Imperial Propaganda Radio

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This Australian podcast has got better as these guys have become more confident – with episode three, they’ve really hit their stride.

The FAQ exploration throughout the show is pretty good but the highlight for me, and all A-Wing enthusiasts – there is an interview with Alex Cook at around 1:23:00, winner or the Tasmanian Regionals with an A-Wing Crack Swarm.  This is followed by an interview with Morgan Reid.

Give it a listen here.

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Win Wave IX Tournament: ibuywargames

Here is my battle report for Win Wave IX at #ibuywargames #Xwing #itsgettinghothinhere #flybetter #Awing

Returning to Woking is always a treat for me, chiefly because of the history related to War of the Worlds. I love the 1953 Byron Haskin adaptation, the Orson Welles urban myth radio broadcast; the Jeff Wayne musical. It all begins in Woking

Returning to Woking is always a treat for me, chiefly because of the history related to War of the Worlds. I love the novel; the 1953 Byron Haskin adaptation; the Orson Welles urban myth radio broadcast; the Jeff Wayne musical. It all begins in Woking and they’ve gone to town – check the martian.


As an aside, my favourite part of the novel is where my hometown, Hounslow, is taken out by an obnoxious gas,

As I did so a second report followed, and a big projectile hurtled overhead towards Hounslow. I expected at least to see smoke or fire, or some such evidence of its work. But all I saw was the deep blue sky above, with one solitary star, and the white mist spreading wide and low beneath.

Semantics are really important. Language is really important. I spend a lot of time exploring symbolism and figuraitve language in my day job. I like a good idiom more than most (though I try not to talk in them as often as I can). When it comes to the Chihuahua swarm, I couldn’t quite figure it out. Why Chihuahua?

It’s because they spend the game biting at your ankles and wear you down.

Thanks, Tom. I get it now. The A-Wings lack somewhat in bite without (p)rockets; there is no denying it.

It’s been just over a week since I published my thoughts on flying an A-Wing Crack swarm (you can read about it here), this would be my first time flying the list competitively. For those of you unsure of what the list comprises of, it’s five of these:

Green Crack A-wing

Famous Fives

I was listening to the latest Mynock Squadron Podcast, Firespray and Pray (you can find it here, jump to 32:00)  and Ryan Farmer has given each of his A-wings in the swarm different callsigns: Dragon, Mynock, Raptor, Tackle and Tex (each inspired by the different Mynocks). He has painted them individually and kept stats on each of them. Ryan addresses the concept of confirmation bias, fully acknowledging that he may well be ‘setting them up for positions of success and failure’.

Ryan was kind enough to send me this picture of his squadron.

I think it’s an interesting experiment.

phoenix.jpg
Sabine’s Phoenix logo from Rebels

With my love Rebels and the inclusion of A-Wings in the Phoenix squadron, I came up with the following names:

A) Phoenix,
B) Inferno,
C) Flame,
D) Blaze,
E) Flare.

It might seem like I’m making more work for myself, but actually, I think it’s an important psychological step when getting to grips with various formations of a swarm. I have to add: as an experiment, I kept a log of which ships performed which actions and exploded (or not) as a way of evaluating my performance and getting to know my list. It was only when writing this report that I assigned each ship (previously denoted by my target locks A-E) with the titles above. I have made some observations in the final part of this post that prove fairly interesting.

(As an aside, I had a really detailed breakdown of how I came to give the ships in my squad their names. It made my post too long so I’ve published it here instead).

Game One Craig Bradford 0-100

Tie Bomber – Scimitar Squadron Pilot 

  • Title Card – Tie Shuttle (allowing two crew slots but losing missile and ordinance)
  • Systems Officer Crew
  • Fleet Officer Crew
  • Twin Ion Engnine Mk.II

Tie Defender – Colonel Vessary

  • Title Card – Tie/D (allowing an attack from a secondary and primary weapon once per round)
  • Vetran Instincts
  • Tractor Beam

Tie Defender – Rexler Brath

  • Title Card – Tie/X7
  • Juke
  • Stealth Device

Think about it – your opponent sets up in front of you and has two crew cards that you’re unfamiliar with; you’ve heard about these Vessary and Rexlar characters and you think to yourself ‘Well, they’re PS8 – they’re clearly my biggest threat, that’s where I need to focus my firepower.’ Wrong. WRONG.

star-wars-falling.gif

Yeah, that much wrong. It was two rounds before the end of the match when I realised how the Scimitar Squadron and its crew fulfilled a vital role in the synergy of this list.

