Moxie Games X-Wing Championship

Following last week’s first place finish at Galactic,  I joined a group of local players and traveled to one more X-Wing Miniatures store championship this weekend to finish out the season, this time the event was held at Moxie Games. A much shorter drive than my previous event, I still had some fun in traffic getting there and felt a little rushed after arriving. I had considered trying out a new list, but I had also been joking with my friends about wanting a plaque for home and for my office too, so I brought out the A team again, my triple TIE Interceptor list.

A quick refresher on the contents of my force:

Soontir Fel -27 (TIE Interceptor)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Royal Guard Pilot – 22 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

No time to peek around or take photos before the event today, had to jump on the table right away.

Moxie X-Wing.jpg
X-Wing took over Moxie for the day.

Round One

Opponent:

Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)
Draw Their Fire – 1 (Millennium Falcon)
Luke Skywalker – 7 (Millennium Falcon)
Cluster Missiles – 4 (TIE Advanced / A-Wing)
Millennium Falcon – 1 (Millennium Falcon)
Tactical Jammer – 1 (VT-49 Decimator)
R2-D2 – 4 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)

Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter set)
R2-F2 – 3 (Starter set)
Experimental Interface – 3 (YT-2400 Outrider)

Well now, if this list doesn’t scream “I don’t want to make decisions”, I don’t know what does. X-Wing on the table edge, Falcon right beside it. 2 forward for Biggs, Focus, R2-F2. 1 forward for Han, Focus. K-Turn before reaching the edge of the table. Which is exactly what happened.

Before our game had begun, a discussion broke out at the next table over about one player’s list. He was brand new to the game, and his opponent, a fellow TO in my usual group known as “Lambot”, was explaining several errors in his list. Academy Pilots couldn’t have the Missile upgrade currently placed on it, or multiple Elite Pilot Talents, and Darth Vader could only have one of his two Missiles too. The event TO was called over for guidance, and at his direction, the extra upgrades were taken off and not replaced. This left a brand new player down about 15 points to a very experienced player, which wouldn’t be pretty.

Back to my game, I tried my best to tempt my opponent into giving up his moving castle approach by circling around the entire map before finally giving in and engaging on his terms. The last thing I wanted to do was run out of time. My attack dice ran hot, and refused to roll critical hits while Biggs was alive (which wasn’t long, even with the crazy 4-5 defense dice available to him), and good ol’ R2-D2 came through as the Empire’s best saboteur, crippling the Falcon’s guns with a Weapons Malfunction. A couple turns passed in which a combination of collisions and K-Turns kept Han from fixing that critical hit, and the Falcon simple wasn’t going to hit Autothruster Interceptors. The actual fight went quickly, although we didn’t have much time to spare following the early failed maneuvering lure.

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Torkil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Greedo – 1 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)
Moldy Crow – 3 (HWK-290)
Hull Upgrade – 3 (Imperial Aces / Starviper)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Kavil – 24 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
R4 Agromech – 2 (Most Wanted)

Somehow, out of 27 players, “Lambot” and I were the only two to score 100-0 wins in our first match, so that put us head to head at the top table. As we were setting up, he commented that he brought Feedback Array specifically for Carnor Jax, since he expected to see more and more of him now with Autothrusters. Accordingly, I made a mental note that stuck with me throughout the game not to get too close.

His list is one of those things that doesn’t look like it should work, but it does. Torkhil drops a target to PS 0. Palob steals any token that target might have. Kavil uses Opportunist on the token-less victim, and rolls a 5 die blaster turret shot with target lock, likely stripping the target’s shields. Palob follows up with a 4 die blaster turret shot with focus & target lock. Then Torkhil either throws a crit at them via Greedo, or ionizes a new target for the next turn.

We both played carefully at first, he took 1-forward moves, I took a couple turns and barrel rolls to stay roughly in place, graduating to 2-forwards, and then when it was time to get down to business, I rolled in to range 3 with some moderate movements and lit the HWK’s up from long range. Both dropped quickly thanks to another dose of hot attack dice, and at that point I just dove into close range on Kavil. With Carnor Jax denying focus actions, Kavil was pretty much helpless, and we wrapped the game up in a little under 20 minutes. Clean, simple, and brutal.

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

Chewbacca – 42 (Millennium Falcon)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Jan Ors – 2 (Rebel Aces)

Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)
Determination – 1 (TIE Fighter / Starter set)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

Three months ago, this list would have scared the living daylights out of me playing Interceptors. But now, not so much. Big turrets are still dangerous, but Autothrusters have gone a long way towards evening things up by protecting you from that inevitable poor evade roll.

Early on in the game, my opponent verbally resolved to keep me in forward arc as much as possible, and telling me how much Carnor Jax worried him when he was built around Recon Specialist. He approached slowly, giving me Chewbacca as the first available target. I, on the other hand, tried to get cute, and didn’t actually commit Carnor, having him take a defensive move, hiding behind an asteroid. It didn’t do me any good, as he still took a Direct Hit, leaving him near death’s door and without even being able to shoot that turn.

At this point, I realized that I needed to start doing some serious damage if I was going to take these two down. Having stripped several of Chewie’s shields the previous turn, I thought (correctly) that he would try to move quickly and escape some of my firing arcs. So instead, I let Chewie fly out of the fight, and I swapped targets, pouncing on Han, too far away for Chewie to really be effective. That’s a 3 on 1 fight that Han is bound to lose, and did, but Carnor Jax went down in the process, my first casualty of the day.

Seeing the remaining time was getting low, I was a wary about engaging Chewbacca. He still had lots of health, I couldn’t deny his actions, and with one Interceptor already down, losing a second one and not finishing Chewie would cost me the match. I wasn’t willing to risk that, so while I took a few long range shots, I refused to come in close or take risks. As a result, I didn’t finish him off before time expired, but a win is a win (usually).

3-0, 516 MoV

Round Four

Opponent:

Howlrunner – 18 (TIE Fighter)
Wingman – 2 (Z-95)
Shield Upgrade – 4 (Imperial Aces / Millennium Falcon)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Shield Upgrade – 4 (Imperial Aces / Millennium Falcon)

Echo – 30 (TIE Phantom)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE PhantomB-Wing)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Cloaking Device – 4 (TIE Phantom)

Ugh. I was NOT looking forward to this one. I took a couple minutes to watch this list fly towards the end of round two, and had seen it at the next table over during round three. I asked (unsuccessfully) for his opponent to do me a favor and not let him win that game, because I didn’t want to play it.

Without Whisper involved, I knew it wouldn’t be quite as tough as it could be, but with only 9 total HP a lot of my resilience is based on having a Focus & Evade token available every turn, and Carnor would take that away. I’ve also played around with a similar list recently – Soontir (fully loaded), Howlrunner (PTL), Black Squadron (Draw Their Fire), and Black Squadron (Wingman), and I know the value that a nearby TIE with Wingman can bring to the Interceptors.

It did, however, become a little easier when my opponent took the initiative option. Looking back on it, it made sense that he wanted to be able to cloak Echo before my Carnor Jax could fire, but it also made the difference between only Soontir Fel being able to see the enemy’s final positions for arc-dodging purposes, or Carnor Jax too.  Still, I resolved to make that choice hurt.

We approached from opposite corners, meeting close to the center of the map. I was more than happy with this, as I wanted to limit Echo’s options for decloaking. Speaking of which, Echo led the group, charging ahead of the others. Seeing this, I resolved to take down Echo first, figuring that I could pick the Phantom off by arranging a 3-on-1 skirmish. Perhaps it was intended as a trap, or perhaps he sensed that I had it out for the Phantom, either way, he moved as far as he could to my right, with Howlrunner and Carnor still approaching from the left of the asteroid field. But I wanted to not only take out the Phantom, I wanted to deny the other ships attacks for the round. Accordingly, I had committed to moving to my right, planning to Boost/Barrel roll to correct back to the left if I had guessed wrong and it was needed. So from there, it took a couple of turns, but that Phantom was toast just about the time that the other ships engaged.

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Phantom down, time to go TIE Fighter hunting.

My Royal Guard Pilot took a hit in the process of killing Echo, and ended up evacuating the area rather than risking getting caught in the crosshairs of the other two ships. This sent him into the densest part of the asteroid field, the RGP spent several turns to bring himself back into the fight, leaving me with a 2-on-2 duel near the corner of the field.

Carnor was by far the bigger threat of the two, but also a tough nut to crack. With Howlrunner’s assistance, the Interceptor had a completely open dial every turn, and was (almost) always able to take a double action. So to help myself out, I took down Howlrunner first, putting us on equal footing for action economy. My opponent, seeming to know that the end was near, began flying very defensively with Carnor in an attempt just to save some points, but with my own Jax and Fel in pursuit, and the Royal Guard Pilot re-entering the battle from the other flank, he could only dodge so many shots, and I notched another win.

4-0, 716 MoV

Round Five

Opponent:

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Boba Fett – 39 (Most Wanted)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (Starviper / IG-2000)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Seismic Charges – 2 (TIE Bomber / IG-2000 / Slave 1)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)

This would prove to be a challenging matchup. For the first (and only) time all day, Soontir Fel wouldn’t have free reign over the battlefield during his movement, and Fett could adjust his facing via Engine Upgrade if needed. Additionally, the three feedback arrays would be enough to vaporize an Interceptor in a single turn if I let him catch me in range. So while I was a lock to reach the playoffs whether I won this game or not (a total loss would have put me in 4th), I hoped to completely demolish it somehow, and knock it out of the playoffs, because I didn’t want to face it with my tournament life on the line!

