Well the weeks just keep on rolling by! Somehow we’re now well into March, Easter is coming and the sun is sticking around longer. Sometimes it’s even warm. And it’s great.
This last week in X-Wing world has been simultaneously busy but also quiet and it makes these posts a bit weird to write. I know that makes no sense, let me explain.
I publish blogs on a Tuesday but I’m actually writing them over the course of 3 or 4 days. I usually play a game on a Thursday or Friday evening and then write up the various sections across Saturday/Sunday/Monday depending on what time I have free, making sure it’s all ready to go by around 11am on the Tuesday.
The majority of X-Wing content that I consume is listening to podcasts while driving for work and most podcasts that I listen to are released on a Tuesday/Wednesday. As a result, I’m sort of on a bit of a time delay in that respect, since on any given BLOG TUESDAY!! I’ve written the post 2/3 days before that with information from podcasts from almost a week before publishing which themselves are talking about content from the days leading up to THEIR publishing date. And then there’s Facebook and Reddit and Discord information to throw into the mix too and that’s not even counting the sporadic (but significant) FFG/AMG articles/streams, etc.
Crikey that looks complicated when I write it out!
Anyway, my point is this. New packs are being released (yay!) and while there have been official articles about some of the contents followed by speculation and ranking and opinions on points and things like that, it’s starting to feel like we (the general X-Wing community) have already analysed the new content to death (which isn’t actually the case since not ALL of the content has been spoiled yet. Has it? HAS IT?!?!).
What makes it weird is that when the announcement was made about the new packs (which was on the AMG stream early in February) it FELT like it was really soon, it suddenly feels like we’ve been waiting for it for AGES and we’re STILL just over 2 weeks away.
Maybe it’s just me though. Or maybe it’s because I’m excited that the Rebels are finally getting some new content.
That’s enough of my nonsense, let’s get onto some proper X-Wing talk!
In amongst all the talk of new releases and the like, I just want to give a quick shout-out to the very awesome Dan ‘Eggs’ Xuereb who not only made cut in a Gold Squadron Flight Club Qualifier for a SECOND TIME but actually made it to top 8. Well done mate!
But what am I doing? Well, as you might know if you’ve been following over the last few weeks, I’m taking part in the Sith Taker Cup ‘The Sequel’. Having won my first game and lost my second I was to be paried up with another 1-1 player (although given my track record in TTO events it wasn’t guaranteed!)
I’ll get to him in a moment though, first, a quick reminder of my list:
Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 6
Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2
Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z244XWW245W173W174WWW193Y240X172WW102W186Y387X172WW102W186&sn=Rey-Wings&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2
Yep, I stuck with the Rey-Wings list despite having the option to change. I really like the way that Rey can punch people in the face consistently. And the A-Wings have the capability to do so too (with Prockets (JARGON ALERT!!)) before then prancing off to shoot out the their rear arc while running away. It’s decent and it’s fun.
And anyway, with games coming regularly once a week I’ve not got the time/opportunity/motivation/imagination to change it up just yet. Maybe once the cup is done and the new releases are out (or rather, once we have points!) I’ll take a look at what thoroughly average nonsense I can throw together.
So who am I playing against? Well, let’s see…
The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)
Yes, it’s the master of the X-Wing selfie and fellow Welshman, Mr Ben Hyde. Awesome!
Ben and I have never met nor interacted in any way but I’m very aware of his trademark ‘over enthusiastic selfies’ that, pre-covid at least, get posted out in various X-Wing groups on Facebook and was really looking forward to the game.
I checked out Ben’s list a few days before the game to get an idea of what I could do.
Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3
Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3
Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3
Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3
Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3
Interesting. Homing Missiles give (virtually) guaranteed damage, Passive Sensors negates the lower initiative issue with locks while also allowing him to potentially switch targets and munitions failsafe is just in case the missiles whiff (JARGON ALERT!!).
Ok, well, theoretically I can take one off the table before shooting if I can engage right so doing that is going be a priority. Rey can tank two volleys of the Homing Missile shots so provided I can do enough focused damage before she burns down I should be able to finish off the remaining SF’s with the A-Wings.
