Tag Archives: TIE Interceptor

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

2016 FFG Store Championship Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I’ve got a mental checklist here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

On The Art of Arc Dodging

I like thinking on my feet, reacting to a situation, and solving puzzles. So as a player of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, the art of arc dodging intrigued me and called to me; every turn of the game is a new puzzle to solve. With the TIE Interceptor being my favorite ship in the game, I had no choice in the matter of adopting this high risk, high reward play style. I’ve leaned heavily on three Interceptors for my default tournament list for quite some time now.

I’ve thought for months about how best to share what I’ve learned about arc dodging with all of you, and it’s a daunting task. It’s not that I –KNOW– that much, it’s that so much of what I’m doing is extremely dependent on the situation, and largely based on gut feeling, or trusting the Force, if you will. There are plenty of situations where the best choice for your actions will change based on what you’re facing, how much time is left in the match, or even how your opponent has reacted to previous moves.

Arc dodging, for those who aren’t familiar, involves making adjustments to your ship’s position on the field in order to prevent the enemy from being able to fire on your ship. The general idea is that it’s better to remove the possibility of being shot at completely than to gamble on the dice treating you well. It’s a play style that can be very frustrating to learn, as mistakes will generally cause your ships to take major damage – not only will you still get shot at, but you’ll do so without the benefit of defensive actions, and perhaps in a worse position than you were in before.

My personal definition of an arc dodging ship, is, of course,  a TIE Interceptor. Period. But most of these ideas would apply to properly equipped M3-A ScyksStarvipers,  the forthcoming TIE Prototype, Jake Farrell, and to a lesser extent any ship with barrel roll which can have Engine Upgrade added, like the newly refreshed Darth Vader, Corran Horn, and so on. The true requirements to take advantage of all of these tactics are access to both Boost and Barrel Roll actions, the ability to perform multiple actions in one turn (generally via Push The Limit), and room for the Autothrusters upgrade. This ship should also have access to a healthy dose of green maneuvers, ideally including one or more green turn moves, because you’ll likely be stressing your ship each turn once engaged. High pilot skill is also a very crucial component, as you really need as much information as possible about the final board state for a the turn when performing your actions.

When arc dodging well, it doesn’t really matter what your ship’s current health is; you’re not getting shot at. So generally, I guarantee that I have the highest pilot skill on the table by making a kamikaze attack on any pilots that are higher skill. Wedge Antilles (with initiative choice), Corran Horn (with Veteran Instincts), and Ten Numb (also with Veteran Instincts) are prime examples of ships that have to come off the table quickly for me, as they can all move after my personal ace of choice Soontir Fel. Even if I lose Soontir in the process, Carnor Jax or even my Royal Guard Pilot can often clean up the remainder of the enemy squad. If I have one hit point left, and my opponent has one ship left, I’m okay with that situation, so long as I’ve cleared out the higher pilot skill threats. The less ships on the table at any given time, the better, and combining that with having the highest pilot skill still active in the game allows an arc dodger to run rampant.

Let’s break out the diagrams and show some practical examples.

The absolute most basic example of arc dodging is denying your opponent a shot when you don’t have one either by using a Barrel Roll, a Boost, or a combination of the two to escape the enemy’s firing arc.

Chase_BR_Escape
Barrel Rolling to safety out of arc
Chase_Boost_Escape
Boosting to safety out of arc instead
R2_Aligned_Escape
Options abound, but some are better than others. Note what a difference it makes whether you Boost or Barrel Roll first here; Boosting first leaves you in arc!

Denying attacks is great, and will often be your primary goal when arc dodging, as most arc dodging ships will win the long-term positioning battle. But just escaping isn’t enough to win the game. The ultimate goal of arc dodging, then, is to escape the enemy’s line of fire, but still having them in your sights.

Barrel Rolling into an unopposed shot
A simple Barrel Roll into an unopposed shot

Here’s one of the least counter-intuitive things about arc dodging: Sometimes, boosting TOWARDS the enemy is the right thing to do!

Offset_Boost_Unopposed
Despite moving toward the enemy, the forward motion and rotation keeps the Interceptor out of arc here, and gives them a great firing opportunity as an added bonus.
Offset_Boost_BR_Unopposed
This one is a little tougher. Escape is available by dodging out to the left, but combining an inwards Boost with a Barrel Roll back to the outside gets a clean shot

There will, however, be times where escaping the enemy’s firing arc is simply impossible, or will leave you in a much worse position because of the presence of other ships or obstacles. That’s when it’s time to “turtle up” with defensive actions, take your lumps, and try again the next turn.

