Tag Archives: Carnor Jax

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

FCB at Wasteland (An X-Wing Store Championship)

Making an appearance in the first local Store Championship of the year forStar Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, I faced a difficult choice in list construction. As I discussed in my previous article, I have a feeling, looking at the new threats coming in the Wave VIII releases, that my beloved Interceptors are no longer going to be viable to stand on their own. More and more counters for their abilities are appearing in new ships. And while I wanted to try something new and make use of the recent releases, I haven’t had enough time lately to test the builds that I might bring. So I split the difference and compromised, bringing Soontir Fel and Carnor Jax equipped as normal, but substituting in Omega Leader as a splash of the new tricks.

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Omega Leader – 21 (TIE/FO)
Push The Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Comm Array – 3 (TIE/FO)

Omega-leader                     Comm-relay

The change from a Royal Guard Pilot (Imperial Aces)  to Omega Leader did several things for me:
1) My lowest Pilot Skill is 8, up from 6 with the RGP. I’m almost guaranteed to see at least a portion of my opponent’s setup before deciding on mine, thus allowing me to control the area of initial engagement.
2) I shave a couple points, allowing me to win initiative bidding against other PS 8 and PS 9 pilots.
3) Omega Leader has proven recently to be a great counter to token-based ships like Soontir Fel, who shows up often in our local meta.

With 43 players in attendance, we would be having 5 rounds of Swiss play followed by a single elimination bracket of the top 8 after Swiss. I settled in for a long day of X-Wing.

 

Round 1

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

Red Ace – 29 (T-70 X-Wing)
Comm Array – 3 (TIE/FO)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
R2 Astromech – 2 (Starter set)

List commentary:
No pressure here, I’m just facing last year’s champion for this event to start the day. I hadn’t seen a competently flown T-70 in a tournament setting yet, and this was going to be a heck of an introduction. The TLT equipped Y-Wing I don’t consider much of a threat compared to the others, as any one of my ships should be able to out-duel it in the end game. I also was able to breathe a sigh of relief, as I expected the Y-Wing to be a “Stresshog” variant carrying R3-A2 (GR-75), as was the case in the mostly identical list on the next table over. The T-70s were the threat; both had regeneration abilities, and while neither was taking multiple actions each turn, each could get the equivalent benefit of multiple actions per turn.

img_20160109_102843085.jpg
The initial approach. Poe, in the right-hand X-Wing, was about to get a surprise block that didn’t phase him in the least.

The match:
My opponent, like any good Rebel player, slow-rolled his approach. And I have been working on my obstacle placement and controlling the engagement. As we entered firing range, my opponent faced a choice: splitting his squad to fly around an asteroid, or committing to moving to my left, while I was approaching from the right. So right out of the gate, I had created a unique opportunity for myself. Only Poe could safely turn to my right. With Poe bumped up to a higher pilot skill and being dependent on Focus tokens for his regeneration abilities, I gambled that I might be able to block him in and score a quick kill. Carnor and Omega Leader tokened up and prepared for combat, while Soontir, who had been closer than the others, pushed ahead and used his actions to boost and barrel roll to where Poe would be if he took the bait. This gave me either 3 shots at Poe while he had a focus, or 2 while he didn’t. I got the block, but the dice didn’t treat me well, and I didn’t deal significant damage.

The next turn, I scrambled for position, as all my ships were stressed and pointed the wrong way. I attempted another block on Poe with Omega Leader, but came up empty this time, and would be relying on his Target Lock on Poe to keep him safe. No such luck, as Poe rolls 4 natural hits; which Omega Leader thankfully avoided with a hot roll of his own and an evade token. On the next turn, Poe got yet another Range 1 shot off, for 3 hits and a crit, naturally. Omega Leader wasn’t so lucky this time, and took most of the damage.

Meanwhile, with Poe isolated and hunting down the TIE Fighter, my Interceptors had switched to a target of opportunity in Red Leader. The dice gods smiled on my opponent, and I never managed to really get a solid hit. With R2-D2 and the persistent Evade token, what little damage I managed to put through just wouldn’t stick.

Omega Leader finally shook Poe off of his tail, only to be downed by the pesky Y-Wing that was circling the field, and this slow moving game was now an uphill battle. Taking stock, killing the Y-Wing would be the easiest target, but wouldn’t get me a win on its’ own. Red Leader just wouldn’t go down. So Poe had to go. After a few turns of positioning, I finally got a good attack run going, and blasted Poe off the table with a couple rounds of consecutive fire, putting me into “Modified Win” territory. Unfortunately, to make sure I got Poe off the table, Carnor had to spend his Focus token, and he would have needed it to stay alive through Red Ace’s return fire. With Dameron off the board and given enough time, Soontir Fel could have (eventually) won that battle. Unfortunately, time ran out during the very next turn, before I could recover from Carnor’s loss.

I don’t feel like I did anything especially wrong in this match. I changed targets several times between the X-Wings, but I hadn’t actually hurt either of them so it wasn’t like I was spreading damage out. But Omega Leader never really had an impact other than as a decoy, and his ability didn’t help.

Result: 37-61 loss
Standings: 0-1, 76 MoV

 

Round 2

Opponent’s List:
Commander Kenkirk – 44 (VT-49 Decimator)
Seismic Charges – 2 (TIE Bomber / IG-2000 / Slave 1)
Ysanne Isard – 4 (VT-49 Decimator)
Emperor Palpatine – 8 (Imperial Raider)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
Lone Wolf – 2 (YT-2400 Outrider)

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

List commentary:
Standard Fel, we know the drill there. But the rest was interesting. A Decimator, without Gunner (Slave 1), and without Vader (Lambda Shuttle)? That doesn’t seem like nearly as much of a threat as most other builds. With a higher PS across the board, I couldn’t be caught off guard by those Seismic Charges. With Isard and Kenkirk, it would be slower chewing than normal, but the Decimator would eventually die.

img_20160109_115933067.jpg
Attempting to hunt down the enemy Soontir (far right) before Kenkirk could engage. If Omega Leader had gotten off a shot this round, my entire day likely changes.

The match:
My opponent deployed his Decimator in the corner, and I set up my squad as far away as possible, hoping to tempt him in to splitting his force. He obliged, and placed Soontir directly opposite my trio. With the Emperor involved, Soontir would be hard to take down, but it seemed a great opportunity to at least put a point or two on him. And I didn’t want to be trying to eat through all of Kenkirk’s hull while his escort felt 100% safe to engage from the rear.

I didn’t manage to hit him though, on the first pass, the second pass, or any subsequent ones. And I chased him for far too long. Again, just like in the previous game, Omega Leader took some damage early on and flew around as a liability for the rest of the match, simply trying to save points.

There was a very tense period, about 7 turns in, where my opponent managed to block my Soontir with Kenkirk, creating a traffic jam in the middle of the field, and dropping a seismic charge all at the same time. Omega Leader narrowly avoided death via bomb, and my Interceptors were corralled nicely for his Soontir, who thankfully didn’t manage to do any harm. We played “chicken” there for several more turns, as I couldn’t read what he planned to do; turning in to him would continue to bump if he bumped me to stay still, flying straight would either bump or place me on an asteroid, and turning away from him would bump into him again if he chose to move past me.

About the time we finally broke the standoff,  a warning was called for the end of the round I swapped targets – with no time to chase Soontir further, I needed to score points, and fast! But I wasn’t fast enough – time was called while the Decimator was still two hit points above half health, leading to my first ever 0-0 tie, and making my chances of making the cut look extremely slim.

Result: 0-0 tie
Standings: 0-1-1, 176 MoV

 

Round 3

Opponent’s List:
IG-88B – 36 (IG-2000)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Lambda Shuttle / Slave 1 / YT-2400)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

IG-88C – 36 (IG-2000)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

List commentary:
This looked familiar, yet very strange. In fact, swap the Mangler for an Ion Cannon (Firespray/B-Wing/TIE Defender/M3-A) and add in Glitterstim  (Hound’s Tooth / Kihraxz Fighter), and it would be identical to the way that I’ve run IG-88 to relative success over the past few months. The strange part about it is that my opponent has run IG-88 x 2 almost exclusively since their release a year ago, and I’ve never seen him use this configuration. The combo of a seasoned player and a more effective (in my opinion) version of the list could spell trouble for any slim hopes I had for the day.

img_20160109_135009534.jpg
Going robot hunting…

The match:
The downside of my opponent’s familiarity with other loadouts for IG-88 was a lack of a full toolbox for this one. I expected several hijinks with the Advanced Sensors / Push the Limit combo because there’s so many  ways that I use them to my advantage, and it surprised me to not see them here. And on top of that, the dice were my friend in this match. Several times I chose to spend a token to evade a mediocre attack, only to risk a more damaging shot that would end up failing to connect at all – you could read it in my opponent’s body language (and inventive verbal language) how badly he missed the Fire-Control Systems (B-Wing / TIE Phantom) that he would normally have equipped.

Carnor Jax bit the dust fairly early on, as he represented a large threat to my opponent’s token-based offense and defense, but not before one of the Aggressors was nearly destroyed. The other scum ship was dispatched quickly thereafter, as Soontir was his normal beastly self and Omega Leader showed up on offense for the first time all day, but my opponent did manage to sneak a pair of damage through onto Soontir in the process.

