FCB 2015 X-Wing Championship

As I mentioned in the prior article discussing my current tournament list for X-Wing Miniatures, I played in the first Store Championship event of the year in my area this past Saturday. This was a huge event, almost on par with last year’s Regional Championship. Players came from all over the southeast to kick off the tournament season. The top tables tended to have local flavor, but the visitors made a strong showing too. We had 36 players in all, which meant 6 rounds of Swiss pairings, followed by a 3-round playoff for the top 8. We also had a small online following, as the venue streamed a featured table throughout the day. (Three recordings: Opening match, bulk of the tournament [Most of one of my matches is recorded at around the 8:06 mark, but ], and final two rounds.) [Edit: These recordings have since been lost in an account transfer.]

Here’s a quick rundown on my list as a reminder:

Cloaks and Dagger

Sigma Squadron Pilot – 25 (TIE Phantom)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)
Stygium Particle Accelerator – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Intelligence Agent – 1 (Lambda Shuttle / HWK-290)

Sigma Squadron Pilot – 25 (TIE Phantom)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)
Stygium Particle Accelerator – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Mara Jade – 3 (VT-49 Decimator)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Stealth Device – 3 (Slave 1)
Targeting Computer – 2 (Imperial Aces)

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I forgot to take a photo of just my ships, so pretend the B-Wing isn’t here (it wasn’t for long).

Round 1

Opponent:

Keeyan Farlander – 29 (Rebel Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing)

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)
Cluster Missiles – 4 (TIE Advanced / A-Wing)

List commentary: This is an interesting list for the current meta that includes so many two ship builds with a Decimator / YT-2400. Keeyan is ready to pump out lots of damage with that HLC, and the Cluster Missiles on the Bandit are good for chewing into a Decimator early, since none of the hits can be evaded. At the same time, Keeyan is the only ship in this list that is really threatening, nothing else has late-game power.

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We were hurried, so this photo turned out blurry, but it’s what I’ve got.

Battle: I almost lucked into a bye here, as my opponent had pre-registered but was running late. He got there about 2 minutes after the round start, so we rushed setup and started a separate timer, not that I thought it would be needed. 75% of his force hit the table before any of mine did, so I deployed away from him with my Phantoms, making sure I had time and room to maneuver around before we got into range.

Looking at the setup, my number one concern was downing Keeyan, he’s one of the biggest threats to my build. But I didn’t need to worry too much. Hoping to see Carnor stroll into firing range, my opponent got aggressive with Keeyan,  and gambled with an early Push the Limit. Instead, all he got out of it was being stranded in front of an asteroid and stressed, as I was having none of it. The next turn, he guessed wrong as to where the Phantoms would go, and ended up still stressed and pointed away from the combat. The time it took him to recover meant that I had  several turns of free reign against the remainder of his list. The Bandit got his missile off against Carnor, but 2 x 3 attack dice unmodified vs against 2 x 4 defense dice with focus & evade was a futile effort.

Starting roughly around the time that the photo above was taken, things went really far downhill for my opponent, as I was able to isolate one ship per turn, first the Blue Squadron B-Wing, then the Y-Wing, then the Z, and then lastly Keeyan. Each of the three generics died very quickly, being the subject of focused fire from my entire squad. As I mentioned in my design considerations from the previous post, the Phantoms fired before any of those three ships, and not a single one of them survived to return fire. Keeyan was a little tougher to nail down, but it was only a matter of time.

Record: 1-0
Margin of Victory: 200
Post-match standings: #6 out of 36.

