Tag Archives: B-Wing

And now, the rest of the story…

Get comfortable, readers, because I need to tell you a story of a particular game of Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures. A handful of you have already heard it, whether you knew I was in it or not. But it’s a story that has already been told, albeit from a very different point of view. It’s going to take a bit to get there though.

First, let’s set the stage.

November, 2016 – FFG World Championships – Fantasy Flight Game Center, Roseville, Minnesota.

Previously, I’ve not been able to justify trips beyond Regional championships for any FFG games. I couldn’t see paying for travel, hotel, event entry, and the extra overhead of a convention entry to wherever the National championships were held when Worlds was here in the United States. Thanks to not needing that convention badge for entry, it’s cheaper to attend the more prestigious event, seemed like a no brainer to me to skip straight to Worlds. But the timing just hadn’t worked out for me over the past couple of years.

Instead, I had lived vicariously through friends who were attending Worlds, and they had come away with a vast expansion in their knowledge of the games and how they play at a high level. They also came away as a general feeling that our local meta wasn’t up to par when compared to the larger scene, as I noted in the closing remarks of this guest article from last year. That fit with a reputation we had picked up somehow, as traveling players tended to talk a bit trash about the Atlanta X-Wing scene. The oft quoted “They don’t know how to fly Phantoms down there” was half the reason I picked up Cloaks and Dagger, just to prove everybody wrong.

As a group, the Atlanta HWKs wanted to change that reputation. More and more Atlanta players showed up to regional events, traveling much farther away than before. We scoured blogs, podcasts, and forums for reports coming in from more distant ones still. We ran our own ELO rankings for a while. We instituted a local championship series outside of the FFG official events. Eye of the Tiger would be an appropriate theme song for a montage about that year, perhaps in some sort of odd mash-up with Duel of the Fates as Worlds approached.

And this year, I got to make the trip to FFG HQ for Worlds, just as I vowed to do in Sam’s article last year. A few weeks ago, I stated in my subsequent Regional write-up that I had neglected to write an article about my trip. There’s several reasons for that. Being my first time at an event of that size and scope, I wanted to be in the moment instead of taking notes and pictures. My memory only goes so far for the details and having played for three days straight between X-Wing and Imperial Assault, I didn’t know that I could make significant and accurate observations about all of my games by the end of that. And even when I wasn’t playing, I was observing and soaking in other high level games. But now, in order to tell the story I have in mind to share, I have to tell you about how I got there.

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016 :
A whirlwind of a day, thrown completely off kilter by a lifelong friend being in town randomly. Most of my plans for the day are abandoned to see him instead, during which we talk over a couple of beers… reminiscing about the good old days where we’d drive over an hour each way to hold court at the nearest game store, and discussing how much I’ve been looking forward to this weekend, how badly I’ve wanted to prove myself against the very best in the world.

By 6:30PM Eastern, I’m on my way to the Atlanta airport. I reach Minnesota around midnight (Central), and get to the hotel just after 1AM.

Friday:
Day 1A of X-Wing begins at 10AM. 6 rounds of Swiss play, all players with 4 or more wins are combined with the same from Day 1B and advance to Sunday. My goal is to make the cut to Sunday in X-Wing or Imperial Assault, and I think my odds are better here. As we’re waiting for pairings, the weight of the moment starts setting in on me, I’ve been trying to get into this room for two years, and now it’s time to prove I belong there. I’m flying Dash / Miranda (discussed in more detail in my Regionals writeup), and in doing so I’m running the gauntlet. Every game is intense, highly competitive, and coming down to the wire.

I started my day with back to back games against an archetype that we’d discussed locally, but erroneously dismissed: Twin Shadows (two Lancer Pursuit Craft). We couldn’t have been more wrong about how hard this setup can hit.

You know, I think we would have paid more attention to these things locally if we had just put it on the table once, simply because it looks intimidating!

I squeaked out a win against the first guy I faced, but in the hands of a National Champion that probably heard a bit about how the previous game had gone from his friend, the second variant of the list takes my lunch money. 1-1, poor MoV, and I’m suspicious that someone bribed the fellow making those pairings (not really, but that was some strange luck in an event this big).

The distance between the bomb tokens and that Shadow Caster will henceforth be known as one “second round loss”. (If you’re in the US, don’t worry about it. It’s a Metric unit).

After that, I got a couple more familiar lists. Palpatine in a Lambda Shuttle & TIE Defenders (win), 4 B-Wings (win). MoV is still very bad though, because the games are played really tight, and really deliberately – all four games have gone to time thus far. I expected it, I knew that things would slow down on the big stage, but it still shocked me just how much it did. I still can’t believe I couldn’t finish the B-Wings in time. I’m used to my games being over within 45 minutes, an hour top. Things just don’t go to time in our local events, excepting against certain opponents, which I’m now very thankful for facing in preparation for this pace.

Can I borrow my comments on this game from another article where basically the same ships did pretty much the exact same thing wrong, or would that be considered lazy?

Next up was Dengar/ Bossk. I fought this one hard, but my bomb drops failed me – I blocked Dengar into what I hoped would be a lethal Seismic Charge hit, but he was just a hair too far away. And I just completely overlooked an opportunity to finish him off with Cluster Mines. Still kicking myself three months later for this loss.

At 3-2 now, I’m flying for my tournament life. I’m fairly certain even if I win the next 3 games 200-0, I’m not making the cut to the top 16. Regardless, I need to win my next game to play on Sunday, which I was bound and determined to do. And so I did. It was a seriously close game against something that fits the archetype of “scum garbage” – something that you think shouldn’t work but does anyway, yet I was so into the game and so stressed out that I couldn’t tell you for sure what was in the guy’s list. All I know is that I found a way to win the game. I couldn’t take time to write it all down afterwards, and I don’t have any good photos, might have been Asajj / Bossk, or something like that. I was too excited to take note of it, because I was going to be playing on Sunday.

My initial goal was achieved. I had proven to myself that I could hang at this stage. But now, even burdened with the poor Margin of Victory, how far could I go?

I met up with the other players from our area, some of which had just arrived, some fresh out of the Imperial Assault warm-up event, and others who had fought the good fight in X-Wing but missed the cut to Sunday with 3-3 records. Dinner, a quick drink for some of us, and back to the hotel by 11:30 or so – there was work to be done in the morning.

Saturday:
Imperial Assault kicks off at 10AM, and it’s obvious from the start that I’m outside my weight class here. As a secondary game for me, that’s okay. It’s far harder for me to keep track of IA than X-Wing from the standpoint of documenting my experiences; there are much fewer opportunities to take photos, so I didn’t even pretend that I was going to write about this.

But let’s give it a shot anyway: In rounds 1-6, Stormtroopers shoot stuff. Stuff shoots Stormtroopers. Objectives happen, or sometimes they don’t. Stuff and Stormtroopers die at variable rates. Someone wins. 

Man, that was a thrilling battle report, huh?

Here we see some majestic Snowtroopers in their natural habitat, Echo Base.

Anyway, for the second day in a row, I took a loss from a National Champion, and thoroughly enjoyed the game despite it being a stressful loss (I thought I was good with the Bantha Rider, then I saw what he did to me with it…). Nationals are a bigger deal outside the US, and it feels good to play against the best – that’s the whole reason I wanted to be there. I hope I run in to both of those guys next time, and perhaps with time to grab a drink, as they’d probably have gotten along really well. (“A Welshman, a Spaniard, and a southern gentleman walk into a bar…”)

No translation required, this says “I just kicked your ass, but we had fun playing” pretty clearly.

But the big takeaway is that I surprised myself, hanging in to close games and finding a way to win at the last minute as often as not. I finished up with what I consider a respectable 3-3 record on the day, with a new appreciation for how this game is played at a high level, and a few new tricks up my sleeve that I’ve gladly brought back to our local player base. I generally got the feeling that this was how my friends felt in previous years with X-Wing – getting a first look beyond the Regional level and a new understanding of what it takes to be on top.

Throughout the day, I would check my phone for status updates from my friends. We had a couple local IA players make the cut at the end of the day, including the eventual runner-up for the whole event. But it was a tough field for X-Wing, and I found myself realizing that I was going to be our group’s sole representative on day two. Now I had a new goal set out for myself: Regardless of whether or not I made the top 16 cut, I was determined to place as high as possible in the final standings.

We gathered up the troops for dinner and a few drinks (more for those whose days were ended), and a retrospective for all. In the process, we discovered that even for those who missed the cuts, none of us from Atlanta had losing records for any game. It was a big pride moment for us, and those of us who were still in the tournaments were encouraged by our peers to represent us all well. We return to the hotel around 11PM, resting up for the last leg of the event.

Sunday:
X-Wing kicks off again at 9:30AM, and I’m pumped. With the results of Day 1B added in, I’m somewhere around 55th coming in to Day 2. Players could make the cut to the top 16 at 6-2, my best record possible at this point (two out of the sixteen were 6-2), but the Margin of Victory tiebreaker was going to bury me regardless of my record. That wasn’t the point though. I didn’t care that my MoV has me out of reach of the next cut, I was still going to represent my city well, and I had two games to climb as far up those rankings as possible.

