Tag Archives: A-Wing

Payback at Vendetta: An X-Wing Store Championship

Chaos. Pure, undiluted chaos. The kind that Scum and Villainy thrives within. That’s what you get when a new wave of ships and upgrades releases in the midst of the Store Championship season for Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures. Two days between “okay, you can sell these now” and a tournament, zero time to find a comfortable and competitive build. Sure, you can theorize all you want, players can proxy what content has been revealed, but nothing prepares you for the chaos of the new meta.

I’d had plenty of chances already this season at a Store Championship win, but I fell just short over and over again. I placed second with my Dual IG-2000 build, as well as with a borrowed Crackshot TIE Fighter Swarm. And I barely missed more cuts than I’d like to admit, not liking where my favored builds fit in with the current opposition and not having better ideas that I was comfortable flying.

But I knew that Wave 8’s release was my ticket to the top. As soon as he was revealed, I started cranking on a Dengar build; which was refined more and more as additional upgrades were exposed. I was bound and determined to make him work. And what better frenemy to team him up with than Boba Fett himself? Not being certain of where Dengar would end up, I played Boba frequently in casual games with minimal upgrades, overloading a Bossk that served as a stand-in for the Punishing One. I knew whatever my final build was, Boba should stay lean and efficient, with the primary goal of being an early game threat and allowing Dengar to close out the match.

Boba_Fett              Dengar

I managed to get in exactly one practice game between release and the next tournament. I had thrown iteration after iteration of the list at a friend, and it all sounded great. In practice, I lost out to a list consisting of three Trandoshan Slaver YV-666’s, and rather badly. I had hampered myself greatly by relying on stressing Dengar via Experimental Interface to trigger “Gonk” every turn, which gave me great potential for late game regeneration, but in turn it limited my mobility greatly, and I never reached that late game state.

Gonk                         Experimental_Interface

With little time to refactor, and no time to practice, Experimental Interface came off, and I had nowhere I wanted to put those points on Dengar, so over to Boba they went. Lean and mean became lean-ish, flexible, and REALLY mean, as those 3 points became the Navigator that he would later use to great success.

My build:
Dengar – 33 (Punishing One)
Punishing One – 12 (Punishing One)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender / Kihraxz / Ghost)
“Gonk” – 2 (Punishing One)
R5-P8 – 3 (Punishing One)

Boba Fett – 39 (Most Wanted + Slave 1)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Engine Upgrade – 4  (Millennium Falcon)
Navigator – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)

Boba’s loadout is minimal, and essentially all about giving me options. I flew him with a similar mindset to how I would fly a TIE Interceptor in days past, giving up the ability to combine a Boost and a Barrel Roll, but getting an arguably better option to avoid blocks in having the Navigator and Engine Upgrade. I could easily dodge arcs by flying past an opponent and utilizing my auxiliary arc instead, and frequently would find myself with full modifiers in combat thanks to a simple Focus action and his innate pilot ability.

Navigator                           engine-upgrade

Dengar, on the other hand, is set up for maximum damage output across the board. Usually moving last or close to it with a Pilot Skill of 9 and a native Barrel Roll available, he can potentially set up some unopposed shots that still have Predator to modify them. When he’s in the thick of the fighting, Predator can modify both his attack and counterattack, and R5-P8 (lovingly known as “R8-P3” and “dickbot”) can also toss in an extra damage here and there. “Gonk” and his regeneration ability was the icing on the cake. Without extra action economy from Experimental Interface, “Gonk” can’t trigger often and didn’t provide any passive boosts like Bossk or Tactician could, but a single shield recovered equates itself to a half cost Shield Upgrade, and there’s potential for recovering much more than that over the course of the game.

R5-P8                         Punishing_One

So how did it all work?

Round 1

Opponent’s list:
Manaroo – 27 (Punishing One)
Attanni Mindlink – 1 (Punishing One)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
R5-P8 – 3 (Punishing One)

Serissu – 20 (M3-A)
Wingman – 2 (Z-95 Headhunter)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Mist Hunter)

Guri – 30 (Starviper)
Attanni Mindlink – 1 (Punishing One)
Virago – 1 (Starviper)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)
Cloaking Device – 2 (Mist Hunter)

List Commentary:
Holy Scyks, Batman! What a way to kick off Wave 8!!! Cloaking Device, Manaroo, two Attanni Mindlinks, R5-P8, and a Tractor Beam, all in one list. This thing is sneaky good on defense, because the list can generate up to 6 Focus in a turn, has defensive rerolls, and can move Target Locks off of the easiest target to hit.

Manaroo              Serissu

Attanni_Mindlink                           Tractor_Beam

The match:
I caused some serious confusion right out of the gate by not engaging immediately. Instead, I ran my forces perpendicular to the enemy, creeping along my board edge, all the while building up shields on “Gonk”. As I had hoped, in addition to preparing for late game regeneration, this also gave me time to find an opening where my opponent would be out of position and unable to fully engage.

IMG_20160319_105545775
Ready to turn in and attack, only Guri can get to a firing position from here.

While a great defensive plan against a swarm of ships with just a couple attack dice each, my opponent’s build was vulnerable to attacks that could surge for high damage, which Boba and Dengar were more than happy to provide. Having the ability to fire just about anywhere, I gave very few hints as to where Manaroo’s tokens should go each turn; I could usually just pick the easiest target and fire away. And while the Tractor Beam could increase the damage output of the other ships, it didn’t play a large role, and the Scyk was basically helpless on its’ own.

