Tag Archives: Winning

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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…

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– The Tabletop General

Galactic Comics & Games X-Wing Championship

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

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

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

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

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

Round One

Opponent:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

1-0, 200 MoV

Round Two

Opponent:

Binayre Pirate – 12 (Most Wanted)

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

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

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

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

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

2-0, 400 MoV

Round Three

Opponent:

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

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

Dark Curse – 16 (Starter set)

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

2-1, 400 MoV

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

Round Four

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

3-1, 576 MoV, 3rd place after Swiss.

Not done yet.

Semi-Finals

Opponent:

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

Bandit Squadron – 12 (Z-95)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

 

Attack Wing 200 point league event #2

Captain’s Log: Star Date 13 (I’m REALLY not good at counting); After last month’s meeting engagements, reinforcements have arrived for all involved and all fleets are back to 200 point combat ratings. The contested area is shrinking, and the coming battles are sure to be bloodier than the previous fights.

The local Star Trek: Attack Wing community appeared to really enjoy opening up the floodgates and bringing 200 point fleets last month. Accordingly, that same setup was used again this month, but without the special flagship rules and on a standard sized map, so it was simply 200 vs 200, with up to 20 points to spend on any combination of resources.

Having gone through my collection during my recent move (one of several reasons for my posting hiatus), I was able to locate ships that I couldn’t find before, and I updated my list accordingly, removing the Federation ships, and slipping in one more ship for a few less upgrades.

Vulcan & Kazon Militia

Flagship Independent (Klingon) – 10

Tal’Kir – 26 (RiF blind boosters)
Cloaked Mines – 4 (I.R.W. Praetus)

D’Kyr – 26

Ni’Var – 20
(Flagship)
Combat Vessel Variant – 5 (Collective OP1 Prize)

D’Kyr Class – 24
Clark Terrell – 1 (USS Reliant)

Relora-Sankur – 26 (RiF blind boosters)
Donatra – 5 (I.R.W. Valdore)

Kazon Predator Class – 24 (RiF blind boosters)
Kira Nerys – 4 (Dominion War OP6 Prize)

Kazon Predator Class – 24 (RiF blind boosters)

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The Vulcan / Kazon militia, lined up and ready to go. I may or may not have had to spend about an hour practicing and re-configuring to get the positioning right for a clean deployment and minimal collisions during the game, while close enough to share all my bonuses across the fleet.

 

Individually, there’s nothing particularly exciting or powerful in the list. But it’s effective as a group. The whole team can methodically roll forward in tandem, the dials are near identical across the fleet. There are multiple effects in play that boost all the other ships in the fleet. +1 attack die at range 2-3 from the flagship, +1 attack die from Donatra, +1 defense die from Terrell, and Kira Nerys Space Oprah does her thing too (“You get a target lock! And you get a target lock! You all get target locks!!!”).  Every ship in the fleet can take a beating, the most lightly defended ship in the fleet has 8 hit points and 1 defense die (the D’Kyr class with Terrell on it), but it’s not an obvious target as it has the lowest damage output of any ship in the fleet (action economy plans aside), and it’s tied for second lowest point value in the fleet.

When it comes to offense, all seven ships in the fleet have at least six attack dice on the opening rounds of engagement. Kira/Oprah’s Predator most likely rolls an unmodified attack, but the remainder of the fleet stacks a Target Lock and a Battlestations action together to put those dice to maximum effect.  And to top it all off, it’s hard to outmaneuver the group, as all of the ships have 180 degree firing arcs.

End result: It’s nasty.

Round 1

Opponent:

Alpha Hunter (Hirogen Warship)
Karr (Hirogen Warship)
Stalking Mode (Hirogen Warship)
First Strike (Collective blind boosters)
Sensor Network (Hirogen Warship)
Monotanium Armor Plating (Hirogen Warship)

I.K.S. Ch’Tang (OP Prize)
Chang (Chang’s Bird of Prey)
Barrage of Fire (OP Prize)
Monotanium Armor Plating (Hirogen Warship)

Scimitar
Romulan Commander (I.R.W. Gal Gath’Thong)
Fleet Captain Independent (Dominion)
Fire At Will (USS Enterprise E)
Full Stop (Scimitar)
Thalaron Weapon (Scimitar)
Monotanium Armor Plating (Hirogen Warship)

Bioship Alpha
Khan (8) (USS Reliant)
Once More Unto The Breach (I.K.S. Kronos One)
Monotanium Armor Plating (Hirogen Warship)
Quantum Singularity (Bioship Alpha)
Extraordinary Immune Response (Bioship Alpha)

List Commentary: Well, this looked nasty. I haven’t played much recently, so this would be my first match against the Alpha Hunter, and I knew in the back of my mind what the Monotanium Armor Plating did, but I didn’t realize how effective it would turn out to be during the match.

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Note that Chang is in the back corner. This shows me that the player likely intends to approach quickly, because otherwise collisions will occur, scattering the squad.
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My low skill values meant that I had to set up blindly, but with the opponent having chosen to include an asteroid field, I thought that I could probably pull the enemy ships through it by moving forward rather than turning to engage them immediately.
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Not quite what I had intended, but the enemy formation was certainly busted up. Time to take advantage, and turn and engage before reaching the asteroids. I dropped my mines soon in an attempt to scatter the opponent even more.
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Slow and steady, my fleet crept forward, picking off ships one at a time. The Bioship did a great job of flanking via Quantum Singularity, but I just ignored it in favor of chasing sure kills.

Battle: Space Oprah (Kira Nerys, for those who skipped ahead and missed that reference) got really shut down in this match, as Monotanium Armor Plating and a hefty dose of cloaking denied me a lot of target locks. But when you make a cloaked ship throw enough dice, eventually it’s bound to fail spectacularly, as I’ve learned first hand many a time. End result was a solid win. I believe I lost one ship in the closing moments, but I managed a near wipe of the enemy fleet, with only the Bioship surviving. We said it survived at least, either a critical hit was applied by mistake with shields still available, or shield tokens were left on the ship’s card after being damaged.

Round 2

Opponent:

Fighter Squadron 6

Federation Fighter Squadron

Federation Fighter Squadron

USS Enterprise E
Picard (9) (Starter Box)
Independent Flagship (Federation)
Dorsal Phaser Array (USS Enterprise E)
Reginald Barclay (Collective blind booster)

USS Enterprise Refit
Clark Terrell (USS Reliant)

USS Voyager
Janeway (USS Voyager)
Charles Tucker III (Enterprise NX-01)
Pavel Chekov (USS Reliant)

List Commentary: Another build that looks like it could be trouble. Those fighters can pump out a lot of damage if left unchecked, but luckily I have lots of shots available. It’s refreshing to see faction pure showing up at times, and I don’t really feel like this player was “missing” anything by not crossing factions. From what I gathered, my opponent was relatively new to the game,  and that makes him a potential force to be reckoned with in future games with this group.

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It’s too nice of a fleet to mess up! I don’t want to shoot it! (But I suppose that I will…)

 

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They all moved as slowly as the Voyager can manage, keeping the formation nice and aligned.
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What better answer for a clean formation than a field of cloaked mines?

 

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I call this one “Parting of the Fed Sea”. It took just about everything I could spare to clear that one fighter squadron and the Enterprise Refit, but I don’t suppose that’s bad for one turn’s shots.

Battle: I missed a few photos that I wish I had taken, because the next turn was tricky and I had to really scramble a bit. I slid forward and had Space Oprah hand out a stack of target locks onto the Enterprise E, but to my great surprise both the Enterprise-E and Voyager took advantage of their speed and 360 degree firing arcs to zoom straight past my formation. This gave the enemy got some unopposed shots out of the deal there, leaving me nothing but fighters to pick on. I followed up on this by turning the entire formation hard right, loading up on aux tokens, but I still had target locks for days, and I found myself outside of the Voyager’s range, which meant this exchange was very much slanted in my favor.

Soon after clearing the E, time was called on what was a tough game to be facing a relative newbie. This is especially notable because I feel like I got lucky killing that last ship, and we played 50 minute rounds, which is really short considering these fleets are roughly double the normal size. When we finished, he had a decent position behind me, and had destroyed my Suurok class flagship and one of my D’Kyr already. He would have taken damage from the mines to chase me, but there wasn’t a lot I could have done to force shots on the Voyager for quite some time. With more time in the match, that would have been a lot closer of a finish.

Round 3

Opponent:

Counter Attack Die
Elite Attack Die

Scimitar
Karr (Hirogen Warship)
Fleet Captain Independent (Dominion) 
Stalking Mode (Hirogen Warship)
Tactical Officer (I.R.W. Valdore)
Antimatter Mines (Starter)
Improved Cloaking Device (Scimitar)
Reinforced Hull Plating (Prototype 01)
Polarized Hull Plating (I.R.W. Praetus)
Monotanium Armor Plating (Hirogen Warship)

Valdore
Jean-Luc Picard (9) (Starter Box)
Tactical Officer (I.R.W. Valdore)
Breen Aide (Gor Portas)
Dorsal Weapons Array (Dominion Koronak)

Valdore
Gul Dukat (Dominion Koronak)
Tactical Officer (I.R.W. Valdore)
Boheeka (Dominion Koronak)
Dorsal Weapons Array (Dominion Koronak)

Prototype 01
Gareb (Prototype 01)
Cloaked Mines (I.R.W. Praetus)
Cloaked Mines (I.R.W. Praetus)
Jammed Communications (Arena OP Prize)

List Commentary: This may not be the exact loadout, but it’s pretty close. My opponent had consulted me for my opinion on this list as written and a couple of alternatives prior to the event, and this was definitely the one that I didn’t want to face. The Scimitar looks all big and mean, but the Valdores are just as dangerous, if not more so.

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One of the few pictures that didn’t come out blurry from this match, this is halfway through the final turn.

Battle: This was to be far and away the toughest match of the day, and I wasn’t surprised in the least. My Vulcan / Kazon alliance lacks a lot of ability to react to my opponent’s moves, so the general plan is as follows: If there are enemies in front of me, float the group forward, shoot everything at something in range. If there’s nothing in front of me, say a prayer and start listing lazily to one side in search of target.

