Tag Archives: X-Wing

And now, the rest of the story…

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

First, let’s set the stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man, that was a thrilling battle report, huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

             

                           

                         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image cropped to remove score sheet.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now accepting donations for a copy of Photoshop.

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

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

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

*deep breath*

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

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

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

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

But now an apology might be in order first.

– The Tabletop General

Using the Mist Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zuckuss              4-LOM

Opportunist                           Stay_On_Target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The Tabletop General

Payback at Vendetta: An X-Wing Store Championship

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

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

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

Boba_Fett              Dengar

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

Gonk                         Experimental_Interface

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

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

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

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

Navigator                           engine-upgrade

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

R5-P8                         Punishing_One

So how did it all work?

Round 1

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

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

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

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

Manaroo              Serissu

Attanni_Mindlink                           Tractor_Beam

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

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

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

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

Round 2

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

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

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

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

Kanan_Jarrus_Ghost              Ezra_Shuttle

Reinforced_Deflectors                           Rage

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

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

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

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

Round 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_143152676
That T-67.5 had Boba’s number.

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

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

Round 4

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_152300507
Getting ready for the joust.

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

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

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

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

Semi-Finals

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

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

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

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

autoblaster-turret                           Accuracy_Corrector
Ghost_Title                           Phantom_Title

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_181253225
Ezra is blurry because he’s exploding.

Result: 100-23 win

Final Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_191848080
A-Wing down!

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

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

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

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

IMG_20160319_195707579

– The Tabletop General

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

Hands on with Star Wars Armada

The day has arrived, and the Star Wars: Armada core sets released today at Friendly Local Gaming Stores across North America. So I declared it a miniature holiday, and went in to pick my two starters up as the shops opened, cracked them open, and ran a series of demo games for anyone who wanted to come by. I played a grand total of four games today, and watched a fifth one.

Perhaps the biggest paradigm shift from X-Wing is that there are no defense dice, only abilities. Combined with that, there are multiple types of attack dice, usable at different ranges and in different situations. So in case you were asking yourself (Google, please pay attention to these phrases): “What is the difference between the Star Wars Armada attack dice?”, or “How many of each result are on Star Wars Armada attack dice?”

  • Red dice have the longest range. Their faces are: Blank, Blank, Critical, Critical, Accuracy, Hit, Hit, Double Hit.
  • Blue dice are medium range, and always do something. Their faces are: Critical, Critical, Accuracy, Accuracy, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit.
  • Black dice have the shortest range, and do the most damage. Their faces are: Blank, Blank, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit, Hit & Critical, Hit & Critical.

Contents of the core set

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I got a lot of things wrong in the first day’s worth of games, but that’s to be expected when diving in head first to such a deep game. That is going to improve with practice, there’s just a LOT of rules to remember. Generally, my biggest mistakes involved being too permissive about things, such as letting the Redirect defense token move damage to a non-adjacent hull zone, or allowing shots that had valid line of sight, yet weren’t actually in the shooter’s firing arc. But for the most part I feel pretty solid with the basics of the game now.

Getting started with our first basic demo game.
Getting started with our first basic demo game.

My foremost thought at the moment is that it’s going to be a wholly different scene from Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures. With X-Wing, I’d say that about 80% of tournament games finish in under an hour. With Armada it’s a different story; even with a hard limit of a six turns in the game, it looks like it will take about two hours to play a game at a full 300 point level. possibly a little quicker for some builds (fighters tend to slow things down a LOT). So tournament play is going to take a great deal more time, and games will need a time limit in addition to the round limit. In turn, I think that makes it much more likely for players to bring big beefy ships that will take longer to kill, (thus being more likely to survive in a game that gets called on account of time) and less of a balanced fleet.

