Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Points Changes & Rules Changes - 2 Good / 2 Bad

The times, they are' a changin'.  New points, new rules, new owners, new ships.  I'm going to touch one some of the big winners and losers I can see in each faction after this latest points change, but first let's talk about a topic that is completely non-controversial and everyone can agree on.

Random Initiative

More words and blood have spilled on the internet over this topic since AMG announced their intention to change the rules than I care to think about.  I don’t want to go into it on too much depth because I think it’s a bit pointless to do so – people’s opinions are pretty firmly entrenched on one side of the aisle or the other at this point.  Personally, I’m in favour of the change, and here’s a few thoughts about why…

  • It Never Made Sense – I dropped into the game with the Force Awakens core set and the bid system has always stuck out as an oddity.  I get that the intention was to be that players would make tough decisions to sacrifice valuable upgrades to take the initiative but in reality the cost/benefit ratio was never well aligned and when movement order really mattered there wasn’t an upgrade in the world that you’d take instead of winning the bid by 1pt.  You can imagine that AMG came into the game cold and had new eyes on everything.  What was the point of an upgrade system that punished people for buying upgrades?  
  • It Made Too Much Difference – somebody did the maths that the benefit of moving second in matchups against the same initiative was 20-30% win rate – the difference between being 65/35 and likely to win or 35/65 and likely to lose.  When the odds are flipping that wildly it says that you’re playing with a mechanic that is very potent and which is often overwhelming how you actually play on the table.  Are we playing a game where the best player wins, or a game where the person who took off the most upgrades wins?
  • It Was Getting Worse – In 1.0 we saw the important of initiative mainly as Veteran Instincts being overplayed, but in 2.0 the compression of the Initiative values led to bidding wars becoming deeper and deeper so it was a much bigger problem in 2.0 than it ever was in 1.0.  You were more likely to match initiative with an opponent’s ship, and ships were more likely to have reposition actions to take advantage of moving second – it wasn’t just aces even Norra Wexley could barrel roll out of your arc in her Y-Wing if she moved second.
  • It Supported Imbalanced Squads – there’s some very subjective opinions in here, but I think that if you’ve built a squad that HAS to move second to have a good chance of success then that squad is not very well balanced or well rounded and you’ve only been able to make that squad work by leaning on the crutch of the bid system to give you a huge chance of moving second and securing the unfair advantage of doing so.  I’ve been on both sides of this and my Rebel Aces list 100% abused the bid system to give me all the information before I had to make decisions – S-Foils, R2 regeneration, Target Locks, actions from Ahsoka, arc-dodging with impunity – I’d banked my whole list on 193 being a deep enough bid to move second.  It didn’t have to be that way, and Oli Pocknell’s World Champion list is an example of building aces (with the same 6-5-5 initiative pattern as my Rebel Aces) that could move first happily.  My squad was not well rounded and the deep bid was a vital crutch I was leaning on… that’s not necessarily healthy for the game.
  • It Prevented Aces Being Played – ironically I think removing bids will mean we see MORE aces played, not less. Dedicated aces lists will suffer if they don’t adapt but it’s now much more viable to include an I5 or I6 into a ‘normal’ squad without having to worry about leaving a chunky bid just to give them a chance.  While there were a lot of aces running round with a deep bid nobody else could really afford to play an ace in their squad.
  • It Doesn’t Actually Make That Much Difference – wait, didn’t I just write a bullet about how it made too much difference?  Well in how it can affect the outcome of any single game I think bidding and initiative order can have a huge impact (which is a bad thing), but over the course of a number of games the move from bidding for initiative to deciding it randomly with a dice roll… doesn’t actually make that much difference.  If you’ve got an I6 pilot he’ll still move last in 82% of matches, yes it’s not 95% but it’s still a lot.  And if your win percentage dropped 30% in those 13% of matches that flipped to you moving first… it’s going to change the result in about 1 game in 20.  And that’s the worst case because you’ve now got points that you were going to spend on your bid to buy actual upgades with, so in fact it may only change the result in 1 game in 30.  That’s not quite the “skill is dead in X-Wing” apocalypse that I read a lot of people worrying about.
  • It’s A Distraction – the addition of sideboarding has been heavily hinted at by AMG and if that comes to pass then I guarantee it’s going to be 10x more impactful on X-Wing than anything they’re doing with initiative order.  For a start the answer to the question “what happens when I face opposing I6 pilots and I may lose initiative 50% of the time” could be answered by sideboarding for that matchup more effectively than the opponent, but in truth sideboarding is going to hugely affect EVERY game you play.  If they adopt the Marvel Crisis Protocol system then 200pt squad lists will be a thing of the past and we’ll be making 250pt squads then leaving 50pts on the sidelines every game.  Do you bring specific tools for specific jobs?  Do you leave whole pilots on the bench?  Honestly, if we move to a world of objective play and sideboards then rolling dice for initiative is going to be the least of your worries and your win % is going to be determined far more by how you can react and think on your feet to deal with the opponent and task in front of you that round.

Bring on random initiative.  It's screw me over from time to time but I think the gains FAR outweigh the losses.  And in the grand scheme of the changes coming to X-Wing it's just a little kink in the road and there's some much bigger bumps and bends ahead.


REBELS

2 GOOD

The first bit of good news for Rebel players is a surprise to nobody – it’s Dash Rendar.   With both the pilot and his Outrider title getting a big discount this time around (a combined 15% price cut, from 99 to 84) I think it’s finally time for Dash to hit tables in a serious way.  Along the way Dash has traded a gunner slot for a second crew slot and that’s a really good move – it’s good to break his reliance on the wombo-combo Bistan double tap trick that has so far been the only way to justify Dash’s cost, and that second crew slot gives you access to more goodies from the Rebel unique crew options, like Kanan, R2-D2, Magva Yarro etc.  Dash is ready to prove his worth as an independent ship, not just as the output channel for 200pts worth of combolicious actions.

My second pick is Hera Syndulla in her B-Wing.  I think by now we all understand that Hera’s pilot ability to share tokens is really great, but while the A-Wing version takes a big price hike the B-Wing version has come down to match it at 48pts.  Here’s some homework: go and check how many B-Wing pilots cost the same as their A-Wing counterparts with similar initiative and report back to me with just how much of a bargain the B-Wing version of Hera now is.


2 BAD

Dash is going to get a lot of table time and if that comes to pass I think it’s really going to shine a light on just how lacking the YT-1300 chassis is.  It’s pretty much the least cost-effective way of putting red dice onto the table and now that Han’s 3 red dice cost the same as Dash’s 4 red dice that’s going to be more apparent than ever.  I think there’s potential for the Falcon to benefit from the gunner slot now that it’s been removed from a bunch of ships and some of the best gunners have dropped in price, but I still think the Falcon is just not suited to dealing the amount of damage it really needs to be putting out.  That’s only been cast into more sharp relief than ever by this round of changes to the YT-2400.