Veteran Instincts brings Vessary up to a PS8, therefore allowing you to have him shoot before Rexler if given the opportunity. Here’s a plausible sequence of events: Vessary gains a focus token beacuse of the Fleet Officer on the Scimitar Squadron, this means that his action is probably going to be a target lock. Using the Tie/D title he uses the tractor beam and has a target lock to adjust the dice, ensuring that the defender loses an agility and is then moved into a better position for the next sequence of attacks. Now, consider Vessary’s ability:

When attacking, immediately after you roll attack dice, you may aquire a target lock on the defender if it already has a red target lock token

Your defender is likely to have a target lock because the of  the Systems Officer when the Scimitar executed a green manoeuvre, therefore triggering Vessary’s ability for when he makes his attack with the primary weapon. Let’s not forget, you’re already missing an agility dice because of tractor token. Your opponent rolls the dice for Vessary and uses the acquired target lock to re-roll where necessary. This is potentially without having spent that focus token gained from the Fleet Officer.

I opened fairly slowly but by round two, we were jousting. I attempted to use two greens, Phoenix(A) and Inferno(B) to block the defenders and didn’t quite manage it. Had I moved them four forward instead of three, the first round might have gone differently. This goes back to my needing to master the rule of 11 which, belive it or not, I was thinking of at the time.

At range 1, Inferno was subject to the Tie/D from Vessary, losing an agility through the tractor beam and then being reduced to one hull before then being attacked by Rexlar. Inferno explodes without getting to use her Crack Shot.

The rest of the game was fairly similar after this. It’s very, very rare that I blame my dice, but both green and red came up with an extroadinary amount blanks throughout.  Not only this, Craig did an excellent job of keeping me at range two, therefore disabling my Autothrusters.

I didn’t forget to use Crack Shot, but I didn’t get to use them on Phoenix (A), Inferno (B) or Flare (E). They were dead too quickly.

I managed to get two hits on the bomber and to knock the stealth device off of Rexler (Craig drew blanks this time).

Game Two Tim Farmer 48-100

Triple Jumpmasters (note: not triple scouts)

Manaroo

  • Adaptabilty
  • Intelligence Agent
  • Unhinged Astromech
  • Feedback Array

Contracted Scout #1

  • Deadeye
  • Proton Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • Boba Fett
  • R4 Agromech
  • Guidance Chips

Contracted Scout #2

  • Deadeye
  • Plasma Torpedoes
  • Extra Munitions
  • 4-Lom
  • R4 Agromech
  • Guidance Chips

This is only my second match up against triple jumpmasters, and my first using the A-wing swarm. Our lists were each at 100 points and I won the roll for initiative. Being as Manaroo is a PS4, I decided to use Adaptability to raise the PS on all ships.

I went into this fairly pessamistically, with my one aim to take out Manaroo and hope for partial points on the others. I changed my opening position so that I had three greens up front and two flanking behind.

“This isn’t a war,” said the artilleryman. “It never was a war, any more than there’s war between man and ants.”

The most valuable thing I learned (by accident) from this game was to get the two scouts to spend their torps early. In this instance, my ships were all focused and I managed to use this to fend off the alpha strikes. By round three, I had lost Inferno (B) and Blaze (D) but they had still been involved in fight and had used their Crack Shots to help take down Manaroo.

Incidentally, I have since learned another way to get your opponent to spend their ordinance early on in the game with (hopefully) minimal damage to your own list. If I had put an evade on all of my ships early on, this would have protected them well and forced my oppoenent to potentially waste their torps.

As Manaroo went down in a ball of fire, one of the Scouts took out Flame (C). My biggest mistake in this match was when I placed the dial for Phoenix as a left 1 turn instead of a right 1 turn. This actually took her away from the fight, not allowing her a shot on the scout with only three hit points left. I still got in another two hits with Flare (E), but had I not mis-dialed (I want it to be a verb that should be applicable in this situation), I might have just had one scout left to deal with. I know that I wouldn’t have won the game, but my MOV would certainly have been different.

As a result of this, they went down – Phoenix and then Flare.

“With wine and food, the confidence of my own table… I grew by insensible degrees courageous and secure.” [no prizes for guessing what John, Sim and I did for lunch…]

Game Three Mike Manners 100-40

Herd of Wild Baffalos [sic]

Omicron Group Pilot #1

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Darth Vader crew

Omicron Group Pilot #2

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Sytems Officer

Omicron Group Pilot #3

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Tactician

Omicron Group Pilot #4

  • Electronic Baffle
  • Tractor Beam
  • Tactician

What a list. Each Baffalo comes in at 25 points, but the total hit points (five shield and five hull per ship) comes in at 40.

Three games in and I felt like I knew the list fairly well. I stuck with the same opening formation but I felt somewhat like the underdog. Realistically, I knew that with each Baffalo at PS2, if I played this tactically and just focussed fire, I could be in for my first win – but that’s a lot of work to do.

This was my most challenging game of the day and my most stressful, but it was also a lot of fun. I couldn’t decide whether to go with the ship that had Sytems Officer or Vader crew first. Rather than taking a focus or evade, I set each ship up with target locks and tried my best to keep them at a distance of range one or three to maximise range bonuses on the dice or avoid tactician taking effect.

