Tag Archives: Miranda Doni

And now, the rest of the story…

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

First, let’s set the stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, that was a thrilling battle report, huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

             

                           

                         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image cropped to remove score sheet.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now accepting donations for a copy of Photoshop.

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

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

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

*deep breath*

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

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

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

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

But now an apology might be in order first.

– The Tabletop General

2017 X-Wing Regional Championship – Macon, GA

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

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

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

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

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

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

My Build:

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

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

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

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

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

Round 1

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

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

              

                         

                       

The match:

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

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

Rough start to the day.

Result:

29-100 loss

Standings:

0-1, 29 MoV

Round 2

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

 b          

                         

                           

The match:

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-47 win

Standings:

1-1, 182 MoV

Aside:

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

Round 3

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

List commentary:

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

             

                           

The match:

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

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

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

Result:

51-100 loss

Standings:

1-2, 233 MoV

Aside:

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

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

Round 4

Opponent’s list:

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

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

              

                            

                           

List commentary:

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

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

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

The match:

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

Preserving points via Morse Code – keeping Dashes together.

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

Result:

100-26 win

Standings:

2-2, 407 MoV

Round 5

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

             

                          

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

3-2, 607 MoV

Round 6

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

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

             

                           

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

4-2, 807 MoV

Position at cut to top 16:

13th place.

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

Round 7 – Top 16

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

               

                           

                           

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

Not the best setup I’ve ever done…

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

Living on the edge!

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

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

Result:

64-54 win

Round 8 – Top 8

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

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

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

Result:

100-53 win

Round 9 – Top 4

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

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

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

The match:

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

Result:

100-0 win

Round 10 – The Final Match

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

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

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

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

                           

                         

The match:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Brobots

The core of this article about my usage of IG-88 in Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures has been kicking around in the back of my mind for about five months now, but I’ve been hesitant to post about it. Over this year’s store championship season, I’ve encountered several players who were more than eager to tell me about how one of my lists inspired their own, and this build wasn’t something I wanted to see more of. I also didn’t want to share some of the tricks I was using, because I felt they might only work once against a particular player. So I’ve held back until now, as the locals seem to have caught on to my tactics, I’ve seen a few lists “inspired” by this one (there’s not a lot to change) and I’m pretty much ready to retire the list in favor of something new. So time to spill some of the secrets, I suppose.

In a marathon practice session before his trip to the 2015 World Championships, a friend requested that I fly against him utilizing a “Brobots” list. He gave me some basic parameters for how he’d like them equipped, I filled in the blanks, and I suddenly had a very effective setup that I found very effective and would use frequently thereafter. I’ve tried several slight tweaks of the list, but this seems to be the best load-out that I’ve seen:

 

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)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)
IG-2000 – 0 (IG-2000)

It doesn’t have the alpha strike capabilities of the Crackshot (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth) / Glitterstim (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth) combo seen often on IGs, or the overwhelming firepower of dual Heavy Laser Cannons, but I still prefer this variant. It’s extremely rare that these ships take hard turns, so everything on the dial that I’m actually using is either red or green (see dial below). The red moves get actions anyway thanks to Advanced Sensors. Then on the green maneuvers Advanced Sensors and Push The Limit are a great combination, because you can declare two actions, get the stress, and then do your green move to remove that stress and have an open dial for the next turn, all without caring about bumping in to other ships.

Aggressor-Dial
Lots of green makes for a happy pilot.

The biggest question I have on how to tweak the list is which ship should have the Heavy Laser Cannon, the other gets the Mangler Cannon and Inertial Dampeners. IG-88B’s gunner effect for cannons gives this list a lot of its’ punch, which makes that ship the obvious target. I like having the HLC on IG-88C during the end game for 4 attack dice at any range, but I also fly the ships so that the Mangler cannon is up front, which makes B even easier to kill in that case. It’s a conundrum, but you can’t really go wrong either way.

Ig-88b             Ig-88c

Meanwhile, IG-88C works great for an end-game ship. I found myself in a no-win situation early on in a tournament last month, and that free evade made all the difference in the world. I had experimented with an Ion Cannon on IG-88C (I do NOT recommend this), and found myself staring at a full health Miranda Doni, who could regenerate health as fast or faster than I could deal damage, while I had two shields keeping a close win from becoming a loss. Seeing no better tactical option, I turned tail and ran. And ran. And ran. For 24+ minutes I flew everywhere but toward that K-Wing, boosting for extra range, and stacking up tokens with the PTL / Advanced Sensors combination for the turns Miranda managed to find a shot. I lost one shield over that entire period, and squeaked away with a win.

img_20160221_121405924.jpg
I’m already running at this point as I documented the time. My opponent is setting his dial and trying to figure out how to catch me, no stalling on my part!
img_20160221_123912171.jpg
Boosting into the corner on the last turn of the game kept me out of harm’s way.

One of the hallmarks of this list is that unlike most builds with only one or two ships, having a lower pilot skill enemy ship move into your way is not an issue – you’ve already gotten your actions in. This turns normal swarm piloting tactics against the opponent, any collisions just mean that they’re just getting one less opportunity to fire and break through your stack of tokens!

img_20160221_135927307.jpg
I was more than happy to bump one of these TIEs on the prior turn, it meant one less shot at me.

One of the trickier things I learned early on while flying this list was that I didn’t care if I ran into myself either, and that I would often want to. Keeping the Mangler Cannon carrier out in front helps maintain effective range for the other ship carrying a Heavy Laser Cannon, but an extra turn of fire for the HLC from an unexpected angle is often possible by causing an intentional collision before the ship with Mangler makes its’ move for the turn, essentially giving the HLC ship a green “0” move.