That’s where things got a little screwy. With plenty of time remaining in the match, and having mostly lost hope in the game and in salvaging his own run at a finish near the top, my opponent began flying very erratically, not even pretending to look for a shot. I thought for all the world that he would intentionally fly off the board in his frustration. But not wanting to give up points by doing something stupid, I remained patient and looked for good shots, which came up empty time and again. Then the turns began moving faster. And faster. Until I eventually made a mistake, in which I used Soontir’s second action to Barrel Roll into what I thought from across the table would be a better chase position, but found myself staring at an asteroid I couldn’t clear the next turn with any green maneuvers.

My opponent saw this predicament and pounced, turning back into the fight. Omega Leader bumped the Aggressor, and was unable to fire at it. And Soontir had to keep his stress, taking a speed 1 hard turn right into the sights of IG-88. One HLC shot later, and suddenly I’m losing this game. Omega Leader had to put the team on his back, and was barely able to finish the enemy off in time. It was quite frustrating to my opponent, the only action he could do that would matter was Boosting, as Omega Leader’s Target Lock prevented all other effects. But without spending that lock, all I could do was hope to eventually beat 3 evade dice with 2 focused attack dice. It eventually happened, but it took far too long for my comfort.

Result: 100-69 win
Standings: 1-1-1, 307 MoV

 

Round 4

Opponent’s list:
Wes Janson – 29 (GR-75)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
R3-A2 – 2 (GR-75)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

Luke Skywalker
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
R5-P9 – 3 (GR-75)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

Wedge Antilles – 29 (X-Wing)
R2-D2 – 4 (Starter set)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender / Kihraxz)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

List Commentary:
It’s like clockwork. Every time I come to a major tournament, I’m destined to play this guy. Our one stalwart defender of the T-65 X-Wing, I’ve played this game or ones like it out more times than I’d like to count, and it still amazes me that I might come out ahead if we go back over the results of the whole series. Wes always leads the charge, generally backed by Luke and Wedge, but there’s occasionally a different pilot mixed in. At most, an initiative bid lets me see Wedge’s move before Soontir’s, all of my other ships are moving completely blind. And in lists past, such as Cloak and Dagger led by Carnor Jax, even that wasn’t an option. Wes strips a token and/or double stresses an Interceptor via R3-A2, and then the remainder of the squad clobbers the defenseless ship over the next turn or two. Things get even rougher now with Integrated Astromech potentially adding 3 extra hit points into the list for free. It’s always an interesting cat & mouse game flying arc dodgers, and in this matchup I don’t feel like I’m the cat.

img_20160109_152110207.jpg
This is the part where the rebels realize that they took the bait in expecting Soontir to fly into their kill box.

The match:
Some games, though, you’ve just got it. You’re in the zone, or as game designer David Sirlin (http://www.sirlin.net/) puts it, you’ve got “Yomi” (the ability of players to know the mind of the opponent). This was one of those games. My opponent wanted Soontir dead, and wanted him dead badly. So I denied that combat. Soontir flew straight by my opponent on the left flank, and never once let himself get caught in Wes’s arc, or much of anyone’s for that matter. Carnor Jax and Omega Leader, on the other hand, settled in with a couple of side-slipping barrel rolls to the right, and got beautiful strafing runs on the Rebels as they turned in vain to track the Baron. With Wes falling to a rapid sequence of unusually accurate attacks, Soontir then turned to engage. At that point, all trickery went out the window, and I could rely on sheer firepower to overwhelm the remaining enemy ships. It was quick, it was brutal, and I couldn’t have done it much better had I been setting my opponent’s dials for him.

Sorry, dude.

Result: 100-0 win
Standings: 2-1-1, 507 MoV

 

Round 5

Opponent’s list:
Ten Numb – 31 (B-Wing)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
R3-A2 – 2 (GR-75)
BTL-A4 Y-Wing – 0 (Most Wanted)

Poe Dameron – 31 (Starter set 2.0)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
R5-P9 – 3 (GR-75)
Integrated Astromech – 0 (T-70 X-Wing)

List commentary:
Do I have to play this game? Really? Every one of these ships has something about it that makes it brutal for my list. The Y-Wing can apply multiple stress tokens to anything it can shoot. Ten Numb moves after I do, and can deal unblockable critical damage. And Poe moves after I do, has that ever-present regeneration mechanic that he never leaves home without, and that pesky ability to modify multiple results off of a single token. Short of a swarm of Feedback Array (IG-2000) equipped Z-95’s, or a Decimator carrying Vader (Lambda Shuttle) and a Gunner (Slave 1), there’s not a lot of things that my Interceptors like less than what was about to come across the table at me.

img_20160109_165330671.jpg
Missing: One B-Wing. No reward if found, just happy to report it missing.

The match:
What I had in my favor, however, was experience. I had seen this player before, but she was relatively new to the game. She made comments about being surprised at how well she had done for the day, and I didn’t know it at the time, but a strong win would have put her into the cut to top eight for single elimination. I wasn’t about to let her have that strong win though, because I was close enough to the top table to do mental math and know I had a shot depending on what happened in front of me. I didn’t control my own destiny, but a loss would doom my day.

Going back to our first game of the day, and the importance of setup, I placed a few obstacles up field and near her deployment zone. I wouldn’t know where Ten Numb and Poe were going until after I had finished setup, but I had a pretty good idea based on the Y-Wing’s deployment, and formed my exact plan on the fly after seeing her final placement. And then, knowing that the general plan for Rebels against arc dodgers is to approach slowly and maintain a wide field of fire, I picked a likely point of transit for Ten Numb past an asteroid, did my mental guesswork, and sent Soontir off to the races up that flank.

My opponent obliged me with slow and deliberate movements, leaving her with no option to safely turn in Soontir’s direction as she approached the asteroid, and being caught off guard by my aggressive approach. This resulted in an unopposed shot that stripped a shield or two off of the B-Wing before the entirety of our forces could engage. This is always a clutch moment for me – with 3 ships I have to get really lucky to clear a B-Wing in a single turn, but sneak in a point or two extra on another turn and it’s a much more manageable task. And when you’re playing Interceptors, limiting Ten Numb to a single shot is pretty much the best hope you can have.

Well, that’s not entirely true. You can also hope for a shield that will soak up that crit, which Omega Leader conveniently had. Ten Numb came off the board right on schedule, and then we went to work on the rest of the list. Next up, Y-Wing, can’t risk taking any more stress than it had already applied. From there, I played more cautiously, knowing I had a win in the bag without a major screwup, and knowing my actual margin of victory no longer mattered. But Poe didn’t put up too much of a fight, only taking Carnor Jax down with him.

Result: 100-34 win
Standings: 3-1-1, 673 MoV

 

The cut:
As I stated coming in to round 5, I didn’t control my own destiny. I was pulling hard for a friend to win his match (still going at the end), and only realized afterward that I shouldn’t have been so excited for him – he was playing an undefeated player so his opponent was in the top 8 players regardless of outcome, but his win blocked me out of the playoffs. Instead, I ended my day in 9th place out of 43.

img_20160109_180552796.jpg
My force for the day, along with my prizes (the pilot cards are all custom jobs by the event’s TO).

Full tournament results, including the winning lists, can be viewed on List Juggler.

I can certainly point to a couple of mistakes I made over the course of the day, the biggest one being that I didn’t swap targets to go after Kenkirk earlier in round 2. And perhaps I was just a little too aggressive with Carnor at the end of round 1. But all in all, I’m fairly happy with this as the first run of the season, and having gotten this out of my system, I can move on to some new and exciting builds for the rest of the season. And what a busy season it will be…

– The Tabletop General

2016 FFG Store Championship Prep

If there’s one thing running a blog will tell you, it’s how busy you are. Point in case, I’ve managed not to post a new article for a month. So if you miss me and you’re looking for more frequent updates, I might suggest liking The Tabletop General on Facebook, where I’m apt to post smaller updates  on a more frequent basis.

Over that past month, I came away with far more gaming presents for Christmas than anyone should ever get, ordered a sweet new laptop that’s due any day now, and generally didn’t manage to get in ANY casual X-Wing Miniatures or Armada games. So now I find myself freaking out a little bit since the 2016 Store Championship season is technically already underway for Fantasy Flight Games. I’ve got a couple more stores still to call for event listings, but here’s what my upcoming tour looks like thus far:

1/9/16: X-Wing – Wasteland Games – Duluth, GA
1/16/16: Armada – Meeple Madness – Flowery Branch, GA
?1/24/16: Imperial Assault – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA?
1/30/16: X-Wing – Meeple Madness – Flowery Branch, GA
2/6/16: X-Wing (TO) – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA
2/13/16: X-Wing – The Deep Comics & Games – Huntsville, AL
2/20/16: Armada (TO) – Giga-Bites Cafe – Marrietta, GA
2/27/16: X-Wing – Titan – Duluth, GA
3/5/16: X-Wing – Hobbytown USA  – Kennesaw, GA
3/12/16: Armada – Hobbytown USA  – Kennesaw, GA
OR X-Wing – Galactic Comics – Statesboro, GA
3/19/16: Armada – Wasteland Games – Duluth, GA
OR X-Wing – Sci-Fi City – Knoxville, TN
?3/26/16: Imperial Assault – Hobbytown USA  – Kennesaw, GA?

It’s a hard call right now for the March dates. With so many events going on over the region, overlap was unavoidable. While I’d like to support my local community and participate in at least one Armada event that I’m not the TO for, I’d also like to defend my title at Galactic. I would also really like to win an X-Wing event, over any of the others. So that makes the choices between local Armada events or distant X-Wing events tough.

