Wednesday, 3 October 2018

"They hate this ship!" - Junkyard Falcon @ Element Games - 29/9/18

This past weekend I returned to my local battleground of Element Games in Stockport, UK for the second wave of their launch celebration events.  There's no prizes as such on offer other than bragging rights from another early opportunity to butt heads with some tough opponents as the standard in the store is pretty high with several of their local team the Sith Takers having some international X-Wing success as well as domestic.

I was still playing my Junkyard Falcons list but had, in fact, not played a single game with them since the last time I was at Element just a couple of days after release.  I'd made a couple of minor tweaks since then by dropping the Rigged Cargo Chute from Han Solo to add in 4-LOM crew and a Crack Shot on Captain Nym.  My squad looked like this...

Junkyard Falcon
  • Han Solo - Trick Shot, 0-0-0, 4-LOM, Greedo, Lando's Millenium Falcon
  • Captain Nym - Crack Shot, Dorsal Turret, Proton Bombs, Seismic Charges, Trajectory Simulator, Genius, Havoc, Hull Upgrade
  • Palob Godalhi - Elusive, L3-37, Moldy Crow

The two cards that came in to replace Rigged Cargo Chute had the following logic:
4-LOM - Han spends a fair bit of time looking for a big 4-5 dice attack to really punish the opponent, but when he's throwing lots of dice it's frequently the case that the opponent is throwing a lot of green dice as well as the shot is obstructed and often R3.  4-LOM allows me to turn off some of the dice mods on those green dice and push more damage through when the opportunity comes up.
Crack Shot - there's no logic for Crack Shot, it's probably awful and I should just have upgraded Nym's Hull Upgrade to a Shield Upgrade.  Unfortunately you only get 9 shield tokens between the Core Set and Lando's Falcon and a Shield Upgrade would mean I have 10 shields in my squad.  So screw it, I'll try Crack Shot out even though I'm pretty sure Traj Sim means most people are staying well away from sitting directly in front of Nym anyway.  
Otherwise the list is unchanged as my main lesson from last time out was that I just needed to stick to the plan and not waste Han on some damn fool idealistic crusade.  I really wanted to prove that this was better than a 3-2 squad!  

My big concern, though, was that the rest of the Element guys would have been getting in plenty of game time and the metagame would have stepped up while my list was essentially unchanged.  I'd been fortunate enough to play against a bunch of aces on my first day there but if they'd moved on to bigger and tougher ships then my bombs would be devalued and it would be a lot tougher going.

ROUND ONE - Jack Mooney
(Whisper, Captain Jonus & 2x Scimitar Bombers)

Well if I wanted a tough start to the day it couldn't get much tougher than facing Jack Mooney, who was top 4 at Worlds a couple of years ago and routinely goes very deep into massive X-Wing tournaments.  That habit of being very good at X-Wing includes the System Open that saw Jack qualify for Coruscant and he was at Element for some last minute practice before he flew out to FFG HQ.  Jack had been talking to Tom Reed to prep for Coruscant and I recognised this list as what Tom had played against me on release day, so I knew it was a tough opponent.

My main objective in approaching Jack's squad was to use the threat of Nym's bombs and Palob's focus-stripping to neuter the Bomber's joust, and to be honest that worked absolutely perfectly.  I hurled Nym forward and tossed a bomb out the front, then slow-rolled and threatened to send a second bomb into Jack's formation if he continued his joust and actually engaged.

That threat was too much for Jack and he banked away to head down the flank, but I'd called that play too and Nym rolled right in behind the fleeing bombers.  Meanwhile over the other side of the table Han had sucked Whisper into an engagement then left her in his dust.  For the time being both Han and Whisper would have to work hard to get back into the fight than that left Jack's bomber formation exposed.

The only thing that had really gone wrong for me was that Palob was now stuck following Nym around the battle and so he kept bumping, which meant his front arc never got into the game and he was always plinking away with his Dorsal turret.  That made actually killing the TIE Bombers really slow going, but as they were trapped like fish in a barrel down the flank I at least had time on my side.  Captain Jonus went down first, then as time was ticking down on the round I had one Scimitar Squadron Pilot with 1 hull left and one with half damage on him.

