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Hello old friend

By Saiful Islam September 28, 2020 0 comments

The intro…

It already feels like a long time ago that I played real life ‘in person’ X-Wing. It isn’t but it feels like it, maybe because now that the future dates that had been booked in have been cancelled as the UK starts to lock down again.

The bright spot in all this (in gaming terms at least) is that online X-Wing is still going strong. The Gold Squadron Podcast Galaxies series of tournaments is attracting large numbers of players and generating lots of interest and Facebook posts. Not all of it’s positive (I’m looking at you Petranaki Area Ace!) but in my opinion it’s still better than the game slowly dying off due to lack of interest.

In case you’ve not been following my posts I’m in the Sith Taker League and, while the results are not really going as I’d like (I’m currently 1-3), it’s still great to spend a couple of hours a week chatting to people (whether friends or strangers) and virtually pushing virtual plastic spaceships around a virtual board.

With another game coming up this week it was time to decide – what list do I use?

After several months of flying Hyperspace lists culminating in the Firestorm Cardiff Store Champs around 10 days ago I felt slightly relieved to be done with the format. I know it has its fans and I understand why it exists and is good. Really, I do. It’s just….not for me.

As a mainly Rebel player I have found that, since it’s release it’s been a bit, well, boring. Now, I didn’t play the typical Rebel Beef (JARGON ALERT!!) list when it was a thing. In fact I’ve only really plugged into Facebook groups/blogs/Reddit/podcasts in the last 18-ish months and so feel that I sort of missed out on a fair amount of ‘this is good, give it a go’ information.

 

 

But in my opinion (and that’s all it is, an opinion), the Rebel faction in Hyperspace is a bit boring. Since January when it became a curated format, even more so. Don’t get me wrong, I actually think that having a smaller selection of ships/pilots/upgrades is a great idea, particularly for players new to the game since 2.0 launched. But like I said before, it’s just not for me.

I have rather a lot of toys and it would be very lovely to be able to use whichever ones I want. And yes of course I can use anything when playing casual games (and I do!) but when it comes to tournaments using Hyperspace it’s not just the day of the event where I fell restricted, I need to practice and so it’s actually far more than that.

Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box and get to the point – I’m done with Hyperspace. For now, at least.

So, with my next game in the Sith Taker league looming large on the horizon it was time to think about it – what should I fly?

Well if you have read some sort of decent percentage of my blogs then you’ll know that the answer is obvious.

It’s Dash. Of course.

 

But a strange thing has happened of late.

A little back story first though. Around one year ago I began a journey of exploring the possibilities of what could be done with the YT-2400. In a list of pilots ranked by popularity (i.e. how many squads they were featured in) he was waaaay down at the bottom, maybe in 118th??!?

How could it be? The pilot who I enjoyed flying so much in the closing months of 1.0 was now languishing in obscurity.

I set about finding a way to make him work. It wasn’t easy. With pilot and title clocking in at 112 points (!!) it was hard to find other ships to put in the list that could be effective.

If you’re really actually interested then you can read more here, here.

In January he got a points drop.

Then in July he got another. In fact, Dash plus the Outrider title now costs just 1 point more than Dash WITHOUT the title when 2.0 was released.

Interesting.

So now here we are, with Dash being 12 points cheaper than at launch.

Then something else happened.

Bugs.

July brought a drop in points for other ships too, including the Petranaki Ace in the Nantex fighter. In the first of the Gold Squadron podcast’s Galaxies series of events, the final was won by a list of 6 (!!) Of these initiative 4 ships with Crack Shot and a sprinkling of other talents.

There was outcry. There was outrage. There were memes. Many memes. The community scrambled for a response to this new meta monster list hailed by some as the most NPE list ever (including 1.0). The next event was also won by the same list (well, almost the same)(and also, not the same person) and a significant percentage of lists made the top 32 cut.

Shamelessly stolen from the Fly Better Facebook group. Just one of many.

The third event has also been won by our new insect overlords and in fact, the finals of the last two tournaments have been Nantex-on-Nantex affairs. Yuck.

But, with some of the X-Wing community rallying the cause, some new lists appeared designed to counter this new threat.

Imagine my surprise and unbridled delight when I heard that Dash was one of these options.

