Kihraxz Fighter, the X-Wing of Scum & Villainy

Fantasy Flight Games released their preview article for the Kihraxz Fighter this week, a new expansion for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The Kihraxz will appear in stores later this summer, alongside the TIE Punisher, the Hound’s Tooth, and the K-Wing. In the FFG article, the Kihraxz was compared heavily to the game’s namesake ship, the X-Wing. This is an appropriate comparison, as the ships are similar in several ways both in design and intended combat role. These two ships have the same total health, similar maneuver dials, comparable costs, and the same available actions. But there are differences in the designs that necessitate a vastly different play style for the two ships – in the maneuver dial, in the upgrade cards, and in the base cost of the ship itself.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter an X-Wing?

 

Kihraxz_XWing_Dials
Why, yes, FFG, this DOES look like it was borrowed from your website. But I help sell your products, so I hope we’re cool. Right?

The Kihraxz’s lack of a Speed 1 straight maneuver means it will have to turn or bank to maintain a low speed. Unlike the X-Wing, it cannot easily force a following TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor to choose between a collision and flying by. The Kihraxz also cannot perform quite as well at high speed, and does not have access to a Speed 3 turn, reducing its’ options when trying to put distance between itself and the enemy. Having most of its’ green maneuvers in the Speed 2 range but none on hard turns, yet no red maneuvers outside of K-Turns, the Kihraxz turns better than the prototypical jouster. At the same time, it doesn’t have the actions or the stress clearing capabilities to function like an arc-dodging interceptor, so I don’t feel like we’ll see stress mechanics like Push the Limit (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces) or Opportunist (Imperial Aces) being used to augment this ship’s combat abilities – they simply can’t be used without hampering your ability to stay on target for multiple turns.

I’ll shorten the discussion about the difference between Missiles (available to the Kihraxz) and Torpedoes (available to the X-Wing), because the only real difference there is what page of my upgrade card binder they collect dust on, neither one is seeing play for me. Too many points for a one-shot ability without having some major support abilities that aren’t available to either of these ships.

The remaining difference from an upgrade standpoint is Illicit (Kihraxz) vs Astromech (X-Wing). It’s hinted at in FFG’s post, but I think it’s worth noting explicitly that the Illicit upgrades available to Scum & Villainy ships have a much greater potential to have a huge impact upon a single turn of the game, whereas the benefits from Rebel Astromech upgrades have a smaller impact but most of them last throughout the game. A smart X-Wing pilot can get at least 3-4 extra health per game out of using R2-D2 (Starter Set) or R5-P9 (GR-75) to regenerate shields, or keep the enemy pointed in the wrong direction all day long with R3-A2 (GR-75). In return for a similar investment, an Illicit upgrade like a “Hot Shot” Blaster (Most Wanted / IG-2000) or Inertial Dampeners (IG-2000 / Starviper) can potentially net you an extra point or two of damage at a key moment in the battle, but most of them only function once.

r5-p9                           r3-a2

Inertial-Dampeners                           hot-shot-blaster

So while both the X-Wing and the Kihraxz are intended as medium-cost jousting superiority fighters, I think the biggest difference between the two ships is how they go about it, and the key for me is the cost of the generic pilot. The X-Wing’s bargain generic is the Rookie Pilot, clocking in at 21 points. But the Kihraxz equivalent, the Cartel Marauder, snips off that last point and gives you just enough room to run 5 of them in a list. This is what some thought might be the Scum equivalent of BBBBZ, which features a Bandit Squadron Z-95, and four Blue Squadron B-Wings, generally acknowledged as the reason Rebel players rarely bother with X-Wings anymore.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter a B-Wing?

But rather than the 4.5 ships that BBBBZ brings to the table, if you can fit a 5th ship into 100 points, how does that comparison stack up?

BBBBZ – 5 ships, 14 hull, 22 shields, 14 attack dice, 6 defense dice.

5x Kihraxz – 5 ships, 20 hull, 5 shields, 15 attack dice, 10 defense dice.

The Kihraxz swarm has 11 less total health, and much higher vulnerability to crits, but it has higher total firepower, and more evade dice.  But a bit of quick analysis of the numbers says that this isn’t where the Kihraxz will shine – or at least it won’t stand up to the BBBBZ list.

The figures below are ignoring the difference in maneuvering options (all ships are assumed to fire at Range 2 with Focus every turn, no focused defense), and also ignoring the impact of critical hits as well as the fact that the B-Wings can Barrel Roll to do a bit of arc dodging. At that point, we’ll just have to trust empirical evidence, there’s too many factors to give an exact predictive analysis. Still, the best case scenario I can come up with for the Kirhaxz swarm has them falling short by a couple points of damage in a head to head matchup against BBBBZ.

5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ
This assumes that the Kihraxz focus on the B-Wings first.
5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ_v2
Things get just a touch better if the Khiraxz swap targets and take out the Z-95 after two B-Wings are down, but the average result would still be a Rebel victory with one B-Wing remaining.

Getting the questions out of the way: Yes, I’m enough of a nerd that I use Excel spreadsheets and create charts in order to make decisions on how to play a game. And no, I don’t play EVE Online anymore… why do you ask?

So, we’ve got that out of the way – they can function as a swarm, but you might as well play BBBBZ if you’re going that route. Where do the Kihraxz fit, then? Where the B-Wings can’t go, of course – in existing Scum lists!

Where DOES the Kihraxz Fighter fit?

I suppose I should be a bit more specific.

But first, I have to lay the groundwork on how I view Scum and Villainy list-building. Unlike Rebel and Imperial forces that often are constructed with a specific theme and center piece, Scum and Villainy has very few synergistic abilities and aura bonuses. As a result, many of the squad lists I see for them have a modular feel to them, and are constructed out of a combination of two or more interchangeable “blocks” of ships.