Result: 100-0 win
Standings: 1-0, 200 MoV

Round 2

Opponent’s list:
Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)

Ezra Bridger – 20 (Ghost)
Rage – 1 (Punishing One)
Dorsal Turret – 3 (Ghost)
Phantom – 0 (Ghost)

Kanan Jarrus – 38 (Ghost)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing / HWK-290)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Reinforced Deflectors – 3 (Ghost)
Ghost – 0 (Ghost)

List Commentary:
Moar chaos!!! My first look at a Ghost (of many, I’m sure). This thing packs a punch, and I have no idea how to expect my opponent to fly it.  I’m just glad there isn’t room for it to have much support. I expect Ezra to stay onboard for as long as possible for the extra stress and Ion potential, especially against my large ships. The Y-Wing can wait, I’ve got to get that behemoth off the table, stat. Then I’ll figure out what to do with Ezra after that.

Kanan_Jarrus_Ghost              Ezra_Shuttle

Reinforced_Deflectors                           Rage

The match:
So of course, seeing the Ion Cannon, Tactician, and ability to double tap them, what do I do but serve myself up on a platter? I honestly expected to be in Ion range, but I thought my opponent would have turned to face me rather than give up unopposed range 3 shots. So my Punishing One that was supposed to race by ended up right in the enemy’s sights. Dengar took several damage from a primary, an Ion in the end phase, and two Stress tokens to boot. The obvious move from there was to swing out to my left with green maneuvers to start clearing that, but I couldn’t afford to be obvious now, as the Ghost packed too much of a punch if I stayed in arc, and could send me off the board if I wasn’t careful about my facing. Not really needing modifiers to do damage against a ship without evade dice while packing Predator, I kept the stress and stayed ot of harm’s way.

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It turns out that folks find Boba Fett’s presence distracting.

Big and beefy, especially with the added defense offered by Reinforced Deflectors, the Ghost took a while to chew through, but every damage card stuck, including more than a fair share of Critical Hits. Battered, but not beaten, Boba and Dengar converged on the Y-Wing, downing it quickly before Ezra could engage. The rest of the game was a game of keep-away. Ezra was forced to commit blindly each turn to his move and actions, and spammed Rage whenever possible. But with higher pilot skill and repositioning abilites, I could kite him indefinitely. With Boba already under half health (largely thanks to the turn pictured above), I let him score the finishing blow while Dengar re-Gonk-erated to save points.

Result: 100-23 win
Standings: 2-0, 377 MoV

Round 3

Opponent’s list:
Prototype Pilot – 17 (Rebel Aces / A-Wing)
Chardaan Refit – (-2) (Rebel Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (Rebel Aces / B-Wing)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Mist Hunter)

Blue Squadron Novice – 24 (T-70 X-Wing / Starter set 2.0)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90)

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List commentary:
As opposed to the previous two lists, this doesn’t look too different compared to what this guy might have been running prior to wave 8’s arrival. There’s nothing that sticks out to me as being scary here. Still, I don’t want to underestimate what it can do, he’s 2-0 for a reason, and he just beat another Dengar build in the hands of a seasoned vet.

The match:
I want this guy’s dice checked. I had a hard time reading the results (he had painted in all the symbols to be able to identify them as his dice), but he was legitimately rolling the results he claimed. And they were ridiculous. I don’t think his T-70 (masquerading as a T-65 model) ever rolled less than 2 hits and a critical hit, usually before any modifiers were applied.

I always have trouble against newer players that don’t do what “makes sense”, because they tend to surprise me and take the move I had struck off of my list of possibilities. Knowing that he was newer, I tried to stretch his coordination, and dragged him through the asteroid field while charging up Gonk again. Instead of actually doing anything of note, though, I found myself struggling to engage safely, having a hard time turning Boba in to start the fight. And when I finally did, those hot dice bit deep.

IMG_20160319_143152676
That T-67.5 had Boba’s number.

Boba Fett went down quickly, and Dengar followed right behind, only taking the A-Wing and B-Wing with them. I’m still scratching my head and wondering if I remembered to assign all my shield tokens at the game’s onset. I know I did, and I’m not trying to take anything away from my opponent, he did a good job of concentrating fire, leaving me with few maneuvering options, and never giving me a good shot at the “right” target. But I’m still trying to figure out where all that damage came from.

Result: 40-100 loss
Standings: 2-1, 417 MoV

Round 4

Opponent’s list:
Wedge Antilles – 29 (X-Wing)
BB-8 – 2 (Starter set 2.0)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

Jake Farrell – 24 (Rebel Aces)
A-Wing Test Pilot – 0 (Rebel Aces)
Proton Rockets- 3 (Rebel Aces)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)

Tycho Celchu – 26 (A-Wing)
A-Wing Test Pilot – 0 (Rebel Aces)
Proton Rockets – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)

List Commentary:
So here I stand, knowing I need a slam dunk to make the cut, and it’s my old friend InstantAequitas back for another chess match. This would be my third time facing this exact same list, and I wasn’t happy about it.  Last time I squeaked by with a crackshot swarm, and the game before that he made Dual IG into Solo IG before I realized combat had started, and then made it IG-0000 quickly thereafter. There’s enough of an alpha strike in his list that one of my ships is going to be crippled or even dead in the first round of combat, and for the first time all day I’m not holding all the trump cards in pilot skill. Bleh.

The match:
In our previous games, he’s played a cat and mouse game with me, daring me to chase one A-Wing or the other while Wedge creeps up unmolested. The first time, I took the bait. The second time, I left the A-Wings in my dust and ran Wedge over before turning back to engage his flankers. Today, he risked no such thing, committing Wedge to the joust right away; no divide and conquer for me.