Eventually, this morphed into a setup strategy for me, wherein I create a “castle” from the start, neither of my ships has to move anywhere, but both have the option to do so via using Advanced Sensors for a boost. Meanwhile, both can have Focus & Evade tokens for defense, while I wait to see where the opponent will go. Both ships set up facing roughly parallel to the other’s front edge but tilted in slightly, and with the corner of one ship touching the other. Forgive the drawings, the tool I use for these diagrams only has the Firespray (with a rear arc) as a template, and I was absent minded enough to miss-hyphenate the ship names. You’ll figure it out though…

Setup
Initial setup, with IG-88C’s back facing a corner. 

Both ships dial up a green 1 Forward maneuver, or for the very first turn a 1 Bank toward the other ship if it doesn’t look like you managed to set them up just right.

Castle
After using Advanced Sensors for actions, IG-88B’s move doesn’t clear anything but stress.
Castle 2
IG-88C mirrors this move, and stays still too thanks to the angle of overlap.

This can be repeated indefinitely if your opponent is silly enough to fly down the channel covered by both firing arcs, but eventually you’ll want to move. In an ideal world, your opponent will have a ship of lower Pilot Skill that will give you information about where they are moving for the turn before you have to make this choice, because you don’t even have to change the dials!

Boost out
IG-88C uses Advanced Sensors for a boost to the right before completing the forward maneuver (If you’re keeping score at home, that means a free Evade, then PTL for a Target Lock or Focus, before removing the stress with the green move).
Boost out 2
IG=88 B follows suit, not completing the maneuver but not caring, actions are already taken.
Boost out final
The original and final positions. Note that B is slightly askew, thanks to the extra angle needed to set up the castle originally.

If you know you’re planning to begin moving on a given turn, you can substitute in most any maneuver to give yourself options. The only thing that you can’t really cover well is if the enemy is approaching from your left along the table edge. IG-88C can let B move first and then take a bank in that direction, but C doesn’t have any great options. The best choices to try for a shot is an Segnor’s Loop or a Koiogran Turn.

S Loop exit
S-Loop left, no boost. Any boost puts you off the table if you’re set up in the corner.
K Turn exit
Koiogran exit, with an Advanced Sensors Boost – not taking a Boost to the left puts you off the table, assuming a corner setup.
Bad S Loop exit
Again, assuming a corner setup, a Segnor’s Loop to the right is a BAD idea, none of your boost options keep you on the table.

You can, of course, just turn, but that leaves you with a large blind spot to your left.

Side break
Even the tightest turn available doesn’t leave a good angle for IG-88B, and a boost doesn’t really help, I’ll show you why in a second.

This last diagram shows a relatively safe approach by a TIE Fighter from the left flank, along with the original positions of the IG’s, and the options we’ve discussed for B’s movements. He’ll still have to contend with IG-88C, who can either move to counter or stay still one more time by attempting to move first. But IG-88B can’t touch him. The Boost + K-Turn option, at the top of the diagram, is way out of range. So long as the approaching ship stays just over Range 1 away from B’s back corner, he’s out of arc after the Segnor’s loop. And the hard turn with a Boost before/after leaves our ship out of arc too, plus those potential positions are both easily blocked with an asteroid at range 2.5 from each side of the map.

Side approach
Well, dealing with one Aggressor is better than two, I suppose.

Your whole squadron isn’t going to get in there, but you can certainly slip a ship or two into this blind spot of the castle, and that’s one of the things I didn’t want to reveal while playing the list. I had far too many folks fly blindly into the teeth of these guys to want to offer up suggestions to the world at first.

I don’t know how well it will hold up against the upcoming wave 8 releases (Ghost, Inquisitor’s TIE, Mist Hunter and Punishing One). But now that it’s time for me to move on, perhaps the core ideas will be useful to others.

Have you had success with IG-88? Or do you have a favorite way to fight against them? Drop me a line or write a comment below to share your story!

– The Tabletop General

 

Hidden information, bluffs, and dirty lies

What’s the harm in a little lie?

Earlier this week, I was playing a game against one of the up & coming members of our local X-Wing Miniatures group. He has a really cynical and self-deprecating sense of humor that can cause players to underestimate him at times, but I’ve observed enough of his progress over the past year or so to know better and not take that bait. I had specifically sought him out for a game to test my list against the triple K-Wing build (see below) that he had grown fond of, and which had been used just days before by another player to win the 49 person Store Championship event at my home store. His first two turns were simple; all 3 K-Wings took slow forward movements, maintaining a tight formation and waiting for me to come to him. In planning for the third turn, he turned his maneuver dials  over and over, and took the time to sarcastically say aloud, “This is the part where I pretend I’m doing something different”. And then, of course, he did something different, laying on the throttle and surging ahead with all of his ships.

A white lie, a bluff, or playful banter, you decide what to call it. I normally would have thought nothing of it. But on this day, it struck a chord with me, because I had recently read a rant about a very similar situation. In the story, while practicing for an X-Wing Store Championship, a player was shocked and angered by his friend outright lying about his maneuver for the turn. Player A, our angry protagonist, had moved one of his ships, and Player B said something along the lines of “You played it right. I’m glad I decided not to take [X maneuver], because that right there would have blocked me. and probably killed me.” Player A acted on this information, and took a Boost or a Barrel Roll to re-position his ship, and Player B proceeded to turn over his dial to reveal that exact maneuver, the final position of which was now free and clear of enemy ships. Player A was mad enough about this blatant lie to take his campaign to the internet and call for such underhanded tactics to be banned from the game entirely, and I was surprised to have seen that the suggestion garnered no small amount of support from others.

