Thursday, 17 October 2019

Hyperspace Trial (Runner Up) - IQ Games, Huddersfield

This weekend I made it over to IQ Games in Huddersfield (in the North of England) for my first Hyperspace Trial of the new season.  And gosh darn dangit I almost won the blinking thing!


I lost the final to Stuart Blucke and he took revenge for my beating him in the Swiss.  And this is what happened...


MY SQUAD

So basically the story of my last two months is that I like the idea of 5-ship Republic lists way too much and I've wasted every opportunity to actually make progress in a good squad by hurling myself repeatedly at trying to make 5-ship work.  I tried it with loads of Jedi, I tried it with Ric, with Dinee, with Padme, with Wolffe, with Jag, with Broadside, with Sense, with Foresight... with everything.  I hit the same problem each time in that it couldn't reliably push damage with Calibrated Laser Targeting on the Jedi, but because I kept trying it I wound up playing Han/Poe at the last big event I went to even though I knew it wasn't good.  Then as this Hyperspace Trial loomed large the same thing happened again and I ran into the final week with no idea what to play.

Worse yet, I'd have no chance to test anything as I was busy on our regular games night.  So I did what any desperate gamer would do - I set my mat up on the kitchen table and played with myself for two nights.  I lined up all the lists I wanted to play on one side, and what I thought was just a pretty solid punching bag of a list on the other.  And the punching bag won.  And won.  And won.  


So I took the punching bag to Huddersfield.

Old Beef Kenobi
  • Obi Wan Kenobi - Delta 7B, C1-10P
  • Broadside - Ion Cannon Turret, R4 Astromech
  • 104th Squadron Pilot
  • 104th Squadron Pilot

I had this as a punching bag because I've seen it starting to crop up as an archetype on Metawing and a few players I know have been testing something like it for Worlds.  I think the most common variant is 3x ARCs and an R2 Astromech on the Jedi but from my testing with 5-ship Republics I really believe in both Broadside and C1-10P to change matchups.


Even so I would be going in with no real games under my belt and would just have to work it out as I went along.

Also, this is one of the few events where I didn't take any pictures so aside from a few I've scraped off the event page on Facebook you're going to have amuse yourself with some cat pictures to break up the text.


IQ GAMES HYPERSPACE TRIAL

ROUND ONE - Tom Fieldsend
(Rey & As: Rey, Tallie, Greer)

Tom was bringing a really nice tricked-out Rey that I liked a lot, paired with two solid A-Wing pilots in Tallie and Greer, both with Heroic, Crack Shot and Advanced Optics.  I really liked the look of his Rey as it brought over a lot of the tricks that I've been running on my Falcons recently, like Korr Sella & Contraband Cybernetics or Stealth Device.  She was definitely going to be main target but Obi Wan had to be real careful about straying into her front arc at close range or he'd have a bad time.

Tom split his forces on deployment with Greer and Tallie on one side and Rey in the other corner, while I'd known that I couldn't risk being exposed for speed and had deployed quite centrally, with Obi Wan flanking to threaten Greer.  It didn't seem critical at the time but on reflection I think what happened next to Tom's A-Wings was quite pivotal - Greer came in on Obi Wan while Tallie ducked back towards Rey and I think both those moves didn't work out.  Tom understandably decided Greer needed to be evasive against Obi Wan and jinked towards to the edge of the map after trading range 3 fire but Obi Wan gunned straight past Greer and boosted in towards the killbox where Tallie and Rey were heading.  Greer was out of the fight for a couple of turns, and now Tallie took damage right off the bat and also had to run away and regroup.

It all added up to a few turns where I got to be 4-on-1 against Rey and the Falcon started to eat damage cards a little too quickly as I chased her into a corner.  She finally k-turned and came back on the offensive, with Tom's A-Wings now swooping in behind my forces as well, but it was a bit too late.  I got to see the full power of what Tom's squad is supposed to do as he melted one of my ARCs under concentrated fire but it cost him the Falcon in return.

Tom and I scrapped away to the time limit and the A-Wings managed to despatch a couple of my fatties in return for Greer.  My MOV took a bitter hit on the very last turn and made the result closer than it maybe needed to be as an unmodded rear shot from Tallie got nattie hits vs my blank evades and he killed Obi Wan out of nowhere, but by then the result was already in the bag.

WIN (176-158)
I turned out to be Tom's only defeat of the day - he wound up finishing the Swiss on 5-1 with the best MOV in the room but unfortunately had to leave before he played his Top-8 games.  On the record: I like his squad A LOT and I'm going to try it out for myself.
 Fieldsend Rey
  • Rey - Heightened Perception, Finn, Rose Tico, Korr Sella, Contraband Cybernetics, Stealth Device, Rey's Millenium Falcon
  • Tallisin Lintra - Heroic, Crack Shot, Advanced Optics
  • Greer Sonnell - Heroic, Crack Shot, Advanced Optics


ROUND TWO - Will Whatley
(Imp Aces: Vader, Soontir, Wampa, Alpha)

Will is a little lad who I've seen coming along to X-Wing events with his Dad for a while now.  He was running a variant on Imperial Aces that he was quite excited about - he had the usual Vader and Soontir but had traded the Grand Inquisitor's 2 red dice into 6 red dice from Wampa and an Alpha Squadron TIE Interceptor.


Imperial Aces are a tricky list to play and they really reward patience, but unfortunately Will didn't show much of that when he decided to try and win the game with Soontir Fel on turn 2, target locking Obi Wan and boosted into range 1 without getting his bullseye Focus token.  Soontir took a shield off my Jedi then died to a single range 1 shot from my nearby ARC.

From then the game rapidly went my way.  The Jam tokens that Chopper threw out stripped Will's ships of the focus they needed to either stay alive or deal damage and I wrapped up a very quick win.

WIN (200-37)


ROUND THREE - James Bailey
(High-I TIE Swarm: Maarek, Howl, Iden, Mauler, Scourge)

James is a local to my FLGS and we play each other quite often.  He's also been playing his squad for most of Second Edition, at least in Hyperspace, so I knew pretty much what to expect.  James plays Empire, and he plays Empire lists that joust head-on and hit like a truck.  Don't sit in front of one of James' lists.

Unfortunately my mix of ARCs and Y-Wings didn't have a great deal of choice in the matter as they deploy first and are too slow to reposition.  The joust was inevitable and I just had to prep for it as best as possible.  I've played ARCs against James before and he just range 1 melted them so I knew I needed a first engagement at r3 to limit the damage, then try to dive in close and create some bumps to remove his dice mods.  I opened with 3 straights from my ARCs, successfully calling that he would race out with a 5 straight, and I got that first engagement pretty much exactly how I would have wanted it.

Obi Wan is about to bank away and make me sad
The next turn I made the move that would ultimately cost me the game, I feel.  I was fine with just jamming the ARCs in and trying to create bumps but my endgame win condition with Obi Wan cleaning up James' damaged TIEs and I couldn't let him die.  I hesitated a long time over Obi Wan's dial before decided to just duck him out of there on a 3 bank.  This had unwanted ramifications though... I'd had to close so fast on the first turn that I'd not burned a Chopper charge but now I couldn't use Chopper again as I needed to s-loop next turn to come around and get guns on target.  

My ARCs brawled away with James' TIEs and we probably went about 50-50 through the next couple of turns.  On the table I was slightly behind but I'd put damage cards on almost all James' ships and Obi Wan was coming back in to clean them up in endgame exactly as I'd planned.

But Obi Wan was a turn behind on clearing his Chopper tokens, so when he found himself sitting in front of Maarek Stele at R1 he couldn't jam the Target Lock away.  Maarek rolled four hits and did Maarek things to dig through my damage deck for a lethal Direct Hit.  With Obi Wan gone my whole game plan had no win condition just as I was ready to activate it and James finished off the rest of my team with his damaged TIEs.

LOSS (66-200)
I'm not sure what I should have done with Obi Wan but taking him out of the fight and being slow in using Chopper charges definitely wasn't right.  If I'd known my turn 2 move was a 3-bank then probably I should have burned a charge turn 1 instead of taking a target lock on Maarek, and a blue 2-bank would have been fine.  But that would have been quite a call to make.  I think it's just a reality of having to hurry my engagement against James because I know how fast he's coming in. I lost a turn to prep and burn a Chopper charge, which ultimately proved very costly.

ROUND FOUR - Will Pintar
(Aussie Droids - Dooku & six Vultures)

Will has already spoken about our game on the Sith Takers Snap Shots podcast and I think he'd agree that the summary is he made a couple of mistakes on deployment that put him so far behind that the game was over before it could really begin.

