New Year, New Me?

The intro…

Happy new year!

We’re just settling into 2021 and while it’s still early days, things seem to be… well, not much of an improvement on 2020 yet. Between new strains of covid, mass lockdowns and restrictions in the UK and American politics in general we’re off to a somewhat shaky start BUT there’s still plenty of time for it to get better.

Anyway, I had a lovely few weeks with my family (although with the Welsh lockdown starting on the 20th of December, it was immediate family rather than the usual visiting of/to extended family and friends). We relaxed, played games, watched movies, played Minecraft. It was great.

‘But what about X-Wing?’ I hear you ask? That is of course why you’re here! Well, I didn’t actually play all that much. In fact, side from some testing in Fly Casual, I got precisely 2 games against real life opponents, both being in the Sith Taker league.

Before I get to those though, I want to talk about the list I used and the journey I took with it.

The first thing for me to do is to refer you to my previous blog post, a game against the very awesome Chris Burnett. In particular, this section towards the end:

This is now the 3rd or 4th time in the last month or so that I’ve come up against Rey. There’s a reason for this. She’s freaking excellent. Like basically guaranteed 3/4 hits per turn excellent. Chris’ choice of Vennie to go with her is a ‘flavour to taste’ thing but I’m starting to feel that this Rey build is just about as close as you can get to cheating without just picking ships up and going ‘pewpew, they’re dead, I win’. That said, I never played against the 6 Petranaki list so maybe my data is flawed.

I’m getting very close to the ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ way of thinking on that. Particularly when you consider that this fully loaded Rey is 30 points cheaper than the Dash I flew here. 30 points. 30. Points. Wow.

David Sutcliffe (of the Stay on the Leader blog) commented about this on the Reddit post, quite rightly pointing out that he had actually suggested my using Rey several weeks earlier.

I don’t consider myself to be a stubborn person by nature. However, I do know what I like and when I can reason it out, I’m fine with bucking trends or resisting peer pressure.

Here’s my quandary though – I like Dash but he isn’t all that good. No, wait, that’s not quite true. He is good but he’s too expensive to be classed as good. Hmmm, not sure that’s quite right either. If you’re a really good player, you can do quite well with Dash. Maybe that’s it. But with a sprinkling of the other points thrown in too.

When a single ship makes up half the points total of your list it puts a rather huge target on it for your opponent. Kill the ship, win the game. Now sometimes said ship adds so much value to your list (in terms of how much damage it does in return) that it’s actually ok to do that. Sure, come and kill it but I’ll probably trade better than you and while you’re doing that my other ships will come and do horrible things to you.

This is where Dash falls down on 2 fronts.

First, he can be inconsistent with damage output. A 4 dice double tap sounds great, and it can be. But often, it isn’t. For example in the game against Chris (running Rey and Vennie), Dash rarely got 2 shots off as he seldom had both ships in arc. Something else that happens is that the more dice you roll, the bigger the impact of variance can be. I’ve faced Dash off against Vulture droids several times. Sometimes he can take 2 off the table in one turn. Sometimes he does no damage to them whatsoever. The same goes for his defence dice. Yes it’s 2 green dice for a large base ship which is nice but without paying out even more points to add defensive mods (like shield/hull upgrade, stealth device or Lone Wolf) it can allow a startling amount of damage through. I can’t recall Dash burning down in a single round of fire but he’s certainly gone down in two.

Second, his high points cost limits what else you can put into the list. Between September and November in 2019 I posted many blogs about chopping and changing what wingmate worked best for Dash. Of course it’s influenced by play style and preference but as I worked through options like ARC-170 Norra and Jan Orrs in the HWK-290 in the end I settled on Jake Farrell in an A-Wing. His job was literally just to power up Dash with a free focus (which Perceptive Copilot made 2 focuses), allowing Dash to reposition or lock. While I was quite successful with it in my local meta, it worked very poorly at the UK System Open where I went 1-4 with it on day 2.

Points have changed since then but Dash’s predicament remains. A stripped back double tap Dash is 107 points. There are options of ships to add to the list but, aside from top players who have done well with him and made cuts over the last few months, he’s still too expensive. Even without the title. In my opinion he could drop by another 4-5 points (and the title drop by maybe 2 points) and not be broken (JARGON ALERT!!). Maybe I’m wrong but maybe not? If I had more time available to play against real life opponents I’d be interested in trying him out with reduced points just to see what else could go in a list and how well it could work.