Pairings go up for round seven, and I’ve got a doozy in front of me. Palp / Aces, Soontir Fel and Rexler Brath to be precise. I don’t know the guy, but everyone else seemed to, and for good reason. We flew like madmen in that game. I caught him napping early on with Soontir, and managed to hit him with a Cluster Bomb drop that he didn’t see coming, but he rolled well (with some assistance from Palpatine) and limped away, never to be touched again. Even without scoring that kill, it was a net win, because Soontir was flying much more carefully to ensure his survival, which probably kept me alive over the course of the game. I got half damage on his Lambda Shuttle, putting myself into the lead. Then he gets half on Dash, swinging things the other way. We continue our merry chases, Miranda after the shuttle, the Imperial Aces after Dash.

When I finally committed my second set of mines, dude saw the SLAM/drop  coming. This would have been so much easier on my stress levels had Soontir turned the other way for me.

Time is called with no other score changes, but there’s still a chance. We’re in mid activation with Miranda breathing down Palpatine’s neck, a good shot finishes the shuttle off. Rexler was almost certainly about to line up a kill shot on Dash too, but my opponent ends up revealing a move that turns him away from my ship. He says his dial spun on him as he flipped it, but at this level, what you revealed is what you revealed, and I have no way to know that you weren’t guessing I was going to try something desperate to escape (which we had both managed to do a LOT in this match). So I have to hold him to it, Rexler finds himself without a shot, Soontir can’t finish Dash, and Miranda cleans up the shuttle for a 3 point win. I feel bad about it, and told him as much, but I just couldn’t let him change the dial at that point.

And then, some 2,000 or so words of text later, the stage is set. We’re on to round eight; the whole reason for this post. His story on how this game went got shared with me recently, and I feel like I need to share my side of it.

Maybe it’s the fact that it was my last game of the event, maybe it’s because of how it went, but I remember this game with more clarity than anything else that happened that weekend. I recognize my opponent to some extent, and the guy playing right next to him as well, but can’t place them right off hand. If I didn’t know already, with only getting an MoV of 103 out of the previous win, it’s beyond certain that I have no chance to make the cut after this round, and something spurs me to have the following conversation during setup. The exact words are beyond my memory, three months after the fact, but the following paraphrasing is at least close…

Me: “You look kind of familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?”
Opponent: “Maybe? Did you play in the [place] Regional?”
Me: “No, I haven’t played anywhere around [that area]”
Opponent: “Well, I don’t know where we would have met, then.”
[pause]
Me: “My Margin of Victory has been horrible. It probably doesn’t really matter what our score is, this is going to be the end of the line for me.”
[Opponent takes a side-long look at the guy next to him, who I realize is running an identical list to his, they know each other]
Opponent:  “Well, if I win, I’m guaranteed to be in the cut. So… yeah…”
Me: “Well, best of luck to you, but I’m not going to take it easy on you.”

He sort of laughed that off and glanced back at his buddy again. For a second, I thought that laugh was because he might have been covering up for discreetly asking me to throw the match to let him get through to the cut. I’ve got no proof of that though, so I feel remiss in saying it, but the thought was there. Maybe it was his way of breaking the tension of the moment that he seemed to be feeling. Or, now that I’ve heard his side of this, it might have been that he didn’t think it mattered how hard I was playing, this was a sure win for him. And on paper, I would agree with him.

His list:
Kanan Jarrus – 38 (Ghost)
Tactical Jammer – 1 (DecimatorShadow Caster)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Jan Ors – 2 (Rebel Aces)
Accuracy Corrector – 3 (Starviper / IG-2000)
Ghost – 0 (Ghost)

Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter Set)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70Heroes of the Resistance)

Zeb – 18 (Ghost)
Chopper – 0 (Ghost)
Phantom – 0 (Ghost)

             

                           

                         

His list is set up to absolutely melt lists like mine. If Kanan catches Miranda in range, he’s guaranteed to deal 4 damage a turn to her with that Twin Laser Turret; Accuracy Corrector takes dice out of that equation entirely and makes for more hits than I have defense dice. 4 damage is pretty likely inside the minimum range for the TLT as well thanks to that big primary shot. And while I have a chance to dodge some of it, he’s got a fairly good chance of dealing 2-4 per turn to Dash instead, with Dash being unable to fire his HLC from anywhere without being fired back at. Meanwhile, this big threat is protected by a regenerating Biggs who benefits from the Tactical Jammer and Kanan stripping my attack dice. This is about as close to a hard counter as you’re going to see anywhere to my list.

I’m playing for pride though, and as such I’m determined to go down swinging. After all, if everything goes absolutely perfectly, I can deal 16 damage in a single turn (Kanan bumps and loses actions, Seismic Charges for 1, full Cluster Mines dropped on a previous turn for 6, Sabine for 1, range 1 Miranda sacrificing a shield for 4, Dash’s HLC for 4). So if something goes wonky, that Ghost can go down from full health in a single round, even without critical hits being a factor. It’ll take a LOT of luck, but it’s possible, and there are way more likely scenarios here that also lead to victory if I can survive long enough to spread it out over several rounds.

Priority #1 though, is getting Biggs out of the way so that I can even shoot the Ghost. The game begins, and we engage at mid field. I get lucky, rolling hot and dealing significant damage to Biggs over just a couple of turns, although I’m taking a beating on Dash in the process. I thought I had a masterpiece lined up to seriously swing things my way with a bomb drop from Miranda. With the X-Wing hurting badly and the Ghost pointing in that same direction, I brought the K-Wing in with a SLAM and dropped cluster mines, hoping to finish Biggs off by clipping him with one token and to leave the others right in Kanan’s path for the next round. Doing a better job than I had with a few of my desperation bomb drops on Friday, I dropped the mines right on target, but he rolled zero damage beyond Sabine, and Biggs remained alive with two more tokens lined up directly in front of his X-Wing. Dash was forced to waste another shot on him, I rolled poorly, and R2-D2 was ejected to leave him alive with one health.

This in turn brought about our first call for a judge, during which it was confirmed that Biggs could fly through and remove both of the remaining tokens before Kanan could hit them, even knowing that he would be killed by the very first mine and even with another blank roll, if I simply chose to activate Sabine. Despite wishing it was otherwise, no objection from me, the ruling makes sense because you don’t interrupt the maneuver to trigger the mines. Kudos to him for having matching pilot skills and finding a way to use it to his advantage and protect Kanan, I often feel like weaving matching pilot skills around are an under-used ability in X-Wing.

So, Biggs down, big time damage on Dash, Kanan at full health, lot of time left on the clock. I’m ahead by 3 points (26 for half of Dash vs 29 for Biggs). I’m not sure I even realized that at the time, but even if I did, it wasn’t useful info. It’s not like I could just haul ass with Dash one more turn to secure a close win, he’s going to get shot at again, and likely be killed. If it’s a bad setup, it might only take one shot.

Miranda can’t solo the Ghost, even if she’s doing constant recovery she loses 3 health per turn. I figure I need to land bombs, turn both guns on him, and have Dash soak up at least two rounds of fire by having Lone Wolf active, taking obstructed fire, and with Focus tokens backing all his rolls, no offensive spending. If it takes him a turn and a half of TLT fire to off finish Dash (2 hull remaining, so that calls for a lot of luck), then Miranda might have enough in the tank to finish Kanan from there. Not knowing exactly how to set this up, I retreat, looking for an opening. There’s not a lot of safe places to go, considering he covers over half the board with his TLT radius, but I do what I can to buy a turn or two by not chasing after Kanan when he’s already flying away from me. In doing so, I set my dials quickly, and keep my brain churning for an answer to what looks like an un-solvable puzzle. I’m not avoiding the game by fiddling with my dial for 5 minutes at a time, staring for a minute or two to decide if I need to barrel roll or not. That’s bush league stuff, underhanded, and against the spirit of the game. I’m not looking for a way to not lose. I’ve been fighting like hell for days now, I’m looking for a way to WIN!

Remember what Sam says: “Make ’em fly with you for a few turns”. If I can catch him stressed by running him through a debris field, there’s no Focus / Evade tokens for him. Dash can’t get an unopposed shot, but if I can get into Range 1, outside his firing arcs, Miranda can. I have one seismic charge and one set of cluster mines left, and I have to make sure they all land. If I can spread the mines out perfectly, I can trigger Sabine twice. I wonder if I can convince him somehow that the healthier Miranda is a better target for a turn and leave Dash alive for a turn longer than he should…

All of those things and more were tumbling through my head, but running out the clock is not one of them. I asked for a time check, but with the measured pace of the last three days of games, that had become a second habit; I just wanted to know where we stood.

Maybe the panicked retreat on my part got to my opponent. Perhaps  it was the added pressure as a handful of friends and strangers gathered around to observe what was a tighter game than it should have been to close out the tournament (I don’t know exactly when that happened, just noticed the crowd at the very end of the match). Or maybe he was more aware of the score than I was, and thought I was really going to try and run away for the whole remainder of the match (from memory, I’m estimating 30-35 minutes). Whatever it was, something had my opponent unnerved. When he got the chance to turn around he came after me at full speed. Better yet, rather than cutting the corner and relying on his TLT coverage to have me in range, he came right on in to the corner of the map, cutting off his options for subsequent maneuvers, and in an ironic fashion giving me more of them.

And that was the mistake I had been looking for. I might not win from this position, but it was my best opportunity.

Since Kanan had come in so aggressively, I was able to roll Dash to safety inside his blind spot, keeping him around for another turn. Miranda then managed to SLAM to a safe position just on the other side of his ship, also out of arc, and in doing so to drop all three of my Cluster Mines on the Ghost; although we had to pause for a judge call again so that he could verify that I was positioning them legally. Major damage ensues. And with the Ghost having flown so close to the board’s edge, I had him boxed in; there was nowhere he could go and not be in range of Miranda’s Seismic Charges the next turn without flying off the table, and he would almost certainly bump and be unable to take actions.