Will deployed his vultures in a 3x2 block in the centre of the table, I put my ARCs centre-right on my side and he then deployed Dooku in the corner away from the side the ARCs were on.  Quite a long way into the corner, in fact.  Far enough that I was pretty sure that the range 3 from his K2-B4 tactical relay wasn't covering all his swarm.  I deployed Obi Wan next to my ARCs and went on the offensive.


I killed 1 droid on turn 1 for no damage in return, picking off the front corner of his formation with Obi Wan and my ARCs.  I'd been right and Dooku was too far away to cover his team.

I killed 2 droids on turn 2 for virtually no damage in return, ploughing into Range 1 as Will charged forwards and cheerfully eating Strain tokens to ensure the droids were toast.  Jousting against K2-B4 with beefy ships is a real advantage as you weren't relying on your defensive green dice anyway so strain isn't really a meaningful cost you need to worry about.  Just keep dealing out those damage cards!

Half of Will's squad was now dead with nothing to show for it.  Dooku finally got into the mix but as his escort of Vulture droids was smashed and scattered the Infiltrator just became the next ship to start eating damage cards.  I was super-careful to avoid giving him a chance to tractor Obi Wan onto a rock and just let my ARCs slug away to finish the game.

WIN (200-22)


ROUND FIVE - Stuart Blucke
(Jedi Aces: Anakin, Obi Wan, Ric Olie)

This was going to be my first real test against the type of list that I expected would cause me the most trouble: something really fast had an opportunity to expose my slow ships and give me nothing to shoot at.  Stuart's also a really good player and I couldn't expect him to make the sort of mistakes against me that Imp Aces had made earlier in the day. 


With that in mind I began the game with an extremely slow and cautious opening with a lot of barrel rolls.  Once my team commits to heading in a direction on the table it's not that easy for them to change that plan so I just refused to commit them before Stuart gave me a read on where I needed to go

It worked.  Ric feinted to go to Stuart's right then darted left towards Obi Wan and I sensed my time to strike, hurling my forces forwards to build a killbox there with Obi Wan and the threat of Chopper's jam tokens closing the door behind Ric to keep him going forwards.  Ric took fire and lost shields then flew into very congested space the next turn and got bumped and killed.

One down, two to go.  This wasn't over yet and as Stuart's Jedi outmaneuvered my to kill one of my ARCs I could feel my window of opportunity closing rapidly.  Three things happened to change that and meant I ultimately won.

The first thing is that (if I do say so myself) I played really fucking well!  I became intensely aware of how much I needed to work my guys as a team to synergise their strengths.  My second ARC was nearly dead and Stuart has his Obi Wan in position to chase it down and get the kill.  But by putting my Obi Wan and Broadside into positions where it was too risky to chase the ARC I was able to force Stuart to disengage.  I spent the second half of the game intently focused on working my squad in that way, using the threats of Obi Wan and Broadside to control the space where Stuart could be.

The second and third things are two critical mistakes that Stuart made when I put him under so much pressure to balance getting his defensive positioning spot on while also being aggressive.  In the first instance Stuart put Anakin right in front of Obi Wan after I'd target locked him  Stuart used his Fine Tuned Controls to barrel roll away and spent his action to boost pon in an effort to dodge Obi Wan's arc, only to still eat a big hit anyway as he'd not quite gotten clear.  In the second instance Stuart finally saw his opportunity to destroy my wounded ARC and pushed Obi Wan in for the kill... he got the ARC but had completely missed that it left him exposed to Broadside.  Obi Wan got tagged with an Ion token and never got control of his ship back as the Y-Wing just tracked alongside and kept his Aethersprite locked down.

That got me 2-on-1 against a wounded but dangerous Anakin and I just had too much left for Stuart.  Anakin saw off Obi Wan's fire but couldn't also avoid an ion token from Broadside and I finally swept in to finish off Anakin's drifting ship.

WIN (200-120)
This game was incredibly tight and I couldn't believe I'd won it.  As I'd feared the quick Jedi were very difficult for my team to pin down and it had taken some decisive moments and fine margins for me to squeak a win.  There was a point midgame when I lost my first ARC and the second was almost dead that I was utterly certain I'd lost.  Broadside was worth his weight in gold against the Jedi, ultimately being the reason why Obi Wan and Anakin died when they did.  Chopper was critical too, as it was the combination of his Jam token and the positional pressure that kept Stuart burning his Force to reposition and prevented him from capitalising when he got ahead.