My goal was to play keep-away, using my speed and maneuverability to stay away from the Z’s long enough to pick them apart at range, but I wasn’t sure how Boba would fit in to that equation, I had no idea what he would be doing. Initially, the Z’s approached in a cluster in the center of the field, with Boba following behind. I traded a few shots with the headhunters, destroying one, and then bugged out on the next turn rather than getting caught. My opponent, on the other hand, had spread the Z’s out, and there was nothing I could do to prevent Soontir from getting zapped once by a feedback.

 

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Scramble drill!

 

The battle split from here, which was an interesting temporary war on two fronts. Soontir and Boba began dueling, but without doing much damage to the other, although Boba did catch Soontir with his Seismic charge, bringing the baron down to one hit point, yet with his Stealth Device still active. The other Interceptors both bolted away to get some safety distance before making another attack run on the Black Sun Soldiers. While Fel could hold his own for a few minutes against the master bounty hunter, it’s not something I wanted to encourage as a long term engagement, so rather than turning up field for a shot, I had Soontir reverse course back towards the other Interceptors, causing Boba to collide. At extreme range, token-covered Interceptors win out over an action-less Firespray, and shields were stripped from range.

The next turn, my Interceptors took the opportunity to swarm together, and all ended up at Range 1 of the remaining Z’s. Two shots to the healthy one removed it from the table, and the Royal Guard Pilot blasted the final of the three fighters on his own, thanks to the missing shield from the earlier Feedback Array usage.

From there, the whole squad gave chase to Boba Fett, who was nearing a corner. While I did say my favorite place to engage a Firespray is a board edge, I neglected to mention that it’s even better to engage it near two of them. A flurry of shots exchanged left Boba limping and without his biggest asset, his pilot skill (thanks to a Damaged Cockpit critical). Desperate to find a way to escape the corner and put shots on target, Boba took too big of a turn, and flew straight off the board. He escaped, but it was a win.

I didn’t manage to knock him out of the cut, his prior record was too strong, but I wouldn’t be facing him in an immediate rematch either, and I had proven to myself that the list wasn’t THAT bad of a matchup.

5-0, 916 MoV, 1st place after Swiss.

Moxie Top 8
Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Torkil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Greedo – 1 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)
Moldy Crow – 3 (HWK-290)
Hull Upgrade – 3 (Imperial Aces / Starviper)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Kavil – 24 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
R4 Agromech – 2 (Most Wanted)

“Lambot” again, as luck would have it. Given the ease with which the Interceptors tore through his forces earlier, this should have been an easy win. But after a long day of the best the tournament could throw at me,  my wits and luck were running a little low.

Again, we approached slowly. He hugged the board edge, with Kavil closest to the edge, and I slowly moved up field for a turn or two before turning in and engaging him at a right angle near my right corner of the map. I got almost exactly the shot that I wanted on the first turn of engagement: two range 3 shots on an HWK with no return fire. Unfortunately, I whiffed on the first attack, and the second was completely evaded.

What I should have done was turn up field, then come back for another attack run and another set of 100% safe range 3 shots. But I was too stubborn, I abandoned my discipline, and I didn’t respect what his ships were capable of. I attacked.

The Royal Guard Pilot and Soontir Fel turned in and prepared to unload into the HWK’s again. Carnor, on the other hand, swooped in close for extra dice and to prevent spending of Focus Tokens on defense or to fire Blaster Turrets, placing himself directly in front of the enemy and Focusing for an optimum attack, exactly the WRONG thing to do. Palob stole the Focus token (oops, forgot he could do that). Torkhil dropped Carnor to PS0 (oops, forgot he could do that). Soontir damaged but didn’t kill one of the HWK’s. Because I had gotten so close, Kavil had a forward arc Range 1 shot with Opportunist on the token-less Carnor Jax for a total of four attack dice (oops, forgot he could do that), who took a single damage. The Royal Guard Pilot fired next, leaving the damaged HWK with only two hull remaining. Just outside of the arc of the second HWK, surely Carnor Jax could survive a two die attack from the injured HWK, right? Zap, ZAP, Feedback array x2 (oops, forgot he could do that).

Had I stopped to think about it for a moment, I probably could have still pulled it off by breaking off the attack, getting distance, and going back to long range drive-by attacks. But in my frustration, I pressed the assault, and now without Jax around, Kavil’s leash was off, I ate a 5 die Blaster Turret shot to the face, and Fel fell dead, the Royal Guard following on the next turn.

Lambot did everything right; I can’t and wouldn’t want to take that away from him. He carved through his next two opponents to take first place in the event, and our whole group stuck around to watch and support him. But I know good and well that I played that last game horribly wrong. Sticking to my tenets of patient, disciplined play, I would have walked away with another win. Instead, I assumed that rematch would be a walk in the park, and sat out the rest of the event to pay for it.

For those who are interested in such things, full Cryodex output for the event is available here.

I’ve played in six store championships this season. One of those was a really bad day where nothing could go right. One of those, I could do no wrong and brought my very best to each game. The other four, I can point to the exact point in time where I had a lapse in judgement and didn’t have a killer instinct approach to the match, or I forgot something that made a big difference because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, or both. Casual play is a wholly different thing, I don’t mind messing around, getting myself into a bad situation and trying to find a way out, or losing a random game to a friend. But come tournament time, Beast Mode needs to be in full effect, no matter who I’m playing or what I’m playing against.

Lesson learned. Bring on Regionals.

– The Tabletop General

 

 

Hands on with Star Wars Armada

The day has arrived, and the Star Wars: Armada core sets released today at Friendly Local Gaming Stores across North America. So I declared it a miniature holiday, and went in to pick my two starters up as the shops opened, cracked them open, and ran a series of demo games for anyone who wanted to come by. I played a grand total of four games today, and watched a fifth one.

Perhaps the biggest paradigm shift from X-Wing is that there are no defense dice, only abilities. Combined with that, there are multiple types of attack dice, usable at different ranges and in different situations. So in case you were asking yourself (Google, please pay attention to these phrases): “What is the difference between the Star Wars Armada attack dice?”, or “How many of each result are on Star Wars Armada attack dice?”

  • Red dice have the longest range. Their faces are: Blank, Blank, Critical, Critical, Accuracy, Hit, Hit, Double Hit.
  • Blue dice are medium range, and always do something. Their faces are: Critical, Critical, Accuracy, Accuracy, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit.
  • Black dice have the shortest range, and do the most damage. Their faces are: Blank, Blank, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit & Critical, Hit & Critical.

Contents of the core set

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I got a lot of things wrong in the first day’s worth of games, but that’s to be expected when diving in head first to such a deep game. That is going to improve with practice, there’s just a LOT of rules to remember. Generally, my biggest mistakes involved being too permissive about things, such as letting the Redirect defense token move damage to a non-adjacent hull zone, or allowing shots that had valid line of sight, yet weren’t actually in the shooter’s firing arc. But for the most part I feel pretty solid with the basics of the game now.

Getting started with our first basic demo game.
Getting started with our first basic demo game.

My foremost thought at the moment is that it’s going to be a wholly different scene from Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. With X-Wing, I’d say that about 80% of tournament games finish in under an hour. With Armada it’s a different story; even with a hard limit of a six turns in the game, it looks like it will take about two hours to play a game at a full 300 point level. possibly a little quicker for some builds (fighters tend to slow things down a LOT). So tournament play is going to take a great deal more time, and games will need a time limit in addition to the round limit. In turn, I think that makes it much more likely for players to bring big beefy ships that will take longer to kill, (thus being more likely to survive in a game that gets called on account of time) and less of a balanced fleet.

Going back to the Fighter Squadrons, I understand the necessity of including them, but… the implementation is rough. The best way I’ve found to use them so far requires being extremely precise with their positioning, sniping one squadron by placing multiple of yours on the edge of firing range (premeasuring is allowed, remember), but just out of range of their allies, so that they must spend an activation moving to you before engaging.. Yet it’s nearly impossible to adjust the remaining health on a squadron when hit without moving them, since the damage is tracked on their bases, and that does not turn easily without picking the squadron up off of the table to do it. Also, the disparity at this stage between the TIE Fighters and the X-Wings is immense. I know they fill different roles, but… wow. In my final game of the evening, three squadrons of TIE Fighters managed to deal one damage over the course of two turns of shooting. Conversely, my first game of the day featured X-Wings taking a Victory Star Destroyer to the sci-fi equivalent of the wood shed.

X-Wings blowing up a Victory Star Destroyer
The bigger they are, the harder they fall…

 

Stepping things up to the 300 point level by using two starter sets, I chose quantity over quality for the Rebels, and my opponent showed me how much better of an idea “quality” might have been. Grand Moff Tarkin combined with the Liason crew upgrades made his Star Destroyers able to react MUCH faster to the flow of battle, constantly changing the top dial of his command stack to be exactly the command he wanted to execute at any given time. And the Dominator title, along with a Gunnery Team, makes for a terrifying alpha strike.

Going in to that game, I felt pretty confident about my ability to navigate, so I picked the Minefields objective out of his three selected. Then I proceeded to trigger five out of the six sets of mines. It wasn’t a good game, but it was fun!

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Overlapping a debris field AND triggering mines? Good thing I have that Engineering token!
Star Destroyer and Corvette surrounded by fighters
I don’t know who was more surprised by this move: the Star Destroyer’s captain, or its’ gunners.