(Image cropped to remove score sheet.)

The damage all started piling up, and the next thing I know I’ve got a chance to kill him with Dash before any return fire comes in. I’m pumped up again! Without tokens to reduce my dice or evade the damage, a perfect HLC shot can finish Kanan off. I throw out my roll, hit – hit – blank – blank, but that second blank was leaning on an obstacle token, and by the rules MUST be rerolled. I called out the cocked die and picked it up to reroll it results in a hit, and then Lone Wolf allowed me to  reroll the remaining blank into what would be a lethal hit.

But in my excitement, had I neglected to ask my opponent to verify that the first die was cocked before I snatched it back up to reroll it, and he objected. He wasn’t trying to pull anything, I knew as soon as he said something that I had moved too quickly there. His tournament life is on the line, so he’s upset, and justifiably so. I feel bad, even knowing that I was in the right to reroll the die, just because I couldn’t prove that it had been cocked and I knew that I rushed that whole sequence. I ask what he wants me to do about it, because I can’t go back and prove that the die is cocked. He says he wants it to be a miss, obviously. I look at the game state, knowing I’m about to lose Dash to return fire, but I know it’s the right thing to do. Sure, it’s a “miss”, my mistake for being in a hurry.

And then, the dice gods smiled upon me for letting that one go. Without any Focus tokens, none of the four TLT shots land more than two hits, Dash proceeds to dodge three of them, and ends the turn with a single hull remaining.

At that point, it’s mop-up. Kanan won’t ever fire again, needing only one hit to finish him off. Zeb pops out right before Kanan gets vaped, but can’t get away from Miranda to chase down Dash. Ball game, 100-26 victory.

Thus ends both of our days. I’m turning to my buddy and saying I can’t believe that just happened, he’s pretty much doing the same. A 6th win and a less-than-stellar 922 total MoV netted me 32nd place overall, out of somewhere approaching 350 players. I wanted to do even better, but I certainly won’t scoff at that result.

In fact, I’m awfully proud of it, and for good reason. But I didn’t share the details here. Not knowing how to best approach writing about what was an awkwardly tense final game, along with being fuzzy on details of some of the other matches, I was content to let it be and just not give any details about my experience beyond that I enjoyed my trip to Worlds and was happy with the final results. No reason to talk about the not-so-nice ending with an obviously upset opponent, when that’s the one match that I’ve got the most clarity on the details of what happened.

However, it was brought to my attention that this gentleman was cordial enough to not use my name (nor shall I use his), but there is publicly posted material of him breaking down what happened in our game from his point of view, which seems to have been distorted by the time between the tournament and his remarks. In that discussion, he stated that he felt that “some of the tactics [I] used were very troll-y”, and that I was seeing what I could do to knock him out of the cut. He insinuates that I should have played the game differently because I had nothing on the line while he had expensive dice and templates that he could still win.

Early in his description of the game, he points out that his constant Twin Laser Turret damage would be a major problem for my “squishy” ships,  so he claims that I “naturally just ran away from [him] for 45 minutes”. He goes on to say that I don’t have the correct attitude for this situation, whatever that means. Was I supposed to be tossing him a softball while other folks are fighting their hearts out for that same spot in the cut? Consoling him when rolls don’t go his way? Asking him for a cut of the prizes in exchange for flying off the board perhaps? I assure you, I’ll take my dignity over dice or templates any day, thank you very much.

Throughout his story, he makes it sound time and again like I’m popping in to a wormhole of sorts,  teleporting to the furthest corners of the board whenever he moves in my direction, giggling at him like that blasted dog from Duck Hunt. He says he chased me down and engaged again because he didn’t want to “lose to a technicality”. Sorry, man, I guess I should have told you in advance that I wasn’t flying my squishy ships that you match up against so well, a technicality was. </sarcasm> In truth, we might have been disengaged for 4-5 turns at most, at least a couple of which he spent turning around to face me again after the pass where I killed Biggs while I was looking for an opening to attack. Must be a crime in his meta to do anything other than joust like British redcoats lining up for musket fire.

Perhaps just as insulting as the hints that I should have just let him win (“Intentional draws are a thing!”, cried the peanut gallery. “The hell they are, I replied, long before FFG agreed) were the blatant accusations of slow-playing. “[He] definitely thinks that there was an element of that here”. I’m the last person you’re ever going to see intentionally stalling a match for time by not taking actions. If anything, I play FASTER when others might see an opportunity to use delaying tactics. No, I’m not going to fly straight at my opponent when it doesn’t benefit me to do so. Why would I? But most of the time I’m going to have my maneuver dials set before my opponent, even when I’ve got them outnumbered and obviously needing every second they can get in the game. I pride myself in being the type of person that is going to give you a fair shot. So it burns me up to hear,  “I honestly think [slow-playing] is one of the main strategies of this list”. You’re dead wrong, at least when it’s in my hands. Or the hands of anyone I associate myself with. I can point you to some potential opponents that can work the clock with the best of them, and to have lumped me in with them is a slap in the face.

As the description rolls on, there are definitely some inaccuracies in the retelling of the sequence of events… I apparently got Kanan to half health and started running away (or was running away from the start, that’s a little unclear in this version of the story), which made him be more aggressive than he wanted to be (I suppose I’m supposed to feel bad about not engaging on his terms?) and that in turn enabled me to get in to position with Miranda to kill Biggs with bombs, which I had to do before I could shoot Kanan.  Can I get a flowchart of that sequence? I think it’ll probably look something like the one I made for FFG’s new Star Wars OP Pyramid.

Now accepting donations for a copy of Photoshop.

Oh, then he turns around and mentions how those bombs are something that’s “really intimidating for [him], too”, despite this being described as such a good matchup for him earlier in his breakdown. Because that’s consistent, right?

To wrap things up in his version of the story, time was called just as Dash dodged all of Kanan’s shots, ending the match right then and there. My recollection of events said otherwise, as did our final score sheet (100-26). I’ve got a picture of that for posterity’s sake, but I’ll leave that out of the article (and crop it from the photos I did share) since there’s a name on it.

But hey, he sounded like a patron saint (or at least a martyr) of sportsmanship when he said it all his way, so long as nobody paid attention to the details.

*deep breath*

Okay, so, I intended this post rant to be an article about what did and didn’t constitute fair play, and perhaps a bit of discussion about when it’s okay to give up so that your opponent can improve their standings in a tournament (short article: “Never.”). It’s morphed in to something else entirely, I’m not sure what I’d call it, but it’s heart-felt and it’s full of truth that I felt like I needed to express.

So I’d like to redirect it in to something positive with my closing notes. Specifically, I’d like to ask all my readers to do a few things for me, and encourage their peers to do the same:

  • If you’re going to be a part of the competitive gaming community, do so with some dignity. Don’t play the game like you’re never going to see your opponent again, because you’re likely wrong.
  • Or put that another way, you can get screamed at by a petulant child on a video game console from your couch. Tabletop gaming is a more social matter. Treat it that way, please.
  • Get stalling and slow-playing out of your repertoire if it’s one of your tricks. That is unsportsmanlike conduct. I don’t condone it, and neither should you. Period.
  • Remember, while a lot of competitive games involve luck, all competitive games involve skill, from both players. Whether luck didn’t favor you, or you made mistakes, don’t try to take credit away from your opponent when it’s due to them.
  • Also remember, so long as the rules are adhered to, there’s no such thing as winning on a “technicality”, either you have a higher score than your opposition, or you don’t.
  • If you’re going to enter a competitive event, don’t ever let off the gas before a tournament is over, or expect anyone else to.
  • If you’re gonna tell a story, tell all of it, and tell it truthfully.

In regard to that last note and my last opponent in particular, I have to add the following: I bear no ill will toward you over our game. Before I heard your statements, I’d have gladly met you again with a handshake and a genuine smile, I’d even have bought the first round of those local beers you like so much if we were to cross paths in Minnesota again.  Perhaps everything was a bit more clear in my memory than it was in yours. Or perhaps it just really stung to take a loss to a list you feel you should have beaten. I don’t want anyone holding a grudge over something silly like that, I’d have a lot of enemies in that case.  But instead of being surly over it, I’ll still hold to that offer to buy the first round, because this might just be a big misunderstanding.

But now an apology might be in order first.

– The Tabletop General

2017 X-Wing Regional Championship – Macon, GA

As is fitting for my first post for quite some time outside the occasional sentence or two on Facebook, today’s post has to be prefaced with a story I haven’t told, my trip to Fantasy Flight Games HQ for the 2016 World Championships. I competed in Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures and Imperial Assault, putting up a respectable (if I do say so myself) 6-2 record in X-Wing, and 3-3 for Imperial Assault. I was proud of my entire crew, as all of my friends making the trip at least broke even in every event, and I was happy to represent Atlanta well as the top X-Wing player from our area. And the scary thing about that is that I know I could have done better, because I was still learning my list.