I try it in Fly Casual and beat it a couple of times. Having spoken before about FC not being anywhere close to a realistic test, I’m cautiously positive about it. I then flip side and play the SF list against my list and I beat it. Now, FC does indeed know and do the Rey/Finn/Rose combo so while I’m still only outwitting an AI, it’s not being stupid about it. The list is dangerous and so I have to do my best to try and beat it.
Game day finally arrives and Ben and I meet on Discord and get set up to play.
Time for some Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – it doesn’t matter, they’re all identical. Just focus down one at a time to reduce guns on the board.
Obstacles – Ben has brought 2 debris and an asteroid. If I get the asteroid well out of the way it’s not too important where everything else goes. If I can get a lane for Rey to zoom up and down then it’s a bonus.
Deployment – As Ben gets to deploy first I can decide afterwards but I’ll group my ships together as far from him as possible to have space to measure my approach.
We place obstacles and ships and are ready to go!
If I were Ben I’d be approaching by going straight past the first debris before banking into the lane running from side to side to face off. With that in mind I decide to hard turn everyone. Rey will turn right and head for the middle of the board while the A-Wings will turn left and approach the SF’s between the debris.
Ben goes straight with all his ships as expected. It’s 5 straight though which means I may have to be careful how I pace my approach.
Back to planning then. I just mentioned about my pace of approach and so while I might prefer to bank in with Rey and maybe boost, if Ben approaches quickly I’d prefer Rey to take a focus rather than be relying on Force and being stressed.
Rey gets a 3 hard turn while the A’s both get 2 straights.
Ben expertly banks his ships in, shifting in formation and all taking a Passive Sensors (PS from here on in because I’m lazy!) action.
Rey’s 3 hard takes her closer to the debris than I’d have liked but since she’ll be going straight next turn it won’t really matter. I realise now that I could have banked this turn and boosted, been further from my board edge (which I’d have preferred) and still done a blue 1 or 2 straight next turn. Oh well!
The A’s go 2 straight and roll away towards my board edge, not wanting to get too far ahead of Rey nor too close to the SF’s yet.
No shooting again this time but next time there certainly will be.
Back to planning then and now some choices to make. Or are there?
Rey’s 1 straight is pretty cut & dried. I don’t think Ben can orchestrate a bump from that distance at this angle. Ok, cool. The A-Wings need to hard turn in but how fast? I want bullseye on something because if I want to initiative kill a ship in this turn then Prockets will be required. I decide to go 3 hard with both.
Bens tarts moving ships. Slightly unexpectedly he 3 banks with the red SF and takes PS. Ok, so he’s going all in on Rey then? Actually, no. The remaining 4 ships all just pootle 1 forwards and also take PS.
Rey’s 1 straight lands on the debris but Korr Sella sorts out the stress, the damage roll is blank and Rey takes a focus.
Zizi takes the 3 hard and then focuses into a linked boost, banking left. Bullseye on red. Pow.
Tallie follows up and attempts to replicate but the distance between the A-Wings means the banked boost fails. Not a disaster. Probably.
It’s time to start shooting and the red SF pilot starts looking nervous.
Tallie starts, landing 2 hits with Optics. The SF rolls 1 evade, loses 1 shield.
Ok, fine. Zizi next. Zizi fires Prockets, rolling 2 hits, 1 eyeball and 2 blanks. I spend the focus for 3 hits. The SF rolls 1 evade, loses 2 shields.
And now Rey. Rey rolls, adds a blank (Finn), spends it for a lock (Rose), spends the lock and focus for 3 hits. The SF rolls 1 evade, takes 2 damage and lives.
At this point I realise that I’d probably (definitely?!) been better off taking a lock with Rey for her action over a focus since I could have had 4 dice rather than 3 and could have turned blanks using Rey’s pilot ability. Something to ponder.
Ben starts to return fire and it’s not at the target I expect.
His first shot is a Homing Missile at Zizi. Huh.
I think to myself that if he does this 4 times (since there are 4 SF’s all with Passive at range 2-3), I can’t tank all 4 shots without rolling dice. I have to take on at least one. Still, at least it’s Zizi and she used her ability to take a focus after spending one on attack.
