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?
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.
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?
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.
I feel torn between both Rob and Barry in High Fidelity here.
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
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.
Next is the Krakow Regionals on the 8th January
Next is the Sacremento Regionals on 14th January
Polish Regionals on 14th January
Springfield Regionals on 21st January
Dublin Regionals on 21st January
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.
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
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?
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.
By now, this list has surfaced too
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: