Thursday, 19 September 2019

Deal Altering - Rules Reference v1.05 and You

This week FFG published a round of changes to the Rules Reference for X-Wing.  This isn't uncommon around the time a new Wave is launched, as they try to get ahead of any questions players might have about how the new pilots and upgrades work together.

What is a bit more unusual is that this time the Rules Reference made some changes to the rules that have some bigger implications and actually change how existing things work in a meaningful way.

I've seen quite a lot of players get confused by these changes so I thought I'd take the opportunity to lay out some of the most important ones and clear up what seem to be some significant misinterpretations.


This is the biggest change in this revision to the rules reference, and make no mistake that this DOES change how the game works in a meaningful way.  A lot of the time these rules reference changes are just locking down that the game does in fact work the way that everyone always assumed it worked anyway... this isn't one of those times, though.  This is a real change.

Let's look at what the Rules Reference says (new text highlighted red).

What this effectively does is break using abilities into two parts.  Previously you would perform an ability as one continuous step of 'Check ability is legal, say you're going to use the ability, resolve the ability', but under the new timing rules you announce all abilities that have the same trigger point, then resolve all those abilities in the order they were announced.


VERY VERY IMPORTANT: all this really only matters for effects that have a specific trigger point and which share that trigger point with other effects.  You're looking for key phrases like 'After' or 'Before', 'At the Start of' or 'At the End of'.  Those abilities have a single specific moment in time when they can take effect and the new timing rules dictate how you organise those theoretically simultaneous actions. 

For effects that don't have a specific trigger point, like 'During the System Phase' or 'While defending' there's no real reason why they would change.  You can push them in and out of the ability queue one at a time and because you'll still be 'During the System Phase' after one effect has finished resolving there's nothing to stop you then putting a second 'During the System Phase' effect into the ability queue.  

Finn and Heroic still work together for instance, you can add a blank with Finn then use Heroic to reroll it as you've not passed the point to trigger Heroic after you use Finn.

I've also seen some players who think this change could screw up dice modification.  If you have to queue your Target Locks and Focus spending then do you have to trigger spending your Focus before you see what the result of your Target Lock reroll is?  The answer is 'no'.  Because dice modification is 'During the Dice Modification Step' there's nothing to stop you from triggering/resolving your Target Lock then afterwards deciding to trigger/resolve your Focus token.


Ok, so assuming it is something with a specific trigger point that we're talking about it all changes enough that this that a visual aid may help with understanding how it all works.  Here is how it worked in the existing X-Wing timing rules.  Let's assume it's the start of the Engagement phase and there's three abilities that all have 'At the start of the Engagement phase...' as their trigger...

But in the new timing rules triggering abilities onto the Ability Queue and then resolving them back off it are two separate things...

So the same example of connected effects that worked last week no longer works under the new timing rules.  Note that it's also possible for an effect to be legal when it triggers onto the Ability Queue but then late fail when it tries to resolve back off the Ability Queue if it's no longer legal...

I just want to underline two key points here:
  1. This only affects abilities with a specific trigger point and which share that trigger point with other abilities.
  2. This is a CHANGE.  Things worked yesterday that don't work today.
There's a lot of examples I could throw out for the combinations of effects that players may have been using before, but a couple of obvious ones are:
  • Afterburners and Anakin Skywalker: both effects trigger on executing a maneuver.  You used to be able to boost with Afterburners then check to see if Anakin was at R1 of an enemy and remove his stress token.  Now, unless you're already at R1 of an enemy before you use Afterburners it's not possible to trigger Anakin's ability into the Ability Queue.
  • Ketsu Onyo and Old Teroch: a crafty Scum player might use Ketsu's 'At the start of Engagement Phase...' effect to tractor beam an enemy and move them into R1 of Old Teroch.  Then they could trigger Old Teroch's ability to remove the enemy's green tokens!  Now it wasn't possible to trigger Old Teroch if the enemy wasn't already in R1 before Ketsu's ability moved them.

