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

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