Dash Rendar. The hero we never knew might almost need. Sort of. Maybe. We’ll see.

Now, being a viable option for the first time in 2.0* he was appearing in lists again. Not only that but good players were taking him.

*Apart from when his interaction with Roark in the HWK-290 was a bit broken. Apparently double tapping at initiative 7 is good. Who knew?!

As I had spent rather a lot of weeks preparing for Hyperspace events I hadn’t put any meaningful time into figuring out what to do with Dash now that there were options with him again. I threw a few lists together in excitement and tried a couple in Fly Casual but didn’t get much further.

Others had though, including current world champion Oli Pocknell and UK Nationals champion Bartosz Wójcicki

Bartosz’s list was interesting. I had put a list together with Dash and Hera to use in Cardiff last month. They are both i5 with big guns and a few toys to make them effective. I only got 2 games with the list and while I won one and lost one it was still a fun list to play. Bartosz’s take on it was to change Hera down to Chopper. You lose Intimidation (since he’s a droid and can’t have a Talent slot) but the points saved there mean that Dash can afford the Outrider title which has other knock-on effects (such as not caring about stress since you can just YOLO over obstacles and remove them).

Then there was Oli’s list. Oli’s Dash build was exactly the same as what I’d already been running previously when using a ‘cut price’ Dash. No title saves a lot of points. This leaves enough points to put in Wedge Antilles (T-65) and Jake Farrell (RZ-1 A-Wing), both naked.

The choice of Talent has been a tricky one to balance for me.

I’m not a fan of Trick Shot. Firstly it works better when the title is on. Secondly I seem to find that actually getting it to trigger when firing from the side turret of a large base ship is harder than you’d expect. most of the time your base is bigger than the obstacle and so unless you’re at a funny angle or directly parked on it then more often than not it doesn’t trigger.

The choices I’m torn between are Lone Wolf and Expert Handling. Lone Wolf definitely has it’s uses, I mean, it’s not like you can fit loads of ships in with Dash anyway! If you can discipline yourself to keep it for defensive rolls (which I sometimes fail to do!) then it can certainly help Dash stay alive for longer.

Expert Handling is an interesting one. You see, it sort of depends on the rest of your list choice.

If you’ve got the title, there’s no point. Dash doesn’t have any red moves except the 4K so the only other ways he can get stressed is by the Panicked Pilot crit or by barrel rolling. If you have the title then you will be specifically aiming for obstructed shots and can just blast straight over (or even barrel roll ONTO) an obstacle and drop the stress.

If you’ve got another ship in your list that can help Dash out, Lone Wolf is a bit more tricky. I’ve flown Dash with Lone Wolf with Jake Farrell in the list specifically to hand Dash focus tokens. It is possible to move Jake into range 1, hand off a focus action and then get Dash outside of range 2 to trigger Lone Wolf. But. It isn’t always possible and if you don’t manage it then it’s just a waste of points.

Expert Handling, while it can feel sort of like a ‘well, these don’t work, might as well take this I guess’ I have actually got a lot of utility from it. Getting yourself out of a range 1 shot while boosting your dice back up to 4 feels good, even if it is at the expense of a focus action which lets you double tap. If you can combine it with a free focus from Jake then even better. It makes Dash less predictable and more flexible and for that reason it’s my current preference.

Anyway, I’ve said all that to say this – on paper I like Oli’s version slightly more and so that’s what I’m going to fly! (I will definitely try out Bartosz’s list at some point though. I really like to double large ship with massive guns!)

Dash Rendar (85)
Expert Handling (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

Wedge Antilles (55)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Jake Farrell (36)
Ship total: 36 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54WWWY5XWWWW142Y50XWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

The key for me is that out of all of the ships that I tried with Dash last year, none seemed to provide enough threat to give my opponent a difficult choice of target priority. It’s Dash. In this list if you’re chasing Dash then you’re ignoring an i6 pilot whose ability is to reduce your agility. And if Jake is with him then he’s probably (hopefully!) firing double modded shots.

I also have the flexibility to fly Jake over to Dash if Wedge dies so he can benefit from his ability too.

And so, with only a fistful of Fly Casual reps with the list, it was time to play.

