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Testing times…

By Sayful Islam Bhuiyan September 29, 2020 0 comments

The intro…

I’m back! Again!
Yes, I went away again. Yes, we went camping again. And yes, there were huge storms. We all survived (as did the tent!) And had a great time away as a family (apart from the one night of 50mph winds).

How the tent must have looked. Maybe.

As I was away I was fully prepared to concede my next game in the Sith Taker league for this week as I knew there would be no way to play (with being in a field with no laptop or wifi being a slight issue for that). Strangely enough this happened to fall on the week where Tabletop.To decided to have its own holiday and totally bombed out on pairings day.

Organiser extraordinaire Ben Hibbert pushed the pairing day back to Wednesday and so 2 days later than usual I was paired with the very lovely Jon Vicary of the Dark Star Marauders.

After getting in touch I suggested conceding (me, not him!) and he said it would be a shame for both us and for the blog (he wasn’t wrong!). A quick chat with Ben revealed that, due to TTT’s delay he would extend the time for this round for an extra week to give people time to get games in.

Perfect!

Once I told Jon that I was testing and preparing for the Cardiff Store Champs Jon, being the awesome human that he is, asked me if there was a particular list I’d like to play against in preparation.

Now with all the furore of the Gold Squadron/Fly Better Corellia tournament a few weeks ago where Bohan Li took 6 of the i4 Petranaki Ace Nantex’ and did rather well with them (and, from what I can find, wasn’t the only one to do so, just the most successful) it crossed my mind to ask Jon if he fancied trying that out. Especially as it proved very popular at GSP/FB’s Dathomir event just a few days ago too with a mirror match final including 12 of them

But then again, this is going to be an actual in person tournament. Does anyone even own 6 of the Nantex? I sort of doubt it. So my immediate response to Jon was no, fly whatever you like!

And my list? Well it’s a little late in the game now to twist so I decide to stick with what I’ve been running recently.

Lando Calrissian (78)
Agile Gunner (5)
Nien Nunb (5)
K-2SO (8)
Engine Upgrade (7)
Millennium Falcon (3)

Ship total: 106 Half Points: 53 Threshold: 7

Hera Syndulla (VCX-100) (72)
Intimidation (3)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Chewbacca (4)
“Zeb” Orrelios (1)
Hull Upgrade (2)
Agile Gunner (5)

Ship total: 92 Half Points: 46 Threshold: 8

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZhZ200Z43XWW76W52W314W107WW154Y61X122WWW138W21W65W164W76W&sn=Lando%20%26%20Hera%20-%20Hyhperspace%208%2F8%2F20&obs=gascloud3,gascloud5,gascloud6

It can be a little bit and miss but when it hits, boy does it hit.
On the down side, recent games (both against people and against Fly Casual’s AI) have seen me struggle to get decent use out of the Zeb/Intimidation combo, failing to bump. Perhaps I’m not being aggressive enough? Placing at i5 usually lets me decide whether to straight up joust against my opponent and more recently I’ve been choosing not to, preferring to place away from being directly opposite and then hard turn twice in the first 2/3 turns to head for the closest/best target.

Are those two things related? Maybe? Probably. My initial concern is losing the Ghost too fast. It is 100 odd points after all! But then losing it is pretty much inevitable. The key is what I trade for it.

Reflecting back on recent test games makes me think I’m being too cautious with the Ghost and flanking too much with the Falcon. I should ideally be using Landon’s ability (as well as K-2SO crew) to buff the Ghost’s attacks before it burns down and then to make the Falcon super efficient in attack or defence as necessary once Hera is down. I’ve often ended up with Lando just too far away from Hera to pass the calculate or the free action so I lose the ability to hit so hard with her.

Maybe I’ve strayed too far from my original plan. Perhaps I need to go back to the start.

A few more test games with this new mind set gave somewhat mixed results… Fly Casual’s AI absolutely smashed me up when I paired against 3 Bulballabs. I lost both ships in return for two and damage on a third. Not good.

Another test paired me up with 4 B-Wings with Hull Upgrade and Selfless. This one I won although it was close. It seems to me that the difference here is the green dice. It’s probably a common thread though the game at the moment but higher agility ships seem to just not take damage. A Falcon or B-Wing with 1 green die will inevitably take hits, even from ships with just 2 reds. But firing a 3 dice double modded shot against a 3 agility ship seems to often end up doing just 1 damage (if that!). Maybe there’s a bit of confirmation bias in there, I haven’t logged results but I’ve played plenty of games where it ‘feels’ like this is the trend.

Which then makes me feel like I’ve got the wrong ships for the job!