And yes, that is a couple of potential Imperial Assault events you see sprinkled in to the schedule. No, I don’t really play the game, but I’ve heard good things about it, and I’m trying to solidify the local player base. So if nothing else comes up that day, I can at least be a warm body for the event. I’m hoping to at least get to a semi-competitive level in the game over the next month or so.

How would I have time for that? Well, Armada is on notice if things don’t improve for me soon. Perhaps I need to spend more time grinding out the details of the game, or even take a “net-deck” approach as a jump start. As it is, I’m not overly worried about the Armada events, as usual I’m concentrating primarily on X-Wing.

So what’s there to prepare for with X-Wing? After all, my TIE Interceptors did really well last season (snagging a championship title, in fact), and they didn’t get any worse, right? Well… no, they didn’t, but the competition got better. There’s a grand total of five (post-publish edit: six) things that seriously worry me about running them again:

  1. RAC/Fel – While less popular than last year, this combo was the instrument of my demise at last year’s Atlanta Regional, and is generally a tough matchup for me. My default build for the interceptors loses the initiative bid to Soontir Fel (TIE Interceptor), and Rear Admiral Chiraneau(Decimator) pumps out too much damage and just doesn’t die fast enough for me to be comfortable. It’s only 16 damage to knock him out, sure, but with a primary weapon turret, he doesn’t have to stay in firing arc. And with Veteran Instincts (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon) and Engine Upgrade (Millennium Falcon), Chiraneau can easily decide to slip out of firing arcs with a boost rather than stick around and get shot at.
    Rear-admiral-chiraneau        Soontir_Fel_Alt_Art
  2. Crack Shot Swarm – This one is MUCH more likely to be seen. Usually consisting of Howlrunner (TIE Fighter), 2 Omega Squadron Pilots (Force Awakens Core Set TIE/FO ), and 3 Black Squadron Pilots (TIE Fighter), all equipped with Crack Shot (Kihraxz Fighter / Hound’s Tooth), the Crack Shot Swarm forces you to over-commit with defensive tokens, and will eventually get damage through. On top of that, with 6 TIEs on the board, blocking an Interceptor is near trivial. So to walk into this matchup with a grand total of 3 ships with 3 hit points each, which depend on rationing Focus/Evade tokens to stay alive, I don’t particularly like my odds here. I’ve won my only matchup of these two lists, but it was far closer than I would have liked.
    Howlrunner                 crack_shot
  3. Sith Lords – With last year’s release of the Imperial Raider, TIE Advanced pilots got a major boost. We usually still don’t see anyone other than Darth Vader, but he’s at his best in this list. On top of that, the only thing that makes Soontir Fel any harder to kill is an additional layer of insurance on dice, which Emperor Palpatine (Imperial Raider) is designed to provide. With the potential to load up critical hits with Palpatine and Advanced Targeting Computer (Imperial Raider), Vader usually carrying a trump card of Pilot Skill 11, and an initiative bid for Soontir, this one has generally been a dice-off for me, weighted in the favor of the enemy.
    emperor-palpatine                     Advanced_Targeting_Computer
  4. Omega Leader – Generally, my battle plan over the past year or so (as I’ve mentioned here before) is to go punch the biggest threat on the board in the mouth, and pick up the pieces with whatever I had left, because I was confident in my ability to outduel the remainder of the enemy list with just one or two damaged interceptors. Omega Leader (TIE/FO) challenges that theory – he can serve as a supporting piece in the early game, but he gets stronger and stronger as the game goes on, and is a brutal end-game opponent. I haven’t had an opportunity to face him yet, but I’ve witnessed Omega Leader with Juke (TIE/FO) and Comms Array (TIE/FO) go one-on-one with Soontir Fel and absolutely destroy him. Yet you can fairly easily fit two much more threatening ships into the same list, such as your own copy of Soontir Fel fully loaded along with a crew-less Whisper (TIE Phantom). I don’t want to be facing any one of those three as the last ship on the table.
    Omega-leader              Juke
  5. Stress – Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by my local meta and a bit of luck. As I mentioned above, Interceptors really need their tokens to stay alive, and I use Push The Limit (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces) like a bad spice habit. Over the past couple years, I’ve not run into a lot of lists with effective stress mechanics, and I usually have found ways to outmaneuver the enemy when there are Tacticians (TIE Phantom) or a Rebel Captive (Lambda Shuttle) on the board. But the relative importance placed on stress at the 2015 world championships will likely garner some copy-cat lists with a suicidal BTL-A4 (Most Wanted) variant of a Gold Squadron Y-Wing carrying R3-A2 (GR-75), as well as triple K-Wing builds with Twin Laser Turrets (K-Wing) and Tacticians – Avoiding the stress areas isn’t THAT hard, but a PTL Interceptor is screwed if it fails to escape, and my defenses are greatly diminished against other attacks in the process. The K-Wings in particular are scary, because they can still fire those TLT’s outside of their primary arc, meaning there is no true blind spot to approach them from.r3-a2                     Tactician
  6. (Post-Publish edit) Unblockable damage – Without having explored the TIEs in the new Gozanti Assault Carrier much yet, I forgot about this one. Especially combined with something like Emperor Palpatine to guarantee the effect, Wampa (Gozanti) can cut through all of your defenses and hand you a gift-wrapped damage card. Ten Numb (B-Wing) presents a similar danger, especially when given Calculation (Starviper), Marksmanship (Starter set / X-Wing), or a Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A). Agile & fragile ships have a lot to worry about from these guys.Wampa       Ten-numb

With all that said and done, I’m pretty much back to the drawing board, which isn’t somewhere I’ve been for a while – 3x Interceptors with Targeting Computers gave way to Carnor Jax (Imperial Aces) & Sigma Squadron Pilots (TIE Phantom), which gave way to the Interceptors again after Autothrusters (Starviper) hit the scene.

So I’ve got a mental checklist here:

___ High durability. 3 hit points per ship just don’t feel safe to me right now, there’s more and more ways to push damage through.

___ Scum or Imperial – I lean away from playing rebels, there’s not a lot of good matchups for the Crackshot Swarm except for Han Solo (Millennium Falcon) or Dash Rendar (Outrider), neither of which I enjoy playing competitively.

___ High maneuverability – Again, part of this is the enjoyment factor; I’m at my best when I have some sort of tricky way to move around the field unexpectedly. I’m not that great at anticipating exactly where the enemy will go in order to draw out a detailed battle plan 3 turns in advance. I could do it, but it just isn’t a style I’m accustomed to. I much prefer planning on the fly, watching the board resolve itself and fitting my post-move adjustments together like a puzzle.

___ Resiliency to stress – See point 5, above. I want ships that are capable of modifying die results without tokens, that don’t need to stress themselves out constantly to carry out my battle plan, and that aren’t going to wilt the first time “Stressbot”, R3-A2, hits the table.

___ Ability to crack Soontir – Like it or not, Soontir Fel isn’t going away this season. He should slow down and be less of a key component for some of the reasons listed above, but he’s not going away. Regardless of whether or not lists using him reach the cut (not saying they won’t, but thinking worst case), we WILL see him in the Swiss rounds, and he will serve as a spoiler there. If you can’t handle him, it’s going to severely hamper your score for the day.

I don’t have my list finalized for this weekend’s event yet, but it’s going to have to check off at least three of those items for me to consider it, and I’d prefer it if all of the conditions were satisfied. So I’m running….

(Censored) – 99 points
(Censored upgrades) – 57 points
(“Cheat” card) – negative 80 points

Major initiative bid, and I think it’s nigh on unstoppable.

More seriously, I’ve had it pointed out to me in the past that calling my shot before a major event isn’t the best of ideas, so I’m going to keep the exact plan quiet until after the weekend.

And for those of you wondering, I’m hearing that Wave VIII (GhostInquisitor’s TIEMist Hunter, and Punishing One) is due within the next two weeks, so we’ll have a whole new set of builds to prepare for coming up any day now. Wooohooo!!

– The Tabletop General

2015 X-Wing Regionals – FCB Comics & Games

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

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

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

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

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Royal Guard Pilot – 22 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)

Total: 96 points

Round 1

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

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Look closely, you’ll see a rare Phantomus Nerfumus here, an almost extinct ship that hides well.
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First Order of business is to get a matching paint scheme for that Interceptor. Second Order (to appear in Episode VIII) is to figure out why that Aggressor is so close.
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And here we have an example of the Sharkamus Drunkamus.
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The Meta Game – RAC / Fel vs BBBBZ
wpid-img_20150530_120955079.jpg
The “Huh?” game – Deci + Shuttle + Firespray vs Firespray & 2x HWKs
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Team Procket makes another appearance!

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

Round 2

Opponent:

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

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

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Going droid hunting…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 3

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

wpid-img_20150530_151923322.jpg
BBBBZ, exactly what I didn’t want to see today.

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

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

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

wpid-img_20150530_155218437.jpg
One B-Wing down, far too many to go.

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

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

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

Break time

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

Round 4

Opponent:

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

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

wpid-img_20150530_172349708.jpg
Look, sir! Autothruster victims!

 

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

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

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

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

wpid-img_20150530_180558394.jpg
Catch that flying carpet!

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

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

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

Round 5

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

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

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

wpid-img_20150530_190721932.jpg
4 ships, none of them the same class. Holy crap, it’s something that isn’t a cookie-cutter list!

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

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

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

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

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

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Hang in there Carnor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 6

Opponent:

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

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

(2 point initiative bid)

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RAC all up in my face…

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

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

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Well, that idea blew up in my face…

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

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Note the absence of a Royal Guard Pilot.