Y-Wings in general still seem very lacklustre.  Do you remember that brief moment with Veteran Turret Gunner cost next to nothing and the Y-Wing was actually good?  Well that’s a long time in the rear view mirror and I’m not really sure what dropping their gunner slot for a missile slot (which competes directly with the existing Torpedo slot they didn’t use much) does to help the Y-Wing out.  I think this ship still needs a clear sense of what it’s actually good for and I’m no clearer on what that is.


IMPERIALS

2 GOOD

I’ve been banging on about TIE Aggressors almost as long as I’ve been banging on about Scyks and I’m not about to stop now.  With so many of the key generic ships getting a price hike this time around I think the TIE Aggressor now stands almost unchallenged as the most efficient and effective generic ship in the game.  At 26pts for just the raw chassis you get you’re at the cutting edge of a TIE/fo and outclassing the V-19 Torrent by having a much more flexible dial.  Add a Dorsal turret for a bargain 2pts and you’re a 180 degree firing arc threat, and upgrade that turret to an Ion Cannon Turret at 31pts and you’re adding a whole 3rd red dice.  At all three cost points the TIE Aggressor is best in class and if anybody thought these things were only making waves because of Admiral Sloane I think they’re going to find themselves given a rude awakening.  Probably the best ‘little engine that could’ in the game right now.

Dust off your ACE OF LEGEND and get them ready for the table because I think Soontir Fel is coming back to play.  He likes that most of the swarms are going, he likes that Fifth Brother has gone up in price a lot so there’s less Homing Missiles being flung around, and he likes that you don’t feel like you need to bid 8pts just to play him once we move to random initiative.  Soontir will happily hunt any opposing I6 aces if the initiative roll goes your way but can run and hide effectively without wasting too many points in the games where you lose the dice roll and the opponent has to chase your ACE OF LEGEND.  Removing the need to take a bid is like a 15% price cut to Soontir and I think he’ll be back to support tougher and more efficient Imperial ships with a little bit of finesse.

2 BAD

The humble TIE/ln has seen it’s better pilots get another round of price cuts… but I suspect it’s still not enough.  The decision to keep Commander Malarus & 6 TIE/fos viable means that the original Imperial TIE Swarm is still going to come off badly in a straight fight against a list with more hull, more guns, and more tactical flexibility.  The gap has closed a lot and I think you’ll see TIE Swarms much more than you have been used to, and even doing pretty well here and there, but that -1pt they knocked off Commander Malarus is felt very keenly over on Team Howlrunner.

The Defender Elite title now costs 0pts, coming down -2pts from the initial points cost.  Now there’s only another 15pts left to come off before it’ll be worth playing.


SCUM & VILLAINY

2 GOOD 

It’s big changes in StarViper world, losing their coveted Sensor slot to gain the future-era Tech slot instead.  That means they can look forward to whacking Automated Target Priority onto things for the extra free dice mods, but it also means Guri gets a lot cheaper.  A Guri who could reliably S-Loop and reposition to get into range 1 used to cost 74pts (Guri & Advanced Sensors) but now only costs 65pts (Guri & Pattern Analyser).  By Grabthar’s Hammer: what a savings.

Illicit Slots in general still look really attractive for the sort of short burst of action economy that can decide games.  False Transponder Codes may have gone up to 3pts but I expected more and they’re still good, while Overtuned Modulators look like a really attractive rework of the old Glitterstim.  Scum still have the tools to produce big turns that really punish opponents.

2 BAD

It took 18 months but they finally stopped me from playing Cartel Spacers, at 27pts the extra bit of value I was scraping off has gone and I'm going to go looking elsewhere (see: Republic).  Sunny Bounder is still unchanged value at 27pts so a lone Scyk in a list can be a really strong filler to round a squad out, but the days of my bringing a squad of seven Scyks to the table are behind me.  Sad times.

The whole Scum faction still looks a little bit unsure of what the future is.  Every time a good Scum lists crops up it gets rapidly determined to be TOO good and gets whammed with a big hammer.  Boba has been hit into unusability twice, the Torkil Swarm is gone, the Scyk Swarm is gone, the Jabba & Contraband combinations are gone, Zam Wesell is gone… the cupboards are looking a little bare.  Scum players do love rising to a challenge of finding new ways to win, but by crikey I think they’re going to need to because they do seem to keep getting hit by the rough end of the stick.


RESISTANCE

2 GOOD

Probably about two years ago I was trying to explain that Poe Dameron was overcosted at around his 68pts, and really if you benchmarked him against Wedge Antilles in another I6 X-Wing with a strong pilot ability he should probably cost around 60pts.  We’re finally getting to that point, but in this round of price changes there was a BIG cut to the Heralds of Hope version of Poe and now he actually costs Wedge Antilles money!  I think this Poe is a real steal at this price point, and he also makes a lot of sense to bring in the world of random initiative being decided as he’s happy to joust it out when he doesn’t have the drop on opposing I6 ships, or be a top ace if you do win the initiative roll.  He makes Ello and Nien look sad and I think you’re going to see his white and orange T-70 around a lot.

Is Vennie’s Starfortress ever going to stop going down in price?  It’s happened again here, with the typical Vennie build benefitting from multiple savings on her pilot card itself, on Veteran Turret Gunner and on M9-G8.  Vennie was once that oddity of a pilot who you rarely saw and could catch you out if you weren’t quite sure what she did… these days she’s probably just one of the single strongest pieces the Resistance can call on and there’s plenty of room for two strong pilots to run alongside her.

2 BAD

I think Rose Tico’s price increase may well be enough to push her out.  In truth 28pts for her still isn’t a ridiculous amount to pay but I think I’d now put her behind Vi Moradi in the pecking order.  Vi was always the unfairly ignored transport pod as Finn & Rose grabbed the headlines but with the incoming changes to the initiative rules I think Vi’s intelligence-gathering and ace-thwarting abilities gain a lot of value.  Rose is going to the be the pilot who most often pays the price for Vi leapfrogging her in the queue.

I don’t get what the Rebel Y-Wings are for and unfortunately I feel very similarly about the Resistance Y-Wings… only moreso because for some reason they cost more points despite having worse stats.  There’s a lot of pilots who all have a lot of words in their text box and to be honest with you I fell asleep before I could finish reading them all and trying to work out what they actually did.  It’s possible there’s some secret sauce in here among the pilot abilities that makes them worthwhile… but it’s still a secret to me if that’s true!


