[X-Wing] Playing too many events to blog…

Another break in blogging, partly because of work and life, partly because there was a brief lull in X-Wing news from FFG when I had some free time, and partly because I’ve been playing X-Wing more than writing about it. And, at least locally, winning when I do!

So, what have I been up to in the meantime?

The Yavin Open

I went to the Yavin Open, and didn’t do desperately well, going 3-4 on Day 1. I took the flavour of the month list, Parattanni, and hit two mirror matches, both of which game down to final salvos against members of the 186th. I learned that while Parattanni is an excellent list, it doesn’t really fit well with my “joust them at full speed” playstyle, as Fenn Rau needs a little bit more caution to get the most out of him.

I did notably better during the Hanger Bay events on Day 2, winning three of my four games with a list that notably better fit my playstyle – but more on that later… Getting a handful of the dual Lothal Rebel/Baron of the Empire cards was a nice bonus, and is making me consider picking up a second Ghost seriously…

Something I was once again pleased to see was the excellent community atmosphere and sportsmanship in evidence at Yavin. For all that it was a top level competitive event, all of my opponents were great fun to play against and it made for an excellent way of spending two days. That said, seven rounds of X-Wing in one day is a bit more than I can handle, and my last game was a collection of bad decisions that my exhausted brain though were a good idea at the time… 🙂

 

Battlefield Hobbies Regional

Next up was the Battlefield Hobbies Regional, which was a 100 player event with an extremely high level of quality play as it seemed to be essentially a who’s who of UK X-wing. I did marginally better than Yavin, going 3-3 and placing in the top half of the event, with even the games I lost being quite close to the wire. I’d taken my First Order alpha strike list to this event, which was going to serve me well in the future. TOME crashed a couple of time during the event, resulting in some last minute re-pairs that let me dodge at least one list I really didn’t like the idea of flying against… 😉

Day 2 of the event had a bunch of smaller mini tournaments for those of us who hadn’t made the cut, and there was a nice variety of lists and factions on display. As this was taking place a week before the big FAQ hit, I’d brought out a Commonwealth Defenders build to make the most of both Palpatine and the X7 title working at their full potential. They proved as potent as I remembered, and solidified my thoughts that the upcoming errata was justified.

Battlefield Hobbies put together a heck of an event for their first ever X-Wing event, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye open for any big events they run in future. The staff were generally fantastic, and went out of their way to help.

 

Athena Games – Escalation

Then I hit the start of what would prove to be a bit of a hot streak with Athena Games’ Escalation tournament. I brought along ragtag band of Rebels, with the cornerstone of the list being a Swarm Leader Jess Pava backed by Captain Rex and Sabine in TIE Fighters. 90 points got me Biggs, 120 got me Thane, and finally 150 points added a loaded Cassian Andor.

I had a ridiculously good day, only giving up 90 points of MoV across my four games, and not losing a ship in my first two rounds. Jess Pava really is a bit of a star for Rebels in general, and the Rebel TIE gives them some interesting new options. I’m looking forwards to experimenting with it more in future.

This was also the first X-Wing event I’ve won (although I’ve placed in the top 4 a few times before that), which was a very pleasing outcome to the day.

 

Athena Games – The “Voitek Invitational” I

Voitek’s one of the Athena locals, and an extremely good X-Wing player, having placed top 8 at Yavin and top 4 at the Battlefield Hobbies regional. He put together a small 8 player tournament at one of Athena’s regular Wednesday evening Flight Night to let those of us keen on a more competitive style of play to test out some lists without being “those guys who bring meta lists to casual games”. 😉 We had a good diversity of lists, with all three factions relatively equally represented. I’d brought the First Order again, and it proceeded to wreck enemy ships in an alarmingly efficient fashion.

My memories of this event are a bit hazy at this point, as it was a few months ago, but I know a couple of the lists I went against.

Round 2 was Owen Appleton’s Snap Juke A-Wings plus Swarm Leader Jess Pava. I didn’t quite manage to kill a ship in the opening exchange, and Owen put a lot of hurt on my SFs in return, but I clawed this one back. The consistent damage output of the SFs and Omega Leader was just more than Owen’s list could manage to weather. Pretty down to the wire though.  Owen’s list is an amazingly fun one to fly and fly against, and something I’d recommend any X-Wing player takes out for a spin at least once.