Looking at the contents realistically, there’s only about ten upgrade cards that are non-unique in the starter, and I would think some of those would be in the expansion packs too. So I can’t imagine needing more than one of the core sets unless you’re really wanting to play 300 point games right away, and you don’t know someone willing to loan you the other half of their kit for a game.

 

At this point, I would heavily recommend picking up the game, but to fill out your fleet, I would say to get the expansion versions of the extra ships instead of a second starter. In particular, I’ve pre-ordered the following list from my FLGS to add to my collection:

Gladiator Star Destroyers
Victory Star Destroyer
Imperial Fighter Squadrons
CR90 Corellian Corvette
Assault Frigates
Nebulon B Frigate
Rebel Fighter Squadrons

Without a second core set, the only thing you’ll be short on is dice (X-Wings roll more blue dice than one starter set contains), but there will be a separate dice pack along with the rest of wave 1. As for other supplies, if you’re interested in card sleeves, here’s what you’ll need:

Damage Deck & upgrades: Two packs of  “Mini American”.
Ship cards: One pack of “Tarot
Squadron cards: One pack of “Standard

Will all the fit on the table at once? Not in a standard game, no. But it’s really nice to have options. And the extras will look really cool sitting on my desk at work. They’ll fit much better than their X-Wing equivalents.

X-Wing and Armada CR90 Blockade Runner size comparison
If the Tantive IV gave birth, does that make the baby the Tantive V?

Armada is a very enjoyable game from what I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves. It’s exciting to be in on the start of the game. It won’t scratch my tournament play itch quite as well as X-Wing, and the pace is a little slower, but this is definitely what I would prefer to play when my opponent is a friend. Still going to blow ’em to bits though.

– The Tabletop General

Galactic Comics & Games X-Wing Championship

By now, readers of the site should know that when it comes to Star Wars games, I’m a huge fan of TIE Interceptors. I’m really looking forward to find the best way to use them in Star Wars: Armada (releasing this week!!!), even though they won’t appear until the Imperial Fighter Squadron expansion arrives with the rest of wave 1 in a couple weeks. I’ve posted a few recent articles (here, and here) about how I’ve been using the Interceptors in X-Wing Miniatures, and this weekend I put all that practice to the test, by taking that same list to the X-Wing Store Championship at Galactic Comics & Games.

While it wasn’t exactly a five minute trip to get there, I have a friend who plays at Galactic regularly, and he had made a special trip to come attend another Store Championship event which I had run. I wanted to return the favor. It would be close to my last chance to compete at a Store Championship event before the season wrapped up for the year, and I’ve been using these events as a way of proving to myself how much my skills and understanding of the game had evolved over the previous year. So, several hours of driving way earlier than I’m comfortable with on a Saturday morning, I arrived, registered for the event, and mentally buckled my seatbelt, something told me I was in for a ride. I didn’t expect a cakewalk by any means, but I didn’t see a lot of squads out on tables that I wanted to fight:

  • One Lambda Shuttle I can outmaneuver, but four would be a pain.
  • Tag team of a YT-2400 and a YT-1300, never fun, and I didn’t trust my Autothrusters THAT much.
  • Two TIE Phantoms and a TIE Fighter, depends on the player but I’d rather not see it across the table.
  • Four B-Wings… not the worst thing in the world, but there’s a lot of HP in there, and they’re the only thing to have beaten my list thus far (technically 3 + Luke).
  • Obligatory Paul Heaver Special (YT-1300, 3 Z-95‘s), I just get so bored with fighting that at every single event.

Out of time for scouting, it was time to get on the table. Round one started with exactly 16 players, which meant 4 rounds of Swiss play and then a cut to top 4. This got a little complicated as 5 players making a similar drive to mine arrived half an hour after the round started. This was the first major event hosted by this Tournament Organizer, so he consulted myself and a couple other TO’s present. Given that other players from the same area arrived on time, none of the players were pre-registered despite the clearly outlined requirements to do so on the event announcements, and that they did not contact the store when they realized they would be late, but that they had several friends in the event and had driven so far, they were allowed to join, but with full losses in the first round, and the event was not expanded, making for a steep uphill battle for them to reach the top 4 in what was now a 21 person event.

My List
image

Soontir, Carnor, and a Royal Guard Pilot, all decked out with Royal Guard TIE, Push The Limit, Autothrusters, and Stealth Device. One point initiative bid, which has been worth it’s weight in gold (and more, considering that a “point” is noncorporeal and weightless.)

Round One

Opponent:

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing)
B-Wing/E2 Modification – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing)
B-Wing/E2 Modification – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing)
B-Wing/E2 Modification – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing)
B-Wing/E2 Modification – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

 

Oh. That’s what I missed about the B-Wings in scouting. Tacticians. A big meaty stress mechanic inserted into a matchup that I didn’t like too much already. Considering that my Interceptors live and die by their actions, that much stress (and thus action denial) applied to one Interceptor at a time means that Interceptor dies, and quickly. And thanks to Tactician, every shot my opponent fired at range 2 would add an additional Stress Token to his target. So I had to play this carefully, and I did exactly that.

It certainly helped accelerate things that my opponent miscalculated an early maneuver and collided with two crucial K-Turns, but I don’t know that it would have helped matters all that much for him, as I was pushing my Interceptors HARD, giving up shots to escape firing arcs, Barrel Rolling back out to range 3, Boosting into range 1, K-turning at just the right time, and skirting asteroids by micrometers… I was in the zone early. One Interceptor got caught in his sights, and losing two hull, but it served as a decoy for the rest of the game, and I walked away with a full win, having taken exactly one extra stress from the four Tacticians combined.

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

Syndicate Thug – 18 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Unhinged Astromech – 1 (Most Wanted)
BTL-A4 Y-Wing – 0 (Most Wanted)

Syndicate Thug – 18 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Unhinged Astromech – 1 (Most Wanted)
BTL-A4 Y-Wing – 0 (Most Wanted)

Kavil – 24 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Unhinged Astromech – 1 (Most Wanted)
Bomb Loadout – 0 (Most Wanted)
Proton Bombs – 5 (VT-49 Decimator / TIE Bomber)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

This was an interesting list, and my opponent flew it well. I’d had trouble in practice keeping the BTL-A4 Y-Wings pointed into the fight, but he did a great job of alternating K-turns and green 3’s with them, and kept pouring shot after shot at anything he could keep in arc. He snuck a damage or two home on the initial engagement, and a couple of ion shots landed home.  As a result, my Interceptors ended up in really bad positions, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on it due to some untimely critical hits from his own Proton Bombs. Realizing the danger he posed, I poured fire at Kavil, and managed to put a “Blinded Pilot” critical hit on him. I then played keep-away for a turn or two with him, feeling safe because I didn’t have to worry if I guessed wrong once as to where he would move. Eventually, I was able to regroup and pounce on Kavil with all three ships, leaving him unable to boost away.

From there I was forced to play very carefully against his remaining Y-Wings to avoid arcs, but the rest of his list slowly crumbled as I picked away at it. He was inches away from scoring some major points, but the score doesn’t reflect it, as all my Interceptors limped home with heavy damage but alive, 100-0. Intrigued with the fight he put up here, and curious to see what I could do with the same setup, I tried that same list out in a local event the next day. I’ll just say that certain people have a knack for certain ships, and Y-Wings are not my forte.

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

Whisper – 32 (TIE Phantom)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE PhantomB-Wing)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Cloaking Device – 4 (TIE Phantom)
Gunner – 5 (Slave 1)

Echo – 30 (TIE Phantom)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE PhantomB-Wing)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Cloaking Device – 4 (TIE Phantom)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

Dark Curse – 16 (Starter set)

Ugh. This was going to be UGLY, and a bad matchup for me. At 99 points, to his 100, I have the choice on initiative. With tied pilot skills across the board, I faced a hard choice: Let the Phantoms run rampant in the maneuver phase by taking initiative, or give it to my opponent, thus letting them have their cloaking and extra defense dice but take the opportunity to dodge firing arcs by moving last. I chose to give up initiative, and I still don’t know if it was the right choice, or if there even was a right choice to be made. My opponent outguessed me on maneuvers very consistently, and my dice (which had admittedly been rolling hot so far) went cold. I managed to take the shields off of both Phantoms, but couldn’t punch through. I made some big mistakes with my maneuver choices, including attempting a K-turn while stressed (Pro tip: If you stack tokens on top of each other for any reason, put the stress on top.) So after a hail-mary of an attempt to snag a couple points by killing Echo (and falling one hit short), I walked away with a quick 0-100 loss, and hoped I wouldn’t face this again in the first round of the playoffs.

2-1, 400 MoV

I’m a little shaken by the total loss in that match, but I feel like a solid win still gets me into the top 4 cut, especially considering a standings update has me in 5th or 6th place, meaning I’m ahead of several other players with a  2-1 standing, and two players ahead of me will be knocked down in the ranks by their matches.

Round Four

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)
Luke Skywalker – 7 (Millennium Falcon)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Millennium Falcon – 1 (Millennium Falcon)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

Okay, so it’s not a cookie-cutter copy of Paul Heaver’s “Fat Han” list, but it’s pretty close. Taking Luke in place of R2-D2 takes away a lot of the ship’s resiliency, but you aren’t really missing out on much by downgrading the Bandits except perhaps against Rebel swarms, which I didn’t spot many of at this event. It’s similar enough to the original that I don’t want to see it yet again.