The thing is though, with ‘Death-Rey’ (as I’ve heard it called) as a better AND cheaper option, why would you still pick Dash?

As I’ve stated before, I’m in this game for the fun and flying Dash is fun. But what if other things are also fun? Admittedly I’m the kind of person who always orders the same thing when having a takeaway. If I know I’ll like it then why would I pick something I’m not as sure about when it’s possible I won’t like it? It’s not like I have takeaway that often, why waste the opportunity for enjoying what I know I like?

I guess that carries over to X-Wing too. I know that I like Dash and I normally just to play just once a week. Why try something new when I might not enjoy it as much?

The games against people flying Rey have shown me that she’s good (and probably a bit under costed and may go up in the next points update. But that’s probably ages away…right?), but is she fun? But how will I know?

Ok, fine. Maybe it’s worth a try.

Now the next question. What list?

I’ve mentioned before that list build isn’t really a strength of mine. While the phrase ‘net listing’ (JARGON ALERT!!) can have negative connotations, I see it as a perfectly acceptable way to get to a tried and tested list without spending endless hours looking for random online opponents, testing, tweaking, rinse, repeat.

From some (admittedly rather brief) research I found two main Rey lists:

Rey & Poe

Rey & 2 A-Wings

There are other lists of course, but these were the ones used the most in tournaments over the last 2 months or so.

Rey & Poe – I have played against this once (some guy called Oliver Pocknell). It’s definitely a solid list, especially with Poe’s Overdrive Thrusters giving him the option of some crazy repositions. That said, I think that until I’m more familiar with the list (Rey in particular), I’m probably better off avoiding a 2 ship list. I know from experience that things can go bad pretty quickly if you make a mistake.

Rey & 2 A-Wings – this is the most popular archetype (from what I can see in Listfortress) although A-Wing pilots can vary with play style. I’m not great at blocking so Merl Cobben should probably be avoided (although Merl with intimidation could enable Rey to wreck things even faster). A pair of initiative 5 pilots suits me well (so I can pick the order I move the ships) meaning I have the choice of Zizi Tlo, Tallissan Lintra and Seftin Vanik. Adding Zizi is a no-brainer. The ability to focus or evade after attacking or defending is really good. Out of the other two, Tallie has the better ability and the points cost is the same so again, simple choice.

Despite recent points hikes, both will get Advanced Optics and Heroic. Since I’m trying to deal damage and A-Wings are relatively easy to position where you want, I’ll stick Proton Rockets onto both too.

And as for Rey? Well it’s a pretty well established build. Finn gunner, Rose Tico and Korr Sella crew and the Rey’s Falcon title. With more spare points there are options for adding things like Hull Upgrade, Contraband Cybernetics or False Transponder Codes but I’ve been hindered by not having a good enough bid before and bidding at initiative 5 seems more important that at any other initiative at the moment.

And so the full list is:

Rey (68)
Korr Sella (6)
Rose Tico (9)
Finn (9)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 6

Tallissan Lintra (37)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Zizi Tlo (41)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2

Total: 196

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z244XWW245W173W174WWW193Y240X172WW102W186Y387X172WW102W186&sn=Rey-Wings&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2

The points are relatively easy to keep track of too. I’m counting Rey as 100 and the A-Wings at 50 each.

Ok, cool. I’d best get playing then eh?

The batrep(s)… (JARGON ALERT!!)

As I already mentioned, over the Christmas period I played 2 games (after the game against Chris which I covered in my previous blog). Both were games in the Sith Taker league and so carried a little more significance than a casual test game. Should I have tried this list out against someone before doing a league game with it? Maybe. I mean, I’m still playing pretty casually even though it’s league. But still, it could have helped.

As it was, I played a handful of games with it in Fly Casual and just went for it.

Now, I won’t (can’t?) fully batrep the first game because:

  1. I really messed up my opening
  2. The contrast in our dice variance was horrendous
  3. My opponent was tired

As a result, after around 40 minutes I had destroyed his Poe and Merl, leaving 2 generic T-70’s (one of them half pointed) versus my half pointed Rey and full A-Wings. He conceded at this point (which I can understand under the circumstances).

Ok. One game, one win. Not bad.

Game 2? Well this one gets the full works.