ROUND SIX - Josh Wood
(Imp Aces - Vader, Soontir, Duchess)

"Oh fuck" - that was me when Josh put his ships down and I realised what was between me and a place in the Top 8.  Imp aces definitely fits into the 'fast enough to give me the yips' category and Josh was 5-0 with it so far.

My main hope was that Josh was playing a version of Aces that was bidding so much against Sun Fac that he only had the bare bones of his squad.  Nope... turned out it was exactly the opposite and Josh had brought all the toys to come in at 199.  That 1pt bid was all he needed to ensure all his ships moved after all my ships, though.

Well that's just great.  

Still, best foot forwards!  I've upset the odds once against Jedi aces so let's go again.

I think it's possible that all the upgrades Josh had ultimately proved his undoing.  Instead of playing very cautiously on his approach Josh seemed much more concerned with making sure he got all his offensive toys into play so although his three aces all started out with different approach vectors they were soon all arrowing in towards Obi Wan and the same spot on the table.  General Kenobi had a rough time on the first round of shooting, taking three shots including some Proton Rockets that Vader fired through a gas cloud.  Obi Wan turtled up as best he could but lost his shields and took a damage.

But after the dust had cleared Obi Wan was still the table and all of Josh's ships were heading into the same space, so I K-turned Obi Wan and my ARCs to killbox that space and Josh's aces all obliged by flying into it.  A cool thing to note, I double-stressed Obi Wan to take a Chopper Evade after his k-turn and it proved really important... nice to know you can do that!

Duchess immediately died in the fires of my killbox, Vader lost his shields and Soontir ate an Ion token from Broadside.  Vader and Soontir both died on the following turn... bloody hell!

WIN (200-59)


QUARTER FINALS - Justin Read
(Trench Run - Wedge, Luke, Biggs)

I've played Justin several times now and he's a man who takes the title of X-Wing Miniatures Game extremely seriously and only ever plays T-65 X-Wings!  I nipped to the toilet as Justin set up his ships and used the time to think about the matchup - last time we played Justin was on Wedge/Luke/Thane with Proton Torpedoes and that was going to be a nightmare.  Obi Wan can't withstand that type of firepower, even at R3, and with the bid and higher initiative Justin had all the tools he needed to force a good engagement.  This seemed like it would going to be really tough.

I got back to the table... there's no Proton Torpedoes, thank the maker!  Justin had switched to a more defensive version with Shield Upgrade and R2 astromechs, with Biggs subbing in for Thane.  That was a MUCH friendlier matchup.


It turned into a pretty straightforward game of X-Wing.  We flew at each other, I managed to get a range 3 engage and started dealing damage to Biggs, who went down on the following turn as Justin had to split his forces either side of an asteroid.  I fell on top of Luke and tried to push for the kill but he managed to keep going and keep regenerating his shields and that bought time for Wedge to get back into the game and I started to stack up damage cards of my own.

I just had too much beef, too many arcs, too many mods though.  Jam was good, Broadside was good (it's hazy in my memory but I think I ionised Luke and took him out of the game), and I just traded damage but from ships with more hull and ultimately took the win without too much fuss.  After the drama and headache of chasing aces for the last two hours I was glad of a change of pace, to be honest!

WIN (200-79)
My game with Justin finished before any of the other quarter finals so I had time to weigh up who was still standing.  I liked almost nothing of what I saw: both Stuart and Josh's ace squads were doing well, and the other QF saw Jack Mooney's all-conquering Han/Jake squad playing against triple Silencers flown by Ewan Farr.  Jack has beaten me in the Semi Final of the last Hyperspace Trial I was at and I was pretty sure he'd repeat the task against my current squad so I was lowkey rooting for Ewan to put the Falcon to the sword. 
Jack doesn't lose many games at all but when he DOES lose it seems to be as a result of really strong green dice that repelled Han's offense a few times more than they really should have done. Ewan's Silencers pretty much exactly fit the bill of the type of squad that might do that: 3 agility, enough hull and shield that they can have their green dice fail once or twice and not immediately explode, Fanatical mods to attack while still focusing defense.  Yes it still tends to require above average green dice variance for Jack to lose but the ingredients were all there for that to happen.
I crossed my fingers and hoped for a lucky break of having to play Ewan's Silencers not Jack's Falcon!

SEMI FINALS - Ewan Farr(Triple Silencers - Blackout & two I4s)

Woop woop!

On the one hand: all Ewan's ships are really dangerous and Blackout is just death to Obi Wan if he gets to shoot obstructed.