I take dice on the first shot.
Let’s take a moment here to talk about confirmation bias. It always feels to me like when I spend a lock to reroll dice, the result is often no better than the first roll. However when an opponent (any given opponent at any time, ever) spends a lock, blanks reroll into crits and it’s horrible for me. On some level I know this isn’t true. I know it. Statistically, it can’t be. And yet….
Ben rolls 4 dice (only with PS, no focus on any of his ships), spends his lock and it’s 2 hits and 2 crits. Right. Zizi rolls, spends her focus to take 1 shield. Got away with that one.
The next shot comes in. I decide to roll again. Ben rolls 4 dice, spends his lock and it’s 4 hits. Zizi rolls (and has no token this time) and rolls 2 evades.
Now, don’t get me wrong, 2 natural evades is technically above average here. It is. And 2 evades and an eyeball the shot before was definitely above average. But this feels pretty bad.
The third shot comes in and now I’ve got no choice, if I take the Homing Missile hit with no dice, I’m dead so it’s got to be dice. Ben rolls 4 dice, spends his lock and it’s 2 hits and 2 crits. Regardless of rolls, above average or otherwise, Zizi is toast.
Ben’s last 2 shots are Homing Missiles at Rey who, as I’d planned for, takes the hit instead of rolling dice.
Wow. Not the engagement I expected. Not at all.
Ok, I’ll analyse that later, it’s time to plan.
But what do I do now?
Given the position of the debris (and the fact that Rey can easily shed the stress), I set her a 3 sloop to her left since I believe that Ben’s SF’s will come in at her straight.
But what about Tallie? Given what just happened to Zizi she certainly doesn’t want to go into the lion’s den here. I debate a 5 straight but I’m not convinced that it won’t bump if any of Ben’s ships bank left at Rey.
I decide that discretion is the better part of valour and take a 2 hard right to bug out and come back later.
Ben starts by moving the pesky red SF. Again the move is unexpected. It’s a 3 hard right. Oh crap.
The other 4 ships simply go 1 forwards again and take PS.
Rey’s sloop clears. But only just. And I mean only just.
No action because of the stress and so it’s Tallie’s turn. Tallie takes the 2 hard right but the final position gives me a terrible decision point.
She lands facing the debris. Balls. I can focus and rotate which gives Tallie a good chance of finishing the red SF, allowing Rey to shoot something else (and there is another ship just about in arc). BUT Tallie is in range of some SF’s with PS and could die AND will be going over debris next turn meaning no reposition and no token.
OR Tallie can roll to the right and link to a boost to get out of range and start turning around.
I go with the latter and get Tallie out of harm’s way.
Rey takes the point blank shot into the red SF and blows it to kingdom come.
Then the return fire starts. And it’s not great. The yellow SF is too close for Homing Missiles so takes a range 1 shot. Green and blue both take Homing shots (which I chose not to roll dice for) while brown opts to keep his lock for later and just shoots his primary weapon.
The result is a further 4 damage on Rey, giving up half points and leaving her on 5 hull.
In return I have dispatched one single SF. Not great.
Ok then, back to dials and let’s see if I can do something here.
Rey will go straight (to clear some stress!) while Tallie will take a 2 turn around the debris.
Ben hard turns the front two SF’s (green and yellow), looking to block Rey, while the back two (blue and brown) bank left.
Rey’s 1 straight bumps into yellow. At this point, at Ben’s prompting, I read Korr Sella properly and confirm that it includes the phrase ‘fully execute’. Ah. Ok, well I lose 1 stress from the blue move at least.
Tallie’s 2 turn rounds the debris perfectly (see, I can do it sometimes!) and, with the green SF in bullseye, just takes a focus.
This could be make or break here. Tallie fires Prockets at green and (if you can zoom and see above), it’s ALL paint and 3 are crits.
Ben rolls his 2 greens and, true to form, rolls 1 evade. Shields are down and a crit goes into hull (I can’t remember which but I don’t think it was significant).
Rey follows up with a range 1 4 dice plus Finn black, Rose lock nonsense shot and takes the last 2 hull to kill it before it shoots. That’s better.
