Tag Archives: Twin Laser Turret

And now, the rest of the story…

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

First, let’s set the stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, that was a thrilling battle report, huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

             

                           

                         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image cropped to remove score sheet.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now accepting donations for a copy of Photoshop.

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

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

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

*deep breath*

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

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

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

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

But now an apology might be in order first.

– The Tabletop General

2017 X-Wing Regional Championship – Macon, GA

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

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

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!

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

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

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

My Build:

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

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

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

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

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

Round 1

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

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

              

                         

                       

The match:

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

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

Rough start to the day.

Result:

29-100 loss

Standings:

0-1, 29 MoV

Round 2

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

 b          

                         

                           

The match:

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-47 win

Standings:

1-1, 182 MoV

Aside:

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

Round 3

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

List commentary:

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

             

                           

The match:

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

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

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

Result:

51-100 loss

Standings:

1-2, 233 MoV

Aside:

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

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

Round 4

Opponent’s list:

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

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

              

                            

                           

List commentary:

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

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

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

The match:

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

Preserving points via Morse Code – keeping Dashes together.

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

Result:

100-26 win

Standings:

2-2, 407 MoV

Round 5

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

             

                          

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

3-2, 607 MoV

Round 6

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

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

             

                           

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

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

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

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

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

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

Result:

100-0 win

Standings:

4-2, 807 MoV

Position at cut to top 16:

13th place.

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

Round 7 – Top 16

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

               

                           

                           

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

Not the best setup I’ve ever done…

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

Living on the edge!

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

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

Result:

64-54 win

Round 8 – Top 8

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

List commentary:

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

The match:

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

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

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

Result:

100-53 win

Round 9 – Top 4

Opponent’s list:

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

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

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

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

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

The match:

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

Result:

100-0 win

Round 10 – The Final Match

Opponent’s list:

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

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

List commentary:

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

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

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

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

                           

                         

The match:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Using the Mist Hunter

It’s been about a little over a month since Wave 8 was released for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The new ships made a big splash on the tournament scene as we wrapped up this year’s Store Championships and moved on to Regional events. The Ghost has proven itself a veritable toolbox, capable of serving as a heavy hitting gunship. The TIE Advanced Prototype has seen immediate usage as a cheap and efficient fighter, either as a generic swarm or slipping The Inquisitor into an existing build like Sith Lords and freeing up points to upgrade the other ships in the list. And the Punishing One has quite possibly caused the largest impact, with Dengar fueling my own Store Championship win, and the Wolfpack / “U-Boats” build of 3 Contracted Scouts appearing all over the place. The one ship that hasn’t gotten a lot of love yet is the Mist Hunter, and after a series of questions from my local group, I wanted to find a way to make it usable.

The Mist Hunter / G-1A Starfighter serves as the B-Wing of Scum & Villainy, with base costs in the 20’s, average maneuver dial, 8 total health, 3 attack, 1 evade, access to Crew and System Upgrade slots, a Barrel Roll*, and a Cannon* [*one ship via the title, and only a Tractor Beam].  B-Wings are rarely seen on the table in my local meta lately, and appear in specialized roles when they do – an equivalent of BBBBZ isn’t possible, with the cheapest G-1A weighing in at 23 points. The strengths of the 4 B-Wing lists without a 5th ship that I’ve seen lie largely in having access to a Barrel Roll for blocking arc dodgers, so that’s not going to work here either, as only one ship can have it. The Mist Hunter will need a new approach, despite the parallels to the B-Wing.

As for a stand-alone ship; the M3-A Scyk serves as a cheaper cannon carrier for the Tractor Beam, albeit a much less sturdy one. A generic Ruthless Freelancer with a Fire-Control System (B-Wing / TIE Phantom) does come out to 25 points, allowing it to slot nicely in to a modular build (which scum tends to do easily, as referenced in my article on the Kihraxz). But it certainly doesn’t feature the ship, it would  simply be serving as a cog in the wheel.