There’s not a lot of room in that plan for adjusting for highly maneuverable ships that can escape my forward arc, and there’s certainly very little ability to dodge mine fields, which is a big problem – 7 ships, 3 dice each… a single well placed set of cloaked mines will get 21 unopposed attack dice per turn, close to the damage output of some fleets at this scale, and for a mere 2% of the cost of said fleet.

To make matters worse, there’s still another 96% of the fleet to deal with. Namely, there’s a lot of action economy running around, translating into 3 attacks per turn that are all but guaranteed 5-6 damage to land home, and they’re all firing before any of my stuff. Then you can top it all off with the fact that the Jammed Communications upgrade is designed to temporarily cripple fleets just like mine, and it all looks to make for a bad day.

My solution? Slowing down to an average of a 0.5 forward movement as soon as those mines started hitting the field. With a 1-forward or 1-reverse movement not being sufficient to move completely through another ship, I caused all of my ships to collide and not move every other turn, taking 1-forward moves on the alternating turns. I gave up a lot of actions to do it, but it just made sense.

The durability of the fleet really showed itself here. By sheer luck, because I hadn’t been positioning it well, my opponent picked the Tal’Kir as his first target as our fleets engaged. Glance back up at the photo above, and you’ll see it at the top of the photo, still alive at the end of the game. The Tal’Kir has a neat little ability that says you can take an auxiliary power token to get an extra evade result each time you defend. So with two evade dice (thanks to Terrell), a timely Battlestations token spent on defense, and a stack of evade tokens, the Tal’Kir survived the opening round with somewhere around 3 hull points to spare. I put heavy damage on one Valdore, and scratched the other slightly, but didn’t clear anything from the table.

The next turn, knowing that it wouldn’t survive another round of shooting, I launched the Tal’kir right into the heart of the enemy fleet. It took damage from the mines, but survived with one hull point, and caused collisions and lost actions for both the Drone and the Scimitar. With this unexpected movement, half of the enemy fleet unable was unable to fire upon the Tal’Kir, and their shots went to my flagship, the Ni’Var, instead. With three out of four ships firing on it, the Ni’var’s three evade dice and Battlestations token had been overwhelmed, and the ship had taken a total of eight damage, holding on by a thread thanks to the durability boosts from the Flagship and Combat Vessel Variant. Now my opponent had a hard decision… the Drone would almost certainly be able to finish either the Ni’Var or the Tal’Kir, but the other would live through the turn. He selected the Ni’Var to destroy, and thus the Tal’Kir survived to break through the enemy lines and limp away from the fight.

Even with one ship in full retreat, and one ship and its’ aura bonus destroyed, I’ve still got 5 ships throwing lots of dice left at that point, and I put them to work, knocking out a Valdore and the drone ship just as time expired. A clever use of the counter-attack die resource took down another of my ships with those last attacks, but the battle was decided, as the Drone was worth more than either of the two ships that I had lost, and Gul Dukat’s Valdore was more than both combined.

Final thoughts:

Finishing 3-0 in a 8 (technically 9 with a player who had to drop) person event left me as the only undefeated player, yet I received a 2nd place finish by way of scoring less fleet points throughout the day than my 3rd round opponent. Sometimes, in scenario games, I suppose that might make sense, but I can’t say that it doesn’t irk me to “win” and be told that I didn’t “win enough”. By a similar token, though, I’ve been handed victories in events where I’ve gone 2-1 and that same player scored 3-0, but with less points, so I can’t say it wasn’t fair. What I can say is that I dislike the system. It’s extremely counter-intuitive, and hinges on unclear wording in the OP materials provided by Wizkids for events.

It was interesting to see what players are doing with ships that I don’t have (and won’t have), as the last thing I purchased was a Borg Scout Cube for a specific build last month, I don’t plan on buying anything more. With Star Wars: Armada approaching on the horizon, and the new Scum and Villainy faction releasing this week for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, I feel as though my time in the competitive ranks for Attack Wing is drawing to a close. I’ll still play casually at times, and I might enter in to the occasional Organized Play scenario just to see how it plays out, but the grind of event after event, and the constant flow of new ships and questionable rulings just doesn’t fit into my schedule as a priority anymore.

Live long, and prosper my friends.

— The Tabletop General

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack Wing 200 point league event

Captain’s Log: Star Date 12 (I’m not good at counting); We find ourselves in peril. What had been billed as the largest War Games exercises to be held in quite some time has turned to live combat. Fortunately, the Vulcans appear to be on our side. 

This past weekend, we had a change of pace event for Star Trek: Attack Wing. A group of players that normally sticks to the scenarios provided by Wizkids threw it all out the window, and held a three round event with larger than normal fleets, semi-random sector conditions, and a small custom twist on the event.

The twist: Each player, in order of arrival, would choose a faction to represent, and must include a ship of that faction with a captain of that faction to serve as their event flagship. That flagship would have a short list of extra abilities that could be used to the benefit of the fleet. The flagship was given a list of abilities that it could spend 6 tokens on, ranging from 1 token to repair a friendly hull or shield point, to 3 tokens to force a reroll of any number of the opponent’s dice. Each token was worth 5 bonus points if unspent, but also was worth points to the opposition if unspent and the ship was lost.

Including that ship, players would have 200 points to build their force, up to 20 of which could be resources, and no more than 60 of which could be dedicated to a single ship. The game was to be played on a 6’x3′ surface, so there was going to be lots of room to move around, but we also had an extra 5-10 minutes (I forget which) added to each round to have time to close that gap.

Arriving a little late wasn’t a big deal to me, as I’m the only player I know that understands the power of Vulcan ships, and I was sure that I could have them as my choice for a faction to represent. Sure enough, they were still available when I arrived, and I was largely able to field my force as planned. I wanted to field a second Kazon ship but neglected to bring it, so some last minute substitutions were in order, and I brought more Federation ships than originally intended.

Vulcan Militia

Resources:
Fleet Captain Independent (Dominion) – 5
Counter Attack Die – 5
Flagship Independent (Klingon) – 10

Tal’Kir – 26 (RiF blind boosters)
Cloaked Mines – 3 (I.R.W. Praetus)

D’Kyr – 26
(Scenario Flagship)
Vanik – 3 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Tractor Beam – 0 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Auxiliary Control Room – 0 (D’Kyr)

Ni’Var – 20
(Flagship)
Kira Nerys – 4 (Dominion War OP6 Prize)
Combat Vessel Variant – 5 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Elizabeth Shelby – 3 (Collective blind boosters)

USS Reliant – 20
Mr. Spock – 5 (USS Enterprise Refit)

USS Enterprise – 22
Clark Terrell – 1 (USS Reliant)

Relora-Sankur – 26 (RiF blind boosters)
Donatra – 5 (I.R.W. Valdore)
(Fleet Captain)
Blockade – 1 (Dominion War OP6 Prize)
Subspace Beacon – 5

There may be something slightly out of place in the build, but it’s pretty close. I’ve been really happy with my Vulcans, in previous events and wanted to expand upon the theme: Decently sturdy (read: requires just over a single Borg attack to destroy), 180 firing arc, and can take both Battlestation and Target Lock actions to modify attacks. Add in a dash of fleet boosting effects (like Donatra and Terrell), and it had to be a recipe for success.

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Green base: Scenario flagship. Black base: Resource flagship.

Round 1

Opponent:

Queen Vessel Prime
Tactical Drone  (Borg Sphere)
Feedback Pulse (Borg Sphere)

Tactical Cube 138
Flagship (Resource)
Borg Queen (Tactical Cube)
Ablative Hull Armor

Giant Borg Cube
Picard(9)?

List Commentary: I’m not entirely sure what else was on my opponent’s ships, or how that comes up to 200 points, yet stays within the constraints of the scenario. But thanks to my last second changes due to the missing second Kazon ship, I was scrambling just to get my forces onto the table and not delay our start.

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Did I mention that that cube is BIG?

Battle:

I lucked out, winning a roll-off to pick sector conditions randomly (odd), and then randomly pulling the 1-in-5 chance to choose the sector condition (makes more sense now I suppose), between the 3 standard conditions, a custom one, or forgoing them all together. Knowing how badly it can hurt the Borg, and knowing that my ships wouldn’t be as vulnerable to it, I chose “Energy Flux” (1/4 chance to cut the attacker’s base attack dice in half before rolling dice).

In my aforementioned hurry, I messed up my formation in this first game, and had the two flagships reversed. It took a lot of shuffling around to get that fixed, but I wanted the prize ship in the back. I had plenty of time to do so, as the battlefield was far too big for the event, a 6’x3′ play surface, with two planets in the middle of the map, 16″ (or “Range 4”, if you prefer) apart. With the ponderous movements of the Borg around the planet, I wasn’t worried about being rushed. So a few intentional bumps and reverses and such later, I was happy with my formation and moving forward.

With the Giant Cube and the Octahedron moving over in front of my fleet, my opponent brought his Tactical Cube down the flank. The last thing I wanted was to let him in behind me, so I danced around a little bit more, alternating between reverse and forward moves. Just before it appeared that we would engage, I dropped my cloaked mines in the direction of the Tactical Cube, and backed up, hoping for either free damage on multiple ships, or to catch only one ship in range (you would think I would have a reputation for such moves by now in this group).

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Big bad Borg are scared of itty-bitty mines.

With all the shuffling going on, we probably shouldn’t have been surprised (but we were) to hear that there was about 15 minutes left in the match, and we had yet to roll any dice! I bluffed that I was okay with a draw, and set my dials. The following turn, the Giant Cube was still out of range, but everything else finally got to shoot. The Borg didn’t handle the Energy Flux well, though, and both attacks were cut in half, leaving the Tal’Kir damaged but alive. Meanwhile, I poured shot after shot into the Tactical Cube, stripping away its’ shields, armor, and starting in on its’ hull.

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Last round? CHAAAAARGE!!!!

The next turn turned out to be our last, and I made it count. Kira Nerys put in some heavy duty lifting, handing out Target Locks all around the fleet, while everyone loaded up on Battlestations with their standard actions. I lost the Tal’Kir this round, with the Giant Cube finally bringing its’ guns to bear, but it’s cost was less than half of the Cube that was taken down in the process. A few more shots cleared most of the shields off of Queen Vessel Prime, but we stopped since time had been called and I had less dice remaining than he had health.