All three of the Fantasy Flight Games lines that I actively play right now (X-Wing, Armada, and Imperial Assault) rely on hidden information to some degree, and all three handle it differently. In X-Wing, each ship plots its’ maneuver in secrecy, and there are a limited number of game effects that allow you to influence, modify, or spy on this information. Armada lays out all its’ cards on the table (literally), but each ship secretly plans a series of commands to execute over the course of the game, and there’s certainly some bluffing and strategy added by these to positioning and the order of ship activation, which is left up to each player to decide each turn. Imperial Assault shares the mechanic of freeform unit activation order, and adds in a customizable deck of Command cards that can hold nasty surprises for your opponent – extra attacks, sturdier than expected defenses, rapid repositioning of units, or even hidden explosive traps.

This hidden information is what makes the game exciting. Dice are always going to be random, builds are a combination of a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors and an optimization problem. But tactics and secret plans are what truly make these games fun. With the right surprise move, you can clutch victory from the jaws of defeat. But all the power of your hidden information can be ruined by a bad poker face.

A sigh of relief at an enemy’s move in X-Wing can cause them to move right into your way with a Barrel Roll. Measuring carefully to ensure your Armada fighter squadrons are right on the edge of activation range for a Squadron command next turn can allow your opponent to react to that threat by moving his own squadrons out of reach, or into a covering position for a capital ship. Reaching for your hand of Command cards can make an opponent rethink his order of actions in Imperial Assault in order to minimize the impact of a Parting Blow or Overcharged Weapons.

Overcharged_Weapons                       Parting-blow

In Imperial Assault, it seems that it is rare for both players to have “beginning of round” effects to play, but it is possible for both players to do so, and the player with initiative that round has to go first.  Take Initiative is a very common card to see in Command decks, and it has been explained to me that if the player with initiative uses a copy of that card, it blocks the opponent from doing so. But otherwise, there’s no reason to want to do it – not only does it prevent you from using it on a future turn to actually steal the initiative token, it forces you to leave one of your deployment groups out of action for the round. I make sure to ask frequently if my opponent has any effects to play before I play mine (as per the normal sequence of the turn), hoping that they might interpret that as that I have something to play after their window has closed, and getting them to waste the card if they have it. But more importantly, I want to make sure that when I do have it, they don’t (correctly) assume that I have the card when I ask if they have any effects to play first.

Take-Initiative

Giving mixed signals regarding game actions impact on your future plans helps cover up for when your reactions are legitimate. Pausing as though considering an interrupt ability in a card game can give away that you have it available, but can just as easily be a bluff to make the opponent cautious. Perhaps you won’t fool your opponent about what you are doing right then at that moment, but you might be able to truly make it a surprise when you do act upon the opportunity in question.

“Table talk”, mind games, bluffing, and braggadocio are to be expected in a competitive environment. Plastic stormtroopers and starships are boring; it’s the mind across the table that I’m there to compete against. And if you expect me, or anyone else, to not try to get in your head a little bit, knock you off balance, and make you second guess your actions in game, you’re silly. Lie to me, and I’ll lie to you. Then we’ll let the dice figure out who told the better lies.

— Sidebar —

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Not affiliated with any acronym based groups.

The following is the K-Wing build I was referencing, made popular via a relatively good showing at this past year’s X-Wing World Championship. Capable of stressing a ship into oblivion, pouring out 6 TLT shots per turn, and containing a steady late game threat in Miranda, this build is currently the bane of my existence. It’s not fun to play against and it’s not particularly fun to play with, but in the right player’s hands it’s deadly. And if all goes well, I’ll end up playing against it tomorrow. Yay!

Miranda Doni – 29 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
C-3PO – 3 (CR-90)

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

Warden Squadron Pilot – 23 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

– The Tabletop General

Guest Battle Report – 2015 X-Wing World Championships

12232979_10104973718445210_1531483691_nToday we have a special guest battle report from Sam Talley. Sam is a local X-Wing player who has really stepped his game up in 2015, winning a Store Championship, going undefeated in swiss rounds on his way to an 8th place finish at the Atlanta Regional Championship, and generally being a holy terror in the local tournament scene. I’ve yet to see him playing in his Mandalorian armor, seen to the right, but the man’s got street cred among us gaming nerds.

I had the pleasure of throwing some “net list” tests at Sam during his preparations for Worlds, so he was kind enough to document his experiences to share here on the Tabletop General. Read on for his take on the biggest X-Wing tournament of the year!

My List:

Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)

Gold Squadron Pilot – 18 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)

100 pts total

Theory and Playstyle:

Previously I had flown Corran Horn (E-Wing) / Chewie (Millennium Falcon), but I was too scared to bring Corran to the table. He was simply dying to quickly to concentrated Twin Laser Turret(TLT) fire for me, and after hearing all the hype from other National level tournaments about the TLT, I knew I’d want to try it out. The 4 TLT lists seemed too boring a play style for me, so I tried to pair it with something else. I landed on Dash. I liked his mobility and carrying a Heavy Laser Cannon(HLC) with 4 red dice gave me at least a chance to hit any target. The biggest weakness of this list was the donut holes on all three ships. I developed a strategy of jousting with autothruster (Starviper) equipped arc dodgers, using the main arcs of all three ships. I would keep the Y-Wings in front of Dash to block incoming high PS ships and keep them out of range the Outrider’s blind spot.