It was actually Systems Officer that went down first, with Phoenix (A) and Blaze (D) taking hits, but not going down yet.

I still had five As to close in on the Vader shuttle and did so. It was after this that Phoenix and Blaze sacrificed themselves. They flew well but it was their time.

This was just before the swarm took out the shuttle with Vader on it.

With Inferno (B), Flame (C) and Flare (E) left, I now had two shuttles to take down and a win was in my sights. After my unfortunate experience with round 6 at the London Regionals (you can read about it here), where I had a win pretty much in the bag and then forgot to use Crack Shot on several occasions, I wasn’t going to become complacent. I turned to Mike and told him the game wasn’t won just yet, even though I knew my points were now 10 more than his left on the mat.

It was only in the last few minutes of the game (Honestly, it was like minute 72!) that I managed to take down the final shuttle and with three green squadron pilots still in play. Pew. Pew.

Game Four John Wainscott 34-100

I’ve only ever played John once before at the Aldershot Store Championships back in March (you can read about it here). For this final round, we were both at two losses and a win. We had fun and, I hope, entertained those playing upstairs. John’s list was:

Rogue Squadron (Apparently)

T-65 – Wedge Antilles

  • Predator
  • R3-A2
  • Integrated Astromech

T-65 – Wes Janson (after you perform an attack, you may remove 1 focus,, evade or blue target lock token from the defender)

  • Adaptability (takes him to a PS9)
  • R7 Astromech
  • Integrated Astromech

T – 65 – Luke Skywalker

  • Predator
  • R2-D2
  • Intergrated Astromech

Neither of us played particularly well here. I forgot to use Crack Shot in our first exchange of combat, John forgot to use Wes, Predator, R2-D2 and R3-A2. This was a the tine of our game for the next 75 minutes.

Inferno (B), for the second time today, was the first to die and she didn’t use her Crack Shot. Flame (C) landed on a rock.

Phoenix died from a direct hit (she used her Crack Shot before this).

Laughter and woe. There were some instances where Autothrusters were my real saving grace.

I managed to focus fire on Wedge and took him down. I was really close to an explosion on Skywalker too but then John remembered the integrated astromech.

He won and came 6th in the overall tournament – well played. Even with both of us forgetting the merits of our list, he still flew better.

 

I actually forgot to take any pictures of this game – here’s one of John.

Twirling for Freedom

So, 1 and 3. I’ve played this list a few time before today but I actually feel I know a lot more about it as a result of my losses today. I have emerged from the crucible, cathartic and ready to begin anew.

 

“We will peck them to death to-morrow, my dear.”

Weaknesses of the List

Unlike the Tie Crack Swarm, the A-Wings are more expensive and lacking in bite in comparison for what you get. What’s more, there is no Howlrunner to enable re-rolls. This means that you need to use target locks to help those shots go through, leaving you potentially vulnerable when defending.

Crack Shot Use it or lose it. Though this is five points of your list – it’s essential. If a ship explodes before given the chance to use it, you are in a very weak position. My advice would be to use it when you have the chance as the ships are too fragile otherwise. When faced with lists like Imperial Aces where you wil regularly see a ship turtle up, this makes your job all the more harder.

Autothrusters An experienced opponent will exploit your Autothrusters. Your optimal ranges are one, for the bonus attack dice, and three for the bonus agility dice and Autothrusters. I spent the day trying to get a real handle on the pace of the list – this meant that it wasn’t until games three and four that I had managed to read my opponents correctly and gauged the ranges accordingly.

Aces When matched against high PS, there is a greater need to think about arc-dodging and/or blocking. Although I wasn’t paired against him, Tom Duncan was also at this tournament; he gave me some excellent tips about the psychological factors of this to work. Maybe I’ll expand on this in another post.

My Weaknesses 

Game One Not managing the attempted block and then jousting in round two of combat.

Game Two I’m still pretty cross with myself for putting the dial down the wrong way before the end of the game. Phoenix fled rather than fighting and it was all down to my silly human error.

Game Four I enjoyed it too much, we played for fun, with neither of us remembering our EPTs or abilities. At this point, John was 1 and 2, as was I. Had I not gone silly, I might be writing a different report.

What of the Callsigns? Here are some observations:

  • Game one – I didn’t forget to use Crack Shot, but I didn’t get to use them on Phoenix (A), Inferno (B) or Flare (E).
  • It was Phoenix (A) who turned the wrong way in the penultimate round against the jumpmasters in game two.
  • Game three – Phoenix (A) went down against Baffaloes, along with Blaze (D).
  • Phoenix (A) exploded with the direct hit in game four.
  • Inferno (B) died without using crack shot in two separate games.
  • Flame (C) was the only one to land on a rock all throughout four games.

The emerging pattern is that Phoenix has a lot to answer for.

What of the droid? John and Tom made some generous donations to his hoard. Have a look.

The droid and the A-Wing pilot are happy with their loot, even if they only earned one quarter of it.