XL block (41-55 points): Firespray or Aggressor with upgrades
Large block (30-40 points): Named pilot Y-Wing, Starviper, or HWK
Medium block (25-29 points): Generic Starviper or Y-Wing (Warthog), Named Heavy Scyk
Small block (20-24 points): Named Z-95, Named Scyk, Generic Heavy Scyk
Tiny block: (12-19 points): Generic Z-95 or bare Scyk

Take your pick:
2 XL blocks
1 XL, 1 Large, 1 Tiny
2 Large & 1 medium
4 Medium…
…and so on.

Build to a similar theme, sure, but pretty much anything can plug & play just fine. Don’t like how Serrisu with a Mangler Cannon is working out for you? Swap in a BTL-A4 Y-Wing with an Ion Cannon. The problem is, the Medium block is considered to be nothing more than support fire that can’t win you a game, the Tiny block isn’t threatening because there’s nothing to boost its’ offensive capabilities (i.e. no Howlrunner like TIE Fighters have), and the Small block has most of both of those problems. So while there’s certainly exceptions, you end up with the functional lists consisting of:

2 XL blocks.
2 Large & 1 Medium block.
1 XL block & 2 Medium blocks.

The Kihraxz Fighter helps address this by fitting well into three of these size categories. Once loaded for combat, Talonbane Cobra is a solid new option for the Large block. Equipped, the Black Sun Ace is a legitimate contender in the Medium category. And un-equipped, the generic Cartel Marauder gives a bit of teeth to the Small block that had previously been missing, thus increasing the viable build combinations. Now, perhaps an XL, a Large, and a Small (Firespray of choice, Talonbane, and a Cartel Marauder perhaps) is just as viable as an XL and two Mediums (such as a Firespray and two Black Sun Aces).

So if you’re not happy with N’Dru Suhlak, you can swap in a Cartel Maurauder. Where I suggested earlier that you might substitute in a Warthog for Serissu, a Black Sun Ace is also a viable option as a replacement. It’s plug & play, really.

Cartel_Marauder              Black_Sun_Ace

And if you feel like Guri costs too much to be PS5, swap in Talonbane Cobra. Instant functional list, and most likely an upgraded one. Side note: Swing and a miss on Graz. If I’m not spending the extra points to geet Talonbane, I’m probably putting the 2 points I would save on taking a Black Sun Ace over Graz towards the Elite Pilot Talent upgrade that Graz can’t have; his ability just doesn’t call to me enough.

Graz_The_Hunter              Talonbane_Cobra

The Kihraxz Fighter doesn’t solve every problem that Scum and Villainy has in being able to build a competitive list that isn’t dual IG-88’s, but it adds solid options, and it doesn’t take much work to find a home for one or more of them in your lists. They’ll be a welcome addition to my collection.

– The Tabletop General

Armada wave 1 review – Imperials

Last time we talked about Star Wars: Armada, I was telling you all about the new toys that the evil forces of the Rebellion added to their fleet in the wave 1 release. Today we’re going to spend some time looking at the forces of order – The keepers of the peace, the long arm of the law… the Galactic Empire.

Doing more with less in true good guy fashion, the Imperial forces only included a single capital ship and a handful of fighters in the core set. New options for the existing ship are available in the Victory Class Star Destroyer expansion, and much needed reinforcements are available in the Imperial Fighter Squadrons pack. Additionally, a new class of capital ship has joined the Imperial fleet, the swift and deadly Gladiator Class Star Destroyer.

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It has two pointy bits on the front, which makes it twice as nasty… right?

While not as fast as the Rebel’s CR90, the Gladiator can cover a lot of ground quickly, it can be extremely maneuverable, and it packs a punch when it gets to its’ target, as it carries more short range black dice than any other ship in the game. Yet with only one less hull and one less shield per zone than the new Assault Frigate Mk II, it’s no walk in the park to take a Gladiator down.

Gladiator-I            Gladiator-II

As Imperial players can already attest to with the VSD I, getting off a shot at short range using black dice can be devastating, but is easier said than done. That’s where the Gladiator’s title cards, Insidious and Demolisher, both come in handy. Contrary to other title cards, which seem to all change the role of the ship depending on which you take, both Gladiator titles seem to reinforce its’ role as a flanking ship. Insidious allows you to fire your black dice from further away than normal if attacking the rear hull zone, while Demolisher gives you the unique capability to make one of your attacks after you have executed a maneuver. I tend to take Demolisher on mine thus far, and to great effect (more on that further down). Insidious is a good deal cheaper, but I feel it will be much less effective; because it’s really hard to stay within medium range and behind a target that is moving away from you, you’ll usually be out at long range before you have an opportunity to fire.

Insidious      Demolisher

Admiral Screed will probably be the Commander of choice for fleets that lean heavily on close range attacks. He allows you to remove a die that you have rolled to change a die to a crit, including the hit+crit face on black dice. That means you can potentially turn a hit and hit into a hit and a crit, a hit and a miss into a hit and a crit, or even two misses into a hit and a crit. Should you be so inclined to use Assault Concussion Missiles, that can in turn add an additional two damage on to your results.

Admiral-Screed     Assault-Concussion-Missiles

But my money says you won’t be using those Assault Concussion Missiles. Instead, you’ll be more likely to take the new and Gladiator pack exclusive Expanded Launchers card if you’re going to fill that Ordnance upgrade slot. Same damage expected on an average roll (from the forward arc), a much higher ceiling, and that many more opportunities to trigger Admiral Screed off of a blank die.

Expanded-Launchers

The last upgrade card which is available only in the Gladiator is Admiral Chiraneau. Yes, X-Wing players, THAT Chiraneau. His ability is a little different in this incarnation though. What this card allows you to do is move your fighter squadrons activated during a Squadron command at low speed, regardless of the fact that they are already engaged. For ten points, this is an incredibly expensive ability, so don’t just take it for the heck of it. I don’t personally think it fits as well on the Gladiator. You’re going to want Chiraneau on a ship that is going to be doing all squadron commands, all the time, such as a Victory Class Star Destroyer with the Corrupter Title (more info on that below). There’s a devastating tag team partner for Chiraneau waiting in the Imperial Fighter Squadrons expansion too.