Round 3 was Jon Easter’s Defenders. This was a brutal list, pairing TIE/D Ryad and Vessery with a Homing Missile packing Scimitar Squadron Bomber. We went in for a direct joust, and my Homing Missiles and Omega Leader did a lot of damage to Vessery, but left him on one hull point. Jon’s return fire killed Backdraft via some good use of Tractor Beam, leaving me feeling quite worried. However, Quickdraw’s revenge shot from the TIE Bomber’s missile let me kill Vessery, and then I was able to take out Ryad and the Bomber fairly efficiently after that, helped by Quickdraw managing to get some close range shots in. This game was streamed, and can be found on the Athena Games Youtube channel.

Overall, it was a strong proof of concept, and demonstrated that the alpha strike provided by the SFs could comfortably win games.

 

Athena Games – May Day Tournament

Athena slotted in a standard 100 point tournament at the start of May to give people prepping for the European Championships a chance to try out some lists in advance. On a bank holiday Monday, it also let a few people who couldn’t normally make the regular Saturday afternoon tournament slot a chance to participate.

Once again, I was flying the First Order, as I was really gelling with the list at this point. The TIE/sf is probably my favourite ship from Wave 9, and that’s saying something given the wealth of good options that came with that wave.  Sadly my notes about the event have gone astray, but I went undefeated to win the event.  Finally, my first full 100 point tournament victory!

 

Athena Games – Voitek Invitational II

After the success of the first, Voitek and Elliot organised another one of these mini Wednesday tournaments. We’d got a slightly different rosta of players, and I’d brought (shock horror) a slightly different list. Still two SFs featuring, still Quickdraw and Backdraft, but this time with Pure Sabacc as their wingman. And everyone was packing Expertise and Lightweight Frame for less of an alpha strike, but notably better defence and very consistent damage output. I was a bit dubious going into the event, as 12 points of EPTs across three ships felt a bit excessive, but I was optimistic the SFs might at least live a little longer than usual.

Again, my memory is a bit vague of these games, but I’ve jotted down what I can remember below.

Round 1 – Will – Han and Jan. Very punchy list, with Jan throwing in extra dice for Han’s attacks. The high PS was an issue, but my ships could cut through Han’s defences quickly enough to win the damage race. Unsurprisingly, Lightweight Frame helps quite a lot against TLT shots…

Round 2 – Voitek – The Worlds Dengar and Tel list.  Voitek flew this list well – as you’d expect – but just got unlucky on his dice. Pure Sabacc proved remarkably evasive, getting through the first round of fire from both Dengar and Tel with only a single damage card and his pilot ability intact as a result – 8 natural evades on 9 green dice isn’t bad at all… That added firepower allowed me to focus the JumpMasters down quite fast, although even so the amount of firepower they can put out proved extremely punishing.

Round 3 – Darren – Airen, Jan, and Miranda, all kitted out to alpha strike. The less said about this game the better in some ways. Darren is a lovely chap, but we were both a bit frayed going into this game from some tense matches earlier in the event, and made so many mistake throughout. This is probably the least tidy game of X-Wing I’ve played, and I’m not convinced that if we’d been playing better that it wouldn’t have been Darren’s game instead.  My SFs do not deal well with a PS 10 alpha strike, as it removes their all important PS advantage.

 

Athena Games – Voitek Invitational III

The third of these Wednesday night tournaments saw me bringing along another list again, although still Imperial, and still featuring a TIE/SF. I’d put together a Whisper (VI, ACD, FCS, plus Agent Kallus), Quickdraw (A Score to Settle, FSC, LWF, title), and Deathfire (Cluster Mines, EM). For those of you thinking “who’s Deathfire”, you’re not alone. One of the two new TIE Bomber pilots from Imperial Veterans, Deathfire allows you to do a Bomb upgrade action as a free action after revealing your dial or performing an action. This gives him a lot more options about where those mines will go, and at only 23 points he’s quite a meaningful threat for not a lot of investment.