Going back to the Fighter Squadrons, I understand the necessity of including them, but… the implementation is rough. The best way I’ve found to use them so far requires being extremely precise with their positioning, sniping one squadron by placing multiple of yours on the edge of firing range (premeasuring is allowed, remember), but just out of range of their allies, so that they must spend an activation moving to you before engaging.. Yet it’s nearly impossible to adjust the remaining health on a squadron when hit without moving them, since the damage is tracked on their bases, and that does not turn easily without picking the squadron up off of the table to do it. Also, the disparity at this stage between the TIE Fighters and the X-Wings is immense. I know they fill different roles, but… wow. In my final game of the evening, three squadrons of TIE Fighters managed to deal one damage over the course of two turns of shooting. Conversely, my first game of the day featured X-Wings taking a Victory Star Destroyer to the sci-fi equivalent of the wood shed.

X-Wings blowing up a Victory Star Destroyer
The bigger they are, the harder they fall…

 

Stepping things up to the 300 point level by using two starter sets, I chose quantity over quality for the Rebels, and my opponent showed me how much better of an idea “quality” might have been. Grand Moff Tarkin combined with the Liason crew upgrades made his Star Destroyers able to react MUCH faster to the flow of battle, constantly changing the top dial of his command stack to be exactly the command he wanted to execute at any given time. And the Dominator title, along with a Gunnery Team, makes for a terrifying alpha strike.

Going in to that game, I felt pretty confident about my ability to navigate, so I picked the Minefields objective out of his three selected. Then I proceeded to trigger five out of the six sets of mines. It wasn’t a good game, but it was fun!

wpid-img_20150325_164355264.jpg
Overlapping a debris field AND triggering mines? Good thing I have that Engineering token!
Star Destroyer and Corvette surrounded by fighters
I don’t know who was more surprised by this move: the Star Destroyer’s captain, or its’ gunners.

Looking at the contents realistically, there’s only about ten upgrade cards that are non-unique in the starter, and I would think some of those would be in the expansion packs too. So I can’t imagine needing more than one of the core sets unless you’re really wanting to play 300 point games right away, and you don’t know someone willing to loan you the other half of their kit for a game.

 

At this point, I would heavily recommend picking up the game, but to fill out your fleet, I would say to get the expansion versions of the extra ships instead of a second starter. In particular, I’ve pre-ordered the following list from my FLGS to add to my collection:

Gladiator Star Destroyers
Victory Star Destroyer
Imperial Fighter Squadrons
CR90 Corellian Corvette
Assault Frigates
Nebulon B Frigate
Rebel Fighter Squadrons

Without a second core set, the only thing you’ll be short on is dice (X-Wings roll more blue dice than one starter set contains), but there will be a separate dice pack along with the rest of wave 1. As for other supplies, if you’re interested in card sleeves, here’s what you’ll need:

Damage Deck & upgrades: Two packs of  “Mini American”.
Ship cards: One pack of “Tarot
Squadron cards: One pack of “Standard

Will all the fit on the table at once? Not in a standard game, no. But it’s really nice to have options. And the extras will look really cool sitting on my desk at work. They’ll fit much better than their X-Wing equivalents.

X-Wing and Armada CR90 Blockade Runner size comparison
If the Tantive IV gave birth, does that make the baby the Tantive V?

Armada is a very enjoyable game from what I’ve seen so far, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves. It’s exciting to be in on the start of the game. It won’t scratch my tournament play itch quite as well as X-Wing, and the pace is a little slower, but this is definitely what I would prefer to play when my opponent is a friend. Still going to blow ’em to bits though.

– The Tabletop General

X-Wing Wave 5 First Impressions

Those who attended GenCon had an opportunity for a head start, but yesterday marked the retail release of the Wave 5 expansions for Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the two new ships. Yesterday was also our weekly X-Wing night at my home store, so I was lucky enough to immediately be able to put them both to work.

Let’s start with the VT-49 Decimator. It’s a large ship… both in game terms and as a physical model. As in “everybody else that bought one was trying to figure out how to make it fit in their carrying cases” large. Fortunately, I had no such problems – I had already purchased one of these cases to put my large ships in (like the Millennium FalconLambda Shuttle, Slave 1, and the odd one out, my Borg Tactical Cube).  It’s a very cool looking model, as you can see in the photos from my test match further down this page.