R3_Aligned_No_Escape
From this position, avoiding an enemy shot is impossible.

Obviously, these are situations that an arc dodger wants to avoid. Any enemy shot is a bad shot. So how can we best avoid these situations? Consider the following two images. The first shows our two demo ships going head to head, and indicates the closest forward position from which the Interceptor can Barrel Roll backwards out of the enemy’s range, and the furthest back position from which the Interceptor can escape to the side, with a large “deadzone” between the two from which escape is impossible. The second shows the same situation if the Interceptor is approaching from an offset alignment, indicating the spacing with a blank base.

Aligned_Margin_of_Error
Any position between the two rightmost T/I bases does not allow the T/I to escape, they’ll have to stay put and exchange fire.
Offset_R3_Margin_of_Error
With an offset alignment, the deadzone is MUCH smaller, and only includes Range 3, which helps the T/I defensively if it does get caught there.

Now, as the pilot of the X-Wing, you might think that you’d be able to block this escape by banking towards the Interceptor on the turn of engagement, as opposed to coming straight in. But that just makes escape even easier, and gives up an unopposed shot!

Yes, the escape to the left is cut off by the X-Wing's bank maneuver, but the combined change in angle and position leaves the opposite side open for an attack!
Yes, the escape to the left is cut off by the X-Wing’s bank maneuver, but the combined change in angle and position leaves the opposite side open for an easy attack!

So, when facing an arc dodging ship, what can you do? There are often multiple ways in which a slippery target can duck out of your firing arc, and the opposition has to close them all off, the arc dodger only has to find one way to escape.  Using obstacles as an assistant can greatly cut down on those options.

The Interceptor is trapped between a rock and a hard place here. Unable to escape to the right at all, going right means an inevitable encounter with an asteroid the next turn.
The Interceptor is trapped between a rock and a hard place here. Unable to escape to the right at all, going right means an inevitable encounter with an asteroid the next turn.

Similarly, the edge of the playing field can block off options and force the enemy to joust with you, but do be careful with that approach – the recent FAQ changes make it much safer for players to squeeze into tight spaces near the board edge, as they do not run any risk of being destroyed if the action cannot be completed.

Arc dodging is certainly an art, not a science. The goals change completely when your opponent has a fleet of B-Wings carrying Tacticians that are ready to load you up with Stress tokens if you get caught at Range 2. Turrets change the emphasis of arc dodging if you have Autothrusters, or mostly eliminate the point otherwise. A Heavy Laser Cannon on the Outrider makes Range 1 a safe haven, Feedback Array on IG-2000 makes it a death trap. There are just far too many permutations to describe the absolute perfect move at any given time in advance; positioning (both for this turn and subsequent turns), score, time remaining in the match, obstacles, presence of other ships, and more can all affect what a player will chose to do. But there are plenty of wrong moves to be made, where you’ll do nothing but hurt yourself in the attempt. Don’t be afraid to make those mistakes, it’s the only way to learn to find those epic “I can’t believe you pulled that off” moments that make this play style so fun and rewarding.

– The Tabletop General

Armada wave 1 review – Imperials

Last time we talked about Star Wars: Armada, I was telling you all about the new toys that the evil forces of the Rebellion added to their fleet in the wave 1 release. Today we’re going to spend some time looking at the forces of order – The keepers of the peace, the long arm of the law… the Galactic Empire.

Doing more with less in true good guy fashion, the Imperial forces only included a single capital ship and a handful of fighters in the core set. New options for the existing ship are available in the Victory Class Star Destroyer expansion, and much needed reinforcements are available in the Imperial Fighter Squadrons pack. Additionally, a new class of capital ship has joined the Imperial fleet, the swift and deadly Gladiator Class Star Destroyer.

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It has two pointy bits on the front, which makes it twice as nasty… right?

While not as fast as the Rebel’s CR90, the Gladiator can cover a lot of ground quickly, it can be extremely maneuverable, and it packs a punch when it gets to its’ target, as it carries more short range black dice than any other ship in the game. Yet with only one less hull and one less shield per zone than the new Assault Frigate Mk II, it’s no walk in the park to take a Gladiator down.