All of my games were real nail biters. Deathfire died early in pretty much every one, effectively acting as a budget Biggs as people very reasonably decided they just didn’t want to have to deal with post-barrel roll Cluster Mines being dropped on their ships. This did give both Quickdraw and Whisper relatively untroubled early turns however, which let them start to put pressure on my opponent’s ships. In my first and third games (against IG-88B plus Bossk, and Scum Kath/Boba respectively) Whisper ended the game as my only ship, and on one hull remaining after several tense turns of desperate arc dodging to stay alive. It’s a hell of a fun list to play, but not what I’d describe as a relaxing experience…

Unsurprisingly, I was beaten on MoV on that event, with Stephen Sage’s “Angry Birds” Chewie and Rey double YT-1300 list taking the event for a well deserved victory.  He’s been honing that list for a good while now, and his experience with it shows.

 

So, 4 win out of my last 5 competitive events, although three of those were only 8-12 player events. Remarkably, I’d also gone undefeated across those 5!  It’s a hot streak I wasn’t sure would last into Store Championship season, with both the Inner Sanctum (Cambridge) and Athena Games (Norwich) Store Championships on the horizon. But more about the first of those in the near future…

X-Wing tournament report – Athena Games Store Championship 26th March

Athena Games held their Store Championship last Saturday, so it’s time for another X-Wing tournament report.

As usual, I was playing Scum. Specifically, I was flying:

  • Dengar – Push the Limit, Engine Upgrade, K4 Security Droid, Unhinged Astromech, Punishing One title
  • IG-88B – Adaptability, Mangler Cannon, Autothrusters, Fire Control System

Dengar was kitted out to take advantage of the sizeable number of green moves on the JumpMaster dial, and to give him some solid arc-dodging capability. (This possibly seems a little counter-intuitive give his pilot ability, but not getting shot is always good.) The K4 droid added to this synergy, handing out target locks on greens to make me a little more resistant to stress and other forms of action denial. IG-88B was there to be mobile and hard to hit, with 3 Agility and Autothrusters hopefully meaning he could deal with massed low attack shooting from something like a TIE swarm if needs be. The lists clocked in at 100 points exactly. I’d ideally have liked to have a point or two spare to put a better Elite Pilot Talent on IG-88B (Crack Shot, Veteran Instincts, Wired, or Juke), but Adaptability at least pushed him up to PS 7 which might have some use.

The full list can be found here.

This list was partly another attempt to challenge my flying skills – I’ve always struggled to fly large base ships well – and partly so I could take the JumpMaster out for a spin. As the Wave 8 ship I was the most excited about, and something new and different for Scum, I was eager to give it a try.

With 45 players in attendance at the Store Championship, we were looking at 6 rounds of Swiss with a cut to the top 8 – a long day ahead for everyone, and a very late finish in the works for anyone who made the cut…

 

Game 1 – Rob

  • 2 Academy Pilots
  • Mauler Mithel – Outmaneuver
  • Tetran Cowall – Push the Limit
  • Carnor Jax – Push the Limit

100 points. Full list here.

Ah, Carnor Jax, my old nemesis. An interesting looking list, including a pilot I’d not seen played before in Tetran Cowall. Carnor and Mauler Mithel looked like the big dangers in this list, with Outmaneuver Mauler looking like he could dish out a lot of damage. Still, with the highest PS being 8, Dengar should be able to react to my opponent’s moves and get himself into an optimal position.

The game started well, with the two Academy TIEs dying to concentrated fire on the first turn of shooting. Dengar’s ability proved valuable here, stripping off the last two hull from a wounded TIE as it shot at him. However, IG-88 took a bit of a battering from the Interceptors with only one shield remaining after the opening exchange, and Dengar was down two shields from a strong range 1 shot from the Academy TIE.

The next two turns swung things back for Rob, with Mauler and Carnor tearing IG-88 apart. The Mauler Outmaneuver combo was as nasty as I’d expected, and IG-88 exploded without really doing much else as Rob neatly predicted where he was going. Dengar had a better time of things, taking out Tetran Cowall for only the loss of one more shield.

With just two ships remaining, Dengar’s naturally high PS proved invaluable, as he was able to consistently boost and barrel roll out of arc. Combined with the target locks from the K4 droid, he managed to take out both Mauler and Carnor for the loss of 1 more shield.