Against swarms or other turrets, my plan was to get my opponents to chase me through a dense obstacle field that I would build in the center of the map. I love this strategy and had used it to great effect with Chewie. I practiced as much as I could and watched all the youtube videos I could find of other major tournaments. However, I wasn’t in love with this list. I liked it, but I just didn’t truly love it. Still, I was prepared as I could be and I just hoped it would be enough.

Game 1

Horton Salm – 25 (Y-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
R5-P9 – 3 (GR-75)

Tarn Mison – 23 (GR-75)
R7 Astromech – 2 (E-Wing)

Miranda Doni – 29 (K-Wing)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Advanced SLAM – 2 (K-Wing)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

I saw this line up across the table from me and felt very good about the matchup. Tarn would be a annoying, but my turrets should still push damage through, and Horton dies as easily as any other Y-Wing. Miranda would be tough end game if I had to duel her with only Dash because of the shield regeneration, so I just had to keep one of my Y’s alive with Dash. My goal was to kill Horton first, then see where the game took me. We engaged in the middle of the map and the first shots went my way. I got all my shots on Horton and got him down to one hull. Dash lost a few shields, but I was ok with the trade since I could PS kill Horton at the start of the following turn. My opponent played it smart and got Tarn and Horton within range 1 of Dash, and away from my Y-Wings which had moved to engage Miranda on the table edge. Dash barrel rolled to get a shot and avoid Tarn’s arc. I rolled one hit, 3 blanks. I would’ve Rec Spec’d for a double focus if not for the barrel roll action, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Ok, so I need for my opponent to roll a blank green die, easily done right? Wrong. He rolled the evade, Horton lived. The exact same rolls would continue for the next turn. Horton wasn’t even using his focus tokens for R5-P9, using them to push more damage into Dash. My dice totally abandoned me this game. My HLC shot refused to kill a one hull Y-Wing for two straight turns, all the while his TLT continued to land every shot. Tarn finally got into the mix and started landing every red die. What did Dash do? He blanked every evade die as well. In an exchange where Horton should have died easily so that Dash could then run around Tarn, everything went wrong for me. Horton continued to live and do damage and Tarn rolled hot on attack dice, while my evades went super cold. My Y-Wings had to actually circle back to finally kill Horton, but by then it was too late. Salm had lived two turns too many, putting too much damage on Dash, and Tarn easily finished him off before he could do Dash things and run away. I got one hull damage on Miranda but then he started to regen her shields and Tarn turned around onto my Y’s. The R7 made Tarn unhittable for this game and I went on to lose quickly in 25 minutes, with a final score of 34-100.

My opponent was rather sporting, understanding how lucky he had been to keep Horton alive for so long and offered to buy me a beer later in the day. This was the hardest loss of the day. I love playing X-Wing so much that even loosing a close match can be very enjoyable, but this game was over too quickly. The dice didn’t let the match get into the tense, dogfight endgame that makes competitive play so much fun. Ah, the joys of a dice game. However, in an eight round tournament, you’re always going to have that one game where the dice go cold, and hopefully another game where they can’t miss. So I did my best to re-focus and prepare myself for the next game.

Result: Loss 34-100, record 0-1

Game 2

 

Talonbane Cobra – 28 (Kihraxz)
Predator – 3 (TIE Defender / Kihraxz)
Hot Shot Blaster – 3 (Most Wanted / IG-2000)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Bossk – 2 (Hound’s Tooth)
Wingman – 2 ( Z-95)
Glitterstim – 2 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

Torkhil Mux – 19 (Most Wanted)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Greedo – 1 (Most Wanted)
Glitterstim – 2 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

This list is a bit of mess, so many upgrades on 3 ships. However, seeing random Scum lists would become a theme for me. My opponent acknowledged it wasn’t quite a top tier list, but he was there to fly and just have fun. My biggest fear was having Talonbane get too close and really tear my ships to pieces. However, his set up made it easy for me to avoid that. I put my ships in a corner as he set up in the middle, with Talonbane furthest from me. He got caught behind the HWK’s and I was happy to joust him, with my Y-Wings in the front, guarding Dash’s donut again.  The HWK’s did their shenanigans, but with Recon Specialist, I’m okay with Palob taking a focus. I traded Dash for Palob and Talonbane and then the Y-Wings easily handled Torkhil. It was a fairly easy, short match. I was back on track.

Result: Win 100-52, Record 1-1

Game 3

IG-88 A – 36 (IG-2000)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Crackshot – 1 (KihraxzHound’s Tooth)
Glitterstim – 2 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

IG-88 B – 36 (IG-2000)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Autothrusters – 2 (Starviper)
Crackshot – 1 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)
Glitterstim – 2 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