No, I want to make the G-1A into a headliner, so that meant exploring the named pilots.

My build:
Palob Godalhi – 20 (Most Wanted)
Twin Laser Turret – 6 (K-Wing)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Veteran Instincts -1 (Slave 1 /  Millennium Falcon)

Zuckuss – 28 (Mist Hunter)
Opportunist – 4 (Imperial Aces)
Tactician – 2 (TIE Phantom)
Fire-Control System – 2 (B-Wing / TIE Phantom)

4-LOM – 27 (Mist Hunter)
Stay On Target – 2 (Rebel Aces)
Intelligence Agent – 1 (HWK-290 / Lambda)
Advanced Sensors – 3 (Lambda / E-Wing)
Mist Hunter – 0 (Mist Hunter)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Mist Hunter)
Inertial Dampeners – 1 (IG-2000 / Starviper)

Zuckuss              4-LOM

Opportunist                           Stay_On_Target

The concept: Mess up the enemy’s actions via stress and token denial, then let Zuckuss drop the hammer on somebody 6 attack dice at a time (3 base, +1 for Range 1, + 1 for his pilot ability, +1 for Opportunist).

The execution: Messy. Very Messy. Almost Lionel Messi (sorry, had to slip that one in there for the benefit of a certain pirate).

Facing off against two minimally equipped X-Wings (one of each generation) and Han for my first test-run, I had a lot of trouble getting shots lined up early. Facing an unfamiliar opponent with an unusual list, I had no idea what to expect from his movements. I also got confused early on as to which G-1A was which, and that certainly didn’t help matters. Palob didn’t hold up well under concentrated fire, but Zuckuss managed to do his thing – After stripping shields from the T-70 on one turn, stressing it in the process, and snagging a Target Lock to keep, he rolled up into Range 1 and fired a short range rail gun, 4 hits and 2 critical hits without spending any modifications.

Zuckuss was knocked out soon thereafter, leaving a damaged 4-LOM by himself against mostly full health Han and a pristine generic T-65. Not exactly a great situation. 4-LOM was never intended to be a closer in my design – his role was to help set up Zuckuss’s attacks and then harass and kite another ship out of the fight. But he had all the tools needed to win this battle, and was in prime position to do it.

For about the next 12 turns, 4-LOM worked magic. Each turn, I looked at the board state, and ruled out there the Falcon couldn’t go without landing on an asteroid or risking the table edge. I ruled those out as possible landing spots, and picked a move I knew I didn’t want to make. With Intelligence Agent, I would peek at Han’s dial, then I would watch where the X-Wing moved. Having perfect knowledge of final board state, 4-LOM would barrel roll for extra reach if necessary (snagging a token otherwise), and adjust his maneuver via Stay on Target to get right into Han’s way. Falcon bumps the Mist Hunter, Mist Hunter hands that stress away at the end of the turn… wash, rinse, repeat. But the X-Wing was still a threat. He got off a shot or two, luckily to little effect. But more often than not, I could prevent that shot with the Tractor Beam, placing the lower PS pilot onto asteroid after asteroid, letting them be the damage source that slowly pecked away at the T-65’s shields, and nullifying its’ return fire in the process.  And when I couldn’t stop the shot with a Tractor Beam movement, the G-1A’s Evade action came in handy.

Eventually, the Falcon managed to escape the trap with 3 stress tokens in tow, and the X-Wing was taken out in the same turn. Now we had a fair 1-on-1 fight on our hands, in which 4-LOM, as equipped still had an advantage. After circling around to make another attack run while the Falcon cleared stress, 4-LOM went back to work, actively blocking the Falcon onto asteroids when possible for potential damage, or saving up Target Locks on turns that would have a collision, and passing off stress again. When firing -did- occur, Han had naught but his native reroll (soon removed via an Injured Pilot critical), and the Mist Hunter would have a Target Lock for offense and an Evade for defense. With action support for the war of attrition that followed, my scum managed to limp away from the fight victorious.

