A change of pace…

The intro…

What.A.Week.

In case you don’t know or you forgot (or simply didn’t care), I live in Wales. For those not in the UK, Wales is a part of the UK but also have our own government which, last Monday, announced a 2 week ‘firebreak’ lockdown, just for us.

In case you’re not aware, Wales is the red bit.

Great.

I’m not going to get into any politics or conspiracy theories on here, that’s not what this blog is for, but what I will say is that after months of baby steps forward it feels like a big step backwards in a return to normal life.

It also happens to have coincided with my wife’s birthday. Yes, it’s relevant, yes I’m getting there! (but not yet, sorry!)

Last week’s blog seemed to strike a chord (or touch a nerve?) with many people. In fact in one of the UK Facebook groups where I post there were so many comments and responses that Facebook stopped notifying me. There was a whole lot of reflection, openness, honesty and kindness coming out of that thread.

It was epic.

There were also some questions about my feelings towards the game and one comment in particular about the game making me unhappy.

I did answer the question but, for the sake of clarity and consistency I just want to be clear. I love this game. I love the intricate nature of list building. I love how it is never the same game twice, even against the same person with you both using the same lists. I love the people who I play it with and the community that has grown (and continues to grow) around it. I love that it gives me common ground with my son as he navigates adolescence.

Of course there are times when I’m frustrated. Like when Dash consistently rolls 80% blanks with red dice or when I overthink a manoeuvre and hang a ship out to dry unnecessarily (or, even worse, fly it off the board). But these are insignificant compared to the joy I get from even the simplest parts of the game. This game is my hobby, my pastime, something to distract me and take my mind off the heavier and more serious parts of life, just for a little while. If my blogs sometimes don’t reflect the full range of these feelings then I apologise, I do love this game very much!

So why am I saying all this? Well, it was suggested that I lay off tournament play for a while and just play casually. I totally get this opinion (particularly given last week’s subject matter) and, under somewhat more normal life circumstances (i.e. game night being on), this is what happens. We turn up at Firestorm, play a game (maybe two) and head home. We don’t have this right now and it really sucks. Really really sucks.

Missing this lot!

So what do we have? Online play.

Now, I haven’t been tempted to sign up for any of the GSP tournaments that have been held over the last few months because, while going to a physical store to play 6 games in one day is something I’d enjoy as a one off, I don’t think I’d take the same amount of pleasure in playing 6 games in a row on my computer while sitting in my front room. My family wouldn’t either.

And so I’ve stuck with playing one game a week online since Covid kicked off in March. I have specifically limited myself to 1 game a week because family time is important to me and I quickly found that a 75 minute game generally takes up 2 hours of my time. Evenings are best now (since I’m working) and so more games means more evenings sitting in from of the PC while my family do other stuff.

And then there’s the blog. Writing these posts are actually pretty time consuming. Editing, finding images and simply typing stuff out. It all adds up. But I’ve found that I’ve come to enjoy writing these almost as much as I enjoy playing the games. I look back and see mistakes I made that I didn’t think of at the time.

Blog writing happens somewhat sporadically and not all in one sitting and so I can’t just ‘drop the blog and fit another game in’, my life just doesn’t work like that. Plus I don’t want to. I enjoy writing this thing!

As for playing less tournament games and more casual, here’s the thing. I, as a person, need a deadline. A target. Something to aim for. If I don’t, I let things slide. I know this about myself. And so, if I didn’t have a reason to get a game organised, I wouldn’t go looking for a pick up game. I don’t have a specific time slot in my week set aside for X-Wing, it’s just an evening agreed with my opponent for the week when we can both play. And so, as evidenced in last week’s blog, with no ‘pressure’ (wrong word to use as it seems negative but I’m not meaning it negatively!) To arrange a game, I simply didn’t.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love the game. It’s just that the week simply passed me by.

This is why I enter tournaments online. It ‘forces’ me (again, negative connotation but I’m not being negative!) To find my opponent and get something organised. I’m not entering thinking I’ll win (at the same time I’m not looking to lose every game!), I just want to play a game. To have a day/time to aim for and go and play.

So I entered the Knock The Sith Out 2: Hyperspace Boogaloo.

Last Monday (the 19th) was the deadline/draw. I’d signed up the week before but had yet to submit a list. In these knockout tournaments you submit a list and stick with it right to the end (rather than the league where you could change it every week if you wanted). I forgot to sort my list on the Sunday and remembered while at work on Monday. Time was short. What to do?

I knew that I didn’t want to run the Lando & Hera list I’d run in person at Cardiff in September. I’d played against a Warthog (in the LAAT) list during the league and it seemed pretty good. Decent showings in the GSP events were also encouraging. Cool, I’ll do that. Why not!