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

So on to the game then. Now I’ve mentioned before that the league pairings are not made using the Swiss system (where players on the same/similar record are paired together) but using Round Robin, meaning that if you were to play to completion you would play everyone once. However, in a 28 player league (although 3 appear to have dropped out) playing 8 games then it’s effectively random pairings.

The issue is that sometimes it generates pairings which are….ummm…. unbalanced? Last week I was paired with ‘Sad Toaster’ who was at 3-0 while I was on 1-2.

This week I got paired with the rather legendary Akhter Khan. Yep, the twice System Open runner up who made cut in (I think) every one of the GSP Space Jam tournaments that he entered. In fact you’d be hard pushed to find a tournament that he’s entered where he hasn’t made cut. He’s at 4-0.

Is it fair? There’s an argument to say that it isn’t. Does it matter? Well at this point, not really. It’s not like I’m on the cusp of making promotion to the next league or anything. I just want to see how much I like this list and whether I stick with it or try something different with Dash. I’m certainly not expecting to win, I just want to see if I can give it a decent try. As an added bonus I get to play against a really top player who I almost certainly would never get to play against otherwise.

So, what list has Akhter brought to the party? Well, it’s interesting.

Sabine Wren (TIE Fighter) (28)
Intimidation (3)

Ship total: 31 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Kashyyyk Defender (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Kashyyyk Defender (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Kashyyyk Defender (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Kashyyyk Defender (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z13X122WY60XWWY60XWWY60XWWY60XWW&sn=New%20Squadron&obs=

Yep, that’s a LOT of health coupled with a LOT of red dice. Plus a ridiculously mobile blocker. Could be tricky.

I have the bid and with no overlap of initiative I take first player to try and take control of obstacle placement. I try to cluster the obstacles close together (since I know teh Auzituck’s aren’t the most nimble) while also trying to spread the rocks out to far corners (since Dash doesn’t want to sit on those) and cluster debris together. Overall I’m pretty happy with how the obstacles end up.
Akhter places Sabine just left of the middle and the rest of his forces in the corner away from the obstacles while I stagger my ships from the middle out to the left.

What I’m aiming to do is to get Wedge and Jake up to the opposite side of the board and keep Dash more on my side and approach from opposite flanks. It’s a cagey start though as Sabine turns in to he Wookiee allies (who all do a red stop) while my ships all move the other way.

This time the Wookiees have to move and do the standard Rebel 1 forwards. Meanwhile Wedge and Jake continue their advance up the board while Dash stalls.

Akhter hard turns his Auzitucks in to begin his advance. Wedge and Jake continue up the board edge. Dash hard turns around the asteroid (not that he needed to!).

Akhter rushes with the Wookiees who look to take advantage of their 180 degree arcs and focus up. This turn Wedge completes his circuit of the obstacles and picks up a focus from Jake and takes a lock on the closest Wookiee. Dash shuffles forwards and focuses.

This time, we’re in range to fire! Wedge and Dash both target the closest gunship (the green one) and, despite throwing a reasonable number of modded dice take just 1 shield from him.

Akhter’s return fire does nothing and so back to planning we go.

Now at this point I have a big choice to make with Dash which all hangs on what I think Akhter will do. Will he go for Dash or Wedge? If he goes for Wedge I could go fast with Dash to try and get arc on 2 ships and get some damage in. Or, if I think he’s going for Dash I can hard turn right with him and while roll to get away and, while that means I only get 1 shot (as he woudn’t have a focus) I’be be in a decent position to get behind them next turn.

I decide to go for the 4 forwards. Expecting an attempt at a bump from Sabine I give Wedge a 4K while Jake will do his support thing.

Akhter moves all his gunships 1 forwards. Hmmm… Sabine does go in for Wedge and ends up sitting somewhere rather unfortunate.

Wedge, helped by his free pre-red-move focus from Jake scores 2 crits onto Sabine from range 1 (a hull breach and a fuel leak). Confident that Jake can finish the job, Dash shoots at the green Wookiee (getting 3 hits through) and then yellow (getting nothing through).

Jake fires at Sabine but, typically, she survives with just enough evades. Oh dear.

Akhter returns fire. Firstly Sabine gets a hit onto Jake (typical!) before the Wookiees fire, all at Wedge. Somehow, even unmodded, he manages to survive on 1 hull. Miraculous!

