Wednesday, 7 September 2016

"You Switched Off Your Targeting Computer..." - Something casual for the Post-Nationals meta

Not every tournament can be a National Championships, and not every blog can be about cutting edge tech and insight.  With Nationals behind us, Regionals still off in the distance ahead and a new wave coming up it's 'Silly September' and time to dig out the lists that you know aren't worldbeaters but you just like flying with, or want to try out a wacky new combo.

For me that's been an excuse to become acquainted with a certain Mr Corran Horn and to pair him with my favourite Ghost pilot; Kanan Jarrus.

Corran Horn

I never really got the hype for Corran.  This might sound odd to a lot of you but remember that I'd come into the game around the time of Poe Dameron and Red Ace locking up the Rebel fighter slots, and then recently even Corran's place alongside the new improved Super Dash was lost to the VCX-100.  With that in mind most of my experience of Corran Horn was being played outside of the best lists and I'd usually look over the table and struggle to see what he was doing that justified being a whole bunch of points more expensive than Poe.

Well I'm happy to say that, now, I kind of get it.  He's super-expensive but the System slot and double-tap just about justifies the extra cost.  The E-Wing dial is a bit sketchy for using with R2-D2, particularly with Push The Limit (you need either green 1 banks or hard 2 turns) but having tried both the popular variants of Corran I've become enough of a fan to paint myself Corran's custom CorSec-green E-Wing.

There's two common versions of Corran because there's two EPTs you want him to have but you can only pick one.  If you take Veteran Instincts to make him PS10 and get the drop on the likes of Soontir Fel then you need to go with Fire Control System for the action economy of free Target Locks that really pay off in the double-tap scenario.  Alternatively if you turn to Push The Limit for your action economy then adding a Fire Control System on top is a bit superfluous but Advanced Sensors give you some great pre-dial options.  Advanced Sensors also combines well with Push The Limit to allow you to immediately clear your stress with a green maneuver (just be sure not to dial a red K-turn!).

I've tried both and been successful with both, but if you're not scared of Soontir Fel and happy just playing for funsies then you can probably lose the PS10 of Veteran Instincts and just enjoy all the extra options that PTL/Advanced Sensors give you.

Kanan Jarrus

When the Ghost expansion first came out my playgroup went through a bit of a period of trying to min-max just how much of a defensive fortress you could build with Kanan Jarrus.  We tried him with Biggs Darklighter to shield the Ghost's 0 Agility, we tried him with Lando Calrissian crew for extra Focus tokens, we tried him with Jan Ors crew for evades, we tried him with an Ion Cannon and Attack Shuttle for extra control, we tried him with a Kyle Katarn HWK for support, we tried him alongside a tanky Chewbacca in the Millenium Falcon... we tried him with pretty much everything.

Although the uber-tanky Kanan fortress won a lot of games against unsuspecting opponent it never really made the cut as a top list because keeping the guys together in formation limited your options too much.  Ultimately it was the Lothal Rebel/Hera crew Ghost that could dart about the table which proved the breakout build for tournaments, but I never lost my love of frustrating opponents with Kanan Jarrus.

Recon Specialist and Fire Control System are pretty standard additions to the Kanan Jarrus version of Ghost for the action economy the give you, so I stuck with those as basic building blocks for the squad.  

Less obvious is that I've chosen an Ion Cannon Turret and Chewbacca crew to round out the build, so, what's the deal there?

Well for the Ion Cannon Turret it's primarily there because I just find Ion an interesting thing to bring into games.  With this list I will bring the three largest asteroids and that gives plenty of things that my opponent has to worry about being Ioned into if he's not careful.  

Secondly, though, I think the Ion Cannon Turret does actually complement Corran Horn quite well because it helps you to control traffic while Corran either runs away to regenerate shields or sets up his lethal double-tap shots.  

I've used the Ion Cannon Turret to great effect in all sorts of matches.  Playing against a list of 3 B-Wings and a Stresshog I managed to mess up my initial engagement and flew Corran right into the teeth of my opponent's ships - he came out the other side with 3 stress tokens and 1 hull left!  But thanks to the Ion Turret I was able isolate Corran to just one-on-one against a B-Wing while the Stresshog tried to turn around and Kanan kept the other two B-Wings tied up.  Corran recovered his shields and picked the B-Wings off one-by one as I won comfortably.   