My opponent is Craig Farrar, someone new to me (yay!) and he’s running a Resistance list:

Paige Tico (56)
Pattern Analyzer (5)
Amilyn Holdo (8)
Suppressive Gunner (6)
Veteran Turret Gunner (7)
Thermal Detonators (3)
Proximity Mines (6)

Ship total: 91 Half Points: 46 Threshold: 6

Nien Nunb (55)
Heroic (1)
Pattern Analyzer (5)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 61 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 4

Zizi Tlo (41)
Heroic (2)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z389XWW206W242W350W90W339W70WY298X172WW206WW175WWY387X172WWW186&sn=Rey-Wings&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2

Interesting. Having faced a Resistance Bomber for the first in ages (possibly ever?) two weeks ago I’ve now got another one to deal with (not that I really dealt with Chris’ one…). It isn’t Vennie though, it’s Paige and she can double tap (with VTG (JARGON ALERT!!)) and double drop devices (although neither of us are quite sure where Paige stands with Thermal Detonators. We assume it’s 3 rather than 4?!). She can also move token around with Holdo, Pattern Analyzer to make sure she gets actions AND give me deplete/damage with Suppressive Gunner.

There’s a fair amount of that I’ve never faced before!

Nien and Zizi I’m more familiar with and Craig’s points breakdown is similar to mine which will hopefully help me keep track of things.

It’s Pre-flight checks time!
Target Priority – It’s Paige really. She’s the easiest one to put damage onto and the most dangerous. And worth most points, of course.
Obstacles – Ummm…. Ok, Rey doesn’t particularly case about stress from debris nor about the lack of action from gas clouds either. My A-Wings are nimble enough to get around obstacles fairly easily so I guess that close together is fine. Happy to take advice on this!
Placement – The bid is vital here. If I can put my ships as far as possible from Craig’s then I have more time to coordinate my approach.

Craig is at a full 200 points so I’ve got the bid and with all 6 ships being initiative 5 I give Craig first player.

We place obstacles before Craig places all of his ships. I’d worked on an opening with Chris when I mentioned to him that I’d be using this list and so I placed my ships in the opposite corner from Craig and we were ready to go.

Ok, I’ve set up in the opposite corner to potentially try and split Craig’s forces. I’ll stall for a turn to try and gauge what Craig will do before committing to a direction with anyone.

Rey will go 1 forwards and bump into Zizi (the yellow A-Wing) who in turn goes hard right but, with Rey having bumped, Zizi stays where she is. Tallie (the red A-Wing) takes a 3 sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) to the right.

Craig moves Nein straight (he was already facing that way) while Paige hard turns to follow him and Craig’s Zizi banks in towards the middle.

No shooting, obviously. It looks like Craig is also biding his time. I decide to fly along my own board edge and wait for an opportune time to turn in.

Tallie 2 banks and boosts, Zizi hard turns and boosts and Rey goes 1 forwards.

Craig sends Paige and Nien 1 forwards while Zizi banks around the gas cloud and boosts back towards his other ships.

Cagey start.

It’s looking like Craig will come down my right hand side. I decide to send my A-Wings over to my far left while Rey will turn into the middle at some point.

5 straight and bank boost for Zizi and Tallie while Rey just goes a 1 forwards again.

Craig goes 1 straight with Paige, banks Zizi to sidle up to Paige and banks in with Nien.

Ok, well, I’ve got a plan now, might as well stick with it!

This time Rey will go 2 forwards (to line her up with the gap between the left most gas cloud and the debris). The A-Wings both go forwards and boost to get behind the gas cloud, ready to turn in next turn.

Craig doesn’t turn in. Zizi takes a long bank around the debris, Paige banks right and Nien goes 1 straight in behind her.

Hmmm… No engagement yet but it looks like Rey’s move had pushed her a little further forwards than I intended. Also Craig didn’t turn in. Pffft.

Fine then, a little more stalling perhaps. Rey takes a sloop while Tallie hard turns and rolls left before Zizi just banks in.

Ironically, this time Craig DOES turn in. Sort of. Zizi hard turns around the debris and Nien hard turns in towards the middle but Paige goes straight. Interesting.

Now I appear to have an issue. Having turned in, it looks like we’ll be engaging next turn and Rey is wildly out of position. Balls. Tallie and Zizi (mine) might be able to get Proton Rockets onto Nien and/or Zizi (Craig’s) if I get things right.

Rey hard turns (because I can get rid of the stress later, all in one go). I initially set Tallie a 3 straight to get past the gas cloud and give me options to roll left but I then change it to 2 straight in case Nien comes in hard. I set Zizi a 2 bank, possibly looking to roll in left behind Tallie.

