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).

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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:

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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.

Purple Reign (Or the list formerly known as Prince’s list)

It’s not the most competitive #Star Viper list but it’s certainly a fitting #Prince tribute

I can’t even. Earlier today, I was listening to I would Die 4 U, it leads seemlessly into Baby I’m a Star and then something happened by accident – I didn’t press pause before Purple Rain came on. Man.

There it was, the first time I had listened to it since before Prince passed away. Even now, writing this, my breathing is that little bit heavier. I’m hesitating before I type. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Antony says this at Caesar’s funeral,

My heart is in the coffin…and I must pause until it comes back to me.

Arguably, this might be Antony at possibly his most manipulative with the mob, but it doesn’t make it any less fitting now.

When I was 15, Prince and Purple Rain were my everything. Sign O’ the Times and Under the Cherry Moon. I think I must have worn the tape out on each of these. I lived in my headphones, forming a forcefield and further hoping that it might help me become invisible.

I was lucky enough to see Prince live twice, the first time was the night before I got my GCSE results. I could ramble and try to fill this with things that might not be clichéd but that would just be shit.

Anyway – the list. Whilst obtaining the cards for my A-Wing Crack Swarm, I ended up with an extra Star Viper. I managed to shift the other ships I didn’t need but I thought about painting this one purple and building a fluff list around it.  It’s Prince’s ship, or rather the ship that formerly belonged to the artist formerly known as Prince (TSTFBTTAFKAP).

Here it is at 100 points altogether

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It’s a SLAVEr, right?

prince-slave

[Coughs]

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It’s certainly not the most competitive list, but I know that with Prince on board, the Party Bus is gunna be like.

00001505
This comic appears courtesy of Direman (you can find the original here)

You know the tactic, Prince has to hug the bus at range one in order to make the most of his ability (and so that they can keep the party going on board).

Finally, of all the Prince tributes that poured out, this was my favourite.

Guri!!!

Who would have thunk?

Piotr Kuc, of Endor (er, I mean Poland) was the winner of the 2016 Open Series and his winning list was Dengar and Guri.


Here is a picture of the winning list, it was:

Jumpmaster 5000 – Dengar

  • Push the Limit
  • Gonk
  • R5-P8
  • Feedback Array
  • Punishing One
  • Engine Upgrade

Star Viper – Guri

  • Lone Wolf
  • Virago
  • Sensor Jammer
  • Autothrusters


Well played.

Well done.

Getting Ready for Coruscant

I’ve been wanting to make a competitive #Starviper list for a while but never really managed to justify the cost of the ship.

I get a jolt of excitement each time I manage to go to Dark Sphere (our local plastic crack den in Waterloo) on a Thursday night and see Andrew Pattison, Yavin Open Champion and inventor of the Patti-swarm. I’m actually really lucky that I’m able to see Jesper Hills, UK Nationals Champion; Alex Bert, James Dowdall and Mike Dennis (all of the 186th Squadron Podcast) there on a regular basis. I can only hope some of their skill rubs off on me via osmosis. I’m not sure this has happened yet.

Anyway, with the impending Coruscant Invitational as part of the Star Wars Celebration Weekend, Andrew Pattison invited some of the other Open Champions for friendlies. I shit you not, last night Dark Sphere had the regular members of the 186th Squadron, as well as Pattison, Ryan Flemming (the Hoth Open Champion, America) and Sascha Glitch (the Naboo Open Champion, Denmark).

The public have spoken and the Scum mandatory ship has been announced as the Star Viper. Wow.

I’ve wanted to create a viable and competitive Star Viper list since I started playing but I could never really justify the points.

What I’m most excited about, is that by the end of this weekend, we may well have seen eight Star Viper builds that really kick ass (That’s providing they get played).

Paul La Rue’s ace alt art Guri

Why Guri? I can’t help but feel sorry for Guri, she’s the ace that never was. The dial for the Star Viper isn’t awful (it could be better, but it could certainly be worse – it’s no HWK) and her ability when coupled with both the boost and barrel roll seem to scream ‘arc-dodger’.  Still, look at her PS -5?! Really? At 30 points? And then there’s the unique title card at an extra two points. That’s 32 points before any upgrades. It further re-affirms the notion that the Scum faction were really poorly costed when released in Wave 6.
If I had to play a Star Viper, I’d show Guri some love.