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Moxie Games X-Wing Championship

Following last week’s first place finish at Galactic,  I joined a group of local players and traveled to one more X-Wing Miniatures store championship this weekend to finish out the season, this time the event was held at Moxie Games. A much shorter drive than my previous event, I still had some fun in traffic getting there and felt a little rushed after arriving. I had considered trying out a new list, but I had also been joking with my friends about wanting a plaque for home and for my office too, so I brought out the A team again, my triple TIE Interceptor list.

A quick refresher on the contents of my force:

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

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

No time to peek around or take photos before the event today, had to jump on the table right away.

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X-Wing took over Moxie for the day.

Round One

Opponent:

Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)
Draw Their Fire – 1 (Millennium Falcon)
Luke Skywalker – 7 (Millennium Falcon)
Cluster Missiles – 4 (TIE Advanced / A-Wing)
Millennium Falcon – 1 (Millennium Falcon)
Tactical Jammer – 1 (VT-49 Decimator)
R2-D2 – 4 (CR-90 Blockade Runner)

Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter set)
R2-F2 – 3 (Starter set)
Experimental Interface – 3 (YT-2400 Outrider)

Well now, if this list doesn’t scream “I don’t want to make decisions”, I don’t know what does. X-Wing on the table edge, Falcon right beside it. 2 forward for Biggs, Focus, R2-F2. 1 forward for Han, Focus. K-Turn before reaching the edge of the table. Which is exactly what happened.

Before our game had begun, a discussion broke out at the next table over about one player’s list. He was brand new to the game, and his opponent, a fellow TO in my usual group known as “Lambot”, was explaining several errors in his list. Academy Pilots couldn’t have the Missile upgrade currently placed on it, or multiple Elite Pilot Talents, and Darth Vader could only have one of his two Missiles too. The event TO was called over for guidance, and at his direction, the extra upgrades were taken off and not replaced. This left a brand new player down about 15 points to a very experienced player, which wouldn’t be pretty.

Back to my game, I tried my best to tempt my opponent into giving up his moving castle approach by circling around the entire map before finally giving in and engaging on his terms. The last thing I wanted to do was run out of time. My attack dice ran hot, and refused to roll critical hits while Biggs was alive (which wasn’t long, even with the crazy 4-5 defense dice available to him), and good ol’ R2-D2 came through as the Empire’s best saboteur, crippling the Falcon’s guns with a Weapons Malfunction. A couple turns passed in which a combination of collisions and K-Turns kept Han from fixing that critical hit, and the Falcon simple wasn’t going to hit Autothruster Interceptors. The actual fight went quickly, although we didn’t have much time to spare following the early failed maneuvering lure.

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Torkil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Greedo – 1 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)
Moldy Crow – 3 (HWK-290)
Hull Upgrade – 3 (Imperial Aces / Starviper)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Kavil – 24 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
R4 Agromech – 2 (Most Wanted)

Somehow, out of 27 players, “Lambot” and I were the only two to score 100-0 wins in our first match, so that put us head to head at the top table. As we were setting up, he commented that he brought Feedback Array specifically for Carnor Jax, since he expected to see more and more of him now with Autothrusters. Accordingly, I made a mental note that stuck with me throughout the game not to get too close.

His list is one of those things that doesn’t look like it should work, but it does. Torkhil drops a target to PS 0. Palob steals any token that target might have. Kavil uses Opportunist on the token-less victim, and rolls a 5 die blaster turret shot with target lock, likely stripping the target’s shields. Palob follows up with a 4 die blaster turret shot with focus & target lock. Then Torkhil either throws a crit at them via Greedo, or ionizes a new target for the next turn.

We both played carefully at first, he took 1-forward moves, I took a couple turns and barrel rolls to stay roughly in place, graduating to 2-forwards, and then when it was time to get down to business, I rolled in to range 3 with some moderate movements and lit the HWK’s up from long range. Both dropped quickly thanks to another dose of hot attack dice, and at that point I just dove into close range on Kavil. With Carnor Jax denying focus actions, Kavil was pretty much helpless, and we wrapped the game up in a little under 20 minutes. Clean, simple, and brutal.

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

Chewbacca – 42 (Millennium Falcon)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Jan Ors – 2 (Rebel Aces)

Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)
Determination – 1 (TIE Fighter / Starter set)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

Three months ago, this list would have scared the living daylights out of me playing Interceptors. But now, not so much. Big turrets are still dangerous, but Autothrusters have gone a long way towards evening things up by protecting you from that inevitable poor evade roll.

Early on in the game, my opponent verbally resolved to keep me in forward arc as much as possible, and telling me how much Carnor Jax worried him when he was built around Recon Specialist. He approached slowly, giving me Chewbacca as the first available target. I, on the other hand, tried to get cute, and didn’t actually commit Carnor, having him take a defensive move, hiding behind an asteroid. It didn’t do me any good, as he still took a Direct Hit, leaving him near death’s door and without even being able to shoot that turn.

At this point, I realized that I needed to start doing some serious damage if I was going to take these two down. Having stripped several of Chewie’s shields the previous turn, I thought (correctly) that he would try to move quickly and escape some of my firing arcs. So instead, I let Chewie fly out of the fight, and I swapped targets, pouncing on Han, too far away for Chewie to really be effective. That’s a 3 on 1 fight that Han is bound to lose, and did, but Carnor Jax went down in the process, my first casualty of the day.

Seeing the remaining time was getting low, I was a wary about engaging Chewbacca. He still had lots of health, I couldn’t deny his actions, and with one Interceptor already down, losing a second one and not finishing Chewie would cost me the match. I wasn’t willing to risk that, so while I took a few long range shots, I refused to come in close or take risks. As a result, I didn’t finish him off before time expired, but a win is a win (usually).

3-0, 516 MoV

Round Four

Opponent:

Howlrunner – 18 (TIE Fighter)
Wingman – 2 (Z-95)
Shield Upgrade – 4 (Imperial Aces / Millennium Falcon)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Shield Upgrade – 4 (Imperial Aces / Millennium Falcon)

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

Ugh. I was NOT looking forward to this one. I took a couple minutes to watch this list fly towards the end of round two, and had seen it at the next table over during round three. I asked (unsuccessfully) for his opponent to do me a favor and not let him win that game, because I didn’t want to play it.

Without Whisper involved, I knew it wouldn’t be quite as tough as it could be, but with only 9 total HP a lot of my resilience is based on having a Focus & Evade token available every turn, and Carnor would take that away. I’ve also played around with a similar list recently – Soontir (fully loaded), Howlrunner (PTL), Black Squadron (Draw Their Fire), and Black Squadron (Wingman), and I know the value that a nearby TIE with Wingman can bring to the Interceptors.

It did, however, become a little easier when my opponent took the initiative option. Looking back on it, it made sense that he wanted to be able to cloak Echo before my Carnor Jax could fire, but it also made the difference between only Soontir Fel being able to see the enemy’s final positions for arc-dodging purposes, or Carnor Jax too.  Still, I resolved to make that choice hurt.

We approached from opposite corners, meeting close to the center of the map. I was more than happy with this, as I wanted to limit Echo’s options for decloaking. Speaking of which, Echo led the group, charging ahead of the others. Seeing this, I resolved to take down Echo first, figuring that I could pick the Phantom off by arranging a 3-on-1 skirmish. Perhaps it was intended as a trap, or perhaps he sensed that I had it out for the Phantom, either way, he moved as far as he could to my right, with Howlrunner and Carnor still approaching from the left of the asteroid field. But I wanted to not only take out the Phantom, I wanted to deny the other ships attacks for the round. Accordingly, I had committed to moving to my right, planning to Boost/Barrel roll to correct back to the left if I had guessed wrong and it was needed. So from there, it took a couple of turns, but that Phantom was toast just about the time that the other ships engaged.

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Phantom down, time to go TIE Fighter hunting.

My Royal Guard Pilot took a hit in the process of killing Echo, and ended up evacuating the area rather than risking getting caught in the crosshairs of the other two ships. This sent him into the densest part of the asteroid field, the RGP spent several turns to bring himself back into the fight, leaving me with a 2-on-2 duel near the corner of the field.

Carnor was by far the bigger threat of the two, but also a tough nut to crack. With Howlrunner’s assistance, the Interceptor had a completely open dial every turn, and was (almost) always able to take a double action. So to help myself out, I took down Howlrunner first, putting us on equal footing for action economy. My opponent, seeming to know that the end was near, began flying very defensively with Carnor in an attempt just to save some points, but with my own Jax and Fel in pursuit, and the Royal Guard Pilot re-entering the battle from the other flank, he could only dodge so many shots, and I notched another win.

4-0, 716 MoV

Round Five

Opponent:

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Black Sun Soldier – 13 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Boba Fett – 39 (Most Wanted)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (Starviper / IG-2000)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Seismic Charges – 2 (TIE Bomber / IG-2000 / Slave 1)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)

This would prove to be a challenging matchup. For the first (and only) time all day, Soontir Fel wouldn’t have free reign over the battlefield during his movement, and Fett could adjust his facing via Engine Upgrade if needed. Additionally, the three feedback arrays would be enough to vaporize an Interceptor in a single turn if I let him catch me in range. So while I was a lock to reach the playoffs whether I won this game or not (a total loss would have put me in 4th), I hoped to completely demolish it somehow, and knock it out of the playoffs, because I didn’t want to face it with my tournament life on the line!