Tensions were high here, as there had been a misunderstanding about the tournament structure after the 5 late-comers were added in. My opponent was the front-runner of the group who had came in late, and would likely make it into the playoffs with a full win and poor showings by the losing players at tables 1 & 2, and his companion at the next table down was in a similar situation and had a shot as well, but it was a must-win situation for them, despite the fact that both had beaten everyone they had played. This had just been clarified to the whole room, so my opponent was frustrated but determined. I, on the other hand, had no intention of letting one big turret end my day.

Han was still surprisingly tough to bring down, even without R2-D2, but I focused all of my fire there, ignoring the Z’s. The last thing I wanted to do was end up in a late game duel with 1 Interceptor trying to bypass both C-3PO and an evade token. I took damage early on all of my ships, which made them more vulnerable without their Stealth Devices, but I was able to score a few key critical hits on Han, including a “Damaged Engine” (all hard turns are red) and an “Injured Pilot” (Ignore Han’s pilot ability and Elite Pilot Talent), which hampered the Falcon’s mobility and considerably reduced its’ damage output.

The stakes were high, as we both knew this was essentially the first round of our playoffs, the loser’s day was done. Adding to that tension from earlier was that my opponent was forced to do things that he didn’t come prepared for – he didn’t bring Target Lock tokens because he never takes that action with this list, and I had none to loan in my tournament kit since I can’t take the action, but Carnor Jax shuts down Focus & Evade actions, and the Injured Pilot critical hit caused him to need Target Locks for damage output. And in the name of keeping the play surface free of clutter, my opponent insisted on keeping any tokens for a ship with its’ ship card, which caused a great deal of confusion from time to time. In fact, that proved to be his demise, as Han took a hard turn to face a nearby board edge (normally a white maneuver, but now red thanks to the Damaged Engine crit), which left him stressed and unable to take a subsequent hard turn to remain on the field. My damaged Interceptors then engaged the Headhunters, but with all of the token confusion and dancing around the Falcon, too much time had elapsed in the match, and I was unable to kill more than one of them before time was called.

3-1, 576 MoV, 3rd place after Swiss.

Not done yet.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Keyan Farlander – 29 (Rebel Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
B-Wing/E2 Modification – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Jan Ors – 2 (Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE PhantomB-Wing)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)

Ten Numb – 31 (B-Wing)
Ion Cannon – 3 (B-Wing / Slave 1 / TIE Defender)
Calculation – 1 (Starviper)

I really didn’t want to see the TIE Phantoms again, but this looked pretty nasty too. Ten Numb’s loadout here is a bit of a gimmick against most lists, but deadly against mine: Ten Numb’s pilot ability is that one of his Critical Hit results cannot be canceled. Calculation lets you spend a Focus Token to turn one of your Focus results to a Critical Hit. After I did the math, it looks like when he shoots his Ion Cannon with a Focus Token available, he has a slightly better than 75% chance to cause an unstoppable point of damage and an Ion token. Next to meaningless against a Decimator, or a swarm of TIE Fighters, but against my list that is already hurt badly by Ion tokens and only has 9 hull points in the list, Ten Numb had to GO!

With that in mind, I went back to my number one rule for a tough matchup: Pick out the one thing that can hurt you more than anything else, go punch it in the face until dead, and re-evaluate the game from there. He approached slowly, using an opening that had his ships nested up in the corner of the field, weaving between each other with each move. I’m still not sure what effect it was supposed to have, but it was “a modified version of Paul Heaver’s opening moves”, so of course, it has to be good, right? I swarmed in with my Interceptors, “approaching faster than [he] had hoped [I] would”, and went full speed after Ten Numb. In the process I lost a couple hull points and my Stealth Devices on Carnor Jax and Soontir Fel, but Ten Numb was cleared within three turns of shooting, and the clustered formation of our ships left my opponent unable to capitalize on the situation enough to finish off either of those ships.

At this point, Keyan and two Z’s remain. Soontir is pointed out of the fight and stressed, Carnor is in the middle of the field with enemy ships on either side of him, and the Royal Guard Pilot is on the opposite side of the fight from Soontir, and pointed away.

Everybody that has used or played someone using them heavily knows that TIE Interceptors with Push the Limit have just a few moves that you’ll see over and over again: Hard turns, speed 2 when stressed, speed 1 or 3 potentially when unstressed for some magical reason. Having little reason to suspect anything else would be coming, my opponent set his dials for the turn to focus all his fire on my wounded and stressed elite pilots that would surely be turning in with a green 2-hard to go head to head with his remaining B-Wing. But I had dialed up a plan that I’ve always known was a possibility, but never really put into practice: The scatter drill.

The Royal Guard Pilot and Carnor had high speed green maneuvers set in opposite directions away from Keyan Farlander, with Carnor looking to escape the inevitable trap. Keyan might have sensed that something was wrong when the Royal Guard didn’t try to engage, but he was committed to finishing Carnor, and gave himself Stress for a quality shot. Carnor gunned it away from the B-Wing, but ended up with two Z-95’s in his way. Barrel Rolling to one side got him out of one arc, and I intended to shoot the gap between the Z-95 and an asteroid with a followup boost, but I had misjudged the final position on the Barrel Roll and he didn’t fit, so he took a Focus instead, ready to shoot his way out. Soontir Fel came screaming around that same asteroid with a Boost and Barrel Roll of his own, getting a Focus token for his trouble, and the two Interceptors vaporized the Headhunter, finding themselves outside the other’s arc and outside Farlander’s range.

Not fully comprehending the danger, my opponent had his remaining ships follow Fel and Jax, keeping Keyan stressed and unable to turn to face the Royal Guard Pilot, who had now turned around and was rapidly approaching from behind, plinking away at shields with shot after shot. By the time the danger set in, it was too late to do anything about it, as I refused to engage the B-Wing with my other two ships until I was certain to score a kill safely, and the B-Wing couldn’t turn to face the Royal Guard Pilot without spending a turn to clear his stress first. Facing my full squad with one remaining Headhunter in single elimination play, my opponent surrendered to inevitability, and I was on to the finals for the first time.

Finals

Chewbacca – 42 (Millennium Falcon)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)
Gunner – 5 (Slave 1)
Millennium Falcon – 1 (Millennium Falcon)

Leebo – 34 (YT-2400)
Determination – 1 (TIE Fighter / Starter set)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Dash Rendar – 2 (YT-2400)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400)

This is where I started doing a mental happy dance. The Phantoms from earlier had run into a hard counter, two beefy turrets, and had been knocked out of the event. And now I sat at the top table waiting for those two turrets with a hard counter of my own, Autothrusters. There’s no such thing as a sure win, especially at the final table, but for the first time all day I was happy about what I was flying against, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. With that being said, these two would take lots of damage to take out, and against two large turreted ships, I had a feeling that there would be some turns where I simply got outguessed and ended up taking two unopposed shots, or ended up bumping into the enemy ships.

Again, seeing C-3PO on the Falcon, I knew I wanted to take it down first while he could only mitigate a small portion of my firepower. At one point, however, I saw an opportunity to let Chewie fly out of the fight for a few moments, and I did exactly that, switching targets to Leebo, and the damage stacked up on the Outrider FAR faster than I would have expected it to. I was soon surprised to have three damaged ships remaining to face down a shield-less but otherwise healthy Falcon. And then it was two ships. And then it was one…

I had put several points of damage onto Chewbacca, but he had cleared Soontir and the Royal Guard pilot, the second time all day that I had actually sustained losses. Carnor Jax remained, wounded but alive with one hull point remaining, and Chewbacca had four hull points. With C-3PO onboard, I knew I couldn’t finish the Falcon in one shot, so I had to find a way to survive more than one return shot (thanks to Gunner). Missing my Stealth Device sorely at this point, Jax rocketed away from Chewie, Boosting and Barrel Rolling out of firing range and resetting to turn & engage the next turn.

The Falcon gave chase, taking a huge 4 forward with the large base… and landed directly on an asteroid, taking a damage in the process. Jax suddenly had an opening, turned back in towards Chewbacca, Boosted in to range 1, used Push the Limit for a Focus, and pulled the trigger, bringing down the Falcon. Victory was mine.

wpid-img_20150321_185159170.jpg
Not pictured: Carnor & Soontir playing rock-paper-scissors over who has to fly the CR-90 home.

– The Tabletop General

 

Play by Play with Interceptors

If you follow The Tabletop General on Facebook, you may have seen a recurring post every couple of weeks about tuning in to watch X-Wing Miniatures streamed on the store’s Twitch feed. This isn’t something that I’ve organized myself, but I’ve thrown my full support behind the guys that do run it as a part of our regular league nights there as well as for tournament play, I never turn down an opportunity to play on the stream, and you’ll occasionally hear me doing commentary behind the scenes too. Last night, I had a chance to do both, playing a feature match, then acting as color commentary for a second game. As much as I find it interesting to listen to our commentators try to guess what is going on at any given time, it drives me crazy to listen to it because the significance of a lot of moves and maneuvers can be missed. So in an attempt to show the method behind my madness, today I’ll be breaking down that feature match from last night with a bit of play by play.