IMG_20160319_152300507
Getting ready for the joust.

Looking back on it, he tipped his hand in the photo above – Tycho, on the left, didn’t use Push The Limit to double up on tokens in the opening turn, despite the fact that Jake did. I was looking to quickly down Wedge again, and keep the A-Wings from dropping their missile payload on me, so I surged forward with both of my ships, and Dengar moved into Tycho’s way with a Barrel Roll, while Boba already had Jake’s likely path covered. Sure enough, I caused a collision with Jake (I had initiative), but Tycho’s speed 5 Koiogran Turn dropped him down right behind Dengar, and still able to perform actions. Even having blocked an A-Wing, Fett got absolutely blasted, taking a Damaged Engine crit in the opening round of fire. Meanwhile, I scored all of a single damage on Wedge in the exchange.

My luck would improve from there, however, as Tycho’s heavy payload was spend, Jake flew out of the fight temporarily to set up his next attack run, and Wedge just plain missed after a K-Turn of his own; and I cleared his shields with return fire, the subsequent round would see Wedge removed from the board. Tycho did a good job of harrassing me, but green dice eventually fail, and Tycho dropped at the same time as Boba Fett.

Dengar, who had taken significant damage already, was trying to dodge away from Jake, who was being his normal shifty self and still had his rockets. Flying into the corner of my opponent’s deployment zone, I pulled out the one big trick I had up my sleeve – that beautiful white Segnor’s Loop to the left let me nestle precisely into the corner. A quick survey of my health showed me as having full hull and one shield; I played the odds and recovered a second with “Gonk”, meaning it would take three damage to score half points for my ship. Jake had covered all options, taking a straight maneuver in case I had turned right instead and continued to flee – and this left him unable to escape my firing arc at Range 1. Knowing that he couldn’t score a kill and would be taking two shots in return, Jake took a Focus and Evade, and fired his rockets out of desperation, dealing two damage and leaving me just above half health. And that’s where Dengar unleashed hell. 4 die counter-attack, stripped tokens, dinged shields. 4 die attack, no more A-Wing. A hearty handshake followed, for what was yet another great game between us.

Result: 100-47 win
Standings: 3-1, 570 MoV
With 18 players in attendance, the format for the day was 4 rounds of Swiss, with the top 4 players continuing in single elimination. In 3rd place after the 4th round, it was time for a quick meal break, then on to the cut.

Semi-Finals

Opponent’s list:
Poe Dameron – 31 (Starter set 2.0)
R5-P9 – 3 (GR-75)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

Ezra Bridger -20 (Ghost)
Phantom – 0 (Ghost)

Chopper – 37 (Ghost)
Accuracy Corrector – 3 (Starviper / IG-2000)
Autoblaster Turret – 2 (Most Wanted)
Zeb Orellios – 1 (Ghost)
Ghost – 0 (Ghost)

List commentary:
Here it was, the oft discussed “cannonball” build. So long as Ezra stayed docked, anything that found itself at Range 1 of the Ghost could find itself taking 4 unblockable damage in a turn.

autoblaster-turret                           Accuracy_Corrector
Ghost_Title                           Phantom_Title

On top of that, a regenerating Poe was floating around out there. The Ghost needed to be my first concern, but Poe might be the bigger priority to kill.

The match:
My opponent, whom a few weeks back had chased my IG-88 for half an hour with Miranda, was (to my knowledge) brand new to flying large based ships like the Ghost. So seeing an opportunity to do so, I dared him to fly in to the asteroid field – I wanted clean shots at the Ghost while Poe was still out of the picture, and what better way to do so than with the VCX on a rock?

IMG_20160319_173649124
Boba has a clean approach between the rocks, but does Chopper?

That didn’t work out for me. Chopper cleared the turn with scant micrometers to spare, and blew Boba’s shields off within the turn, not caring the least bit about what anyone’s dice said. But I put some damage back on the Ghost, and resolved not to be caught like that again. With the new ship now dodging subsequent asteroids, I shifted my attention to the T-70, who found himself nose to nose with Boba. Poe proceeded to roll four Focus icons for his attack, and boldly spent the token, a risk that would prove to not pay off. He dealt damage, certainly, but it was the last I would take for the game. Two quick blasts from my ships chewed into the X-Wing’s hull, and a blocking move by Boba left Dengar with a sure kill shot.

I then spent a couple of turns kiting the Ghost. Just like on a Firespray, the side arc of the VCX is big and (natively) defenseless. With a pair of ships that can move quickly, don’t have to point at their target to fire, can reposition themselves with actions, have higher pilot skill than the enemy, and all the patience you’d ever need, Chopper’s health slowly ticked away. Ezra made a momentary appearance to little effect, he never got to roll attack dice. Chopper would meet a similar fate on the following turn.

IMG_20160319_181253225
Ezra is blurry because he’s exploding.

Result: 100-23 win

Final Round

Opponent’s list:
Prototype Pilot – 17 (Rebel Aces / A-Wing)
Chardaan Refit – (-2) (Rebel Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (Rebel Aces / B-Wing)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Mist Hunter)

Blue Squadron Novice – 24 (T-70 X-Wing / Starter set 2.0)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90)

List commentary:
Pop quiz, don’t look, but what’s the first word of the name of this article? I’ll give you a hint: It’s something Dengar is famous for. If you said “Payback”, you’re right and you cheated, because I’m more than 3000 words in at this point; I had to double check the title myself. You could turn this in for a term paper in some courses (X-Wing 101?).