100-44 win to me, although Dengar was only 1 hull away from giving up half points. A win to start the day, which is always nice.

 

Game 2 – David

  • Dash Rendar – Predator, Heavy Laser Cannon, Recon Specialist, Outrider
  • “Chopper” – Fire Control System, Autoblaster Turret, Ezra, Hera

99 points. Full list here.

An interesting Dash build, emphasising offence over the massive mobility of the standard “Super Dash” build. Predator plus a good chance of having a focus for both attack and defence seemed like it could prove troubling. This would be my second ever game against a Ghost, and my first flying against Chopper. With Ezra, Hera and the FCS, Chopper would be able to do red moves freely while also having consistent dice modification.

David deployed centre board with his two ships, keeping Dash a little behind Chopper. I deployed Dengar in the right corner, to maximise his options for green moves and protect his right flank, and IG-88 towards the left of the board to hopefully either draw attention away from Dengar or be able to sweep in behind David’s ships if they committed towards Dengar.

Things looked good initially, with Chopper getting caught up on some asteroids, and Dengar and IG-88 closing in on Dash. However, Dash laid down a lot of firepower, taking 4 shields off Dengar in the opening exchange, although he did lose 3 shields in return from the combined fire of my ships. The heavy laser cannon is not to be underestimated!

Chopper broke free of the rocks and pulled round to get a shot on IG-88, whose Agility couldn’t successfully fend off 5 attack dice. Dengar moved to pursue Dash, but took another heavy shot and dealt little damage in return.

The game continued like this, with David consistently outdoing my damage and rapidly taking out Dengar. IG-88B hung around a good while longer, and managed to get both ships down to half damage, but thanks to Chopper doing some very effective blocking (and so stressing as well) and Dash keeping out of range the few times I managed to get him in arc I just couldn’t keep up. IG-88 eventually went down to the Autoblaster Turret when Chopper moved a little further than I expected and David got a clear shot. Good Agility doesn’t help when you can’t dodge!

50-100 loss, although my points were only from getting both of the large ships down to half health. In retrospect, I probably should have tried to focus down Chopper earlier in the game and leave myself with just one ship to deal with, but Dash was a very intimidating presence I wanted to get rid of as soon as possible. Also, all credit to David for flying Dash very well.

1 Win – 1 Loss

 

Game 3 – Darren

  • Kanan Jarrus – Fire Control System, Autoblaster Turret, 2 Recon Specialists, Ghost title
  • Zeb Orrelios – Phantom title
  • Blue Squadron Pilot – Heavy Laser Cannon, Fire Control System, B-Wing/E2, Hera

99 points. Full list here.

I was pleased to be matched against Darren, as we’ve had some excellent games of X-Wing at past tournaments. His list intimidated me slightly, with a lot of health and some heavy firepower in play. The double Recon Specialists on Kanan seemed like they could be a problem as well, potentially dropping my offence significantly if I got too close.

Darren put his B-Wing in his right corner (my left), with Kanan (and the docked Phantom) centre board. I deployed on the left, wanting to take out the B-Wing as quickly as possible if I could. Darren’s ships moved forwards slowly, while I quickly closed range on the B. Thanks to some good rolls from both IG-88 and Dengar, and Dengar’s invaluable return shot, the B-Wing went down in the first turn of shooting, although Dengar did lose three shields in the process. Kanan was just out of Range 2, so my attacks were all at full strength.

Kanan swung round, and proceeded to dish out some hurt via the Ghost’s primary weapon. Dengar dodged round behind him with IG-88 following close behind, at which point I made what would prove to be a fatal mistake – I forgot about the docked Phantom and so the rear arc of the Ghost, and didn’t barrel roll Dengar clear. The 5 dice primary attack followed by the Autoblaster Turret put a crippling amount of damage on Dengar, and pulled things back in Darren’s favour.

Then he darted forwards, putting the Ghost facing squarely towards the edge of the board. The Phantom undocked in response to Kanan’s presumed rapidly approaching demise, neatly blocking IG-88. The Autoblaster Turret again proved it’s worth, whittling down IG-88 to only two hull remaining. Still, I was feeling confident again – while IG-88 was only on two hull and Dengar only on one, the Ghost flying off the board should swing things back for me so I focused Dengar’s fire onto the Phantom, badly damaging it.