Our streaming coordinator, Engine25, takes player submissions leading up to the event and tries to find interesting matchups. So these games don’t show lists customized to play each other, but are hand picked to show something more exciting than two swarms of un-upgraded Scimitar Squadron Pilots going head to head.  I toyed with bringing out my Suicide Bomber Z-95 Headhunter list that I posted months ago, but it had fallen a little flat in practice the night before, and I’ve had lots of success with TIE Interceptors now that I’ve put away the TIE Phantoms for a little while, so I brought the same list that I discussed last week. Spamer, my opponent, has been doing really well with a pair of the new Firespray-31 variants for Scum & Villainy, but hadn’t faced any ultra-maneuverable opponents yet. Big arcs with auxiliary arcs vs arc dodgers sounded like a fun matchup to Engine25, so into the arena we went.

Stars & Blood Stripes AKA Can’t Touch This

Soontir Fel -27 (TIE Interceptor)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Royal Guard Pilot – 22 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

 

Spamer’s “Dat Booty

Boba Fett – 39 (Slave 1 AND Most Wanted required)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist (TIE Phantom / HWK-290)
Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)

Kath Scarlet – 38 (Slave 1 AND Most Wanted required)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist (TIE Phantom / HWK-290)
Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)

I’ve posted the video here, and will reference a timestamp for each turn with its’ discussion below.

Initial setup (0:00): Winning the initiative roll, I declined and gave it to my opponent – having Carnor Jax able to react to Boba Fett’s positioning was much more important than shooting first. I didn’t put a lot of thought into asteroid placement, but looking at two Firesprays, I knew I didn’t want to give them a clean lane to joust across the middle of the table, so I set up a loose triangle with my tokens, hoping to force a turn. It was only at the end that I noticed Spamer’s tokens formed such a clean wall and approach lane, but it was too late to block it in any way. I didn’t want to commit to a side of the battlefield yet, so I placed the Royal Guard Pilot where he could go to either side of that wall. Seeing the Firesprays line up as they did aligned towards the alleys in the center of the field, I decided to see if I could drag him through those asteroids, and deployed Carnor and Soontir Fel on the bottom side of the map.

Turn 1 (3:35): As planned, Royal Guard Pilot joins his big brothers on the bottom edge of the map, boosting around the first asteroid to get closer to the enemy, doesn’t take a second action because we shouldn’t be in firing range and I don’t want to limit the dial with stress. I have faster maneuvers set with Carnor & Soontir just in case something crazy happens and I can Boost and Barrel Roll into an unopposed shot. But with Boba having moved up slower than Kath, I figure we’re out of range and take Focus, again not stressing to keep the dial clear. Sure enough, we’re at about range 3.05, and we’re back to dials.

Turn 2 (6:10): With no solid idea of what my opponent’s plan is yet, the Royal Guard Pilot moves up as slowly as possible, and takes a Stress token to Focus & Evade. He may end up being the only one that can be shot at this turn, so I definitely wanted the cover of that asteroid and all defensive options available. Beyond that, I wanted to get in some shots, but not get too close; if I could take 3 shots and only receive 1 in return, that would be great. So a bank for Carnor to get a good angle, Soontir would need to go straight to avoid a collision – Interceptors that don’t get actions tend to get blown up.

With both Firesprays turning away and inviting a chase, Carnor Jax would be going 1-on-1 with Boba Fett this turn. The Royal Guard didn’t have arc, and Soontir might have gotten himself into a poor position by trying to force the shot. But at range 3, I’m happy with that exchange, defending with 5 dice, one auto-conversion, one Evade token, and having Focus available was a lot better deal for me than the return shot of 3 Focused dice vs 3 Focused dice, even though Boba had a focus for both rolls and a Predator reroll. Sure enough, the Interceptor dodges, and two shields get stripped off of Slave 1.

Turn 3 (10:20):  Stressed and pointed at an asteroid, Carnor Jax is the first move I plot for the turn. A 2-bank in either direction would probably clear the rock, but… this looks like a death trap. Not a lot of options for dodging out of either Firespray’s arc, and if I come in with the Royal Guard, he’s bound to pop his Inertial Dampeners if he wouldn’t otherwise have a shot with his chosen maneuvers. The other thing that comes to mind at this point is that I really don’t want to be chasing Kath Scarlet. With Boba in the way, I can’t get close enough to narrow the arc and be able to dodge out of it, and that extra attack die she gets really makes a difference. So instead, I bail out, hoping for a bit of range instead.

So this is the first mistake I can point to in my game. I realized too late that my chosen maneuvers would cause a three Interceptor pile-up, and if Boba chose to put on the brakes, he’d have his choice of shots on any of them. So I quickly changed my mind from Focus/Evade on the RGP to Focus/Barrel Roll (not something I would ask to do in tournament play, but we’re all friends here). In doing so, I compounded that error slightly by moving the RGP closer, and soon paid for it with a damage and a lost Stealth Device. The other two Interceptors just spread out a bit and got better positions for subsequent turns.

Turn 4 (14:30): With some interesting (and mildly inaccurate, Spamer and I didn’t play the day before) commentary in the background, I lined the RGP on targets once again, “turtling up” with Focus & Evade again, just out of Kath’s range if she used Inertial Dampeners, and using the asteroid to replace his Stealth Device. Seeing where the Firesprays ended up, I played it careful with Jax, because he would be in Fett’s arc and without Focus or Evade had I used a Boost and a Barrel Roll to get into a firing position. So instead, I just lined up my next move with him. Fel, on the other hand, hadn’t stressed the prior turn, and was able to find a gap and go on the offensive. Since Boba banked to ensure a shot, I had an angle where I could approach him from the side with Fel, taking a Boost into range, then a Barrel Roll out of the Firespray’s arc, and getting a Focus for my shot from the ensuing Stress token. No damage, but it burned one of Boba’s Focus tokens. With everyone else out of range, it didn’t end up mattering, but it was still the right move in my book.

Turn 5 (18:50): RGP needs to turn, and doesn’t want to get too close, especially without the Stealth Device. Speed 2 bank and “turtle”, locked in. Carnor has no stress, needs to get re-engaged, dialed up a 5 straight there, the asteroid shouldn’t be a factor. After seeing the enemy’s movements (so glad I gave up initiative), I know I’ll be potentially trading fire from there, so another “turtle” maneuver. A speed 2 bank ensures that Soontir Fel is safe from fire unless the Firesprays drastically changed their behavior (and they didn’t). Reacting to positions, I had Fel boost in and Focus, taking a Focus and some shields off of Boba Fett. Royal Guard shrugs off a long range shot, Carnor strips the other Focus from Boba, and then the Royal Guard gets the last shield. It’s taking forever at this range, but I’ve done four damage while only taking one, and I can keep this up all night.

Turn 6 (23:30): Now these Firesprays HAVE to turn, and that’s my favorite time to engage them. As wide as their firing arcs are, they’ve got blind spots the same size on either side. Time to pounce! Royal Guard zooms in, takes a Barrel Roll (don’t want to sacrifice him to a well-timed usage of Inertial Dampeners), then snags a Focus for his shot via Push The Limit. Carnor Jax comes in at full (green) speed, and I go ahead and set a hard turn for Soontir Fel because I don’t want him pointing away from the fight next turn. Given where the Firesprays go, I decide it’s better to take shots on Kath with the named pilots and not take any return fire at all, so I temporarily change targets, don’t bother stressing Fel, and cut Kath’s shields in half with the first shot. Jax ends up having a shot on Fett though, so I take it, although to no avail. Royal Guard Pilot earns his pay though, landing a total of four damage on Boba. Six damage dealt, no return fire… definitely happy with that turn.

Turn 7 (29:40): I still don’t want those Inertial Dampeners to foul up my moves, and it’s time for Boba to go away. So a speed 2 forward and from the Royal Guard Pilot not only guarantees a shot on Boba wherever he goes (even if he stays put), but it also places me in the blind spot of both ships if they choose not to move. I “turtle” with that ship again because Kath might have a shot available after the move, hard to judge those big arcs and long movements. RGP has been all over Boba thus far, so I trust him to finish the job, and point Soontir towards Scarlet with a tight turn, bringing Carnor Jax forward to keep Boba’s actions locked down. Those all turn out to be exactly the right moves, because Boba tries to cut me off. He fails to do so, but it leaves Soontir stuck where he can’t dodge both ships’ arc. Looking at both options, Kath throws more dice and may not have any other valid choice for a shot, and Boba won’t be able to spend his focus, so I dodge Kath and slide in close for range one warning shot on her (no damage). Fett fails to claim his bounty on Baron Fel, and Carnor finishes off the first of the bounty hunters. In retaliation, Kath takes her first shot of the game, and manages to land a hit on Carnor — This is why I’ve been denying her shots all game!

Turn 8 (36:10): 3 on 1 now. Royal Guard needs to turn hard to get into the fight, but I REALLY don’t want those Inertial Dampeners to be used this turn, because Soontir would end up out in front and without a shot, so I Barrel Roll for one of my actions, making it look like the stop maneuver wouldn’t give my opponent a chance to fire. I’m not 100% sure if Kath will oblige though, so I set relatively slow moves on both of my other ships. She does, which lets Soontir cruise right along beside her, no reason to take any more than a Focus, so I do so, already plotting ahead for the tight turn that the next move will require to avoid that asteroid. Soontir cleared her shields, Carnor was out of range, and the other two shots failed to hit.

