Saturday, 1 October 2016

Attani Mindlink - The Next Big Thing?

Pacific Rim was a shitty movie.

I know that Guillermo Del Toro has a lot of enthusiastic fans who think the director can do no wrong, especially among the science fiction guys who consider him to be 'one of us' but I'm afraid that when it comes to Pacific Rim I have to call bullshit.  Hellboy was great and Pan's Labyrinth is a masterpiece, but I'm not having elite two-hundred feet tall mechs defending the earth from an extra-dimensional invasion by utilising the ultimate power of a good right hook.  

For those fortunate souls who haven't yet seen Pacific Rim: the premise is that giant alien monsters are emerging from the sea and the best response that all of earth's scientists and military minds can come up with are:

1) build a wall around the ocean.  That's a wall.  Around the ocean.  All of the ocean.  And the same moviegoers who think Donald Trump is a barking lunatic for wanting to build a wall along the whole of the US/Mexico border are perfectly happy to suspend disbelief about building a wall AROUND THE ENTIRE OCEAN.

2) if the wall doesn't work we'll just punch the monsters in the face.  It's a weird macho John Wayne revival where even the biggest problem humanity has ever faced can be solved by just smashing a bottle over Godzilla's head and sliding him along the bar in a saloon.

Seriously, it's like Gullermo Del Toro watched some of the trashiest mechwar anime's and just decided "yeah that's what I want to spend $190m dollars remaking in a really dark, confusing and loud way".   Plot?  Nah.  Character development?  Nah.  Fight scenes where you can see what's happening?  Nah.  It was just dark and noisy.  I actually saw Pacific Rim in IMAX and the only thing I got out of that movie experience was a pounding headache. 

Anyway, this blog isn't intended to mark a change in direction to becoming a movie reviews website.  I'm bringing up Pacific Rim because one of the many, MANY, things about it that made no sense at all is that pilots of these huge mechanical battle robots have to be able to form a psychic link in order to drive them, with one pilot controlling the left side of the mech and the other controlling the right side.  Not just any two people can get in and drive these mechs either, by the way, instead the survival of the human race depends on finding people with these incredible psychic connections who can pilot the mechs.  Its a really deep bond that's very rare to find, so the Americans have a pair of brothers driving their mech, for instance, while the Australians have a father & son partnership.  

And if you don't have that sort of close family bond with somebody then you just have to hit each other with sticks for thirty seconds, after which you're apparently good to go.

Pacific Rim, everyone..

Anyway, finally getting around to X-Wing I want to talk about Attani Mindlink, which is basically an Elite Pilot Talent that mimics the same psychic connection between pilots that makes Pacific Rim the incredible cinematic masterpiece that it is.  Attani Mindlink arrived in the Punishing One expansion in Wave 8 but because everyone has been so distracted by what Deadeye can do in Contracted Scouts, or what Lone Wolf can do in Dengaroo, I think the potential of Attani Mindlink has kind of gone under the radar a little.

The promise of what Attani Mindlink can deliver plays right to the core of many successful X-Wing strategies - it's action economy in the same sort of way as Push The Limit.  If any one of your ships takes a Focus action then everybody gets a Focus token, meaning they're free to do something else as well with their own action.  The downside is that any stress gets shared about as well so you have to be careful a]to avoid planning red maneuvers for multiple ships in the same turn but the payoff of that action economy is more than worth it.

I first ran into Attani Mindlink in competitive use just before the UK National Championships, with it appearing under the control of innovative local player Dan Sellen.  Dan had used Attani Mindlink as the glue to hold together a squad of relatively unfashionable ships - a Y-Wing, a HWK-290 and a StarViper.  Setting my elite TIE Swarm down across the table from this squad I had all but assumed the win was in the bag before a dial had even been placed in anger... a HWK and a StarViper?  Puh-lease, this is easy meat.  I did win that game due to Dan placing his StarViper in a bad spot on the initial engagement so I could kill Guri before she ever fired, but even after that great start the rough time I had chasing down his two remaining ships did enough to teach me that there was lot more to his squad than met the eye.

  • Kavil (Y-Wing) - Attani Mindlink, Dorsal Turret, Unhinged Astromech Plasma Torpedoes, Guidance Chips (32pts)
  • Palob Godalhi (HWK-290) - Attani Mindlink, Twin Laser Turret, 4-LOM, Cloaking Device, Stygium Particle Accelerator (32pts)
  • Guri (StarViper) - Attani Mindlink, Virago, Fire Control System, Autothrusters (36pts)

As well taking Focus actions Dan gets extra use of Attani Mindlink from either Palob or Guri's pilot abilities, giving him a ton of freedom about being able to take a lot of other actions instead/as well.  It means Guri is free to boost or barrel roll, or that Kavil can take a Target Lock for his torpedoes and still focus the dice up.  I've met Dan's squad again a couple of times outside of tournaments, not playing my TIE Swarm it must be said,  and been well schooled each time so I've developed a healthy respect for the list and the action economy of Attani Mindlink.  