Storage and looks aside, I needed to see it in action to really be satisfied. I had previously put together a sample build for the Decimator, but I don’t think that one will be anywhere near competitive, especially not when put up against the current meta. Unsurprisingly, my opponent also wanted to get his new ship onto the field, so we had a VT-49 mirror match going on.

Hammer & Sickle

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Push the Limit (3)
Ysanne Isard (4)
Mara Jade (3)
Rebel Captive (3)
Dauntless (2)
Engine Upgrade (4)

Soontir Fel (27)
Royal Guard TIE (0)
Push the Limit (3)
Stealth Device (3)
Targeting Computer (2)

wpid-img_20141125_202418433.jpg

 

 

Opponent’s list

98 points

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Academy Pilot (12)

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (46)
Ruthlessness (3)
Tactical Jammer (1)

ruthlessness                           tactical-jammer

 

 

I’m not exactly sure what the initiative bid was for, or if he had really thought this whole thing through, but his plan was to run the swarm of 4 Academy pilots right behind his VT-49. Throw in the Tactical Jammer, and those TIEs become hard to kill. The problem is, the VT-49 would be moving after the TIEs, and nothing in the list is putting out lots of reliable damage. That, and he didn’t practice the maneuver to begin with.

I helped him out with his tactical flaw though, by both not letting him use the plan, and showing him how to get into that formation next time in case he finds a way to make it work.

wpid-img_20141125_202413558.jpg
He thought he would have plenty of time to get his TIEs into position behind his Decimator…

 

 

wpid-img_20141125_203040319.jpg
… but boost + large bases = FAST! Our VT-49’s traded off couple of shields on the first turn!
wpid-img_20141125_203903896.jpg
Turn 3 – 2 TIE Fighters down, and I’m perfectly happy to be throwing 6 defense dice with Soontir  Fel (3 base + Range 3 + Stealth Device + Asteroid) while working on the other two Fighters.
wpid-img_20141125_204727936.jpg
Turn 5: The Fighters lived, but I’m able to start pouring damage on to his Decimator. Interceptor at Range 1 w/Target Lock & Focus vs 0 Agility, those 12 points of hull fell off in big chunks.

Seeing the writing on the wall, my opponent flew off the field on turn 7 with a crippled Decimator and a beat up TIE Fighter. Not the toughest fight that I could have been in, but the list showed promise.

I would heavily consider taking out Push the Limit in favor of Predator. I was using Push the Limit for a Boost and a Target Lock anyway, so why not get the benefit without the stress, and keep the dial more open on subsequent turns? This would also help reduce the weakness to stress mechanics here, because Soontir Fel has enough weakness already. Determination wouldn’t be a bad fit either, as it would almost be guaranteed to buy you an extra hull point or two by discarding those pilot crits.

push-the-limit                           predator                                              Determination

I loved the engine upgrade on the Decimator, it really helped make sure I had exactly the shot that I wanted with it each turn, and it worked well in combination with Mara Jade, I got up close and personal with his TIE Fighters on turn 2, and stressed them all, forcing them to choose between taking actions or not having any chance at a shot in turn 3.

mara-jade                           engine-upgrade

Rebel Captive, on the other hand, didn’t do much in this game. Since its’ stress applies before Mara Jade’s ability, and Mara Jade won’t give a second token, it was a largely dead slot. On the other hand, anyone running a TIE Phantom or Interceptors with Push the Limit will cringe a little bit when they see Rebel Captive on a turreted ship. If you decide that you like this build, but that Rebel Captive isn’t for you, Navigator would be a great replacement for the extra flexibility, or perhaps Moff Jerjod to get a 1 point initiative bid and to negate a few critical hits on that big beefy hull.

rebel-captive                           navigator                                            moff-jerjerrod

 

 

Final verdict: The VT-49 definitely gives the Imperial Navy a new way to approach the game. Until now it’s been either A) Swarm the opponent with lots of fragile ships, or B) Dodge the opponent’s shots with a handful of fragile ships. We’ve skipped option C and gone straight to D) Decimator. It’s durability is just plain silly with 16 total hit points, it’s the first Imperial ship with a turret weapon, it’s the first ship in the game to have 3 crew slots, and to top it all off the VT-49 has ZERO red maneuvers on its’ dial. I’m almost crazy enough to buy a second one.