In general terms, the old timing rules were designed in a way to enable players to make combinations work.  If there was any possible way that you could organise your effects into a way that they would work then the rules allowed you to do so.  The new timing rules flip that principle on its head and make it as hard as possible for cards and timing to interact.  That's a detriment to players who had spent time working through the details of card combos, but for the average player it's probably a move for the better that eliminates the risk of being bamboozled by complex timing situations your opponent had hoped you wouldn't have spotted could happen.

Less combowing, more having to nail your positioning first time rather than rely on fixing it later.  Personally, I like it.


While players are being confused by the ability timing change they've also had to take on board a pretty straightforward rules clarification that has been made more confusing than it needed to be through a bit of loose wording.

The major thing to remember here is that this ruling ONLY affects things that are specifically looking for a ship's 'revealed maneuver'.  There are only a few cards that do so and it's pretty much just a Wave 4 effect at present, on cards like Cova Nell or Dinee Ellberger.  

The reason so many players are getting confused is because they assume it's a much wider change.  That's because FFG left this little apparent contradiction hanging:

'Revealed maneuver' is NOT the same thing as 'the maneuver you reveal'

You can read that sentence as many times as you like and it's still going to sound like bullshit.  It's correct, though, and that's why players are getting confused.  The best way I've found to think about it is to mentally substitute 'revealed maneuver' for 'printed maneuver'... that is: it's the maneuver that's actually printed on the actual cardboard you're holding.

eg. assume if I'm playing with Hera Syndulla and she had Nien Numb on board as crew to make your banks blue...  

Hera reveals a Blue 3 Bank maneuver as Nien Numb changes the difficulty of her maneuver.  Her 'After you reveal' pilot ability then triggers and she changes her dial to a Blue 1 Bank maneuver, which is what she executes.  Although at the point where she 'revealed her dial' it was a Blue 3 Bank her 'revealed maneuver', if any game effect later goes to check, is a White 1 Bank - that's what is printed on the dial after she changed it.

I'm using Hera as an example because with her pilot ability she's something that a lot of people have assumed it changed by this new ruling, when in fact she's not affected at all.

  • 'Revealed maneuver' is NOT the same thing as 'the maneuver you reveal' 
  • 'Revealed maneuver' = 'what's printed on your dial?'  
  • Very few cards actually ask you to check a 'revealed maneuver' most cards aren't affected.


Being Ionised really sucks - you have to drift forwards and you can only take a Focus action.  Previously the rules stated that you could only perform a Focus action during your Perform Action step, but this has now been locked down to also state that you cannot perform any other actions while you are ionised.

What this does is affect abilities that would give you an action outside of your Perform Action step, like Advanced Sensors or if somebody nearby hands you an action with Coordinate.

Ion is supposed to simulate your ship drifting through space as sparks fly from dead electronics in your cockpit but there were previously game effects that got around this.  Not any more - when you're ioned all your gear is dead and nothing will help.

NOTABLE EXCEPTION: the first part of Ion says you cannot perform anything but Focus during your Perform Action step.  The second part of Ion says you cannot perform a non-Focus action while you are Ionised.  What you CAN do is perform is activate your ionised ship and take his Focus action in the Perform Action step, remove the Ion token at the end of it's activation (so it's no longer 'Ionised') and THEN coordinate an action other than Focus into it from a ship that activates later in the turn.


This change is very simple and is aimed pretty much entirely at one pilot: Finn in his Transport Pod.  The previous timing of Finn's ability and Strain meant that he could benefit from adding a Focus result then immediately remove the Strain token after he had defended.  The new timing says Finn would only remove the Strain token after he has suffered the effects of rolling 1 less dice, so it's not going to be immediately removed.

I think Finn had already passed his 'Best Before' date in competitition and he was being phased out anyway, but this change will certainly hasten his departure.


A lot like the Ion ruling, the Tractor rules change is one that makes things make a bit more sense.  Tractor tokens on your ships do two things: they reduce the defense dice you roll, and they allow your opponent to move your ship on the table with a boost or barrel roll.