Admiral_Chiraneau

Going back to my original description of the Gladiator, I mentioned that it was pretty fast and maneuverable, even though its’ top speed is only 3 and it has no more than two total points of yaw at any speed. What gives, you ask? Engine Techs. Available in the Gladiator and Nebulon B Frigate expansions, Engine Techs allow you to make an additional speed 1 maneuver on any turn that you resolve a Navigate command or spend a Navigate token. And the Gladiator’s speed 1 maneuver includes two clicks of yaw. Chain everything together, and you can go from speed 1 to a temporary speed of 4 inside of a single turn, with a maneuver of – / I / I / II, an extra click at any one joint along the template, and combine it with the Demolisher title to take one of your shots after either the original move or the followup from the Engine Techs! Bonus combo: Don’t have a Navigate dialed up or token available? Keep an eye out for the Veteran Captain upgrade later in this article.

Engine-Techs

One last upgrade of note in the Gladiator: Sensor Team. Also found in the Assault Frigate Mk II, the Sensor Team upgrade lets you spend a die to change another die to a facing with an Accuracy result.  This is potentially very useful on a ship like the Gladiator that doesn’t have a lot of potential for Accuracy results. Example: Your Gladiator II fires from the side arc, and rolls (Miss), (Hit+Crit), (Hit+Crit) on its’ black dice, and (Miss) on the red. Sacrifice the black Miss to turn the red Miss into an Accuracy, and block the Defense Token of your choice to make your damage count.

Sensor-Team

IMG_20150602_212102970
Demolisher putting in work. There used to be an Assault Frigate where that pile of dice is now.

Moving on. The Victory Class Star Destroyer expansion, like both the Nebulon B Frigate  and CR90 Corellian Corvette, have a large amount of overlap with the version from the core set, but there is a huge assortment of cards in this pack, including several upgrades that are unique to this pack that serious players are going to want. So don’t pass up on this pack just because you bought two core sets, because you’ll be missing out on several power cards.

Corrupter and Warlord, the two Victory Star Destroyer title cards in this expansion, allow you to tailor the combat role you look to fill with your ship. Corrupter beats you over the head with its’ core function, making TIE Bombers faster. It’s not all that impressive on its’ own, but if you include Admiral Chiraneau, from the Gladiator, suddenly that extra range makes for a vicious little combo to move your TIE Bombers away from enemy squadrons and make a bombing run on an enemy capital ship all at once! Warlord is best suited for the VSD II and its’ collection of blue and red attack dice – every die in that pool has a potential to roll an accuracy result that can be turned into a hit; and don’t forget that the double hit is a valid choice on a red die.

Corrupter      Warlord

Admiral Motti is an all purpose passive upgrade for your capital ships, giving them all extra hit points. He’s also the cheapest Commander available to the Empire; there’s something to be said for that when you’re looking at a mandatory component.

Admiral-Motti

Ion Cannon Batteries are an interesting upgrade. Triggering from a blue critical hit, they either strip a command token from the target, or deal an extra damage if no tokens are available. I can’t see myself using these often, as I don’t personally value what they bring to the game, but I’m glad to see more critical effects that can be used without needing the target’s shields to be down.

Ion-Cannon-Batteries

Director Isard can really give you an edge in a battle of big ships with high command values. The enemy has Concentrate Fire commands stacked up 3-deep on one ship, and nothing but Engineering commands on the other? I think we just picked our priority target!

Director_Isard

The last upgrade only available in this pack is Flight Controllers. It’s not quite as useful, only working when you’re issuing a squadron command, but the Flight Controllers are essentially an extra copy of Howlrunner, handing out bonus anti-squadron dice. And yes, the effects stack for that activation if you have Howrunner around too.

Flight_Controllers

Believe it or not, we’re still not done with upgrades worth having out of the Victory Class Star Destroyer, although the rest of these all exist in at least one other expansion too (other than the core set).

Overlapping with the Assault Frigate MK II, XX-9 Turbolasers and Veteran Captain are both new cards we haven’t discussed yet. The XX-9 upgrade can be brutal for finishing off a ship – they let you deal two face-up damage cards instead of just one, but they don’t actually deal any more damage, so it’s an investment in luck. Veteran Captain is almost an auto-include for me on any Assault Frigate or Victory Star Destroyer I have room for it on. For three points, you get a single command token of your choice at one point in the game. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re working with a big command stack, you never know when you’re going to REALLY need a navigate token to speed up or slow down. Imperial players that are used to having Moff Tarkin hand those tokens out but want to experiment with other Commanders will be especially thankful that they have a Veteran Captain around.

XX9-Turbolasers      Veteran_Captain

The last new card in the VSD expansion, overlapping with the Nebulon B Frigate, is Intelligence Officer. It allows you to pick a defense token that you really don’t want the opponent to spend, and make them face a hard choice as to whether or not to sacrifice it. At 7 points, for such a powerful ability, I think it’s costed right; yet I think it’s too expensive for me to use in my personal fleets.

Intel-Officer

Now for the Imperial Fighter Squadrons expansion. Similar to my recommendations regarding the Rebel Fighter Squadrons, you’re probably going to want two packs of these, even though there’s duplication of ships, as you’re getting even more TIE Fighters. Unlike with X-Wings though, considering how cheap the TIE Fighters are, that’s actually a good thing. If you didn’t get a second core set, you NEED more TIE Fighters.

My personal favorite addition among the generic ships is the TIE Interceptor (insert fake shock here). Compared to TIE Fighters, they are a touch pricier (3 points per squadron) and just as fragile, but they are a little faster and they absolutely spray out damage. With four Anti-Squadron dice and Swarm for rerolls and eligibility for Howlrunner’s bonus, you’ve got a lot of potential on offense. Perhaps even meaner, both Swarm and Howlrunner’s effects happen on Counter attacks too!