FIRST ORDER

2 GOOD

Midnight finally costs about the right amount!  The I6 TIE/fo pilot has spent the last three years paying the price for what Omega Leader did in First Edition but she’s finally been let down from the naughty step with the same type of 15% price cut that all the other TIEs had enjoyed.  It’s a nice little gift that Fanatical has also come down in price, and that being an I6 that doesn’ really want to take a massive bid has gained value with the move to random initiative.  I’m not sure Midnight is going to ever become the terror that Omega Leader was as it’s still a defanged version of the original ablilty, but they’re now the correct price for what you get and you’ll see them around a lot.

Commander Malarus.  What a difference a point makes.  The decision to cut Malarus by -1pt has baffled me because it’s the difference between culling one of the most efficient and oppressive swarm lists (Malware) or allowing it to run rampant after most of its competition has been wiped out.  I wouldn’t have done it, personally, and I think we may come to view this as a mistake but until then there’s no doubt that Commander Malarus and her accompanying TIE Swarm is going to be a big part of the coming metagame.


2 BAD

The First Order Bombers have been a long time coming and… I don’t get it.  I love a Scimitar Bomber as much as almost anybody but the key to the Scimitar is that it’s super cheap for how hard they are to kill – the FO Bomber is no harder to kill and costs 15% more.  Yes you’ve got that funky boost preposition but you’ve got to make that really work for you to make back the excess cost.  The named FO Bombers close the points gap over the Imperial Bombers – Breach is only +1pt more than Tomax Bren at I5 – but the named Bombers have never really proven their worth anyway.  I really wanted to like this ship but so far I don’t get what you’re doing with them that wouldn’t be better served as being a TIE/sf.  Happy to be proven wrong!

Deuterium Power Cells… that’s not enough to come off this card.  I want to see DPC as a valid option for Vonreg to make them a bit more reliable but at this cost it’s just not worth considering – a bad regen option at a bad cost.


REPUBLIC

2 GOOD

If the TIE Aggressor has any real competition for the spot of being the best little ship in the game then that is surely going to come from… the V-Wing.  The V-Wing?  Seriously?  Was that a typo?  The Loyalist Volunteer came down a point to 26pts, it’s direct comparison is the TIE/fo who went up a point to the same 26pts.  Except the V-Wing also has a boost action… not just that but a LINKED boost action into a target lock.  And it’s also now got a completely free “Esk” configuration that adds the possibility of being an Ion threat as well.  In a side-by-side comparison I think the V-Wing is a clear winner over the TIE/fo and the only thing holding the TIE/fo up is that it gets fire support from Commander Malarus for less than the V-Wing can get it from a LAAT or Sinker.  You may never have seen a V-Wing on the table before, but I’d say you’re about to get all too used to them.

AnakYn, Ynakin, AnYkin, however you’re used to nicknaming the Y-Wing version of Anakin Skywalker I think he’s now got a much bigger role to play in the game as he’s another I6 pilot who never really wanted to bid but was being held back by losing initiative to all the other I6’s who did want to bid.  Anakin’s role in the Y-Wing is simple – fire Proton Torpedoes into the opponent’s aces until they’re gone, leaving Obi-Wan and Plo-Koon to mop up what’s left.  Anakin has consistently dropped in points since his initial release and this latest round makes him better than ever just as the impending rules reference changes also play into his hands.

2 BAD

As for the rest of the Jedi I’ve not got much good to say.  The ETA-Actis was a badly conceived ship design that doesn’t really have the tools it need to fulfil any role – it can’t joust, its bad at arc-dodging, it’s not a good blocker etc.  The one saving grace this ship had found was being able to punch above it’s weight thanks to equipping a cannon, and now that’s gone.  I’m genuinely a bit staggered by this change and I’m not sure what the ETA pilots are supposed to use instead… harsh language?  Maybe the Trick Shot/Scattering Shot build won’t just be a janky meme.  I think it probably is though.

And don’t be fooled by all those price cuts you can see on the Aethersprite versions of the Jedi, either, because they’ve been offset by increases to the CLT and Delta-7B titles that mean the cost of these ships has actually gone up!  So the Jedi weren’t very good, the faction overall was struggling and relying on them as a crutch… and they got a price increase?  Awesome.


SEPARATIST

2 GOOD

It’s been a while coming but is the Tri-Fighter finally going to make waves?  Although the Colicoid Interceptor still looks pretty sad there’s some hefty discounts applied to the Phlacc-Arphocc Prototype and the Independent Calculations modification that could really shake things up.  You’re now able to field an I5 Tri-Fighter with two calculate tokens for 38pts and that looks pretty nice compared to similar TIE Interceptors that are currently seeing play, like the I4 Saber Squadron Pilots at 36pts.  I think the Tri-Fighter is another ship set to benefit from the changes to bidding – in the past these would cost 45pts and then you’d have to bid to give your flimsy I5 droid a chance of moving last and dodging arcs, where in future you’ll be able to bring them at 38pts and not worry about the bid at all.  Definitely one to watch and I think they’ll open up new ground for CIS squad-building that’s not just a block of droids moving as one.

Independent Calculations.  I’ve mentioned it once but I think changing Independent Calculations to cost 0pts is huge for not just Tri-Fighters but for Vulture Droids too.  Sitting on a stack of double the number of calculate tokens makes you a potent threat and now you can have your cake AND eat it.  It also makes many of the costs that included Calculate tokens being spent that much more tolerable, like Discord Missiles or the K2-B4 tactical relay.  I think Independent Calculations could be a massive change for droid squadbuilding, freeing them up to move independently of each other and activate powerful effects without going tokenless.

2 BAD

I understand that Nantex are a bit of a dirty word and that very few people have fond memories of the Stalgasin Hive Guard or Petranaki Arena Ace, but did they really need to be bombed back to the stone age with another 10% price increase?  At 35pts the Stalgasin Hive Guard is the most expensive it’s ever been.  A Stalgasin Hive Guard with Ensnare now costs 54 points… FIFTY FOUR!  On release they were 44pts and not exactly dominating anything… and that was with the old Tractor rules.  Stop it, they’re already dead!

The Sith Infiltrator got edged down in price but I think it’s got a long way to come yet.   Stats-wise the chassis is the same as a Scurrg Bomber (3 red, 1 green, 10 hit points) but the base Dark Courier costs 6pts more and comes on the dreaded front-arc-only large base.  That’s not a great starting position but even worse is the +14pts and +15pts you have to pile on top to get to Dooku or Maul.  They simply aren’t worth the investment to get there and  I could see another 6-8pts coming off those two villains before they really get back onto the table in a meaningful way.