Gladiator-I            Gladiator-II

As Imperial players can already attest to with the VSD I, getting off a shot at short range using black dice can be devastating, but is easier said than done. That’s where the Gladiator’s title cards, Insidious and Demolisher, both come in handy. Contrary to other title cards, which seem to all change the role of the ship depending on which you take, both Gladiator titles seem to reinforce its’ role as a flanking ship. Insidious allows you to fire your black dice from further away than normal if attacking the rear hull zone, while Demolisher gives you the unique capability to make one of your attacks after you have executed a maneuver. I tend to take Demolisher on mine thus far, and to great effect (more on that further down). Insidious is a good deal cheaper, but I feel it will be much less effective; because it’s really hard to stay within medium range and behind a target that is moving away from you, you’ll usually be out at long range before you have an opportunity to fire.

Insidious      Demolisher

Admiral Screed will probably be the Commander of choice for fleets that lean heavily on close range attacks. He allows you to remove a die that you have rolled to change a die to a crit, including the hit+crit face on black dice. That means you can potentially turn a hit and hit into a hit and a crit, a hit and a miss into a hit and a crit, or even two misses into a hit and a crit. Should you be so inclined to use Assault Concussion Missiles, that can in turn add an additional two damage on to your results.

Admiral-Screed     Assault-Concussion-Missiles

But my money says you won’t be using those Assault Concussion Missiles. Instead, you’ll be more likely to take the new and Gladiator pack exclusive Expanded Launchers card if you’re going to fill that Ordnance upgrade slot. Same damage expected on an average roll (from the forward arc), a much higher ceiling, and that many more opportunities to trigger Admiral Screed off of a blank die.

Expanded-Launchers

The last upgrade card which is available only in the Gladiator is Admiral Chiraneau. Yes, X-Wing players, THAT Chiraneau. His ability is a little different in this incarnation though. What this card allows you to do is move your fighter squadrons activated during a Squadron command at low speed, regardless of the fact that they are already engaged. For ten points, this is an incredibly expensive ability, so don’t just take it for the heck of it. I don’t personally think it fits as well on the Gladiator. You’re going to want Chiraneau on a ship that is going to be doing all squadron commands, all the time, such as a Victory Class Star Destroyer with the Corrupter Title (more info on that below). There’s a devastating tag team partner for Chiraneau waiting in the Imperial Fighter Squadrons expansion too.

Admiral_Chiraneau

Going back to my original description of the Gladiator, I mentioned that it was pretty fast and maneuverable, even though its’ top speed is only 3 and it has no more than two total points of yaw at any speed. What gives, you ask? Engine Techs. Available in the Gladiator and Nebulon B Frigate expansions, Engine Techs allow you to make an additional speed 1 maneuver on any turn that you resolve a Navigate command or spend a Navigate token. And the Gladiator’s speed 1 maneuver includes two clicks of yaw. Chain everything together, and you can go from speed 1 to a temporary speed of 4 inside of a single turn, with a maneuver of – / I / I / II, an extra click at any one joint along the template, and combine it with the Demolisher title to take one of your shots after either the original move or the followup from the Engine Techs! Bonus combo: Don’t have a Navigate dialed up or token available? Keep an eye out for the Veteran Captain upgrade later in this article.

Engine-Techs

One last upgrade of note in the Gladiator: Sensor Team. Also found in the Assault Frigate Mk II, the Sensor Team upgrade lets you spend a die to change another die to a facing with an Accuracy result.  This is potentially very useful on a ship like the Gladiator that doesn’t have a lot of potential for Accuracy results. Example: Your Gladiator II fires from the side arc, and rolls (Miss), (Hit+Crit), (Hit+Crit) on its’ black dice, and (Miss) on the red. Sacrifice the black Miss to turn the red Miss into an Accuracy, and block the Defense Token of your choice to make your damage count.

Sensor-Team

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Demolisher putting in work. There used to be an Assault Frigate where that pile of dice is now.

Moving on. The Victory Class Star Destroyer expansion, like both the Nebulon B Frigate  and CR90 Corellian Corvette, have a large amount of overlap with the version from the core set, but there is a huge assortment of cards in this pack, including several upgrades that are unique to this pack that serious players are going to want. So don’t pass up on this pack just because you bought two core sets, because you’ll be missing out on several power cards.

Corrupter and Warlord, the two Victory Star Destroyer title cards in this expansion, allow you to tailor the combat role you look to fill with your ship. Corrupter beats you over the head with its’ core function, making TIE Bombers faster. It’s not all that impressive on its’ own, but if you include Admiral Chiraneau, from the Gladiator, suddenly that extra range makes for a vicious little combo to move your TIE Bombers away from enemy squadrons and make a bombing run on an enemy capital ship all at once! Warlord is best suited for the VSD II and its’ collection of blue and red attack dice – every die in that pool has a potential to roll an accuracy result that can be turned into a hit; and don’t forget that the double hit is a valid choice on a red die.