TIE-Interceptor-Squadron

TIE Bombers are the definition of a specialization for a specific combat role. They’re cheap, durable, and relatively fast, but they’re absolutely useless against anything other than a capital ship. Can’t hurt enemy squadrons (average of 0.5 damage), can’t escape them, and can’t keep them tied up either.

TIE-Bomber-Squadron

TIE Advanced squadrons are in an awkward position. The most expensive of the Imperial generics, the TIE Advanced will do less damage to other squadrons than regular TIE Fighters (thanks to the lack of Swarm), and even with a black Anti-Ship die, will do only marginally better than TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors against capital ships (thanks to the lack of Bomber). What they do have going for them, though, is they have relatively high health, and Escort, allowing them to use that health to shield other squadrons from enemy fighters.

TIE-Advanced-Squadron

There’s also a neat little trick you can do if you combine those TIE Advanced with Soontir Fel. Just like the other TIE Interceptor squadrons, Soontir has Counter 2, which makes the enemy want to attack something else if they can. But Fel is a master of taking shots of opportunity, and if an enemy makes an attack that isn’t against Fel, he deals one point of damage to them automatically. So let’s review: TIE Advanced have escort, you have to shoot them, and relatively high hit points. Soontir Fel hits you if you shoot anyone other than him. Seems like a recipe for success, no?

Soontir-Fel

Next up is Major Rhymer. He’s a little less defenseless in dogfights, but it’s still nothing to be happy about. What Rhymer brings to the table, however, is that he is a leader of men. Specifically, he’s a leader of men who want to take down capital ships. He allows nearby squadrons to fire at capital ships at Close-Medium range, which is just a touch longer than distance 3, as opposed to the normal distance 1 limitation. That makes it much easier to deal significant damage without having to spend so much effort to chase the enemy ships down.

Major_Rhymer

Next, let’s take a look at Darth Vader. He’s the most expensive squadron in the game so far, beating out his son by a point (Spoiler alert, I suppose?). For that cost, he dishes out a lot of damage, but I don’t know if it’s really worthwhile. Average of 3.25 against fighters, 1 point average vs capital ships (with a crit-less version of Bomber). On a scale of silence to sheer joy, I give Lord Vader a “meh”.

Darth-Vader

Last up on our list, instead of Howlrunner as the TIE Fighter ace, we’ve got Mauler Mithel, a pilot who apparently apprenticed under Captain Oicunn (that’s an X-Wing joke, for those of you paying attention). Any time he moves into an engagement, every enemy squadron engaged with him takes a damage. It’s a neat ability as it is, but it didn’t really jump out at me until I looked through the rest of Wave 1 and saw Admiral Chiraneau. Mithel’s ability would trigger each and every time you activated Mauler via Chiraneau, dealing a damage to every enemy fighter in range turn after turn. It’s pricey to get them both (25 points in all), but if you’re already building around Chiraneau, Mithel is well worth adding on.

Mauler-Mithel

IMG_20150602_202022153
Despite two squads of A-Wings coming in as reinforcements, I think I lost just the one squad of TIE Advanced in this furball. All working together, these Imperial Fighters are MEAN!

So what do you think? Do you agree with my evaluation that the good guys got more toys to be excited about? Did I leave out your favorite Wave I element or combo? Let me hear about it in the comments! And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out the Rebel version of this Wave I Armada review!

– The Tabletop General

Armada wave 1 review – Rebels

Having gotten my fill of X-Wing lately, this week’s game night at my FLGS was filled with Star Wars: Armada. I dove in head first with the Wave 1 releases a couple weeks back, but only had time to try out the rebel ships before going on a vacation, and then I was purely focused on preparing for the X-Wing regionals until this week. But by gosh I own it all…

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This wasn’t shipped, my FLGS owner took one look at my order and gave me a box to put it all in.

On release day, I picked up two copies of the Gladiator Class Star DestroyerAssault Frigate Mk IIImperial Fighter Squadrons, and Rebel Fighter Squadrons, as well as one expansion copy each of the Victory Class Star DestroyerNebulon B Frigate,  and CR90 Corellian Corvette. The new capital ships were, of course, the big focus for me, as those would have the greatest impact on the game (or so I thought). And expecting the Rebels to have gotten the biggest boost of the two factions, I went for the Assault  Frigates first, immediately challenging someone to a game using two of them. I absolutely loved how different they felt in comparison to the existing options for the Rebels.

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“The Flying Football” is one of the cleaner nicknames I’ve heard for this one.

There are two distinctively different directions you can go with the Assault Frigate Mk II. It can be a tank, or a great fighter support ship.

Set up in a combat role, it is the first rebel ship able to truly trade blows with the Imperial Fleet. With 12 total shields, a brace, a redirect, and an evade token available to it, the Assault Frigate can take a lot of punishment and keep on fighting. With an engineering value of 4 (so recovering two shields at a time) and access to the Advanced Projectors to really boost your redirects, it takes a lot of concentrated firepower to bring one of these down. Meanwhile, the Enhanced Armament upgrade can increase the “B” variant to a respectable total of 4 red dice on side shots. Throw in the Paragon title, and you get an extra black die (from any range) if you manage to shoot the same ship twice in a round. Dare your opponents to pick your Advanced Gunnery objective!

Assault-frigate-B                Advanced-projectors

Advanced-gunnery   Paragon

On the other hand, you can outfit the Frigate as a full-blown carrier. The “B” variant has a squadron value of 3, and that can be increased with Expanded Hangar Bays. Then toss the Gallant Haven title on your ship, and suddenly it’s nearly impossible to kill your nearby fighters. Bring out a few A-Wings with their nifty “Counter” ability (more on how broken that can be in the upcoming Imperial article), and you’ll end up doing just as much damage on defense than your opponent’s fighters do on offense! Toss in a couple bombers, like Y-Wings or B-Wings, and that’s suddenly an area that the enemy wants to avoid at all costs.