Craig starts moving ships. Zizi banks right and takes a focus before Nien takes a rather unexpected 2 hard turn to his right. Paige hard turns around teh debris and takes a focus.

Rey turns but as she’s stressed there’s no action. Tallie goes straight and has Nien squarely in bullseye so just takes a focus. Zizi’s bank takes her closer to Tallie AND the gas cloud than I anticipated so she takes a focus and stays where she is.

So, there’s good and bad this turn.

The first bad news is that Nien has Tallie in arc (by a VERY small margin). He fires and takes a shield. Craig’s Zizi also takes a shot at Tallie and takes her other shield. Not ideal.

Now it’s my turn though. Tallie takes the Procket (JARGON ALERT!!) shot at Nien and it’s ALL paint. Ouch. Nien evades one but loses his 3 shields and takes a damage card. Zizi’s shot is effective (the beauty of Advanced Optics!) but Nien evades one of those too, leaving him on just 2 hull.

Unexpectedly Rey just barely has Craig’s Zizi in arc (range 3 obstructed). It’s a long shot but such is the effectiveness of Rey that I sneak a damage on. Nice.

We’re done shooting and it’s time to plan again.

It’s (finally!) time to approach with Rey but keeping one eye on Paige’s next turn. I do NOT want to end up behind her. She gets a 1 straight. Tallie needs to disengage, she’s in a fragile state but can hopefully do some damage on the way out. She gets a 5 straight. Zizi is less obvious. Banking or hard turning into the space vacated by Tallie might get me a chance of bullseye but it’s more likely to just get her killed. I decide to disengage there too, taking a hard right turn as I’m 80% sure I won’t clip the debris.

Craig start moving ships. Paige hard turns in to the middle. Uh-oh. Nien uses Pattern Analyzer to take a focus before doing a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!). His Zizi banks in, takes a focus and rotates turret to rear.

Tallie goes 5 forwards, staight boost and rotate. Zizi’s hard turn clears the debris (yay!), she banks away and rotates turret. Rey takes her 1 forwards and takes a focus.

Craig’s ships fire first. Nien tries a shot on Tallie but doesn’t land any damage. His Zizi takes a shot at my Zizi but also misses. Paige tries a shot at Tallie but misses too. A frustrating round for Craig.

Tallie tries a shot at Nien but misses, Zizi takes one at Paige but misses too.

Can anyone hit this turn?!?

You can be darn sure Rey can.

She pulls the roll, add blank, spend blank for lock, spend lock, spend focus for 3 hits. Paige blanks out with her single green die.

Ok, I’m making progress here.

Back to dials we go.

Now, I’m SUPER aware of being behind Paige with Rey. Rey gets a 2 hard turn. Screw the stress, I don’t want to get bombed.

Tallie wants to run but what good is she being right out of the fight? A hard turn left to head back in at Nien (hopefully flanking him) is what she gets.

Zizi will sloop to begin the re-engage process.

In the systems phase Craig does indeed drop a thermal detonator. Paige then banks right around the debris and takes a focus. Nien closes s-foils, banks left (clearing stress), takes a focus and links it to a barrel roll left. Zizi hard turns right, takes a focus and links to a rotate.

Rey hard turns left and measures for a lock on Nien.

Picture says maybe, system says no.

Oh dear.

Tallie hard turns left but somewhat unexpectedly has 3 guns pointing at her. Oh dear. She rolls right and rotates turret to front, hoping to still be around next turn.

Zizi reveals the sloop and….. yep. I forgot about the red rotate last time. That’s a white 2 straight for her.

It has been a VERY long time since I dialled in a red manoeuvre for a stressed ship. Oops.

Not a great turn for me but it could still get worse. Thankfully the barrel roll took Tallie out of range for Nien to shoot but she still takes shots from Zizi and from Paige but, rather miraculously, takes ZERO damage. Nice flying Lintra!

Back to dials again and time for damage limitation.

Rey, wary of Paige’s bombs will sloop left. Zizi will hard turn left to drop the stress and try to make herself useful again (although not for a few turns yet). Tallie, resigned to her fate will hard turn left to lose the stress and try to do as much damage as she can before the inevitable happens.

Systems phase.

Paige drops a Proximity Mine.

Balls. I forgot about those. I was expecting a bomb.

Craig checks to see if it hits.

Seeing that it does, with Paige’s ability, he drops a second one.

Double balls.

Taking them one at a time, I lose a shield and roll 2 dice. 2 blanks. Phew! I lose another shield and roll 2 more dice. 2 eyeballs.