Guri’s Goofs (99 points)

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What’s the logic? The two Bin-yarr-ee Pirates at PS1, they’re prime blockers and they have Feedback Array to help them out.

The Black Sun Soldiers move in a close second behind the Pirates, being a PS3, with the Thread Tracers giving everybody a target lock. They’re also going to help with the blocking.

What about Guri? With this build, I’ve used Adaptability to lift her PS (or not). Autothrusters and Sensor Jammer here help increase her survivability by reducing the risk of variance. I might be tempted by Advanced Sensors, it’s a point cheaper.

I could put Lone Wolf on Guri, but with four other ships in play, it’s unlikely to work. With that, I could also put on Predator, but I’m actually going to go for Glitterstim as it poses a good psychological threat. There’s space for Crack Shot if I want, but I like having at least one list here with an initiative bid.

Guri’s Gotta Party (100 points)

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What’s the logic? Guri and a Party Bus. I can hear the whistles now; the face paint; the mirror ball. Reach for the lasers. Safe as fuck.

Alex Davey has apparently hinted that there will be a Star Viper fix with some sort of Scum Veterans pack. Scum Outlaws? I’m not so sure it hasn’t already been offered to us in the form of Attani Mindlink.

Palob can steal an enemy focus token and then Guri gets one via the AM. The pitfalls are the possibilities of gaining an unwanted stress token, but I think it should be ok here. I’ve gone with the Blaster Turret as a range 1-2 as I couldn’t afford the Ion or TLT. Alternatively, you could drop Attani Mindlink and go for one of these. Really, Palob is there to support and provide tokens.

The Party Bus? This is the traditional build, woth Dengar enabling re-rolls (two if it’s a unique pilot); 4-Lom demanding a re-roll of your opponents defence dice and Zuckuss stopping your opponent spending tokens.

If you prefer, you could take a Trandoshan Slaver with Bossk and Gunner instead. This comes in at 36 points instead of 34 for the Party Bus, so you would have to find two points elsewhere.

What about Guri? I couldn’t afford Sensor Jammer this time in the Systems Slot because of the cost of two Attani Mindlinks. Instead, I have gone for the cheaper Fire Control Systems. I’ve lost the EPT to Attani Mindlink and so have gone with Glitterstim again.

Guri’s Gifts (100 points)

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What’s the logic? Both Manaroo and Zuckuss being able to pass tokens around. Win.

I think Zuckuss’ ability at 28 points is incredible. The Tractor Beam can be a lot of fun but really, you’re paying the 1 point for the benefit of an additional barrel roll action. Adding in Fire Control Systems at an additional 2 points seems a no brainer.

This is a really basic Manaroo build and I’ve put her with Dengar to benefit from the re-roll ability whilst also freeing up the EPT slot for the Attani Mindlink. Let’s not forget the fluff either. Does she really need Attani Mindlink? This way, everybody benefits rather than one person; she also gets to keep her own focus token. How else might she be built? This is a tough one as I like the Revenge Bot acting as a deterrent, even though it might be costly at 3 points. I could drop both of these for an Engine Upgrade and then give her Adaptability instead. Well worth considering.

What about Guri? This is the most basic Guri, with only Autothrusters and the Virago title as she benefits from the AM.

Why take this basic Guri? Well, she’s supported so well through the potential of the Attani Mindlink, although there is the risk of stress from the red on the G-1A Starfighter dial. I think she might benefit from at least having FCS, but you can use target locks, relying on focus tokens from the other two ships.

Not that kind of Prince.

I didn’t have a Nintendo 64 and I didn’t get to play Shadows of the Empire. The N64 had such a stilted release in the UK, I’d pretty much given up on Nintendo at that point. If only it were on the Nintendo store now.

I know of Guri’s history in the EU after having researched it when first getting into X-Wing in January.

I want to read the SOTE novel but I’m too busy re-reading the Thrawn trilogy (it’s still as good as when I was in my early teens) and the awesome Darth Vader comics by Kieron Gillen et al.

Vader pulls apart an AT-AT before it crushes him.

I have a second Star Viper, I’ve actually had two extra ones that I bought for the additional Autothrusters. I’m tempted to paint one purple and make a Prince list.