I had been surprised by what I liked (and moreso what I didn’t like) out of the recent releases for X-Wing. The ARC-170 didn’t really move the needle all that much for me, and the Special Forces TIE  was underwhelming when looking at competitive play. Despite its’ similarity to the TIE Interceptor, the Protectorate Starfighter just didn’t feel right, and I didn’t like my chances with the Shadow Caster, but I had been trying to make both work, and doing a decent job of it until I ran into the wall that was Dash/Miranda, a terror of the local tournament scene for all of 2016. In frustration, I picked up that list for a few days to see how it worked, what I had been doing wrong against it… and I realized that I really liked it.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

Of course, that phrase couldn’t be applied to any local group less than the Atlanta HWKs. I stubbornly clung to TIE Interceptors way past their prime. You’ll not find a better wizard behind a wall of T-65 X-Wings than Brendan. And then there’s Saint Eddie, our patron saint of stubbornness and bombs…

Hail Eddie, full of grace. Our ordnance is with thee. Blessed art thou among bombers, and blessed is the fruit of thy bomb bay…

Eddie has ascended to a higher plane, or at least a higher latitude, calling Minnesota home now, and plying his trade there with TIE Bombers loaded with ordnance because that’s what he does. But he’s a permanent member of the Atlanta HWKs, and he’s embraced his holy status within our group. So it was with much good-natured joking that our local Facebook group was covered with a smattering of “Hail Eddie” prayers by those of us with bombs in our lists before we began play at our local Regional Championship for the 2017 X-Wing season. I’d been running hot over the past few weeks, tearing up a lot of players that usually have my number, but the blessing of our patron saint couldn’t hurt my chances for the day.

My Build:

Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400)
Lone Wolf – 2 (YT-2400)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290, TIE Phantom)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1, Lambda Shuttle, YT-2400)

Miranda Doni – 29 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Extra Munitions – 2 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher)
Cluster Mines – 4 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher, Imperial Veterans)
Seismic Charges – 2 (Slave 1TIE BomberIG-2000)
Sabine Wren – 2 (Ghost)
Advanced SLAM – 2 (K-Wing)

Two powerful ships, each doing what they do best, working together while trying not to stay close to one another. Miranda wants to stay away from Dash to drop bombs with wild abandon, Dash wants to stay away from Miranda to keep Lone Wolf active. HLC deals early damage, bombs in the mid-game, and Miranda serves as the usual closer with her slow and steady TLT damage.

This is a slight tweak from the original version of the list, using Cluster Mines rather than Conner Nets. The Conner Net is a powerful control element, but I was having trouble lining it up in practice, and in addition to their different shape, the Cluster Mines have so much more damage potential that it’s hard to pass them up.

Every time I flew the list over the past few months, I felt like I got better at it, even once I’d been putting basically nothing else on the table for nearly 3 months. So of course, I was bound to discover something new (and awesome) at this event.

Round 1

Opponent’s list:

Dengar – 33 (Punishing One)
Fearlessness – 1 (Protectorate Starfighter)
Advanced Proton Torpedoes – 6 (TIE Bomber, B-Wing, Ghost)
Plasma Torpedoes – 4 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher, Punishing One)
4-LOM – 1 (Mist Hunter)
Overclocked R4 – 1 (Punishing One)
Glitterstim – 2 (Hound’s Tooth, Kihraxz)
Guidance Chips – 0 (Inquisitor’s TIE, Punishing One, ARC-170)
Punishing One – 13 (Punishing One)

Manaroo – 27 (Punishing One)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Proton Torpedoes – 4 (Starter set, X-Wing, Y-Wing, B-Wing, TFA Starter set)
Gonk – 2 (Punishing One)
R5-P8 – 3 (Punishing One)
Glitterstim – 2 (Hound’s Tooth, Kihraxz)
Guidance Chips – 0 (Inquisitor’s TIE, Punishing One, ARC-170)

List commentary:

Dengaroo, flown by a competent player. Not what I wanted to see today, and oddly enough not something I’ve seen firsthand in quite some time. For those of you unfamiliar (what rock are you living under?), Dengar and Manaroo form an interesting pairing – Dengar has amazing damage output, enhanced further by abilities that require him to load up on stress tokens to the point that he could never imagine taking another action; meanwhile, Manaroo’s usual role is playing keep-away and passing her actions to Dengar in lieu of his own.

I’ve thrown it into the benchmark simulator a time or three, and we put a version of it on the table a few days prior to the event for a practice game, but it didn’t run like this one did. This variant of the pairing that won the 2016 World Championships is definitely more aggressive and front-loaded than others I’ve seen discussed, looking to get enemy ships off the board quickly with the help of the three torpedoes on board that normally go toward upgrades that keep both ships on the board longer.

              

                         

                       

The match:

I did not bring my A-game here. I’ve got a host of reasons, foremost of which being that it was early and I had only managed a couple hours of sleep (very unintentionally). But regardless to the reasons, I didn’t pay quite as much attention as I should have to my opponent’s list. I saw what was there, but I didn’t see what WASN’T there: Engine Upgrade on Manaroo, 4-LOM or Countermeasures on Dengar, all of which should have caused me to alter my approach. Most importantly, without Engine Upgrade, Manaroo is much easier to catch and kill – which would have been enough to cover giving up half points on Dash, and made Dengar much more vulnerable on his own and likely actionless.

Instead, I went head to head with Dengar, hoping to bring him down quickly with bombs, and accepting that the torpedoes would spell Dengar’s doom easily. I almost pulled this off, but the dice weren’t in my favor, dealing only two damage (one of which came from Sabine) on a beautiful cluster mine drop on the big fellow. Dengar escaped with a single point of hull, and I had to get hyper aggressive, fighting not only against my opponent but against the clock as well, something my opponent seemed to embrace VERY heavily. In the end, that got Miranda killed off as well, trying to fight through Manaroo to get to the fleeing Dengar as time expired.

Rough start to the day.

Result:

29-100 loss

Standings:

0-1, 29 MoV

Round 2

Opponent’s list:

IG-88B – 36 (IG-2000)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1, Lambda Shuttle, YT-2400)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)
Glitterstim – 2 (Hound’s Tooth, Kihraxz)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Asajj Ventress – 37 (Shadow Caster)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Latts Razzi – 2 (Shadow Caster)
Black Market Slicer Tools – 1 (Shadow Caster)
Shadow Caster – 3 (Shadow Caster)
Gyroscopic Targeting – 3 (Shadow Caster)

List commentary:

Alright, this I could do something with. Two maneuverable but arc-dependent ships, both with lower pilot skill than my own. Both of these have got some solid damage output, but nothing especially tricky.

 b          

                         

                           

The match:

I did something with this alright… something bad. I lost Miranda, and early. Coming in for a bombing run, Miranda got herself caught in the corner of the board; unable to SLAM anywhere meaningful. Asajj painted a target and stripped shields, IG-88 lit her up, and suddenly I found myself with just Dash remaining. But hope remained. In the process of trapping Miranda, my opponent’s ships ended up passing each other, rotating in opposite directions around the board and hesitating to turn in immediately, thanks to a pair of cluster mine tokens remaining on the field. With heavy damage already applied to Asajj, I knew this was a winable game.

Dash proceeded to kite around the edge of range, staying as far as possible away from IG-88. My action plan was as follows: Try to get range 3 on Asajj only. If both could fire at me, and a Barrel Roll would change that, escape both if possible. Barrel Roll into range of Asajj and outside her arc if possible. Asajj wouldn’t go down easily with Focus, Evade, and two agility, but with Lone Wolf on at all times and never being afraid to spend one of my pair of Focus tokens, I’ve got around a 90% chance of landing at least 3 hits per turn; no matter how tough the wall, sooner or later the hammer wins. Asajj went down, with plenty of time remaining for one of the other remaining ships to be taken out.

I slipped out of IG-88’s arc and range a couple of times before turning around taking a single jousting run. Perhaps expecting me to slip away again, he approached quickly, using PTL to stack up on tokens and stressing himself. I lost a couple of shields in the exchange, but it gave me exactly what I needed: the opportunity to get a chase position. Counting the score; I led by a single point, but I knew I needed more to climb the standings. Unable to turn around and fire without giving up tokens for multiple rounds, my opponent simply ran away turn after turn, and I was perfectly willing to play the long game there. Two ships, only one of which is shooting, that clock might as well have still had 75 minutes on it.

Again, eventually the hammer wins, and now we’re on the board.

Result:

100-47 win

Standings:

1-1, 182 MoV

Aside:

At this point, we had an hour break for lunch. I wasn’t feeling great about the results so far, but some food and a bit more time to fully wake up would do me some good. Panda Express was the order of the day, and my fortune cookie read, “HAVE PATIENCE – IT WILL BENEFIT YOU”. This lined up directly with what I had been told by my friends for months now about how to approach flying this list, and it seemed a good omen. I slid it into my wallet for safe keeping.

Round 3

Opponent’s list:

Countess Ryad – 35 (Imperial Veterans)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Twin Ion Engine Mk. II – 1 (TIE Punisher)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)

Colonel Vessery – 34 (TIE Defender)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Juke – 2 (TIE/FO)

Omicron Group Pilot – 21 (Lambda Shuttle)
Emperor Palpatine – 8 (Imperial Raider)

List commentary:

TIE Defenders have made a major comeback this year, in no small part thanks to the x7 title, conferring a cost discount and free Evade token in exchange for the oft-unused Cannon slot. No blocking maneuvers and no amount of Stress tokens can strip that token from them, they just have to fly fast to get it. That’s dirt simple for even the newest player to do. The tricky part is, sometimes players know when to catch the enemy off guard and go slow. This guy, a fellow Atlanta HWK and “Murder Squad” member, knows how to do exactly that, which sets him a step above the field of players lining up to fly this list.