Round 2

Opponent:

Klingon Flagship resource

Regent’s Flagship
Riker – (OP Prize)

I.K.S. Neghvar

B’Rel Class (OP Prize)

B’Rel Class (OP Prize)

Vor’Cha class (Starter)

I.K.S. Maht-H’A (Starter)

List Commentary: I’m not entirely sure who is who around the Klingon fleet, I don’t play against them often. Worf, Gowron, and Martok, were definitely all in there somewhere. This seemed like it was going to be a tough fight, very similar to my “throw lots of ships out there with buffs on them” concept.

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Captain’s log: Riker here. It’s day 37, and they still think I’m just a funny looking Klingon.

Battle:

Sector condition: Energy Flux, pulled randomly this time.

Having learned my lesson last round, and knowing it would take a while to move six ships on both sides of the table, I didn’t delay as much this game, and I targeted the center point of the map as the engagement zone, right between the planets. This seemed logical (there’s that inner Vulcan going to work) because all deployment zones got moved up towards the center as a result of the low amount of combat in the first round. It would be hard to disguise a flank attack in this case. We both banked in towards the center at the same time, right out of the gate. I followed that up by backing up for one turn, pulling the Klingons forward but not engaging yet.

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Draw ’em in, boys! The trap is almost ready!

Then it was too late for the enemy to go around either planet and still get in several rounds of combat, and I dropped out my Cloaked Mines right in his way as I moved into firing position. We traded a couple of long range shots with our lead ships, to little effect.

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Got ’em!!!

The enemy panicked at the thought of entering the mine field, which meant several ships were out of position, and wouldn’t ever fire in the game. This also gave me a beautiful turn of fire into the enemy’s flank.

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Riker, meet Enterprise. Enterprise, meet crazy bearded Riker.

The Regent’s Vessel took the Enterprise down with it, but I was able to atomize several ships, and came out way ahead in the exchange. I couldn’t get them all before time was called, but I got close.

Round 3

Opponent:

Scimitar
Donatra (I.R.W. Valdore)

Assimilated Vessel 80279 (RiF OP2 Prize)
Martok(8) (I.K.S Negh’Var)
Alexander (I.K.S Koraga)
Advanced Weapon System (I.K.S Koraga / Starter Set)

Gor Portas
Flagship (?) (OP Participation Prize)
Weyoun (?)
Breen Aide (Gor Portas)
Science Officer (OP Participation Prize)
Energy Dissipator (Gor Portas)
Energy Dissipator (Gor Portas)

1st Wave Attack Fighters
Galor Class Phaser Banks (1st Wave Attack Fighters)
Aft Disruptor Wave Cannons (1st Wave Attack Fighters)

List Commentary: I hate that I’m missing a few cards from this build, because it was genuinely interesting. On first glance, you wouldn’t think that these ships would work well together, but they certainly do. There was no way I could let that Gor Portas get near my fleet. Between the scan, the Breen Aide conversion, and 3 actions per turn (standard, Martok, and Flagship free action), plus Donatra to help out, it would likely kill a ship per turn on its’ own by bringing down the shields and then laying into the hull with a follow-up attack. The remainder of the fleet had enough firepower to seriously dent a second ship each turn.

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An interesting assortment of ships that I didn’t want anything to do with.

Battle:

Sector Condition: Meteor Storm. I actually pulled the “take your pick” card again, but I jokingly said that I might need to take the Meteor Storm to make things more fair, and he held me to it.

I had my deployment and approach figured out this time around, so things looked really familiar. The standardized terrain placement along with large starting distance between the fleets meant that I didn’t really have to react to much. I’d like to re-do this so that I end up with my AoE buffs in range of everyone still even after turning the formation, but by and large I like how things worked out. Just like before, mines were dropped between the planets after it was too late to go around, and my less valuable Federation ships took the brunt of the first attacks.

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Well, it worked the last time, let’s do it again!

This is where the ridiculous amount of firepower in the list comes in handy. When the two fleets clashed, positioning saved me from a shot or two, leaving one of my Fed ships with a sliver of health remaining. But going back the other way, I cleared the Scimitar on the last shot of the turn. His dice weren’t bad, and there’s a lot of cloaked hull to chew through there, but six separate shots will eventually get something through.

Having taken lots of damage from the meteors, spread around my fleet, I knew something would be going down, and sure enough, the fighters and Klingons took out the Enterprise. But concentrated fire from the rest of the fleet took out the Gor Portas just as time was called, and this was another solid, if incomplete, win.

Final thoughts:

6’x3′ is waaaay too big for 200 points. And Vulcans do really well in a swarm. My pick of blind booster ships for winning the (low entry fee) event? Another D’Kyr, for my improved Vulcan build to be used the next time we run such an event. It was only logical.

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP3; Battle Report 1

A three-for-one post today, as I’ll be sharing my experiences with two tournaments on back to back days, as well as the design methodology that went into one of the lists.

Following the second Organized Play scenario of Resistance is Futile, I took a break from Star Trek: Attack Wing. This was partially due to time constraints around the holidays, partially due to frustration with the new rulings coming out from the support forums, and more than anything else due to a month long delay in shipping of the OP kits to venues. With the kits arriving shortly after the start of the new year, though, it was time to dive back in and see what I had missed.

My first event I approached as a casual warm-up. Having built up a sizable lead in the series standings, I was pretty much guaranteed the grand prize just for showing up. And rather than using the official scenario, the TO for this series elected to give the player winning initiative the option of several sets of terrain to place on the field, but it was otherwise a 120 point Ship-Pure brawl. Thus, I couldn’t actually practice the RiF 3 scenario here, and there wasn’t much tactical analysis to be done on the event. I made the mistake of trusting cloaking and (thus the luck of dice, which failed me). My record on the day was 1-2, cruising to the finish and collecting my copy of Tactical Cube 001 anyway.

The most significant event of the day was being blasted off the table by the new Deep Space Nine. In retrospect, I had plenty of maneuverability to isolate the station, and all the firepower I could need to take it out before my opponent’s other ships could fully engage. But for some reason I chose naively to ignore the station, thinking that I could avoid its’ range and firing arcs.

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With maneuverability to spare, I really should have rushed straight at the station while the Federation ships slowed to turn around.

After the event was completed, I went back to the participation prizes that were handed out for the event, including the aperture token to be used in the provided scenario. Having some free time and an idea tickling around in the back of my head, I looked back over my review of the scenario and went to work on finalizing the plans I had first dreamed up four months prior when the scenario was first announced – getting off the map as quickly as possible.

The way the scenario is designed, it’s almost impossible to get ships back to the Alpha Quadrant for bonus points, because they’ll take so much damage along the trip. It’s more manageable to destroy the conduit behind yourself, as you should be damaging the conduit faster than it damages you with most ships, but that doesn’t help if you’re limping in with only one or two hit points remaining, and nothing you bring along can help you other than the basic statistics of your ship. But escaping not only saves that ship, but grants you bonus points, as does destroying the conduit.

The store I was to play at the next day uses fleet points as the primary determination for standings, building the win/loss record in as bonus fleet points (25 for each loss [participation], 50 for each win). As a result,  losing the match but escaping to the Alpha Quadrant was worth a few more points than the bonus for winning, even if you didn’t manage to destroy the conduit, and way more if you did! But since you lose the game if your last ship on the game board is destroyed (regardless of whether or not anything escaped), and the exit was going to be so brutal to reach, most players had already hinted that they would be ignoring that part of the scenario and attempting to out-joust the enemy in the safe area of the map.

This particular store chooses to ignore the Wizkids’ recommended fleet format, instead allowing up to 90 points out of 120 to be spent on a single ship and not requiring the 3 ship minimum. In the past that has caused a lot of juggernaut builds to appear with minimal support, but I had heard that Borg Cubes and such had fallen out of favor there lately, being quite vulnerable to the new Dominion First Wave Attack Fighters and Federation “Fighter Squadron 6″ expansions.  I figured I might go against the grain and see if I could make it work to bring a Cube or something similar using every point I could spare from the escaping ship.

So I had two primary design elements in mind for the list: Build an escape ship, and build a juggernaut. In more detail, the escape ship needed to be as cheap as possible beyond 30 points, needed to be able to at least have a chance of destroying the conduit, and needed get into the conduit as quickly, taking minimal damage along the way. The Juggernaut needed to be able to duel with the entire enemy fleet on a 36″ by 18” playing field, and if not win, at least score 50-60 points worth of its’ own kills before it went down. As an additional consideration, I asked another player for his thoughts on the strategy at hand, and he really liked it. As a result, I needed to build in a few contingencies to my plan so that my Juggernaut build could defeat his, without weakening myself too much to other archetypes.

For the escape ship, I chose a generic Intrepid class. At 28 points, the Intrepid was above my mental budget for an escape ship, but with eight total hit points, four attack and two evade dice, it stood a good chance against the conduit if I could get it there quickly enough, and the availability of a white 6-forward on its’ dial meant that it would be better suited than any other ships to reach the conduit in a hurry. In fact, I had suspected for months that it could be done in a turn, but I had never sat down to test it before.

I had already two abilities that would be useful in boosting the Intrepid towards home: The Dominion Independent Flagship resource (gives a friendly ship at range 1 a free maneuver), and Picard Maneuver (Action: If you performed a 3, 4, or 5 forward this turn, discard this card to perform an additional 5 forward maneuver, take an Auxiliary Power Token, and all attacks against you this turn are with -4 dice). I didn’t love Picard Maneuver though, because it was expensive, it would actually force me to slow down to use it, and the scenario already had a ruling in the FAQ that stated the Borg attacks wouldn’t be affected by this text. Still, it was a starting point.

Next, I needed to figure out who would carry the talent. I needed a cheap captain with an Elite Talent slot, but I also needed a high Captain Skill, because I didn’t want to have to chase the Intrepid with my other ship to give the extra maneuver, the Intrepid had to move second. My first thought was Christopher Pike, he provides a good balance of skill (6) and cost (4), has a talent slot, and he would make crew on the ship cheaper, potentially giving me cheap cannon fodder to throw at the conduit. Rather than writing anything down, since the build was changing from moment to moment, I was just pulling cards that I planned on using out for reference, and Pike wasn’t where he was supposed to be in my card folder. Instead, I saw Benjamin Maxwell, who would be a skill 7 for the same cost, but before I could retrieve him, I also spotted the Stargazer version of Picard – same skill and cost as Pike, but his ability (Action: Disable all of your active shields and perform an additional green or white maneuver) was better than the Picard Maneuver, and eliminated the need for that 5 point card. I set up the map and tested the maneuvers – 6 forward (from the flagship), 6 forward (from the maneuver dial), 6 forward (from Picard) –  for a total of a 20 forward (when including the size of the base between maneuvers). The Intrepid was across the token and off the board with room to spare, weighing in at 32 points.

