Tag Archives: X-Wing Miniatures

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Have you ever come across something so hideous, so foul, and so utterly incoherent that was so awful that you couldn’t look away from it? Like a massive car wreck, the terrible thing grabs hold of you and won’t let go till it’s finished. This is the exact experience you’ll find on the Dixieland X-wing Podcast (don’t waste your time if you haven’t heard of it). The podcast is hosted by Tyler (Redacted at his specific request), who also tries to go by his super cool, self appointed, ‘Mandalorian’ name Zerxus Dral. Tyler touts the podcast as a group of trolls, clearly doing a poor impression of the Carolina Krayts podcast, because we all know X-Wing needs one more podcast. The Krayts’ shenanigans are cheeky and fun, while Tyler’s are cruel and tragic. In the first episode at the 6:00 minute mark, Tyler boasts,

“I’ve been trolling Alabama X-Wing Contingent for three months now and nobody’s yet to call me on it”

Well Murder Squad is here now. You are being called on it, Tyler. Alabama may put up with your trolling, much like a parent ignores a screaming child, but we’re bringing out the paddles. Dixieland X-wing’s first episode piqued our curiosity, but after the second episode, they have our attention. One could ignore the poor list building advice, the terrible jokes, the poor audio quality, or the general tone deaf nature of the whole show. The rambling, unedited, mess could be overlooked if anyone could follow the sage advice of our parents,”if you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.”

Yet the lies about Tyler’s exploits, the incorrect facts, and the misleading information could not be ignored. Nor could the unsolicited bounties and challenges, nor the fact that our names are used in the process. So let’s all put our waders and plough headlong into the muck being spewed out, starting with the most blatant falsehood, from around 58:00 of episode 2:

“Last year at The Deep Store Championship, I had won an event the weekend before in Georgia, with a list, with my list but I had changed out some crew to try and tech against something. Because at that point I had played Sam Talley every… single… tourn-[gagging noise]- it was like, we were like six or seven Store Championship weekends in and I had played against Sam every Saturday to start the day. And one of us would win, and one of us would lose, and we would go on… the winner would go on to be in first or second place at the end of the day and the loser would go on to be, like, tenth or eleventh place. And it was fine, but I was attempting to tech against crack, uhh, crack swarm. So I had something in there to tech against crack swarm. And it didn’t work. In fact it did the opposite of work. That was my worst store championship finish of the season…”

Well, there’s one thing right: it didn’t work. The rest is so laughably false that we’ve dedicated an entire day to setting the record straight. We aren’t sure why Tyler thought it was a good idea to hitch his wagon to Sam’s, but since we’re here now, strap in. He failed miserably in an attempt to change his list to account for one of last season’s most dominant lists and players. He also failed miserably in attempting getting away with lying through his teeth to attach himself to Sam’s coattails, because there’s public proof that he’s just making all of this up. While it wasn’t outright stated that this magical list was on List Juggler and copied from there by the fellow that Tyler made fun of for coming in last at The Deep’s store championship, it was insinuated by the surrounding conversation. Yet oddly enough, searching List Juggler for squadrons appearing at events in Georgia or Alabama shows 40 all time results for Decimators, 23 for Phantoms, and zero of those have the name “Tyler” or “Zerxus” attached to them. So how did this guy copy that list? Our best guess is that Tyler wouldn’t stop running his mouth about how great it supposedly was, and how he would add yet another tournament win to his stellar record with it.

The funny thing about all that public data on Juggler, is that it DOES show other people’s names, what events they attended, and who they played against. Tyler claimed in the quote above that he had played against Sam every Saturday to start the day for week after week. Lets check the data on that. The event he won in Georgia the week before the Deep (February 13th, 2016)? There’s no records in North Georgia X-Wing Miniatures on Facebook of there being a warm up event hosted midweek, so our options of events he could have been referencing there are exactly one: Giga-Bites Cafe Store Championship (February 6th, 2016). Not only did he not win that tournament (James Matchett did), there’s no “Tyler” or “Zerxus” on that list of 49 players at all. Sam Talley is listed with a 5-1 record, and neither of his names are on that list of opponents either. http://lists.starwarsclubhouse.com/get_tourney_details?tourney_id=1122