Turn 9 (39:25): My gut says this would be a great time for those Inertial Dampeners to get used, and I really don’t see a way to move the Royal Guard Pilot that would tempt him into changing his mind, even without a good shot it’s a positional play. So I plan accordingly, knowing good and well that so long as I keep the moves close, even if Kath does make a move and turn the corner, I’ll still be outside her firing arcs. Royal Guard sets up for the next turn, and Kath plays along nicely, finally using the full stop. Carnor comes forward quickly, which narrows the firing arc and allows him to scoot out of it, and Soontir turns and waits for the next round. No shots.

Turn 10 (42:00): Here’s mistake #2. Ten turns, two mistakes… I can probably deal with that. I got really aggressive with my Royal Guard Pilot here. I forgot about the stress from the Inertial Dampeners, and this fully expected Kath to take a bigger move, giving the RGP a nice clean side shot after I used the Boost and Barrel Roll to slide onto the other side of the asteroid. Even if Kath DID take a short move, I expected a collision at worst. Instead, Kath stopped just short of the Royal Guard, and it proved to be the end of his day. Again, expecting a bigger move, Carnor Jax got left hanging out to dry with no shot available… and then I panicked.

The commentators didn’t pick up on this, but you can see it in my actions as I start to hand Spamer the dial for Soontir, I had slotted in a K-Turn with him to get a shot, some range, and just to keep everybody on their toes, but I forgot to pick up Carnor’s stress token, and momentarily thought it was on Soontir! Fortunately, we figured out what happened before we made any further moves, and we resolved it as intended. I moved that stress to Carnor even though it had been cleared, but in that moment I didn’t care, I hadn’t screwed up royally for the second time in one turn in front of ~50 strangers on the internet, and that made me feel better. Soontir loves to K-Turn when appropriate, as it was here, because it got him a shot that he wouldn’t have otherwise had, and with a Focus no less. He scored a hit and crit on Kath; the Direct Hit was nice, but it wasn’t the Blinded Pilot that would have kept the Royal Guard alive.

Turn 11 (46:50): 2 on 1 now. I set my dials for one of two things: Kath flies by, I pray, turtle and shoot, or Kath creeps forward, and we bump, giving me a free shot with Soontir. The latter happens, but not having a focus was the difference between scoring 3 damage and scoring none. Moving on…

Turn 12 (48:35): Have to turn to follow Kath here, but that same situation again would be bad, she gets actions, I don’t, and she would be throwing 5 attack dice. So I set different speed turns for the Interceptors, and “bump safely”. Moving on again…

Turn 13 (49:50): This turn would mark mistake #3. Carnor didn’t bump, and was staring down Kath’s lasers. There wasn’t room to Barrel Roll to his right, to the left didn’t get out of arc, and I wanted to shoot so I stubbornly refused to boost past, not wanting give up a chance to finish this. But Soontir did collide, leaving it a 1-on-1 fight for the turn. Carnor came one damage short of finishing off the Firespray, and then took all of Kath’s pent up rage in return, receiving a whopping three uncanceled crits. Ouch.

Turn 14 (52:50): 2 ships, 10 minutes left on the game clock, plenty of time to spare. I’m not worried about bumping again if I need to, and I set a bank to keep myself pointed in the right general direction. Kath finds a new gear and flies forward, looking to keep arc and hoping for a poor attack roll from Soontir. She gets neither, as I barely slip out of arc, and score the kill.

Bonus content: Post game interviews with both players – Spamer at 57:45, and yours truly at 1:04:35.

Interceptors for the win. Officially tired of typing.

– The Tabletop General

Armada Incoming!

The latest Star Wars game from Fantasy Flight Games, Star Wars: Armada is officially set to release next week. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my hands on this one. The only reason why I haven’t posted much about it is that Fantasy Flight tends to do a really good job of previewing their own content, revealing exactly what components from a given ship that they intend to reveal, and showing in detail how those components work within the game. But today’s release announcement also provided a link to the Learn To Play Armada PDF as well as the Armada Rules Reference PDF. Now, for the first time since Armada’s announcement, more information was released than was reviewed, and there’s finally a place for me to add my own observations and notes about things that stand out to me.

Here’s some of the things I’ve found that seem noteworthy:

Setup
In a standard game with a 6’x3′ play area, ships and obstacles cannot be placed within 1′ of the short board edges. That makes me wonder if we will see tactics involving use of the board edges for a clear maneuvering lanes.  Perhaps the scenarios will force players into the center more often than not.

All ships have their initial speed set as they are deployed, before any further ships are deployed. So the first ship on the table is going in 100% blind.

Squadrons are deployed in pairs, and do NOT have to be in the deployment zone, but they do have to be close (range 1-2) to a capital ship. This gives you a little bit of flexibility, and means that some of the ambush scenarios may involve squadrons being really close to the enemy from the start of the game!

Measuring
The range ruler can be used to premeasure at any time. The navigation tool can also be used freely during the “Determine Course” step, but inserting the tool into the guides on your ship locks in your decision.

Capital ships will maneuver appropriately. It’s kind of obvious from looking at the maneuver template, but it’s explicitly stated that nothing can allow you to yaw (click the maneuver template) more than two points away from straight at any single point. Only fighters will be able to take tight turns and zip around the battlefield.

Although none exist yet, the base dimensions are already specified in the rules for large ships (with Victory Star Destroyers being Medium ships, for scale reference). That tells me that they’re probably coming sooner than later.

Scoring
The “Second Player” wins in the case of a tie score at the end of a 6 round standard game. And scoring is based off of objectives achieved and ships destroyed, points remaining does not matter. This may possibly a rare occurrence, but it means that a player that chooses to be “Second Player” with an initiative bid can force the opponent to come to them.

Tactics
If your ship’s chosen maneuver causes a collision with another ship, the speed of that ship is temporarily reduced by 1 to a minimum of 0 until it doesn’t overlap. Then both the ramming ship and the final ship overlapped receive one damage. Combine that with the fact that you can’t spend defense tokens when your speed is 0, and I see a potential way for swarms of cheap ships like the CR90 Corellian Corvette to overwhelm a juggernaut like a Victory Star Destroyer, but it wouldn’t work as well on an Assault Frigate or a Gladiator Star Destroyer. (Pending probable FAQ clarification on whether you check the ship’s speed dial or the reduced value).

Line of sight is required for squadrons to be engaged. Which means if there’s an asteroid or a ship between your TIE Interceptors and my Y-Wings, I’m free to move them away, regardless of range. Fighters can ignore obstacles for movement purposes, and obstructed shots remove one attack die, which in some cases makes those fighters immune to capitol ship attacks (looks like all capital ships except the Nebulon B Frigate in the initial launch only has one anti-squadron die) This leads me to believe that squadrons hiding out among obstacles and debris fields will be a valid tactic for fighter builds, especially in scenarios that involve controlling a particular portion of the playing field.

Hopefully we’ll be able to put some of these thoughts into action on the table soon! I’m ready to play! (insert obligatory “pew-pew-pew” noises here!)

– The Tabletop General

Return of the TIE Interceptor

Just like many other gaming nerds of my generation, I went through multiple joysticks playing the Star Wars computer games, especially “TIE Fighter”. There was just something about the fact that you were playing as an Imperial, traditionally portrayed as the evil faction in Star Wars. And it certainly didn’t hurt that I loved to fly the TIE Interceptor. A perfect combination of speed, firepower, and maneuverability, there were very few times where I’d rather be in anything other than an Interceptor (“X-Wing vs TIE Fighter” deathmatches were a notable exception where the Y-Wing was king of the scoreboard, but that’s another story). Matching the firepower of an X-Wing, with maneuverability on par with an A-Wing, the “Squint” could handle just about anything the Rebellion could throw at it.

So it’s little surprise that when I started playing Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, the TIE Interceptor was my ship of choice. This worked out great for casual matches, but my relative inexperience with the game, combined the prevalence of omnidirectional turrets on the Millennium Falcon and Y-Wing, meant that the Interceptor represent itself well in my first forays into competitive events. The subsequent release of Imperial Aces brought the Interceptor back into the spotlight for a while, and introduced a few new tricks and pilots, but didn’t add much to make the ships more survivable (my whole problem with them to begin with: joystick > green dice). The Interceptor was fun, but it was missing something still.

Recently, I’ve had mixed success with my Cloaks and Dagger list, which pairs two TIE Phantoms with Carnor Jax in a TIE Interceptor. Carnor is a key piece to the list, but his survival isn’t linked to the success of the list. In fact, he tends to be the first to be taken out, as while I don’t depend on him for much damage, taking positional and defensive actions for the most part, his role in denying actions requires getting up close and personal with the enemy, and it tends to draw a lot of attention his way. The list performs fairly well, and I consider myself on-point with how I fly it, but it struggles against some of the top tier tournament lists in my area, so I keep falling short in competitions. An immediate upgrade after the release of Scum & Villainy was to swap out Carnor Jax’s Targeting Computer with a set of Autothrusters from the Starviper, but this still left the Phantoms relatively vulnerable, and they got slapped around pretty hard by the first scum lists they faced.

So I’ve gone back to plan A, and I’m pretty happy about it thus far.

Can’t Touch This

Soontir Fel -27 (TIE Interceptor)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Royal Guard Pilot – 22 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

I chose to take a 1 point initiative bid over upgrading the RGP to Turr Phenirr (without Autothrusters), seeing it more important to choose initiative than upgrade from a PS6 to a PS7 with my tertiary pilot, and the odds of Turr’s ability being needed are slim to none. This is a “simple” build layout, in which all 3 Interceptors are equipped identically, and have a relatively high rate of survivability thanks to the combination of Autothrusters and Stealth Device, augmented just about every turn by Focus & Evade.