So that left 88 points for our combat beast, 10 of which were dedicated to the flagship card to make it all tick. At first, Tactical Cube 138 was an obvious choice, with two sets of ablative armor for a total of 70 points and 27 health (when including the flagship). But the players in my homebrew X-Wing RPG have taught me that without any sort of defense, 25 hit points can disappear really quickly. Thinking to the prevalence of the new fighters, I realized that I needed some deterrence and easy hits on them.  Cloaked Mines were immediately loaded in to my tech slot.

I started leafing through my crew cards, still feeling like I didn’t have enough defense to stall the game out if the matchup was bad for me, and I ran across One (Action: Discard this card to perform this action. For each damage your ship would take this turn, disable one Active Shields instead of destroying it. If you have no active shields, any excess damage is applied to your Hull as normal.) Against a full onslaught, that would be up to 9 extra hit points in and of itself. And if I could find a way to use it multiple times, that would just be silly. Accordingly, Weyoun was immediately added as the captain, who can be disabled to stop a card from being disabled or discarded. A cheap 3 point Admiral was added to the Intrepid to make sure that Picard could still move after Weyoun, and two points left over, with only weapons slots remaining on the Cube. The thought came up of trading in one of the Borg Ablative Hull Armor upgrades for a Transwarp Conduit card in case a bad situation came up, but the planning session pretty much stopped there, we would each tailor the build from that point to our liking and show up the next day ready to rumble.

David & Goliath

Intrepid Class – 28 (USS Voyager)
Jean-Luc Picard – 4 (Stargazer OP Prize)
Adm. Maxwell Forrest – 3 (Enterprise NX-01)

Borg Tactical Cube – 44 (Tactical Cube 138)
Flagship Independent (Dominion) – 10
Weyoun – 5 (5th Wing Patrol Ship)
One – 4 (RiF blind booster pack)
Energy Dissipator – 11 (Gor Portas)
Cloaked Mines – 4 (I.R.W. Praetus)
Transwarp Conduit – 6 (Soong)

Total: 119 points

We have the slingshot ship, and the hulking beast ready to take on an entire army alone, so the name seemed mostly appropriate. Nothing changed about the Intrepid, but I did switch upgrades and tactics with the Cube a bit. I was concerned more about dealing damage than I was surviving it, so one Borg Ablative Hull Armor was sacrificed in favor of the Transwarp Conduit. That way, I could move up, drop mines, and move back to my board edge, waiting for the enemy to come to me. Then once they had cleared the mine field, I could hop over to the opposite side and make them chase me back again. The other BAHA was dropped. I elected to use the generic Cube, and I spent three of my remaining four points as well in order to afford an Energy Dissipator – in case I found myself facing Borg (perhaps in a likely mirror match with my friend who helped with the design), the Energy Dissipator would be a guaranteed method of bypassing shields, and perhaps preventing any return fire at all. The last point was left on the table as an initiative bid, for once I wanted to be shooting first whenever possible.

 

Round 1

Opponent:

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Constitution Class – 20 ()

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

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List Commentary: Well, here’s that fighter-heavy meta everyone’s been discussing. If I let myself get swarmed, that’s around 30 attack dice per turn coming in on my Cube. I have one attack per turn with my Cube, which would have to roll above the statistical average to kill a Constitution class ship in a single attack, and destroying the fighter squadrons would take 4 attacks each. Not looking good, but… I have mines, so we’re even.

Battle: So at this point, we’re reading through how to set up for the battle, and I realize I’ve made a potentially grave mistake. All of my planning for getting the Intrepid across Borg space in a single turn, and I assumed our deployment zone ran up to the edge of Borg space, but I was very wrong in this assumption. Accordingly, I took a 6-Forward with the Intrepid on turn one, but didn’t trigger any extra abilities, and found myself right outside of Borg space, no harm done. My opponent surprised me by turning his whole fleet towards the conduit, but didn’t move far.

The next turn, I used the flagship’s extra movement and a 6-forward on the Intrepid’s actual movement, and found myself in the conduit without needing Picard’s ability. That meant that I could have still made it the first turn. My opponent’s Constitution class ships backed up, beginning a shuffle in place that would continue for much of the game – they were only there for cleanup, he didn’t want to risk losing them. The fighters closed in, but I knew they couldn’t move extremely fast and had limited range, so I was able to take a few long range shots for free hits, and I dropped my mines in their way, but my opponent had no choice but to continue. Hit after hit; the mines battered the fighters, whose first wave of attacks were canceled by One.

I lost a couple of shields, but finished the fighters off before the Constitution Class reserves could arrive to help, and I was able to knock out two of those as well, the second just as time was called in the match.

Round 2

Opponent:

Borg Sphere – 38 (Borg Sphere)
Tactical Drone – 3 (Borg Sphere)

Borg Sphere – 38 (Borg Sphere)

First Wave Attack Fighters – 22 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

Dominion Attack Fighters – 20 (First Wave Attack Fighters)

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List Commentary: My opponent had downplayed this list from the moment he walked in the door, saying that he didn’t expect much out of it, but I didn’t buy it. I had beaten him several times in the past by throwing more dice with basic Borg ships than his upgraded ones could manage. Now he was essentially running a newer version of what I used against him to such success, trading in a captain and a Borg ship for two squadrons of fighters. This was a lean and mean build that would be hard to beat with 120 points, and I was throwing 84 at it.

Battle: Having learned last time that it was possible, I sent the Intrepid off into the conduit on turn one. My opponent rolled well for the Borg, and I was forced to flee to the Alpha Quadrant almost immediately, having sustained heavy damage.

Back on the board, the Borg Cube shuffle caused some frustration for my opponent, who had engaged first with his fighters who did their best to dance around my mine field. I took no damage on the first wave thanks to One, but I misplayed the next turn. Expecting to be out of range or firing arc of all the enemy ships, I re-enabled Weyoun rather than triggering One again, and I lost all my shields that turn as a result, making the re-use of One pointless. Completely trapped the next turn, I hopped away with Transwarp Conduit, rolling back into the action with a better position the next turn. Thus, I managed to catch his damaged sphere in range, and killed it before it could return fire. I was still blasted by the rest of the fleet, but barely alive, and feeling good about my chances.

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One sphere down, and one to go, but there’s trouble brewing with those fighters!

At this point, I switched gears and moved in for an all out assault. With his remaining sphere firing well after my cube, I was able to hit it with the Energy Dissipator, bring down the shields, and put major damage on his hull with a follow-up shot, and risked no return fire. Unfortunately, as you might be able to see in the photo above, one of the fighter squadrons barely had me in arc, and was able to finish off the Cube. It was a loss, but I still scored points for his sphere, my Intrepid, and the bonus for escaping. Hopefully that would be enough to keep things close.

Round 2

Opponent:

Voyager (USS Voyager)
Picard [8] (USS Enterprise E)
Once More Unto the Breach (I.K.S. Kronos One)
Transphasic Torpedoes (USS Voyager)
…?

Bioship Alpha  (Bioship Alpha)
Kirk [9] (USS Enterprise Refit)
The Weak Will Perish (Bioship Alpha)
Quantum Singularity (Bioship Alpha)
…?

Sideboard
Transphasic Torpedoes (USS Voyager)
…?

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List Commentary: I got used to no upgrades on ships, so I forgot to take notes on exactly what else these two were carrying, but these are the items that were used in the game.

Battle: My Intrepid was off the board and doing its’ thing from the word “go”, so now it’s a 2v1 matchup for my Tactical Cube. With less ships than any other fleet I had faced thus far, my mines didn’t do much good. But One did his job, and did it properly this time, canceling heaps of damage for two consecutive turns. I normally laugh off anyone that uses a set, let alone two of them, but Transphasic Torpedoes and good die rolls had me hurting badly. Fortunately, I was able to turn the tide in my favor by a stroke of luck of my own, landing a hit with my Energy Disruptor to drop Voyager’s Shields, and following up with a Target Lock assisted blast that shredded through its’ hull in a single turn. From there, it was relatively simple cleanup against the Bioship, and a full win for my fleet.

Final thoughts:

My friend with a similar build went 3-0 on the day, playing smarter and doing better in round 3 against my round 2 foe than I had. But he got greedy, and left his escape ship in the conduit for one turn too many in one round, losing the ship and all associated bonus points. Accordingly, with the unusual scoring system in place at this venue, I managed a victory on the day, beating him out by a matter of around 13 fleet points, despite my 2-1 record.  Despite not facing his fleet, for which the Energy Disruptor was intended, the expense of 11 points was well worth the use I got out of it. Having the Energy Disruptor on the cube is practically priceless in venues that allow it; the Cube’s relative immunity to losing actions from collisions along with its’ large base makes it very difficult to avoid.

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Start to Red base: Flagship bonus movement. Red to Green base: Normal movement. Green base to end: Picard’s action movemovement.

It’s not every day that you get to say you performed a 20-forward with one of your ships. But it’s perfectly possible, and then some. (Add in Romulan Pilot [Aj’rmr OP Prize] for another 4 [3 + base], Picard Maneuver [Stargazer OP Prize] plus Riker [Enterprise E] to trigger it, and you’ve got another 6 [5 + base] to add in, for a total of a 30-forward. My (very rough) calculations say that a maneuver of that length would take a ship from one corner to the other of a 36″ map, and slightly off. You know, just in case we get a weird enough scenario in the future where that might be required.