Since seeing what Dan has been able to do with Attani Mindlink is has long been on my list of things I wanted to try out, especially with the Protectorate Fighter coming in Wave 9.  This is what I put onto the table when I got the chance...

  • Kavil (Y-Wing) - Attani Mindlink, Dorsal Turret, Unhinged Astromech Plasma Torpedoes, Guidance Chips (32pts)
  • Fenn Rau (Protectorate Starfighter) - Attani Mindlink, Concord Dawn Protector, Stealth Device (33pts)
  • Guri (StarViper) - Attani Mindlink, Virago, Fire Control System, Black Market Slicer Tools (35pts)
I replaced Palob Godalhi, with the brand new threat of Fenn Rau.  The intention of this list is to try and get in close and be as aggressive as possible, which suits me.  Fenn Rau, Guri and Kavil (with his Dorsal Turret) all get bonuses for being at Range 1 so get in close and just roll as many red dice as possible and punish the opponent.  

I immediately found it a powerful list but also an interesting one to play with as you have to plan ahead quite carefully to manage the best times to pull those red maneuvers and give everyone stress.  I opted for Stealth Device over Autothrusters primarily because there's not really much synergy between Autothrusters and Fenn Rau's desire to get right in the face of the opponent and found that extra green dice consistently useful considering how that I could get a couple of Focus tokens onto Fenn if need be.

It was a real blast to play, getting into point blank range and hurling all those red dice at your opponent, and when they were rolling back and I had five green dice and a free Evade?  I felt pretty safe.  Although I won most of my games with this list I did feel, though, that it was a step below the really great squads.  When Kavil found himself a long way from the fight he could take a long time to get back, especially to range 2 for the Dorsal Turret, and the limitations of Guri's dial were a little too much once I started getting stress every turn from Asajj Ventress in her Shadow Caster.

And then I saw the lists that were published for the UK Team Championship.

The UKTC (to shorten it) is going to be held 9th October 2016 and sees players forming teams of three players who each bring a team from one of the three factions.  One very interesting wrinkle about how the UKTC is organised is that they've required players to submit their lists in advance and then made them all public knowledge ahead of the event.  And this is what the former UK National Champion Jesper Hills is bringing to the table...
  • Fenn Rau (Protectorate Starfighter) - Attani Mindlink, Concord Dawn Protector, Autothrusters (32pts)
  • Manaroo (Jumpmaster 5000)- Attani Mindlink, Plasma Torpedoes, Unhinged Astromech, K4 Security Droid, Black Market Slicer Tools, Guidance Chips (36pts)
  • Palob Godalhi (HWK-290) - Attani Mindlink, Blaster Turret, Dengar, Cloaking Device (30pts)

Basically this is my squad list, but better, and really demonstrates that I'd taken Dan's original squad list in the wrong direction when I dropped Palob instead of Guri.  The Plasma Torpedo I had on Kavil reappears on Manaroo, and with her larger base and Barrel Roll action she answers the problem I had with Kavil getting separated from the fight because she's much faster.  She also carries the Black Market Slicer Tools that I placed on Guri.  The Dorsal Turret on Kavil moves over onto Palob in the form of a Blaster Turret, and Palob's ability to steal a Focus stands in for the extra Focus that Guri can gain at range 1.  

You can see all the ingredients that I had in my list except that they're moved around a bit and probably work that little bit better.  Manaroo and Palob both have abilities that work nicely with Attani Mindlink (you may not have realised that when Manaroo moves her Focus tokens at the start of combat it will trigger Attani Mindlink to give her a focus back) and they also disrupt the opponent's plans in ways that my Kavil/Guri list doesn't.

I'm going to be giving Jesper's version a try in the near future and will be paying close attention to how well he does with it in the UK Team Championship next weekend.  Attani Mindlink has the promise to be an excellent upgrade and if Attani Mindlink has got the attention of a player of Jesper's calibre when he could have played the likes of other Scum options like Dengaroo or Triple Jumps, or that of fellow 186th Squadron member and Yavin Open winner Andrew Pattison who had good success at UK Nats with the last iteration of this Mindlink list, then maybe it's going to herald the dawn of a brave new world!

Pacific Rim is still a shitty film, though.


  1. It's great until you run into Rebel Captive :-(

  2. It's great until you run into Rebel Captive :-(

  3. That's a nice squad and combo ! Attani is just so good to let underdogs ships have a much better action economy, and Manaro is key in this kind of list (I used to run manaro talonbane zuckuz, it was a blast) !

