Davith and the Gang

If you play Star Wars: Imperial Assault, you’re going to learn the name Davith Elso, and you’re going to learn it quickly. Davith is the newest Force User to join the game, by way of The Bespin Gambit, which released today, along with several supporting figure packs: Agent Blaise and his team of ISB Infiltrators, the durable and deadly Bossk, and the always-tricky Lando Calrissian.

Davith_Elso
The sneakiest Jedi since Palpatine.

Easily the sneakiest one around, Davith might be the deadliest Jedi in the game short of Darth Vader himself.

Darth_Vader_IA
Damage, damage, ridiculous survivability, and did I mention damage?

Okay, so maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration. But on a point-for-point basis, it’s not as crazy as you might think. For 18 points, Vader gets to attack twice with Brutality, doing up to 9 damage per attack (6% chance of that), averaging out around 7 damage per swing (54% chance). So assuming he has two targets to hit, Vader will generate 14 damage compared to his cost of 18 points, a Damage per Point rating of 0.77. Assume that he doesn’t have to move that turn, and the Dark Lord of the Sith can toss in a Force Choke for another 2 damage and a Strain, we’ll assume the Strain is taken as damage, and that makes for a DpP rating of 0.94.

Now let’s run the numbers on Davith. They’re a little harder to calculate because of how his Fell Swoop ability works, so we’ll have to abandon online calculators and run this one by hand. And I’ll save you the spreadsheet, but explain what I did – I ran a cross product of all the possible results that could be rolled on a green die and a yellow die, tossed in a surge because we presume that Davith is hidden, and added in what the “right” surges were – Fell Swoop when you can, +1 damage when you get 3 surges or can’t Fell Swoop (no surges on attack dice, or this is already the second attack). Here’s what I came up with:

Average damage dealt on first attack: 2.5833
Chance to trigger Fell Swoop and attack again: 83.3%
Damage dealt by Cut & Run during Fell Swoop: 1
Damage dealt by Fell Swoop and second attack: 3.333
Average damage dealt: 2.5833 + (3.333 * .833) = 5.36
DpP rating: 5.36 / 6 = 0.89

How is Fell Swoop doing damage, you ask? Take a look back at Cut & Run. Davith moves two spaces via Fell Swoop. That’s not movement points, that’s spaces. Which means he can walk straight through an enemy figure, or right into and then back out of that figure, returning to his original space, dealing a Cut & Run damage in the process.

Now Vader’s initial DpP rating of 0.94 was too low, I was working off of the round numbers found for him at the 54th percentile mark. Running the same math as I applied to Davith gets you a DpP of 1.01, assuming again that Vader can stand still to perform both attacks and use a Force Choke too. Vader also has the option of surging for a pierce to make sure that the damage sticks, and his big attacks are going to be reduced less by defense dice than Davith’s. But the efficiency in raw damage is still way closer than I would have expected, and Davith loses no effectiveness (In fact, he can gain some) while on the move – With a speed of 5, a double move action can let Davith weave his way across four enemy figures and Cut & Run would deal a single unblockable damage to all four of them. Or moving through two figures before attacking a third can bump him up to an impressive value of 1.23 DpP.

Now, math and statistics are all well and good, but how does Davith perform on the table? I put together a list intended to find out exactly that. I’ve been itching to play a list comprised mostly of figures with the Force User attribute for quite some time now, but there just haven’t been enough of them available. Today, that is no longer the case.

Deployment Cards
Davith Elso – 6 (The Bespin Gambit)
Luke Skywalker – 10 (Core Set)
Diala Passil – 7 (Core Set)
MHD-19 – 5 (Return to Hoth)
Leia Organa – 8 (Leia Organa)
C-3PO – 2 (R2-D2 & C-3PO)
Rebel High Command – 2 (Core Set)
Heroic Effort – 0 (Lando Calrissian)