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP2; Battle Report 1

After holding serve at my home venue and kicking in the metaphorical door last month as I introduced myself to a couple new groups with a surprising amount of success (4 wins and 1 fellowship prize out of 5 appearances), we’re now in to month two of the Resistance is Futile organized play series for Star Trek: Attack Wing, and I wasn’t going to be taking anybody by surprise this time around. The first OP2 event in the area was this weekend. The TO for this series doesn’t use the scenarios provided by Wizkids (as per the preference of the usual group there), and instead held a basic 3 round tournament using the new suggested tournament format recently published by Wizkids.  This event was held at 120 points, single faction fleets (fleet pure), with no other objectives beyond destruction of the opposing fleet. Setup included of a planet and/or a set of obstacle tokens at the discretion of the player with initiative.

I had four different fleets designed coming in to the event, with the intent of choosing which to use based on who else was attending the event. I had builds for Mirror Universe (very suboptimal in fleet pure play, suitable against newbies), Vulcans (surprisingly decent), Federation (Tried, true, and tough, but less effective with the 50 point limit on ships), and Borg (lethally efficient). Surveying the group, there were 6 players (including the TO) present, most of which I would call tough competition, and I knew that there would be at least two fleets consisting of three Species 8472 Bioships, a very interesting matchup for Borg, so I brought them out to play with a near-identical build to the list I used in my first RiF OP1 event in the prior month.

Simple Shape Steamroller, Take 2

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Octahedron – 40  (generic version of Queen Vessel Prime)
Tactical Drone – 3  (from the Borg Sphere)

Total: 119

Borg Fleet in formation
The Borg “Cheesing” for a photo at the start of round 2. I love the detail from my new camera on this shot!

This version of the list drops Magnus Hansen from the Octahedron, giving me a 1 point initiative bid – with the lower quantity of maneuvers available to Borg, I didn’t want my opponents throwing out a planet token that would be extremely difficult for me to maneuver around. I was soon to learn that I had it backwards, I wanted that planet token!

Round 1

Opponent:
Enterprise E, Picard(8) …?
USS Yeager (Collective blind boosters), Mr. Spock …?
USS Voyager, James T. Kirk (8) …?

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I didn’t think to take notes on what was where in my opponents’ lists in this event, but this was pretty close to what you would expect out of these three ships – Defensive upgrades and Dorsal Phaser Array on the Enterprise E, utility upgrades on the Voyager, and the Yeager set up as a relatively cheap torpedo boat. The list did clock in at 119 points as well, and my opponent won the roll-off for initiative and proceeded to drop a planet token in the center of the map. Not what I thought I wanted to see, but then I realized that I didn’t have any reason to come around the planet, and I could use it to split the enemy fleet.  The opponent deployed at an angle (as per the photo above), lined up to skirt by the planet and pointed directly at my ships. Unable to move directly towards my opponent, I feinted as though I would pas the planet on the other side, then halted and waited behind the planet. Sure enough, Yeager and Voyager cleared the planet on the turn of engagement, but the Enterprise didn’t make it around. If I recall correctly, one of the Federation ships got a shot off, but the other didn’t manage it. Three Borg ships returning fire took care of the Yeager and dented the Voyager. With the two remaining Federation ships separated, it was only a matter of time before the Borg swarm could burn down Voyager. Shelby made it a little harder to take down the Enterprise E, but it’s not as tough of a nut to crack with a 50 SP limit.

Round 2

Opponent:
USS Voyager, Picard(8)
USS Reliant, Kathryn Janeway
USS Enterprise Refit
Federation Attack Fighters

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Oh, look! More Federation! This was an interesting build, and the only fleet out of 6 to bring more than 3 ships (if you count the fighters). This build worried me a bit, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what the idea was for Janeway on the Reliant. Still can’t, really, I’ll have to ask its’ creator next time I see him. I also knew that with Fighters included, there was enough dice here to make a battle of attrition less than optimal – I would only shoot before the Enterprise, and Borg ships aren’t THAT hard to burn down with focused fire. With the initiative, I placed a planet token, knowing now how Borg like having cover. The idea was to force the opponent make an attack run near the planet, deny as many shots as possible, and follow behind them once they turned around.

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Borg science vessels hide from the warmongering Federation assault fleet. The Octahedron was REALLY good at hiding, currently off of its’ base here due to my tight formation.

This worked out even better than I could have hoped. From the position above, there were no shots this turn, but the opponent  couldn’t move all his ships in the same direction the next turn. Without focused fire on one of my ships, I knew I had this one in hand.

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Target acquired!

 

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You thought the Enterprise was going down first, didn’t you?

The survivors proceeded to turn and run away. I could catch them, but I was barely able to clear the Reliant before the time was called in the round, and the Federation Fighters survived. That was a little odd, but it didn’t do any harm or change the outcome in any way.

Round 3

Opponent:
USS Voyager, Mr. Spock
USS Yeager (Collective blind boosters), Clark Terrell
Enterprise E, Picard(9)

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Oh, look! More Federation! Again! It seems that somehow the Federation fleets had taken care of Species 8472 all afternoon. Either that, or they were scared, so I now I was up against the TO, which meant that coming in with 220 of 240 possible points, a solid score would win the event even if I lost the round.

I got a planet to shield myself behind again, but I messed up my deployment in this round and couldn’t get all three ships behind it without risking going off the board. Now I was just trapped in the corner! As a result, my opponent was able to focus fire and quickly destroyed one ship, and heavily damaged a second. Had he pressed the advantage, he had a good shot to survive, but he split his shots on a crucial turn and took shields off of the healthiest ship instead of destroying a second ship, and the extra damage he received in return proved to be his downfall.

One B’Rel, please! Thank you!

Here’s a handful of bonus photos from the other matches at the event:

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With one event down, it was time to go back to the drawing board and finalize my first pair of fleets for the real OP2 scenario being run the very next night. No rest for the wicked!

– The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP1; Battle Report 3

In my previous post, I referenced the fact that I attended one more event last weekend for Star Trek: Attack Wing, and that it was a very unusual event. Serving as OP1 of this particular Tournament Organizer’s Resistance is Futile series, the local group had decided to toss out the stock scenario in favor of head-to-head battles with random sector conditions (the three from the WKO events, along with some custom ones). In response to a poll of local players, the TO had declared Borg would be banned from this series, all lists must be fleet pure (one faction only for your entire force), and that we would be using 100 point lists without inclusion of blind booster ships.

Having already won two instances of OP1, I wanted to be welcoming to newer players if the opportunity came up, but put up a real fight if nobody but veterans showed up, so I had prepared two lists, and would choose the more gentle of the two if we had any newcomers arrive before I had to submit the list. Unfortunately, due to a whole host of outside circumstances including illnesses and scheduling conflicts, the attendance for this event consisted of  the Tournament Organizer, myself, and one more player who was new to this venue (the same fellow from the prior day with the dual Bioship fleet). To me, this just meant a chance to try something wild and crazy, so I was going to pull out my friendlier build and just have a fun game or two. I thought the other player agreed to play something more casual than competitive, but there must have been something lost in translation. Having misplaced my sheet, I had to rebuild my Vulcan fleet on the fly, and looked up to find a 100 point dreadnought build of the Enterprise-E staring back at me from across the map.

Not having a sheet to reference, and knowing that I built it in a hurry and got some things wrong, I’ve had to guess at what I put where in this build. It’s not exactly right, but it’s close enough to what I fielded.

Vulcans, take 1

Ti’Mur – 20 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Vanik – 3 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Combat Vessel Variant – 4 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Tractor Beam – 0 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
*Didn’t realize until now that this ship only used cards that came with it. Interesting!

Ni’Var – 20
Sopek – 4 (Ni’Var)
Fleet Captain Independent (Klingon) – 5
Diplomacy – 0 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Vulcan Commandos – 2 (Ni’Var)
Koss – 1 (Collective OP1 prize ship)
Combat Vessel Variant – 5 (Ni’Var)

D’Kyr – 26
Kuvak – 2 (Ni’Var)
Admiral V’Las – 3 (Ni’Var)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Ni’Var)

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Round 1/2/3

Opponent:

USS Enterprise-E – 32
Flagship Independent (Klingon) – 10
Jean-Luc Picard (9) – 6 (USS Enterprise-D [Starter Set])
Picard Maneuever – 5 (Collective OP3 Prize ship)
Fire at Will – 5 (USS Enterprise-E)
The Needs of the Many… – 4 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Adm. James T. Kirk – 5 (USS Enterprise Refit)
Mr. Spock – 5 (Constitution class Enterprise)
William T. Riker – 5 (USS Enterprise-E)
Hikaru Sulu – 3 (Constitution class Enterprise)
Dorsal Phaser Array – 7 (USS Enterprise-E)
Tactical Station – 4 (Collective OP3 Prize Ship)
Multi-Adaptive Shields – 5 (Collective OP2 Prize ship)
Enhanced Hull Plating – 4 (Enterprise NX-01)

Battle 1: Without knowing what the Sector Conditions would be, the TO had us place a total of 6 objective markers that would serve as obstacles until further notice. Seeing the Picard Maneuver coming, I tried to figure out a way to build a wall I could hide behind, with them but it just wasn’t working. I deployed towards the left side of the map, angling towards the board’s center, and the Enterprise-E lined up directly opposite of me as close as possible. I don’t recall what the Sector Condition was for this round, but it really didn’t matter. Turn one, my Vulcans eased forward and scanned; the Enterprise streaked forward with a long manuever, followed by disabling Riker for a Picard Maneuver to be right up in my face at Range 1, followed by a Target Lock on one of my ships from Picard, a Scan Token from the flagship, and a Battlestations Token from the ship itself. Having the opportunity to knock me out quickly, the Enterprise discarded Tactical Stations for +2 attack dice for the round, and triggered Fire at Will for a total of two shots at +1 attack dice each, one at each of my Suurok class ships (the Ni’Var and the Ti’Mur). With 7 dice from the Dorsal Phasers, 8 from the primary with a range bonus, one Target Lock, free Battlestations conversions from Spock, and not allowing me any defense dice thanks to his Scan Token, I lost one ship and another was heavily damaged in just this opening salvo. To make matters worse, the Picard maneuver reduces all attacks by 4 dice for that turn, so I managed to roll exactly one attack die back at him.

And then the TO re-read Picard Maneuver – it gives you an Auxiliary Power Token when used, which would have prevented all actions taken after it. My opponent and I talked it over, agreed that the Target Lock made a difference in killing my first ship or not, and scrapped the game, calling it a draw, resetting to see if I could do ANYTHING to this beast of a ship in a subsequent game.

