Tuesday, 3 September 2019

'Punch It' Han

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

WIN 200-97

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

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

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

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

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

LOSS 27-200

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry, Bob.

WIN 200-80

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

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

This one did not go well.  

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

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

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

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

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

LOSS 104-200

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

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

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

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

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

1 comment:

  1. Nice to read from you again! I’m glad you finally tried contraband…
    a usuario
    hace 0 minutosDetalles
    Nice to read from you again! I’m glad you finally tried contraband cybernetics. They’ve been a must for me since the first day I used them. A BIG pity they aren’t HS legal.
    I’m still playing the list since we discussed it on FB, but my poe build remains a bit different, as I’m using the autoblaster marksmanship combo. I know you don’t like it, but I’ve done amazing things with it to the likes of soontir, vader, Fenn Rau... even Finn seems to take damage (otherwise it’s so hard).
    I also dropped Shield Upgrade from Han, and added Ferrosphere paint to Poe. It’s mainly there for the missile-loaded-passive-sensors-Tie SFs, as you mess hugely with their “I TL you and rotate arc to shoot you from the back, just when you thought you had arc dodged me” trick. And they seem to be everywhere here. Plus you’d be amazed how many times the opponent forgets you have it, and end up stressed far too much.
    So far I’ve played like 20 games, and am like 10-10 or so (not as good as my pre nerf Han-Corran list), but most games I lost came down to the last dice roll