AWings     Gallant-haven

Next, let’s take a quick look at the expansion versions of the rebel ships from the starter kit.

The CR90 Corellian Corvette offers a couple of neat little tricks to enhance your fleet. If your Corvette is going to be serving as a command ship, then perhaps you should invest in the Tantive IV, carrying Raymus Antilles. Raymus lets you double up on actions on your own ship (Change speed by two within a single turn, or activate an extra squadron, etc), but the Tantive IV title lets that token go to another ship. If that ship happens to have a Defense Liaison or a Weapons Liaison, you can then spend that token to make a surprise adjustment to your command stack!

Tantive-iv        Raymus-antilles

Normally, your Evade defense tokens, which all Rebel ships have, are useless at close range, but Mon Mothma lets your entire fleet use them at least to some extent at any range, so you don’t have to fear getting up close to enemy ships (as much).

Mon-mothma

And if you’re looking to hug close to some obstacles, Jaina’s Light would come in handy. In addition to giving you much more freedom to maneuver without worrying about the occasional asteroid, I see this title as great insurance against the potential hazards in the Dangerous Territory objective.

Jainas-light      Dangerous-territory-objective

One last card that stands out to me in the CR90 pack is Leading Shots. This is the first card I’ve seen in Armada that blatantly makes less sense on the ship it comes with than on another ship. In particular, Imperial players are going to want these for their Victory Class Star Destroyers, especially on builds using the Victory II or Dominator title. Completely miss your attack? Throw away one of your blue dice and reroll as much of it as you want. With a Corvette throwing 3 dice, you’re rerolling up to two – no big gain. But you take a VSD I with Dominator and Expanded Launchers, and that front attack is as much as 3 red, 2  blue, and 5 black before any other modifications like a Concentrate Fire command.  There’s 8 dice that could potentially come up blank in there, having the option to throw away a blue die and reroll all of those misses makes for a brutal shot!

Leading-shots      Dominator

Expanded-Launchers      Victory-I

The Nebulon B Frigate doesn’t bring quite as much to the table as the Corvette. There are two new title cards, Salvation and Yavaris, and this expansion is the only source for XI7 Turbolaser upgrade cards.

I’m not entirely sold on Salvation. For seven points, your expected damage output (before any modifications) goes up from an average of 2.25 to 3, a 33% increase. But it only takes effect when firing in the forward arc, and depending on which variant you take, it’s a 12-13% increase in the cost of the ship. On a point for point basis, I think you’d be better off investing in more ships. This line of thinking about efficiency is a slippery slope, and it’s this kind of thinking that led us to the horror that is BBBBZ in X-Wing Miniatures.

But let’s go back to our carrier loadout from earlier with the Gallant Haven – What would make those squadrons even tougher to deal with? What if they could attack twice in one turn? Well, with the Yavaris in your fleet, they can! On an Escort variant that can activate two squadrons, three with Expanded Hangar Bays, that’s five points well spent.

Salvation      Yavaris

The XI7 Turbolasers don’t jump out at me as a “must have” card, but there could certainly be some utility to be found in them. This add-on limits how much damage can be moved by a redirect token, which makes it much easier to wear down a specific hull zone and punch a hole through the enemy’s shields. With Victory Star Destroyers only having access to two Redirect tokens and a Brace, you can spend a single accuracy result to block that brace and know that no more than one point of damage in your attack will do anything other than damage the targeted hull zone of that VSD.

XI7-turbolasers

One more expansion to go today, let’s take a look at the Rebel Fighter Squadrons expansion. Containing two squadrons each of X-wings, A-wings, Y-Wings, and B-Wings, this is a pack that 99% of players are going to want two of right now. Perhaps a third pack would come in handy for some extreme concepts when the game expands to 400 points, but as much as I like to go crazy with hypothetical builds, I’ve not put anything together yet that calls for more than four squadrons of any one particular set of Rebel fighters.

Starting with the basics, we’ve seen X-Wings already in the core set, and I showed you A-Wings earlier – They’re fast, do decent damage, and their “Counter” ability means they won’t be your enemy’s favorite targets to shoot.

B-Wings and Y-Wings are the heavy hitters for the Rebels. The issue is getting them there. Y-Wings are lumbering beasts, plodding along at speed 3, with only two anti-fighter dice. But they’re also the cheapest squadron available to the Rebels, have the most health, and deal more damage to capital ships than all-purpose X-Wing squadrons. B-Wings are even slower, and are the most expensive basic squadron in the game; but they’ll also tear any capital ship that does come into range to shreds, dealing an average of 1.75 damage per attack. The best use I’ve seen so far for B-Wings is to hold a position where you know the enemy is coming to, warding off a charging Gladiator Class Star Destroyer approaching your flanks, or hovering around a Contested Outpost objective. In both cases, though, with the B-Wing and Y-Wing squadrons, having a capital ship nearby to grant squadron commands is almost required to get them shots when it counts.

BWing-squadron      YWing-squadron

In addition to the generic cards, there’s also four unique pilots available for rebel squadrons in this pack: Keyan Farlander, Tycho Celchu, Dutch Vander, and Wedge Antilles. For a 5-7 point premium over the generic squadron, each comes with defense tokens and an extra ability.

Keyan… well, I’m a little undecided about him, mostly because part of his ability is so conditional. But compared to a regular B-Wing’s 1.75 damage, his heavier dice make for an average of 2 damage per attack against capital ships, or 2.5 per attack if their shields are already down, and could potentially deal as much as four damage in that attack. This would pair well with the XI7 Turbolasers and both Nebulon B Frigates from earlier: Salvation can punch a hole with the Turbolasers for a best case of three damage on the target hull zone’s shields (accuracy blocks the brace, and 1 point gets redirected) on one activation, and then Keyan gets activated by Yavaris on the next to blast away for a best case of eight damage. It’s highly unlikely to roll that well, and difficult to set up, but for those of you keeping score at home, that’s a kill* on a Victory Star Destroyer that was previously at full health.