GENERIC UPGRADES

2 GOOD

I'm actually a little bit nervous about the 50% discount we just got on Tactical Officer because I remember just how much we saw that guy when he was 2pts.  X-Wing has moved on a long way from those early days of 2.0 so I may be worrying about nothing, but I'm sure there's going to be players putting him back into their U-Wings, Escape Crafts etc.  Is there going to be some ridiculous Nodin Chavri action-spewing combo?

There's two side of the same coin in new force abilities from the Fury of the First Order expansion, and I'm pretty sure people are excited about the wrong one.  Compassion may only trigger on 25% of the crits somebody receives, and may mean moving damage from another ship onto a fragile Jedi instead, but it only costs 1pt and if it keeps a ship on the table it'll be the best 1pt upgrade you bought since Crack Shot.  With no need to bid in the new random initiative rules I think cheap little upgrades like this are the real beneficiaries - you'd have sacrificed them for a bid in the past because they were too niche, but now you can pay the little cost and wait for them to win you a game.

2 BAD

And as much as I like Compassion because it's cheap I've got no time for Malice because it's expensive.  Forget Malice as a force regen mechanic because it'll only trigger a tiny % of the time (they have to not dodge the attack, not have shields, then you've a 25% of hitting a Pilot crit) so what you're really buying for Malice's 6pts is the ability to deal crits.  Unless you were slam-dunking Marksmanship and R7-A7 into squads at every chance you got I would suggest you're overpaying for the effect here.  Compasson is a 2pt upgrade that costs 1pt, but Malice is a 3pt upgrade that costs 6pts.  Avoid it 9 times out of 10 and take Sense instead.


Passive Sensors wasn't too bad for 2pts, 4pts for the luxury is a lot to pay and it's importantly no longer undercutting the Targeting Computer.  It was an upgrade that shortcut a key skill-testing limitation of ordnance (actually maneuvering into range and getting the TL you want on the ship you want to fire at) and I'm glad to see it get punted a little further downrange.



So what do you reckon?  Have I missed some absolute sitters?  What are you looking forward to sifting out of the latest points change?

Sunday, 15 August 2021

A Barrel of Laughs - Squadbuilding handcuffs for fun & profit (mostly fun)

If you skim-read my blog you may wind up mistaking me for a hardcore competitive player because it's so often about tournaments or my trying to find a chink in the competitive metagame for a new squad to function.  That's definitely part of who I am as a player, especially the part about analysing the metagame for a weakness because that tends to be the first step in launching a new squad idea, but although I may occasionally do well at a tournament or two it's usually despite my best efforts to sabotage my success.  

Today I want to share one my favourite ways of forcing myself to shake up squadbuilding and play a bit less seriously: the Barrel.



ENFORCED FUN

That hyper-competitive player is who I was maybe 20-25 years ago when I was tilting myself at breaking through onto the Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour gravy train, but it's not who I am today.  What my run at the Pro Tour taught me was twofold: the first was that I wasn't quite good enough because the guys who can make it onto the Pro Tour and stay there are exceptional talents and I don't have what it takes, the second was that trying to dominate the world and failing was twisting me up inside and making me very bitter and unhappy.

I'm a lot older and wiser now but while I've found more balance in my gaming I know that I always have to be on watch for the nasty side taking over again.  One of my favourite ways of keeping him at bay is by creating my own squadbuilding 'rules' that ensure I'm always pulling my punches a bit... 

  • Handcuff myself during squadbuilding.  If I'm forcing myself to take suboptimal decisions and compromising with a squad then I'm happier to keep playing it multiple times. 

Deliberately sabotaging myself like this may seem a weird thing to do but I've it means that I've always got a handy excuse for why I was the bridesmaid and not the bride.  Having that excuse to hand means the other guy will mostly leave me alone and not demand that I win everything in sight.

That third one, the squadbuilding handcuffs, is something that I've written about before.  In First Edition my go-to for this was what I called the 'Wretched Hive' format for Scum squads.  The rules of the Wretched Hive were as follows:

  1. Four ships.  All named pilots.
  2. None of the pilots could be recognisably 'good' from a competitive standpoint
  3. Janky control effects - Ion, Bombs, Tractor etc - were a desirable trait.

That tended to leave me with some fairly silly but fun squads that were good enough to win >50% of games with but would never trouble the top tables of a proper tournament.  Exactly where I wanted to be, in short.

Imagine my shock and horror (and yes, a little delight) when I discovered that virtually exactly the same ships and pilots from my janky First Edition 'Wretched Hive' squad were one of the first powerhouse squads of Second Edition and I accidentally nearly won a massive tournament!

It was clear that I needed a new janky template for Second Edition squadbuilding and during the last 18 months of lockdown I think I've found it.  I want to introduce you to "The Barrel of <insert name here>"


The Barrel of <insert name here>

My first and longest-running Barrel squad started life as a spin-off from my Sloane Swarm that I was playing as the walls closed in and the Covid pandemic started, and I called it the "Barrel of TIEs".  The rules of the Barrel of TIEs were simple:

  1. Six ships
  2. Each ship has to be a different type
  3. TIE Fighter variants only

Look at that, isn't it magnificent?  As a lifelong Imperial fan it's bringing out my inner Krennic just to look at it.

The Imperials are really well-placed to do something like this as there's so many cheap throwaway TIE variants: the TIE Fighter itself, the TIE Aggressor, the TIE/v1, the TIE Bomber, TIE Interceptor, TIE Striker... there's so many cheap models that it's easy to fit in something bigger as well, with room for a TIE Brute, TIE/x1, TIE Phantom, TIE Reaper or even a TIE Punisher.

I've really enjoyed flying six ships with all their different capabilities and their six different dials.  It may sound incredibly daunting at first but I found that as they were all base TIEs there was some maneuvering commonalities that helped you out, and once you had a few games under your belt the challenge in dealing with all these different ships quickly passed over to your opponent for them to try and work out what the hell you were going to do! 

I've flown lots of little iterations and variations on my Barrel o TIEs over the last 12 months but the current version is this one:

Barrel o TIEs

  • Lyttan Dree (TIE Brute) - Synced Laser Cannons, Target-Assist MGK-300
  • Baron of the Empire (TIE Aggressor) - Proton Rockets
  • Scimitar Squadron Pilot (TIE Bomber) - XX-23 Thread Tracers, Bomblet Generator
  • Planetary Sentinel (TIE Striker)
  • Alpha Squadron Pilot (TIE Interceptor)
  • "Wampa" (TIE Fighter)
    (200)

Do you often expect a janky handcuffs list to be able to roll 20 red dice in a turn?  The key strength of this list is that in the Striker, Interceptor and Wampa I've got probably the three cheapest 3-red dice ships in the game.  The key weakness is that almost all my ships are made of papier mache and the dreams of small children, and will crumple and die just as easily as either of those two things.  Range control on the initial engagement is really important to mitigate that weakness, but if you can get in close without half your squad being destroyed then the raw firepower is here to mince up all but the strongest opponents.