Okay, so there’s one example, surely we can overlook that as a lapse in poor Tyler’s memory. Let’s figure out where they did play. Surely Sam and Tyler would have faced off at Meeple Madness (January 30th, 2016)? Well, Juggler says otherwise. Sam had a 7-0 record that day, and again Tyler wasn’t one of the opponents, or even one of the 24 in attendance.
http://lists.starwarsclubhouse.com/get_tourney_details?tourney_id=1067

Let’s go to the data again then, what other tournament reports do we have that he might have shown up in over that period of “six or seven Store Championship weekends”? Perhaps Wasteland (January 9th, 2016), where we see Sam Talley with a 7-1 record? Nope, 43 players, 0 of them named “Tyler” or “Zerxus”, which makes for at least 42 witnesses that can say he wasn’t there.
http://lists.starwarsclubhouse.com/get_tourney_details?tourney_id=992

Or maybe Tyler is just mis-remembering things, and this marathon of decisive games against Sam started AFTER losing to him at The Deep. Conveniently, there’s Juggler data available for the next event in the area, February 27th at Titan Comics. Sam Talley, looks like he dropped after a 4-0 run through Swiss, feeling bad for his peers who hadn’t had a chance to win anything in awhile. Among those peers? Not Tyler. So maybe that’s not the case after all.
http://lists.starwarsclubhouse.com/get_tourney_details?tourney_id=1233

It’s so odd, for someone that claimed he plays against Sam all the time at tournaments, there’s only one instance where we know of that ever happening, and it never made an official record.

Still, surely, as paranoid as Tyler is about his identity, his name was scrubbed from these events somehow. That’s perfectly plausible. He was probably there at all of them, and at the other events on those three or four weekends with no public results posted. So on the next episode of Dixieland X-Wing, if we’re wrong about this, please feel free to remind us all what those other events were that Tyler played Sam at. We’re completely open to any facts anyone can provide.

It’s a shame that we can’t even prove how poorly Tyler actually did at The Deep that day, with a list “teched” to account for the eventual champion’s list, because the results aren’t published. Still, because the final score wouldn’t show how it happened, the record wouldn’t show how that Phantom 4k’ed itself in front of the entire TIE swarm; decloaked, actionless, and with no shot . Maybe Tyler was trying to fly outside the box, this being a wave 5 list in a wave 7 meta that hilariously outclassed it, or maybe he just isn’t very good at the game. Normally, we’d let his record that day speak for itself, but there’s no record there. There’s witnesses that can say how bad he failed when Sam and the rest of Murder Squad came to put Tyler in his place and take his home store’s trophy last year as an added bonus, but nothing on List Juggler. Why isn’t there a record there? Well, that’s answered for us later on in the same recording. Quoted from the 1:00 mark of Dixieland’s second episode:

“The Deep in Huntsville intentionally does not upload on List Juggler. Never has, probably never will..because it’s a crutch. What you’re doing is creating a crutch for people who want to see what was run at the event”.

A crutch indeed. Imagine how badly we’d all get beaten, if people knew what we flew, giving them a chance to “tech” to counter it? Or maybe the reason that store never posts results to List Juggler is so that Tyler and his buddies can spout ‘alternative facts’ at a later date without recourse. Anyone who has ever met this man once is due an apology from the universe. But anyone who has ever met this man twice will understand why, because he’ll lie to your face about what happened in your last meeting, and expect you to believe it.

The entire statement we started things off with here is incredibly incorrect. Tyler never won an X-Wing tournament in Georgia that weekend he referenced. He never beat Sam anywhere, much less on multiple occasions. Sam never finished outside a top cut that season, much less as low as 10th’ or 11th place.

But let’s not get bogged down on a two minute segment of a rambling two hour podcast. Surely there were some highlights to this farce of auditory entertainment. Perhaps Tyler’s fascinating take on the FFG panel at Star Wars Celebration Orlando this past April. At about the 1:40:00 mark of episode 2, Tyler states the following:

I know that at Celebration there had been some discussion with Frank and several of the people from Organized Play because Will and I were in the panel room when the questions were asked repeatedly. That Fantasy Flight was going to attempt to stop doing what their tradition had been for three years. Which is, ‘ok it’s tournament time, it’s time to drop another FAQ.”