However, the next Activation phase showed that I’d been overconfident, with the Ghost pulling a hard 1 right leaving it on the board by a hair’s breadth. The Phantom went down to Dengar’s shooting, but Darren took out Dengar in return. IG-88 continued to push damage onto Kanan, getting him down to four hull, but Darren flew well and boxed me in for a final Autoblaster shot that blew IG-88 away.

75-100 loss, and a sobering lesson about actually trying to remember what your opponent’s ships can do when you’re going against something new. (This was my first game against the Ghost with a docked Phantom.) And don’t just assume a ship will fly off the board if there’s the slimmest chance it might be able to pull it back! That said, for all of my mistakes Darren flew the list well, and made good use of Kanan’s ability throughout.

1 Win – 2 Losses

 

We had a late lunch break at this point, with my game ending early giving me a little more time to take a breather and clear my head. I went into the next round feeling a little more refreshed.

 

Game 4 – James

5 Academy Pilots
Epsilon Leader
Howlrunner – Swarm Tactics

99 points. Full list here.

A full on TIE swarm, something I was pretty sure my list would struggle with. While I’d got a decent amount of firepower, best case I was going to be taking out two ships a turn. In response, I’d be taking a lot more in return fire. Epsilon Leader also takes a lot of stress concerns out of the equation, allowing the TIEs to K-turn then go into the following turn with an unrestricted dial. Howlrunner would be the priority target, to push the overall average shooting PS lower and get rid of the dice modification.

James set his TIEs up in the centre of the board, so I went for a split deployment – IG-88 on the left, Dengar on the right – to hopefully either split his swarm up or leave them open to an attack from the flank if they committed one way or the other. Ideally I was hoping he’d gun for Dengar, as he’d be able to hopefully barrel roll and/or boost out of some arcs.

James immediately swept for IG-88 on my left. So much for that plan… The initial exchange of fire didn’t do much to either side, with one of the lead TIEs taking a crit and IG-88 losing a shield. I tried to S-loop round to the left of the TIEs, but James had neatly barrel rolled one of the Academy TIEs into position to easily block it. IG-88 and Dengar take out Howlrunner, but IG-88 goes down in flames from massed Range 1 TIE shooting. Things weren’t looking good… Dengar managed to get out of the arc of most of the TIEs the following turn, but was moving towards the bottom left corner of the board. He damaged another TIE, and only took a single shield damage in return.

I was left with two options – hard turn 1 to the left, get the target lock from the K4, and shed Dengar’s stress, or turn round to the right, keep my stress, but hopefully gain some positional advantage. I went for the latter option, and once again cleared most of the TIEs arcs and forced some onto the asteroids in the left corner. Dengar took out a TIE, took another shield in return, and I turned around to the right again. The TIEs moved round ahead of Dengar, Dengar bumped into the back one, and took out the one TIE with arc on him.

Dengar then proceeded to mop up the remaining TIEs handily, only taking a small amount of damage in return. The TIEs’ positioning left them with little in the way of options, and one clipped off the edge of the board.

100-44 win for me, although at least in part due to some exceptional luck on my part. James also had some bad luck with Epsilon Leader being just out of range to take stress off several of his TIEs the turn after they K-turned due to an unfortunate bump. That said, I’m glad I made the call to keep my stress and take a “bad” move to get into a better position – that won me the game.

2 Wins – 2 Losses

 

Game 5 – Sam

  • Poe Dameron – R2 Astromech, Integrated Astromech
  • Gold Squadron Pilot – Ion Cannon Turret
  • Green Squadron Pilot – Push the Limit, Chardaan Refit
  • Blue Squadron Pilot – Advanced Sensors

100 points. Full list here.

I’ve got a great deal of fondness for ABXY lists – the first tournament list I flew was ABXY. Sam’s list had got a decent amount of firepower, and a nimble potential blocker in the Green Squadron A-Wing. The Ion Cannon Turret didn’t worry me too much, as it would take two ion shots to ionise either of my ships.