I've even managed to persuade somebody else to pick up the mantle of the Barrel o TIEs, and from their feedback in playing the list online it's done very well for them in a couple of tournaments and made the cut despite being a meme!


Tenuously, the Barrel of Monkeys is the original inspiration for why I call these squads Barrels.  Although I thought it was also a Barrel of Soldiers and you tipped them out and they were all different shapes and poses but still all soldiers.  It's actually a Bucket of Soldiers in Toy Story, though, so I screwed the name up right from the get-go.

For the longest time I stayed there and flew my Barrel of TIEs very happily, but now I'm spreading my horizons a little bit and I think there's probably a Barrel to be made in any faction, though First Order and Resistance may need to wait for the upcoming Fury of the First Order and Resistance Y-Wing expansion packs.  Not every faction may be able to run a satisfying six-ship Barrel but I've expanded the rules to mean a five-ship Barrel is allowed when you can't make a fun six-ship Barrel (one of the perks of making up your own rules is you can decide to change them whenever you want).

I've just taken to flying a five-ship "Barrel of Clones" as my new fun list and it was just as much fun as the Barrel of TIEs has been in the past:

Barrel o Clones*

  • 212th Battalion Pilot (LAAT Gunship) - Seventh Fleet Gunner
  • 104th Battalion Pilot (ARC-170)
  • "Goji" (BTL-B Y-Wing) - Ion Cannon Turret, Thermal Detonators, Delayed Fuses
  • Loyalist Volunteer (V-Wing) - Alpha-3B "Besh", Thermal Detonator, Delayed Fuses
  • "Tucker" (V-19 Torrent) - Ion Missiles
    (200)
In this squad I've leaned into two key things - the first was that as I was borderline forced to take a V-Wing I may as well try to abuse "Goji" with loads of extra green dice if possible, and the second was that I've long been a fan of Seventh Fleet Gunner on the LAAT to give my otherwise puny ships a bigger punch when I need it.

I've had a lot of fun with it, although getting "Goji" active has been tougher than I originally thought the bombs have also unwittingly also acted as bombs and dealt damage and controlled space (which I kind of forgot they would do, duh).  It's a second time where a random assembly of ships & dials has created a really fun playing challenge for me, and what's more: the clones* may have been winning ugly but they've been winning!


And it isn't going to stop with Clones.  As soon as my beloved First Order faction get the TIE Whisper and their own Bomber I'm sure I'll be straight onto building them a "Barrel of Nazis" squad.  A Barrel of Pirates, Barrel of Rebels, Barrel of Droids?  It's all possible and hopefully before long I'll have had fun fielding a "Barrel of..." squad from each of the seven factions.

Can I interest anyone in joining me for a barrel?



* the first person to tell me that a Loyalist Volunteer isn't a clone gets a slap.

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

SITH TAKER OPEN 2021 - Top-16 with Rebel Aces

A very unusual thing happened this weekend: I played an X-Wing tournament.  


Even more unusually I played an X-Wing tournament with actual X-Wings!

THE SITH TAKER OPEN

The Sith Taker Open was held at Element Games in Stockport featuring actual real life human beings pushing actual plastic spaceships around an actual table.  Just like you've seen on the popular video game 'Tabletop Simulator' but only it was really real and in 3D and everything.  Before I get into all the hilarious jokes and phenomenal strategic insights that I'm renowned for there's a couple of things I want to touch on.

Firstly, a Sith Takers event can usually handle around 120+ players in the games space.  The STO was first booked in a long time ago when we had strict social distancing measures in place in the UK so the decision was made to space everybody out a lot more and limit capacity at 64.  In the end the event had 46 players which first of all made it, I think, the biggest post-lockdown event we've had in England (somebody will fact-check me on that if I'm wrong, I'm sure), and second of all shocked me a little bit that we only got that many.  I played against people who had travelled the length and breadth of the UK to make it to the STO, I think it pulled people in from hundreds and hundreds of miles away... and despite a catchment area that stretched from Land's End to John O' Groats we still only got 46.  

There was whole chunks of people I'd normally expect to see at a Sith Takers event who weren't there.  They were missed and their absence was a sobering reminder that times are still uncertain or hard for many many people.

Secondly, as I was walking up to the venue I fell in step with Martyn Purves and after saying "Hi" to each other I said that it was good to back after 18 months but that I was sure it would all feel very normal very soon.  Somehow it never did.  I've played X-Wing a few times since lockdown ended and each time it had seemed very natural to be back doing normal things, but somehow this weekend with that many people in that small a space was just a bigger step than I realised it was going to be... and that was with only 46 people not 120.  When games were underway everything fell away and I was fine but in between rounds I spent the whole two days feeling nervous and uncomfortable.  One minute I'd be fitfully putting a mask on my face then taking it off seconds later, feeling like wearing one between rounds but not during games was probably just pointless.  Bleh.  Did not like it.

But what I *can* tell you and want to double underline is I had a great time anyway.  The games were great, seeing people I've not seen in the flesh for 18 months was great, meeting new people I'd never met before was great, putting faces to names I'd come to know during lockdown was great, the venue and the organisation was their ever-reliably great selves.  I was really surprised that I felt the way I did and I wish I'd been more comfortable being there but that's on me not anybody else.


THE SQUAD

I played something I've literally never played before: triple Rebel Aces.  I've played triple aces of the Imperial variety once in 2016 and the experience was so traumatic that I dropped out after two rounds and never played aces again for 3 more years, when I'd manage to fly two aces so long as they were supported by a bunch of grunts or something.  Triple aces... never.  And certainly not Rebel aces.  

This was my list:

    XXA Rebel Aces

  • Wedge Antilles - T-65 X-Wing - Servomotor S-Foils
  • Luke Skywalker - T-65 X-Wing - Servomotor S-Foils, Proton Torpedoes, R2 Astromech, Shield Upgrade
  • Ahsoka Tano - RZ-1 A-Wing - Concussion Missiles
    (193)

I'd spent the week leading up to the tournament oscillating between taking this Wedge or a 'Hatchetman'-style Miranda Doni with Advanced Proton Torpedoes, Diamond Boron Missiles, Thermal Detonators and Jyn Erso.  I really like that build and with Ahsoka to help Miranda get her Target Locks and double mod her big attacks it has real potential.  I *wanted* to want to play Miranda but as the deadline for list submission loomed closer I couldn't ignore how much sense it made to play 6-5-5 initiatives instead of 5-5-4 and shut the door on all those Poe/Vader/Soontir/Jangos who would move after Luke & Ahsoka.  