Ben’s yellow SF is touching Rey and doesn’t have arc on Tallie and so can’t shoot. The blue and green SF’s both shoot primary at Rey and between them put 4 hits on but it’s not quite enough to take her out and she survives on 1 hull. Close one.
I’ve levelled the playing field a little by taking out another ship but I’m definitely losing Rey next turn and Tallie vs 3 SF’s is not going to go well for me.
We go back to dials.
Rey gets a 1 straight again and Tallie gets a 2 left turn again.
Ben sends the yellow SF 5 straight, the brown 3 turn left and the blue a 3 bank to the right.
Rey’s straight move bumps into the back of the brown SF (so no action again). Tallie’s 2 hard clears the debris and she takes a focus.
It takes me a minute to decide whether to rotate though. Rey always wants to shoot forwards, not out of the back. Blue is closer and easier for Tallie to chase once Rey inevitably dies but Rey’s best shot is at yellow even though it’s further away.
I decide to rotate and try to focus fire.
Rey and Tallie both fire at the yellow SF but Ben’ns greens hold up and it loses only 2 shields, 1 short of half points.
The blue SF fires at Rey and finishes her easily.
Yellow takes a shot at Tallie and misses and we go to move on when we realise that brown also has a shot on Tallie. Thankfully (for me at least!) it also misses.
Back to dials then and we have around 20 minutes on the clock but Tallie has 3 ships to try and deal with and only 1 of them has taken any damage.
I decide that Tallie needs to try and case down blue. If I can sink some damage without taking any in return and then get 1 more damage on yellow then I might have a chance.
I set Tallie a 3 straight and wait to see what Ben does.
The yellow SF takes a 3 hard turn, brown goes 1 straight while blue takes a 2 hard turn to it’s right.
Tallie’s 3 straight takes her straight in at blue. I can’t quite decide if she’s in blue’s arc but she needs to rotate her arc to get a shot so I opt for a focus and rotate.
Tallie fires at blue and takes off 2 shields but in response the SF fires back and takes teh same from Tallie, giving Ben half points on my last ship.
With the other SF’s still turning we go back to dials.
I set Tallie a 2 bank right, not quite sure what Ben will do with the blue SF.
Ben sends the brown SF off to it’s left, looking to loop around and face Tallie later. Yellow takes a 3 hard turn right again to continue turning and blue… takes a sloop. Interesting.
Tallie’s 2 bank lands in a very interesting spot. I can’t quite decide if it’s in or not and whether I should just focus or boost and rotate again. I think it’s in arc so take a focus.
We check arcs and both blue and Tallie have just barely missed each other. I’m undecided whether that’s good or bad!
Back to dials then and Tallie will go 2 straight this time, avoiding getting any closer to the approaching yellow than neccesary.
Ben moves brown a hard left to continues it’s flank, yellow banks right, still chasing range on Tallie. Blue… banks 1 to the right?! It’s a ballsy move, I’ll give him that!
This puts me in a strange position. Tallie has arc on blue and needs just 1 more shield off to get half points. On the flip side, Tallie is on 2 health herself and I won’t be able to kill the blue SF with this shot. Also it looks to me a little like blue won’t be able to avoid going off the board next turn. If there is a next turn…
I focus and rotate.
I fire with Tallie and, without using the focus, score a hit to get half points.
The blue SF fires back and, despite Tallie’s focus, gets a structural damage crit past my green dice. Ouch.
When we’re done rolling dice there are 30 seconds left. We’ll get 1 more turn!
I set Tallie a 2 hard right since she’s stressed.
The brown SF moves 1 forwards, the yellow 3 banks to its right. The blue SF hard turns left but it doesn’t clear. That’s another 20 points for me then I guess!
Tallie turns. Ideally I want to boost, focus AND rotate arc but since that’s not possible she boosts and rotates to be able to take a last shot.
Tokenless Tallie fires at yellow and, slightly surprisingly, gets a hit through and gets yellow to half points. Nice.
The brown SF fires and gets the last damage through to take Tallie out.