VT-49-Decimator-maneuver-dial
VT-49 Maneuver Dial
YT-2400-Outrider-maneuver-dial
YT-2400 Maneuver Dial

 

 

 

 

 

But as cool as the Decimator is, it’s fighting a losing battle, because the YT-2400 Outrider is far and away the superior ship of the two, and suits my recent play style perfectly.

Margin of victory is great and all, and a huge part of tournament scoring, but it’s a tie-breaker; winning counts first. So I’m willing to take a chance on nobody at all will have shots in the combat phase to ensure that when we ARE in range, I’m at an advantage. I accomplish this generally by bringing less models than my opponent, with more powerful shots, and then evening up the numbers by using the maneuver phase to deny my opponent as many shots as possible.

That approach is perfect for the YT-2400. With a built in Barrel Roll action, tons of maneuver options, and the ability to ignore obstacles while moving and taking actions with the iconic pilot Dash Rendar, the YT-2400 can dance around the field. Then if you replace its’ standard turret weapon with the Outrider title and a Heavy Laser Cannon, you might as well be Muhammad Ali – “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”!

I played using the YT-2400 twice last night, and only made a slight tweak between games to the other ship in my list (yes, another two ship list).  I was extremely happy with how the list performed in both games, but I had the advantage of moving last with Dash in both games. Playing against someone with pilot skill 8+ will be much more of a challenge, and will often involve talking to myself to make sure I remember the strategy. Repeat after me: “A bad shot is worse than no shot”.

Lucky 7’s

Dash Rendar (36)
Push the Limit (3)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)
Lando Calrissian (3) – Heavily suggest swapping for Navigator (3).
Engine Upgrade (4)

Keyan Farlander (29)
Advanced Sensors (3) – Was Fire Control System (2) in first game.
Ion Cannon (3)
Push the Limit (3)
B-Wing/E2 (1)
C-3PO (3)

wpid-img_20141125_183517336.jpg

 

wpid-img_20141125_183513101.jpg

 

A large based ship with a turret, an Engine Upgrade, and Push The Limit. Looks familiar, right? But in this case, we’ve also got a Barrel Roll action to add in, not to mention the ability to ignore those pesky asteroids while we’re getting into position for a shot. Lando is here pretty much for theme, as a competitive card I really don’t like him, but he could be clutch at times; roll the dice with him, and if you don’t like the results, Push the Limit for a Boost/Barrel Roll into “no shot” range. The big deal is that you try to make sure you’re firing at Range 3 and taking as few return shots as possible. Heavy Laser Cannon rolls 4 attack dice and ignores range bonuses, while you’re hopefully rolling 3 evade dice against one or maybe two primary weapon shots in return if your opponent’s maneuvers even leave them with a shot. Repeat after me again: “A bad shot is worse than no shot” – and I define a bad shot as one where you’re not dishing out more damage than you’ll take in return.

Keyan tags along as a separate one-pilot wrecking crew with a few tricks of his own. Try to maintain Range 3 or Range 1, Range 2 is your dead-zone. At Range 1 dodge firing arcs, take the Barrel Roll and Push The Limit for a Target Lock, spend the stress to convert your attack dice. At Range 3, PTL for a Focus and a Target Lock. If you have Advanced Sensors and know you’ll get a shot to spend the stress, go ahead and Barrel Roll behind an asteroid instead of taking the Target Lock. Any time you have at least 2 defense dice, call 1 evade with C-3PO. It’s fairly likely that you’ll either get it right or roll the evade anyway, and you can still use that focus on defense too. And on those long shots, especially through cover or against high agility ships, switch to the Ion Cannon for utility, since you only need to squeak one hit through and you’re negating the range bonus, you can set yourself up for a clean and pretty shot the next turn.