Anyway, the point is that it was time to get revenge for my earlier loss. Nothing new about the list itself, but I wasn’t about to mess around and play coy. I smelled victory and this Rebel rabble was all that stood in my way.

The match:
I wanted the joust. The straight up, my stats beat your stats, damn the torpedoes joust. But he set up on my left flank, and I didn’t want to run Dengar down that edge. So I took the opposite corner, and picked a spot at mid-table for the engagement. I wanted to focus fire and down something early, but I was more concerned about not taking a ton of damage either of my own ships.

I rolled in toward the engagement point, and realized Boba might be in a world of hurt. If I came straight in at my opponent, there was no way for me to adjust the Firespray to be out of anyone’s firing arc. So I studied the field, and spied an out, banking in and taking a Boost out the side of his formation. This worked ALMOST perfectly; I didn’t want to shoot the A-Wing with Boba, but  it was my only option. A questionable move and Boost by the A-Wing had left it with no shot, no tokens, and facing an asteroid; perhaps he was looking for a block, but all he got was a hail of blaster fire from Fett instead. The B-Wing had a blindside hit available on Boba, but couldn’t hit Dengar. The X-Wing, on the other hand, could only shoot Dengar. Damage got spread across both squads, and I was happy – I now had multiple targets that could be focused down within a turn, and was in a great position to press that advantage.

IMG_20160319_184759154
I literally kissed my dial, and that still somehow didn’t give away what was about to happen.

Looking back on the previous game, the X-Wing had taken damage early, and my opponent had prioritized moves for shield recovery. Having gotten the free counter-attack from Dengar, I got some damage there, I expected him to fly defensively. That left me free to pour fire into the other ships, and I concentrated fire on the K-Wing, making quick work of it – as the only turret in his list, I felt I could outfly him and play the long game so long as that steady damage went away. In the exchange, I took a bit more damage on both my ships, but the X-Wing obliged me by giving up shots in exchange for health; and I can tank a solo B-Wing shot or two on these big fellows.

Shields only hold up so long, though, and my opponent’s dice were still hot, so Dengar was hurting and carrying several damage cards. I managed a couple of dodgy moves, and got a free shot off on the B-Wing, stripping a couple shields. Then my next move brought Dengar face to face with that ship, and clinging to life with a single hull. I imagined that would be a possibility when planning the turn, and thought I could barrel roll out of arc to safety. Looking at the Blue Squadron Pilot’s firing arc, however, it was too close to call. Not having a lot of practice with the JumpMaster yet, and not having played the Outrider in a while, I couldn’t tell if I would make it out or not. I couldn’t risk it. I was bound to lose that ship, and took a Focus, planning to go out with a bang like Dengar should….

… and then I flipped Boba’s dial, and his conservative slow 1 Forward movement. The clouds parted, a choir of Mandalorians began to chant, and Boba sprang into action. Navigator. 4 Forward. Boost around the asteroid. Throw some naked dice. My turn to roll hot. Shields down, scratched the hull. Dengar takes the opening, and vaporizes the B-Wing, surviving the turn. Crisis averted.

IMG_20160319_191510608
There used to be a B-Wing in front of the Punishing One. Boba, to Dengar: “You owe me.”

The A-Wing was eliminated easily soon after this, having taken several damage in the early exchange. but our nemesis in the X-Wing was long since back to full health; and a single attack could potentially finish off either of my ships. So with no time limit in the match, I went on the full defensive, zooming around the field and building up a few shields via Gonk where I could, firing shots of opportunity, but generally just trying not to die.

IMG_20160319_191848080
A-Wing down!

Eventually, the X-Wing cut the corner enough to catch up, and my ships wouldn’t be escaping. Shots were exchanged, and shields were traded; all three survived the initial fire thanks to Gonk’s recovery. Dengar didn’t have a lot of options for a move this time, and just prepared himself for another exchange. It was now or nothing.

Boba and Dengar both unloaded into the X-Wing, who managed to barely survive by ejecting R2-D2 via Integrated Astromech. The lone remaining enemy then finished the Punishing One off. I wish I could say that’s when something epic happened. But the X-Wing was out of arc, so no counter attack. R5-P8 failed to come through too. So the ending wasn’t storybook. But with no regeneration available, a single hull, and a legendary bounty hunter still on the field, that X-Wing wasn’t long for this world. Boba was my closer, nothing like my plan. But I had my vengeance, and my win.

IMG_20160319_194729204
“Payback, it’s not just for Dengar anymore.”

Final thoughts:
I was so happy to be a part of the chaos, learning on the fly about what these new ships were capable of and how folks would equip and maneuver them. I’ll take that over an established and exhausted meta any time. I’m impressed with the Ghost and the Punishing One, the jury is still out on the Attack Shuttle, and I’m looking forward to seeing the Mist Hunter and TIE Advanced Prototype in action. Now I’ve just got to pick a regional to drive to…

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– The Tabletop General

Gaming roundup, October 2015

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and I suppose I should check in and give my readers an update. This won’t be a deep article by any means, just a high level overview of my recent gaming exploits, including X-Wing, Armada, Battletech, and a bit of video gaming too.

X-Wing

A big time sink for our X-Wing Miniatures group lately has been a cooperative RPG campaign, Heroes of the Aturi Cluster. We have a group of six pilots including myself, plus a standby backup pilot, chewing through this adventure on a semi-weekly basis. So far we’ve manged to capture an Imperial Moff, shoot down a couple TIE Phantoms, and clear a giant minefield. We have not, however, managed to protect anything we have been supposed to escort. We’re good at dealing damage, not preventing it.