On the other hand: none of these things are a Millenium Falcon that will literally run rings around my ARCs and laugh at Broadside and Chopper.  Throw Jack Mooney into the mix and my odds of winning drastic go down!


My approach to this game was entirely decided during obstacle deployment, when Euan very carefully and deliberately created a tight little bundle of obstacles in the left hand corner of my side of the board.  I deployed on my right hand flank then spent the first couple of turns cautiously edging forwards and barrel rolling away from the obstacles to give myself space.  At the same time Euan raced his Silencers down the opposite flank and deep into the corner of the table where the rocks were.

Look at the high-tech graphics!
In the process of cutting round the table his Silencers had started to spread out a bit - one of the I4s had gotten ahead of the group while Blackout was sitting further back.  The time seemed right for me to engage so my ARCs turned in towards the Silencers.  Obi Wan had another mission though, I knew I simply couldn't let him get caught obstructed against Blackout so while my ARCs hung back Obi Wan dialled a 5 straight and boosted right past the two I4 Silencers to get in so close to Blackout that there was no room for an asteroid to come between us.

Turning into the fight

We started firing at each other, Euan's Silencers started dropping shields while my ARCs took a couple of hits at long range but nothing serious.  

Things were going pretty much entirely to plan, now to capitalise.  The ARCs lunged forwards to bump Euan's Silencers while Obi Wan slooped into position behind Blackout and handed him a Jam token.  The results were similar to what I'd done to Josh' aces in the final round of the swiss - trapped up close in a killbox without actions the Silencers had a hard time trading shots against my beefy ARCs and better dice mods.

We brawled back up through the gas clouds and both squads got bloodied in the fight but I was always ahead.  The Jam token from Chopper is especially brutal for a squad like Ewan's I think, he gets to keep his Fanatical dice mod but it turns off all his defensive mods AND Advanced Optics for his attacks.  He really suffered from his dice punching only half as hard as they should as a result.

WIN (200-101)


FINAL - Stuart Blucke
(Jedi Aces - Anakin, Obi Wan, Ric)

Stuart had battled his way past Josh's aces in the other semi final and that meant that the Final of the Hyperspace Trial would be a rematch of the toughest match I'd had all day.  

I was pretty certain I was going to lose.

You almost never win the rematch.  The loser from the first game always learns enough about what not to do that they come back ready to do it all better this time.  In this case I'd only beaten Stuart first time because of a couple of mistakes he'd made and I knew that Stuart was far too good to make the same type of mistake twice.  I wasn't sure he had two whole new mistakes in him.


I was right.  Second time of asking Stuart made all the right moves, dodged all my traps and slipped away from every killbox, vanishing away to circle round and come back again when the time was right for him.  He didn't need to win it quickly, didn't need to take unnecessary risks or get into a position he couldn't get out of.  Stuart knew he could chip away at my ships then run clear and come back.

Broadside died first, Stuart had learned what ion did to his Jedi.  Still I tried and tried to get a decisive engagement but his ships were always a step ahead.

Obi Wan died next.  Reduced to 2 ARCs against three ships that were all far too fast for them I called it a day.

LOSS (27-200)

Congratulations to Stuart, whose victory was entirely deserved!  

Gutted to miss out on the Worlds ticket but I'm delighted with my second place, especially considering I'd gone in with zero practice using the squad.  And I think the squad is a blast to play, with Chopper and Broadside both tremendous fun and bring a little bit of control to an otherwise seriously tough brawling squad.  It's just slooooooooow across the table, and you've got to bear that in mind when you're deploying and preparing for where the engagement is going to be.  


C1-10P was definitely the MVP in the list on the day.  It takes a lot to wrench an R2 astromech off of a 7B Delta Aethersprite but now I think I'd take Chopper a lot of the time.  Not all the time, there's times for both to be the right call and I think you can't just swap the 'mechs out for each other and expect to play the Jedi the same way.  When you've got R2 astromech you're always looking for for when you need to 5-straight away to get clear and regenerate your lost shields.  When you've got C1-10P you're always looking to hard turn & barrel roll back into the fight and throw out a Jam token at range 1 instead.  It's a much more aggressive style of play and that works for me, but it *is* a change to how you play R2 astromech Jedi.

There's no doubt that the Jams won me games, though... against Stuart, against Josh, against Ewan I think C1-10P was the decisive factor and the game I lost in the swiss was one where I really suffered from not having those Jam tokens ready in time.  The little dude is serious!

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