First Opponent

Dash Rendar (36)
Outrider (5)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

Bandit Squadron Pilot (12)

Keyan Farlander (29)

11 points of other upgrades split between Dash and Keyan, none of which really stand out to me as having played an active role in how the game played out.

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Initial approach: The smaller ships are letting the YT-2400’s have their moment.
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My Dash (top left at this point) considers switching targets now after denying his B-Wing a shot and leaving his YT-2400 with no good shot.
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My B-Wing (bottom left) slipped into the “Doughnut of Safety” against his Dash, getting a great shot without fear of return fire since the HLC can’t fire at range 1.

This game was a bit painful at times as we tried to figure out how to maneuver the YT-2400’s, and my opponent’s dice were not being nice to him. He passed the point of caring about losing, and just wanted to end it so that he could move on and play against someone else (we tend to be matched up every week).

A glaring weakness of the “Super Dash” archetype using a HLC as a turret appeared in this game: Higher PS pilots, especially those with extra movement abilities, can and will get inside your minimum range. Not getting to attack because of long range is infinitely better than not getting to attack because of short range; that’s why it’s so important to be willing to give up on a shot with this kind of build if you don’t know where the opponent will move.

Second Opponent

Captain Jonus (22)
Shield Upgrade (4)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon(7)

Delta Squadron Pilot (30)
Heavy Laser Cannon (7)

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Initial setup. Asteroids in the way? Who cares!? I’m Dash Rendar!!!
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Turn One: Awww, your Heavy Laser Cannons only point forward? That’s too bad!
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Turn Two: A couple of well placed barrel rolls, and we end up with two unopposed shots.
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Starting turn 4’s maneuvers with a K-Turn for the bottom Defender. Notice that on turn 2, Dash barely at all other than turning in place. He took a speed 1 banking turn to clear stress and get himself pointed towards the fight, and then took a Barrel Roll for positioning purposes.
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Turn 12-ish…: Taking the slow and steady approach. I gave up several shots for the purposes of positioning, and got Keyan pointed the wrong way while stressed at one point. As a result, it took a few turns to beat down on these last two ships, but they both went down after this turn’s maneuvers and shots, and I missed my chance to take a final photo.

Not a lot of tactical analysis to be done here, other than a bit of reinforcement to the fact that low pilot skill will struggle to contain Dash Rendar’s shenanigans.

I’m looking forward to putting Dash up against some more competitive builds, because I certainly enjoy using him and think he’ll do well for skilled players. The VT-49 isn’t a bad ship by any means, but the YT-2400 is definitely my favorite of the two, and I feel that it will be the more likely of the pair to appear in successful competitive builds.

What are your thoughts on the new ships? How are you using them? Did I miss something awesome? Have you found a reliable use for the other pilots? Drop me a line and let me know, I’d love to discuss it with you.

– The Tabletop General

 

Focus Factory Refit

In my previous post, I mentioned that I recently helped two new players through a learning game of X-Wing Miniatures. One was creating his own Imperial squadron, the other was borrowing some of my ships, and had played several demo games, but didn’t know how to build a list. The only input he gave was that he wanted to play as the Rebels, and he loved A-wings.

I only have 1 A-Wing, I was waiting for Rebel Aces to be released to get more, but I made sure to include the one I had. With this being a friendly demo game and with his opponent being new, I didn’t necessarily want a tournament calibre squad. I didn’t want a lot of tricky movement to be involved, I wanted to use things I normally don’t, and I didn’t want any duplicate ships. First think to come to mind there is the HWK-290. It’s not a horrible ship, it just normally doesn’t fit my lists, and the only thing I had seen done with it up to this point is the Focus Factory concept, which is underwhelming to me. But it be improved upon with more recent releases?