We take this way too seriously and not seriously enough at the same time.
We take this way too seriously and not seriously enough at the same time.
Hey, guys, weren't we supposed to be protecting something on this mission...?
Hey, guys, weren’t we supposed to be protecting something on this mission…?

It’s otherwise been pretty quiet on the X-Wing front lately. I’m still playing regularly, often multiple nights per week, but there’s a bit of a lull for the moment. Everyone is still trying to absorb the influx of new ships from the X-Wing Core Set 2.0, Wave 6 (TIE Punisher, K-Wing, Kihraxz Fighter, and Hound’s Tooth), and the Imperial Raider  (including the TIE Advanced fixes). We’ve got a few local players that are making the trip to the World Championships next week (sadly, I will not be one of them), so we’ve had some regular practice sessions lately to throw “meta” lists at them. In the process, I’ve gotten a decent bit of familiarity with flying Sith Lords (Palpatine in a Lambda Shuttle, Vader, TIE Interceptor ace of choice), and have come to really appreciate Bro-bots (dual IG-2000‘s) once again. I might field the IG-2000’s at a few store Championships, in fact.

We’re continuing to stream X-Wing from a local gaming store every other week, and I’ve made several appearances lately. Rather than linking to individual videos, I’ve assembled a playlist of my games, with the more recent matches being up first on the playlist.


I’ve been working with one screwball list lately that will likely be on a future streamed game, and it is detailed below. There’s a few too many points tied up in Rhymer for my liking, and I want Engine Upgrade on Vader. But it’s fun for a semi-casual game, and can dish out a lot of burst damage to clear small ships quickly, or cripple a big ship with loads of critical hits, thus the name.

Crit City

Major Rhymer – 26 (TIE Bomber)
Extra Munitions – 2 (K-Wing / TIE Punisher)
Advanced Homing Missiles – 3 (K-Wing / TIE Punisher)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Proton Bombs – 5 (TIE Bomber / VT-49 Decimator)
Munitions Failsafe – 1 (Z-95 Headhunter / TIE Defender)

Lieutenant Colzet – 23 (Imperial Raider)
TIE/x1 – 0 (Imperial Raider)
Proton Rockets – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control System – 2* (TIE Phantom / B-Wing)

Darth Vader – 29 (TIE Advanced)
TIE/x1 – 0 (Imperial Raider)
Proton Rockets – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Targeting Computer – 5* (Imperial Raider)

As far as our local Atlanta meta is concerned, things are all over the place. Players love the T-70 X-Wing, but the TIE/FO Fighters aren’t seeing much play. TIE Phantoms are starting to show up again, but they’re just tasty snacks for the Twin Laser Turret Y-Wings that are way too prevalent for my liking. The TIE Punisher is the one thing that really hasn’t taken hold out of the Wave 6 releases – I still haven’t found a reason to open mine.

3 YV-666's (1 with Greedo) and a Z-95. Not exactly fun to chew through.
A more unusual sighting: 3 YV-666’s (1 with Greedo) and a Z-95. Not fun to chew through.

Armada

Armada has been my least active game lately. The game just feels stale at the moment, at least until Wave 2 arrives, bringing Imperial Star Destroyers, Imperial Raiders, MC30c Frigates, MC80 Cruisers, and a collection of Rogues & Villains to boot.

We did get a sneak peek of these ships during the recent Massing at Sullust pre-release tournament. I brought a rebel swarm list to the event, and did okay with them, taking 4th place and scoring myself an Imperial Raider for my trouble. I had a 2-1 record on the day, but I hit a figurative durasteel wall in my loss, getting completely wiped out by a trio of Assault Frigates carrying Advanced Projectors and Gunnery Teams – I just couldn’t punch through enough damage to actually hurt any of them.

Unnamed 300 point Sullust list

Nebulon B Support Frigate
Mon Mothma (CR90 Corellian Corvette)

Nebulon B Support Frigate x 2

CR90-A Corellian Corvette x 2

A-Wing Squadron x 2

All those fighters go away if (when) I can kill the capital ships they escort...
All those fighters up top will go away if (when) I can kill the capital ships they escort.

Battletech

After a handful of demo games recently, I finally got in my first mission of my our Clan Invasion campaign over the weekend. I’m still using proxies from the Starter Set because there was a bit of a mixup on our shipment, and my mechs haven’t arrived yet. I have to say I’m glad that my FLGS is dealing with that for me, and I’m not working with the supplier directly.

At our default Battle Value allowance for the campaign of 5,000 points, my Timber Wolf and Summoner (represented by the unpainted Catapult and Hunchback, respectively) squared off against a Catapult, a Timber Wolf, and a Jenner.

Sizing up the opposition and setting up for a defensive engagement.
Sizing up the opposition and setting up for a defensive engagement.

As I had hoped, the enemy  chose to avoid the water, and rushed my Timber Wolf, allowing the Summoner to snipe away at the advancing enemy unmolested with his Extended Range Lasers and accompanying Targeting Computer.

Timber Wolf vs Jenner and Timber Wolf...
Timber Wolf vs Jenner and Timber Wolf…
IMG_20151024_124916197
…but one good Gauss Rifle shot leveled up those odds. Splash one Diamond Shark.

Things continued to go my way for the rest of the match, and the Diamond Sharks eventually retreated from the field to avoid further losses.