Besides that, I’m tempted to have a go at each of the lists above now that I’ve given them some thought. I’m attracted to the Bug Zappers in Guri’s Goofs but I’m really keen to go with Guri’s Gifts too.

What will we see at Coruscant? It will certainly be interesting. Good luck to all of the players. I know I’ll be thinking of you through the day.

Jesper posted online earlier today explaining that they were unsure that there would be a twitch or YouTube broadcast of the day’s events. They’re hoping to live tweet some of the day from @186Podcast

Phoenix Squadron

I decided to devise callsigns for my A-Wing Crack swarm. Thanks for the help from @theryanfarmer #Mynocksquadron

Note: This post was originally part of my battle report for the Wave IX tournament at ibuywargames, Woking (You can find the full report here). It was a lengthy post, so I decided to cut this. In the interests of my own evaluation process, I have decided to include this as a separate post (selfish, I know). Subsequently, you might recognise some of the text below.

Whilst getting to grips with how to fly an A-Wing Crack-Swarm (you can read about my thoughts on formation flying here), I came across the latest Mynock Squadron PodcastFirespray 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.

Ryan has even created personalised cards for each ship with a justification of their names.

whoah

Famous Fives

I could go for Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy. This doesn’t fit, not to mention the embedded racism and xenophobia. Well, there’s the Ghostbusters: Venkman, Spengler, Stanz, Zeddemore and Slimer.  I have the lego kit for this, thus making it easier to remember who is who for the first few games, but I have no Slimer.

Then there’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leo, Raph, Michelangelo, Donatello and Kasey. I’m actually tempted to go with this, but I’m not fully committed.

I started to think about mythical beasts and went down two routes

•Beasts of the ground: Black Dog, Hydra, manticore, Wendigo (this one is awesome by the way, possessing humans and turning them into canonballs), Orthros, Cerberus

•Winged Beasts: Phoenix, Griffin, Sprite, Wraith, Roc, – drop Sprite for Shade

I began searching for creatures from Star Wars (both Canon and Legends) that would lend themselves to a squadron of A-Wings, it went a little like this:

In the end, it was when I was searching for Starbird, that I came across this:

phoenix
Sabine’s Phoenix logo from Rebels

 

Then it suddenly seemed straight forward:

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.

Does it make a difference? Here are some observations from my first tournament using this list:

  • Game one (matched against 2x Tie Defenders and a Tie Bomber) 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 (matched against 4 Baffaloes) Phoenix (A) went down against Baffaloes, along with Blaze (D), it was Inferno (B), Flame (C) and Flare (E) that held out and won the game.
  • Phoenix (A) exploded with the direct hit in game four (matched against thee T-65s).
  • 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.

Did you notice the same pattern? Phoenix. She’s mentioned a lot.

It could simply be a reflection of how I move my ships. For instance, if Phoenix (A) is placed first and given an upfront position, she is more likely to see the action, right? Flame (C) and Blaze (D) might well be mentioned less as a result of simply being the Green Squadron equivalent of fodder. Maybe.

What I’m interested in now is what if my personification of the ships leads me to make different decisions about placement and strategy.

We’ll just have to see.

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.

Dirty Den(gar)

My response to Dhaus’ arc-dodging #Dengar build #Xwing #Scum #jumpmaster #itsgettinghothinhere

DHaus, of the Stay On Target podcast, published a Dengar arc-dodger exploration on Team Covenant last week that you can find here.

DHaus Dengar Arc Dodger.png
DHaus’ optimal Dengar build.

I’ve been working on my own Dengar build for a while, Den-Bot, and wanted to throw my own into the ring. You can find the evolution of my list, along with my most recent successes and woes from the Womp Rats tournament in Aldershot here.

I see Dengar as a bit of a puzzle; he has an awesome ability that encourages players to fly the ship with your opponent in arc, rather than simply using the turret. Couple this with the ship’s dial and he is the most interesting PS9 large ship pilot, especially as he’s Scum.

Den Re-con

IG

Above was my previous list of Dengar with IG-88B, which barely left room for anything else to be removed unless I stripped down Dengar entirely, giving him just Predator and then Engine Upgrade.

I don’t want to leave Dengar naked, so I’m willing to substitute 88B in order to make room for EU and maximise Dengar’s potential as an arc-dodger.