Corrupter      Warlord

Admiral Motti is an all purpose passive upgrade for your capital ships, giving them all extra hit points. He’s also the cheapest Commander available to the Empire; there’s something to be said for that when you’re looking at a mandatory component.

Admiral-Motti

Ion Cannon Batteries are an interesting upgrade. Triggering from a blue critical hit, they either strip a command token from the target, or deal an extra damage if no tokens are available. I can’t see myself using these often, as I don’t personally value what they bring to the game, but I’m glad to see more critical effects that can be used without needing the target’s shields to be down.

Ion-Cannon-Batteries

Director Isard can really give you an edge in a battle of big ships with high command values. The enemy has Concentrate Fire commands stacked up 3-deep on one ship, and nothing but Engineering commands on the other? I think we just picked our priority target!

Director_Isard

The last upgrade only available in this pack is Flight Controllers. It’s not quite as useful, only working when you’re issuing a squadron command, but the Flight Controllers are essentially an extra copy of Howlrunner, handing out bonus anti-squadron dice. And yes, the effects stack for that activation if you have Howrunner around too.

Flight_Controllers

Believe it or not, we’re still not done with upgrades worth having out of the Victory Class Star Destroyer, although the rest of these all exist in at least one other expansion too (other than the core set).

Overlapping with the Assault Frigate MK II, XX-9 Turbolasers and Veteran Captain are both new cards we haven’t discussed yet. The XX-9 upgrade can be brutal for finishing off a ship – they let you deal two face-up damage cards instead of just one, but they don’t actually deal any more damage, so it’s an investment in luck. Veteran Captain is almost an auto-include for me on any Assault Frigate or Victory Star Destroyer I have room for it on. For three points, you get a single command token of your choice at one point in the game. This doesn’t seem like much, but when you’re working with a big command stack, you never know when you’re going to REALLY need a navigate token to speed up or slow down. Imperial players that are used to having Moff Tarkin hand those tokens out but want to experiment with other Commanders will be especially thankful that they have a Veteran Captain around.

XX9-Turbolasers      Veteran_Captain

The last new card in the VSD expansion, overlapping with the Nebulon B Frigate, is Intelligence Officer. It allows you to pick a defense token that you really don’t want the opponent to spend, and make them face a hard choice as to whether or not to sacrifice it. At 7 points, for such a powerful ability, I think it’s costed right; yet I think it’s too expensive for me to use in my personal fleets.

Intel-Officer

Now for the Imperial Fighter Squadrons expansion. Similar to my recommendations regarding the Rebel Fighter Squadrons, you’re probably going to want two packs of these, even though there’s duplication of ships, as you’re getting even more TIE Fighters. Unlike with X-Wings though, considering how cheap the TIE Fighters are, that’s actually a good thing. If you didn’t get a second core set, you NEED more TIE Fighters.

My personal favorite addition among the generic ships is the TIE Interceptor (insert fake shock here). Compared to TIE Fighters, they are a touch pricier (3 points per squadron) and just as fragile, but they are a little faster and they absolutely spray out damage. With four Anti-Squadron dice and Swarm for rerolls and eligibility for Howlrunner’s bonus, you’ve got a lot of potential on offense. Perhaps even meaner, both Swarm and Howlrunner’s effects happen on Counter attacks too!

TIE-Interceptor-Squadron

TIE Bombers are the definition of a specialization for a specific combat role. They’re cheap, durable, and relatively fast, but they’re absolutely useless against anything other than a capital ship. Can’t hurt enemy squadrons (average of 0.5 damage), can’t escape them, and can’t keep them tied up either.

TIE-Bomber-Squadron

TIE Advanced squadrons are in an awkward position. The most expensive of the Imperial generics, the TIE Advanced will do less damage to other squadrons than regular TIE Fighters (thanks to the lack of Swarm), and even with a black Anti-Ship die, will do only marginally better than TIE Fighters and TIE Interceptors against capital ships (thanks to the lack of Bomber). What they do have going for them, though, is they have relatively high health, and Escort, allowing them to use that health to shield other squadrons from enemy fighters.

TIE-Advanced-Squadron

There’s also a neat little trick you can do if you combine those TIE Advanced with Soontir Fel. Just like the other TIE Interceptor squadrons, Soontir has Counter 2, which makes the enemy want to attack something else if they can. But Fel is a master of taking shots of opportunity, and if an enemy makes an attack that isn’t against Fel, he deals one point of damage to them automatically. So let’s review: TIE Advanced have escort, you have to shoot them, and relatively high hit points. Soontir Fel hits you if you shoot anyone other than him. Seems like a recipe for success, no?