             

                           

The match:

And it came down to exactly that; my opponent knew when to put on the brakes. Being extremely familiar with me, the way I fly, and having faced a near identical list to my own countless times over the past year, he faked me out by chasing Dash momentarily before swapping targets. This caught Miranda as she positioned for a bomb run where I thought he was going, dead to rights and squarely in his sights.

“I’m gonna hit the brakes, he’ll fly right by.” – Maverick Countess Ryad

I managed to limp away and survive a few more turns, but there wasn’t much I could do to change the momentum of the game. I brought Ryad down with me, and got half credit for the Emperor’s Caddilac, but I was outplayed through and through here.

Result:

51-100 loss

Standings:

1-2, 233 MoV

Aside:

For many tournaments, my day is effectively over right there, play a few friendly games and go home with a participation prize. But I had my pride to play for, and there was still hope.

That hope? Well, I knew we had 77 players in attendance at this event, and that’s a magical number. Under the current tournament rules for X-Wing, any event short of a major convention is set up such that all players with no more than one loss will make the cut to single elimination in a bracket without byes. At 76 players, this can be done with 6 rounds of Swiss play and a top 8 cut. But once you add that 77th person, there’s a chance that the 9th place player at the end of Swiss has a 5-1 record. To accomodate that, the playoffs are expanded to 16 players, letting in 7 players with two losses, using Margin of Victory to decide on those players. My MoV wasn’t great, but it could be worse, and I knew how to save some points. Dash tends to bleed me dry, he is shot down pretty frequently in this list, and gives up half points when he doesn’t die. But Miranda can limp in on one health and still protect all 47 of her points, and can recover health too. I just had to make sure she was the primary target for the rest of the day, and pray to St. Eddie that I wouldn’t mess around and take a third loss in the process of changing my approach.

Round 4

Opponent’s list:

Nera Dantels – 26 (Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (M3-A, IG-2000)
Plasma Torpedoes – 4 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher, Punishing One)
Extra Munitions – 2 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher)
Deadeye – 1 (A-Wing, TIE Advanced Prototype)
B-Wing/E2 – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290, TIE Phantom)

Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1, Lambda Shuttle, YT-2400)
Kyle Katarn – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400)
Engine Upgrade – 4  (Millennium Falcon / Hound’s Tooth)

              

                            

                           

List commentary:

Here’s something you don’t see much anymore: a B-Wing loaded to the gills. I can see a similar philosophy behind this list’s design and my own, though. A maneuverable end-game piece supported by a heavy hitter designed to make the job easier. If you leave Nera alone and try to pin down Dash while you still have your full force on the board, Nera will make you pay for that. Regardless of which ship you attack first, these two are going to hit you, and hit you hard.

The original “Super Dash”, this YT-2400 has some advantages and disadvantages compared to the one from my list. Capable of 3 “actions” per turn once you have Kyle up and running, there’s a lot of flexibility there, from a Target Lock and two Focus tokens, to a Focus, a Barrel Roll, and a Boost. And there’s an advantage in using Kyle to generate an action, as you can still get his Focus on turns where you otherwise wouldn’t have them thanks to Stress or collisions. On the other hand, being dependent on Push the Limit makes the ship much more vulnerable to blocking, as there are only so many green moves on the dial. And I’ve come to love Lone Wolf lately for the defensive boost it gives.

Running some quick numbers on a head to head matchup between “Super Dash” and Lone Wolf / Recon Spec Dash, assuming that both ships are taking a Focus action (for a total of two tokens each) and “Super Dash” is getting a Target Lock too, “Super Dash” will deal 2.120 damage per turn to the Lone Wolf version. Meanwhile, Lone Wolf Dash will deal 2.270 in return, or if initiative works in his favor so that he can save up a Target Lock while inside minimum range, he can spike that average to 2.500 damage per turn. And at a cost 5 points cheaper than the other version, Lone Wolf Dash is definitely a better deal, assuming that you can keep the necessary distance from the rest of your ships.

The match:

So, flying Miranda more aggressively and getting her targeted first only works if your opponent is willing to take the bait. And that wasn’t happening here. Both enemy ships locked in on Dash from the start, and he quickly lost his shields. But at the same time, that B-Wing had nowhere to hide and couldn’t guess where Dash’s blind spot would be; two HLC shots and four twin laser shots had Nera off the board before she could fire a second time.

Preserving points via Morse Code – keeping Dashes together.

From there, I flew Dash much more defensively, trying to preserve those points. My opponent had given me initiative, so I couldn’t completely guarantee safety by taking a Barrel Roll into minimum range or outside his Dash’s reach, but I did block him a time or two, and generally stayed behind cover backed by Focus tokens. Miranda did her thing, bombing the enemy into submission, and finishing the match in all of about 25 minutes. I gladly took the extra time to sit down and rest, hoping to turn this into a long day.

Result:

100-26 win

Standings:

2-2, 407 MoV

Round 5

Opponent’s list:

Fenn Rau – 28 (Protectorate Starfighter)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Concord Dawn Protector – 1 (Protectorate Starfighter)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Old Teroch – 26 (Protectorate Starfighter)
Fearlessness – 1 (Protectorate Starfighter)
Concord Dawn Protector – 1 (Protectorate Starfighter)

Talonbane Cobra – 28 (Kihraxz)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Glitterstim – 2(Hound’s Tooth, Kihraxz)
Engine Upgrade – 4  (Millennium Falcon / Hound’s Tooth)

             

                          

List commentary:

I’m used to Fenn and Old Teroch by this point, they’re popular choices in our local meta. Talonbane was a surprise to me though, as I’m accustomed to seeing Manaroo in that slot. So we’re looking at a less durable list, but one that is definitely going to be capable of high damage output if I let them stay close.

The match:

So, knowing that my opponent wanted to live at Range 1, I decided to play a game of chase. With Dash, I flew at a right angle to his likely approach lane, and I crept forward slowly with Miranda. Over the next turn or two, Miranda continued to approach slowly, and Dash turned away from the enemy, pointing toward an empty corner of the board. The higher pilot skill ships Boosted and Barrel Rolled into position to chase, sensing an opportunity to pounce on Dash when he had few places to go. And just like that, the trap was set.

Miranda jammed the K-Wing’s throttle to full, adding in a SLAM, and dropping Cluster Mines right onto Fenn Rau, which vaporized his ship. And for the lack of a better description, my opponent simply deflated. Seeing Fenn go up in smoke like that was just too big of a blow to handle, especially having done no damage to me yet.

Miranda: “Come a little closer, I’ve got some bombs for you too!”

Preserving points, I continued to play cat & mouse games, but my opponent simply wasn’t as aggressive anymore. I dropped my second set of cluster mines to no effect, as Talonbane didn’t press forward like I expected, but even then they were of use, making him take longer to circle the area in fear of hitting them by accident. Without being charged in upon, and with no defensive tech to help either ship deal with multiple long range shots, the target practice session was a mere formality.

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

3-2, 607 MoV

Round 6

Opponent’s list:

Blue Squadron Pilot – 21 (B-Wing, Rebel Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 21 (B-Wing, Rebel Aces)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 21 (B-Wing, Rebel Aces)

Braylen Stramm – 25 (ARC-170)
Gunner – 5 (Millennium Falcon, Slave 1)
R3-A2 – 2 (GR-75)
Alliance Overhaul – 0 (ARC-170)
Vectored Thrusters – 2 (ARC-170)

             

                           

List commentary:
Nom-nom-nom… B-Wings! I didn’t want to see either of my ships stressed, so Stramm was an obvious early target, but Dash / Miranda is just not what this list is designed to deal with. Not worried.

The match:
Repeat after me, class…
“12 attack dice are scary. 3 are not”. Good, on to the next lesson.
“Being 25% is no worse than being 100% wrong”. Excellent.

Congratulations, you have spread your arcs out to get off a couple of shots. In return, you’ll get torn to shreds over the next half hour.

I’m tempted to conjure my inner NFL Analyst on this one and mark up how bad of a position my opponent is in here with X’s and O’s and squiggly lines, but bad positioning happens naturally through the course of a game. The more important and damning point is that we haven’t engaged yet; this is just where he flew himself to. So Dash is a subject of focused fire this turn after the ARC flies into the debris field, but between long range, Lone Wolf, and Focus tokens, all my opponent gets for his trouble is two stress on Dash, and decent damage on one of his B-Wings, marked “1” in the photo above. And it doesn’t get much better from there.

Miranda skirts around the left side, completely avoids all firing arcs except #1, who doesn’t really do any damage. With Lone Wolf in play, Dash isn’t crippled by stress, and it’s not a huge priority for me to clear it. So he zooms up field, and is only threatened by a single B-Wing who isn’t as close as he expected to be if I took a green move. Braylen and B-Wing #3 are stranded with no targets.

The rest of the game follows suit, with both of my ships staying stress free despite R3-A2’s presence, allowing them to reposition away from any really dangerous situations. Miranda drops a seismic bomb when the enemy does get close, and I’m generally picking off lone ships that are taking much more damage than they deal while their allies are just out of range. I kind of feel bad about how lopsided this matchup and similar ones seem to go, but I needed every point today.

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

4-2, 807 MoV

Position at cut to top 16:

13th place.

Dinner break, just long enough to freak out a little bit that I’ve clawed my way back in, and realize that as tired as I am, I’m barely past the halfway point if things go well. And, as a hail to St. Eddie of our Holy Ordnance, I drag our crew over to the mexican restaurant we had spotted at lunch, a place named “La Bomba”.