*Yes, I understand that the VSD would have defense tokens left for Keyan’s attacks, but our hypothetical Yavaris hasn’t fired yet, it has only activated one fighter squadron, and I assumed that the Salvation didn’t concentrate fire for extra damage. He’s dead, Jim.

Keyan-Farlander

Tycho Celchu is easily my favorite pilot of the bunch. He’s the kind of pilot that I’d have a Red Bull with, because he’s too wired to have a beer. As fast or faster as any Imperial ship around, Tycho can go where he’s needed, when he’s needed. Tied up by Soontir Fel? Nope, let me go harass those TIE Bombers over there. Oh, those bombers actually dealt some damage to me? Nope, Scatter to cancel the attack, have a counter attack for your trouble. He’s not a hammer that will break the enemy force, but Tycho is a scalpel that will give a lot of Imperial admirals nightmares when used properly to disrupt a battle plan. There’s nothing complicated about him mechanically, it’s just all about where you should move him and when.

Tycho-Celchu

Last, but not least, there’s a tag team in the named pilots for the X-Wing and Y-Wing. The Dutch Sandwich, the Wedge Salad… whatever you want to call it, it’s simple, and it’s nasty. If Dutch Vander hits a squadron, it loses its’ activation for the turn. If it’s already activated, then Dutch does an extra damage. Then Wedge follows up and gets a whopping six attack dice against any squadron that has already marked as activated for the turn. It takes a lot of luck for a squadron to survive a hit from both of those together, even a named pilot with defense tokens is in for a bad day.

Dutch-Vander      Wedge-Antilles

Have you picked up your copies yet of all the Wave 1 ships? If not, I highly recommend that you go to your FLGS and get them right away, ours is having trouble keeping them in stock from the high demand. If you can’t get them there, then (and only then) feel free to order copies of them using the links above. :)

Here’s the scary thing… even with all these new toys for the Rebels, I still like the Imperials more. I’ll show you why next time.

– The Tabletop General

 

 

2015 X-Wing Regionals – FCB Comics & Games

I’ve waited all year to get another shot at the regional tournament for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. Last year I squeaked out a win in two games and lost at least three before it dawned on me that I was out of my depth in that tournament, and I dropped out from a combination of exhaustion and frustration at how badly I was being beaten. So to have a chance to redeem myself, and practically in my own back yard… I was gearing up for this for months.

I really struggled in picking a list for this event. My instinct was to keep on with what got me here, the 3x TIE Interceptor list. In my previous article, I reviewed several lists which were winning in other regional level events. One of the archetypes that was doing well was a VT-49 Decimator (usually Rear Admiral Chiraneau) paired up with Soontir Fel. This isn’t something that I’ve seen locally, the two ship Decimator lists basically disappeared from my local meta with the changes to the decloak action that “crippled” TIE Phantoms.

In an attempt to discover how that worked and what they did well, I tried running a variant using Captain Oicunn (the winner from Stirling Scotland), and I really liked how it worked. It would have held up decently well against Chiraneau in a mirror match, but it would have been even more vulnerable than the Interceptors against a BBBBZ list, which I perceive as my greatest weakness.

As a result, I stuck to the Interceptors, with a slight modification – I took the stealth device off of the Royal Guard Pilot to make a 4 point initiative bid. I wanted to be absolutely certain that I could have Soontir Fel moving last whenever possible. I saw in testing that the initiative made a huge difference, especially against certain combos I had seen in practice such as Han Solo / Jake Farrell (with Veteran Instincts), or even against other lists containing Soontir Fel.

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)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Total: 96 points

Round 1

Hardest round of the day… waiting. Technically, I was working, serving as one of two assistant judges for the day, but there wasn’t much required of me other than keeping an eye on things and running some messages around. My nerves were on edge though, and I couldn’t wait to get on the table. If memory serves, seventeen other players brought first round byes to this tournament via Store Championship wins, and I was about to get dropped into the middle of them all. But first, I had to wait. I took a few pictures to pass the time…

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Look closely, you’ll see a rare Phantomus Nerfumus here, an almost extinct ship that hides well.
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First Order of business is to get a matching paint scheme for that Interceptor. Second Order (to appear in Episode VIII) is to figure out why that Aggressor is so close.
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And here we have an example of the Sharkamus Drunkamus.
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The Meta Game – RAC / Fel vs BBBBZ
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The “Huh?” game – Deci + Shuttle + Firespray vs Firespray & 2x HWKs
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Team Procket makes another appearance!

1-0, 200 MoV – Just enough of a head start to ensure rough competition from there. Roughly 30 way tie for 1st place here.

Round 2

Opponent:

IG-88 B – 36
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stay on Target – 3 (YT-2400)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

IG-88 C – 36
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

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Going droid hunting…

A local player,  my opponent called out three players in advance, saying he was sure that his first match would be one of those three. Roughly a 13% chance of that (yes, I ran the numbers), but he was right, as I was in that group. Earlier this year, he ended my day at this same location’s store championship with back-to back wins. I was determined not to let that happen again.

Giving him initiative, Stay on Target did nothing for him, and Veteran Instincts only put him moving after my Royal Guard, both Carnor Jax and Soontir Fel would have free reign to react. At the same time, with such a user-friendly dial, I had no idea where the enemy ships would be headed. Our match was a pure cat & mouse game from the start.

Shot for shot, my opponent held an advantage, especially outside of Range 1. Using the HLC, he had 4 dice with two chances against my 4 evade dice, 3 if without a stealth device, and Autothrusters to help at Range 3. Firing back, I would have my 3 attack dice against his 3 defense at range 2, 4 with Autothrusters at range 3. His advantage was expanded by having lower pilot skills, he could determine whether or not he would need his Focus tokens on defense first, then spend them freely on offense. So really, I needed to deny as many shots as I could.