Jousting ships don’t worry me all that much with Interceptors, although fighting a swarm would be a little on the difficult side. But the big weakness of the Interceptors was that the arc dodging was ineffective against turrets – and now the Autothrusters make all the difference in the world in that regard.

“I’m bringing ‘cepters back…”

As I see it, the key to running Autothruster Interceptors is to avoid the No-Fly-Zone that is Range 2. At Range 2, you might not be able to dodge out of firing arcs, and you’re only getting help from your Autothrusters against turrets facing away from you. But at Range 1, you should be able to Boost & Barrel Roll out of the way of anything that would be firing at you, and at range 3, you’re getting both the Autothrusters, and the bonus die against primary attacks. So if you find yourself there, recognize, respect, and get out of the No-Fly-Zone (Range 2, in enemy arc) as soon as possible.

So far this list is 5-0, having taken down a Focus-based Scum list (never fair with Carnor), an IG-2000 and Boba Fett tag team, an Oicunn / TIE list (hug that board edge against Oicunn!!!!), a Scum menagerie list, and a TIE Bomber (Concussion Missile & Proximity Mine) / Shuttle squad.

Even with the Autothruster / Stealth Device combo, dice go cold at the most inconvenient times, but it’s better than it was before. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency for my demeanor to cool off a bit once a few hits have been landed, and my piloting becomes much more deliberate and lethal, which pulled me back from the brink of defeat at least once last night. I’m interested to see how well this will perform at a higher level of competition. The big thing that worries me is a mechanic that deals automatic damage, like Feedback Array swarms (saw one of those this weekend in a Store Championship), or a Doomshuttle (Omicron Group Pilot + Vader, optional Gunner).

On the other hand, I’m considering adding that kind of a mechanic into my own list, as the Royal Guard Pilot swaps out for a Shuttle fairly easily.

I’m on the Leader

Soontir Fel -27 (TIE Interceptor)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Omicron Group Pilot – 21 (Lambda Shuttle)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE Phantom / B-Wing)
Darth Vader – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)
Gunner – 5 (Slave 1)

The list now clocks in at 100 points exactly. Soontir and Carnor are untouched. The Omicron Group Pilot only exists as a platform for Vader, I’m not at all worried about not being able to turn around and make a second pass easily. Ideally, the shuttle will deal 5-6 damage to crucial targets on the first couple of turns, and then limp away with a couple of health remaining while the Interceptors mop up. The idea is that the shuttle will slowly move into range, and take focus. On the first attack, if it would mean at least two damage goes through, spend the focus and then trigger Vader. Otherwise, let the attack miss, trigger Vader, get your Target Lock from Fire Control Systems, and use gunner for a second attack that is fully modified: Target Lock + Focus, and follow up with a second activation of Vader if necessary. The important thing here is that you hit something hard that would potentially cause issues for the Interceptors, like putting a couple of crits onto the hull of a Decimator, or finishing off TIE Whisper, something like that.  Survival of the shuttle is near negligible, it’s a disposable tool to with which to punch the enemy’s champion in the mouth.

Time will tell which of the two lists will work better, but I’m comfortable rolling out either and trusting my piloting skills to keep myself in the match. As one of my opponents said at the start of the game yesterday, “Normally I would try to drag you through the asteroids but… you can fly.” I take that as the highest form of compliment.

– The Tabletop General

 

Video Game Roundup; Mar 2015

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed video games in depth, and I’ve worked my way through most of my current collection, so I figured it was a good time to discuss what I’ve been playing lately and what I’m looking forward to.

In my previous video game article , I was alternating between DestinyTitanfall, and Diablo III, while looking forward to Civilization: Beyond Earth. Destiny and Titanfall simply got old for me, it takes a lot for a FPS title to hold my attention for long. Diablo III was a blast, but I could never seem to catch all of my co-op partners online and not playing a different game, so it’s become a “single player, get to it whenever” sort of title for me.

Beyond Earth… well… that one was a bit of a bust. I didn’t find a lot of fun in the game at the default difficulty, and while I trust the judgement of a friend who said it gets really good when you crank it up to the highest levels, I don’t agree. It isn’t the lack of challenge that bothered me, it was the lack of depth. So of course, in true “his games were great when I was young” fashion, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Sid Meier’s Starships. To keep myself from expecting too much, I’ve purposefully avoided the previews thus far, but anything with a half decent concept and Sid Meier’s name on it is still an auto-buy for me, because I still owe him a few of my paychecks for all the fun that Railroad Tycoon and Colonization brought me in years gone by.

As far as what I’ve actually been able to get my hands on, I made out like a bandit over the Christmas holidays, and added several new games to my library. Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I went for 100% completion on Assassin’s Creed III, and I was able to accomplish that goal. Of the things that I had the most trouble with, not hitting any obstacles in a dream sequence was legitimately difficult, while saving a particular set of bodyguards, finishing the encyclopedia, and completing the hunting map were all made very frustrating by the randomness that seemed to be involved in them. I really enjoyed the story, but doing everything over and over until I got it perfect took some of the enjoyment away. So with that being said, I’ve got Assassin’s Creed IV in my queue and ready to play soon, but I doubt I’ll be approaching it as a completionist this time. I did reach a point where the naval battles were my favorite part of III, so I’m definitely interested in what a game that has a greater focus on them will be like.

Following my romp through the American revolutionary war, I took a venture to Middle Earth, specifically Shadow of Mordor. Having a combat style very similar to Assassin’s creed, I was afraid that I would get bored with it quickly, but the nemesis system was a great hook to challenge me and draw me into the game. Essentially, mini-bosses are randomly generated in the enemy army, each with their own set of strengths, weaknesses, and combat traits. Killing these bosses unlocks new runes that can be used to upgrade your weapons. Being killed by those bosses, on the other hand, only serves to make them more powerful for your next encounter. And when you find yourself slain by a rank & file minion… that’s a ticket to his promotion to the ranks of the mini-bosses. I will say that there were a few key upgrades that made the game combat insanely easy, and I’m glad that the game ended when it did, because I wasn’t being challenged anymore. But the story is original and deep, and it shines a light that I was previously unaware of into the world and works of Tolkien.

Next up, I’m finally getting started on Dragon Age: Inquisition, and so far I’m really liking it. I played through most of Dragon Age: Origins upon its’ release years ago, and watched my roommate play pieces of Dragon Age 2, but I couldn’t stick with it, something didn’t click for me. I remember very little of the story, and got bored with the gameplay. Inquisition seems to have a LOT of depth to it, and I’m impressed with the non-linearity of the story; You can find objective items that are “kept for later” before you’re asked to take on a quest, and I probably explored the Hinterlands for about three hours last night before remembering “Oh yeah, I actually have a quest objective I’m supposed to be rushing towards”. And I absolutely love the concept of a limited but refillable supply of potions, I’m no longer hesitant to use them, yet forced to use them to stay alive (Or mostly, the first boss did smash my face in a couple times since I’m playing on “Hard”). The game isn’t without its’ flaws though… When I first received a skill point to be spent leveling up, I couldn’t, due to a glitch (fixed by saving and reloading the game). The skill trees don’t seem to have a lot of depth to them. And the idea that I can only carry 8 healing potions at a time is odd when I can carry an unlimited number of the items needed to make more of said potions. Still, I played into the wee hours last night, and was tempted to take the day off from work today in order to keep playing, if that tells you anything.

Otherwise, o PC side of things, I’ve mostly been in a holding pattern, waiting for something worth jumping in to. Scrolling through my Steam library and trying not to add to it (Steamleft.com says I have 1555 left to “finish” my current collection), I did drag Sequence out of semi-retirement and give it a full playthrough. Sequence is an interesting hybrid, drawing on rhythm games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution, and tweaking the gameplay to make a simple combat RPG. In each “battle”, you have a scrolling field of arrows akin to DDR, but there’s two other fields beside it that you can scroll between. One field is used to block enemy attacks, one is used to charge your mana, and the last is used to cast spells to damage your opponent or heal yourself. It’s a neat setup, if a bit repetitive. There’s only around 15-20 songs in the game, and you’ll have to repeat fights a LOT to get all the items you need to continue your quest. Still, there’s worse ways to spend $5.

Sticking in the Steam library, I keep coming back to Blood Bowl for a day or two at a time. I really hope the forthcoming sequel fixes a lot of the little glitches and minor UI issues, and refreshes the voice-overs, because I really do enjoy the core game. A video game adaptation of an old Games Workshop game, Blood Bowl is essentially what British gaming nerds think American football would be like if played by goblins, dwarves, ogres, vampires, and demons. Players die, frequently, occasionally to be brought back to life as zombie players by their opponents. With sufficient free cash, you can hire a mage to hurl a fireball or lightning bolt into your opponents’ ranks. There are rules for what it does to your ability to trip other players if your player mutates to have a tail. It’s often more beneficial not to score quickly, giving yourself more time to injure opponents for experience points. Chainsaws get players tossed out of the game (at the next stoppage of play, no referee would dare interrupt while it was in use), throwing your teammates at the enemy is a valid strategy, and some of the deadliest things in or around the field are the fans (perhaps second only to the dice). It’s football, it’s turn-based strategy, it’s fantasy combat, it’s an RPG, and it’s pure chaos, all rolled into one. Can’t go wrong.