Round 7 – Top 16

Opponent’s list:

Countess Ryad – 35 (Imperial Veterans)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Twin Ion Engine Mk. II – 1 (TIE Punisher)
Lone Wolf – 2 (YT-2400)

Omicron Group Pilot – 21 (Lambda Shuttle)
Emperor Palpatine – 8 (Imperial Raider)
Collision Detector – 0 (Special Forces TIE)

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

               

                           

                           

List commentary:

Not exactly your standard Palp/Aces list. Soontir has a standard loadout, but the Countess is tweaked a bit to make her fit, as Soontir is a point more than the Vessery that normally accompanies her. I feel really good about this matchup though; Soontir is very vulnerable to bombs, and I’ve got a bit of intimidation factor on my side, my opponent has seen Dash/Miranda enough to know how dangerous it is.

The match:

Using a bit of misdirection to start the game, I wanted to threaten Palpatine’s shuttle early with Miranda, and then switch targets to the other ships when they came to help.

Not the best setup I’ve ever done…

Instead, that just got Dash caught up in a jam. He stripped a shield or two off of Ryad, but took way more damage than I’m accustomed to getting through to him, and I had to pull some desperate moves to keep him in the game. And boy I do mean desperate.

Living on the edge!

But the cavalry was on the way, loaded for battle. Dash went down, but kept the Imperials’ attention just long enough to set up a bomb run. Remember how I needed one more damage from a cluster mine in round 1 to finish Dengar? Well, that comes back around full circle now… I dropped in a set of clusters onto a slightly Ryad for a shot at dealing —some— damage, and ended up hitting the jackpot instead, 4/4 hits from the two tokens that landed, plus an 5th from Sabine. Even Palpatine’s influence wasn’t enough to keep the Countess alive.

Now, with Dash and Ryad down, and time in the match dwindling, it was all up to Miranda. I knew I couldn’t get Soontir so long as Palpatine was on the field, but finishing off the shuttle was an easy matter. The K-Wing and Interceptor circled the battlefield for a few more minutes, but time elapsed with both on the field, giving me a less than comfortable margin but a win, and that’s all that matters at this point. Oh, and dice. Shiny, shiny, shiny dice.

Result:

64-54 win

Round 8 – Top 8

Opponent’s list:

Countess Ryad – 35 (Imperial Veterans)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Twin Ion Engine Mk. II – 1 (TIE Punisher)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)

Colonel Vessery – 34 (TIE Defender)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Juke – 2 (TIE/FO)

Omicron Group Pilot – 21 (Lambda Shuttle)
Emperor Palpatine – 8 (Imperial Raider)
Collision Detector – 0 (Special Forces TIE )
Guidance Chips – 0 (Inquisitor’s TIE, Punishing One, ARC-170)

List commentary:

In contrast to the prior list, this is exactly your standard Palp/Aces list, with the exception of the Guidance Chips added as a joke. It’s boring, but it’s effective. Of note, my opponent looked familiar, and made a comment about not sticking his Chewbacca on a rock this time around. Apparently, we’ve played before, in the finals of a store championship last year.

The match:

Fatigue was really setting in at this point, so the game was a bit of a blur at times, and I don’t have any photos to jog my memory or reconstruct things from. What I do remember is that I took one on the chin from Ryad onto Miranda to drop Cluster Mines right in front of her, clipping her with one and leaving two in her path for the next turn. Already stressed from PTL, and with an automatic damage from Sabine and one resulting from the mine, and more coming the next turn, my opponent wanted to avoid the last token, and did so by taking a 1-bank. This kept her from getting an evade token for incoming fire, and she was cleared from the board that turn anyway. But that last token hung around.

Dash goes down. Palpatine is taken out. And now it’s down to Vessery and Miranda, with about 30 minutes to go. The game is mine so long as the K-Wing survives. Miranda has fully recovered her shields, and Vessery is limping around on one hull point, but any Defender is a dangerous Defender. So I play it careful, SLAMing away turn after turn. My opponent is careful as well, doing an excellent job of avoiding the area threatened by my Seismic Charges. I pick up a Target Lock when I can, and throw out an attack when it presents itself, but my primary goals are A: Not losing, and B: Not stalling. You see, there’s a difference between running and stalling, one I think my first round opponent could use to learn. I’m running, but I’m setting my movement dial in about 10 seconds per turn, and never hesitating on my actions. I want to win this game, but I’m bound and determined to do so with a clear conscience. Turn after turn, I dip into the TLT well and come up dry, no damage is getting through. But then my clear conscience was rewarded by St. Eddie, as I had a flash of insight.

You see, my opponent had avoided the handful of mine tokens remaining on the field really well. So well, in fact, that he was able to dart around them and not worry about cutting it close, he knew that he wouldn’t hit them. But he didn’t think about how close he was to them. In my head, I can just see Miranda leaning on the flight controls as she swerves around a debris field and yells at Sabine to hold on… SLAM, right into my own mine token, and the damage from Sabine finishes Vessery off to close the game. I probably would have been just fine flying in circles for another 10 minutes or so, but it felt better to finish it that way.

Result:

100-53 win

Round 9 – Top 4

Opponent’s list:

Countess Ryad – 35 (Imperial Veterans)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Twin Ion Engine Mk. II – 1 (TIE Punisher)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)

Colonel Vessery – 34 (TIE Defender)
TIE/x7 – (-2) (Imperial Veterans)
Adaptability – 0 (Mist Hunter)

Carnor Jax – 26 (TIE Interceptor)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

List commentary:
And here we go again, another Palp/Aces variant… wait, no, no Palpatine! It’s a Christmas Miracle!

Instead, we’ve got a slightly watered down Vessery, paired up with good ‘ol Carnor Jax, he of “thou shalt not token up” fame. Still, 3 health is awfully squishy for bombs blessed by St. Eddie, especially when you have to get in close to do your job.

The match:

I’m not sure that any match this late at night could be said to be putting on a clinic, as it was midnight as this game started and mistakes happened on both sides, but I came pretty close to it here. Dash pulled off a beautiful block of both Vessery and Carnor simultaneously, setting up Miranda to clean house on the following turn. Carnor fell to the Cluster Mines, Ryad followed suit soon after- despite assurances from onlookers that using brand new dice was “bad ju-ju”, these things were rolling too hot for me to put them down. So after a long day of X-Wing and looking at a serious uphill climb with a single ship remaining against my full-strength force, my opponent graciously bowed out of the event.

Result:

100-0 win

Round 10 – The Final Match

Opponent’s list:

Dengar – 33 (Punishing One)
Lone Wolf – 2 (YT-2400)
Plasma Torpedoes – 4 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher, Punishing One)
Zuckuss – 1 (Mist Hunter)
Overclocked R4 – 1 (Punishing One)
Glitterstim – 2 (Hound’s Tooth, Kihraxz)
Counter-Measures – 3 (YT-2400)
Punishing One – 13 (Punishing One)

Manaroo – 27 (Punishing One)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing, Imperial Aces)
Plasma Torpedoes – 4 (K-Wing, TIE Punisher, Punishing One)
Latts Razzi – 2 (Shadow Caster)
Unhinged Astromech – 1 (Most Wanted)
Burnout SLAM – 1 (Heroes of the Resistance)
Engine Upgrade – 4  (Millennium Falcon / Hound’s Tooth)

List commentary:

My opponent, perhaps one of the earliest readers of the Tabletop General, ran roughshod over me in round 6 of the 2015 X-Wing Regional Championship in Atlanta, and went on to win that event. Since then, we’ve adopted him as an honorary Atlanta HWK, and we’d yet to have an opportunity to play each other again. That didn’t change the fact that his list, out of everything in the top 16 bracket, was the last thing I wanted to see on the other side of the table.

Dengaroo, flown by a competent player. Not what I wanted to see to start my day, and certainly not to end it.

If you can get either one off the table, the other half of this list falls apart, but that’s easier said than done, especially decked out the way that this one is – Manaroo will be hard to pin down.

Hat tip to the amazing artwork from Paul La Rue. I was there for the game this was commissioned for, and this is way more exciting.

                           

                         

The match:

Now, a wiser man than I, or one that was a little more on top of things lately, would have written this report while there was still video of the game available on the Twitch channel used for the event. But, it turned out to not be the greatest quality, and the commentator was just as out of it as we were and had nothing to fight his exhaustion over, so I can understand not posting it. That just means that I’m having to reconstruct this match from memory, and it’s even more of a blur than the rest. Still, I’ll provide what I can here.

We started with some verbal sparring and posturing. Nothing serious, mind you, just feeling each other out. It’s late, we’ve had a long day. He’s got a long drive home, and is willing to shake hands and call it a mutual win, I’m not far from the same, and I’m not comfortable with my odds after round 1. The prize allocation is pretty much identical either way, neither of us thinks we’d use the bye for Nationals, but we can’t decide who would get custody of the trophy, and that’s a deal breaker for both of us. So, to the table we go.

In my mind, the decision is made, Dengar has to go. Throw everything I have at him, pick up the pieces I have left, and use that to finish Manaroo. I almost pulled it off this morning, and I think I can make it happen now. Giving him the opportunity to trade 2 shots to my 1 in the end game is a losing proposition, I’ve got to bring him down while I’m taking 3 shots to my 2, or 2 for 2 if I can dance away from Manaroo and keep her out of the engagement. Without R5-P9 or Gonk, Manaroo isn’t such a bad idea to throw a few shots at, but she is a less effective closer, so I don’t mind saving her to the end. I’m also no longer worried about whether or not I need to score MoV from her, as we’ll be done with this long before time is up.