Key takeaways: Always read any card your opponent uses and you don’t know by heart. Also, don’t bring a logical argument to a gunfight.

Battle 2: We reset in almost the same position, but I had a little bit better of an idea of what to expect now, and I adjusted my deployment slightly. He deployed opposite to me once again, which ended up being slightly closer to the board edge than before. I knew I needed to survive the alpha strike, and then start denying him some actions to stand a chance. Our sector condition ended up being called “Explosive Gas”; any shots fired through the objective tokens would cause the token to explode, dealing damage to all ships at Range 1; didn’t matter, but it was a cool tactical concept.

This time my opponent did it right, standard move, Flagship Scan, Picard Battlestations, ship action to Evade, and then disabling Riker for the Picard Maneuver. Almost the same net result as last time, but as expected, both ships survived his shooting without a Target Lock to help out on one. I stood a chance, although a slim one, only facing a single attack and being allowed to roll attack dice the next turn. I considered my options, and the fact that we were awfully close to the board edge, and decided to potentially sacrifice a shot in order to deny actions, moving my ships to places I guessed the Enterprise might move, taking target locks with two ships I expected might have shots, and using the fleet action from Admiral V’las to disable Hikaru Sulu, preventing this defensive action. My opponent anticipated I would try to box him in, and in order to remove his Auxiliary Power Token he picked a speed 1 bank maneuver towards the board edge, which I wouldn’t have expected at all. It was a crafty move, as unlike the Voyager’s similar dial, the Enterprise-E does have a speed 1 reverse maneuver, which would have allowed him to not fly off the board the next turn. But unfortunately for him, he miscalculated how much room he had available, and he flew off the map on this turn, by the smallest bit of his ship’s corner! Vulcans win! Vulcans win! (In my best Harry Caray impression)

Key takeaways: Vulcans win! :)

Battle 3: Now things were serious. In order to tie for the event win, my opponent had to wipe out my entire fleet. We replaced the objective tokens for this round, setting up more of a traditional midfield asteroid field pattern akin to what you would see in X-Wing. I altered my deployment, still lining up in the left corner of the map, but this time I set up in a convoy, running parallel to the closest board edge. I’ll touch on this after a few more matches with the Vulcans to validate my thoughts, but this is part of an idea I’ve had on how they should be maneuvering to make the most of their dials, abilities, and firing arcs. Perhaps wanting a change of pace, or perhaps being suspicious as to what I was up to with my new deployment, my opponent deployed the Enterprise at mid-field, and prepared to approach more gradually. Our Sector Condition to start this round was entitled “Solar Winds”; at the end of the planning phase, after all dials are set, one non-damaging attack die was to be rolled for each ship – any critical hit results caused the ship to be moved with a speed 1 template directly towards the board edge to my right before beginning the activation phase.

For the first couple of turns, I had my fleet take long forward movements, following my board edge and scanning each turn. The Enterprise snaked its’ way through the obstacles, maneuvering in behind my convoy of “peaceful science vessels”. As my fleet neared the edge of the map and prepared to turn the corner, and the Enterprise was ready to enter firing range, both the Federation ship and one of my Vulcans were pushed by the winds. My ship was moved ahead and out of formation, and the Enterprise hit not one, but two obstacles; once thanks to the wind, and again with its’ movement. I knew I couldn’t kill the Enterprise, I just didn’t have enough dice to break through all of its’ defensive measures. I also knew that all I had to do was survive the round with at least one ship to take the “championship”. But I don’t believe in running from a (simulated) fight, and I couldn’t take full strength hits from the Enterprise and live, so I had to find ways to slow him down. I made a short stand, disabling Spock and taking some shots at the Enterprise. Somehow, I miraculously kept all my ships alive for a turn or two, disabled Riker and Sulu, and I picked off a couple more shields to add to those lost to obstacle collisions.

Solar winds pushed the Enterprise again, giving it an unexpected opportunity to evade my attempts to box it in, and rather than circling in place and continuing the fight, the Enterprise prepared to take a trip down the right side of the board in order to reset its’ disabled crew over the course of a few turns, not being able to re-enable more crew members than I could disable while engaged. The next turn, the Solar Winds sector condition gave out, only to be replaced with a Meteor Swarm! This hurt me way more than my opponent, as I had 3 times as many chances to get hit, and the Enterprise had more defense dice than my whole fleet to dodge the incoming space-pebbles, so this helped him in a battle of attrition. The Enterprise popped the D’Kyr carrying my Vulcan Commandos that had been itching to make a raid before moving out of firing range and slowly circling back towards the center of the field. I said before I wouldn’t run from a fight, but I wasn’t going to prevent the opponent from running or give chase at full speed either. Accordingly, my two remaining Suurok class ships followed the Enterprise, but I was careful to stay at long range. I definitely preferred the idea of having no shot over taking a big shot from the Dorsal Phaser Array. While resetting the Enterprise, Riker was sacrificed to The Needs Of The Many to recover the some of the Enterprise’s shields.

While my Vulcans were too busy arguing mathematical proofs to properly track their target and actually do any damage, the navigators on each ship still did their jobs, and over the course of the next 3-4 turns, I managed to stay at Range 3+, avoiding any Dorsal Phaser Array shots from the Enterprise. Perhaps my opponent was trying to play carefully amongst the obstacles on this trip through, or expected me to be more aggressive, or simply lost track of time, but the Enterprise never moved back into firing range before time expired on the match, giving me a loss in this match, but an overall victory for our three game “tournament”.

Key takeaways: I think this game might have exposed a big weakness in the Enterprise-E. As much as I like the ship, I’m hesitant to point it out, but if I’m not sharing tactical advice and insights, then why put so much time and effort into running this site? The Enterprise-E is said by many players to maneuver decently well, as it has all straight maneuvers from speed 6 down to -1 available (skipping 0, obviously), and speed 1-3 banks, and its’ speed 3 turn is white; only the reverse and 6 forward maneuvers give Auxiliary Power Tokens. But that speed 3 turn is the only hard turn maneuver on the Sovereign class maneuver dial, and the ship does not have a come-about maneuver available. Accordingly, if someone can get behind the ship, it’s very hard to maneuver around to get a shot. If the other ship is content to stay at Range 3, as my Vulcans were, this removes Dorsal Phaser Array from the equation. Essentially, in order to cover this gap, the Enterprise E must take torpedoes that it would most likely never fire otherwise.

Final Thoughts

It’s fitting that the Vulcans won the day by only losing slightly, using mind games and strategy over brute force and aggression.

Although not a match for the endless stacks of cards to chose from for the Federation, the Vulcans have some really neat abilities. Their average stats are comparable to that of the Constitution Class ships, and all have 180 degree firing arcs. They probably won’t stand up in any environment including Borg ships, but in locations where Borg are banned or frowned upon, they’ll be able to do some really neat things.

Since this event, I’ve picked up a Vulcan Tal’Kir out of the Resistance is Futile blind booster packs, and it replaces the Ti’Mur in my updated Vulcan build which I will bring to semi-competitive matches (events that count for something, but I don’t HAVE to win) in the near future.

Vulcans, Take 2

Tal’Kir – 26 (RiF blind booster)
Kuvak – 2 (Ni’Var)
Tractor Beam – 1 (Ni’Var)

D’Kyr – 26
Solok – 4 (Tal’Kir)
Adm. V’Las – 3 (Ni’Var)
Power Grid – 2 (Tal’Kir)

Ni’Var – 20
Vanik – 3 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Flagship Independent (Klingon) -10
Tractor Beam – 0 (Collective OP1 Prize)
Combat Vessel Variant – 3 (Ni’Var)

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Here we actually get some synergy out of cards and a build that was thought out in advance, as opposed to “What can I throw together in a hurry to spend 100 points on these 3 ships?”. All of these ships want to stay at Range 3, circling the enemy slowly as opposed to going head to head.

The Tal’Kir benefits circling at range by getting 2-for-1 Evade Tokens out of the captain if not in an enemy firing arc, hard to do in a head-to-head pass. Stack that with the ship’s ability to take an Aux token for a free evade result, and the extra die at range 3 on primary weapon defense, and it’s hard for the enemy to put much damage on this ship, while the flagship’s boost gives this ship 4 attack dice at Range 3.

The D’Kyr gets a native bonus attack die at Range 3, and Solok can either take a free Scan to diminish opposing defenses, or a free Evade to boost his own. If you don’t think you’ll want a green maneuver next turn to recover from Solok’s Aux token, Power Grid can catch that for you. The flagship boost would make for 5 attack dice for the D’Kyr at Range 3.

And then you have the flagship Ni’Var, which gets a free scan each turn from the Flagship card, and gets a bonus die for attacking at Range 3 with a primary weapon and having a Scan, so you’re looking at 5 attack dice for this ship’s attacks at Range 3, with a scan to negate the range bonus, and another ship action to enhance the attack with.

It’s not complex, it’s not cut-throat, but it’s a change of pace that will throw a lot of players off because very few of us have seen Vulcan ships before, much less so in a fleet pure environment. And sometimes, that’s all the edge you need.

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP1; Battle Report 2

I entered into another pair of Star Trek: Attack Wing Organized Play events this weekend. Saturday was the first run of Resistance is Futile OP1 for this particular venue. Just like my first run through, it was at a venue which I hadn’t played at before, although there was a good bit of overlap between the players at each of these.

Again, for those just joining us, I’ve previously provided a summary of the Resistance is Futile Scenarios. This scenario is a basic fleet engagement, with the added mechanic of trying to not catch the attention of the nearby Borg fleet.

A TO at my home venue is decidedly anti-Borg (not that I really blame him for it), and his takeaway from my previous report was that Borg fleets were only defeated by other Borg fleets in that event. Having seen how effective the Enterprise-E turned out to be in that event, I decided that it was time for me to give it a spin for myself, and brought it to Saturday’s event.

Mirroring the previous event, the build was 120 point constructed lists with no fleet purity restrictions, no more than 90 points allowed on a single ship, and the blind boosters were to be opened and given out as prizes. Knowing that there would be overlap in the players, and that I was one of three Borg players on Monday, I expected to see some of the same lists show up on Saturday so I could either prove a point, or be proven wrong myself. Turns out, the Borg were not represented at all in this event. We had 3 Federation fleets, 2 Klingon, and one (drumroll)… Species 8472.