Alright, so let’s skip the fact that Frank Brooks wasn’t at Celebration (Max Brooke was the lone X-wing developer in attendance and at the panel in question) and explore what FFG actually said during that day. According to the Chance Cube’s coverage of the event the panel was largely around the ”focus that Fantasy Flight has with this brand on storytelling and theming”, and “They are looking at Star Wars as a whole across all of their games and how they capture the feel of this story telling universe that we all love.”

The second part of the panel focused on Destiny and had a surprise visit by Tiya Sircar, the voice actress for Sabine Wren. The next expansion for the card game was announced and some raffles were given away. A brief open Question & Answer session did take place, but the topic of competitive X-wing was not mentioned in Chance Cube’s report. Let’s not just take their word for it though; Chance Cube is a Destiny focused outlet, perhaps they missed something in their coverage. Surely someone else with an X-Wing focus was in attendance. That someone: Team Covenant, FFG’s golden child. Lucky for us, they were kind enough to live tweet the event, including the Q&A portion. Here’s the lone X-wing question brought up:

Noticeably absent from anyone else’s public and published accounts of Fantasy Flight’s panel at Celebration are any facts that supports Tyler’s statements at all. Frank wasn’t there, the panel did not field alleged ‘repeated’ Q&A on X-wing FAQ questions, nor did they announce any such news on their own accord. So did Tyler just lie about what went on in that panel or was he even there? Well it can be proven Sam Talley was in attendance. He updated a Facebook post in the North Georgia X-wing Minis group, similar to Team Covenant’s live tweeting. 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10106944717781740

And if you happen to look through the comments on that thread, you’ll find this little note about the lack of X-Wing discussion:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AtlantaXwing/permalink/1164381067024508/?comment_id=1164420000353948

Yet again, we are left with another instance where it is easily proven that Sam was at an event, Tyler may or may not have been, their accounts of what happened conflict, and Sam’s is the one that matches other publicly available data. Weird how that seems to be a pattern, huh?

Let’s shift gears and go back to the contents of Dixieland X-Wing podcast. Again and again, Tyler makes such a big deal of “his” triple jumps, like he’s the only person in the world that has enough of a vision to combine three JumpMaster 5000’s and make a list out of them. There was a slight detour where Deadeye Scurrgs were the second coming of those beloved ships (How’d that work out, by the way? We found somebody named “Lok Revenant” on List Juggler that got his teeth kicked in pretty badly), but other than that, it seems like JumpMasters are his favorite thing in the world other than the sound of his own voice. Joe Random with no real game experience might be scared of it, but those of us who know how the game works can see where the flaws and weaknesses are in a given list. Nick White jumped out and provided an example of that. Dixieland X-Wing cohost (and coincidentally, the single voice of any real insight among those ramblings) Corby decided that was a challenge, and that his dismissal and lack of follow-up meant that he was afraid of Tyler’s list.

 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/BamaXWing/permalink/1908527292700263/?comment_id=1908618016024524

And just like that, Tyler had another way to leech onto a more recognizable and respected name in the community, and decided Nick was the next bounty target for the podcast’s massive horde of followers to go hunting. 

Where “like” is an overstatement. There have been 5 people actually ON said podcast, and I know at least two people that have followed just to see what nonsense is posted about themselves.

Yeah, gonna be a lot of people chasing that bounty…

For anyone interested in it, here’s an official response from Nick regarding the bounty:

“I made a big claim about Poe vs the hypothetical new trip scout list, and you guys decided to shine the spotlight on me. Sure, it was untested hyperbole. I got no problem admitting I was probably grandstanding there. While Poe wins out by the numbers, there’s a an element of ‘that ship doesn’t get to do anything’ present. Anyone with enough patience could beat a single ship as a result. The point is, Intensity Poe (with the Black One title) is growing more common in the meta and is a hard counter to munitions. He sheds two locks per turn, and the attached repositioning probably takes away the torpedo shot of the one that still has a lock. Sure, you might be able to kill 41 points of Poe in a vacuum, but it has nothing to do with your skill or the viability of that list. In a real competitive setting you’ll still have to worry about 59 points of everything else too.”