This was a very entertaining game. I did my best to built a tight asteroid field and we set up in opposite corners. My opponent and I both played it carefully and deliberately, circling each other for half the board. When we finally engaged I managed to get my arcs of all three ships onto A. IG-88 A popped glitterstim, but I still stripped 3 shields. Dash lost 3 shields as well due to A’s crackshot, but overall I was happy with the positioning and the exchange. The next turn was the game changer. He intentionnaly ran his aggressors into one another and stalled them in place. Dash, not expecting this, bumped one and had the other inside his donut. It was a great move by my opponent. I didn’t see it coming and my 4 straight move wasn’t enough to clear. While Dash didn’t take too much more damage, losing his offense for that turn hurt. The Y-Wings stayed close in and put 2 more damage on A with their main guns, but A took off running the next turn. Realizing chasing an Aggressor with Y’s was a terrible idea, especially with Dash not in a good pursuit vector either, I switched to B. A continued to hide into the mid-game, as B duked it out solo. I managed to drop B’s shields with the HLC, only for him to regain it with A’s ability as he killed the first Y-Wing. It was a great move to have A in this game, it really saved my opponents MOV. Time was running out, and with Dash’s shields gone, my only hope was to kill A and hope for a tie. B still had his glitter/crack combo in store and used it to finish off Dash, but only just after Dash managed to kill A. B then quickly finished my lone Y-Wing and took the game. It was a very close affair and my opponent knew how to handle his ships. I just couldn’t keep the pressure up on A, but I was happy with how I flew overall. [Editor’s note: Practice games against 2x IG-2000 did some good!]

Result: Loss 50-100, Record 1-2

Game 4

Super Dash
[Editor’s best guess on the build]
Dash Rendar – 36 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing / Imperial Aces)
Heavy Laser Cannon – 7 (Slave 1 / Lambda Shuttle)
Kyle Katarn – 3 (Rebel Aces)
Outrider – 5 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
Proton Rockets – 3 (Rebel Aces)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Now at this point I was still mathematically alive, I just needed to go on a run. I’ve been on hot streaks before and having lost games in this tournament early put me in an easier position moving forward to win. I was still cautiously optimistic setting up for game 4, the last match before our meal break.  

This was the closest I came to a mirror match all day. He had the action economy on his Dash, while mine had the pilot skill advantage. We built a tight debris field and lined up to joust each other. Of course I had no intention of actually jousting and turned my formation at the very start with the hope of dragging the Talas through the debris fields. It worked and my opponent gave chase while his Dash flew around their flank. The Talas broke their formation and were picked off one by one by my turrets. His Dash chased my Y’s, but did not concentrate fire on a single target. I destroyed his Dash, having 1 shield left on my own, a shieldless Ywing, and 1 hull Ywing. It was a huge error for MOV purposes, letting me save all of my points on the table. Although, judging by the 16oz beer he chugged mid game, I honestly think he was kinda drunk. But… Hey! A win’s a win. Now it was time for that meal break and to regroup for my epic 4 game win streak!

Result: Win 100-0, Record 2-2

Game 5

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

Darth Vader – 29 (TIE Advanced)
TIE/x1 – 0 (Imperial Raider)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Advanced Targeting Computer – 5* (Imperial Raider)
Engine Upgrade – 4 (Millennium Falcon)

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

This was one the few enjoyable, high level games I played that day. My opponent was an Aussie, the twin brother of the Super Dash player who would end up making the top 8. The targeting computer on Soontir was an uncommon sight and gave me the slight hope of being able to actually hit Soontir for once. However, my strategy for this type of list is to joust with the main arcs, hope to bump with the Y-Wings to protect Dash’s donut, and target Vader first. My opening was strong, changing the plan on the fly, I actually pushed Dash forward and managed to get the block on Vader, stalling him onto a debris field. The Y-Wings stripped his shields and did 1 hull damage, leaving Vader with 2 hull remaining. I knew had to destroy Vader in the next turn because then he’d simply turn and run and I’d never get a second chance. Also, Soontir’s targeting computer was really paying off in this match up, as he jumped in close and started to waylay my Y-Wings with accurate 4 dice attacks. So Vader 3 banks, keeps his stress and was hoping to get enough distance from my ships and hide behind another debris field. Here’s my chance, a hurt, actionless Vader in range of my turrets. The debris field pays off for the extra defense dice, along with Palpatine, and Vader doesn’t get touched that turn. Soontir continues to wreck my Y-Wings unchecked and now the shuttle has closed in and has joined the melee. I had a window of opportunity and I missed it. I won’t call that bad luck or dice though, my list building was more at fault here. As the top tables’ use of R3-A2 or Tactician will show, stress is the real way to counter an arc dodger. Stress kills Soontir, not a bunch of turrets. Dash did manage to kill half of the shuttle before he succumbed to the slaughter, and those 14 points would later proved to be rather important in the overall standings.

My slim hopes of going 6-2 were smashed, but my pride was not. I still had that to fly for.

Result: Loss 14-100, Record 2-3

Game 6

Serissu – 20 (M3-A)
“Heavy Scyk” Interceptor – 2 (M3-A)
Mangler Cannon – 4 (Scyk / IG-2000)

Guri – 30 (Starviper)
Virago – 1 (Starviper)
Autothrusters -2 (Starviper)
Veteran Instincts – 1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)

Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)
Bodyguard – 2 (Starviper)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
Moldy Crow – 1 (HWK-290)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)

Recounting this game is actually painful for me. The list is such an oddball assortment of scum. I flew perfectly, keeping all of his ships at range. I avoided the blaster turret and Palob’s ability and allowed only Guri to fire for four straight turns. My reward: my opponent’s evade dice went hot and he evaded ALL of my shots. I ignored Guri and attacked Palob, but his combo of endless focus, stealth device and serissu worked to perfection for him. To give you an idea of how the match went, his HWK hit my Y-Wing at range 3 twice with his single dice main weapon attack. We actually kept track and I totalled 3 whole evade results rolled on my green dice. It was incredibly frustrating to fly perfectly to your plan and still lose. I eventually managed to take down Serissu, but Guri had finally moved in to close range on my Y’s and started tearing them apart. It was such a unique, some might say random, list. It’s not something you expect to see at this level of event. Honestly, who puts stealth device on an HWK?