Anyway, with just over a week until the Store Champs I’m not changing it now! On to the game!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

When Friday came I was quite curious as to what Jon would actually bring. When talking during set up it seems that we have actually met in person but to my shame I couldn’t recall! During the System Open in February (which feels soooooo long ago now!) I had a fixed table next to a squad mate of Jon’s, Mr Dave Cook. During the weekend we had briefly talked and he has one of our Exile Squadron templates which is cool although I felt bad for not specifically remembering!

The hallowed swag

In the end we got back the task at hand (y’know, the game) and looked at lists. He had brought some ships that I’m reasonably familiar with but not really the pilots or interactions.

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Marksmanship (1)
Concussion Missiles (6)
Passive Sensors (2)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Marksmanship (1)
Concussion Missiles (6)
Passive Sensors (2)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 3

Lieutenant Rivas (27)
Ship total: 27 Half Points: 14 Threshold: 2

“Scorch” (33)
Fanatical (2)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Lieutenant LeHuse (38)
Swarm Tactics (4)
Special Forces Gunner (9)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 3

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z285X125WW99WW240WY285X125WW99WW240WY265XWY262X181WWY397X132WWW182WW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Now, I can’t remember specifically how it all works (Jon did explain it to me before we started) but it involves using Passive Sensors during activation before LeHuse uses Swarm Tactics to bring another ship up to initiative 5 (usually one of the Omega SF’s) who then picks up a lock during Engagement (from Passive Sensors) and then using Rivas’ ability to pick up a lock from that which LeHuse (using his pilot ability) then uses to be double modded.

I think.

Anyway, it’s the sort of sharing efficiency shenanigans that I’d normally associate with Rebels so was quite intrigued to see how it would play out.

I had the initiative bid by 1 point so I gave Jon first player. We put down obstacles and then he placed all of his ships before I then placed mine. The obstacle placement wasn’t terrible for me with just one of the gas clouds being cornered and the rest more central.

Going with my thoughts on jousting I placed Hera directly opposite the bulk of Jon’s ships while Lando placed just to her left.

Now, when planning int he first turn I decided to try something different. One of the issues I’ve had is with Lando being too far from Hera to pass off actions. What if this time I sent Lando in after Hera?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I eventually thought what you’re thinking too.

Anyway, Jon moved his ships forwards with Scorch banking in towards the rest before I moved Hera forwards and banked in behind with Lando.

Obviously no shooting this turn and so back to planning we go.

Unsure on how fast Jon is likely to engage I set Hera a 2 forwards (which, with her pilot ability, I can change later if I want to) while Lando gets a 1 forwards.

Jon moves forwards slightly more aggressively this time with 3’s for everyone except Scorch who ploughs in with a 4 straight and bumps.

Not really fancying being at range 1 of most of Jon’s list without Intimidation being active I reveal Hera’s move and, without thinking deeply about it, change it to a 1 forwards and reinforce to front.

THEN is when it hits me. Lando is going to bump. Oops.

No action, no free action AND sitting in firing range.

At this point Jon starts his Swarm Tactics/Passive Sensors shenanigans and, understandably, unleashes everything on Lando including two volleys of Concussion Missiles.

With no mods and just one lonely green die Lando takes the brunt, losing all 5 shields and 2 hits. Damn.

In return I manage to….. put 4 damage onto one of the Omega Squadron SF’s. Not exactly a good trade (for me anyway, I think Jon was rather pleased!)

With just 2 turns and around 20 minutes gone I’ve pretty much lost the game with a series of stupid mistakes.

Now, I have to say that this point I was tempted to concede, give Jon the result and ask to restart just so I could test my list without being an idiot. But I didn’t and I do slightly regret that decision.

Anyway, the turn is done and it’s time to plan. The thing is, I’ve been SO short sighted that now I’m stuck again. Slightly resigned I set Hera and Lando to 1 forwards, maybe hoping that if they get close enough Hera can jump over by changing to a 2 forwards and rotate her turret backwards.

Jon plays it very smartly, hard turning Rivas to get the block on Hera while just inching forwards with everyone else, blocking the 1 and 2 forwards for Hera and, in turn, ANY move for Lando.

So both ships bump and while I do now activate Intimidation on Rivas with Hera, I’m certainly going to pay a very hefty price.

The firing begins. With Swarm Tactics active and being first player, two of Jon’s ships fire before me and with Concussion Missiles doing their very worst (or best, Jon might say!), Lando dies.

In turn 3. with 50 minutes left.

In response, Hera and Lando (because of the i5 simultaneous fire) both shoot at the Intimidated Rivas and wipe him out. So that’s something I suppose.

Jon’s other ships then proceed to strip Hera’s shields away, taking full advantage of their range 1 shots.