The sad thing is, we’re giving too much credit to this amateur hour podcast. Far too much of our time has been spent even acknowledging its’ existence as is, because as we’ve said from day one, it’s garbage. And frankly, while we know there’s more bald-faced and disprovable lies sandwiched between audio glitches and inside trolling jokes that we could tear apart, we’re tired of listening to it to pick out Tyler’s lies from between the constant questions of “did we lose [X]?” and Williams rant of the moment.

So we’re gonna wrap things up instead. If we followed the structure of that podcast, this would be the point where we were picking somebody much more respected in the community right now to place a bounty on, someone to leech onto and attach our reputation to. We could mirror it and throw down a challenge of our own for Tyler and his crew, but given the option between letting him lie and say he won said challenge, or having to actually meet him somewhere to beat him, we’ll take “none of the above”, because we’d rather never see his smug, slimy, shiteating grin again.

So go on, Tyler, spout your nonsense, make up whatever fairy tales and fantasies you want to tell about what you do at home. But don’t try to pretend that you’re a constant presence in Atlanta events, that you’re buddies with anyone in Murder Squad, that you play against us all the time, or that you’re anywhere near the same level of pilot as any of us. Crawl back into whatever hole you came out of, and get our names out of your mouth.

–Murder Squad

Using the Mist Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zuckuss              4-LOM

Opportunist                           Stay_On_Target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Hidden information, bluffs, and dirty lies

What’s the harm in a little lie?

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

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

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

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

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

Overcharged_Weapons                       Parting-blow

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

Take-Initiative

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

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

— Sidebar —

img_20160206_220058380.jpg
Not affiliated with any acronym based groups.

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

2016 FFG Store Championship Prep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I’ve got a mental checklist here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Guest Battle Report – 2015 X-Wing World Championships

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

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

My List:

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

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

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

100 pts total

Theory and Playstyle:

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

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

Game 1

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 34-100, record 0-1

Game 2

 

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

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

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

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

Result: Win 100-52, Record 1-1

Game 3

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

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

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

Result: Loss 50-100, Record 1-2

Game 4

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

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

Tala Squadron Pilot – 13 (Z-95)

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

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

Result: Win 100-0, Record 2-2

Game 5

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 14-100, Record 2-3

Game 6

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Loss 26-100 Record 2-4

Game 7

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

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

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

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

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

Result: Win 100-26, Record 3-4

Game 8

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

At least until wave 8 drops and everything changes again.

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

— The Tabletop General

Gaming roundup, October 2015

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

X-Wing

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

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

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

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


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

Crit City

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

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

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

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

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

Armada

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

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

Unnamed 300 point Sullust list

Nebulon B Support Frigate
Mon Mothma (CR90 Corellian Corvette)

Nebulon B Support Frigate x 2

CR90-A Corellian Corvette x 2

A-Wing Squadron x 2

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

Battletech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Games

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

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

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

Summary

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

– The Tabletop General

Simultaneous Attack; X-Wing rules discussion.

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

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

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

vs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next example:

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

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

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

vs.

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

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

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Academy Pilot – 12 (TIE Fighter / Starter Set)

Zertik-strom                   Draw_Their_Fire

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

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

One more (slightly silly example):

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

vs.

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

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

Biggs-darklighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

On The Art of Arc Dodging

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

K-Wing Preview- Fire ALL the ordnance!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Intelligence-agent                           advanced-slam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

esege-tuketu              garven-dreis

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

recon-specialist                           proton-rockets

 

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

miranda-doni                     twin-laser-turret

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

ion-bombs                           connor-net

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

horton-salm                     btl-a4-y-wing

 

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

— The Tabletop General

 

Kihraxz Fighter, the X-Wing of Scum & Villainy

Fantasy Flight Games released their preview article for the Kihraxz Fighter this week, a new expansion for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. The Kihraxz will appear in stores later this summer, alongside the TIE Punisher, the Hound’s Tooth, and the K-Wing. In the FFG article, the Kihraxz was compared heavily to the game’s namesake ship, the X-Wing. This is an appropriate comparison, as the ships are similar in several ways both in design and intended combat role. These two ships have the same total health, similar maneuver dials, comparable costs, and the same available actions. But there are differences in the designs that necessitate a vastly different play style for the two ships – in the maneuver dial, in the upgrade cards, and in the base cost of the ship itself.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter an X-Wing?