I still had hope to end the day at a respectable 4-4. Some players might roll over with my record, but I didn’t travel a thousand miles to roll over. Bring on the next match!

Result: Loss 26-100 Record 2-4

Game 7

Black Sun Ace- 23 (Kihraxz)
Crackshot – 1 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

Black Sun Ace- 23 (Kihraxz)
Crackshot – 1 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

Black Sun Ace- 23 (Kihraxz)
Crackshot – 1 (Kihraxz / Hound’s Tooth)

Syndicate Thug – 18  (Most Wanted)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
R4 Agromech – 2 (Most Wanted)

Yet another Scum list, my fifth of the day. Y-Wings don’t really care about Crackshot and those Kihraxz don’t stand up well to concentrated fire. I did my standard opening of pretending to joust and running my opponent through the obstacles. The Kihraxz did not begin in a tight formation, and became even more drawn out as they attempted to chase my turrets down. I picked them off easily enough, only losing Dash’s shields.

Result: Win 100-26, Record 3-4

Game 8

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

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

Wild Space Fringer – 30 (YT-2400 Outrider)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)

At first glance this list made me a bit nervous. Those proton rockets could do some real damage if they got too close to Dash, but the Fringer is rather toothless without a cannon. My opponent explained his list as being designed to specifically hunt other arc dodging aces. Since we were meeting at 3-4 records, his list building strategy was going as equally poor as mine. As the game progressed, the Fringer did his best to crash in and block my formation. It was mostly ineffective, but the A-Wings did manage to launch both Proton Rockets into Dash. However, using both actions for Target Locks and Focus on offense left the A-Wings defenseless against the Y-Wings. Jake went down early, followed by the Fringer. Dash managed to limp away on one hull while the Ywings covered his escape. One Y-Wing managed a block on Tycho and the nimble A-Wing crumpled under the other Ywings TLT fire. I had won.

 

Result: Win 100-26, Record 4-4.

Final ranking after swiss: 110th out of 298; 822 MOV

 

I had fought back from 2-4 to an even record and could return home with my head held high. With slightly better luck I could have gone 5-3, but I still no right to consider being anywhere near the top tables. I did my damnedest to practice and prepare for this tournament, but the lack of a real warmup tournament really hurt me. I just didn’t get to see enough of wave 7 played on a high level. The biggest lesson I learned was about stress. R3-A2 or Tactician was the way to combat aces like Corran Horn, Poe Dameron, Darth Vader, or Soontir Fel. The Twin Laser Turret gets so much stronger when their targets don’t have any defensive actions to keep them alive, even if they do have Autothrusters or Emperor Palpatine. Of course, I didn’t learn this lesson from my own games as I somehow mainly faced haphazard scum lists. But watching the top 16 was not only entertaining, but educational. While the lists were quite diverse, but the one new strategy from wave 7 was mixing the TLT with a stress giving mechanic. In my opinion, that’s how Paul Heaver took his third straight World Championship. Going forward, along with the rest of the old Meta mainstays, a wise player would be smart to prepare for these strategies and tactics. I myself, plan on trying out TIE Fighter swarms loaded up with Crackshot.

At least until wave 8 drops and everything changes again.

A big thanks to Sam for sharing his experiences! As is our yearly ritual now, Sam and the other locals who made the trip up to the frozen tundra are leading the charge for more competitive play in our area, and more often. With only a month and a half until Store Championships begin for 2016, we’re already starting to ramp up, with competitive mini-tournaments for the veterans, and a rookie league for the less experienced pilots. Wave 8, as Sam alluded to, is on the horizon, and I can’t wait to see what it does to the meta going in to the new year. The only thing I’m sure of for next year is that there will be one more General on the ground at Worlds!

— The Tabletop General

Simultaneous Attack; X-Wing rules discussion.

One of the first rules that players learn in Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures is how Pilot Skill affects the order of moving and firing; ships are activated in order lowest to highest when moving, highest to lowest when firing. Simultaneous Attack is almost always brought up immediately following that explanation because you have to know how to resolve ties. The player with initiative does everything first, but thanks to Simultaneous Attack, ships that are shot down by pilots of the same skill level get to perform their attack if they haven’t already. That’s not the exact definition of the rule, but it covers what a novice player needs to know at that moment; if your PS 5 guy shoots down my PS 5 guy, I still shoot, but if your PS 6 ship takes me out, my finger wasn’t on the trigger yet. The visual that the novice comes away with is that everybody at a given pilot skill shoots simultaneously, we just can’t roll all those dice at the same time and make any sense of it all, so we resolve one at a time.

However as the game grows and gets more complicated, and we start combining more upgrades and abilities, the intricacies of the core rules start meaning a lot more, and our understanding of the rules changes, or we simply apply them incorrectly because that’s how we thought they worked. In a discussion regarding whether or not a new FAQ was needed after the release of the Wave 7 ships (the K-Wing, the TIE Punisher, the Hound’s Tooth, and the Kihraxz Fighter), I posited that there were certainly rules that could use clarification.

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

Consider Miranda Doni, the “Ace” of the K-Wing pilots, carrying a Twin Laser Turret. If you fire a Twin Laser Turret, and deal a damage to kill your target with the first shot, does the second shot still happen? It seems pointless to worry about at first, or when looking at Twin Laser Turret by itself, but Miranda Doni could potentially sacrifice a die on the second shot and regenerate a shield, not caring whether or not the attack actually dealt damage. Does she get that opportunity? I believe the answer is “yes”, always, but it could be argued that the second shot cannot be performed because the target is destroyed by the first shot. To convolute matters further, it then matters whether or not the target is the same pilot skill, and which player has initiative.