Command Deck
Force Illusion – 2 (The Bespin Gambit)
Camouflage – 1 (The Bespin Gambit)
Vanish – 2 (The Bespin Gambit)
Son of Skywalker – 3 (Core Set)
Miracle Worker – 2 (Return to Hoth)
Heart of Freedom – 2 (Alliance Smuggler)
Deflection – 1 (Core Set)
Deflection – 1 (Core Set)
Telekinetic Throw – 1 (Core Set)
Against the Odds – 0 (Echo Base Troopers)
Take Initiative – 0 (Core Set)
Fleet Footed- 0 (Core Set)
Rally – 0 (Core Set)
Planning – 0 (Core Set)
Devotion – 0 (R2-D2 & C-3PO)

Heroic_Effort                            Vanish

This build lives and dies by the command deck, and is constructed appropriately. One of the down sides of running unique figures that aren’t ridiculously hard to kill (like Chewbacca, or Boba Fett) is that your figure is often dead before you can draw or have a chance to play the command cards that only they can play. That is addressed in three major ways here with Devotion, Rebel High Command, and the new (and free) Heroic Effort card. And with Leia around to recycle cards with Military Efficiency, you can get multiple uses out of your most powerful cards.

I’ve only had time for a single test game thus far, but this list was brutally effective. We played a new scenario on the skirmish map from The Bespin Gambit, in which figures could be frozen in carbonite and thus scored a second time, and my opponent did a great job of making use of that ability, eventually freezing both MHD-19 and Davith for an extra 11 victory points, and holding that room to prevent me from safely returning the favor.

One of the keys to the game was that Davith and Diala pressing the attack early, both got right up in the enemy’s face in round 2, and MHD-19 wasn’t far behind. All three represented major threats that had to be eliminated, leaving Luke and Leia clear to line up kill shots from medium range, with C-3PO steadily feeding one or the other a Focus token.

My opponent wisely sniped MHD-19 early, and as a result I lost Davith and Diala sooner than I would have wanted to, but they took down several enemy figures with them and set the scene for Luke & Leia to mop up the end game. Davith just had a rough string of luck, attacking enemies rolling white dice on defense resulted in multiple instances where the attack was evaded, leaving him out in the open several times without the benefit of Hidden . With no innate ability to recover health, that’s how he dies, folks.

But the new Hidden mechanic is very powerful when it works, especially when chained together with Deflection. Combining Force Illusion or Camouflage for an on-demand Hidden condition with a Deflection resulted in being able to take off a significant 4 Accuracy points from an attack. Within this single game, this resulted two instances of missed attacks and free damage. And since I cycled the cards back in with Leia, my opponent had no choice but to leave his fortified position and come closer in order to ensure his attacks would hit.

Hidden                       Deflection

I don’t know how well this list will hold up against a more traditional Trooper swarm list (my opponent was also dabbling with the new figures), and I can see Trandoshans handing out Strain to be a major issue considering how fast I’m burning through my command deck. But I’ve struggled to find a Rebel build that I’ve enjoyed playing until now, and this was a lot of fun.

Now if only I could figure out how to make Agent Blaise worth playing… but we’ll save that for another day. I’m gonna go swing my lightsabers some more and see if this is good enough for Regionals.

– The Tabletop General

Frenzy before the storm

The event doesn’t start for another 36 hours, but I’ve been wired all day; all week, really. As far as I’m concerned, the Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Regional Championship at Atomic Empire is already underway. It’s tournament time.

img_20160305_110510731.jpg
Crack Shot. It’s a hell of a swarm.

For weeks now, I’ve basically eschewed other games in favor of X-Wing. When I’m taking a rare break from work at the office, I’m loading up the squadron benchmarking tool over at https://xws-bench.github.io/bench/ (It’s far from perfect, but I can run a game in 5-10 minutes). I feel like I’ve barely touched the beta test material I’ve got in hand. My plans to run more event streaming or “Let’s Play” sessions have evaporated. My mind is locked in on Saturday.

img_20160514_133643460.jpg
One of many practice games. I’ve definitely learned how to lose with the Crack Swarm. Still working on doing so graciously.

I’ve redone my entire carry kit tonight; fitting everything except templates into a smaller version of one of these containers, down from the two to three of those that my supplies are normally spread across. That kit includes exactly two more copies of every token than I need, all the way down to the “nobody uses these” critical hit markers. For the first time since the release of the new damage deck in the updated Starter Set for The Force Awakens, I’ve dug out an old damage deck because it better suits my squad. Dice, tokens, sequential identification chits, ship cards, upgrades, and even that precious plastic card signifying that I’ve earned a first round bye at this event, it’s all packed away in that case.

img_20160519_234850871.jpg
Traveling light. I had to dig deep to find the TIE Fighter dice bag for templates.