I owe a lot of thanks to Tom Reed for doing most of the legwork and playtesting with Miranda when I couldn't get the games in myself, and his feedback that Miranda was surprisingly good but hard work really helped cement the decision to leave her on the sidelines for the Sith Taker Open.  I'll keep Miranda for my FLGS adventures but I'm 100% sure Wedge was the right move from a 'trying to win as many games as possible' perspective.

That I even wound up on Rebel Aces at all was the end result of a playtest session that systematically eliminated every good bad idea I had, leaving me only with bad good ideas.  I've been playing generic ship spam for longer than I care to remember and I was right at the forefront of that in early 2020 with Scyks and Sloane Swarms.  I was sure I was going to play something like that at the STO but a lengthy day getting repeatedly smashed in the face by Tom playing either Jango/Zam or Asajj/Bossk/Lando and all their dice mods conclusively persuaded me that I was no longer exploring the cutting edge of deck construction.  I might have led the pack 18 months ago when the points had just changed but during lockdown the Peloton had caught up to my generic efficiency breakway and reeled me back in.  

Accepting that I didn't have a good list of my own I was trying to choose which meme-ey fun list to accept going 3-3 with when for no good reason my brain decided to push Rebel Aces at me, which I'd never even thought about before.  I don't really have good explanation for why I chose them even though I had basically zero games of practice with ahead of Round One.

Speaking of which...


THE GAMES

Round One - Martin Purves
Resistance Kinda Beefy Kinda Thingy - Jarek Yeager, Rose, some generic T-70s

I'd met Martin as we arrived and now he was my first opponent of the day.  I felt broadly positive about the matchup as instead of investing in T-70s with built-in dice mods like Jess or Nimi, Martin had spent his points on some Swarm Tactics plans to fire at I4 and I5 which weren't actually going to matter much against my squad of higher initiatives.  His T-70s wouldn't go down quickly but so long as I could avoid getting killboxed I had a good chance to gradually pick them off and not give Martin too many good shots.

We deployed in opposite corners and I raced Luke forwards with 4-straight-boosts while Wedge and Ahsoka meandered around in my corner waiting to see what Martin would do.  Martin started to turn his formation to follow Luke, but I kept him skirting around the outside until Luke he basically a big 'L' up the table and across the whole of Martin’s deployment zone to emerge in the corner Martin had deployed in.  The threat I was presenting was to try and pick Yeager off the back of Martin’s formation with Luke's Proton Torpedoes and unfortunately for Martin I think the cardboard rust of not actually playing on a real table for so long caught up to him - he wanted Yeager to SLAM away from Luke but he actually bumped onto the back of Rose and ate a Proton Torpedo, then a second SLAM attempt got blocked the next turn and Yeager was gone.

This second bump ensured Jarek couldn't SLAM clear of Luke's killshot

It turned into a real dogfight from there, but one where my team always moved last with full knowledge of where Martin had moved to.  I played it safe and kept Martin from firing most of the time, with Ahsoka able to throw reposition actions to Wedge to avoid him being trapped.  

Luke got a little cooked but then slipped away to recover his shields and get back full points, so even though Martin had got half points on Wedge and Ahsoka by the time the end of the round was called his efforts in chasing Luke had been fruitless and I was well ahead on points.

WIN
155-54


Round Two - Sean Milligan
Rey, Zizi, Poe

This was a much more 'meta' opponent in Sean's squad, but once again my deep bid of 193 secured that my ships would be moving after his and put me in a strong position - so long as Wedge could keep Poe in check then Luke and Ahsoka were free to go hunting.  I decided to really lean into my strong 'alpha strike' and lined my three aces up as a block and simply went hell-for-leather across the table into Sean's ships, which were trying to play for position a bit on his side of the table.

I think the speed and aggression of my charge may have surprised Sean and then the dreaded cardboard rust struck him too - he dropped Rey onto an asteroid as she tried to get away and I sensed blood in the water.  All three of my ships pounced on her and the Falcon never really got back into the game as Luke & Ahsoka hounded Rey and finished her off.  While that was happening Wedge had swept back out to keep Zizi from flanking in behind me and she found herself my next victim - trading shots with Wedge was unlikely to work out well for the A-Wing and so it proved.  

Eat Concussion Missile, flyboy!

Poe dealt with Wedge in revenge for killing Zizi but Luke and Ahsoka combined to finish the trigger-happy flyboy off not long after.

WIN
200-54


Round Three - Chris Burnett
Rey & Vennie

What the hell had I done to upset the Resistance so much?!?  It was now three Resistance squads back to back for me, and after facing 'skinny' Rey in the game against Sean I was now facing a fully-loaded version alongside the surprisingly dangerous Vennie.

I'll be completely honest with you, I can barely remember this game.  It came after we had taken a break for lunch and I think I was a little bit carbohydrate-drunk for this one.  Being so unfamiliar with Rebel aces and T-65s I'd come into the day expecting to make loads of mistakes and forget S-Foils and things but in the first two games I had been dialled-in and playing really tight X-Wing.  Not so in this game where I just couldn't get my head into the right place and missed a few trigger and important decisions (like dialling in a red maneuver when Luke was already stressed... very uncharacteristic rookie mistake).  Something clearly wasn't right as I also have zero memory of anything else that happened in this game right up to the fateful moment when I screwed up and handed Chris the win.

I remember that bit with complete clarity, unfortunately.

We had traded blow for blow in the early game and now it was down to Luke (who had regenerated to 1 shield and not quite half points) vs Vennie (who had a little bit of damage on but wasn't quite on half points).  We got caught in a tight little duel between the two as Luke tried to find a safe way to engage Vennie's dangerous double-tap arcs, while Chris couldn't really press for the kill on his side because Vennie had Blinded Pilot he needed to clear.  

The fateful turn saw Vennie drop a Proton Bomb behind her then 2-turn to her left and take an action to clear her Blinded Pilot.  Luke 1-banked into a position right by the rear-left corner of Vennie - I was in both her side and rear arc so he'd get to double tap AND I was range 1 of the Proton Bomb, but he also had no focus tokens so the shots were unmodded while I had 2 Force stacked.  I looked at boosting but decided it only made things worse, so I took a Target Lock and decided to use the turn to really lay in  the hurt on Vennie thinking I could tank the unmodded incoming shots with my Force.