In the old rules reference those two effects happened independently of each other.  Medium and Large ships required multiple Tractor tokens before your opponent could move them, but you rolled one less defence dice as soon as you had a single Tractor token.

In the new rules both effects are tied to being 'Tractored' which is the state you're in when you have 1, 2 or 3 Tractor tokens depending on your ship size.  It's a subtle nerf for Tractor tokens that makes them a lot less useful against Medium or Large ships... good timing with the new Nantex fighter potentially throwing them around like candy!


A very small number of upgrades (1 is a small number: it's Cikatro Vizago) allowed players to circumvent squadbuilding restrictions by moving upgrade cards onto ships that wouldn't normally be allowed to equip them.

Not any more.  If a ship isn't allowed to equip an upgrade before the game it's not allowed to be given that upgrade halfway through the game either.

Sorry to those players who liked a bit of Cikatro jank, but this change does make a lot of sense and it closes off a few potentially abusive interactions around permanent Cloaking Devices and the like.  It's a good thing, really.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

What Has Wave 5 Ever Done For Us?

It's alright for those Jedi or the Separatists, swanning about in their new ships and lording the place up.  It's all Nantex this, Chopper that, Sun Fac the other...

But if you're not a player loyal to one of those two lucky factions then Wave 5 may well feel like you're coming up short.  There's a few re-releases of First Edition ships that bring new options into Hyperspace format, but not even everyone gets that much and the Resistance and First Order players get nothing.

It's time to ask... what has Wave 5 ever done for us?


Wave 5 Release: VCX-100 and Sheathipede
Notable Hyperspace Additions: AP-5 (pilot), Kanan Jarrus (crew)

Wave 5 brings a re-release of the Ghost, the 4 red dice-toting freighter from the Rebels cartoon series.  The Ghost was a terror at times in 1st Edition and it's noticeably weaker in 2nd Edition and ithasn't really made many significant waves in Extended so far.  I don't expect a lot from it in Hyperspace either - it's a big lump with a big gun but with so many swarms about it will eat damage very quickly.  

The Sheathipede shuttle is a better bet for inclusion in your squad as at 32pts for AP-5 it's arguably the best cheap coordinate option in the game (especially as the coordinate action is white), and his ability to give actions to stressed ships pairs beautifully with Braylen Stramm.

Locally I've seen a few Rebel players keep Beef alive in Extended by moving to AP-5 then funnelling Jan Ors extra dice through either Braylen's rerolls or a double-modded Wedge Antilles.  AP-5 could be the missing piece for Hyperspace 'Beef' to reappear as that saving for the cheap shuttle makes up for a lot of the other price increases that Beef got hit by.

Lean Beef (199pts)
  • Wedge Antilles (T-65 X-Wing) - Crack Shot, R2 Astromech, Servomotor S-Foils
  • Braylen Stramm (B-Wing) - Crack Shot
  • Thane Kyrell (T-65 X-Wing) - Crack Shot, Servomotor S-Foils
  • AP-5 (Sheathipede) - Leia Organa

There's no Jan Ors in Hyperspace, which is a real shame, but it does give you the points spare to bring back Cassian Andor or another decent gun for the squad like Ten Nunb or Thane Kyrell.

The other major addition to the Rebel arsenal in Hyperspace isn't a ship it's the powerful Jedi crew, Kanan Jarrus.  Kanan was the one major advantage that the Extended versions of the Millenium Falcon held over the Hyperspace versions, but with the Ghost re-release he's now Hyperspace-legal too!

Kanan's arrival is really nicely timed with Precognitive Reflexes for Luke Skywalker to unlock a potentially powerful two-ship pairing of tough Jedi who are hard to kill.