Result: 140 – 200 loss
However, this was one of those games where the result was actually the least significant part of the experience. More on that in a moment, let’s cover the nitty gritty practical details first.
Ben’s approach was pretty much as expected, to a point. He kept his ships in a block but when coming in to engage sent the red SF out a bit ahead as a blocker. The first engagement was going ok right up until the red SF didn’t die. That was definitely not ideal. Did the game swing there? Hmmm…. maybe?
Then there was Zizi. My poor, poor Zizi. I don’t know why but it had never even crossed my mind that Ben would target someone other than Rey with the Homing Missiles. Looking now, it makes perfect sense, of course. His ships had all taken Passive Sensors so could pick a target later, his Homing Missiles could force damage through a bit at a time or, if I chose to face the dice, had the potential to do big damage. Either way worked just fine for Ben. I’d gone into the first engagement expecting to come out with 4/5 damage on Rey and two unscathed A-Wings. Talking after the game, that had been Ben’s intention but, knowing how hard A-Wings are to take down with 2 dice shots, he saw an opportunity to remove a less threatening but more tricky to damage target early on and he decided to take it.
The only saving grace was that Zizi had at least managed to fire her Prockets before dying.
Between losing Zizi and the red SF not dying I was in an uphill battle from pretty early on. In the follow up turn Tallie was bugging out and facing the wrong way and Rey had to fire at the almost dead red SF to reduce an incoming shot (when Tallie could have done it, letting Rey focus on hitting something else really hard).
The decisions Ben forced me into making in the first engagement had dictated the terms for the second engagement and therefore settled the game reasonably early on. From there he just needed to keep chipping away at Rey and blocking her to deny additional actions. And it worked perfectly.
I mentioned the choice of action for Rey in the first engagement with deciding to focus instead of lock. I generally pick focus because it (hopefully) means I can preserve Force. However, with a target sitting right in front I’m starting to consider the value in taking the lock instead. It means I’ll have to spend Force to convert dice and will almost certainly mean Rey will run out of Force quicker but in this case it would definitely have meant that the red SF was out of the way a turn earlier and while it didn’t shoot me before dying, focusing on it meant I was denied a shot on something else.
It’s pretty much impossible to work out how things would have gone from there with a different decision but it’s definitely something to think further about.
What have I learned from this game? Don’t make assumptions. I assumed that a big juicy target like Rey would attract all the fire and I had prepared and approached ONLY for that eventuality. As a result I was too aggressive with the A-Wings which cost me Zizi. Had I positioned the A-Wings the other way around and lost Tallie instead of Zizi, things may have been different as Zizi’s ability with the additional focus/evade after shooting having a bearing on defence.
Still, the game is done. But as I said, the result was not the most significant thing.
No, as suggested in the title of the post, this game was fun. Like, really fun. Ben’s attitude towards it and his friendly and outgoing personality is what made this game so enjoyable for me. I haven’t gone into detail in the batrep (because remembering specifics as we went is almost impossible!) but we laughed and we joked a LOT. We rolled virtual dice and moved virtual ships around a virtual board and had a blast the whole time.
And I lost and I didn’t care.
So what’s the deal? Am I in this to win or not?
Yes! Well, sort of.
I fully accept that I’m not a top tier player and, while I aspire to be better at the game in the future than I am right now, winning is not essential to enjoying my gaming experience. In fact while chatting afterwards, Ben told me that he’s generally a mid-table player and is perfectly fine with that and that the time he made a cut he didn’t actually even enjoy it due to the pressure he felt.
Maybe, in picking up a reasonably meta relevant list to use for this tournament, I’d forgotten that a little bit. Maybe in doing that I’d subconsciously put some sort of expectation on myself. Actually, there’s no maybe about it. I had certainly done that.
But this game against Ben did several things for me.
It reminded me to expect the unexpected.
It reminded me that you can never trust your dice.
But most importantly, it reminded me that the best part of any game is actually playing it with someone and that it’s an experience to be savoured and enjoyed.
And for that Ben, I thank you.
BUT, for the mental image I will now forever have of a pilot when taking a strain token, I certainly do NOT thank you!