Monday, 3 September 2018

Ten Squads In Ten Days - Part 1) Guns n Ammo 2.0

So close we can almost taste it, the release of the X-Wing Miniatures Game Second Edition is just ten days away!  

Over the next ten days I'm going to share one of my Second Edition squad designs every day.  Ten squads in ten days to whet your appetite for the possibilities that lie ahead of you and, maybe to guide us all towards a final communal hype orgasm on release day!

1) GUNS 'N' AMMO 2.0

This began life as one of the very first squads I built when I started on 2nd Edtion, and it's basically a re-imagining of one of my old 1st Edition squads which paired Redline and Whisper with a duo of Academy TIE Fighters.  It wasn't a great list (hey, it had a TIE Punisher in) but I really enjoyed the mix of playstyles that were in it, and along the way it won some memorable victories, including beating Tom Reed's all-conquering Triple Jumpmasters with Redline after I parked Whisper on a rock on turn 2!

Now here comes 2nd Edition.  TIE Punishers look good.  The new TIE Phantom looks good.  Sounds like it's Guns n Ammo time, baby!

Guns 'n' Ammo 2.0
  • Deathrain - Trajectory Simulator, Proton Bombs, Seismic Charges, Ablative Plating, Barrage Rockets (63)
  • Redline - Trajectory Simulator, Proton Bombs, Proton Torpedoes (61)
  • Whisper - Lone Wolf, Darth Vader, Stealth Device (76)

I think the Redline loadout is pretty self-explanatory and I'll come to Whisper in a minute but I want to offer a quick doff of the cap to Ficklegreendice from the FFG forums for feeding me the Deathrain loadout.  I initially had Deathrain equipped the same way as Redline but it only took one game to dissuade me of that and this version is much better, both individually and as part of the team.  Deathrain REALLY likes to drop bombs.  I knew he liked to drop bombs but it turns out it's not just a hobby and the guy is absolutely hooked on bombs, so he had to have Seismic Charges as well (which are hilarious by the way), and that meant he needed the help of Ablative Plating and a price cut on the Proton Torpedoes.

Deathrain is the tip of the spear, getting in close and causing havoc while Redline trundles in behind launching his torpedoes for killshots.  They work nicely as a complimentary team rather than in my original version where both Punishers were trying to be flying the same way.  Tactical flexibility is good, y'all.

Onto Whisper, then.  I'm a big fan of the new slimline TIE Phantom, which you may have picked up on in my review of the Imperial ships.  I'm also a big fan of keeping Whisper as light as possible on upgrades and that 56pts for Whisper with Juke is probably the optimal version.  So why am I playing a Whisper that costs 76pts and doesn't even have Juke?  

The answer is necessity of how Whisper fits into the rest of the squad.  The original 1st Edition Guns n Ammo had two Academy Pilots that got up to no good while the opponent was fixated on the bigger threats and in most circumstances I think I would have taken 20pts off Whisper by removing Darth Vader and Stealth Device, and then put that towards bringing an Academy Pilot as the 4th ship.  The only reason I haven't gone down that route is that I'm already flinging Proton Bombs around with wild abandon and I'll just be smashing up my own TIE Fighter!  That was a good reason not to play Academy Pilot and then when you look at the role of Whisper in the squad there's also a good reason to load her up to be your endgame piece after the Punishers have wrecked the place.

But if I was going to spend a ships-worth of points upgrading Whisper I needed to be following the maxim of all those points being dedicated to protecting the points investment, hence going for Lone Wolf not Juke (which can be used defensively as well as offensively), and then backing up the extra dice of Stealth Device with a Force point on Darth Vader.  TBH I've played this squad a few times and I'm still very uncertain about this Whisper loadout - it's worked but it's still screaming at me that the theory behind it doesn't fit.  I wouldn't be surprised to find myself switching to Juke/Kallus/Hull Upgrade to make Whisper aggressive but contribute a decent bid at Initiative 5 to help both her and Redline out.

As I've said, this list has seen some action on the table and I can report back some findings:
  • Two Trajectory Simulators throwing Proton Bombs absolutely wreck swarms, however hard they try to avoid it
  • One Trajectory Simulator throwing Proton Bombs probably doesn't wreck swarms, which is a pretty important piece of information.  I think they'll joust you up, take the damage on the chin and just wipe your TIE Punisher off the board in return.  They can't do that to two Proton Bombs because any Direct Hits in the top 12 cards lead to dead TIEs.
  • Keeping Whisper engaged on the same things the Punishers are hitting without either a) flying into your own bombs, b) getting too close for Lone Wolf, or c) getting too far away to fire is an artform I need more practice at.
  • There's amazing action economy - both Punishers can throw a bomb AND take two actions, Whisper can reposition AND have Evade and another action AND have rerolls and Vader on top.  While everyone else is scratching around for dice mods this list has it in spades.
  • It's a real headache to plan your turns.  Do I drop a bomb?  Do I launch it?  Does Deathrain want to boost after he drops his bomb?  Where will Whisper decloak to?  What should I dial in for any of these guys?  It's going to take practice to get used to these decisions... but it also sure is fun to play!

Wrapping up, I think a lot of people are expecting to see a ton of TIE Swarms around in the early days of 2nd Edition and I'm pretty sure two Trajectory Simulators are a virtual hard counter for the swarms.  They can't joust you, and if they try to do anything else all your ships are faster than them and you just catch up, corraling them into a killbox.  The tricky part isn't the swarms it's how your list deals with the lists that have a better Plan B then the swarms do, or which feature big chunkier ships that shrug off losing a shield or two to bombs.  With Whisper reduced to 3 red dice you've only really got Redline's torpedoes that are capable of laying in a ton of hurt on big targets.

As we'll see in a few days the Trajectory Simulators are a theme I've returned to in a couple of other squads as I search for the best vehicle that can also have great game for the non-swarm matchups.


1st Edition Guns n Ammo wasn't a tournament tryhard he was just a chill guy trying to get by with a TIE Punisher.  Below is a more relaxed version of Guns n Ammo 2.0 that has a bit more bonkers stuff to mess about with... and the signature Academy Pilot is back!

Guns n Ammo 2.0 (Funsies Edition)

  • Deathrain - Trajectory Simulator, Proton Bombs, Seismic Charges, Hull Upgrade, Barrage Rockets (63)
  • Whisper - Juke (56)
  • Major Vynder - Ruthless, Proton Torpedoes, Ion Cannon, Advanced SLAM, XG-1 Assault Loadout (59)
  • Academy Pilot (23)

1 comment:

  1. I tried a version of this and loved it! The Punisher is back as a fun and versatile ship, and the threat of bombs definitely impacted my opponent's planning. I found that adding skilled bombardier to the Punishers, giving them 4 potential spots to drop the bombs on, greatly increased their flexibility and shenanigans.

    Much thanks to you and Ficklegreendice for this list!

    Heavy load

    (44) "Redline"
    (3) Seismic Charges
    (5) Proton Bombs
    (3) Trajectory Simulator
    (6) Barrage Rockets
    (2) Skilled Bombardier
    (4) Shield Upgrade
    Points 67

    (42) "Deathrain"
    (3) Seismic Charges
    (5) Proton Bombs
    (6) Barrage Rockets
    (3) Trajectory Simulator
    (2) Skilled Bombardier
    (4) Shield Upgrade
    Points 65

    (49) Major Vermeil
    (14) Darth Vader
    (3) 0-0-0
    (1) Marksmanship
    Points 67

    Total points: 199