  1. The Proton Bomb exploded.  Luke went down to 4 hull.  
  2. Chris rolled Hit-Hit-Crit, I rolled Blank-Eyeball and spent a Force.  Down to 2 hull.  
  3. Chris rolled Hit-Hit-Crit, I rolled Blank-Eyeball and spent a Force.  Luke was dead.

And it was only THEN that the words 'Barrel Roll' finally decided to wake up from their food coma and make it into my brain.  Luke could have barrel rolled in behind Vennie as his action...out of range of the bomb and out of arc of Vennie so I wouldn't get shot at all.  I'd spent so many turns boosting Luke around that Barrel Rolling him had literally not even begun to enter my brain as an option.  Yes, Chris got lucky on his dice roll but I'd been a total chump and handed him the opportunity to get lucky.

Poo bum.

LOSS
146-200


Round Four - Tim Greenaway
Gideon Swarm

This game was *desperately* close, but before it got to that stage it was also a game that swung enormously from one player to the other on the back of dice rolls.

A swarm of TIE/fo is possibly the single thing I least want to see with this squad - they're so good at blocking up space that my aces can't easily plot safe escape routes, and with 3 Agility and a focus token they're surprisingly tough to kill when you're bringing as few guns as I am.  Basically, Tim was playing pretty much the squad that I'd spent the last 18 months believing made a triple aces squad unviable.  I was glad he was bringing Gideon not Malarus, but otherwise this was pretty much my nightmare match and I had to try and handle them with extreme care.

The good news - I think I got my initial approach and engagement almost perfect, slipped his trap and got my ships into a great position.

The bad news - this is when it turned into a dice game.  Tim responded to how agile and hard-to-catch my ships were by throwing a lot of s-loops and k-turns to get as many guns on target as he could.  Even though Tim's ships were stressed and had no focus tokens I just could not deal damage to them - I think at one point we'd counted something like 14 natural evades on 16 green dice from his TIE/fos.  And at the same time Wedge could not roll a wiggle to save his life... which was exactly why he needed them, so Wedge exploded instead.

I kept trying to eke a way back into it with Luke & Ahsoka but the run of Tim's amazing green dice luck continued so long that I basically gave up any hope of taking back initiative in the game  I stopped trying to carefully plan my turns and get great shots and instead I just turned around and bumped and rolled some dice and waited for Tim to inevitably finish me off.

The good news - the dice luck now flip-flopped back in my favour.  Tim poured blaster fire into Luke but Luke ate it all with his Force tokens and went back to ask for more.  It was like replaying the Core Set game all over again as Luke did the things Luke does to TIE Fighters.  Then I killed a TIE Fighter. Then I killed another TIE Fighter.

Time was called as we were setting dials for one last turn.  I was pretty sure I was ahead on points and I just needed to stay there - I set Luke to close his S-Foils and run away to regenerate a shield, then I set Ahsoka to stay at range and Evade as I figured Tim would throw another lot of S-Loops and try scrabble a killshot onto her and snatch the win.

Tim revealed his first dial... it wasn't the S-Loop I expected, it was a 3 turn away from me and an Evade action... Tim thought *he* was ahead on points!  All our ships flew away from each other and it was time to get out the calculators.

WIN
98-82

Cripes.


ROUND FIVE - Ben Saunders
Dash, Ahsoka, Baby Wedge w/Outmaneuver

I don't think Ben would be upset by my saying that this matchup hugely favoured my squad - the advantage I got from having every ship moving after Dash was too great.  Ben knew that he was facing an uphill struggle so he tried something a bit daring to give himself a puncher's chance - as my forces raced across the table he feinted to run Wedge across his back line away from me, then 1-turned back towards me in the hope that I would overshoot him in a hurry to get after Dash and let the A-Wing get Outmaneuver online.  Unfortunately for Ben I'd covered my bases and Baby Wedge went down before he could roll a red dice in anger.

An uphill battle had became a mountain for Ben to climb.  What's worse is that I still hate 1.0 Dash enough to take playing against 2.0 Dash extremely seriously and make zero mistakes.  I paid Dash every bit of the respect he deserves in waiting for the right time to pounce and take him down.

WIN
200-54


ROUND SIX - Tom Reed
Double CIS Firesprays

I've namechecked Tom a couple of times already for all the help he gave me in actually getting my list into shape for the tournament, but for those who are reading this and don't immediately recognise his name: Tom is basically the end game boss for X-Wing in northern England.  Among his many achievements he's a System Open champion, a National champion, he's been in Top-8 at Worlds and he's also the reigning Sith Taker Open champion.  While my long playtest session with Tom had been incredibly helpful in smashing all my existing lists to pieces and pointing me to Rebel Aces, Tom had also found it useful in cementing his choice to play Double Firesprays - the list fit him like a glove and he was unsurprisingly unbeaten with it thus far.  

That my Rebel Aces were bidding to 193 was entirely down to the fact that I knew Tom's Firesprays were at 194 - not specifically targeting Tom himself, but using his list as the benchmark for where I needed to be against anyone else bringing Firesprays.  It did, incidentally, also make me perhaps the apex predator in the room as the squad most likely to be able to take a game off Tom.

With nothing on the line for either of us - we'd both already made cut to the generous Top-16 on Sunday - this game probably isn't a great indicator of how I could expect it to go every time, but I was very happy with how clear my margin of victory was.  Tom lined up his Firesprays across the table from me and we jousted it out, but my extra bid was vital in dodging his arcs and I managed to limit Zam Wessel to only firing once until I'd removed Jango from the game.

Taking Zam down proved to be a much tougher task - that girl can really hit! - and despite my big head start in the game Tom punched his way right back into the game and I thought it was going to slip away.  I won with Ahsoka untouched but both my X-Wings had been scrapped by Zam before she gave up the fight.  I knew any rematch in Sunday's Top-16 would be a much tougher affair, too.

WIN
200-138

Well, wowsers.  I finished the Swiss portion on a 5-1 record, coming 3rd in the standings and winning the prize for being the highest place Rebel player.  I expected none of that at the start of the day when I was pitching a brand new squad in an archetype I'd never played before and a faction I don't particularly like!  Finishing top of the Rebels earned me yet another RZ-1 A-Wing, this time a Hera Syndulla painted by local painting deity Jason Denton of Enigma Wargaming, who'd painted all the faction prizes.


All that remained was to go home and get some sleep so I could come back and do it all again on Sunday in the Top-16!