So here’s what I ended up bringing:

My Fleet

USS Enterprise-E – 32
Flagship Independent (Romulan) – 10
Jean-Luc Picard (+1 Tech version) – 5 (from the USS Enterprise-E)
Attack Pattern Omega – 3 (from the USS Defiant)
Tom Paris – 4 (from the USS Voyager)
Elizabeth Shelby – 2 (from the USS Yeager [Collective blind booster])
Hikaru Sulu – 3 (from the original Constitution class Enterprise)
Dorsal Phaser Array – 7 (from the USS Enterprise-E)
Enhanced Hull Plating – 4 (from the Enterprise NX-01)
Multi-Adaptive Shields – 5 (from the USS Raven OP Prize)

USS Voyager – 30
Mr. Spock – 4 (from the USS Enterprise Refit)
Pavel Chekov – 3 (from the USS Reliant)
Tactical Officer – 4 (from the IRW Valdore [Starter Set])
Cloaked Mines – 4 (from the IRW Praetus)

Total: 120

I really don’t know what to call this fleet. The Bash Brothers? Borg in Fed Clothing?

Earlier in the week, one of my readers ran a similar build for the E alongside an Enterprise D. I made a mental note that the Voyager would have probably been a better choice, and I suppose I must have said it to him as well, because he said as much when he showed up with a near mirror to my this list for his own fleet.

Going from Borg to high-speed Federation ships might have given me pause in this scenario had I not already played it once, loss of mission tokens didn’t really affect anyone (or happen much at all) in the prior event, and I felt confident that I could stay inside the boundaries.

With this list, I present two targets: The Voyager is a much lesser threat, but can be killed in a normal amount of time. The Enterprise E is a much tougher nut to crack, but also brings a lot more firepower to the table. My hope was to pass the enemy after the first round of shooting, rather than slowing to get an extra shot as many players do. Having ships fast enough to do it,  I wanted the 360 degree arcs to be the only way that ships could fire if at all possible.

Round 1

Opponent:
Species 8472 Bioship, Picard (9), Quantum Singularity, Bioelectric feedback x2, Flagship Independent (Klingon)
Species 8472 Bioship, Donatra, Quantum Singularity

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Kirk might have had a reputation, but Picard really gets around with the aliens himself.

Match of the tournament, right here, I knew it, and the TO knew it, but that’s how it works out sometimes with a random draw for the first round of an event. With 6 players present for this OP, I knew  as soon as I saw this list that we were bound to face one another, but I was hoping to get in a bit of a warmup match first. I knew what to do with my list, but I hadn’t actually used it before. And I didn’t slow down and do the math until the combat phase rolled around, but Picard was capable of throwing eight attack dice with Scan, Target Lock, and Battle Stations every single turn. Ouch! I forgot how nasty the Bioships can be, because I never see them used in 100 point matches. With an extra 20 points to equip them and give them action economy, they get mean!

Battle: Having faced off against the other player’s variant of my list earlier in the week, my opponent was a bit cautious from the start, and wanted to wait to see that I would do first. He deployed in the opposite corner from my fleet, far right as I faced the table. Knowing that good positioning could potentially buy me an extra shot or two, I shot forward along the left board edge. The Bioships took small turning maneuvers for turn one, making sure not to overcommit, but leaving both ships in the no-fly zone and losing a couple mission tokens right off the bat. We closed to firing range on turn 3, but Picard’s ship was still within range 2 of the board edge on turn 2 because he was moving so slowly at an angle to avoid the Cloaked Mines I had just dropped, so he lost another token. Since Donatra was much less of a threat alone than Picard, I targeted his ship first as we got in to range, but I moving first meant I didn’t get Target Locks and I rolled poorly, doing very little damage. The fifteen dice of return fire wiped the Voyager’s shields and dealt a couple points to the hull.

Based on the relative positioning of the fleets, I knew the Bioships had three options: Come-about turns (and Aux tokens to go with them), potentially wasting a turn of shooting, or using their Quantum Singularities to re-position themselves. Accordingly, I took the tightest turns I could manage with white maneuvers back towards the battlefield’s center. I thought with that I would either would either still be in range with my actions against none for the opponent from the Come-abouts, be alongside the enemy and able to make use of my 360 arcs while safe from return fire, or potentially cause one ship to bump and lose their actions while the other used up the Singularity action, giving me a 2-on-1 shot. Also, moving towards the center, I gave less viable landing positions for the return from the Singularities. It turns out I was wrong as to which way the fleet would turn, and the Bioships moved towards the board edge before temporarily winking out of existence, giving up another mission token from Picard’s ship in the process.

Range 3 covers a lot of ground when you’re near the map’s center, and my opponent couldn’t find anywhere he liked to return his ships that wouldn’t commit him to flying by those mines again. Since he wouldn’t lose a token immediately, he placed his ships in a flanking position on the right side of the board, near the edge. The next turn, he moved up cautiously, knowing he needed to both be done with the Voyager and at least damage the Enterprise E on this pass, and also not wanting to hit the mines, but it was too cautious, and Picard lost his last token. After consulting the mission rules once again, I suddenly had a new target. If Donatra died or lost her tokens, I won the game regardless of what happened with Picard. Thankfully, my dice picked this prime opportunity to come back to life for me. I lost Voyager in the next round of shooting, but nearly cleared Donatra’s shields. The next round, I managed to get behind the Bioships, and snuck Picard’s critical hit through, which was turned into a Warp Core Breach via Attack Pattern Omega. Needing to repair that, the Bioships didn’t come-about like they probably should have, and Donatra’s ship regenerated, netting one HP back. The Enterprise E’s gunnery crew redoubled its’ efforts though, and hit with six out of seven attack dice that round, clearing Donatra from the field and immediately ending the match.

Key takeaways: Bioships hit just as hard as Borg, and are a little less predictable. Even players that say they aren’t scared of Cloaked Mines turn out to be scared of Cloaked Mines, even when they aren’t doing any damage. The mission tokens are hard to lose in this scenario, but if you’re not paying attention to them, they make a huge difference. I did panic a little for my standings in the tournament though, because it was ruled that even though I “won”, I didn’t get credit for killing Picard’s ship. Also, a player I hadn’t met yet had his own really mean Enterprise E setup, and he scored a big win in his own match. Since this venue compares total fleet points scored, giving a small bonus for winning a match, I knew I would not only have to beat him but do so decisively if we faced one another, a close win might still leave him with the lead…

Round 2

Opponent:

USS Enterprise E, Picard (8, crew), Independent Flagship (Fed), Tom Paris, Hikaru Sulu, Elizabeth Shelby, Multi Adaptive Shields, Ablative Hull Plating, Dorsal Phaser Array, Fire at Will (I think)
USS Voyager, Mr Spock, Pavel Checkov

Look familiar? This is actually MY fleet, but since it's the same ships, I figured it would be okay.
Look familiar? This is actually MY fleet, but since it’s the same ships, I figured this would be okay.

Battle: I was honestly expecting to fight the other player with an Enterprise E build this round, but it was not to be, we had to get this rematch out of the way. Last tournament, I faced this anti-Borg build with my Borg. This time it was closer to a mirror match. I thought it would have been a nastier fight than it was. But I was able to guess my opponent’s opening moves, and cause his Enterprise to collide with my Voyager, losing his actions in the process, and wiping out his shields on the first turn. Next turn, he tried to squeak by with a speed-1 bank, and didn’t quite clear my ships, losing his actions again. The E dropped like a stone without any defensive actions and with poorly rolling dice, and the Voyager followed behind quickly.

Key takeaways: For the second tournament in a row, movement and action denial really matters in mirror matches.

Round 3

Opponent:
5x K’Tinga class Klingons with Gowron on one ship, Krell on another.

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“It’s fine, we outnumber the Federation. We’ll be home before you can say [insert complicated Klingon phrase here].”
Battle: Somehow, this player had managed to defeat the other Enterprise E build in a close match in round 2. That meant all I had to do was wipe these ships out and first place was mine for the taking. And honestly, it wasn’t complicated. Two ships down on the first turn of shooting, two ships down on the second, one turn disengaged, and then the fifth ship down on the next turn. I think we spent more time discussing which ship I was shooting (“The K’Tinga. No, not that one, the other one. The one where the captain is looking off to the left of the camera. No, he shouldn’t be at full health, he’s the one that lost his shields to the Cloaked Mines…)”.

Key takeaways: Speaking of Cloaked Mines, they sped things up and my opponent blamed them for the loss, but it really didn’t matter here. Especially with Gowron being the first one to fall, I could have flown in circles for another 30 minutes before opening fire to finish them off, K’Tinga class ships with no upgrades weren’t about to do any serious damage to the Enterprise E.

Final thoughts

Species 8472 is tougher than I remembered, I’m surprised they don’t see more play.

A lot of Fed players are leaning heavily on the Enterprise E, so much so that I’m not seeing builds without it. Granted, it’s really effective, but it’s opening them up to some interesting problems that I managed to exploit the next day in a VERY unusual OP event. More on that later.

I turned down a second copy of the Avatar of Tomed, and picked the Dominion / Mirror Universe ship instead, since I don’t have it yet. Getting the last remaining booster as well, I brought home a second Kazon Predator, which makes me tempted to run a Kazon list in fleet pure play. It might be almost as fun as the Vulcans I used at the next OP. But again, more on that later…

— The Tabletop General

Resistance is Futile OP1; Battle Report 1

In an attempt to assist with some of my home store’s declining participation in Star Trek: Attack Wing, I’ve been looking to slip in some casual games on what I would normally consider my off nights. I haven’t succeeded in doing so, but my inquiries on Facebook were met with an invitation to OP1 of Resistance is Futile at a nearby venue which I haven’t played at before. Hoping to be able to meet some new people and just figure out how things run elsewhere, I figured it was worth taking a stab at.

For those just joining us, I’ve previously provided a summary of the Resistance is Futile Scenarios. This scenario is a basic fleet engagement, with the added mechanic of trying to not catch the attention of the nearby Borg fleet.