You're All Clear, Kid! (190pts)
  • Han Solo (YT-1300) - Trick Shot, R2-D2, Kanan Jarrus, Millenium Falcon
  • Luke Skywalker (T-65 X-Wing) - Precognitive Reflexes, R2 Astromech, Servomotor S-Foils

The final piece in the Wave 5 puzzle for A-Wings is Snap Shot A-Wings, which I played a lot of in 1st Edition.  I'm in the camp that feels the range 2 version of Snap Shot is actually worse than the old range 1 version - your 'hot spot' for Snap Shot is a lot bigger but it's harder to keep the enemy from ducking inside that hot spot and a lot harder to get multiple hot spots overlapping in one place.  I'll almost certainly give it a try though, and this all looks like it fits together very nicely...

AAA-AP-B (200pts)
  • Phoenix Squadron Pilot (A-Wing) - Snap Shot
  • Phoenix Squadron Pilot (A-Wing) - Snap Shot
  • Phoenix Squadron Pilot (A-Wing) - Snap Shot
  • Braylen Stramm (B-Wing) - Crack Shot
  • AP-5 (Sheathipede) - Leia Organa


Wave 5 Release: Jumpmaster 5000, M3-A Scyk
Notable Hyperspace Additions: None

The Jumpmaster is a dreadful, dreadful ship in Second Edition.  As the scourrge of First Edition it was hated by all and sundry so in converting over to Second Edition the Jumpmaster was given a very comprehensive beating which completely hobbled it.  The ship is yet to recover despite repeated points cost reductions, and it may just be fundamentally broken with the combination of dial and red actions it's been handed.

For its part the M3-A Scyk has spent almost the enture history of X-Wing - either First or Second Edition - without a real purpose in life and that's basically still true.  There's a ton of pilots, they all do something, none of them are worth bothering with especially.  Combining those two ships into one Wave is a bit like receiving a package with not one turd in, but two.  At least it's all over at once though!

I can't see anything much for Scum in Wave 5 at all.  In fact if anything I think life gets quite a bit harder as Sun Fac and Precognitive Reflexes both cause real problems to some of the best ships the Scum currently have, like Fangs and Starvipers, especially Guri.  Both those ships trigger a bunch of bonuses for hunting into Range 1 of the opponent but that's a dangerous place to be if you're up against Ensnare on the new Nantex fighter, and a really hard place to guarantee getting to if your opponent can boost or barrel roll before they move!

To rub salt in the wound the new Ahsoka Tano gunner just makes the scum Han gunner look terrible by comparison and just highlights how overcosted he really is.  Does nobody check these things out, or what?

Scum players, I'd start looking forward to Wave 6 when you get... uh... the Hounds Tooth!



Wave 5 Release: TIE Advanced Prototype
Notable Hyperspace Additions: Inquisitor (pilot), Grand Inquisitor (pilot)

Hey, you know that forgotten little TIE thingy that suddenly become the hot new kid on the block in Extended last month?  Well now the TIE Advanced Prototype (or TAP, to it's friends) is coming to Hyperspace too!

But wait, back up a second before you run out and buy a bunch of TAPs... there's still a missing essential ingredient in Hyperspace - there's no Lambda shuttle.  Without Colonel Jendon feeding the Inquisitors their early Target Locks they can't wield that Concussion Missile threat or benefit from Fire Control System, and without those toys they're... they're pretty mediocre I think.  They're really cheap for a force user, great actions, great dial... but is there's room to spend that many points on just 2 red dice?

Grand Inquisitor has a better chance of making the grade in Hyperspace because he's not so dependent on Jendon.  At 52pts he comes in costing about the same as Soontir Fel or Duchess with Fifth Brother and it could well be a straight toss up which of those turns out to be the best ace option (and to be honest you're probably picking 'best 2 out of 3' anyway).

The only Hyperspace Imperial lists that I think gets a meaningful buff from Wave 5 are those that can incorporate Precognitive Reflexes onto Darth Vader without giving up all the bid they need to run with in order to really benefit from Pre-positioning anyway.  That's not an easy ask and it may well spell the end of 'triple aces' if we continue to see some deep bids in the metagame.  