  4. Hi David, really love your squad.
    Attani is way stronger than expected. Double-actions for everyone are not to be underetimated. I think there are even stronger builds than the posted but yet not fully discovered or understand. But it falls just an inch to short to be on paar with f.e Trippel-Defender who bring the way better chassis with their doubleactions.
    By the way,stress isnt that big issue for attani-lists. Protector,Plaob with turret,J5K are all very able to clear the stress the following turn and still stay relevnt in the fight.

    1. I meant Blog...really love your blog.
      The squad is still decent.

  5. Attanni is cool, but it's still a niche. Jesper didn't performed well during recent 186th tournament. List seems to be little to squishy and lack of firepower. Vectored thrusters on Palob would help (in exchange for plasma torps).

    1. I'm of a similar mind at the moment, having played it a few weeks now I think it's still missing the 'killer app' to send it over the edge. Nothing I was doing felt unfair, while /x7 definitely does.

      I'm on Fenn/Kavil/Manaroo at present (with Vectored).

    2. I am toying with Attanni for some time. Went for 4-2 during Polish Nationals and missed the Cut by MoV with list P1 Scout/Manaroo/KaaToo. Now - with Wave9 tools - I think I've finally found THE LIST. I won some local tournaments, but it still needs to be tested properly during Regionals.

    3. Could you please share with us your new list Oldpara?

    4. Please meet "Parattanni" ;)

      Asajj + Latts Razzi, Attanni
      Manaroo + Attanni
      Fenn Rau + Autothrusters, Title, Attanni.

      Asajj serves as a tank (evade, focus and stress-to-evade mechanism) and crowd control to some extend, Fenn Rau is a cavalry and Manaroo is focus factory.

      I know that only 6 upgrade cards looks little odd, but trust me - it's enough.

      The best part is when Asajj is about to tank with evade, 2x focus and stress-to-evade ;)

      7-0 on tournaments so far, but as I said - needs to be tested at least at regional level to be sure its real Attanni Tier1 rooster.

    5. How do you typically set this list up in the deployment step? What is your general plan of attack during the game? What is your strategy for keeping Asajj useful (I.e. How do you deploy her firing arc, when do you choose to change it, etc.).

    6. Asajj is excellent jouster and can soak up lot of dmg, so I usually send her in front of main enemy forces, trying to lure them to follow her after initial joust.

      When enemy is pursuing Asajj, Fenn Rau charges in. Manaroo serves as support ship, fights/blocks occasionally.

      Due to nature of Asajj ability (rng1-2) I try to move her slowly to keep enemies in range - this is advantage Attanni Asajj has over PTL Asajj - you don't need to stick with high speed green maneuvers to keep your action economy high, so ability kicks in more often.

      In ideal setup you start with the mobile arc in front, moving along the edge of the board to keep one flank od Asajj secured, then either jump behind enemy changing mobile arc to rear or turn into the centre of battlefield changing arc to side of Asajj.

  6. Interesting how light you're running on upgrades.

    My next experiment is going to be with Boba, who takes up very similar space to Asajj in your list. In theory his rerolls and extra focus tokens will work well together and make him tanky. I'm running him with Manaroo and N'Dru (to hunt TIE Defenders with Homing Missile) but I can see how I could strip points to put in a better 3rd ship than a Z-95.

  7. Boba is interesting. I tried Firesprays tho, and what I find disturbing is that after initial fire exchange (frontal, abd then from rear arc) usually he needs 2 turns to be back in combat due to lack of hard1 and lack of side firing arc. And having Attanni you rarely want to k-turn. Asajj with mobile firing arc doesn't have this problem.

    What I've learned playing Attanni lists is to keep Manaroo cheap. With only Attanni upgrade it's 28 pts. It gives you whole new area of possibilities for rest of the list while it keeps 90% of usefulness.

    Like list with FS-31 that comes in mind:
    Kath Scarlett + Attanni, Tail Gunner
    Zuckuss + Attanni, Title
    Manaroo + Attanni.

    You can switch Kath for Boba as it's 99 pts, but 2 ships with the same PS play nicely in Attanni lists as you can freely choose order of activation (during movement for occasional k-turn or during shooting for occasional tractor beam into Kath's rear kill-zone). PS7 gives you also advantage over vast number of ships strongly affecting current Meta (Vessery, Ryad, Asajj, Biggs, generic Defenders etc)

    Cheap Manaroo has other advantage: if you manage to kill only Palpatine from enemy rooster in exchange for her, you win ;)

    List is pretty tanky (possibly focus + evade every turn on both hard hitting ships), Manaroo is not so easy to kill as she's practically immune to Target Locks (good bye Vessery's action economy) and Squadron have some tools of destruction (Kath's rear arc and Zuckuss'es 4/5 dice attack)

    The plan for battle is simple: either enemy will chase Manaroo so you chase him with rest of the squad or he choose to fight your bulky, fully tokened ships (2 evades+3 focuses on both). And there is still 1 pts left - Ketsu Onyo crew could be useful maybe.