Dengar with Predator, the Punishing One title, Engine Upgrade come in at 52 points. Through experience, Dengar also could do with Recon Specialist to make the most of his revenge ability, that’s now 55 points. I’m a big fan of the revenge bot, R5-P8, but it’s a little too expensive here, so I’m going with the R4 Agromech, which takes me to 57 points in total.

Jump & Fire (100 points)
Pairing Dengar with Kath Scarlet allows you the advantage of having a turret and a second ship with an auxiliary firing arc. Kath’s ability allows you to gain an extra attack dice from the back arc.

Dengar Predator.png

Kath:Boba.png

Standard builds for Kath allow an Engine Upgrade, VI, the K4 Security Droid and some sort of canon. I think that the Outlaw Tech is a better as it’s less limiting than the Security Droid. Nonetheless, points are a factor so I’ve tried to be inventive with my Kath build.

Firespray_31_Move.png
Firespray movements

I don’t have room for the Engine Upgrade on Kath and have swapped VI for adaptability, therefore still increasing the PS whilst not losing any points. Looking at the dial, the Firespray does have a one forward and a one bank.  It’s not a boost but it’ll have to do.

 

I’m determined to find a slot for the Boba Fett crew card and so therefore need to take the Mangler Canon to maximise the potential for using it.

This brings my Kath build in at 43 points and a 100 point total.

Den of Razz(matazz) (100 points)

John Wainscott played a Latts build at my first tournament in Aldershot (you can read about it here).

I like the Gunner ability and I love the irony of waiting for your ship to miss when you combine it with Bossk.

Lone Dengar.png

Latts Gunner Bosk.png

To make Dengar fit the points here, I have to drop Predator for Lone Wolf. When you look at the odds here, you’re looking at a 37.5% chance of rolling a blank to enable the re-roll.

There isn’t room for an Engine Upgrade on Latts, but when you look at his dial the red zero makes up for it.

Denaroo (98 points)

Pairing Dengar with Manaroo allows a little room for fluff (she is his wife in the EU), as well as giving you a big bag of tricks for the pairing.

Dengar R5-P8.png

Manaroo Torps.png

As far as the Dengar build is concerned, I am able to include Predator and R5-P8, as well as Glitterstim. I can load Up Manaroo with Plasma Torpedoes and Extra Munitions with Deadeye.  I haven’t yet used Feedback Array on any of my builds, this seems a fairly good spot.

For that final touch of fluffiness; Boba Fett crew card. See her soar over the Sarlacc Pit.

I could even substitute the Plasmas for Protons and make Boba earn his money.

Jamie’s Dengar Manaroo build from the Spring Kit at Marquee Models (you can read about it here) really impressed me and reminded me how my Scum lists could use a little more imagination and more synergy.

When I look at Manaroo’s ability, I can’t help but wonder if Deadeye and loading her up with torps isn’t a waste here?  What I do know is that once I’ve fully loaded both Dengar and Manaroo, the list comes in at 98 points, that’s not a bad initiative bid.

Even a Sith Lord is no match for my warriors. He put up quite a fight. Blasters, cannons, that glowy thing, voom-voom…

I started writing this a week ago. By now, Yavin has come and gone and the party bus build has emerged:

Slaver (29)

  • Gunner (5)
  • Bossk (2)
  • 4-LOM (1)

Slaver (29)

  • Greedo (1)
  • Fett (1)
  • Dengar (3)

G1a – Starfighter – Zuckaus (28)

  • Mist Hunter/Tractor Beam (1)

Look at that bag of tricks. All of it. What does this do to my thinking above? Nothing, except perhaps confirm that the Bounty Hunter crew cards are where it’s really at, rather than simply going for high PS.  Dee Yun had published a web comic with the Party Bus here

I like this version of the party bus, but I’m working on something a little more varied:

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 15.58.34.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 15.49.04.png

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 16.17.58.png

If you’re interested, this comes in at 98 points.  I’ve spent a long time trying to figure out how I could get Gunner in there too – it just doesn’t work if you want Zuckuss.

I began this post wanting to explore how these list ideas measured up to my original Den-Bot list.  Each one offers an increase in shields; a decrease in agility dice; a loss of Autothrusters and slightly less manoeuvrability. I can’t see why you wouldn’t go with the fluff of Jump and Fire or Denaroo.

What are your thoughts?