Lightweight Aces (193pts)
  • Darth Vader (TIE Advanced) - Precognitive Reflexes, Fire Control System, Afterburners
  • Soontir Fel (TIE Interceptor)
  • Grand Inquisitor (TIE Advanced v1)

To be honest, I'm actually not clear that Precognitive Reflexes are going to really help you in a list like this where you need to ring-fence the bid, as it's sucking a lot of points from everything else.  

Precognitive Reflexes may fit better in a list where Vader runs as your endgame ace threat but you aren't forced to hold everything back to make the other 110pts of your list work.  It may be important in a Vader/Decimator list or Vader/miniswarm, for instance...

Precognitive Swarm (197pts)
  • Darth Vader (TIE Advanced) - Precognitive Reflexes, Fire Control System, Afterburners
  • Howlrunner (TIE Fighter)
  • Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
  • Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
  • Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)

The other option would be to switch down to a double Aces & support list, to preserve the bid you need.

Aces & Basics (187pts)
  • Darth Vader (TIE Advanced) - Precognitive Reflexes, Fire Control System, Afterburners
  • Duchess (TIE Striker) - Predator, Fifth Brother
  • Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
  • Academy Pilot (TIE Fighter)
Precognitive Reflexes is clearly very good for Vader, who doesn't naturally get a Boost action.  But it may overall not be a great addition for the lists that Vader is currently appearing in as they can't spare the points without losing something important.  Thats the puzzle for Imperial players to solve.


Wave 5 Release: None 
Notable Hyperspace Additions: None  
Things to say about Wave 5: None

I could try to spin this out but there really is nothing I can see that's of interest.  There's only one Force user in First Order at present so Precognitive Reflexes isn't going to find a great home, as if Kylo wants anything it's Hate as his Force Talent.  The TIE/fo could take Snap Shot but it's a really bad fit - the Omega Squadron Ace is a bit too expensive to be a happy carrier for Snap Shot, and because the TIE can't really go slow it's going to struggle to range control the 'hot spot' anyway.  It just doesn't synergise with anything the faction is trying to do (not that it's all that clear what that might be!)

The one bright spot that I could pluck out most readily is that the Petty Officer Thanisson crew is actually a bit annoying for Sun Fac to play against as you can double down his Tractor tokens when he rotates arc.  That at least means he can only pass off one of the tokens in combat and you still get to shoot him with -1 Agility.  It ain't much, but it's something.

It really ain't much, though.


Wave 5 Release: None
Notable Hyperspace Additions: None 

Just like the First Order, the Resistance don't get any ships at all in Wave 5.  Conspiracy theorists will tell you there's a secret expansion or two coming for the new film in December, I don't know about that but it does seems a little suspicion that these two factions both get nothing this time around.

There's pretty much nothing for Resistance players to jump on from Wave 5 with the exception of Snap Shot.  I've already said in the Rebel section that I don't love the new Snap Shot as much as I wanted to and that's true for Resistance uses too.  It maybe even goes doube so as you're likely to spend half the time using your rear arc while the Rebel A-Wing at least throws K-Turns and S-Loops to move the Snap Shot arc around.

The one thing to mention, which a lot of players have already spotted but isn't immediately obvious, is that you can use Snap Shot as your attack in the combat phase too.  Usually that's worse than your primary weapon but for the RZ-2 A-Wings it means they can have their arc facing backwards and still shoot at something that happens to land in front.  It's a niche use, but worth knowing if it's the difference between shooting and not shooting!

The best weapon the Resistance has may be to double down on Poe Dameron with a big bid.  He's your Initiative 6 ace who can move after Sun Fac and the Precognitive Jedi to hunt them down, and with his double actions Poe can really lay a hurt on people when he catches them in his sights... and none of their tricks really matter if you can tag the bad guys with an Ion Cannon!

With so many players running in fear of what Sun Fac might do to their flimsy little 4 hull A-Wings there's a chance that Poe is your best bet weapon for being able to say...

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

'Punch It' Han

Recently I've been playing a Resistance Falcon build that I don't think I've seen anybody else really talking about at all, which makes it worth sharing.  I've been using Kaydel Connix to unlock some incredible dial changes and repositioning options for the senior citizen version of Han Solo that the Resistance Falcon gets.