    (writing this I ALMOST convinced myself to change Asajj to Kath ;))

    It would be nice hearing from you about further tests with Attanni.

    1. So spent the evening with:

      Boba (Mindlink)
      Manaroo (Mindlink)
      Fenn Rau (Mindlink, Title, AT)

      It was good! Obv similar to yours but I really got good play out of Boba - he rolls up with Focus, Evade and his free refills, and was both tanky and dangerous.

      Prob the most fun I've had with Mindlink so far, I'll be trying that again!

    2. Nice. I bet Boba always has Evade, and 1 or 2 Focuses, which makes 40 pts Attanni Boba in your configuration better than Recon spec + PTL 45 pts Boba. With no stress! Ps8, rerolls, better hull/shields ratio makes him excellent alternative to Asajj.

    3. Yeah they are obviously very similar.

      Asajj hands out stress to turn it into an Evade, Boba gets an Evade action. Asajj takes a target lock action, Boba gets free rerolls... very similar.

      I think rerolls on defence as well are quite a big deal for how tanky Boba is, and it's balancing that vs the Casters higher speed and mobile arc. There's not a lot to choose between the two, but I think I'm happier my opponent focus firing on Boba more than I would be Asajj.

    4. Ok you guys got me horny ! I have a small tournament tomorow, gonna try the parratani ! I'm just not very confident with fen, donno if i shall flank with him or just follow in with asaj...

    5. Depends on the board setup. But Fenn is so squishy, that I usually try to flank with him. Sometimes enemy is turning to face Fenn - which is dangerous - but it makes his flank exposed for Asajj and Manaroo.
      Please see video (its test one, so no sound included, sorry):

      As you can see, I am runnig out of combat with Fenn during initial moves, as it would be impossible to sand against 4 shots form x/D Defenders.

    6. Ok thx for the advice ! I just went back from the tournament, 40 people, 5 swiss round, and i went 4-1 with yout list, it was really fun to play, and the stress assaj gives is so nice against the Defender and the ace in general !

  8. Wow, how cool is that! I am glad you're also enjoying Parattanni :)
    Mindlink is so unique and fun that it deserves to hit top tables, so keep up good work woth and it ;)

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  10. 4-0 with the Boba version tonight, in friendly games (Kanan/Biggs twice, Palob/Asajj/Scyk Mindlink, Chiraneau/Whisper)

    Fenn performed better and shipped a lot of red dice out, but tempted to try a HLC Scyk in his slot to give Boba 4-Lom crew. Laetin, Attani, HLC, Stealth = 30pts

  11. Leatin doesn't have EPT so you are limiting your Attanni shenanigans. Maybe Tansari Point Veteran could be alternative? And you got 2 pts left so there are interesting options opened:BMST, Tail Gunner, Gonk

    1. Weird, on my squadbuilder app she has an EPT slot :-/ Well forget that idea then! I will try Teroch but expect to return to Fenn.

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  13. Attanni did some good job during the Worlds. Mindlinked Fangaroo (Manaroo, Fenn, Old Teroch) is good. In case of Jesper's results (5-3) I think it's more about player's skill more than about strenght of the rooster.

    In meanwhile I've attended Polish Regionals and ended 3rd after Swiss making the Cut to TOP8 and loosing elimination round in incredible unlucky way. Anyway Parrattani is now tested on Regionals level and it rocks :)

    Juggler Link

    1. Nice jobs ! The guy who won your tournament has exactly the same list that the guy who won mine (and lost to). Those thugs with tlt are tough to deal with, espacially with a bumpmaster in cover...

  14. I've lost to him in 1/4 in unbelievable unlucky way. I've jousted 3 TLT with Fenn clearing bumpmaster and killed 2 y-wings dancing in rng1 in exchange for some dmg on Asajj and one on Fenn. I had full Manaroo, 3 hull Fenn and 5 hull Asajj against scratched bumpmaster and 1 TLT, and I've lost. Not tokened TLT + not tokened JM5K (stressed) killed fully tokened Fenn in one round of combat despite AT, and done 4 dmg (with crit) to Asajj in next one. It was a disaster. Like 16 green blanks in a row :). But shiit happens as they say. I don't think it was roosters fault ;)

  15. I've found that Josh M. won Regionals in the Netherlands this weekend with Parattanni :)

  16. Some flying with Parattanni. Not too proud of it :) I am on learning curve still.