Tuesday, 9 February 2016

"Don't Let These Thugs Scare You" - into battle with T-70 X-Wings

So while I've been busily handing out all these little tips that I've learned I've actually played precious few games of X-Wing myself... just four, in fact, by the time I posted my first blog!  Well not long ago I was presented with a great opportunity to up that number as my local games club was hosting a little casual X-Wing tournament, so along I went...

"Pew Pew Poe"

T-70 X-Wing
Poe Dameron / Push The Limit / BB-8 / Weapon Guidance / Autothrusters 

T-70 X-Wing
Ello Asty / Predator / R2 Astromech / Integrated Astromech 

T-70 X-Wing
Blue Squadron Novice / Targeting Astromech / Integrated Astromech 

This is the list I flew, which is pretty much exactly what I shared with you at the end of my last blog.  The only change I've made is to roll Ello Asty's Veteran Instincts and Weapon Guidance up into a single card: Predator.  Weapon Guidance makes sense with Focus, but Predator just works all the time and with Ello's party trick being a T-Roll and Boost combination he wouldn't always get the chance to stack a Focus counter.

It was going to be a friendly little tournament, just 8 players, but it would be a great way to dip my toe into the water of actually trying to play X-Wing for keeps!

Round One vs Nathan 
(Lifetime X-Wing Games: 5)

Nathan was the one guy in the room who had played X-Wing less than me - in fact this was going to be his first ever game!  Nathan had just been looking for somebody to teach him the game when he stumbled on the fact there was a tournament, so he was going to be jumping in at the deep end.  Props to Nathan for stepping up to the plate and learning to play in a competitive 100pts environment!

Arriving for the day Nathan only had the core set he got for Christmas so I gave him what I hoped would be a newbie-friendly squad of Imperials to play with for the evening - something that wouldn't explode at the first sign of trouble and would be forgiving if he flew it badly.  He was flying the Imperial Boba Fett with a mix of upgrades, and two TIE/fo with the Comm Relay/Juke combination that I'd seen online and wanted to try out.  Not the strongest list, certainly but I thought Boba's direction-changing might help out a new player, and TIEs set to evade a lot might at least last a full match once in a while.

It meant my first game was a match featuring the two most inexperienced pilots in the room... and boy did we look like it!  In the second turn we managed to beach four out of our six ships on asteroids, with me pulling a particularly bone-headed move that's worth sharing because it proves precisely what NOT to do...  

As I revealed Poe Dameron's maneuver for the second turn I was just itching for the chance to show off and use my BB-8/PTL combo and instead of just rolling forwards I spied the opportunity for a Barrel Roll/Boost that might swing me around on the far side of an asteroid and get in a shot on one of his TIEs.  Perfect!  At least it was perfect in theory, but in practice it didn't work out like that as I'd misjudged the move and it left me scraping along the side of the asteroid.  

I didn't get to shoot, I didn't get to Focus, but I did get to lose a shield.  Best pilot in the resistance my arse.

That was pretty bad already, but actually it was even worse.  Do you remember me saying a couple of blogs ago how I had a real blind spot for remembering where I'd programmed my other ships to go?  Well it turns out I'd already programmed Ello Asty to fly over the exact same asteroid and into the empty space now occupied by Poe's T-70.  That bumped Ello up, and not just that but it bumped him back onto the asteroid as well!

In a rush to use my tricky BB-8 combo I'd crashed both my aces!

Anyway, that first round of combat set the tone for the rest of the game as we turned it into a frantic furball of ships going every which way, bouncing off rocks and each other as they did so.  Somewhere in there I managed to damage all of Nathan's ships a little but not destroy any of them, while he succeeded in concentrating enough fire onto Poe to bring him down.  As time was called on the match that was still how it stood and Nathan claimed a win on points in his first ever game of X-Wing!


Props to Nathan for earning a win in his first ever game while learning the hard way in a competition.  I put on my best "hey, it's great - you won your first game!" face, but inside I was a sad panda.

Round Two vs Dan S
(Lifetime X-Wing Games: 6)

So all of these tips that I've been sharing in my last couple of blogs have largely come from one man who taught me to play.  That's Dan, who turned out to be my second round opponent.  So after losing to the rookie I now had to take on the guy who'd taught me everything I know (by beating me repeatedly!).   Fantastic stuff!

Although Dan had been playing a long time he hadn't kept bang up to date with the new ships so was facing my T-70s for the first time, and he was running a 'Fast Han' YT-1300 with Engine Upgrade and Lone Wolf, paired to two B-Wings with Fire Control Systems.  I had played against Dan's Millenium Falcon before and had learned to fear it, so my battle plan was to try and ignore him and wail on the B-Wings instead.  That plan didn't last very long as we lined up our forces pretty much directly opposite each other on one side of the board - it would be tough to avoid Han now!  

In the first round I expected Dan to send the Falcon screaming forwards with a big Boost so, remembering the rule of eleven, I had deliberately lined my ships up a quarter ship length back from the furthest forward I could deploy, and then I handed them a slow 1 Forward move. This meant that even if Han shot forward at full speed we'd both have only moved eleven ship lengths in total, and that quarter ship length I saved in deployment would keep us out of range.  When we revealed our dials, though, Dan had similarly programmed a slow creep forward and we were still well apart.

For the second round I again expected Dan to launch forwards so programmed another 1 Forward and I think this caught him out - he'd also programmed a 1 Forward for all his ships, but this time the Falcon's larger base meant it crept forwards into range 3.  I'd always planned to ignore the Falcon but right now it was the only thing I could shoot at so I rolled the dice for both Ello Asty and my Blue Squadron pilot... and the Falcon's shields started falling line ninepins!  It was time for a change of plan and on the next turn all three of my X-Wings converged on Han Solo with guns blazing, the Falcon limped on badly damaged and exploded in flames a turn later!