Manaroo, as expected, keeps as much distance as possible, working her way counter-clockwise around the board. In order to put some early pressure on, I feint a chase of Manaroo, combining a Barrel Roll from Dash and a SLAM from Miranda to close the gap before Dengar can engage. In turn, Dengar isn’t as aggressive as I would have liked about positioning for those opening turns, and I don’t see a clear path to him for a Cluster Mine run.

We’re well past the hour where casual onlookers would still be hanging around at table side and making inadvertent comments, but with the TO on one side of the table and the couple of Murder Squad members that I rode with on the other, I can almost feel the tension in the room heighten as the occasional move on my part doesn’t make sense.

For instance, thanks to my sharp push up the field in the opening rounds, I found myself closing in on Manaroo as she turned the far left corner and started coming toward my side of the field. I found myself with a perfect Cluster Mine opportunity, as my K-Wing maneuver dropped me right in front of her position, and able to SLAM across her. With the large base, just about any move I picked that didn’t collide with her would land all three mine tokens, a holy grail of bombing worth up to 7 points of damage. I took the SLAM, headed straight at Dengar, who had yet to activate, and skipped the bomb drop.

A couple times, I do hear commentary AFTER I do something, which I’m pretty much fine with… I just don’t want my opponent to get any insight into what I’m planning, or to feel like something I might have missed was pointed out by an observer, or vice versa. What I did keep hearing was something to the effect of “see, things like that are why we’re sitting over here and he’s playing for a championship”. That got a solid chuckle out of me, as for all I could tell, I was standing there through sheer luck, but at the same time I know this list doesn’t exactly fly itself on autopilot like the x7 Defenders tend to do.

In this case particular case, I have mixed feelings about whether or not I earned that statement. This turn played out exactly like I wanted. Dengar ran right in to Miranda, protecting her from his attacks for the turn. And that set me up for the next round; I didn’t have bombs to waste on Manaroo, I needed to nail Dengar with them. Splitting damage is bad, and bombs go on the most important target. No better position from which to do that than in base contact and pointed at a higher PS ship.

The next turn, that was a bit wonkier and showed that I might have just been lucky after all. With my brain working in a crazy adrenaline-fueled and fatigue-ravaged version of full tilt, I chose a more conservative maneuver with Miranda the next turn, turning back to my right and pointing directly at an asteroid instead of staying straight. This kept me clear of Dengar’s firing arc if he performed the expected Segnor’s Loop, but also meant that I would hit that obstacle for sure next turn, and only one out of the three Cluster Mine tokens landed on target, while at least two would have landed had I not turned. It did damage, but not as much as I wanted. And in a classic example of the mental chess match not going as expected, Dengar chose another maneuver, throwing extra shots at Dash instead, meaning that in hindsight I would have been much better off flying straight with the K-Wing.

At this point, Dash had taken a beating but was still in the fight. Miranda still had one set of Cluster Mines, and decent health. On the other side, Dengar was starting to build up some damage. It was going to be close, but this was a winnable fight. Getting back to basics, I started putting distance between myself and Dengar. With our loadouts, I get defensive range bonuses, he gets offensive ones, so being further away is a better deal for me. In the process, Manaroo ended up being out of the fight once again, which was fine with me; let’s keep that little gun silent.

A damage or two more on Dengar, Dash ends up on death’s door, and then through it thanks to an ill-advised attack while Dengar has Countermeasures active; dealing no damage and giving a free return shot that proves lethal. Panic starts to set in, it’s a serious up-hill battle from here… and then I see it. Lined up perfectly in front of me, I see the right move for Miranda like it was painted on the table for me. Bank right into Dengar’s forward viewport, SLAM across with a hard turn, Cluster Mines dropped, and *BOOM*, Dengar is off the board before he can activate again.

New ball game. Miranda is carrying a little bit of damage, and has expended her mines. Manaroo is at full health, but has very few applicable tricks for this fight. We engage, and Miranda does her thing; point or two of damage dealt per turn, point of shields recovered, point or so of damage taken in return for a net positive result. After two or three turns of this exchange, afraid to get too close with Seismic Charges still available, and facing a long drive, my opponent reached across for a handshake.

We’re due for a rematch in 2018, and who knows what we’ll be flying at that point?

Girlfriend: What is it? Me: It’s a major award!

Epilogue

Bombs, man… bombs are crazy. It’s amazing how little serious attention the X-Wing community has paid them over the course of several years, but now they’re suddenly a thing. Granted, these Cluster Mines needed a buff via errata before I was willing to use them, and my predecessors using the list had taken advantage of the new Conner Nets, neither of them having been in the game for long. But now we’re seeing triple K-Wing builds pop up carrying Proximity Mines, Thermal Detonators, and Proton Bombs too.

The field of viable builds feels so narrow with TIE/x7 Defender builds all over the place, and Dengaroo a close runner up behind it, but at the same time things are wide open, and you can find a way to make almost anything work. The following weekend I went undefeated at a charity tournament with a Starviper and two M3-A Scyks (let that sink in for a moment).

Winning this Regional still feels like luck. And maybe it was. But it’s luck I’ll take, and it makes my life easier. With a win here under my belt, I can cancel my plans for a second X-Wing Regional, which in turn will let me attend an Imperial Assault Regional in my own back yard. That is, assuming I can tear myself away from playing Destiny. Because, you know, I have PLENTY of time for another game. But I’ll seriously try to get some writing done too. I know you all miss me otherwise, right?

– The Tabletop General

K-Wing Preview- Fire ALL the ordnance!

The K-Wing is coming up as the newest letter in the Rebel alphabet soup addition to the Rebel arsenal for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The K-Wing has potential to be the most expensive small-based ship in the game. With a cost ranging from 23 points (Warden Squadron with no upgrades) up to 73 (Miranda Doni with the most expensive upgrade available in each slot), there’s a lot of different ways you can configure a K-Wing.

 

Minimum cost combat role – Without any upgrades a Warden Squadron K-Wing is 23 points for 9 hit points and a 2-die turret attack. While it doesn’t have quite the raw firepower of a Blue Squadron B-Wing at 22 points, the added versatility of having a 360 field of fire may mean that we see a few of these as substitutes in lists that have a point or two to spare.

Swarm – If you’re going the swarm route, you can place 2 points worth of upgrades on each and still fit four K-Wings into a 100 point list. That means you can fit something such as one of the following onto each:

  • Autoblaster Turret (Most Wanted)- Situational, hard to justify.
  • Ion Bombs (K-Wing) – Oooo, shiny new toy!
  • Seismic Charges (TIE Bomber / IG-2000 / Slave 1) – You can’t go wrong with “bonus” damage that doesn’t require an attack (or even an action).
  • Flechette Torpedo (E-Wing / GR-75) – Not the most useful thing in the world, but it can help pin down arc dodgers.
  • Intelligence Agent (HWK-290 / Lambda) – I like this one combined with access to SLAM actions – Gives you a “Get out of Jail Free” card if you don’t like how the maneuvers match up between you and your opponent.
  • Tactician (TIE Phantom) – A better long-term investment for stress mechanic than the Flechette Torpedo because it can work multiple times.

Will it be effective to run four K-Wings? Probably not. But it might be interesting to mix one of them into a squad of B-Wings (for those who don’t care for including a Z-95 alongside four Blue Squadron B-Wings) and sprinkle in some upgrades to personal preference.

Loaded combat role – So what if you want to maximize the K-Wing’s loadout, and you’re okay with being a bit silly about it? For 53 points (just shy of a loaded out Dash Rendar or Han Solo), you can have the following:

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Plasma Torpedoes – 3 (K-Wing)
Extra Munitions – 2 (K-Wing / TIE Punisher)
Homing Missiles – 5 (A-Wing / Firespray-31)
Chewbacca – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
Proton Bombs – 5 (VT-49 Decimator / TIE Bomber)
Proton Bombs – 5 (VT-49 Decimator / TIE Bomber)
Munitions Failsafe – 1 (TIE Defender /  Z-95)

So now we’ve got an 11 point ship capable of throwing out four ordnance attacks (or more, if any of them miss), four bombs, and tossing around a few ion shots as well. But with only one defense die, this thing will get focused down quickly. So if you’re really going that route, make sure you bring support ships that can help you maximize your K-Wing’s action economy and life span in order to put all those upgrades to good use:

Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter set)
R7 Astromech – 2 (E-Wing)

Airen Cracken -19 (Z-95)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

Now you’ve essentially bought your K-Wing two more turns of life, by adding Biggs on as extra hit points, and Cracken can either extend Biggs’ lifespan or increase the K-Wing’s damage output, depending on which one he grants an extra action to. Silly? Yes. Would I take it to a tournament? No. Will a video pop up on Youtube of me playing something close to this for kicks at some point in the future? Probably.

Loaded bomber – Alright, so let’s scale it back a bit. and build something more reasonable, but that really makes use of the K-Wing’s special abilities and generous upgrade bar.

