavy Laser Canon
  • Dengar crew
  • 4-Lom crew

Jumpmaster 5000 Contracted Scout

  • Deadeye
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • Overclocked R4
  • Guidance Chips

M3-A Interceptor Cartel Spacer

  • “Heavy Scyk”Interceptor title
  • Proton Rockets
  • Guidance Chips

After two wins, I was paired against Dimitris, who I had previously played at the London Regionals.

I wanted to stick to the plan; hold Manaroo back and play Dengar up front. By round two of combat, Dimitris had jousted me with both his YV-666 and Contracted Scout. Dengar melted. I should have flipped Counter-Measures early but I was so thrown by the unexpected combat that I fell to pieces. I managed to use Dengar’s revenge to make an impact on Bossk but I was still a ship down.

With everything resting on Manaroo and her pitiful two attack dice, my only plan was to run and use Gonk to build up shields whips using the range bonus to increase her agility dice.

I had an opportunity early on to use Manaroo to attack Bossk and change the odds a little, but I went for the Scout at range one instead without any modifiers for my dice. Silly move.

I eventually used the revenge bot to take out Bossk, ensuring that I wasn’t completely tabled.

“Keep your distance, Chewie, but don’t, y’know, look like you’re keeping your distance.”

As I went into Game Four, I noticed that the name just below mine on the leader board was Alex Davy. Coincidence?
As I approached the table, I noticed that said Mr Davy had an American accent.

“Excuse me, you’re not the Alex Davy are you?”

“Why yes I am!”

Shakes my hand.

He shook my hand?! Alex Davy playing on the table next to mine! I don’t really allow myself to use exclamation marks, but in this instance, I think it’s appropriate.

I took a moment to ask him his thoughts on Dengaroo. At first, he gave me a rather non-committal ‘It took Jeff Berling to crack the code’ but after I bought him a beer,

‘We always intended it to have synergy…it’s not easy to fly…we are going to have to keep an eye on it’

Me with Alex Davy


Game Four 64-100 (loss

Alex’s list was

Tie Interceptor Soontir Fel

  • Push The Limit
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Rexler Brath

  • Tie/X7 title

Tie Defender Countess Ryad

  • Tie/X7 title


I think that Imperial Vets has done an amazing job of re-invigorating both Defenders and Bombers. The Tie/X7 title is one of the main reasons I considered moving away from Phoenix Squadron (my A-Wing Crack Swarm) in the first place; gaining an automatic evade when you make a 3-5 speed manoeuvre ad then having the opportunity for your actual action is tough to break through. Then there’s the White 4K-turn, which might make them predictable, but is still sound. Countess Ryad might only be a PS5 but her ability to turn all straights into a K-Turn is just plain awesome, especially as you get to decide when you have revealed your dial.

This list’s inclusion of Foontir Sel the. Makes it difficult as you’re facing three ships that can turtle up, each of them with a higher PS than Manaroo.

I felt good when Fel was the first to explode with a combination of shots from Dengar and Feedback Array to deliver the final blow. Simultaneous Fire meant that Dengar was badly wounded and the Defenders made short work of him.

Alex went straight for Manaroo and I didn’t protect her well enough. With Engine Upgrade and PTL, she can be quite tricksy but with only two attack dice, she simply can’t cut through the /X7.

I managed to help Ryad explode before losing.

Game Five 34-57 (loss)

Mark’s list was

Tie Interceptor Soontir Fel

  • Push The Limit
  • Royal Guard Tie title
  • Stealth Device
  • Autothrusters

Tie Adv. Prototype The Inquisitor

  • Push The Limit
  • Tie/V1 title
  • Autothrusters

Tie Defender Maarek Steele

  • Adaptability
  • Twin Ion Engine
  • Tie/X7 title

There’s a point at the end of a tournament where I have found myself accepting my fate and often having a great game. Not today.

My opponent and I were both two and two. After two losses, I was happy to just simply play. I knew that winning might well take me into the top 16 still but I had already met Alex Davy; I was on a high that outweighed a further win.

Aside from the Defender, two of my opponent’s ships had Autothrusters; I think the lists are fairly evenly matched.

I killed Steele first, again using both Dengar’s Torps and Lone Wolf with a focus token from Roo, then a range one shot from Roo that successfully meant my opponent was a ship down.

Meanwhile, both the Inquisitor and Fel had done some work on Dengar and he was out too. Dengar’s revenge ability left a nice dent in Fel and then Roo used Feedback Array to leave him at one hull. This had all happened in the first 30 minutes, it was now that my opponent told me how scared he was of Manaroo with Feedback Array and the revenge bot. He then told me he was going to run away. I giggled and gave chase.

He continued to run with both ships. To run and run.

I managed to Gonk Manaroo back up to full health and gave good chase, engineering at least two more opportunities to get a shot in on Fel where My dice blanked out each time.

45 minutes of chase are really not fun. I mean, it could be fun but probably not when you’re opponent has declared that he is running away on several occasions and refuses to engage your ship.

Perhaps this game was my karma moment for all of my Zuck-Ass shenanigans. Who knows.

I do know that this win must have been really important for him to have played this way. I begrudgingly shook his hand and then attempted to make make small talk after the game had ended. He promptly packed away and left, not making the top 16.

“You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander. I am here to put you back on schedule.”

So, I played a a variant of a ‘nasty’ It list and I’m proof that it wasn’t such an easy win button for somebody of my experience.

Is the list too nasty to play? What if your opponent’s play experience? I want to say that it can’t be much fun for them, but then there is a (perhaps more ruthless side of me) that says the game is what it is. The list doesn’t abuse any rules or even bend them. The point cost makes it seem unfair and perhaps Zuck-ass might need an amendment. Who knows?

The Mynocks interviewed Jeff too (you can find it here), fittingly titled Episode 27: If it aint broken…no one flys it!

Jeff vehemently defends himself when Dee refers to the lis as broken. Jeff states that he came up with this as a Rebel player who needed a counter to Palp and Omega Leader. At one stage he will only accept that the list is ‘broken’ if it can be agreed that other aspects of the game are also ‘broken’.

Blair Bunke is certainly no fan of the list


What have I learned about the Dengaroo?

The loss of Manaroo disrupts the synergy and then Dengar is inevitably too squishy on his own, especially if you have the Over-clocked R4 on Dengar who is then too stressed to take any actions.

A final point to address from Sutcliffe’s article is how he perceives the list to be tier two in Europe, losing out to Aces and other ships that have a better hold on their dice.

A key point of difference between Han and Dengar is precisely what cost Jeff Berling the final game against Soontir Fel: Dengar doesn’t control when his ‘Gunner’ second attack triggers.

Dengar’s revenge isn’t quite a gunner ability. If your opponent chooses not to attack you and you are without initiative, you lose out on your ‘double tap’.

Would I play the list again? Certainly. Am I That Guy? I hope not.

For now, I’m going to pack my tournament case with both Phoenix Squadron and Dengaroo. Let’s see how that plays out.

So I didn’t make the top 16 and come away with my alt art Predator card. I did, however, completely geek out over Alex Davy and buy him a beer. I had a quick chat with him about Dengaroo and he signed two cards for me and one for Tom. I’ll take that as a win.