My goal was to play keep-away, using my speed and maneuverability to stay away from the Z’s long enough to pick them apart at range, but I wasn’t sure how Boba would fit in to that equation, I had no idea what he would be doing. Initially, the Z’s approached in a cluster in the center of the field, with Boba following behind. I traded a few shots with the headhunters, destroying one, and then bugged out on the next turn rather than getting caught. My opponent, on the other hand, had spread the Z’s out, and there was nothing I could do to prevent Soontir from getting zapped once by a feedback.

 

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Scramble drill!

 

The battle split from here, which was an interesting temporary war on two fronts. Soontir and Boba began dueling, but without doing much damage to the other, although Boba did catch Soontir with his Seismic charge, bringing the baron down to one hit point, yet with his Stealth Device still active. The other Interceptors both bolted away to get some safety distance before making another attack run on the Black Sun Soldiers. While Fel could hold his own for a few minutes against the master bounty hunter, it’s not something I wanted to encourage as a long term engagement, so rather than turning up field for a shot, I had Soontir reverse course back towards the other Interceptors, causing Boba to collide. At extreme range, token-covered Interceptors win out over an action-less Firespray, and shields were stripped from range.

The next turn, my Interceptors took the opportunity to swarm together, and all ended up at Range 1 of the remaining Z’s. Two shots to the healthy one removed it from the table, and the Royal Guard Pilot blasted the final of the three fighters on his own, thanks to the missing shield from the earlier Feedback Array usage.

From there, the whole squad gave chase to Boba Fett, who was nearing a corner. While I did say my favorite place to engage a Firespray is a board edge, I neglected to mention that it’s even better to engage it near two of them. A flurry of shots exchanged left Boba limping and without his biggest asset, his pilot skill (thanks to a Damaged Cockpit critical). Desperate to find a way to escape the corner and put shots on target, Boba took too big of a turn, and flew straight off the board. He escaped, but it was a win.

I didn’t manage to knock him out of the cut, his prior record was too strong, but I wouldn’t be facing him in an immediate rematch either, and I had proven to myself that the list wasn’t THAT bad of a matchup.

5-0, 916 MoV, 1st place after Swiss.

Moxie Top 8
Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Torkil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Ion Cannon Turret – 5 (Y-Wing HWK-290)
Greedo – 1 (Most Wanted)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
K4 Security Droid – 1 (Most Wanted)
Moldy Crow – 3 (HWK-290)
Hull Upgrade – 3 (Imperial Aces / Starviper)
Feedback Array – 2 (IG-2000)

Kavil – 24 (Most Wanted)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
R4 Agromech – 2 (Most Wanted)

“Lambot” again, as luck would have it. Given the ease with which the Interceptors tore through his forces earlier, this should have been an easy win. But after a long day of the best the tournament could throw at me,  my wits and luck were running a little low.

Again, we approached slowly. He hugged the board edge, with Kavil closest to the edge, and I slowly moved up field for a turn or two before turning in and engaging him at a right angle near my right corner of the map. I got almost exactly the shot that I wanted on the first turn of engagement: two range 3 shots on an HWK with no return fire. Unfortunately, I whiffed on the first attack, and the second was completely evaded.

What I should have done was turn up field, then come back for another attack run and another set of 100% safe range 3 shots. But I was too stubborn, I abandoned my discipline, and I didn’t respect what his ships were capable of. I attacked.

The Royal Guard Pilot and Soontir Fel turned in and prepared to unload into the HWK’s again. Carnor, on the other hand, swooped in close for extra dice and to prevent spending of Focus Tokens on defense or to fire Blaster Turrets, placing himself directly in front of the enemy and Focusing for an optimum attack, exactly the WRONG thing to do. Palob stole the Focus token (oops, forgot he could do that). Torkhil dropped Carnor to PS0 (oops, forgot he could do that). Soontir damaged but didn’t kill one of the HWK’s. Because I had gotten so close, Kavil had a forward arc Range 1 shot with Opportunist on the token-less Carnor Jax for a total of four attack dice (oops, forgot he could do that), who took a single damage. The Royal Guard Pilot fired next, leaving the damaged HWK with only two hull remaining. Just outside of the arc of the second HWK, surely Carnor Jax could survive a two die attack from the injured HWK, right? Zap, ZAP, Feedback array x2 (oops, forgot he could do that).

Had I stopped to think about it for a moment, I probably could have still pulled it off by breaking off the attack, getting distance, and going back to long range drive-by attacks. But in my frustration, I pressed the assault, and now without Jax around, Kavil’s leash was off, I ate a 5 die Blaster Turret shot to the face, and Fel fell dead, the Royal Guard following on the next turn.

Lambot did everything right; I can’t and wouldn’t want to take that away from him. He carved through his next two opponents to take first place in the event, and our whole group stuck around to watch and support him. But I know good and well that I played that last game horribly wrong. Sticking to my tenets of patient, disciplined play, I would have walked away with another win. Instead, I assumed that rematch would be a walk in the park, and sat out the rest of the event to pay for it.

For those who are interested in such things, full Cryodex output for the event is available here.

I’ve played in six store championships this season. One of those was a really bad day where nothing could go right. One of those, I could do no wrong and brought my very best to each game. The other four, I can point to the exact point in time where I had a lapse in judgement and didn’t have a killer instinct approach to the match, or I forgot something that made a big difference because I wasn’t paying close enough attention, or both. Casual play is a wholly different thing, I don’t mind messing around, getting myself into a bad situation and trying to find a way out, or losing a random game to a friend. But come tournament time, Beast Mode needs to be in full effect, no matter who I’m playing or what I’m playing against.

Lesson learned. Bring on Regionals.

– 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

 

Play by Play with Interceptors

If you follow The Tabletop General on Facebook, you may have seen a recurring post every couple of weeks about tuning in to watch X-Wing Miniatures streamed on the store’s Twitch feed. This isn’t something that I’ve organized myself, but I’ve thrown my full support behind the guys that do run it as a part of our regular league nights there as well as for tournament play, I never turn down an opportunity to play on the stream, and you’ll occasionally hear me doing commentary behind the scenes too. Last night, I had a chance to do both, playing a feature match, then acting as color commentary for a second game. As much as I find it interesting to listen to our commentators try to guess what is going on at any given time, it drives me crazy to listen to it because the significance of a lot of moves and maneuvers can be missed. So in an attempt to show the method behind my madness, today I’ll be breaking down that feature match from last night with a bit of play by play.

Our streaming coordinator, Engine25, takes player submissions leading up to the event and tries to find interesting matchups. So these games don’t show lists customized to play each other, but are hand picked to show something more exciting than two swarms of un-upgraded Scimitar Squadron Pilots going head to head.  I toyed with bringing out my Suicide Bomber Z-95 Headhunter list that I posted months ago, but it had fallen a little flat in practice the night before, and I’ve had lots of success with TIE Interceptors now that I’ve put away the TIE Phantoms for a little while, so I brought the same list that I discussed last week. Spamer, my opponent, has been doing really well with a pair of the new Firespray-31 variants for Scum & Villainy, but hadn’t faced any ultra-maneuverable opponents yet. Big arcs with auxiliary arcs vs arc dodgers sounded like a fun matchup to Engine25, so into the arena we went.

Stars & Blood Stripes AKA Can’t Touch This

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

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

 

Spamer’s “Dat Booty

Boba Fett – 39 (Slave 1 AND Most Wanted required)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist (TIE Phantom / HWK-290)
Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)

Kath Scarlet – 38 (Slave 1 AND Most Wanted required)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender)
Recon Specialist (TIE Phantom / HWK-290)
Mangler Cannon (IG-2000 / M3-A)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)

I’ve posted the video here, and will reference a timestamp for each turn with its’ discussion below.

Initial setup (0:00): Winning the initiative roll, I declined and gave it to my opponent – having Carnor Jax able to react to Boba Fett’s positioning was much more important than shooting first. I didn’t put a lot of thought into asteroid placement, but looking at two Firesprays, I knew I didn’t want to give them a clean lane to joust across the middle of the table, so I set up a loose triangle with my tokens, hoping to force a turn. It was only at the end that I noticed Spamer’s tokens formed such a clean wall and approach lane, but it was too late to block it in any way. I didn’t want to commit to a side of the battlefield yet, so I placed the Royal Guard Pilot where he could go to either side of that wall. Seeing the Firesprays line up as they did aligned towards the alleys in the center of the field, I decided to see if I could drag him through those asteroids, and deployed Carnor and Soontir Fel on the bottom side of the map.

Turn 1 (3:35): As planned, Royal Guard Pilot joins his big brothers on the bottom edge of the map, boosting around the first asteroid to get closer to the enemy, doesn’t take a second action because we shouldn’t be in firing range and I don’t want to limit the dial with stress. I have faster maneuvers set with Carnor & Soontir just in case something crazy happens and I can Boost and Barrel Roll into an unopposed shot. But with Boba having moved up slower than Kath, I figure we’re out of range and take Focus, again not stressing to keep the dial clear. Sure enough, we’re at about range 3.05, and we’re back to dials.

Turn 2 (6:10): With no solid idea of what my opponent’s plan is yet, the Royal Guard Pilot moves up as slowly as possible, and takes a Stress token to Focus & Evade. He may end up being the only one that can be shot at this turn, so I definitely wanted the cover of that asteroid and all defensive options available. Beyond that, I wanted to get in some shots, but not get too close; if I could take 3 shots and only receive 1 in return, that would be great. So a bank for Carnor to get a good angle, Soontir would need to go straight to avoid a collision – Interceptors that don’t get actions tend to get blown up.