Round 2

Opponent:

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Stealth Device – 3 (Slave 1)
Targeting Computer – 2 (Imperial Aces)

Soontir Fel – 27 (TIE Interceptor)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Stealth Device – 3 (Slave 1)
Targeting Computer – 2 (Imperial Aces)

Captain Kagi – 27 (Lambda Shuttle)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)

List commentary: Being an out-of-town player, I hadn’t seen this individual in several months, and I’d never seen this build. But I could tell immediately that this was one of the worst matchups I could have encountered on the day. It was a really well assembled squad that was using the same concepts as my own, but had an additional component that I hadn’t considered in Kagi. His Carnor Jax was identical to my own. Soontir always has mean damage output with this build, and Kagi served as an anchor to the list and made my targeting computer on my Interceptor next to useless.

(Photos from this match didn’t come out)

Battle: I lost the initiative roll, and might as well have packed up then and there. Killing his Carnor Jax was going to be lynchpin for a full victory, but without the ability to pin him down with my own, that would prove near impossible. He maneuvered his interceptors superbly, and was frustratingly unpredictable with his Lambda as well. At the end of the game I had landed two hits on Soontir, and one on Carnor Jax, and that stubborn Lambda had done at least that much damage to himself by running over asteroids.

The pace of this match was extremely slow. Each of my opponent’s Interceptor activations took 2-3 minutes as he considered what to do, where to boost/roll, etc. I considered changing targets and chasing down the shuttle, but I realized that I wouldn’t have time to kill it. In an attempt to kill ANYTHING, I got aggressive on the last turn with my one remaining ship, and ended up losing it too.

Record: 1-1
Margin of Victory: 200
Post-match standings: #25 out of 36.

Round 3

Opponent:

——

Whisper – 32 (TIE Phantom)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE Phantom / B-Wing)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Cloaking Device – 4 (TIE Phantom)
Tactician – 3 (TIE Phantom)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau – 46 (VT-49 Decimator)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Rebel Captive – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)
Mara Jade – 3 (VT-49 Decimator)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

List commentary: This fellow was from the same area as my previous opponent, which meant that once again things were showing up that weren’t present in our local meta. Veteran Instincts on the Rear Admiral is not something I would have expected to see. I understand where people are going with it, but I’m not a huge fan of Mara Jade & Rebel Captive on the same ship – if one is working, the other isn’t; I’d prefer to do something that makes one work all the time.

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Not displayed: the inadvertent crotch-shot that was uncomfortably featured in the uncropped version of the photo.

Battle: In my hurry to get back into the fight, I didn’t think things through all the way in deployment, and Chiraneau boosted up for a turn one shot that didn’t do much good. Whisper, on the other hand, hung back far out of range. I’ve always felt that elite Phantoms would do well held back as a reserve force, only committed once the opponent had been weakened a bit or pulled out of position, but hadn’t seen it done much. I wasn’t about to take that chance though, and I committed Carnor to an attack run while my Phantoms did their thing with the Decimator. It turned out to hurt me in the short term, and help me in the end.

He flew Whisper masterfully and skirted right by Carnor, who had used PTL for a focus/evade combo, expecting to be slugging it out with the Phantom that turn. Now Whisper was headed for my Phantoms who were still dancing with the Decimator, and Carnor Jax was across the map, stressed, and pointed the wrong way! Meanwhile, my Phantoms were running into trouble, getting stressed repeatedly by Mara Jade. Since I don’t use the Advanced Cloaking Device, my maneuvers are really limited when I need to clear stress, so I had to do some really funky stuff to get shots and keep myself alive until.

At one point I evaded Whisper’s arc with a Phantom by doing the unexpected, a green maneuver to right up against the table edge, facing off, and a cloak action. Whisper pointed the wrong way as I’d hoped. The next turn, Intelligence Agent told me where Whisper could cover with his shots, I decloaked to the opposite side, pulling the template back as far as possible, which left me exactly enough room for a hard 1 turn to remain on the table and pointed back into the fight with Whisper likely in arc. My other Phantom turned back in with a surprise K-Turn and covered the same area from another direction, and by this point Carnor was re-entering the fight. No matter where Whisper decloaked and moved, he took at least two attacks. He elected for offense, failed to hit, and took all three shots in return, giving a small scale preview of the fireball that the Decimator would look like soon after.

