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

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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?

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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 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).

sparkle motion logo.jpg

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?

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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.