Looking ahead:

Assassin’s Creed IV
Sid Meier’s Starships
Blood Bowl 2
Battlefield: Hardline

What else should be on my radar for the near future? Leave a comment and let me know!

– The Tabletop General

Scum & Villainy X-Wing Lists, Part 2

Last week I posted a few sample lists for the new Scum & Villainy faction for X-Wing Miniatures, and it has proven to be one of the most popular things I’ve posted in quite a while.  So I thought it might be a good idea to provide a follow-up article detailing how those lists have performed, as well as adding in a few more concepts that I’ve seen and liked.

Let’s start with the results for last week’s lists:

Aggressors All Over

IG88-B – 36 (IG-2000)
Expert Handling – 2 (TIE Advanced / X-Wing)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda Shuttle / E-Wing)
Ion Cannon – 3 (B-Wing / Slave 1 / TIE Defender)
Autoblaster – 5 (B-Wing)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

IG88-C – 36 (IG-2000)
Expert Handling – 2 (TIE Advanced / X-Wing)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda Shuttle / E-Wing)
Ion Cannon – 3 (B-Wing / Slave 1 / TIE Defender)
Autoblaster – 5(B-Wing)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

Results: 1 loss

I love this build. But I can’t run it as-is. The ships handled beautifully, and between Expert Handling, Advanced Sensors, and the built-in boost, these ships moved like big TIE Phantoms. Thanks to relatively extensive experience flying said Phantoms, I was able to put these ships exactly where I wanted them on a consistent basis, only hitting one asteroid through the course of the game, and that was halfway intentional (I accepted that a collision was likely, but it was still the best move available).

My problem was the damage output, or lack thereof. With so many upgrades and actions dedicated to movement, there wasn’t any way to improve the quality of my attack rolls. And with only a forward firing arc available, a wrong guess on the opponent’s maneuvers means 50% or 100% of the list’s firepower for the turn floats into the aether. My test match for the list was Rexler Brath and a TIE Swarm, which seems like a good matchup for the Aggressors – Two TIEs should get ionized on the initial round, and finished with Autoblasters on the next; rinse, repeat, and then work on Rexler from turn 5 on. However, that didn’t pan out, as despite putting the ships exactly where I wanted them, I couldn’t roll anything except a few (cancel-able) critical hits with the autoblasters, and only killed a single TIE the whole game! That disastrous result made me move to plan B for the Aggressors, which I’ll detail further below.

Three Loners

Kath Scarlet – 38 (Slave 1 AND Most Wanted required)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
K4 Security Droid – 3 (Most Wanted)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

N’Dru Suhlak – 17 (Most Wanted)
Cluster Missiles – 4 (A-Wing / TIE Advanced)
Lone Wolf – 2 (YT-2400 Outrider)

Drea Renthal – 22 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing / HWK-290)
R4-B11 – 3 (Most Wanted)
BTL-A4 Y-Wing – 0 (Most Wanted)

Results: 2 wins

This one has been a little tricky. Drea has put in good work, but it’s not what I expected yet. So far, I’ve used that Y-Wing to clear a single TIE fighter from the board (much less than expected) and as a severe aggro magnet. Players respect the double-shot Y-Wing way more than I would have expected. But that’s just left the door wide open for N’Dru to do his thing. Rolling 4 dice on each Cluster Missile shot, with partial rerolls from Lone Wolf, he can stack on a LOT of damage.

What I haven’t fully figured out yet is how to work Kath into the equation. N’Dru needs her to stay away, and she needs to be pointed away from the battle to use her pilot ability as much as possible, but that often takes her out of the fight entirely. I’m thinking that Daredevil may be a better option for her Elite Talent slot, giving more options for a tight turn to get back into the fight if she doesn’t have a shot, because planning a K-Turn is committing to losing out on her pilot ability if the enemy does end up following her, whereas Daredevil can be used to line up an unexpected shot too. Before it’s all said and done, I may end up dropping her out of circulation for Guri in a fully loaded Starviper that will stay closer to the fight, and keep the enemy from easily being able to isolate any particular part of my force.

—–

I tried out a few other things over the past week, and I’m semi-shamelessly stealing a couple of things I’ve seen others bring to the table too. Here’s some new lists and ideas:

Dice Are Optional

IG88-B – 36 (IG-2000)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
— OR —
Push The Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Accuracy Corrector – 2 (Starviper)
Ion Cannon – 3 (B-Wing / Slave 1 / TIE Defender)
Autoblaster – 5(B-Wing)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

IG88-C – 36 (IG-2000)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
— OR —
Push The Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Accuracy Corrector – 2 (Starviper)
Ion Cannon – 3 (B-Wing / Slave 1 / TIE Defender)
Autoblaster – 5(B-Wing)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

Results: 3 wins, 1 loss

So this is the other flavor of Aggressors All Over, closer to my original design, and without quite so many crazy maneuver options. Instead, it just brings the pain. Accuracy Corrector with an Autoblaster is just nasty – Roll your attack. Did you get at least two hit results? Continue. Otherwise, you get two hit results. Oh, those results can’t be canceled. You’re guaranteed to deal two or more damage for every shot at range 1.

The choice between Predator and Push The Limit is a up to you, and depends on what you’re looking to do – PtL gives you more defense, as you can essentially “turtle” up with Focus + Evade every turn, you’ll rarely need that focus on offense; Predator gives higher damage output, acting as a free target lock, and gives you slight flexibility in maneuvering, as you’re less likely to be stressed at any given time, as well as being just as effective as normal on offense even when you do take stress from a maneuver.

Where this list will suffer is against HP tank builds, multiple Y-Wings or B-Wings, where you’re not bypassing much by cutting out a single defense die. In a “I just want to see if I can do it” game, this list gleefully escorted a Decimator all the way across the map and off the board, but something like the semi-infamous BBBBZ rebel swarm that is currently making the rounds should make short work of the 2x Aggressor build in just about any configuration, especially this one.

Triple HWK

Torkhil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing / HWK-290)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist (4)
Autoblaster Turret (2)
K4 Security Droid – 3 (Most Wanted)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Dace Bonearm – 23 (Most Wanted)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing / HWK-290)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Results: 1 win (by a hair’s breadth)

I can’t believe I was willing to fly this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s kind of interesting and fun, but it’s not competitive. All three pilots work really well together, but HWK-290s still maneuver like drunken banthas, even more so when you look at building your list around abilities that cause stress on two of the three ships. If you happen to have 3 HWKs available, pull out something like this for a casual game and see if you can make it work, but don’t buy more just to fly this. Any one of these 3 ships can do a great job as support for a different list, but HWK’s aren’t meant to carry the load alone. A small part of me does wonder how this would fare against the 4x HWK Rebel list that was flown at a recent local tournament though… I might have to make that challenge.

HLC Scyk Swarm

Cartel Spacer -14 (M3-A)
“Heavy Scyk” Interceptor – 2 (M3-A)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)

Cartel Spacer -14 (M3-A)
“Heavy Scyk” Interceptor – 2 (M3-A)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)

Cartel Spacer -14 (M3-A)
“Heavy Scyk” Interceptor – 2 (M3-A)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)

Serissu – 20 (M3-A)
Swarm Tactics – 2 (TIE Fighter / TIE Advanced)
“Heavy Scyk” Interceptor – 2 (M3-A)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)

Results: Haven’t flown yet

I’m borrowing this list, and in more ways than one. This list was one of the first victims of Dice Are Optional, above, which wasn’t really a fair fight, because the Autoblasters are such a hard counter to the delicate little Scyk Interceptors. As a result, I didn’t get to see how this group would perform in a fair fight, but it has a lot of promise, and made me go back and buy two more of the M3-A‘s. It’s dangerously fickle, with low hit points, little to no ability to adjust and adapt to the opponent’s positioning, and an obvious target to take down first. But it’s also throwing 16 attack dice at range 2-3, and has lots of defense dice. So if you feel lucky, push this out there and see what happens.

Torkhil Swarm

Torkhil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing / HWK-290)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

Serissu – 20 (M3-A)
Push The Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)

Results: Haven’t flown yet

Borrowing concepts from two of the previous lists, we have Serissu and Torkhil Mux operating in tandem as support ships for a very generic swarm. Serissu should be the hardest to kill out of all of these ships, as he’ll be positioned at the rear of the squadron, and using Push the Limit for full defensive actions, and is really only here to give the rest of the squad a defensive boost. Torkhil, on his own, doesn’t do much except a little bit of control, using the Ion Cannon and Tactician to stress and ionize a single ship, but he also drops the pilot skill of a single enemy ship to zero each turn, the hope being that you can kill that ship before it fires.  The list becomes a little less effective as any one piece is destroyed, but there’s no one key “I have to keep that alive to win” piece here, keep it together and fly it right at the enemy. I’m interested to see if Serissu or Torkhil gets shot at first.

—–

That’s all I’ve got for the day, I’ve got a couple other ideas brewing but nothing worth sharing yet. If you’ve got some great and wonderful S&V lists that you’re really enjoying, doing well with, or having a tough time against, by all means, leave a comment below, I’d love to see what’s being done elsewhere!

Next time I should have a couple ideas for including S&V ships in the unofficial Furball (33pt free for all) format, and updates on the performance of the lists from above. I’ll also have some photos from a HUGE upcoming store championship; I’m going to have my hands full as TO, I’m expecting somewhere between 40 & 50 players! Wish me luck!

– The Tabletop General