Back to dials we go and I have to try and work out a way to claw things back. I’m now free to move with Hera being able to jump over Jon’s ships but I have 3 perfectly healthy ships (and one limping) to fire back at me.

I set Hera to 2 forwards to see what Jon will do.

Jon turns Scorch and the green SF hard away from Hera (the latter going over the asteroid with no consequences) while the yellow SF’s Loose Stabiliser crit forces it go straight over the top of Hera with LeHuse doing the same.

I go with the 1 forwards for Hera and take a lock on the yellow SF, having rotated my Ion arc to rear using Agile Gunner during the end phase of the previous turn.

LeHuse (who rotated his turret and linked to an evade) fires and chips away at Hera before the yellow SF (firing at i5 again) flips the Passive Sensors charge and shoots ANOTHER Concussion missile, flipping a Direct Hit and scoring, um, I’m not even sure how many hits any more. It’s a lot though.

Hera shoots at the yellow SF (who has no defensive mods) and while I get a damage through (leaving him on just 1 hull), it’s just the one hit so no ion tokens for him today.

The turn is done and we’re back to dials.

This time I dial in a 4k for Hera. I need to get the big gun pointed at something.

Jon shuffles LeHuse and the yellow SF away (repairing the crit on yellow) while Scorch and the green SF sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) to turn and angle back in at Hera.

We’re all too far away for shooting though and so back to planning we go.

Clearly Jon is keeping the yellow SF out of the fight, at least for now, and so my best chance of doing something is against Scorch or the green SF so I set a 2 bank.

Jon turns LeHuse and the yellow SF around while green and Scorch clear their stress and head directly to Hera.

There’s no thought of defence here, I’m going to lose and it’s going to happen soon so I may as well take down what I can. Hera fires at the green SF (since both ships are at range 2) and takes out 3 shields, getting half points. Not terrible.

In response the green SF launches Concussion Missiles (flipping something, I can’t remember what but it was fairly inconsequential I think) and Scorch follows it up with a full 3 hits. Hera is now on just 2 health and Chewbacca’s charges will not help with any of the crits I’ve taken.

With just 2 hull remaining and no green dice to save me I’m certain this is the last turn. I set a 1 forward fo no other reason than I can decide which way to turn later.

Jon splits Scorch and the green SF while yellow stays well away but LeHuse turns in for a long range obstructed pot shot.

I reveal my dial and agonise over it a bit. The green SF is my best chance at salvaging points (because pride is well out of reach at this point!) but a 2 bank right looks like it will put me on the asteroid.

I go with the 2 bank left instead and hope to get something on Scorch instead.

LeHuse takes his long range, obstructed pot shot and gets 2 hits.

I roll 2 green dice and….blank out. Hera dies.

I can still simultaneous fire though and Hera wants vengance! I roll 5 dice at the Intimidated Scorch, getting 2 hits, 1 eyeball and 2 blanks.

Jon rolls 2 greens and rolls nattie evades. Scorch is unscathed and the game is done with 17 minutes still left on the clock.

Result – 71 – 200 loss

The conclusion…

Ouch.

First of all, that’s the heaviest defeat I’ve had in quite a while and definitely while playing online X-Wing. And while on one hand it grates on me slightly because it’s completely my fault, on the other I feel that if I’d not been a total idiot in the first few turns I could have had a shot at doing something decent.

In discussing the game afterwards Jon apologised for his hot dice (which I hadn’t particularly noticed if I’m being honest) but I knew that I’d thrown the game away with a chain of disastrous decisions in turn 2. Or actually in turn 1.

Bumping Lando into Hera in turn 2 was my undoing of course but the decision to send Lando in behind Hera in the first place was what put me in trouble to begin with. It’s not something I’ve even tried before so I’m still sort of wondering exactly why I thought it might be a good idea. I guess it’s because the times where Lando has been too far from Hera to throw tokens over we floating about in my brain but clearly this was much, much worse.

Lando’s value comes in being able to leverage the two actions he can take/give and the 8 points for K-2SO add a third to enhance. I should NEVER have sent Lando in behind and actually felt a little annoyed with my self. Not because I lost or for my league position but because I feel like I wasted a perfectly good opportunity to test properly against a real person so close to the Store Champs.

Last facepalm image, I promise.

As such I am no more informed about what to do tactically than I was before so I can’t really draw much more from this game (other than what I should definitely NOT do next time!).

Still, it was a great couple of hours spent chatting with Jon and thinking about X-Wing, trying to get my brain back into gear ready for next week.

The Firestorm Cardiff Store Champs are looming large (just 4 days from time of posting!) and so my next blog will focus on what happens there. Whatever the results I can’t wait for a full day of in-person play again!

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


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