Soontir-Fel

Next up is Major Rhymer. He’s a little less defenseless in dogfights, but it’s still nothing to be happy about. What Rhymer brings to the table, however, is that he is a leader of men. Specifically, he’s a leader of men who want to take down capital ships. He allows nearby squadrons to fire at capital ships at Close-Medium range, which is just a touch longer than distance 3, as opposed to the normal distance 1 limitation. That makes it much easier to deal significant damage without having to spend so much effort to chase the enemy ships down.

Major_Rhymer

Next, let’s take a look at Darth Vader. He’s the most expensive squadron in the game so far, beating out his son by a point (Spoiler alert, I suppose?). For that cost, he dishes out a lot of damage, but I don’t know if it’s really worthwhile. Average of 3.25 against fighters, 1 point average vs capital ships (with a crit-less version of Bomber). On a scale of silence to sheer joy, I give Lord Vader a “meh”.

Darth-Vader

Last up on our list, instead of Howlrunner as the TIE Fighter ace, we’ve got Mauler Mithel, a pilot who apparently apprenticed under Captain Oicunn (that’s an X-Wing joke, for those of you paying attention). Any time he moves into an engagement, every enemy squadron engaged with him takes a damage. It’s a neat ability as it is, but it didn’t really jump out at me until I looked through the rest of Wave 1 and saw Admiral Chiraneau. Mithel’s ability would trigger each and every time you activated Mauler via Chiraneau, dealing a damage to every enemy fighter in range turn after turn. It’s pricey to get them both (25 points in all), but if you’re already building around Chiraneau, Mithel is well worth adding on.

Mauler-Mithel

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Despite two squads of A-Wings coming in as reinforcements, I think I lost just the one squad of TIE Advanced in this furball. All working together, these Imperial Fighters are MEAN!

So what do you think? Do you agree with my evaluation that the good guys got more toys to be excited about? Did I leave out your favorite Wave I element or combo? Let me hear about it in the comments! And if you missed it, don’t forget to check out the Rebel version of this Wave I Armada review!

– The Tabletop General

2015 X-Wing Regionals – FCB Comics & Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total: 96 points

Round 1

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

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

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

Round 2

Opponent:

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

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

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Going droid hunting…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 3

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

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BBBBZ, exactly what I didn’t want to see today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break time

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

Round 4

Opponent:

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

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

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Look, sir! Autothruster victims!

 

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

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

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

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

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Catch that flying carpet!

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

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

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

Round 5

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hang in there Carnor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Round 6

Opponent:

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

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

(2 point initiative bid)

wpid-img_20150530_211440230.jpg
RAC all up in my face…

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

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

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Well, that idea blew up in my face…

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

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Note the absence of a Royal Guard Pilot.

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

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

Final thoughts

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

The B-Wing swarm – BBBBZ / BBBB

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

BBBBZ

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

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

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

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

Bandit Squadron Pilot – 12 (Z-95 Headhunter)

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

For this particular game, my opponent fielded the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tricky B’s

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

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

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

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

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(Gollum voice) Tricksy rebels-es… (/Gollum)

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

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

Stress B’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Moxie Games X-Wing Championship

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

A quick refresher on the contents of my force:

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

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

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

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

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X-Wing took over Moxie for the day.

Round One

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

3-0, 516 MoV

Round Four

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Phantom down, time to go TIE Fighter hunting.

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

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

4-0, 716 MoV

Round Five

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Scramble drill!

 

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

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

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

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

5-0, 916 MoV, 1st place after Swiss.

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

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson learned. Bring on Regionals.

– The Tabletop General

 

 

Galactic Comics & Games X-Wing Championship

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

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

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

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

My List
image

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

Round One

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

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

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

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

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

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

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

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

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

Dark Curse – 16 (Starter set)

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

2-1, 400 MoV

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

Round Four

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

3-1, 576 MoV, 3rd place after Swiss.

Not done yet.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

 

Play by Play with Interceptors

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

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

Stars & Blood Stripes AKA Can’t Touch This

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

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

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

 

Spamer’s “Dat Booty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interceptors for the win. Officially tired of typing.

– The Tabletop General

Return of the TIE Interceptor

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

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

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

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

Can’t Touch This

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m bringing ‘cepters back…”

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

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

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

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

I’m on the Leader

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General