Wow. Bullet dodged. Mostly.

We start moving ships.

Craig goes all in on Tallie with Paige hard turning right, Nien going 2 forwards and Zizi going 5 forwards for the block.

Rey completes her sloop, Zizi turns, clears the stress, boosts right and rotates arc to front ready for future turns.

Tallie tries the 2 hard but bumps into Zizi. Sad Tallie

With Craig firing first, Tallie goes down in flames pretty quickly. With simultaneous fire she shoots back at Nien, hoping to finish him off but scores just 1 hit which he evades.

Bad times.

Rey, however, has just about got Paige in range and gets a hit and a crit through.

Craig is now ahead on points but Nien is limping and Paige is just 1 away from half. Not too bad.

Back to planning then.

Time to bring my ships back together I think. While it’s tempting to send Rey directly in at Paige I decide to bank right (while also thinking there might be a Thermal Detonator to the face if I go the other way). Zizi will bank left to begin her approch.

Craig seems like he isn’t ready to re-engage yet as he hard turns Paige to the left with Nien going 1 forwards and Zizi hard turning right.

Nobody is in range and so we’re back to planning.

Now, if I was Craig I’d be looking at blocking with his Zizi so I want to go as slow as I can. I give my Zizi a 3 forwards while Rey gets 1 forwards.

Craig moves Paige another hard left, Nien hard turns right while Zizi banks in and boosts.

My Zizi takes the 3 straight and lands square in front of Craig’s. Rey bumps into the back of her and I’ve got 2 juicy shots on Craig’s Zizi.

Craig’s only shot is from his Zizi which he takes at my Zizi but he misses. Between Rey’s 4 dice shot and Zizi’s 5 dice Prockets Craig’s Zizi explodes in a blaze of glory.

There’s just over 10 minutes left on the clock now and things are looking pretty positive. My next target is Nien since he’s got just 2 hull left and Paige is still quite far out.

Not quite sure where Nien is going I set Zizi a 3 straight and Rey a 1 bank.

Paige continues her long turn around while Nien hard turns and rolls to his right.

Zizi’s 3 straight puts her in Nien’s vicinity but a focus linked to red boost puts him in range 1. Rey banks and takes a focus.

Paige checks arc and range on Rey and Craig finds that she’s actually in both the front and side arc, meaning she can shot twice at her. Oh. As a result Rey takes a shield, a hit and a crit.

In return Rey and Zizi wipe Nien off the board.

With 5 minutes left on the clock I estimate we only have 1 turn left. Paige has 7 hull left but also has a hull breach to contend with.

Now faced with decisions about whether to try and preserve points or go for full destruction. Since my position with Rey isn’t great for running away I choose violence. Rey and Zizi will both hard turn left.

Paige banks in at Rey and takes a lock.

Zizi hard turns and then takes a focus linked boost for range 1.

Rey banks in and takes a lock on Paige.

It’s about to go down.

Paige has Rey in both arcs again but this time it’s at range 1. It’s clench time.

Paige fires primary first and then the side turret, landing 2 hits and 2 crits (a rather inconsequential hull breach and an even more inconsequential panicked pilot). Rey survives on 2 hull.

Zizi fires first, followed by Rey’s 4 dice (plus Finn blank) with a lock and 2 force, landing exactly enough damage to destroy the bomber.

While we rolled dice the timer beeped.

Result: 200 – 96 win

The conclusion…

Well, that went pretty well!

This list is good. Rey lasts long enough to put out a significant amount of damage while the A-Wings have spike damage with the Proton Rockets and consistent damage output with Advances Optics and rotating arc. They can also bug out when things look scary.

It’s also quite forgiving. I messed up my opening in the first game and then in this game I failed to engage Rey in the same turn as the A-Wings, took 2 Prox mines to the face and had a turn where none of my ships could fire. In both games I managed to recover from these mistakes, mostly because Rey’s damage output is insane and the A-Wings can escape and re-engage.

Craig was a great opponent and it was a really enjoyable game (and not just because I won!). While online play and chatting over Discord isn’t the way I’d prefer to be playing right now I really do like it and when real life play eventually comes back I’ll certainly keep playing it. Perhaps not as regularly as this but the opportunity to play people from so far afield is awesome.

If I can get a bit more practice in with the list and figure out some options for other openings that I like then maybe I can get a bit better with it. I’m pretty sure I’ll continue to run it through to the end of this league season (which is another 3 games). After that, who knows?

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

New me?New year

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