While Ello and the Blue Squadron Pilot had been finishing off the Falcon poor Poe Dameron had been taking fire from the B-Wings and was now in a bad way.  Scenting an easy kill Dan turned his B-Wings to try and chase Poe down but he critically misread what I was going to do.  Instead of T-Rolling back into the fight with Poe, as Dan expected, I used his Barrel Roll/Boost to rocket off into the distance while my two other T-70s swung around behind the B-Wings!  

12 Tea Rolls.  Pretty much exactly what did for Dan in this match!
That put Dan on the back foot and my X-Wings T-Rolled him to death over the next few rounds.  Although B-Wings can turn tightly in close dogfights Dan's ships simply couldn't keep up with the T-Rolls and I was continually able to get shots in while he struggled to keep me in his sights.  He managed to claim Ello Asty as a trophy but after escaping earlier Poe arced back around and came back in to help mop up Dan's last B-Wing and end the game.

The dice had definitely been in my favour in that initial batch of shooting against the Millenium Falcon to take it off the table so quickly, but once it was gone and Poe had slipped away in one piece (barely) the rest was just T-70s proving themselves as great fighters and easily outmaneuvering the B-Wings.  It's also worth mentioning that my Blue Squadron pilot would have exploded without his Integrated Astromech - a point very well spent! 


Yeah.  That felt a lot better.

Round Three vs Daniel (not Dan S)
(Lifetime X-Wing Games: 7)

After two rounds of Swiss pairings the math demands that two players should be undefeated, but one of those two had to leave early and it was lucky old me who drew the short straw and got paired up against the last undefeated squad in the tournament.  That was Daniel, playing the World Championship winning squad ("Stresshog" Y-Wing, another TLT Y-Wing, Veteran Poe and a basic Z-95 Headhunter).  As we lined up I didn't know that this was the World Champion squad, but when Daniel read through his loadout I decided pretty much immediately that I wanted to take his Stresshog off the table ASAP.  Neither Poe Dameron or Ello Asty like being stressed as it messes up both BB-8 and Asty's white T-Roll, so he had to go.  

The "Stresshog Y-Wing loadout.  24 points of fun-sucking efficiency.

We wound up deploying the asteroids and ships almost exactly the same as I'd had it in the second game, with our forces pointing right at each other on one side of the table, though this time I had Poe slightly off towards the centre, opposite his Z-95 and threatening to outflank through the asteroid field.   What also repeated from the second round was that I remembered ' the rule of eleven' and set my ships up slightly back from the furthest forward I could... if it came down to a slim margin of whether I was in range of his Twin Laser Turrets or not then I wanted to be safe.

I began this game with a similar slow roll forward for Ello Asty and the Blue Squadron pilot, but Poe wasn't happy with that and he raced forward with a 3 Forward and a Boost, already deep into the middle of the table.  Daniel headed straight forwards, then the second turn proved to be where I delivered a masterstroke, and I got to unleash the "Dameron Dash" to incredible effect.

I posed this photo for my last blog,but this is the match it came from.  Replace the Interceptor's with Poe Dameron and a Z-95, and the Shuttle with two Y-Wings, and you've got the exact move that won me this game.
Daniel had already lined up his Z-95 against my Poe Dameron and now he was expecting my Poe to head right forwards and engage the cannon fodder Headhunter in a mismatch that was sure to be short-lived.  In response Daniel programmed his own Poe to swing inwards and double up on my Poe... but it wasn't to be.  Instead of flying right into the sights of his two ships the "Dameron Dash" took them both out of the game as Poe revealed a green 3 Forward then activated BB-8 to barrel roll to the right, used Push The Limit to follow BB-8 with a Boost away to the right, then finally put down the 3 Forward marker to send himself screaming in on the flank of Dan's two Y-Wings having bypassed both of the fighter escorts!

Cannon's blazed on both sides - my Blue Squadron Rookie bled shields away from the Twin Laser Turrets on his Y-Wings and began stacking Stress counters, while in the other direction the Stresshog Y-Wing took a pounding as I returned fire, losing its shields.  On the next round of firing things went even better for me and the Stresshog Y-Wing exploded under more fire from Poe and the Blue Squadron Rookie, with the Blue Squadron X-Wing managing to stay on the table at the expense of his R2 Astromech with Integrated Astromech.  Even better, a fortunate critical Direct Hit! on the Z-95 from Ello Asty meant that in just three turns I had gone from being outnumbered on ships 3-to-4 to being ahead 3-to-2!

Daniel tried to fly his last Y-Wing out of trouble and the Twin Laser Turrets were finally able to account for my Blue Squadron pilot when he set off in pursuit, but at the other end of the table Daniel's Poe Dameron found himself outnumbered and both Ello Asty and Poe closed in for the kill.  As his last ace exploded into a ball of fire Daniel conceded that the game was lost.

VICTORY(!) vs the World Champ Squad, no less!

I was technically in second place after that win, which was incredible for my first outing!  The pain of losing the first round to Nathan was forgotten and I was genuinely chuffed by how it had all gone.  A great evening, everyone was really nice and helpful to us newer players and, most importantly, I'd kicked some ass.  It maybe gave me a false sense of security with the local Store Championship on the horizon so maybe it's a good job that my final words are going to come via my mentor Dan, who sent me this when I ribbed him about the 2nd round crushing I'd dealt out...

Yep, wise words.  Wise words indeed!

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