 

Kihraxz_XWing_Dials
Why, yes, FFG, this DOES look like it was borrowed from your website. But I help sell your products, so I hope we’re cool. Right?

The Kihraxz’s lack of a Speed 1 straight maneuver means it will have to turn or bank to maintain a low speed. Unlike the X-Wing, it cannot easily force a following TIE Fighter or TIE Interceptor to choose between a collision and flying by. The Kihraxz also cannot perform quite as well at high speed, and does not have access to a Speed 3 turn, reducing its’ options when trying to put distance between itself and the enemy. Having most of its’ green maneuvers in the Speed 2 range but none on hard turns, yet no red maneuvers outside of K-Turns, the Kihraxz turns better than the prototypical jouster. At the same time, it doesn’t have the actions or the stress clearing capabilities to function like an arc-dodging interceptor, so I don’t feel like we’ll see stress mechanics like Push the Limit (A-Wing /  Imperial Aces) or Opportunist (Imperial Aces) being used to augment this ship’s combat abilities – they simply can’t be used without hampering your ability to stay on target for multiple turns.

I’ll shorten the discussion about the difference between Missiles (available to the Kihraxz) and Torpedoes (available to the X-Wing), because the only real difference there is what page of my upgrade card binder they collect dust on, neither one is seeing play for me. Too many points for a one-shot ability without having some major support abilities that aren’t available to either of these ships.

The remaining difference from an upgrade standpoint is Illicit (Kihraxz) vs Astromech (X-Wing). It’s hinted at in FFG’s post, but I think it’s worth noting explicitly that the Illicit upgrades available to Scum & Villainy ships have a much greater potential to have a huge impact upon a single turn of the game, whereas the benefits from Rebel Astromech upgrades have a smaller impact but most of them last throughout the game. A smart X-Wing pilot can get at least 3-4 extra health per game out of using R2-D2 (Starter Set) or R5-P9 (GR-75) to regenerate shields, or keep the enemy pointed in the wrong direction all day long with R3-A2 (GR-75). In return for a similar investment, an Illicit upgrade like a “Hot Shot” Blaster (Most Wanted / IG-2000) or Inertial Dampeners (IG-2000 / Starviper) can potentially net you an extra point or two of damage at a key moment in the battle, but most of them only function once.

r5-p9                           r3-a2

Inertial-Dampeners                           hot-shot-blaster

So while both the X-Wing and the Kihraxz are intended as medium-cost jousting superiority fighters, I think the biggest difference between the two ships is how they go about it, and the key for me is the cost of the generic pilot. The X-Wing’s bargain generic is the Rookie Pilot, clocking in at 21 points. But the Kihraxz equivalent, the Cartel Marauder, snips off that last point and gives you just enough room to run 5 of them in a list. This is what some thought might be the Scum equivalent of BBBBZ, which features a Bandit Squadron Z-95, and four Blue Squadron B-Wings, generally acknowledged as the reason Rebel players rarely bother with X-Wings anymore.

Is the Kihraxz Fighter a B-Wing?

But rather than the 4.5 ships that BBBBZ brings to the table, if you can fit a 5th ship into 100 points, how does that comparison stack up?

BBBBZ – 5 ships, 14 hull, 22 shields, 14 attack dice, 6 defense dice.

5x Kihraxz – 5 ships, 20 hull, 5 shields, 15 attack dice, 10 defense dice.

The Kihraxz swarm has 11 less total health, and much higher vulnerability to crits, but it has higher total firepower, and more evade dice.  But a bit of quick analysis of the numbers says that this isn’t where the Kihraxz will shine – or at least it won’t stand up to the BBBBZ list.

The figures below are ignoring the difference in maneuvering options (all ships are assumed to fire at Range 2 with Focus every turn, no focused defense), and also ignoring the impact of critical hits as well as the fact that the B-Wings can Barrel Roll to do a bit of arc dodging. At that point, we’ll just have to trust empirical evidence, there’s too many factors to give an exact predictive analysis. Still, the best case scenario I can come up with for the Kirhaxz swarm has them falling short by a couple points of damage in a head to head matchup against BBBBZ.