You've heard of 'Handbrake Han' who can stop on a dime with Inertial Dampeners?  Well let me introduce you to the opposite, this is 'Punch It' Han...

REPOSITION FALCON v1.1 (aka. 'Punch It' Han)

  • Han Solo (Scavenged YT-1300) - Lone Wolf, Rey, Kaydel Connix, Korr Sella, Contraband Cybernetics, Shield Upgrade, Rey's Millenium Falcon (113)
  • Poe Dameron (T-70 X-Wing) - Outmaneuver, Tractor Beam, R4 Astromech, Black One, Integrated S-Foils (80)

In short: Kaydel Connix lets me change move and gain stress at I6 to dodge arcs.  Rey's Falcon lets me continue to take actions when I'm stressed, building up a stack of stress tokens.  Korr Sella lets me dump all that stress at once and reset the clock.  Contraband Cybernetics is an 'in case of emergency: break glass' button that allows me full access to switching Han's dial up even if I'm already fully stressed. 

Lone Wolf and Rey gunner give me some solid dice mods that I can rely on while I spend Han's actions on boosting and rotating my arc, and too stressed to anything fancy like Target Lock or Focus.

Let's look at the upside of what Kaydel brings to the Falcon, first in how flexible your ship becomes in where it actually ends it's move.

I think it's really important to note that Kaydel doesn't 'turn off' the second you've got a stress token.  You can still change up into a blue maneuver have it turn white, and you can always turn your dial up into a red maneuver and change it to a 2 straight.  That may sound restrictive but it's won games for me when opponents have thought they knew exactly where Han had to go.  

Contraband Cybernetics adds another trick up even the most badly stressed Han's sleeve.  Just when it looks like all your tricks are spent and you've too much stress to boost away after your maneuver you can pull the trigger on Contraband Cybernetics and get one more turn of switching dials and boosting away!

Secondly, though, I think Kaydel Connix is especially good for Han because she 'activates' his pilot ability to deploy right in the enemy's face.  Until Kaydel came along this was a very risky play to make as your Falcon was isolated and the enemy could just turn to destroy it - you could use a Seasoned Navigator but it's both less flexible than Kaydel and costs more points.  With Kaydel, though, you can respond to whatever your opponent does, giving Han back his control over the first turn.

Whatever the opponent, I was finding it hard not to come out ahead if I deployed like this.

When I started experimenting with this squad I decided to just line up pointing directly at my opponent's ships every time until it stopped working.  Dozens of games later and I'm still deploying like that as it's worked a good 90% of the time!  It's so hard for your opponent to push his ships out in a way that covers every base Han can get to without spreading himself so thin that you're happy to just plough in and bump something and unload on whatever is left that can see you.

I honestly find the Han deploy one of the most compelling and interesting parts of this list and it can completely transform games as it almost always gives you an advantageous combat position on turn 1.  It's also true that you're playing with fire using the Han deploy, though, and I've suffered some very rapid 0-200 defeats when I've got it wrong.  But look...

I've been dabbling with Han/Poe on casual Friday nights, mostly winning games but also feeling pretty confident that it wasn't actually that great and stronger players would figure it out faster.  In particular I think it really struggles against just plain efficient jousters who are prepared to spread out and simply potshot the Falcon down as the 6 red dice in the list can take too long to actually put things in the ground.  I'd beaten 4x T-70, and I'd beaten 4x B-Wings but in both games I felt like those opponents had stuck together in formation too long and given Han and Poe an easy time with plenty of table to run into out of their arc.

Ultimately the natural competitor for 'Punch It' Han to be compared against is the Rebel version of Han Solo, previously known as Handbrake Han though since the Illicit slot got taken away he's lost his handbrake.  Head to head I'm pretty sure Rebel Han is better as he gets access to all the juicy passive dice mods like Han's rerolls and the Falcon title.  Critically he also gets R2-D2 and that may really be the whole of the difference between the two... Rebel Han starts off with a tougher ship (+2 Shields), takes less damage (better passive reroll mods) and regens some of the damage he takes (R2-D2).  That all adds up to you needing to make huge inroads from all the extra positioning options that Kaydel is giving to Resistance Han.  To my mind there's no doubt that those advantages are much more matchup dependent, in some games Resistance Han is literally untouchable but in other games he's much more vulnerable to the Falcon being shot out from under him.