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Extra Munitions – 2 (K-Wing / TIE Punisher)
Proton Bombs – 5 (VT-49 Decimator / TIE Bomber)
Advanced SLAM – 2 (K-Wing)
Intelligence Agent – 1 (HWK-290 / Lambda)
Proximity Mines – 3 (Slave 1 / IG-2000)

Intelligence-agent                           advanced-slam

If I’m taking a single K-Wing that isn’t intended to be the focal point of my force, this is probably going to be my preferred build. Weighing in at 34 points, this more reasonable K-Wing build relies on its’ primary attack in the combat phase, but isn’t without a few tricks up the sleeve. Intelligence Agent is one of the key pieces; with a quick look at a nearby opponent’s dial, you can decide ahead of time which of the following plans would be most advantageous for you:

  • Move, combat action, fire
  • Drop a Proton Bomb, move, combat action, fire
  • Move, Proximity Mine, fire
  • Move, Proton Bomb, SLAM, defensive action
  • Move, SLAM, Proximity Mine
  • …and so on…

Additionally, you can redirect your SLAM move to a safer location based off of where your opponent will be headed, either to avoid an attack, block a movement, or realize you don’t need to use it at all, you’ll have a clear and safe turret shot.

Tuketu – Esege Tuketu is an interesting pilot, but one that is explicitly designated for a particular support role. Since none of the K-Wing pilots have Elite Pilot Talent slots, the only thing that Tuketu brings to the table beyond higher pilot skill than the generic pilots is the following pilot ability:

“When another friendly ship at Range 1-2 is attacking, it may treat your focus tokens as its own.”

So it can’t be used for defense (no Biggs / R2-F2 + pile of focus shenanigans), it can’t be used for unusual abilities (R5-P9 can’t borrow it)… where might this come in handy then?

Perhaps with Garven Dreis, who can spend Tuketu’s token on offense, and then hand it right back before Tuketu attacks…

esege-tuketu              garven-dreis

Or give Tuketu a Recon Specialist and team him up with a couple of A-Wings carrying Proton Rockets who are now free to spend their actions getting into the best position to fire and taking a Target Lock on the intended victim.

recon-specialist                           proton-rockets

 

Miranda – Miranda Doni is the more effective of the two named K-Wing pilots in my mind, simply because of the versatility she brings to the table in managing damage output and her own health. Miranda has wonderful synergy with the new Twin Laser Turret upgrade. Against high agility targets where every die counts, Miranda can sacrifice a shield to take a shot with four attack dice either before or after taking another shot with three dice, hoping to sneak a hit through and strip off a stealth device or something along those lines. But against bigger targets with less defense dice, she can sacrifice an attack die to recover some health, since each attack maxes out at one damage anyway.

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

New bombs – A certain player in my local meta is rejoicing over new options for bombs that come along with this expansion. He might be right. The K-Wing brings two new types to the table, Ion Bombs and the Connor Net. Both of these are focused on disabling the opponent. Ion bombs work exactly like Seismic Bombs, but victims receive two Ion tokens instead of taking damage. Conner Nets remain on the field like an hour-glass shaped Proximity Mine, but anything hitting the net (or being hit by it) receives two Ion tokens, takes one damage, and is forced to skip its’ perform action step that turn, so they’re REALLY dead in the water.

ion-bombs                           connor-net

TLT & Y-Wings – Yeah, the section header concept I’m trying out here kind of gives this one away, but think of the possibilities. Horton Salm (Y-Wing) becomes a sniper carrying a fully automatic pellet gun. And your BTL-A4 (Most Wanted) “Warthogs” that are normally close-range only now prefer firing at a distant target!

horton-salm                     btl-a4-y-wing

 

Summary – So the K-Wing may not be a must-have sort of ship that dominates the meta like previous releases have done, where we saw nothing but YT-2400 Outriders and VT-49 Decimators on the table for weeks at a time, but I think that’s a good thing. It’s an option, and it will bring variety to the game. There’s options for more, but I would suggest buying two at the most, and borrowing when you want to use more.

— The Tabletop General

 

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

The B-Wing swarm – BBBBZ / BBBB

I arrived at our local X-Wing game night this week at the same time as a good friend of mine who I rarely get a chance to play against. We walked in to find several other games in progress, and it seemed everyone else was already engaged, so he started pulling out a list and I began flipping through my squads, trying to find something out of the ordinary to fly – my triple Interceptor list deserved a week off. I had almost decided to run a TIE swarm when it came up in conversation that my friend had never played against a relatively common tournament list – “BBBBZ”. There’s probably some more elegant or descriptive names out there, but it’s not often that you can tell someone EXACTLY what a full 100 point list contains with only five letters, so I embrace it.

BBBBZ

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)

That’s it, 100 points exactly. Pilot skill 2 across the board. Zero upgrades. Only 6 evade dice total spread across 5 ships. But the list brings a whopping total of 36 hull and shield points, and throws out a respectable 14 attack dice. I’m not a HUGE fan of the list, but it has made a respectable showing in many store championship events this year, and it sounded like something that was suitably different from my usual selections to use.

For this particular game, my opponent fielded the following:

Rexler Brath – 37 (TIE Defender)
Flechette Cannon – 2 (M3-A)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

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

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

We were approaching this as a relatively casual game, but then he threw down his “Lost City Squadron” rank card – a challenge. One of our local TO’s borrowed the “Bag Tag” system from Disc Golf, and had fifty numbered rank cards printed out, which were randomly distributed around our community. In a challenge match, both players offer up their card as a wager on the match, and the winner takes the higher of the ranks. We’re still working on the system, but the idea is to offer some minor perks for being ranked highly, such as free local event entry to the highest ranked player present. With my current #4 ranking on the line, now I had to take this seriously, despite not being practiced with flying the list.

With obstacles (both debris and asteroids) fairly tightly packed in the center, we deployed in opposite corners of the map with distinctly separate goals – I intended to use the obstacles as additional blockers and to force a joust; while my opponent appeared intend upon flying past and around them, approaching me from the side. Without splitting his force, however, there was nothing to prevent me from turning my force to face his as he approached, and we engaged in the middle of the field.

The first turn of shooting didn’t go well for me at all. With several ships too far away to fire (I really need to practice maneuvering these things), no target locks, and firing at long range, I took a lot of damage on one B-Wing and did none in return – It’s really hard to crack those Interceptors open!

Things got nasty from there. Seeing what a bad position he would be otherwise on the upcoming turn, my opponent elected to fly one Interceptor straight up the middle and out the other side of the engagement, crossing a debris field in the process and taking a Direct Hit. The other would be attempting to skirt the side of my force and dodge out of my arcs, but there just weren’t enough places for it to go safely, and my injured B-Wing blocked him perfectly, while the rest of the squad had moved up and stacked up Target Locks. Rexler Brath vaporized the wounded Blue Squadron Pilot, but the action-less Interceptor fell to the massed firepower of the remainder of my squad.

The chase was on from there, with the Defender and damaged Interceptor doing everything they could to dodge arcs and get clean shots. As several other players noted, I should have started a timer as soon as it was declared to be a ranked match if I really wanted to keep my card. It ended up taking the better part of two hours to finish the cat & mouse game between the two squads, as I switched targets several times to attempt to catch one in a bad position. In the end, clever maneuvering with my B-Wings combined with my knowledge of the moves available to the Imperial ships to allow me to trap and kill both remaining enemy ships, losing the Z-95 and another B-Wing in the process, and with two healthy B-Wings remaining. Depending on when time expired, the match could have ended several different ways, but there was only a couple of minutes where I was behind, losing the Z-95 before finishing the second Interceptor.

There’s certainly power to be found in the B-Wings, but the Z-95 seems like it doesn’t always do a whole lot for me in this list. I’ve faced a couple variants that drop the Headhunter for upgrades on the B-wings, and I would probably select one of these if I were to bring out such a list in tournament play.

Tricky B’s

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control Systems – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)
Fire-Control Systems – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)

Blue Squadron Pilot – 22 (B-Wing / Rebel Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
B-Wing/E2 – 1 (Rebel Aces)
Intelligence Agent – 1 (HWK-290 / Lambda)

wpid-img_20150411_150602279.jpg
(Gollum voice) Tricksy rebels-es… (/Gollum)

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Intelligence Agent? Perhaps with my Cloaks & Dagger list? Those Advanced Sensor B-Wings can pump out unexpected damage by taking a Focus or Target Lock before a hard turn or K-Turn, or thanks to the Intelligence Agent they can be really good at getting right in your way to block maneuvers and deny actions. Then Fire-Control Systems lets the other two focus on pure damage output.

The alternative that I really like in theory is something that I faced early in the day of my Store Championship win.

Stress B’s

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

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

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

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

B-Wing and TIE Interceptor Furball
Range 2 is a no-no zone for these Interceptors!

Potentially applying four stress per turn, these B-Wings do a really good job of locking down one or two targets, taking them out of the game, and then coming back around for the remainder. They can be beaten, but it’s rough. I’ll be potentially playing as a ringer against players with a bye for the round in an upcoming “El Sith-o De Mayo” tournament, and I may have to give this variant a spin.

So what do you guys think? Which squad would perform the best, out of the three? Is there another variant with multiple B-Wings on the table that you like more and I didn’t list? Leave a comment below, I welcome your feedback as always!

– The Tabletop General

Galactic Comics & Games X-Wing Championship

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

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

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

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

My List
image

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

Round One

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

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

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

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

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

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

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

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

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

Dark Curse – 16 (Starter set)

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

2-1, 400 MoV

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

Round Four

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

3-1, 576 MoV, 3rd place after Swiss.

Not done yet.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

 

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