==== DAY TWO ====

Top-16 - Adam Freeman
AAAAX - Hera, Jake, Wedge, Arvel, Kulbee (R4/FTC)

Kulbee Sperado is an unusual choice as the T-65 pilot in this new archetype - it's usually Garven - but it's one that I quite like.  Kullbee brings two things to the table: his illicit slot for False Transponder Codes, and that with his pilot ability and R4 Astromech he's able to focus-boost around and keep up with the A-Wings without sacrificing his 3rd red dice.  Garven skews your T-65 choice towards extra defensive focus tokens, while Kullbee's speed and FTC skews it more offensively.  It's definitely a decent option.

I stopped taking photos but this is the turn before the engagement

The Top-16 took place on Sunday morning after many of the Sith Taker Open competitors had been celebrating being reunited with a few drinks on Saturday night.  Adam had been one of those players and he was certainly the worse for it, I think our game was coming a little bit too soon for Adam and he was ready to be back in bed.  His hungover state was probably the reason why Adam made a big mistake with Kulbee and boosted him forwards into a bad spot - Wedge, Luke and Ahsoka focused their fire and destroyed the T-65 in an alpha strike to rapidly put me ahead in the game.

I created a firing line and nuked Kullbee when he overextended.

I now had a tricky decision to make, though.  The first turn of firing had been fantastic but I was now in prime danger of Arvel throwing down his blocking tricks and using Intimidation to swing the combat maths in Adam's favour.  Unable to predict where Arvel was going to wind up and which of my three ships he could choose to block I decided to duck all his shots entirely.  Luke swung off to the left flank, Wedge swung off to the right, and Ahsoka blasted right through the middle with a 5-straight and boost.  Adam hadn't seen that coming and all my guys got away with barely a scratch on them.  I was up a ship, I'd escaped the bad bump turn, Adam himself looked about to collapse... everything was going great.

Can't catch me!  I successfully evade the bumps.

Except, in hindsight, I'd made a big mistake.  All my ships were clear of danger but they were also all heading in completely different directions.  Wedge was isolated, then bumped and quickly surrounded by angry A-Wings while Luke and Ahsoka were half a galaxy away... he went down in two turns with nothing to show for it.

Well... shit.

And after his one mistake with Kullbee I think Adam came back to life and his A-Wing play was perfect - constantly blocking in the right place and making the right moves.  My decision to break off had given him an opening and he seized it with really great play.  I've played with and against Arvel many times and this was by far the most destructive I've ever seen the little guy be, his Jake was everywhere passing tokens to everyone, Wedge was always on hand to deal the damage and Hera was always providing Evade token overwatch to ensure his ships took no damage.  The teamwork was exceptional and I simply fed him one ship at a time in the mincer.  

It was a well-deserved win for Adam.

LOSS

My run with Rebel Aces had come to an early end at the start of Sunday, but I was still very pleased with how well I'd done and I really like the squad.  The best thing about it is the balance between the three pieces.  The fat Luke is a big-hitting threat but with his shield regen he's very hard to even get half points from - you have to deal 6 damage to even get half from him if he can spend his R2 charges.  To do that you have to really go in hard on Luke, but that means ignoring Ahsoka and Wedge who can do a ton of damage if you ignore them.  Most players feel compelled to hit Wedge first as he's the biggest cannon, but Wedge is also the ship I'm happiest to lose as it puts both my force users into midgame.

The synergy between Ahsoka and Wedge is good too, with Ahsoka able to help Wedge preposition out of a lot of the traps opponents set for him.  Overall it was a fun squad and I really liked the blend of speed, defensive resilience and hard-hitting alpha strikes.  It's something I'm going to keep in my back pocked and keep playing, I think, although maybe with Miranda a lot of the time just to try and work her out.

Around here I should probably say congratulation YET AGAIN to Tom Reed for winning YET ANOTHER Sith Taker Open title.  He won the grudge match final against his father, Craig, on the last throws of the dice as time was called on the match.  You can watch the final here and there's a bunch of other games from the weekend that were all streamed by the Firestorm Squadron Firecast.

End game boss doing end game boss things.


THE HYPERSPACE SIDE EVENT

After dropping out of the Top-16 I moved into a Hyperspace format side event (awarded a first round bye as I was playing in the Top-16 of the main event).  I don't want to spend too long talking about this because I've probably overstayed my welcome already but didn't want to ignore it completely as I had three really great games and a ridiculously close final match.

I played 4x Disciplined Black Sqd TIE Strikers (2 with Thermal Detonators), then Wampa and a TIE/v1 with Thread Tracers.  Basically I wanted an antidote from playing so much aces and went back to my Imperial swarm comfort zone.

First game, against Jonathan Hall's HMP Gunships & Wat Tamor, was really interesting as we both had ships that refused to move normally and that made it a very different game.  I think what ultimately decided it for me was the power of my Adaptive Ailerons when everything Jonathan had was moving before me - they really helped me respond to the HMP Gunship's unpredictable flight patterns and gave me the edge I needed.

Second game, against Gary McDowell's Delta-7B Jedi Knights & Ric Olie was the opposite and with a little bid all his ships were moving after my Strikers.  That made a real difference and now the tables were turned with his Fine-Tuned Controls able to respond to what my TIE Strikers were doing.  We traded blows pretty evenly but I didn't even begin to make any headway into Ric Olie and Gary scooted away into endgame with enough points safely protected on the Naboo Starfighter.

My third and final game was an utter classic against Stevie B from the Vanguard Squadron, who was flying the dangerous Bossk/Joy/Genesis/Lando Escape Craft list.  All his ships were Initiative 4 and with unshielded TIE Strikers running around I knew that Genesis Red was going to tear me a new one.  I think I won this game in how quickly I removed Joy Rekoff's Fang Fighter - I managed to surge a TIE Striker forwards to bump her and lay three damage in, then on the next turn Stevie forgot about my Thermal Detonators and k-turned her in a bad spot.  I really needed that kind of luck because elsewhere Genesis Red and Bossk were indeed deleting TIE Strikers at will.  We crowded Bossk down but it left us playing a really tight little endgame match as Wampa and my Baron tried to outmaneuver Genesis Red and the coordinate trickery of Lando Calrissian.  I won it.  Just.  By a score of 200-185 which is about as close as they come - I had 2 health left on my Baron when I finally finished Lando off, and after two days of X-Wing I think Stevie and I were equally emotionally and physically exhausted by the battle. 

A great way to finish a great weekend of gaming!



My only concern is that, after 18 months cooped up at home, spending two days standing up to play X-Wing may have made me pregnant...


So I've got that to look forwards to at least.