This turned into an interesting discussion, and the quotes below arose from other players in the conversation.

“I think the rule is that technically that shot will happen because the ship isn’t removed until after all pilots at that skill level have completed their turn, BUT can you fire at ships with no [Hull Points] left? I’m not aware of any rules on that, so I’d be interested in any references to that.”

“The short answer is: yes. If you have eight ships firing at [Pilot Skill] 1, but the first one deals enough damage to the only legal target to destroy it, the other seven ship may continue to fire at that ship.”

The above are both correct and incorrect to an extent. All eight of those Pilot Skill 1 ships could fire at the target even if the first shot dealt enough damage to kill the target, but only if the Simultaneous Fire rule has triggered. For reference’s sake, I’ve copied the following text from page 16 of the X-Wing rulebook (emphasis is written in): 

Destroying Ships
When the number of Damage cards dealt to a ship is equal to or greater than its hull value, the ship is immediately destroyed (faceup and facedown cards count toward this total). Immediately remove the destroyed ship from the play area, discard all of its Damage cards to a faceup discard pile next to the Damage deck, and return all of its tokens to their respective supplies.

Exception: See “Simultaneous Attack Rule.”
Note: Because ships are destroyed immediately after receiving Damage cards, ships with low pilot skill values may be destroyed before having an opportunity to attack.

Simultaneous Attack Rule: Although ships perform their attacks one at a time, ships with a pilot skill value equal to the active ship’s pilot skill value have the opportunity to attack before being destroyed. If such a ship would be destroyed, it simply retains its Damage cards without being removed from the play area. It may perform an attack as normal during the Combat phase, although any faceup Damage cards just dealt to it may affect this attack. After this ship has had its opportunity to attack this round, it is immediately destroyed and removed from the play area.

So, as written, you can fire at a ship with zero hit points if Simultaneous Fire has triggered, because it’s still on the field until the end of that initiative step, and nothing about the target selection rules checks the target’s health. This is because every Critical Hit has a chance to a hinder your opponent’s retaliation.

Even with a Twin Laser Turret that cannot inflict Critical Hits, some players have discussed running Miranda Doni with a Gunner, which could result in the following sequence:

Fire with Twin Laser Turret shot #1, hit, kill with one damage.

Fire with Twin Laser Turret shot #2, regenerate shield, miss.
Gunner triggers, primary attack hits, inflicting a critical hit.

This third attack is why it’s crucial that Simultaneous Attack allows Doni to continue to fire at the enemy even after inflicting a deathblow with the first shot. The extra point(s) of damage normally wouldn’t matter, but critical hits do. A Weapon Malfunction, Munitions Failure, Injured Pilot, or Blinded Pilot could potentially reduce the impact of return fire.

But stepping back a second, our quoted discussion example from above doesn’t work. Not all eight of those Pilot Skill 1 ships are guaranteed to be able to fire, even if the target is also PS 1. As written, Simultaneous Attack only triggers if the target’s pilot skill matches the attacker’s pilot skill AND the defender has not yet had an opportunity to fire this turn. If your opponent has initiative and shoots first, then Simultaneous Fire will never trigger when you are the attacker.

If the destroyed ship has fired already, it is removed from play immediately. And if it has not fired already, and Simultaneous Attack goes into effect then it is removed immediately after it does shoot, not at the end of the initiative step.

Consider the following game scenarios for examples of why these distinction matters. 

Player 1 (has initiative)
Whisper – 32 (TIE Phantom)
Advanced Cloaking Device – 4 (TIE Phantom)
Sensor Jammer – 4 (Lambda Shuttle)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

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)

vs.

Player 2
Patrol Leader – 40 (VT-49 Decimator)
Rebel Captive* – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)

Kath Scarlet – 38 (Slave 1)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)
Rebel Captive* – 3 (Lambda Shuttle)

*For the purposes of the first example, assume Rebel Captive is non-unique. It’s just easier to highlight the issue that way.

Now, let’s say we’re near the very end of this game, and all four ships are down to one or two hull points remaining. Soontir Fel and Whisper both have shots available on the Patrol Leader, neither can fire on Kath.

Both Whisper and Soontir are stranded in the firing arc of the Firespray, and cannot maneuver out of it or manage to get a shot off. Neither ship is stressed, but both skipped the action phase. We’ll say that Soontir was planning to Barrel Roll out of Whisper’s way, but clipped an asteroid during movement, causing the Phantom to collide with him and losing both sets of actions in the process.

The semi-obvious solution is for Fel to fire first and take the Stress from Rebel Captive, and thus gain a Focus. But if Fel’s shot kills the target, Simultaneous Attack does not apply, and it is removed immediately. Whisper is now left uncloaked and extremely vulnerable to Kath’s attack.

Whisper could shoot first, and would most likely get a Focus for hitting the target, but would be unable to Cloak because of the Stress assigned by Rebel Captive. And Soontir would be left defenseless without having found a way to get that Stress token.

However, had Player 2’s ships been in the opposite positions and the target had been Kath, Simultaneous Attack DOES take effect. The Firespray would be able to shoot too, but not until after Fel gets his Focus, and Whisper gets to fire, most likely hit to get a Focus and Cloak after the attack regardless of the results of Fel’s attacks.