Attempting to line up unexpected shots, he took S-Loops and K-turns where I wouldn’t have dared, boosting in advance to change angles. The fact that he narrowly missed so many obstacles speaks to how much experience he has with the Aggressors, he was doing moves (safely) that I wouldn’t have dared try. That turned out to be an edge for me though, as I started to understand where those moves would happen as I watched my opponent fly. Every time a ship flew out towards the edge and flipped around, I knew it had to come right back basically to where it was before on the next turn, and that let me start lining up some shots in advance.

Big momentum swings happened in this game, because the shots that did land hit hard. One of the IG’s lost all four shields… then the Royal Guard bit the dust… then that IG was finished off… and then Soontir Fel took two hits… It was crazy. Eventually, Soontir came in for a face-to-face attack run on the remaining IG, and managed to string together a Boost / Barrel Roll combo that left him just a hair outside of firing arc, barely able to make the next turn and stay on the table, and able to unload a Range 1 shot with Focus. My opponent just about lost it there, going on a mini-tirade about how hard these Interceptors were to catch. It took a couple more turns to deal out the damage cards, but mentally and emotionally I had won the game right there. My opponent pulled himself together after that match and went on to a second place overall finish.

2-0, 373 MoV – Still in the thick of it, in 10th place.

Round 3

Opponent:

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

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BBBBZ, exactly what I didn’t want to see today.

The best laid plans all fall to pieces once someone opens fire. I told myself I was going to stay disciplined, skirt along the edge of range 3, and stay away from those B-Wings. But it’s easier said than done.

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This is where I went wrong. Rather than turning right and boosting around the edge, I turned left and got trapped engaging head to head. This turn was my biggest mistake of the day.
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Soontir ALMOST escaped, but that debris field doomed him.

I managed to recover a little bit and scramble out of the kill zone for the most part. The Royal Guard and Carnor Jax got out on a flank at safe distance. Soontir Fel, on the other hand, landed on that debris field in the process of doing the only green maneuver that wasn’t guaranteed to be blocked and lead to his death. The plan was to do a Boost to the right and Barrel Roll back to the left, safely out of arc, and perhaps with a shot of my own. But clipping the debris field put an end to that plan. It got him a Focus token for the stress, but he was suddenly stuck at Range 1 of two B-Wings, and death came swiftly anyway.

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One B-Wing down, far too many to go.

I did get one B-Wing out of there, and had damaged a couple more. At one point, I felt like I was really close to tipping the scales in my favor and grinding this one out, despite the fact that the final score was 22 – 100. I’ve noticed that even with only one Interceptor left, I feel good about my chances to dodge arcs and wear down three small ships, especially if one of those is a Z-95 instead of a B-Wing. But I just couldn’t manage to finish off a second ship in this game.

My opponent would roll on to a 5-1 finish in Swiss, before being knocked out of the finals by the IG-88 player from the round before.

2-1, 395 MoV – That hurt, fell back to 29th place in the standings.

Break time

I scarfed down a couple slices of pizza as almost everyone else left for a meal break, and stepped back into the office where our Twitch stream broadcasts from. I was about to have a chance to participate in an interview of Doug Kinney, aka Hothie, aka “2012 X-Wing World Champion”. I had broken the ice a bit by speaking with him earlier in the day, but it was still kind of a surreal moment. I wasn’t the only one in the room though, and I certainly wasn’t the focal point. We wanted to give Doug an opportunity to discuss the whole reason he came to our regional. It’s better coming from him, so check out the recording (I’m off camera to the left) here:

Round 4

Opponent:

Chewbacca – 42 (Millennium Falcon)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)
R2-D2 – 4 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)
Millennium Falcon – 1 (Millennium Falcon)

Leebo – 34 (YT-2400)
Calculation – 1 (Starviper)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400)

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Look, sir! Autothruster victims!

 

Chewbacca and Leebo are hard to chew through. They’re even harder to chew through with only two Interceptors. Despite that fact, I subconsciously decided to try doing exactly that.

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I swear, there was another Interceptor there when I started to pick up the camera.

Complete bone-headed move on my part, I moved too fast and put Carnor Jax onto that big asteroid between the two YT’s. Without actions, he died a swift and ignoble death. I had already taken a shield or two off of Chewie, or I might have swapped targets. Still, the next turn I only really had a shot on the Falcon, so I stuck with it, knowing good and well that I wouldn’t crack through the defenses provided by the two droids onboard and an evade token each turn if I lost another ship.

Another game of cat and mouse ensued, in which I chased Chewbacca all over the board. It felt like it took forever for maneuver dials to be set. Fly casual, right? R2-D2 was appropriately annoying, never once actually flipping a damage card over, and providing several turns of shield repair. And my opponent did some really smart things with Leebo, attempting to cut me off and protect the other ship. But I saw most of those coming, and found ways around. Each turn that I got at least 4 hits between my two ships, I got a little closer to a kill. Still, the clock was ticking on me, and I had yet to score.

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Catch that flying carpet!

A few poor rolls stole what looked like a kill shot from me,  and I had to endure another round of returned fire. We had just a handful of minutes remaining, I could see the timer clearly right behind my foe. And who was Chewie going to shoot…? Soontir Fel with 2 hit points, or the Royal Guard with one? Well, let’s see, they both have Autothrusters, they both have the same tokens left, they’re both at range 1… And that clock kept ticking down. Finally, I just had to call my opponent out on it; he had already left the table twice earlier in the game to do things, he was taking his sweet time picking maneuvers, and it was obvious that he was simply trying to run out the clock here by wavering over which ship to shoot. With several other players who had finished their games watching, at about the 15 second mark my opponent agreed to play one more turn before taking another 14 seconds or so to determine which Interceptor he wasn’t going to hit.