With both Firesprays turning away and inviting a chase, Carnor Jax would be going 1-on-1 with Boba Fett this turn. The Royal Guard didn’t have arc, and Soontir might have gotten himself into a poor position by trying to force the shot. But at range 3, I’m happy with that exchange, defending with 5 dice, one auto-conversion, one Evade token, and having Focus available was a lot better deal for me than the return shot of 3 Focused dice vs 3 Focused dice, even though Boba had a focus for both rolls and a Predator reroll. Sure enough, the Interceptor dodges, and two shields get stripped off of Slave 1.

Turn 3 (10:20):  Stressed and pointed at an asteroid, Carnor Jax is the first move I plot for the turn. A 2-bank in either direction would probably clear the rock, but… this looks like a death trap. Not a lot of options for dodging out of either Firespray’s arc, and if I come in with the Royal Guard, he’s bound to pop his Inertial Dampeners if he wouldn’t otherwise have a shot with his chosen maneuvers. The other thing that comes to mind at this point is that I really don’t want to be chasing Kath Scarlet. With Boba in the way, I can’t get close enough to narrow the arc and be able to dodge out of it, and that extra attack die she gets really makes a difference. So instead, I bail out, hoping for a bit of range instead.

So this is the first mistake I can point to in my game. I realized too late that my chosen maneuvers would cause a three Interceptor pile-up, and if Boba chose to put on the brakes, he’d have his choice of shots on any of them. So I quickly changed my mind from Focus/Evade on the RGP to Focus/Barrel Roll (not something I would ask to do in tournament play, but we’re all friends here). In doing so, I compounded that error slightly by moving the RGP closer, and soon paid for it with a damage and a lost Stealth Device. The other two Interceptors just spread out a bit and got better positions for subsequent turns.

Turn 4 (14:30): With some interesting (and mildly inaccurate, Spamer and I didn’t play the day before) commentary in the background, I lined the RGP on targets once again, “turtling up” with Focus & Evade again, just out of Kath’s range if she used Inertial Dampeners, and using the asteroid to replace his Stealth Device. Seeing where the Firesprays ended up, I played it careful with Jax, because he would be in Fett’s arc and without Focus or Evade had I used a Boost and a Barrel Roll to get into a firing position. So instead, I just lined up my next move with him. Fel, on the other hand, hadn’t stressed the prior turn, and was able to find a gap and go on the offensive. Since Boba banked to ensure a shot, I had an angle where I could approach him from the side with Fel, taking a Boost into range, then a Barrel Roll out of the Firespray’s arc, and getting a Focus for my shot from the ensuing Stress token. No damage, but it burned one of Boba’s Focus tokens. With everyone else out of range, it didn’t end up mattering, but it was still the right move in my book.

Turn 5 (18:50): RGP needs to turn, and doesn’t want to get too close, especially without the Stealth Device. Speed 2 bank and “turtle”, locked in. Carnor has no stress, needs to get re-engaged, dialed up a 5 straight there, the asteroid shouldn’t be a factor. After seeing the enemy’s movements (so glad I gave up initiative), I know I’ll be potentially trading fire from there, so another “turtle” maneuver. A speed 2 bank ensures that Soontir Fel is safe from fire unless the Firesprays drastically changed their behavior (and they didn’t). Reacting to positions, I had Fel boost in and Focus, taking a Focus and some shields off of Boba Fett. Royal Guard shrugs off a long range shot, Carnor strips the other Focus from Boba, and then the Royal Guard gets the last shield. It’s taking forever at this range, but I’ve done four damage while only taking one, and I can keep this up all night.

Turn 6 (23:30): Now these Firesprays HAVE to turn, and that’s my favorite time to engage them. As wide as their firing arcs are, they’ve got blind spots the same size on either side. Time to pounce! Royal Guard zooms in, takes a Barrel Roll (don’t want to sacrifice him to a well-timed usage of Inertial Dampeners), then snags a Focus for his shot via Push The Limit. Carnor Jax comes in at full (green) speed, and I go ahead and set a hard turn for Soontir Fel because I don’t want him pointing away from the fight next turn. Given where the Firesprays go, I decide it’s better to take shots on Kath with the named pilots and not take any return fire at all, so I temporarily change targets, don’t bother stressing Fel, and cut Kath’s shields in half with the first shot. Jax ends up having a shot on Fett though, so I take it, although to no avail. Royal Guard Pilot earns his pay though, landing a total of four damage on Boba. Six damage dealt, no return fire… definitely happy with that turn.

Turn 7 (29:40): I still don’t want those Inertial Dampeners to foul up my moves, and it’s time for Boba to go away. So a speed 2 forward and from the Royal Guard Pilot not only guarantees a shot on Boba wherever he goes (even if he stays put), but it also places me in the blind spot of both ships if they choose not to move. I “turtle” with that ship again because Kath might have a shot available after the move, hard to judge those big arcs and long movements. RGP has been all over Boba thus far, so I trust him to finish the job, and point Soontir towards Scarlet with a tight turn, bringing Carnor Jax forward to keep Boba’s actions locked down. Those all turn out to be exactly the right moves, because Boba tries to cut me off. He fails to do so, but it leaves Soontir stuck where he can’t dodge both ships’ arc. Looking at both options, Kath throws more dice and may not have any other valid choice for a shot, and Boba won’t be able to spend his focus, so I dodge Kath and slide in close for range one warning shot on her (no damage). Fett fails to claim his bounty on Baron Fel, and Carnor finishes off the first of the bounty hunters. In retaliation, Kath takes her first shot of the game, and manages to land a hit on Carnor — This is why I’ve been denying her shots all game!

Turn 8 (36:10): 3 on 1 now. Royal Guard needs to turn hard to get into the fight, but I REALLY don’t want those Inertial Dampeners to be used this turn, because Soontir would end up out in front and without a shot, so I Barrel Roll for one of my actions, making it look like the stop maneuver wouldn’t give my opponent a chance to fire. I’m not 100% sure if Kath will oblige though, so I set relatively slow moves on both of my other ships. She does, which lets Soontir cruise right along beside her, no reason to take any more than a Focus, so I do so, already plotting ahead for the tight turn that the next move will require to avoid that asteroid. Soontir cleared her shields, Carnor was out of range, and the other two shots failed to hit.

Turn 9 (39:25): My gut says this would be a great time for those Inertial Dampeners to get used, and I really don’t see a way to move the Royal Guard Pilot that would tempt him into changing his mind, even without a good shot it’s a positional play. So I plan accordingly, knowing good and well that so long as I keep the moves close, even if Kath does make a move and turn the corner, I’ll still be outside her firing arcs. Royal Guard sets up for the next turn, and Kath plays along nicely, finally using the full stop. Carnor comes forward quickly, which narrows the firing arc and allows him to scoot out of it, and Soontir turns and waits for the next round. No shots.

Turn 10 (42:00): Here’s mistake #2. Ten turns, two mistakes… I can probably deal with that. I got really aggressive with my Royal Guard Pilot here. I forgot about the stress from the Inertial Dampeners, and this fully expected Kath to take a bigger move, giving the RGP a nice clean side shot after I used the Boost and Barrel Roll to slide onto the other side of the asteroid. Even if Kath DID take a short move, I expected a collision at worst. Instead, Kath stopped just short of the Royal Guard, and it proved to be the end of his day. Again, expecting a bigger move, Carnor Jax got left hanging out to dry with no shot available… and then I panicked.

The commentators didn’t pick up on this, but you can see it in my actions as I start to hand Spamer the dial for Soontir, I had slotted in a K-Turn with him to get a shot, some range, and just to keep everybody on their toes, but I forgot to pick up Carnor’s stress token, and momentarily thought it was on Soontir! Fortunately, we figured out what happened before we made any further moves, and we resolved it as intended. I moved that stress to Carnor even though it had been cleared, but in that moment I didn’t care, I hadn’t screwed up royally for the second time in one turn in front of ~50 strangers on the internet, and that made me feel better. Soontir loves to K-Turn when appropriate, as it was here, because it got him a shot that he wouldn’t have otherwise had, and with a Focus no less. He scored a hit and crit on Kath; the Direct Hit was nice, but it wasn’t the Blinded Pilot that would have kept the Royal Guard alive.

Turn 11 (46:50): 2 on 1 now. I set my dials for one of two things: Kath flies by, I pray, turtle and shoot, or Kath creeps forward, and we bump, giving me a free shot with Soontir. The latter happens, but not having a focus was the difference between scoring 3 damage and scoring none. Moving on…

Turn 12 (48:35): Have to turn to follow Kath here, but that same situation again would be bad, she gets actions, I don’t, and she would be throwing 5 attack dice. So I set different speed turns for the Interceptors, and “bump safely”. Moving on again…

Turn 13 (49:50): This turn would mark mistake #3. Carnor didn’t bump, and was staring down Kath’s lasers. There wasn’t room to Barrel Roll to his right, to the left didn’t get out of arc, and I wanted to shoot so I stubbornly refused to boost past, not wanting give up a chance to finish this. But Soontir did collide, leaving it a 1-on-1 fight for the turn. Carnor came one damage short of finishing off the Firespray, and then took all of Kath’s pent up rage in return, receiving a whopping three uncanceled crits. Ouch.

Turn 14 (52:50): 2 ships, 10 minutes left on the game clock, plenty of time to spare. I’m not worried about bumping again if I need to, and I set a bank to keep myself pointed in the right general direction. Kath finds a new gear and flies forward, looking to keep arc and hoping for a poor attack roll from Soontir. She gets neither, as I barely slip out of arc, and score the kill.