That was the good news, the bad news was that Whisper had caught Han in his sights as he tried to come round into the fight and the Falcon was now badly limping too.  In the final round of combat the Falcon exploded to the very first Barrage Rocket I'd let Jack get off all game, while I was unable to peck an extra damage point onto either of the Scimitars in return.

It had been a game that we both agreed Nym had bullied the entire time and yet as we counted MOV up it turned out I'd lost!  Killing Jonus and only getting half points on one Bomber wasn't enough to offset the loss of the Falcon as all of Jack's points were tied up in his really expensive Whisper, who was still in pristine condition.

LOSS 59-68 (Dead Han)

Except, of course, I'd actually won.  We messed up counting the MOV and I should have scored half points on both the remaining TIE Bombers instead of just one of them, which would have made the score 76-68 in my favour.  I didn't think of that until two days later. Doh!

As it was I headed down into the loser's bracket, although I was still very happy with how I'd played and felt like a little bit of better luck would have seen me win the game clean by taking off one of the Scimitars.

ROUND TWO - Kris Main
(BBB & Kyle Katarn)

So remember how at the top of the day I said I was worried about running into ships with lots of hull?  Well here's three B-Wings with Hull Upgrades.  Well, this was a steak that was going to take a lot of chewing.

Fortunately for me I think Kris wasn't quite up to speed on Second Edition squadbuilding and he'd made a few mistakes, most notably loading his B-Wings up with Predator and Tractor Beams instead of giving Kyle Katarn his vital Moldy Crow title.  He also seemed inordinately scared of my bombs considering he was running big chunky B-Wings and Nym was able to split his formation in two by pinning a Seismic Charge between a couple of asteroids.  That made life a lot easier and I was able to chew through a couple of B-Wings before the other two ships really made it back into the fight.

Even so, it was taking a good long while to actually kill all these things and it was only in the last rolls of the day that I managed to clear the third B-Wing off, then fell 1 damage short of killing Kyle to make it a clean sweep.

WIN - 178-28 (Half Palob)

ROUND THREE - James Clark
(Howlswarm & Sloanebus)

The Sloanebus (Admiral Sloane on a Lambda Shuttle) grabbed a lot of people's imagination after it did so well at the Gold Squadron Classic last weekend so there was a couple of players here running variants on this idea, with James preferring to bring a couple of Crack Shot TIEs instead of a third named TIE like Gideon Hask (my preferred version).  After the very carb-heavy meal of B-Wings in my last round I was happy to have a bit of a TIE salad as a palette-cleanser and this played very squarely into the bracket of 'things I should be able to beat'.

It was a third game on the bounce that was decided by Captain Nym forcing my opponent into abandoning a joust.  James' TIEs turned away from an initial joust to scoot along his back line, leaving Sloane's shuttle without fighter escort.  That played nicely into Nym's hands and he planted a Seismic Charge between two rocks to discourage the TIEs from turning in on his flank, then turned to rip into the Lambda shuttle with help from Palob.

With her TIE escort k-turning themselves into a mess as they tried to adapt to Nym's switch in direction Sloane's shuttle melted in two turns of fire and I was well ahead.  

As Howlrunner and her TIEs finally scrambled back into the fight I was waiting and began to pick them off.  I was so comfortably in charge that I was able to count coup a little bit and took the opportunity to show off by damaging a third TIE to just one hull left rather than killing Howlrunner.  James was surprised by my play but I did it knowing full well that I could wrap up 3 damaged TIEs with one Genius-placed Proton Bomb on the next turn.

Captain Nym beats TIE Swarms.

WIN - 200-37 (Half Nym)

ROUND FOUR - Mike Wilson
(BBK & Kyle Katarn)

This was like watching evolution in action as pretty much the same squad I had beaten in Round Two came back around in an improved form in Round Four.  Gone were the wasted points on unneccessary upgrades that I'd seen earlier, and in their place came the fantastic Moldy Crow title and a crafty Warden Squadron Pilot with Barrage Rockets, bombs and Sabine Wren crew.  This would be another test of my squad's ability to eat through a lot of tough ships before they could bring my team down.