I think we hit them a few times...
I think we hit them a few times…
An example piloting skill roll for the Diamond Shark Catapult, which spent more time prone than upright, yet managed to survive and flee the battle.
In the odd manner of clan honor, I'm not sure which pilot did better - the one that got chewed up by the enemy, or the one who didn't get hit at all.
Post-battle status of my mechs. In the odd manner of clan honor, I’m not sure which pilot did better – the one that got chewed up by the enemy, or the one who didn’t get hit at all.

In the interesting style of this campaign, my opponent and I are due to fight at least one more battle, as control of a given planet is determined via a best of three series. I expect to face a pair of slightly heavier mechs instead of a trio in our next engagement. I’m tempted to use that salvaged Jenner (borrowing the model for an appropriate paint scheme) just for fun and to thumb my nose at the enemy’s honor.

Video Games

On the electronic front, I haven’t made a lot of new purchases in recent months. Partially because I’m stubbornly waiting for a version of Blood Bowl 2 that comes with all the DLC teams bundled in (gonna be here a while), and partially because my PC is showing its’ age and in dire need of replacement.

Watch Dogs has been my go-to for console gaming lately, and I have very mixed feelings about it. The story is far-fetched but okay, and it gets the ideas that the writers were trying to emphasize across. And there’s tons of depth in the side games, everything from chess puzzles to quicktime drinking contests, with random PvP  firefights sprinkled in. But the hacking is just too simple. I get it, that’s the moral of the story, but when there’s more effort involved in playing a hand of poker than in detonating a grenade in someone’s pocket via their phone, that bugs me a little bit. There’s too much of a “Press [X] to play the main story” at times, but the game itself does have some depth to it, and it’s refreshing to actually have to think about combat as opposed to being able to charge straight in and recover from 10 gunshot wounds every 15 seconds.

Rebel Galaxy has been my recent PC choice when the hardware wants to work – it’s a space combat sim with a Firefly-esque, “Privateer lite” sort of feel. Cool soundtrack that could use a little bit longer of a playlist, an engaging if slightly predictable story… it’s worth picking up as-is if you’re into space sims, but I’m hoping for more out of future updates.

Summary

So that’s what I’ve been up to as of late. Nothing hugely significant, but I’m trying to keep up with everything I’ve been involved in, and starting to ramp up for the X-Wing Store Championships starting in January. Speaking of which, I’m working to informally coordinate a schedule of the Fantasy Flight Games Store Championships around the southeast. So if you haven’t talked to me about it, and you’re running an event, and you’re in the southeastern US, please send me a message. Who knows, I might just pop in for a visit?

– The Tabletop General

Three or Four of a Kind?

My local gaming venues for X-Wing Miniatures have been covered up the past couple of weeks with lists featuring ships and upgrades from the Rebel Aces expansion.  Posts on our local Facebook group have progressed from “Rebel Aces are now in stock, come get your copy whenever” to “Who still has some left?” within a week.

The debut of Aces Wild, featured in last week’s post, went well for me. Jake and the Bandit got a lot of attention early, which let Keyan Farlander get in close with his B-Wing and unleash chaos. With only three ships, the Z-95 Headhunter was just too squishy, though, and he never did get to fire his Proton Rocket, or survive the first round of shooting for that matter. Changing that back to an Assault Missile whenever I run that list again.

I think that all of the B-Wing named pilots are awesome, and properly kitted out they are true glass cannons. Unfortunately, with 100 point lists, it’s very hard to team them up with something functional and threatening enough to draw fire off of them. I’m sure I’ll revisit them later, but for now I think I’ll be sticking to my cheaper generics.

As far as the A-Wings are concerned, though, I really liked how Jake functioned though, and I’ve heard wonders about Gemmer Sojan and his extra defense die from other players. As a result, I pondered over lunch today what I would put into a list that featured one of them or the other. Then the following thought popped into my head, an adage from my Warhammer days: If one is good, thirty is better (I played Orks, a true horde army). So I decided to do the unheard of, an A-Wing only list. A bit of pontificating later, and I had not one, but three separate lists (again, if one is good…).

The Three A-migos

Gemmer Sojan (22)
Proton Rockets (3)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)

Jake Farrell (24)
Proton Rockets (3)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Outmaneuver (3)

Tycho Celchu (26)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Outmaneuver (3)

These three Aces are loaded to the gills, using every available upgrade slot. Combining the A-Wing’s friendly dial with 3-5 evade dice and the two actions from Push The Limit, the entire squad can take both a Focus and an Evade action every turn and laugh off most incoming fire, waiting for opportune moments to pick off enemy ships. I don’t think the A-migos will manage to wipe the table for big wins, but they’ll be a fun build.

At the same time, I wondered what a list might look like if I tried to run a swarm of A-Wings. With only an evade die separating them from Z-95’s, running them bare doesn’t seem worthwhile. Five Prototype Pilots carrying Proton Rockets might be worth a laugh, but PS1, no special abilities, and only posing a threat at Range 1 doesn’t really tempt me all that much, and I don’t care to buy that many A-Wings. Green Squadron, however, seems to be a sweet spot of frugal price, higher Pilot Skill than Academy Pilots in their TIE Fighter swarms, and a built-in Elite Talent slot before we add the Test Pilot title. So Green Squadron it is.

Four of a Kind, v0.1

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Another list that could be entertaining, but I’m not loving it yet. There’s enough ships in here to make it possible to box in a TIE Phantom, and they’re agile enough to do it, but if it gets loose that Phantom will tear these ships apart with impunity because of their lower Pilot Skill values. Meanwhile, you’re really leaning on your dice here, with only 16 hit points in a fleet that only fields eight attack dice with particular no bonuses.