Now flip the Initiative around, because Soontir wanting to move last was less important to Player 1 than Whisper shooting first. Kath Scarlet fires first, and we’ll say she completely misses. Because Player 2 has already had the opportunity to attack with the Firespray, Simultaneous Attack does not go into effect if Kath is killed, even within the same Pilot Skill. So in that case, if Soontir scores the kill, Player 2’s ship is removed immediately, and Whisper is again hung out to dry with no tokens to defend against the Patrol Leader’s shot.

Next example:

Player 1 
Esege Tuketu – 28 (K-Wing)
Chewbacca – 4 (Millennium Falcon)
Twin Laser Turret – 4 (K-Wing)
Seismic Charges – 2 (TIE Bomber / IG-2000 / Slave 1)

Garven Dreiss – 26 (GR-75)
R5-P9 – 3 (GR-75)

Kyle Katarn – 21 (HWK-290)
Blaster Turret – 4 (HWK-290)
Moldy Crow – 1 (HWK-290)
Recon Specialist – 3 (HWK-290 / TIE Phantom)

vs.

Player 2
Zertik Strom – 26 (Imperial Raider)
TIE x1 – 0 (Imperial Raider)
Advanced Targeting Computer – 1* (Imperial Raider)
Draw Their Fire – 1 (Millennium Falcon)

Howlrunner – 18 (TIE Fighter)
Stealth Device – 3 (M3-A / Slave 1)
Push the Limit – 3 (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Zertik-strom                   Draw_Their_Fire

Let’s say Player 2 has initiative. We’re a couple turns in, and Zertik Strom is almost dead. In fact, right after Zertik fires, Tuketu drops him with an immediate retaliatory shot. Strom is removed from the board immediately, because Simultaneous Fire doesn’t apply here. His abilities stop applying, and Howlrunner gets shot by Garven and Kyle, who manage to sneak through one Critical Hit each, and Garven has an additional hit on top of that! Howlrunner drops like a rock.

Now turn the initiative around, and say that Player 1 has it. All the attacks are directed at the exact same targets. When Zertik Strom gets shot down by Tuketu, because he hasn’t fired yet, Zertik remains on the board thanks to Simultaneous Fire. Now Garven and Kyle take their shots at Howlrunner, but Strom is still there, and his Pilot Ability causes enemies at Range 1 to lose their range bonus when attacking, so Garven loses an attack die and each of the attacks results in one just one uncanceled Critical Hit. But the doomed TIE Advanced causes problems for the Rebels again; it has Draw Their Fire and is still on the table, so both of those Critical Hits are pulled off of Howlrunner, who now escapes unscathed! Zertik makes his attack now, and only then is he removed from the field.

One more (slightly silly example):

Player 1
Biggs Darklighter – 25 (Starter Set)
Han Solo – 46 (Millennium Falcon)

vs.

Player 2
Mandalorian Mercenary – 35 (Most Wanted)
Latts Razzi – 33 (Hound’s Tooth)
Guri – 30 (Starviper)
Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Kaa’to Leeachos – 15 (Most Wanted)
Drea Renthal – 22 (Most Wanted)
Black Sun Ace – 23 (Kihraxz Fighter)
Tansarii Point Veteran – 17 (M3-A)

Trivia question: What do all of Player 2’s ships have in common?

Biggs-darklighter

Answer: Assuming that none of them have taken Veteran Instincts, they’re all Pilot Skill 5, the same as Biggs.

And that means that Player 1, obviously having an initiative bid when outnumbered 195 – 71, should give initiative to Player 2. It doesn’t matter if there’s 50,000 additional Mandalorian Mercenaries on the field, if they have Biggs in arc and range, so long as Han stays close enough to his sacrificial lamb, they can’t shoot Han if Biggs was alive as Pilot Skill 5 shots began ringing out; Since Biggs hasn’t had an opportunity to shoot yet, he remains on the field and his ability still applies. Quite the martyr, no?

So is there something you should do differently when designing your lists based on understanding exactly how the Simultaneous Fire rule really works? Probably not.  Has misunderstanding it hurt you badly in any previous games? The chances are slim. But not knowing how the rule works can possibly force players into a bad position that could be avoided if you know the rules.

Lets look back to our first example with Whisper and Soontir Fel. If this is a timed match, and time has almost expired, there’s absolutely a right decision to make. Knowing that you might not be able to protect both ships with tokens, protect Whisper by firing with the Phantom first, cloaking, and hopefully scoring a Focus token too. At 44 points, keeping Whisper alive can score you a modified win over the 43 or 42 points invested in Player 2’s remaining ship, whereas Soontir’s 35 would leave you with a loss.

Going back to how this whole thing got started, can Miranda Doni regenerate a shield via Twin Laser Turret’s second attack against a dead target when Simultaneous Fire applies? Absolutely. Does it work if Simultaneous Fire doesn’t apply? Only a FAQ update can say for sure.

If you’re still with me, thanks for sticking around, because let’s be honest… that is way too much to think about on the subject of Simultaneous Fire.

And while we’re talking about “sticking around”, thanks for sticking around for a year with the Tabletop General. I hope you’ve learned a little from me, I know I’ve learned a lot in the process of writing it all down.

– The Tabletop General

K-Wing Preview- Fire ALL the ordnance!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intelligence-agent                           advanced-slam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

esege-tuketu              garven-dreis

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

recon-specialist                           proton-rockets

 

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

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

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

ion-bombs                           connor-net

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

horton-salm                     btl-a4-y-wing

 

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

— The Tabletop General