It turned out that also gone this time around with that Kris' reluctance to just plow on into my bombs had been replaced by Mike being prepared to just take it all on the chin with his B-Wings and wade into a fierce brawl.  This was a new experience for me as most of my opponents have chosen to duck away from Nym's bombs but fortunately I had planned ahead for this and was ready to take advantage.  Han Solo had spent most of today watching from the sidelines as Nym and Palob cleaned up but in this game Mike's play brought Han right into the mix as he scooted in close to the melee to hurl all his red dice into the B-Wings through the rocks.

There had briefly been some B-Wings down at the bottom of this picture...
That added concentration of firepower on my part made all the difference to how quickly the B-Wings went down.  When other opponents have ducked away from Nym's bombs it's also meant them ducking away from focused firepower and it's created slower games where I get a strong tactical position but have to whittle targets of opportunity down as I can.  By heading on through the bombs Mike took away that tactical advantage I had been enjoying, but unfortunately just replaced it with some face-melting red dice from Palob and Han to add to Nym's bomb threat.

The B-Wings went down fast and hard, then Kyle followed the turn after that to leave the K-Wing alone against my whole team.

WIN - 200-37 (Half Nym)

After four rounds Colm Browne had gone 4-0 with his version of the Sloaneswarm that I'd met in Round Three, while I was in second place with the best MOV of the 3-1 players (and technically should have been on 4-0 myself, although the whole day would have been different if I'd gone into the winner's bracket after Round One so could just as easily have been on 1-3).  

The tournament semi-officially ended at that point as a bunch of people took the opportunity to head off early, while half the room stayed on for one last round.

ROUND FIVE - Vlad Bogdanov
(Wedge, Luke & Thane)

As many of the more successful players bowed out and gone home I was paired up against Vlad as we were among the last 3-1 players still in the room.  

This game was up on the stream and you can watch it on Twitch!

The short form version of the story is that it doesn't go very well for Vlad at all.  He suffers the same problem most of my opponents had in having Nym wreck their engagement plan and then pretty much losing the game before he can come up with a Plan B.  His X-Wings turn away from having to fly into a engagement where they'd lose all their shields to a couple of Seismic Charges and be fired upon by my whole squad, but my team fell in behind them and quickly took the X-Wings apart anyway.

WIN - 200-37 (Half Nym)

Well, it turned out to be a bit of an odd day for the scoreboard but I'm pretty sure I won.  

Maybe?  Like... I think so?  

I played five games and I won them all to finish second with a 3-1 record before an extra round was played after half the room went home and I was sitting on top of the scoreboard with 4-1.  Having still won all five games but accidentally recording that I'd lost one when we added the MoV up wrong.  Like I said... it was an odd day.

So was I 5-0?  Was I 4-1?  Was I 3-1 and the last round didn't count?  Did I win?  Was I second?

Whatever was true about the standings didn't really matter a whole lot as there were no prizes on the line.  What mattered was I was a lot happier with the outcome than I was when I finished 3-2 last time, and I was certainly much much happier with how I had played during the day.

I came into the day worried that my lack of table time would see the Junkyard Falcons fall behind the development curve, and also worried that I had only found success first time out against aces and wouldn't be able to handle tougher ships with lots of hull.  Both those things turned out to be untrue and in fact I feel like I learned a ton about why the Junkyard Falcon is good, the problem it causes for the opponent, the reasons it wins, and also what opponents are likely to do to try and counter it.

And it's still a TON of fun.

4-LOM was ok, nothing special, think I used it twice because a lot of the story of today was Han being a long way from the fight due to opponents turning away from my engage.  Crack Shot was garbage, as expected, I think it got used once all day.  I'd really like to try Dengar in the Falcon gunner slot but I'm a point short (Greedo + 4-LOM + Crack Shot = 5) and I don't see much fat to trim elsewhere so I'm sticking with what I've got for now and will just wait for somebody to push me into changing it by laying in some heavy defeats.

And finally, because more people seem to be starting to track this sort of thing after the clean break to Second Edition, my rolling Win/Loss records:

  • Junkyard Falcon Tournament Record: 8-2 (80% win rate)
  • Junkyard Falcon Total Record: 19-2 (90% win rate)

So far so good!