My deciding to take Han/Poe along to the Ready Room charity event at Element Games in Stockport was therefore as much about failing to find another squad I wanted to fly at short notice as it was an abundance of confidence in my Falcon.  But at least I'd find out if I was right or not about Han being a step shot of competition.

And the short answer is... I was right!  Although I would caveat that by saying that I think I didn't help myself in a lot of the games and could squeeze more out of it I think the list demonstrated full well just how unforgiving it was.  You're living on such a knife-edge of needing perfect positioning each turn that any single mistake can rapidly become fatal.

Settle in if you want the longer version of that answer...


This was how Whisper died...
Round One I played vs Whisper/RAC and that's a really friendly matchup for me - it's only two ships, and they're both I5 so I can bully both of them with all my repositioning.  I pounced on Whisper turn 1 with Han, and although my dice betrayed me and I didn't do any damage to him the the fact that I was right on top of him and he had to spend his Evade before he cloaked but the Phantom on the back foot.  

I managed to just bully the Phantom into the ground anyway over the next couple of turns then turn my guns on RAC to wrap up a win in a pretty easy matchup.

WIN 200-97

ROUND TWO - PAUL CLARK (Quad B-Wings with Marksmanship Autoblasters)

Round Two I went from the cosy armchair of a favourable matchup to the roaring pits of matchup hell against quad B-Wings.  Quad B-Wings piloted by Paul Clark who had flown Han a bit himself and knew what he could do.  Quad B-Wings that knew to just spread out and cover lots of table to chip away at my ships.  I got half points from Braylen and lost horribly, though I made some horrible strategic choices.

This Han is so different, particularly with his deployment, that I'm still on the learning curve for how to play him properly.  One of the unfortunate features of this list, though, is that I only seem to be able to spot the mistakes a few turns after they happened.  In particular they're almost always because I was thinking too tactically about the short term benefits of how Han would change his dial and boost, rather than long term and strategically.  

Having evaded the B-Wings once, Han decides to head back and give them all a second chance
In this game I threw an S-Loop that set Han on a path to strafe back across the front of all his B-Wings and their big guns.  

This is fucking stupid.  Don't do this.  Game over.

LOSS 27-200

ROUND THREE - BOB DEE (Boba, Fenn, L3-37)

Bob had faced Han/Poe before and lost but felt like he could improve on that.   In fact just minutes before the round was paired Bob had said he was looking forward to rematch and he immediately got his wish!  An hour later I think Bob was ready to stab me in the face as he suffered the effects of a fully armed and operational Negative Play Experience.

Round One - Fenn takes fire from both Han and Poe!
Having seen how Han could take control of the first turn of the engagement in our first game Bob had a new dramatic plan for trying to trap Han.  It didn't work, though and Han ripped over the back of Fenn to dodge all the arcs and poured 4 red dice into Fenn Rau, dealing a Structural Damage crit.  Fenn managed to stay alive long enough to trade for Poe after he had dashed across the table to support Han.  

Poe & Fenn are about to eliminate each other in the corner
At this point I think Bob felt like he was doing pretty well in the game by trading Fenn for Poe.  But I've played against Firesprays with Han a few times before and... it's not a game.  It may have appeared as though Bob had 130 points of ship on the table, but functionally he had 0 points and over a dozen turns Han had such complete control over his position each time that Boba didn't get a single shot away and just bled damage out gradually to no effect.

One of a dozen turns where Han dodges Boba's arc to fire unanswered
This is one of the reasons why I don't like Han/Poe, tbh.  The tough matchups and board positions (like quad B-Wings) can seem almost unsolvably tough, but when the matchups are good - like here - you have such a dominant control of the game that it can be deeply unpleasant to play against.  Having started out by looking forward to a rematch I think Bob left the table pretty hacked off at having wasted half an hour completely fruitlessly because Han had all the odds stacked in his favour.