Bonus content: Post game interviews with both players – Spamer at 57:45, and yours truly at 1:04:35.

Interceptors for the win. Officially tired of typing.

– The Tabletop General

Return of the TIE Interceptor

Just like many other gaming nerds of my generation, I went through multiple joysticks playing the Star Wars computer games, especially “TIE Fighter”. There was just something about the fact that you were playing as an Imperial, traditionally portrayed as the evil faction in Star Wars. And it certainly didn’t hurt that I loved to fly the TIE Interceptor. A perfect combination of speed, firepower, and maneuverability, there were very few times where I’d rather be in anything other than an Interceptor (“X-Wing vs TIE Fighter” deathmatches were a notable exception where the Y-Wing was king of the scoreboard, but that’s another story). Matching the firepower of an X-Wing, with maneuverability on par with an A-Wing, the “Squint” could handle just about anything the Rebellion could throw at it.

So it’s little surprise that when I started playing Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, the TIE Interceptor was my ship of choice. This worked out great for casual matches, but my relative inexperience with the game, combined the prevalence of omnidirectional turrets on the Millennium Falcon and Y-Wing, meant that the Interceptor represent itself well in my first forays into competitive events. The subsequent release of Imperial Aces brought the Interceptor back into the spotlight for a while, and introduced a few new tricks and pilots, but didn’t add much to make the ships more survivable (my whole problem with them to begin with: joystick > green dice). The Interceptor was fun, but it was missing something still.

Recently, I’ve had mixed success with my Cloaks and Dagger list, which pairs two TIE Phantoms with Carnor Jax in a TIE Interceptor. Carnor is a key piece to the list, but his survival isn’t linked to the success of the list. In fact, he tends to be the first to be taken out, as while I don’t depend on him for much damage, taking positional and defensive actions for the most part, his role in denying actions requires getting up close and personal with the enemy, and it tends to draw a lot of attention his way. The list performs fairly well, and I consider myself on-point with how I fly it, but it struggles against some of the top tier tournament lists in my area, so I keep falling short in competitions. An immediate upgrade after the release of Scum & Villainy was to swap out Carnor Jax’s Targeting Computer with a set of Autothrusters from the Starviper, but this still left the Phantoms relatively vulnerable, and they got slapped around pretty hard by the first scum lists they faced.

So I’ve gone back to plan A, and I’m pretty happy about it thus far.

Can’t Touch This

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

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

I chose to take a 1 point initiative bid over upgrading the RGP to Turr Phenirr (without Autothrusters), seeing it more important to choose initiative than upgrade from a PS6 to a PS7 with my tertiary pilot, and the odds of Turr’s ability being needed are slim to none. This is a “simple” build layout, in which all 3 Interceptors are equipped identically, and have a relatively high rate of survivability thanks to the combination of Autothrusters and Stealth Device, augmented just about every turn by Focus & Evade.

Jousting ships don’t worry me all that much with Interceptors, although fighting a swarm would be a little on the difficult side. But the big weakness of the Interceptors was that the arc dodging was ineffective against turrets – and now the Autothrusters make all the difference in the world in that regard.

“I’m bringing ‘cepters back…”

As I see it, the key to running Autothruster Interceptors is to avoid the No-Fly-Zone that is Range 2. At Range 2, you might not be able to dodge out of firing arcs, and you’re only getting help from your Autothrusters against turrets facing away from you. But at Range 1, you should be able to Boost & Barrel Roll out of the way of anything that would be firing at you, and at range 3, you’re getting both the Autothrusters, and the bonus die against primary attacks. So if you find yourself there, recognize, respect, and get out of the No-Fly-Zone (Range 2, in enemy arc) as soon as possible.

So far this list is 5-0, having taken down a Focus-based Scum list (never fair with Carnor), an IG-2000 and Boba Fett tag team, an Oicunn / TIE list (hug that board edge against Oicunn!!!!), a Scum menagerie list, and a TIE Bomber (Concussion Missile & Proximity Mine) / Shuttle squad.

Even with the Autothruster / Stealth Device combo, dice go cold at the most inconvenient times, but it’s better than it was before. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency for my demeanor to cool off a bit once a few hits have been landed, and my piloting becomes much more deliberate and lethal, which pulled me back from the brink of defeat at least once last night. I’m interested to see how well this will perform at a higher level of competition. The big thing that worries me is a mechanic that deals automatic damage, like Feedback Array swarms (saw one of those this weekend in a Store Championship), or a Doomshuttle (Omicron Group Pilot + Vader, optional Gunner).

On the other hand, I’m considering adding that kind of a mechanic into my own list, as the Royal Guard Pilot swaps out for a Shuttle fairly easily.

I’m on the Leader

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

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Omicron Group Pilot – 21 (Lambda Shuttle)
Fire-Control System – 2 (TIE Phantom / B-Wing)
Darth Vader – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)
Gunner – 5 (Slave 1)

The list now clocks in at 100 points exactly. Soontir and Carnor are untouched. The Omicron Group Pilot only exists as a platform for Vader, I’m not at all worried about not being able to turn around and make a second pass easily. Ideally, the shuttle will deal 5-6 damage to crucial targets on the first couple of turns, and then limp away with a couple of health remaining while the Interceptors mop up. The idea is that the shuttle will slowly move into range, and take focus. On the first attack, if it would mean at least two damage goes through, spend the focus and then trigger Vader. Otherwise, let the attack miss, trigger Vader, get your Target Lock from Fire Control Systems, and use gunner for a second attack that is fully modified: Target Lock + Focus, and follow up with a second activation of Vader if necessary. The important thing here is that you hit something hard that would potentially cause issues for the Interceptors, like putting a couple of crits onto the hull of a Decimator, or finishing off TIE Whisper, something like that.  Survival of the shuttle is near negligible, it’s a disposable tool to with which to punch the enemy’s champion in the mouth.

Time will tell which of the two lists will work better, but I’m comfortable rolling out either and trusting my piloting skills to keep myself in the match. As one of my opponents said at the start of the game yesterday, “Normally I would try to drag you through the asteroids but… you can fly.” I take that as the highest form of compliment.

– The Tabletop General

 

Cloaks and Dagger

I play high risk / high reward lists often in X-Wing Miniatures, but I do so utilizing high pilot skill ships that like to dodge firing arcs, like Dash Rendar, Soontir Fel, or Whisper. Still, I sat down recently with the idea that I wanted to make use of the generic TIE Phantom pilots.

For a short moment, the high PS versions of the Phantom, Echo and Whisper, were the kings of the battlefield, especially when upgraded with Veteran Instincts. Moving late in the phase allowed players to dodge arcs fairly well, and recloak with Advanced Cloaking Devices immediately after the shot when they couldn’t escape. But the prevalence of turrets and the general meta shift to higher pilot skills made Phantoms an expensive gamble. The Phantom’s primary weakness is how squishy they can be – one bad roll of those 4+ evade dice can mean your ship is toast.

TIE Phantoms tend to be very fragile compared to the points that are invested in them, glass cannons at their finest. Being cloaked means you’re not shooting (assuming you’re not using Advanced Cloaking Devices as is usually the default on the higher PS versions), and on the turn you cloak, you’re not going to have a focus token to back those dice up with.

Still, there’s an alternative approach to flying Phantoms that I haven’t seen often – giving up on the Pilot Skill battle. The Phantoms hit hard without any need for offensive upgrades, they’re the only ship in the standard game to have a base Primary Attack Value of 4, which is enough to deal damage consistently even without lots of modifiers, and their maneuverability gives them lots of opportunities to get quality shots. Phantoms have the rare Sensor Upgrade slot that has so many nifty utility options. And they have ways to improve their action economy and maneuverability. So I set out to find a way to make low PS Phantoms more survivable, and include multiple of them in a list along with some legitimate support, and just see what the results would be.

After a few practice runs, I’m very pleased with my latest build, even though it makes me EXTREMELY nervous to commit to using it in a tournament environment. With a total of 11 hit points across 3 ships, it’s not exactly durable. But the synergy is great, all of the ships are extremely maneuverable, the list can play defensively if needed, and each one of the ships can pump out a frightening amount of damage.

Cloaks and Dagger
(Or as one opponent called it, “The Spanish Inquisition”)

Sigma Squadron Pilot – 25 (TIE Phantom)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)
Stygium Particle Accelerator – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Intelligence Agent – 1 (Lambda Shuttle / HWK-290)

Sigma Squadron Pilot – 25 (TIE Phantom)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)
Stygium Particle Accelerator – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Mara Jade – 3 (VT-49 Decimator)

Carnor Jax – 26 (Imperial Aces)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Royal Guard TIE – 0 (Imperial Aces)
Stealth Device – 3 (Slave 1)
Targeting Computer – 2 (Imperial Aces)*

* Targeting Computer will be replaced with Autothrusters upgrade from the Starviper once released.

Without any difference beyond Pilot Skill between the two generics, I chose Sigma Squadron (PS3) over the Shadow Squadron (PS5). I find it extremely rare to run in to opponents running ships in the 3-5 pilot skill range, generic pilots are generally a 1 or 2, and named pilots are almost always pilot skill 6 or higher. Spending the extra points on Shadow squadron just didn’t make sense, and it frees up extra points to be spent elsewhere in the list.