Back to planning we go and it’s right now that I realise that the combination of Dash’s 4 forwards and Sabine not dying could be an issue.

Wedge is stressed and about to die anyway so I set him a 1 bank on the off chance it doesn’t bump. Jake will just try to get out of the way to regroup but Dash. What to do with Dash? The bump is looking rather inevitable but I set a 3 bank hoping that it’ll clear.

At this point Akhter turns his Wookiees in towards Wedge before pre-manoeuvring with Sabine (which I forgot she did!) and then sitting exactly where I was intending to put Dash. Crap.

Wedge fires at the damaged green Wookiee. Range 1 into a ship with no green dice due to Wedge’s ability. 2 hits. Dash fires but with Dash’s range 1 being 1 less die rather than 1 more plus the obstacle sitting in between he scores just 1 hit.

As if to rub salt in the wound, the green Wookiee proceeds to roll 3 hits into Wedge who explodes in a puff of embarrassment. The newly dubbed Hero of Kashyyyk has his first kill.

The remaining Wookiees begin to sink damage into the Intimidated Dash who, in just 1 turn of firing from 3 Auzitucks goes from full health (10 in total) to just 2 hull remaining.

By all accounts, the game is basically over. Maybe Dash can do some damage before he burns down but Jake isn’t going to be able to do much on his own.

I set Dash a 3 hard to the right while Jake continues his escape.

Akhter moves the Wookiees forwards before Sabine does more of her nonsense repositioning and manges to get the block on Dash again.

Dash fires what will clearly be his last shot at the green Wookiee. 1 hit gets through. The Hero of Kashyyyk lives on.

Jake has no shot so the Auzitucks focus on Dash and he burns down in spectacular fashion with an enormous chain of crits. He’s really, really dead.

So, back to planning then.

I mull over whether to do a 2 bank or a 2 hard turn with Jake to try and get that damned green Wookiee. I go with the 2 bank since I’m convinced that Sabine will come in for the block and I’m simultaneously not convinced that I won’t hit the rock.

The Wookiees hard turn.

Sabine, once the gunships are out of the way, boosts with her ability, hard turns and then barrel rolls right.

Exactly where I’m going to be.

Jake moves the 2 bank and bumps into Sabine.

DAMMIT SABINE!!

The closest Wookiee shoots and, with Jake intimidated, kills him at the first attempt.

We did actually roll the moves back and, had I done the 2 hard, a barrel roll and boost would have given me a range 2 modded shot into the damned green Wookiee with no return shots. Typical!

The Conclusion…

Ok, hands up, I got thoroughly tonked here. I am somewhat amazed that the clock had as much time left on it as it did when Jake gave up the ghost. That said, the Hero of Kashyyyk should definitely have died and, arguably, so should Sabine. With those down Dash certainly lasts a little longer at least.

The Hero of Kashyyyk!

It’s quite easy to look back and say ‘if I’d done X then Y would/wouldn’t have happened’ and I suppose at this point I have to look at my general decision making. In the turn where I took a 4 forward and planted Dash in the corner, I almost took a 1 hard right instead and would have white barrel rolled away. Sure, I’d have had no double tap and may have taken a couple of shots BUT the following turn it would have enabled me to really get behind the Auzitucks and punish them. Looking back, this would definitely have been a better move.

Wedge lasted a turn longer than he had any right to for sure but he did his job. Sort of. Draw fire away from Dash and dish out some pain in the process. Wedge did a reasonable portion of what little damage I did manage to push out and so I’m relatively happy with that.

Being the first time I’ve flown this combination of ships against a real person I’m not too devastated about the result, especially considering I was flying against one of the most prolific and consistent X-Wing players in the world right now.

 

Akhter was a fantastic opponent and it was great to spend some time chatting while laughing about the Wookiee who just wouldn’t die. Thank you for the game Akhter!

Overall I like the list. While Dash maybe isn’t the powerhouse beast of the 149 point version I flew last year, he’s similar enough that it still feels the same to fly and can still double tap with his massive 4 dice gun. He just has more buddies alongside him which, obviously, is better.

The thing is, I’m now a bit torn. Do I try this list again next week? Or do I give Bartosz’s list a go? At least I’ve got a few days to decide!

http://dylan-jones.co.uk/xwing/


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