Record: 2-1
Margin of Victory: 400
Post-match standings: #10 out of 36.

Round 4

Opponent:

——

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter set)

Wedge Antilles – 29 (X-Wing)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)

Luke Skywalker – 28 (Starter Set)
R3-A2 – 2 (GR-75)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

List commentary: This list, or a variant thereof (usually swapping Luke for Wes Jansen) is a tried and true standard for this player, a local who could fly this to the top table of most local tournaments in his sleep. Luke is a better choice for an end-game dogfighter thanks to his defensive ability, whereas Wes (with VI) is normally used to strip off defensive tokens ahead of Wedge coming in for a kill shot.

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Use the Force, Luke!

 

Battle: Against the first opponent of the day whom I see on a regular basis, this turned out to be the best match of X-Wing I’ve played in months; although some hot & cold dice rolls didn’t make it seem that way. He knows his list well enough to fly it in his sleep, which means his focus in game is strictly on the movements and actions of the ships he’s flying against. Never leaving home without a PS9 and PS10 X-Wing, my opponent normally licks his chops when he sees TIE Phantoms, but these weren’t the Phantoms he was looking for.

One of this player’s strength is his patience. He never bolts forward early for a close shot, and never splits his forces, choosing instead to approach slowly and make sure that he can’t be outflanked. To force the issue, I deployed in a corner, and moved along my board edge with Carnor Jax, sending the Phantoms up the neutral board edge and cloaking them. Two turns later, Carnor banked in, with the option to boost left or right to commit to the fight a denied flank based on my opponent’s moves. His Bandit, at PS2, turned towards Carnor. Seeing this, at PS3 I engaged my Phantoms, who decloaked towards his forces and had hard-turns dialed up. I had taken the bait, as the rest of his squad turned to face the Phantoms; but range bonuses and focus/evade combos were too much for the X-Wings to overcome, and Biggs took heavy damage on the turn, falling to the first shot of the next.

From that point on, Intelligence Agent was in range, soon to be followed by Mara Jade, and things spiraled out of control for the Rebels. The limited dial of the X-Wing / Z-95, combined with a persistent stress mechanic and psychic barrel-rolling blockers meant that I could essentially escort his last couple of ships around as long as needed, never taking shots from them, and never allowing actions.

That anecdote is a prime example of how the whole day went on the whole; I was constantly surprised, but generally able to recover, relying on the maneuverability and defensive options of my list to keep everything alive (if just barely), and bursting for high amounts of damage when a target presented itself.

Record: 3-1
Margin of Victory: 600
Post-match standings: #5 out of 36.

Round 5

Opponent:

Academy Pilot -12 (Starter set / TIE Fighter)

Academy Pilot – 12 (Starter set / TIE Fighter)

Dark Curse – 16 (Starter set)

Commander Kenkirk – 44 (VT-49 Decimator)
Proton Bombs – 5 (TIE Bomber)
Ysanne Isard – 4 (VT-49 Decimator)
Hull Upgrade – 3 (Imperial Aces)
Ruthlessness – 4 ( VT-49 Decimator)

List commentary: Danger! Danger! With Proton Bombs and Ruthlessness, Kenkirk was equipped to potentially wipe out my entire squad in one turn. I had the firepower to take the Decimator down in two turns (one with some fortuitous critical hits), but at table 3 on round 5 out of the 6 Swiss rounds, I couldn’t afford to take a big gamble and come up empty. To be guaranteed a shot at making the cut, I had to win at least one game, and score decently in the other.

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This is a little game I like to call “avoid where the Decimator is going and where it just was”.

 

Battle: Fearing the effects of both the Proton Bomb and Ruthlessness, I spread my ships out a lot more in this game. Even keeping that in mind, the Decimator was able to strip Carnor’s Stealth Device with a good shot and damage a Phantom in the process, meaning that the failure to roll one more evade result cost my list almost 20% of its’ hit points.