I had no idea what to take for a fleet at first, especially not knowing the local meta. I’m very accustomed to the players and style of play at my local venue; in particular, we normally play 90 points ship/fleet pure, plus the 30 point blind buy. In contrast, this event used 120 point constructed lists with no fleet purity restrictions, and the blind boosters were to be opened and given out as prizes. Not having met any of these players before, I didn’t know what to expect out of their builds, having recently seen a post from a fellow in that area that bragged about obtaining his fifth Species 8472 Bioship, so… anything was a possibility.

One other note on squad building for this event jumped out at me – players were prohibited from spending more than 90 points on a single ship. Considering the most expensive ship in the game before upgrades is the Borg Cube, weighing in at 46 points, that just screams “dreadnought builds” to me. That made me expect to see more two ship builds (70/50 or 80/40) than four ship builds (35/30/30/25, or somewhere thereabout). Knowing that, I was really tempted to bring some sort of complicated swiss army knife style build, with a host of upgrade stealing to play tug-of-war with my opponent over our Weyoun + Varel combos, as I was certain I would see at least one of those. But truth be told, I don’t like playing that way, and I wanted something simple for my first contact (pun marginally intended) with this group. So here’s what I ended up with:

Simple Shape Steamroller, aka the Cheddar Cheese Cult.

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Sphere – 38
Drone – 0

Borg Octahedron – 40  (generic version of Queen Vessel Prime)
Tactical Drone – 3  (from the Borg Sphere)
Magnus Hansen – 1 (from the Queen Vessel Prime)

Total: 120

The concept was simple: Deny the enemy any useful upgrades to steal, force the enemy to make attack runs on a mobile pillbox with 18 total attack dice, and concentrate fire on one ship at a time. I expected to lose at least one ship per game, as a coordinated assault from an entire fleet can easily take out a sphere. Thus my initial maneuvering would be an attempt to engage only part of the enemy fleet. After the initial pass, this fleet has a tremendous advantage over anything without some form of extended firing arc.

Knowing that I wanted to be in a chase position after the initial pass, my primary targets would be anything that could fire backwards – other Borg, rear-arc torpedoes, and ships with similar abilities. I tossed about the idea of a really odd maneuver: If I was in a position to do so going into the final round and saw an advantage in firing arcs to do so, I would hug one edge of the safe zone for the initial approach, then sacrifice the 30 fleet points required to move all three of my ships out of the safe zone for an uncontested shot, moving back in to continue the engagement on the following turn.

As they say, “No plan survives contact with the enemy”, which is followed in some circles with “…unless you’re an Ork, in which case your plan is contact with the enemy”. Not having Orks available in this particular Sci-fi setting, we’ll have to work with the original version of the phrase.

Round 1

Opponent:
Enterprise D, Mr. Spock (Captain), Geordi Laforge (Enterprise E version), Cheat Death.
Enterprise E, with Picard (8), Fire at Will, Admiral Forrest, Hikaru Sulu (Constitution Enterprise version), Tom Paris, Elizabeth Shelby, Dorsal Phaser Array, Multi-Adaptive Shields, Enhanced Hull Plating, and Independent Flagship (Romulan).

So it turns out… not only was this a very familiar build of the Enterprise-E, he had actually pulled my very on build from here on the Tabletop General! He ran it without Montgomery Scott, as he had originally seen the list when I had originally posted an invalid build using the Romulan flagship and couldn’t fit that last crew member. He must have liked that version better, and he made it work well for himself. With 120 total points to work with, the Enterprise D fit in nicely as a complimentary ship, it could do similar things without posing so much of a threat as to be targeted first.

Battle: I was fully aware of how nasty of a fight I had just gotten myself in to, but I also knew that I had way more attack dice than this list could handle if I could play keep-away for a turn or two. That was easier said than done within the constraints of this mission, but I managed to strip the E’s shields relatively quickly, and thanks to some funky range on the first engagement turn I took a potshot at the D, taking off a couple of shields there as well. On the other hand, the Octahedron took a beating and a couple of early critical hits from Picard’s special ability. Picard shrugged off shots from all three ships without a scratch on his hull thanks to the Advanced Hull Plating, but that gave him a couple of Auxiliary Power tokens. With both sides being fairly close to one another at this point, I knew my best chance was to out-maneuver the E and move back to Range 3 while he cleared Aux tokens with gentle turns, and that’s exactly what happened. I switched targets and burned down the D in a turn, then after Cheat Death triggered I did it again the next round. From there the battle consisted of kiting the E around, staying at Range 3 and out of arc, rolling attack after attack until finally the dice fell in my favor enough to pierce the E’s hull on the last turn, just as time was called.

Key takeaways: It’s a small world, and my Enterprise E design has some real promise. Had I been playing a more traditional Borg build (i.e. a few more upgrades, less total attacks and hit points), I would have lost that game. He would have fared really well against the other Borg players in this event. Also, the Enterprise D should have been a much earlier target for me in this match, because it was easy to knock out and that would have reduced the incoming damage.

Round 2

Opponent:
Borg Octahedron w/ Picard (9)
Borg Sphere w/ Gul Dukat(7) (?)
Borg Scout Cube w/ Donatra.
The second captain might have been Mr. Spock, but I can’t say for sure, my memory is failing me a bit on this matchup.  There’s a couple more points that I can’t figure out what they were spent on here, but they didn’t play a role in the battle that I recall.

Battle: From the start, I knew that having a lower Captain Skill across the board was going to hurt, so I had to figure out a way to engage the enemy where I was able to deny at least one ship’s shots in order to stand a chance. Both fleets moved straight ahead on turn one, but my opponent moved his Scout Cube slightly slower, so as not to expose it as  an easy target. The second turn, he anticipated that I would move straight ahead, attempting to cause collisions and deny actions, so he picked small maneuvers. Instead, I spun all of my ships to the left, and surprised him greatly. This had all of the Spheres in range of each other, but Donatra had no shot for the first turn. I would have preferred to isolate a single ship, or at least let it be a Sphere I avoided, but avoiding the Scout Cube was enough to swing the battle my way.

My Octahedron got rocked by hot dice from both of the enemy Spheres, but it survived with a couple of hull points because of the lack of a finishing shot from the Scout Cube. My return fire then was able to slag the enemy Sphere with every last one of my 18 dice, without my third ship his Sphere would have survived. On turn 3, all surviving ships could engage, and Picard was the one to finish the Octahedron, as my opponent couldn’t risk it surviving the Scout Cube’s shot, so only the Scout Cube could shoot a Sphere, whereas in the Mirror Universe where my Octahedron was already killed, all three shots would have gone on a Sphere. Back in reality, my two Spheres heavily damaged Picard in return. With having to spend Picard’s prior round of shooting on my Octahedron, combat turn 4’s incoming shots didn’t finish off my first sphere, and Picard wasn’t long for this world galaxy. From that point, it was a mere formality to finish the Scout Cube and finish the match in what may have been record time.

Key takeaways: I was at a big disadvantage here with action economy and Captain Skill. Knowing that I would likely enter the first turn of combat with nothing but Scan tokens up against Target Locks and Battlestations from multiple ships didn’t make me happy, and that’s exactly what happened, but I survived it. I can honestly think back and say that one ship being out of range on the first turn of engagement changed this entire battle in my favor. It’s crazy to look over this match and see how many things changed as a result of that one lost shot. Granted, that was precisely what I hoped to do, but I honestly didn’t expect it to work that well.

Round 3

Opponent:
Borg Sphere with Gul Dukat (7), Tactical Officer, Independent Federation Flagship
Borg Tactical Cube with Picard (9), Tactical Officer, Full Assault.

Battle: I was not excited to play against this build, knowing how easily I could have lost to a very similar build in the previous round where action economy and Captain Skill were in my opponent’s favor, and the Tactical Officers’ extra rerolls would only make this worse. I could legitimately expect to take 6+ damage per shot from each ship.

Again, both fleets started by moving straight ahead to enter the safe zone of the scenario, although I advanced the Sphere opposite his slightly more than the other two ships. I thought about playing keep-away again with another lateral movement on turn two, but realized I probably couldn’t pull it off, and would lose out on actions in the process (Scan Tokens wouldn’t help much here) so I changed my tactics and barreled straight ahead at full speed, getting into range so that I could take Target Locks on the Cube with all 3 ships. Just as I hoped, Gul Dukat’s Sphere colided with mine, losing both his actions. The Cube didn’t move up as far and wasn’t as close to my ships on that side to start with, so he got all of his, but better partial denial than none. The Octahedron’s hull value is high enough to get past the Cube’s special rules regarding overlapping bases, but I just didn’t think that far in advance what the likely engagement range would be.

Still, with all three ships surviving the first wave, I was able to put some solid damage on the Cube quickly, in spite of my dice turning against me (21 unopposed attack dice with Target Locks turned into about 9 damage on turn one). The Octahedron bit the dust on turn three for the second game in a row, but killing the Tactical Cube on the same turn as the dice came back to me was a perfectly acceptable trade. In the following turns I was able to press my numerical advantage against the Gul Dukat’s Sphere, as well as get in the way and deny his actions one more time, and he soon followed the Cube into oblivion.

Key takeaways: Without utilizing upgrades and discounting the base size, there’s very negligible difference between the Tactical Cube and a Sphere in a firefight. More dice > less dice. Lots of actions > some actions > no actions. And thanks to action denial, Borg mirror matches can favor lower Captain Skill if you can maneuver well enough and/or read your opponent’s hive mind.

 

Final thoughts

It’s still crazy that I faced a variant of a ship loadout pulled from my own article to start the night. It fared really well against other opponents, and was a real burden to kill. I don’t know if it survived round 2 or not, but I did see it outlast an opposing E and two Valdore class ships in round 3.

Speaking of crazy things, I just outgunned two other Borg builds who got to shoot first and had a better action economy. That doesn’t happen often.

You can do some really funky stuff with 120 points for your build. I’m rather glad that I dodged the 6 Constitution Class swarm; I think I would have been okay, but it hurts my head to think about it. I really expected to see more nasty combos here without any purity restrictions, but maybe I just didn’t face them. I heard enough discussion from the group to know that they’ll be there eventually though.

And with a 3-0 record and relatively impressive fleet points, I brought home first place on the night, which came with a copy of the Avatar of Tomed, a rather cool looking ship if I do say so myself:

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— The Tabletop General