So, time expired, playing one more turn anyway. Leebo was too far away to do anything, I covered all the angles with my maneuvers, and ended up bumping with the Royal Guard. Soontir Fel, though, was left with a Range 1 shot, and scored four hits. My opponent evaluated the situation, guessed “one” result for C-3PO, and got it. Combined with his evade token, he canceled three out of the four hits, and only took one damage. He triumphantly picked up his dice to fire back… and I asked him how many damage Chewbacca had taken. Oh, hey, look at that. There’s eight cards there, not seven. Chewbacca’s time of death: approximately 76:30. Game over. “Fly casual”.

3-1, 514 MoV – Needed that win, but it was too close. I’m falling behind here on MoV, and there’s going to be some 5-1 players that don’t make the cut. I need a big win badly.

Round 5

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

Nera Dantels  – 22 (Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control System
Ion Cannon
Flechette Torpedoes
Flechette Torpedoes
Deadeye
Munitions Failsafe

Gold Squadron Pilot + BTL-A4 Y-Wing + R3-A2 + Ion Cannon Turret
Biggs Darklighter + R4-D6

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4 ships, none of them the same class. Holy crap, it’s something that isn’t a cookie-cutter list!

I thought I was running on empty after my last game, but this one made me dig even deeper. Nera is a great counter to the TIE Interceptors with Flechette Torpedoes handing out stress tokens like candy, and with the Munitions Failsafe, she’s got an infinite supply until she does damage with them twice. The Y-Wing has similar tricks, being able to potentially assign two stress tokens and an ion token within a single turn of shooting. Then there’s Biggs to keep the heat off of those two until they can do some work. What I had going for me, though, is that all three of my ships were higher pilot skill than the enemy, and he wasn’t exactly set up to do a whole lot of damage all at once.

So I played it safe. From the photo above, the Royal Guard (far left) danced away out of firing range, and the other two broke right, looking for unopposed shots and finding one.

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Playing keep-away. Sorry for the blurry photo, only got the one.

Realizing that he would just pop back in at an inopportune time later, I converged on Biggs from here. Nera was too close to Carnor in order to fire with Deadeye, and out of range of her locked target, so it was safe to do so and I managed to clear him quickly. In the process, though, the Y-Wing got lined up on Carnor Jax, and started pouring on stress.

Carnor headed for the hills as fast as green moves would take him, but without actions for post-move adjustments, he couldn’t shake the Rebels. All three remaining ships gave chase, slipping through a couple hits and landing an ion once.

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Hang in there Carnor!

Things looked grim, but the cavalry arrived just in time. Zap, zap, Nera down, survived the other two shots.

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Put on the brakes and he’ll fly right by…

Suddenly, Carnor stopped running away. Instead, he took a 1 hard toward the corner immediately following the photo above, and the Y-Wing overshot his target, only the Headhunter would have a shot on me.

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Just because I have stress doesn’t mean I have to clear it!

Soontir and the Royal Guard make short work of the Z-95, saving their squadmate, and it was a formality to finish off the VERY stressed Y-Wing from there.

4-1, 714 MoV – Big win? Check. Up to 10th place, which means a decent sized win should put me into somewhere between 5th and 8th for the finals.

Round 6

Opponent:

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)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau – 46 (VT-49 Decimator)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Ysanne Isaard – 4 (VT-49 Decimator)
Gunner – 5 (Slave 1)
Rebel Captive – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

(2 point initiative bid)

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RAC all up in my face…

Of course I would face this list for the very first time in a win-or-go-home situation. It was going to be an uphill battle, but there wasn’t much I could do about it except go in and fly. After having dealt with so much stress in the previous game, I didn’t want to have my Soontir double-stressed AND trying to dodge his, so I resolved to leave the Decimator alone to begin with, and I had a sneaky idea for how to clear his Soontir off the field.

Staring at a 98 point list, my 96 points paid off for the first time all day, so I just gave him initiative. Turn one, everything moved up cautiously on both sides. Turn two, I moved up the Royal Guard and Carnor slowly again, looking for a range 3 exchange where no real damage would be dealt. But expecting RAC to get more aggressive and turn in towards the fight, and perhaps thinking his Soontir might not stress himself if still out of range, I dialed up a five forward with my Fel, hoping to both block the Decimator and catch his Interceptor mostly defenseless.

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Well, that idea blew up in my face…

Soontir loaded up on tokens anyway, so I did as well. The Decimator did not commit as I had hoped, and instead caught me in forward arc and at range 1. One atrocious set of die rolls later, I lost my first ship. Carnor and his Soontir exchanged fire at range 3 to zero effect.

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Note the absence of a Royal Guard Pilot.

With my only advantage against Fel (initiative) gone, I had to get creative now.  I was certain I knew where he would be putting Soontir Fel, so I successfully blocked that with Carnor Jax, and now the Royal Guard could fire on him without defense tokens… but RAC blasted him, and Soontir finished the job. Carnor Jax would come up empty on the next turn and take two damage. With one hit point left and without having dealt a single damage, the writing was on the wall, and I conceded in the face of overwhelming firepower.

4-2, 714 MoV, 25th place. That’s not exactly how I wanted to end my day, but my opponent from round 6 would go on to win the event, so it’s not like I got put out by some scrub off the street. In fact, as I understand it, he’s a reader of the Tabletop General, and he mentioned watching my Interceptors tear up the competition on Twitch over the past few months. So the morale of the story is to not fly something I’ve shown to the internet, then.

Final thoughts

Looking back on it, there’s not a whole lot I would have done differently. In round 6, I was beaten when the matchup was drawn. But the tipping point was round 3, losing to BBBBZ. I’ve got to find another way to deal with those B-Wings.

Upon review, I had the 3rd highest strength of schedule overall, and three of my opponents were in the top eight, including the eventual winner. So not a bad day at all. I definitely feel like I’ve come a long way over the past year after getting knocked around to the point of dropping out of last year’s regional.

On a day where I felt comfortable talking and cracking jokes with a former world champion, the concept of watching my opponent send a text message saying something along the lines of “You’ll never guess who I’m playing against” still boggles my mind. I’m hoping for many more of those moments in the future.

– The Tabletop General