Where I managed to come out ahead is that TIE Fighters work fundamentally different from the Decimator, they needed to stay close to me and pointed at my ships to do anything, while the Decimator didn’t care about facing for shooting, and wanted to move close for bomb usage. As a result, I took advantage of this aggressive play and caused my opponent to split his forces for several rounds. In the turns following the picture above, I was able to isolate both of the Academy TIEs while Dark Curse and Kenkirk struggled to get back into the fight. (Carnor is alive in the photo, just off his flight stand to allow a bump with back of the Decimator). Both Academy Pilots were dropped quickly.

Time got away from both of us in this match, so once I heard a warning of approximately 5 minutes remaining, I realized the Decimator wouldn’t drop in time, and my target priority shifted to killing Dark Curse while keeping my ships alive. I succeeded at both by a hair’s breadth, scoring 40 points for the 3 TIE Fighters, and getting full credit for each of my 3 ships limping away with 1 hull remaining apiece.

Record: 4-1
Margin of Victory: 740
Post-match standings: #4 out of 36.

Round 6

Opponent:

Corran Horn – 35 (E-Wing)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)

Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Kyle Katarn – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

List commentary: The Outrider is a tricky ship to fly against. If you don’t trap it early and put a lot of damage on it, it’s really tough to bring down late in the game, because the entire table is open for his maneuvers, and he’s essentially getting three actions per turn. Corran Horn, with his ability to attack twice in a turn, is a great choice to escort Dash, because he can punish anyone that comes in close enough to hit Dash safely inside the Range 1 dead zone that the Heavy Laser Cannon gives the Outrider. Against other players I feel okay about the matchup. But this was in the hands of someone who had been sitting at the top table all day, and I’d learned to respect heavily over the past year.

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Look, Ma! No shot!

 

Battle: This one probably took more time to look up the points on his list and talk about than it did to play. I was afraid of losing the Phantoms early, and held them back, but committed Carnor to try and grab some quick damage on Dash. Unfortunately, I couldn’t squeeze into range 1, and had to settle for turtling up with focus/evade, but to no avail, rolling poorly on defense cost me the ship immediately. I think the Phantoms might have taken a shield or two off of Dash, but it wasn’t anything to speak of. I was trounced solidly within half an hour, and on account of my own aggression to boot.

Record: 4-2
Margin of Victory: 740
Post-match standings: #8 out of 36.

Into the playoffs, by 5 MoV points over 9th.

Quarterfinal Round

Opponent:

Corran Horn – 35 (E-Wing)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)

Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Kyle Katarn – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

List commentary: Look familiar? Having beaten me solidly in the previous round, my opponent became the #1 seed for the playoff, which meant we had to play an immediate rematch.

Battle: This time, I changed things up on him a little bit, and I went hunting Corran Horn. You can see how that worked out for me on the video recorded here [edit: video is no longer available]. This had been a long day, so I was tired, but I was hyped up and excited to have a chance to knock out a ship early. Those factors combined to cause me to forget my bonus attack die for both of my Phantoms on the first round of shooting, which meant I lost a Phantom and Corran lived 3-4 more turns, getting off another shot in the process. Let’s just say I’m still kicking myself over that now, 4 days later.

Final Record: 4-3, 8th place.

Final thoughts

I was very happy with the performance of my list, and how I flew it. Looking back on my wins, I pulled off some slick moves that I wish more than just my opponent and I could have seen. Looking back at my losses, I realized that I need to take my time and not try to force opportunities in bad matchups to cause a bad game to become a horrible one.

The Phantoms aren’t done yet, there’s plenty more tournaments in this season.

For those of you who took the time to read this far through, I didn’t get a lot of in-game shots, having been playing at the time, but here’s a gallery of some of the other photos I managed to snag on the day.

— The Tabletop General