Sorry, Bob.

WIN 200-80

ROUND FOUR - ALEX BIRT (Obi, Mace, 2x Torrents)

Remember how I said that I'm still on a learning curve on deployment with Han?  Remember how I said that often I only spot the mistakes a couple of turns later?  Remember how I said that the bad board positions can be unsolvably bad?

This one did not go well.  

I needed to deploy to the left of the round gas cloud so I could dive in either direction
I completely punted the deployment, responded by playing tactically not strategically to dig myself deeper, then just threw Poe away for no gain.  Once I was down to just Han I managed to save face long enough to kill the Torrents and maybe show Alex a little of what the Falcon could do, but his Jedi just waited their chance for their killshot once I'd put the Falcon once again onto a bad strategic path by not thinking far enough ahead.

WTF are you thinking, Poe?
I was rotten in this game, but I think in truth the deployment mistake was so unnecessary and stupid that everything else just unravelled from there and the problems all cascaded from that one decision to line up in front of his ships rather than at an angle.  That cut my options to evade arcs in half as the board edge was there, which meant I led his ships towards Poe rather than than away from him so he could zoom in and use Outmaneuver, which meant Poe never got on the offensive and just ran into a corner and died.
LOSS 50-200

ROUND FIVE - 'TWIGGY' TOM WILLIAMS (Maul, Grievous & 2 Baktoids)

I'd spent most of my day throwing ships away cheaply with stupid decisions and I wasn't about to stop now!  This time the Falcon just got in way too deep way too fast and blew up very quickly.  I feel a little unlucky as the dice and crits went against me - I believe it was a Hull Breach turn 1, then I decided not to fix it as a Boost action instead would clear most of his arcs only for Tom's unmodified dice to be red hot and deal nothing but pure natty hits, into a Fuel Leak/Direct Hit combination that wiped Han off the table turn 3!

Poe tags in as Han goes for an early bath
Just as I had against Alex I came alive a bit when down to one ship and Poe did his best to be a hero, ducking and diving like one hell of a pilot to whittle away at Tom's team.  Poe managed to bag 104 points before finally the inevitable turn came where he zigged when he should have zagged and simply couldn't get away from all the arcs.

LOSS 104-200

FINAL SCORE: 2-3 and one of the few times I've ever finished with a losing record.  Han had simply proven to be too demanding for me.  
  • Could I have played better in the three games I lost?  Certainly, 100%.  
  • Could I have avoided punting the game by giving 50% of my list up really easily each time?  Certainly, 100%.
  • Does it show that the list is brittle and cripples over to a single play mistake?  Sadly yes, 100%.

Still, it meant that I could finally put Han down having scratched that itch that maybe, just maybe, the deployment and reposition tricks were busted good if I could just fly them completely perfectly.  They ARE busted good... in the 40% of matchups where the opponent doesn't have:
  • Lots of efficient jousters, or just tough jousters that won't die quickly to 6 red dice
  • I6 aces with a bigger bid
  • ships with multiple arcs so the Falcon can't arc-dodge.
I lost to the B-Wings.  I could have played like a cagey sod and tried to half-point one of them then run with my much faster ships, but that's not how I roll.  Yes, apparently how I roll is 'slowly and across all their guns'.

I lost to the Jedi.  I could have baited them into chasing Han and letting Poe in on their flank instead of just baiting them into trapping Poe infront of everyone.

Mostly, though, I lost to the list simply not having all the wonderful passive dice mods of 'Handbrake Han'.  No R2-D2, no Han or Millenium Falcon rerolls... the shots you take deal you damage, and it's damage you can't recover from so you're all-in on simply never getting shot at.  When that works it's AMAZING but when it doesn't work... well then it doesn't work.

Time to put Han down for now and see if I can get something else to stick before Wave 5 arrives!