The PS3 for the Sigma squadron is an interesting spot: It’s high enough to be easily blocked in by fighters, but I don’t actually find myself cloaked all that often in the list, so that’s not a huge problem. But at PS3 it does maneuver after and fire before the cheapest generic variant of every other small based ship in the game, as well as finding itself just above the danger zone for Predator (TIE Defender).

For those of you reading along at home that don’t necessarily know how this list is put together, I’ll break down some of the key interactions:

Carnor Jax’s Pilot ability essentially cancels any Focus results the opponent rolls for anything so long as he’s alive and close, excluding those who take Marksmanship (X-Wing / Starter set). So his role is to get up close to the enemy, and stay there, taking shots of opportunity but mostly just staying alive. If he can avoid being shot and stay close, I have him barrel roll/boost closer. If his positioning is great already, focus & possibly target lock. If he’ll be shot at, PTL for Focus and Evade, standard Interceptor survival tactics.

Carnor_Jax

The Sigma Squadron Pilots want to hang back out of range, and pounce once Carnor is engaging. They hit REALLY hard, but can’t take a lot of punishment compared to other ships.

Sigma-squadron-pilot

I keep the Phantoms alive with a couple of key pieces, Stygium Particle Accelerators (free evade when cloaking or decloaking), and Sensor Jammers (remember, Carnor Jax is blocking focus actions).

Stygium-particle-accelerator                           Sensor-jammer

Once the Phantoms are in the combat, then really fun things start happening. Even with a low pilot skill, Intelligence Agent tells me all I need to know about where the enemy will be moving, and I can adjust my plans accordingly by cloaking if I won’t have a shot, or decloaking appropriately if I’m cloaked at the time.

Intelligence-agent

But Mara Jade is the real killer. The VT-49 Decimator, the Lambda Shuttle, and the Slave 1 can all make use of Mara Jade’s stress ability to shut down the enemy temporarily, but of the three, only the bounty hunter can really get behind the enemy. Phantoms, on the other hand, are really good at that. And once you’re pointed away from a Phantom and stressed too, it’s going to be nearly impossible to shake them off your six! That spells death for anything, doubly so for ships without a turret.

mara-jade

Speaking of turrets, more play testing will be required (I’m sure I’ll get plenty over the upcoming Store Championship season), but so far this list has already eaten one YT-2400 Outrider alive, and I like my chances to continue that streak. The big thing that worries me right now is the rather popular Decimator, which has the hull to soak the damage these ships will dish out, the speed and maneuvering options to escape kill zones, and the high quantity of firepower in a turret to be able to blast these ships down. In particular, Rear Admiral Chiraneau, quite possibly the most popular of the VT-49’s pilots, isn’t hurt nearly as badly as other ships by the Sensor Jammers (he will usually be able to convert a focus via his ability).

It’s a dangerous list to fly, especially in the face of a meta that seems primed to negate the effect of its’ maneuverability. I’ve run up against a couple of hard counters like Marksmanship, Han Solo (Crew), and Keeyan Farlander, but it’s rare to see multiple ships that can easily prey upon my list, which means proper target priority to go along with 11-14 attack dice per turn generally takes care of business, and I trust my ability to deal with the stragglers with any one of the ships in my list even when I’m taking losses early in the match. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the effectiveness of the list thus far, and since I can’t stand playing a boring list; the edge-of-your-seat flying that Cloaks and Dagger requires is just what I need right now.

In a week and a half of mostly competitive testing, this list has a record of 6-1-1* (restarted a practice match due to a vast miscalculation, had nothing to do with the list, just with how I opened). It has torn apart a defensive Leebo build, out-dueled Decimators, alpha-striked Corran Horn off the map, had Keeyan Farlander with a side of Wes Jansen for a light lunch, and run circles around a few other random pairings. Its’ one true loss involved a mis-play with Carnor Jax, causing him to get wiped off the map by an HLC shot that I didn’t think the opponent would be able to get; the Phantoms soldiered on alone and took revenge on Dash Rendar , falling two hits shy of taking Chewbacca out as well.

The real test starts in little less than 12 hours, when this build makes an appearance at the first of many X-Wing Store Championships in my area. I can’t wait to see how it goes; but with 6 to 9 rounds to play, don’t expect a battle report too terribly quick. Just saying.

– The Tabletop General

 

3.5 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Roll call time!

Death? Check.

Famine? Check.

Pestilence? Check.

War? … War…??? Awww crap, somebody call an understudy.

 

Truth be told, four pilots worthy of being Horsemen of the Apocalypse don’t fit into your standard 100 point list for X-Wing Miniatures. But at the same time, I have a hard time bringing less than four ships to a dogfight without a really good reason, or giving up on a theme for that matter.

I can’t get enough of the TIE Interceptor, especially since they got so many neat tricks out of Imperial Aces. It’s probably my video game roots, I spent countless hours of my childhood sitting in front of my PC flying combat sorties in various Star Wars games, and a large portion of that time was spent at the controls of the nimble and vicious TIE Interceptor. Shields were for Rebels and Sith, missiles were the easy way out, and TIE Fighters just didn’t have enough punch for me. The “squint”, as the Star Wars: X-Wing novels soon had me calling it, was always my Imperial ship of choice.

I’ve toyed with the idea of bringing four Interceptors in a list (Royal Guard + Push The Limit), but passing up on all of the excellent unique pilot abilities is too much for me to handle. I like the loadouts available when running three named Interceptors, but the results weren’t pretty, because there weren’t enough hit points in the list. At the same time, properly equipping a pair of those named pilots (because who can choose just one of them?) doesn’t really leave enough points to fit two more generic versions.

My problem was solved when observing a match at a recent tournament for which I was officiating. An Imperial player was mounting an amazing comeback, because his Rebel opponent just couldn’t manage to hit that last TIE Fighter. Upon closer inspection, I realized why; this wasn’t a nameless Academy Pilot, it was Dark Curse, against which no rerolls or focus tokens are allowed, which made the ship very difficult to finish off. That impressive performance made me re-think the role of TIE Fighters, and go back to the drawing board with the Horsemen.

3.5 Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Soontir Fel aka “Death” – 27
Royal Guard TIE – 0
Push The Limit – 3
Targeting Computer – 2
Stealth Device – 3

Carnor Jax aka “Famine” – 26
Royal Guard TIE – 0
Push The Limit – 3
Targeting Computer – 2
Stealth Device – 3

Dark Curse aka “Pestilence” – 16
Stealth Device – 3

Academy Pilot aka “War Junior” – 12

Death and Famine are both equipped with my favorite loadout for Interceptors with a high Pilot Skill. These two ships should take two actions with Push The Limit just about every turn, barring some form of Stress inducing mechanic from the opponent. Combining their native Boost and Barrel Roll actions allows them to dance around and out of firing arcs, or Focus and Evade to reinforce their four evade dice (thanks to Stealth Devices) if they can’t manage to escape. But perhaps more importantly, if you know your basic movement will keep you safe from harm for the turn, there’s the option of taking a Focus and a Target Lock for a deadly shot.

Soontir Fel, “Death” gets even nastier with his special ability, being able to take a Target Lock, then Boost in for a Range 1 shot, and receive a Focus Token for the shot in the process. Meanwhile, Carnor Jax, “Famine”, starves the opponent of Focus or Evade actions by dancing into close range with his special ability.

Then there’s the TIE Fighters, “Pestilence” and “War Jr.”, who perform drastically different roles from the Interceptors. The Academy Pilot provides an anchor to the list. It’s harmless, it’s cheap, but it’s also the easiest thing on my roster to kill. Deploying first at Pilot Skill 1, the Academy Pilot gives me the opportunity to lure the enemy into deploying where I can easily flank them with my other ships which all deploy at Pilot Skill 6 and higher. This ship then serves as bait, as a distraction, to block opposing ships’ movements, and if it manages to survive long enough to shoot, even better! (But as we all know, “War” is good for absolutely nothin’.)

Dark Curse / “Pestilence” can join in as an extra distraction, but he performs very well in a harassment role. At range 3, with a Stealth Device and a Focus Token, Dark Curse is extremely hard to hit, thus earning the title of a pest.

This list isn’t without its’ weaknesses, and in the tournament that I took this list to recently, I went face first into one of them – high PS X-Wings (Wes Jansen with Veteran Instincts and Wedge, to be precise). This build is made very vulnerable by the Pilot Skill boost from Veteran Instincts, especially on someone like Corran Horn in an E-Wing or Wedge Antilles in an X-Wing; a lot of the maneuverability of the Interceptors is negated if you don’t know what the opponent’s maneuver will be, and relying so much on Push The Limit means you can’t take your own Veteran Instincts to keep pace. Y-Wings or HWK-290’s with Ion Cannon Turrets can also make a bad day for the Interceptors, especially if there’s an extra Stress inducing ability in play as well. Marksmanship is immune to the special abilities of both Carnor Jax (Famine) and Dark Curse (Pestilence). Lt. Blount and his Z-95 Headhunter love to see this many Stealth Devices in a list, because he can strip them off even without dealing damage. And while I haven’t seen it done yet, I would think that a well flown TIE Fighter swarm can likely bring down the Interceptors through pure weight of fire.

But of those weaknesses can be mitigated, if not negated completely. For instance, as much as I think of turrets as a hard counter to the list, I’ve gone up against a list containing a Falcon and a pair of Y-Wings with Ion Cannon Turrets and not taken any hits at all. A big key is being willing to give up on taking shots sometimes, and playing defensively instead. Fly this list well, and before you know it you’ll be covering your ship up in kill markings like Soontir Fel (Death) himself.