5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ
This assumes that the Kihraxz focus on the B-Wings first.
5_Kihraxz_vs_BBBBZ_v2
Things get just a touch better if the Khiraxz swap targets and take out the Z-95 after two B-Wings are down, but the average result would still be a Rebel victory with one B-Wing remaining.

Getting the questions out of the way: Yes, I’m enough of a nerd that I use Excel spreadsheets and create charts in order to make decisions on how to play a game. And no, I don’t play EVE Online anymore… why do you ask?

So, we’ve got that out of the way – they can function as a swarm, but you might as well play BBBBZ if you’re going that route. Where do the Kihraxz fit, then? Where the B-Wings can’t go, of course – in existing Scum lists!

Where DOES the Kihraxz Fighter fit?

I suppose I should be a bit more specific.

But first, I have to lay the groundwork on how I view Scum and Villainy list-building. Unlike Rebel and Imperial forces that often are constructed with a specific theme and center piece, Scum and Villainy has very few synergistic abilities and aura bonuses. As a result, many of the squad lists I see for them have a modular feel to them, and are constructed out of a combination of two or more interchangeable “blocks” of ships.

XL block (41-55 points): Firespray or Aggressor with upgrades
Large block (30-40 points): Named pilot Y-Wing, Starviper, or HWK
Medium block (25-29 points): Generic Starviper or Y-Wing (Warthog), Named Heavy Scyk
Small block (20-24 points): Named Z-95, Named Scyk, Generic Heavy Scyk
Tiny block: (12-19 points): Generic Z-95 or bare Scyk

Take your pick:
2 XL blocks
1 XL, 1 Large, 1 Tiny
2 Large & 1 medium
4 Medium…
…and so on.

Build to a similar theme, sure, but pretty much anything can plug & play just fine. Don’t like how Serrisu with a Mangler Cannon is working out for you? Swap in a BTL-A4 Y-Wing with an Ion Cannon. The problem is, the Medium block is considered to be nothing more than support fire that can’t win you a game, the Tiny block isn’t threatening because there’s nothing to boost its’ offensive capabilities (i.e. no Howlrunner like TIE Fighters have), and the Small block has most of both of those problems. So while there’s certainly exceptions, you end up with the functional lists consisting of:

2 XL blocks.
2 Large & 1 Medium block.
1 XL block & 2 Medium blocks.

The Kihraxz Fighter helps address this by fitting well into three of these size categories. Once loaded for combat, Talonbane Cobra is a solid new option for the Large block. Equipped, the Black Sun Ace is a legitimate contender in the Medium category. And un-equipped, the generic Cartel Marauder gives a bit of teeth to the Small block that had previously been missing, thus increasing the viable build combinations. Now, perhaps an XL, a Large, and a Small (Firespray of choice, Talonbane, and a Cartel Marauder perhaps) is just as viable as an XL and two Mediums (such as a Firespray and two Black Sun Aces).

So if you’re not happy with N’Dru Suhlak, you can swap in a Cartel Maurauder. Where I suggested earlier that you might substitute in a Warthog for Serissu, a Black Sun Ace is also a viable option as a replacement. It’s plug & play, really.

Cartel_Marauder              Black_Sun_Ace

And if you feel like Guri costs too much to be PS5, swap in Talonbane Cobra. Instant functional list, and most likely an upgraded one. Side note: Swing and a miss on Graz. If I’m not spending the extra points to geet Talonbane, I’m probably putting the 2 points I would save on taking a Black Sun Ace over Graz towards the Elite Pilot Talent upgrade that Graz can’t have; his ability just doesn’t call to me enough.

Graz_The_Hunter              Talonbane_Cobra

The Kihraxz Fighter doesn’t solve every problem that Scum and Villainy has in being able to build a competitive list that isn’t dual IG-88’s, but it adds solid options, and it doesn’t take much work to find a home for one or more of them in your lists. They’ll be a welcome addition to my collection.

– The Tabletop General