In another game earlier this week against Dash Rendar it was second Ion Cannon Turret shot onto Dash that set up the Ghost blocking Dash's 1-forward move and allowed Corran to slip into the Heavy Laser Cannon's donut for a kill shot.  Everyone focuses on Twin Laser Turret as their weapon of choice, or the bargain Autoblast Turret, but for fun & games I don't think much can match leaving your opponent helplessly drifting into asteroids with Ion sparks flying across his cockpit.

Adding Chewbacca crew came about after a failed attempt at using Moff Jerjerrod to avoid stacking up nasty critical hits on an Imperial Decimator.  The idea was good in theory, but in practice just turning the crit face down wasn't doing enough to justify the slot.  What I really needed was for Jerjerrod to allow me to scrap a crew member to discard a nasty Critical Hit altogether.

Kind of... err... kind of... like... let me read that Chewbacca crew again?

For 4pts Chewbacca is always worth at least 2 hull points (3 if you prevent a Direct Hit), making him much more efficient than a Hull Upgrade or Shield Upgrade alone, but the real added value is that he offers some protection from the critical hits that can really ruin your day, like a Damaged Sensor Array or Damaged Engine.

I'm not really surprised that Chewbacca hasn't seen play before now because the Rebels haven't had the right large ship for him.  On the Millenium Falcon you'll get more value from C-3PO, for instance, and something like Super Dash is already using the crew slot for something more important.  There just hasn't really been the sort of 0 agility hog that is the Ghost for Chewbacca to sit in.  Yes, 4pts is a lot to pay for pure defense but on a defensive pilot like Kanan with Ion Cannon Turret the extra turn on the table that Chewbacca gives you, or the protection from a bad critical hit, can really make a difference.  You should be dead, but you're not and instead you Ion the incoming ship and duck out the way next turn, lining Corran up for a kill.  Without Chewbacca you'd be dead, they wouldn't be Ioned, and Corran would be chasing empty space.  That exact situation happens more often than you'd think.

Partnering Up

Throwing those two ships together comes out at 97 points, and for the remaining 3pts I'll usually add Plasma Torpedoes and Guidance Chips to the Ghost just to make people worry about the rear arc, but there's a case to be made for giving Corran Horn a Hull Upgrade and buy him time to regenerate his shields if he winds up taking a pounding.  

The two guys really need to work together more than in most squads - Kanan is the shield for anyone chasing Corran and Corran needs to work fast to remove threats that are chasing Kanan.  The Ion Turret helps in both those plans because any turn you can Ion somebody out of having a shot you're preventing incoming fire. This isn't the type of list where you're setting up apart from each other, this is very much about working as a team.  

A good initial engagement would see Kanan and Corran combining forces to throw 10 or 12 dice at the same target through their front arcs and try to remove a threat through sheer force of dice.  What you have to manage during the game, though, is how inconsistent your dice threat is.  Unlike most lists where your red dice output is quite constant it's relatively common for this list to throw 10 dice one turn then 3 the next with an Ion Turret, then maybe 6 dice with a Turret and Corran not double-tapping, then you've set up a big 12 dice turn.  It requires a bit more forward planning than just being able to fire at what's in front of you each turn and letting the damage add up.  You're required to be planning ahead for where you can Ion Turret a ship to drift helplessly across the table and how you can get Corran there two turns later with a Focus and a Target Lock ready to take advantage.

When you pull that off it can be really rewarding, both on a spiritual/emotional level and on the level of just battering a plastic ship off the board in one turn.  But that you have to be working that hard to kill ships is also probably where this list falls short of being 'good' and becomes one just to bring out when you're trying to bring your game down a notch or two and just spend an evening playing X-Wing.

Maybe you'll want to give my list a try in 'Silly September', and if you enjoy it or come up with some good suggestions for changes then I'd love to hear them!


  1. Kanan is pretty awesome and in the hands of a good pilot he can take you pretty far, even in a competitive environment. A buddy of mine ran a Kanan/Kyle list at the Ohio Regionals earlier this year and made it to the final table, narrowly losing to Jeff Berling and his infamous Dengaroo list. After the success of the Ghost at the Nova Open, I expect to see interesting Ghost-centered lists popping up in the near future, competitive or not.

    1. Awesome, was it just the two ships loaded up heavily or was something else on there?

      At one point I managed to squeeze Kanan, Biggs and Kyle all onto the same list though it required some sacrifices.

    2. It was just Kyle and Kanan, though Kanan had a docked Phantom. Here's the List Juggler entry if you want to see the details of the full list. Crewbacca even makes a cameo on Kyle!