Wingman isn’t my favorite Elite Talent by any means, but it fits for points and gives some extra flexibility to not have to pair green maneuvers with Push The Limit, and not be caught stressed for ion attacks. Maybe something else will appear in an upcoming expansion pack that will fit in its’ place, such as Lone Wolf (from the YT-2400 expansion), but since it’s unique, more options are still needed. Perhaps keeping one Wingman, trading one for Outmaneuver, and one for Veteran Instincts to fix the budget? Stay on Target (also from the YT-2400) may end up being a winner here, as the A-Wing has every move in the game (short of the unreleased Segnor’s Loop) available at a speed of 3, and anything except the K-Turn is also available at speed 2, but with only one copy included with each YT-2400, this would become an expensive A-Wing squadron.

In the meanwhile, if I get around to buying a 4th A-Wing I’ll probably tweak things slightly, and run something more like this:

Four of a Kind, v0.2

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Wingman (2)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Predator (3)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Push The Limit (3)
Predator (3)

Green Squadron Pilot (19)
Chardaan Refit (-2)
Stealth Device (3)
A-Wing Test Pilot (0)
Outmaneuver (3)
Predator (3)

We’ve traded a little bit of  flexibility here for a big boost in offense with Predator and Outmaneuver, and you’re no longer needing to take Target Locks on the three with Predator (you’re only rolling 2-3 dice anyway), so you’re able to play defensively and still have effective offense when the activation phase goes your way.

I believe that I’ll be fielding the 3 A-migos this week in casual games, but what do you think? Are any of these lists feasible, or have I lost my mind? How are you using the new upgrades and pilots available in Rebel Aces?

— The Tabletop General

 

 

Aces Wild

With the Rebel Aces expansion for X-Wing Miniatures appearing in stores this week, I want to hit the ground running with the upgrades and pilots included within this pack. As you might have inferred from some of my previous post, Jake Farrell is going to be my primary A-Wing pilot for me thanks to his action economy boost, chaining movement actions off of focus actions/tokens. I also really like Keyan Farlander’s action economy, turning a stress token (normally a bad thing) into an offensive Focus token (a very good thing). Over lunch today, I looked at how I wanted to kit the two of them out and putting them both into a list to show off the new shiny toys.

Once the “turn & burn” phase of the battle begins, B-Wings are solid for me, especially with mid/high pilot skill and Advanced Sensors. I haven’t run any this way in quite some time though, as I’ve been using B-Wings as multiple generic pilots carrying Fire Control Systems in this slot exclusively for their action economy boost for the past few months. But with only one B-Wing and a heavily equipped one at that, it becomes an obvious target for the opponent, and I need to find a way to protect this huge point sink.

With that being said, I had a really hard time trying to figure out how to equip a B-Wing with the options included in Rebel Aces. The new B-Wing/E2 modification is extremely tempting in order to bring a Crew upgrade onboard, but there’s nothing that jumps out at me as a must-have. I can’t see Navigator working well with the B-Wing’s dial, R2-D2 only works well with crew if you have a lot of hull points. Nien Nunb would be a little helpful, but I can’t see needing to do 4 – straight maneuvers with a B-Wing that often. C-3PO isn’t very helpful, as the B-Wing will be taking concentrated fire when it is shot at. All in all, I just don’t see many desirable crew options to put on a B-Wing right now, and a dogfighting B-Wing isn’t complete without the utility option of adding Enhanced Engines as your Modification and having the Boost action available for your Advanced Sensors. Advanced Sensors for a Barrel Roll or a Boost before my K-Turn that I will use to feed stress to Keyan Farlander? Yes please!

The problem is, with Jake and Keyan both armed to the teeth, I don’t have the points to spare to bring Biggs as my 3rd ship, an obvious choice for an escort. In fact, there wasn’t points for an X-Wing at all. With only 16 points to spare in my current configuration, I was trying to figure out a way to slip in a cheap Z-95 Headhunter with an Ion Pulse Missile and the Deadeye upgrade for a first turn disruption shot. That turned out to be too expensive, only Lt. Blount (17 points plus upgrades) and Airen Cracken (18 points plus upgrades) have elite talent slots.

I stared at Jake’s A-Wing loadout for a moment, giving serious consideration to dropping his shiny new Proton Rocket (from Rebel Aces) for the Chardaan Refit (yet another Rebel Aces card), a net gain of 5 points, so I could afford Lt. Blount and a missile for him. But I really wanted to keep the new Proton Rocket, and a second read of the text revealed a really good reason to keep it.

Proton Rockets – Attack (Focus): Discard this card to perform this attack. You may roll additional attack dice equal to your agility value, to a maximum of 3 additional dice.

The Proton Rockets not only have a built in Deadeye option (no target lock required), but you don’t have to spend your Focus token to fire it either, which means you can potentially roll up to 5 dice, and spend a Target Lock and a Focus on the shot too, for an average of 3.75 hits! Keeping this in mind, I went to the other extreme, and put Proton Rockets on the Headhunter for now (pretty close to equivalent to Concussion Missiles for a Headhunter, trading a long range shot for the option of firing without a Target Lock if I get lucky and catch a key target like Howlrunner or Whisper bumping during movement and stuck adrift without their defensive buffs).

Here’s the final list I’ve come up with for the day:

Aces Wild

Keyan Farlander – 29
Push The Limit – 3
Advanced Proton Torpedoes – 6
Ion Cannon – 3
Advanced Sensors – 3
Engine Upgrade – 4

Jake Farrell – 24
A-Wing Test Pilot – 0
Outmaneuver – 3
Push The Limit – 3
Proton Rockets – 3
Stealth Device – 3

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12
Proton Rockets – 3
Munitions Failsafe – 1

With essentially two and a half ships, it doesn’t look all that competitive at first. Really, it’s just an excuse to use lots of things from Rebel Aces in one list. But something tells me that it could be surprisingly good, provided that I can convince my opponent to break formation and dogfight with me. I’ll try it out this evening against anyone that cares to play against it at my local venue. Results to follow.