What I’m trying to express, and feel that I’m falling short of fully conveying, is how much 4-LOM was in control of that fight. I didn’t care what maneuver the Falcon picked, I was going to block it over and over again until I was ready to shoot at it. I came in to this match expecting 4-LOM to be a distraction, a side show and support for Zuckuss. Instead, he took the main stage, and made it his game. It was a pleasant surprise.

– The Tabletop General

Payback at Vendetta: An X-Wing Store Championship

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

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

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

Boba_Fett              Dengar

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

Gonk                         Experimental_Interface

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

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

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

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

Navigator                           engine-upgrade

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

R5-P8                         Punishing_One

So how did it all work?

Round 1

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

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

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

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

Manaroo              Serissu

Attanni_Mindlink                           Tractor_Beam

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

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

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

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

Round 2

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

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

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

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

Kanan_Jarrus_Ghost              Ezra_Shuttle

Reinforced_Deflectors                           Rage

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

IMG_20160319_123109582
It turns out that folks find Boba Fett’s presence distracting.

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

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

Round 3

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_140313922
[Loading Textures…. 27% complete]
List commentary:
As opposed to the previous two lists, this doesn’t look too different compared to what this guy might have been running prior to wave 8’s arrival. There’s nothing that sticks out to me as being scary here. Still, I don’t want to underestimate what it can do, he’s 2-0 for a reason, and he just beat another Dengar build in the hands of a seasoned vet.

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

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

IMG_20160319_143152676
That T-67.5 had Boba’s number.

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

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

Round 4

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_152300507
Getting ready for the joust.

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

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

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

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

Semi-Finals

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

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

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

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

autoblaster-turret                           Accuracy_Corrector
Ghost_Title                           Phantom_Title

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_181253225
Ezra is blurry because he’s exploding.

Result: 100-23 win

Final Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_191848080
A-Wing down!

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_195707579

– The Tabletop General

Hidden information, bluffs, and dirty lies

What’s the harm in a little lie?

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

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

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

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

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

Overcharged_Weapons                       Parting-blow

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

Take-Initiative

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

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

— Sidebar —

img_20160206_220058380.jpg
Not affiliated with any acronym based groups.

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

FCB at Wasteland (An X-Wing Store Championship)

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

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

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

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

Omega-leader                     Comm-relay

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

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

 

Round 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Round 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Round 3

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

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

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

img_20160109_135009534.jpg
Going robot hunting…

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

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

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

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

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

 

Round 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, dude.

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

 

Round 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

2016 FFG Store Championship Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I’ve got a mental checklist here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Guest Battle Report – 2015 X-Wing World Championships

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

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

My List:

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

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

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

100 pts total

Theory and Playstyle:

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

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

Game 1

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 34-100, record 0-1

Game 2

 

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

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

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

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

Result: Win 100-52, Record 1-1

Game 3

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

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

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

Result: Loss 50-100, Record 1-2

Game 4

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

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

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

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

Result: Win 100-0, Record 2-2

Game 5

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 14-100, Record 2-3

Game 6

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 26-100 Record 2-4

Game 7

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Win 100-26, Record 3-4

Game 8

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

At least until wave 8 drops and everything changes again.

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

— The Tabletop General

Gaming roundup, October 2015

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

X-Wing

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

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

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

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


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

Crit City

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

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

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

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

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

Armada

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

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

Unnamed 300 point Sullust list

Nebulon B Support Frigate
Mon Mothma (CR90 Corellian Corvette)

Nebulon B Support Frigate x 2

CR90-A Corellian Corvette x 2

A-Wing Squadron x 2

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

Battletech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Games

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

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

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

Summary

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

– The Tabletop General

Simultaneous Attack; X-Wing rules discussion.

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

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

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next example:

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

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

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

vs.

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

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

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Zertik-strom                   Draw_Their_Fire

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

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

One more (slightly silly example):

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

vs.

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

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

Biggs-darklighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General