At this point, you might even say that I’m going overboard. I’ve pulled out extra acrylics to loan to friends that may not have them. Headphones? Packed. Tablet? Packed. Laptop? Likely to be packed as soon as I finish this article. I’m scheming away on how soon I can leave work tomorrow so that our group can hit the road for our six hour drive to up to Durham.

img_20160514_112505306.jpg
Jake Ferrell is no Soontir Fel, but he makes a decent proxy for training purposes.

I actively avoided casual games with folks that don’t dive deep into the tournament scene this week. I don’t feel like I handled that well, I struggled to find the right way to say that I couldn’t be anything but competitive right now. They couldn’t understand where my mental state is right now. Hell, I barely can understand it.

I feel like I’m wasting energy, but I can’t slow my pace. I’m going through all the preparation I can, mentally and physically. Staying hydrated. Getting (relative) extra sleep. Go out somewhere for dinner? Naah, pound back a protein shake and keep going. It almost looks like I’m trying to be healthy suddenly. I went from “I go to the gym every other week or so” to “I’m going to get on a machine and run in place for at least five miles on multiple consecutive days” in a failing attempt to settle myself down.

img_20160515_190039766.jpg
New high score! But the scale still says TILT…

And just like clockwork, I had my pre-big-event existential crisis last night. “This list isn’t good enough… I’m chasing the meta… I can’t seem to win a single ****ing practice game… I’d be better off flying something that I know better, something that comes more natural…”, I had all of that and more hit me. But I know that I’m playing folks that know me, that know my tendencies, and know the list I’m flying (it’s been a holy terror on the local scene this year). So I’m sticking to my guns and by extension to the list I’ve planned for months to play in this event, the Crack Swarm.

Howlrunner – 18 (TIE Fighter)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

Black Squadron Pilot – 14 (TIE Fighter)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

Black Squadron Pilot – 14 (TIE Fighter)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

Black Squadron Pilot – 14 (TIE Fighter)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

Omega Squadron Pilot – 17 (Force Awakens Core Set TIE/FO)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

Omega Squadron Pilot – 17 (Force Awakens Core Set TIE/FO)
Crack Shot – 1 (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth)

img_20160514_114644632.jpg
Have to prepare for that inevitable mirror match.

This may all sound like a ridiculous amount of build-up and preparation for one (long) day of gaming. In truth, it probably is. But my girlfriend pointed out to me earlier this evening she hasn’t seen me this worked up for a particular cause for quite a while, and it suddenly hit me how much good it has done for me.

All my issues at work, all my stresses, all my cares, they get shut out during all of this preparation. My problems aren’t problems right now. I don’t care what my micromanaging boss in California is nitpicking today. I’m not worried that my hunt for a new job is going slowly. Sticking to my pseudo-diet isn’t a willpower battle right now. Family issues aren’t getting in the way of the rest of my daily life. I’m simply not worrying too much about these things; I’m not ignoring any of them, they’re just not getting any more attention than they deserve. I’ll find another way to deal with all those things next week, but for now I just can’t let them bother me.

I don’t need the prizes – the alternate art Hera Syndulla card, the acrylic Cluster Mine tokens, the challenge coin, or even the exclusive fancy dice (I really would like those, but I don’t NEED them). I’ve already got a set of all of them for running our local Regional. Heck, I don’t even know where I would put the trophy if I ended up winning the whole thing, although I can say that I would probably carry it around with me everywhere for a week or two. And I don’t know that I would (or could) use the bye that would grant me at the next level.

But really, it’s not about the prizes. It’s not about winning. It’s about the experience. It’s about the competition. It’s about finding (or trying to find) a way to win, and doing so against the highest level of competition available. It’s all about the love of the game. And it’s about looking my friends in the eye and knowing that we all gave it our best shots to come out on top, and being proud of one another for that.

So bring on the competition. I’m ready. Are you?

– The Tabletop General