– The Tabletop General

Focus Factory Refit

In my previous post, I mentioned that I recently helped two new players through a learning game of X-Wing Miniatures. One was creating his own Imperial squadron, the other was borrowing some of my ships, and had played several demo games, but didn’t know how to build a list. The only input he gave was that he wanted to play as the Rebels, and he loved A-wings.

I only have 1 A-Wing, I was waiting for Rebel Aces to be released to get more, but I made sure to include the one I had. With this being a friendly demo game and with his opponent being new, I didn’t necessarily want a tournament calibre squad. I didn’t want a lot of tricky movement to be involved, I wanted to use things I normally don’t, and I didn’t want any duplicate ships. First think to come to mind there is the HWK-290. It’s not a horrible ship, it just normally doesn’t fit my lists, and the only thing I had seen done with it up to this point is the Focus Factory concept, which is underwhelming to me. But it be improved upon with more recent releases?

Focus Factory Training

Green Squadron Pilot
Stealth Device
Assault Missile
Veteran Instincts

Kyle Katarn
Moldy Crow
Stealth Device
Recon Specialist
Blaster Turret

Garvin Dreis
Flechette Torpedo
R5-P9

I explained to the player about the HWK generating two focus per turn, and being able to hand one off, or keep them from turn to turn, and about Garvin handing one off too. I also hinted at the Holy Grail that is target lock + focus. I know everyone hates the blaster turret, but I wanted to keep ion tokens out of this teaching game.

Seeing that the other player brought two TIE Interceptors and 3 TIE Fighters, I was hoping to see a focus passed to the A-wing to be used for his assault missile. But these are new players, so nothing went as expected. Instead, the A-wing went solo against the TIE Fighters and whiffed on the missile but also dodged all return fire. Meanwhile, the other Rebels and the Interceptors held back and didn’t engage right away. Focus started stacking up on the Moldy Crow, which became huge later on.

The Imperial asked for advice, and I gave it freely and without guilt; despite being on the Rebel side of the table I didn’t see the maneuvers picked this turn. He agreed with my evaluation of what the A-wing would do, and he caught it perfectly in a crossfire of his entire fleet; dead ship, advantage Empire, but his TIEs were all pointed in the wrong direction and would have to scramble to get shots on the remaining Rebels in subsequent turns.

And then the most amazing thing happened: Garvin became a tank. Between his own focus and being handed one by Katarn, he was barely taking damage from the scattered TIEs who were no longer in coordinated formation. Then any spare focus token was spent via R5-P9 to regenerate his shields. And completely unplanned when I built the list, Garvin could hand those tokens went right back to the Moldy Crow to be saved for next turn!

Eventually, inexperience showed itself and the Rebel player made some bad moves in the name of being “unpredictable”, and thus gave the Imps the match, but I was seriously impressed with Garvin and Kyle’s potential. The only thing I really wanted to change was replacing the Green Squadron Pilot with something that had more synergy.

Without changing anything on the other two ships, there’s 28 points to work with here. Dutch Vander is a possible fit, adding target locks for his wingmen along with bringing in a second turret, but I play with Y-Wings a lot and I’m looking for something new. Tarn Mison with an R7 and a stealth device is also tempting, he can be a tank too and would also be able to hit all the harder with free focus. But we had talked a lot about the upgrades coming with Rebel Aces after the game, and something told me I should take a look at the new A-Wing pilots rather than changing the 3rd ship entirely. And sure enough, there’s a wonderful fit here in Jake Farrell, who gets a free barrel roll (not normally available to A-Wings) or boost when he gets a focus token, regardless of how he got it, and that just clicks perfectly into place. He can potentially target lock, get handed a focus by Kyle to boost or barrel roll to line up a shot with the target lock and focus, and then get handed another focus by Garvin to use on defense plus use the evasive maneuver not already taken to dance out of firing arcs.

Focus Factory Refit

Kyle Katarn
Moldy Crow
Recon Specialist
Ion Cannon Turret
Elusiveness

Garvin Dreis
Advanced Proton Torpedo
R5-P9

Jake Farrell
Chardaan Refit
Stealth Device
A-Wing Test Pilot
Outmaneuver
Predator

There’s plenty of room to swap out upgrades, as outside of Recon Specialist and the Moldy Crow title, these pilots do all the work themselves. Maybe move the Stealth Device to Kyle, or drop the Advanced Proton Torpedo for Stealth Device on all three ships instead. A lot of this is pure theory, as I haven’t run this list myself, and certainly it’s not going to be the most competitive out there.  But just thinking about how it would play is fun.

Of important note here, the combination of Jake with Garvin and/or Kyle is one of only 3 ways in the game right now to move a ship during the combat phase, the other two being Turr Phennir and Airen Cracken. As the TIE Phantom has shifted the meta towards high pilot skills, being able to squeeze in a small maneuver after all other moves are completed for the turn is a big deal.

In summary, the Focus Factory concept has gotten a nice addition to the assembly line in R5-P9, and Jake Farrell is a great addition too. If you’ve got a better way in mind to use them, by all means I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section. Also, be sure to help me out a bit and click here to order the X-Wing: Rebel Aces expansion.

— The Tabletop General