I went for a split deployment again, and Sam swept in to close with Dengar. Degnar managed to roll out of most arcs, and started dishing out damage to the B-Wing as my priority target. It didn’t last too long under the combined firepower of my two ships, and I switched priorities to the Y-Wing. Sam had a bit of bad luck with a Talon Roll that put Poe just out of arc of my ships, although it did block Dengar from barrel rolling meaning the A-wing got to deal some damage.

My notes are pretty much non-existent for this game, as fatigue had started to set in, but with generally higher PS than Sam’s pilots and good maneuverability I was able to stay clear of his fire arcs a lot of turns while consistently dealing damage. The A-Wing was the last to go down, with a decent evade roll on my final turn depriving Same of half points for Dengar.

100-0 win for me. Sam was an excellent sportsman throughout the game, and we had a good chat about list building, X-Wing and gaming in general while we waited for pairings for the next round.

3 Wins – 2 Losses

 

The tournament software had a bit of a hiccup at this point, providing some incorrect pairings for the round. It briefly looked like I might be on the streaming table against a Punisher and two Interceptor list, but I was then re-paired. (The video of the stream can be found here for anyone who’s interested in seeing some of the games from the day: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAOMH3T_VzssrOGoPSnqcJA ). Finally new pairings were announced…

 

Game 6 – Tom

  • Poe Dameron – Veteran Instincts, R5-P9, Autothrusters
  • Tycho Celchu – Push the Limit, Proton Rockets, Autothrusters, A-Wing Test Pilot, Rage
  • Grey Squadron Pilot – Twin Laser Turret, R3-A2, BTL-A4

98 points. Full list here.

A very solid looking Rebel list, with a Tycho build I’ve been curious to try myself. The Grey Squadron Y looked like it could be trouble, as I’d had problems dealing with stress builds in the past. And that Poe build is a classic for a reason…

We closed range quite quickly. Dengar rolled into Range 1 of the Y-Wing to avoid the TLT shot (and so double stress), but couldn’t get clear of Range 1 of Tycho. The Y took a chunk of damage, Dengar unsurprisingly took more.

I managed to take out Tycho to little more damage, and started work on Poe, but as 8 PM and close to 10 hours of X-Wing rolled round I started making mistakes. I K-turned rather than S-looped IG-88, leaving him without a shot on the Y-Wing which proptly double stressed him. Dengar bumped Poe twice as I forgot the order of activation, and dialed in bad moves. Tom was also flying well, and using the Y-Wing to good effect. First IG-88 then Dengar went down to focused fire, with Dengar’s second bump on Poe spelling his demise and stopping him from getting out of the Y-Wing’s arc.

35-100 loss, and the end of the day for me. I think both Tom and I were feeling the length of the day, so there were a few mistakes from both of us at various points, but Tom held it together better than I did! 🙂

3 Wins – 3 Losses

 

The final rankings went up, and I placed 20th out of 45, firmly in my intended goal of top half. With the first round of the top 8 starting close to 9 PM, I was slightly glad to be out of the running, and headed home with my new C-3PO card.

As always, an excellent day of gaming against great opponents. The team at Athena Games kept things moving along smoothly (barring a software hiccup out of their hands), and both the TO and commentary team showed great endurance as the event ran until 12.15 AM.

The winning list was slightly unexpected – a variant on the Rebel Panic Attack, with 2 Blue Squadron B-Wings with Tactician, a Gold Squadron Stresshog, and a TLT Gold. By all accounts it was an extremely effective list well flown.

There seemed to be a good variety of lists in general, although both JumpMaster lists and Palpatine plus Aces seemed to be well represented. We did have one “Wolfpack” of three Contracted Scouts present which made the cut although not the final.

I was overall pleased with how I did, although there were some mistakes I shouldn’t have made – and there’s no matter how much theorycrafting you do, there’s nothing like flying against a new ship to get a handle on what it can do. Still, I managed to fly two large bases with minimal collisions, bumps and interactions with obstacles, so I’m pleased with that.

I’m looking forward to the Regionals hosted at Athena at the start of July, which will be the highest tier X-Wing event I’ll have played to date. I’m expecting to learn a lot from the day if nothing else… 🙂