Focus Factory Training

Green Squadron Pilot
Stealth Device
Assault Missile
Veteran Instincts

Kyle Katarn
Moldy Crow
Stealth Device
Recon Specialist
Blaster Turret

Garvin Dreis
Flechette Torpedo
R5-P9

I explained to the player about the HWK generating two focus per turn, and being able to hand one off, or keep them from turn to turn, and about Garvin handing one off too. I also hinted at the Holy Grail that is target lock + focus. I know everyone hates the blaster turret, but I wanted to keep ion tokens out of this teaching game.

Seeing that the other player brought two TIE Interceptors and 3 TIE Fighters, I was hoping to see a focus passed to the A-wing to be used for his assault missile. But these are new players, so nothing went as expected. Instead, the A-wing went solo against the TIE Fighters and whiffed on the missile but also dodged all return fire. Meanwhile, the other Rebels and the Interceptors held back and didn’t engage right away. Focus started stacking up on the Moldy Crow, which became huge later on.

The Imperial asked for advice, and I gave it freely and without guilt; despite being on the Rebel side of the table I didn’t see the maneuvers picked this turn. He agreed with my evaluation of what the A-wing would do, and he caught it perfectly in a crossfire of his entire fleet; dead ship, advantage Empire, but his TIEs were all pointed in the wrong direction and would have to scramble to get shots on the remaining Rebels in subsequent turns.

And then the most amazing thing happened: Garvin became a tank. Between his own focus and being handed one by Katarn, he was barely taking damage from the scattered TIEs who were no longer in coordinated formation. Then any spare focus token was spent via R5-P9 to regenerate his shields. And completely unplanned when I built the list, Garvin could hand those tokens went right back to the Moldy Crow to be saved for next turn!

Eventually, inexperience showed itself and the Rebel player made some bad moves in the name of being “unpredictable”, and thus gave the Imps the match, but I was seriously impressed with Garvin and Kyle’s potential. The only thing I really wanted to change was replacing the Green Squadron Pilot with something that had more synergy.

Without changing anything on the other two ships, there’s 28 points to work with here. Dutch Vander is a possible fit, adding target locks for his wingmen along with bringing in a second turret, but I play with Y-Wings a lot and I’m looking for something new. Tarn Mison with an R7 and a stealth device is also tempting, he can be a tank too and would also be able to hit all the harder with free focus. But we had talked a lot about the upgrades coming with Rebel Aces after the game, and something told me I should take a look at the new A-Wing pilots rather than changing the 3rd ship entirely. And sure enough, there’s a wonderful fit here in Jake Farrell, who gets a free barrel roll (not normally available to A-Wings) or boost when he gets a focus token, regardless of how he got it, and that just clicks perfectly into place. He can potentially target lock, get handed a focus by Kyle to boost or barrel roll to line up a shot with the target lock and focus, and then get handed another focus by Garvin to use on defense plus use the evasive maneuver not already taken to dance out of firing arcs.

Focus Factory Refit

Kyle Katarn
Moldy Crow
Recon Specialist
Ion Cannon Turret
Elusiveness

Garvin Dreis
Advanced Proton Torpedo
R5-P9

Jake Farrell
Chardaan Refit
Stealth Device
A-Wing Test Pilot
Outmaneuver
Predator

There’s plenty of room to swap out upgrades, as outside of Recon Specialist and the Moldy Crow title, these pilots do all the work themselves. Maybe move the Stealth Device to Kyle, or drop the Advanced Proton Torpedo for Stealth Device on all three ships instead. A lot of this is pure theory, as I haven’t run this list myself, and certainly it’s not going to be the most competitive out there.  But just thinking about how it would play is fun.

Of important note here, the combination of Jake with Garvin and/or Kyle is one of only 3 ways in the game right now to move a ship during the combat phase, the other two being Turr Phennir and Airen Cracken. As the TIE Phantom has shifted the meta towards high pilot skills, being able to squeeze in a small maneuver after all other moves are completed for the turn is a big deal.

In summary, the Focus Factory concept has gotten a nice addition to the assembly line in R5-P9, and Jake Farrell is a great addition too. If you’ve got a better way in mind to use them, by all means I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section. Also, be sure to help me out a bit and click here to order the X-Wing: Rebel Aces expansion.

— The Tabletop General