I’d heard on the Radio TCX podcast a few weeks ago, while they were going over points for the new ships, that a LAAT and 3 ARC-170’s fit into a list. Sounds good.

After a quick hashing of these together in Launchbay I threw Wolfpack and Seventh fleet gunner (or 7FG from now on) onto Warthog and I was done.

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

“Warthog” (54)
Wolfpack (4)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (9)

Ship total: 67 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 5

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZhZ200Z340XWWWWWY340XWWWWWY340XWWWWWY414XWW352WWW227W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

I submit the list into TTT and I’m done. Half an hour later, pairings were made. I had not realised it was that close! Best get some practice in then!

This is (finally!) where how my week went comes in.

On Monday, covid restrictions were announced (coming into force on Friday), we needed to do some shopping and some family visiting (outdoors and socially distant of course) and some general errands before shutting ourselves in again.

It was also my wife’s birthday which would need some additional shopping and with the kids in tow (needing to be done after school). Ok, no problem. I’ll slot in some practice on Fly Casual.

Ummm….

Ok, maybe I can’t test Warthog specifically then but that’s ok, his pilot ability doesn’t have any weird stuff going on, I can handle that.

I put together a 212th with the three arcs. I can put 7th fleet gunner on the LAAT but Wolfpack is also missing.

Ok, well I can still look at openings and see what works.

Except that I couldn’t.

When I have a LAAT in a list (any list it seems), once I hit the first engagement the first ship to fire works ok but won’t move on to the next ship. At that point all you can do it wuit the game.

Ok, so no practice this week then with a brand new list including a very recently released ship.

Should be great!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

What’s interesting about submitting lists in this tournament is that once signups were closed and pairings made, they became public.

The pairings went up on TTT and I had been paired with Jason Simmons. Someone new to get to know! I decided to take a look at his list and see if I could work out what to do against it.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (49)
R4 Astromech (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 2

Plo Koon (45)
R4 Astromech (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

“Tucker” (27)
Ship total: 27 Half Points: 14 Threshold: 3

212th Battalion Pilot (51)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (9)

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 5

Total: 193

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z278XW5W200WY312XW5W200WY319XWY412XWWWW227WW&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Hmmm. My first thought is, kill the Jedi. That’s often easier said than done but the prospect of a 5 dice hit from Obi-Wan (a range 1 bullseye with CLT (JARGON ALERT!!) And 7FG) can’t really be ignored. I mean, none of my ships can be 1-shotted but three quality shots on an ARC isn’t out of the question here and with just one agility that could be dangerous. I need to make sure that I can spread arcs and get some shots.

The torrent is most likely going to try and block me but is more a target of opportunity. If he strays into the wrong spot, I’ll shoot him.

And then there’s the LAAT. It, like mine, will be powering up the shots of other ships with 7FG and the ship ability and so it needs to go, however it’s the Jedi who will be dealing most of the damage and so even though it’s the most expensive ship for points, it’s also the easiest one to chase down during the later stages of the game and only has a 2 dice gun itself.

This week’s game was a bit later (Sunday) than I usually play and so it’s been a bit of a rush to get this post ready (hopefully I’ve done it justice!). Jason set up a room on TTS and we got in touch over Discord and prepared our game.

With no crossover in initiative Jason used his 7 point bid to take first player and control obstacle placement.

Once rocks and debris were down Jason placed his LAAT and Torrent pretty much in the middle. Now it was my turn to place. I placed 2 arcs heading up a channel through the middle with the third facing sideways to their right. The LAAT went down to the right of them all.

Jason placed his Jedi in each corner facing inwards and we were ready to begin.

Yes we did change the mat for clearer screenshots!

I set all 3 ARCs to go 1 straight while the LAAT turned a hard 2 left.

Jason’s Torrent hard turned in front of the LAAT and focused before the LAAT bumped into it to stay still.

I moved all my ships (and focused) before Plo angled in a little and Obi shuffled up the board edge.

Back to dials we go and I’ve got choices to make. Chase down a Jedi, chase down the LAAT or bide my time a little longer.

I go for the third option and set the red and yellow ARCs forwards 1, the green will 3 bank and the LAAT will shuffle forwards.

Jason hard turns the Torrent left and rolls, making way for the LAAT to follow suit. I move my ships and then Jason cautiously moves Plo up the board while Obi-Wan comes in a little.

Still no shooting and so back to planning we go.

Green is now well placed to stop Obi-Wan flanking so I feel confident enough to go bold. Green gets another 3 bank while red and yellow go 3 straight. Warthog takes a 1 bank right.

A little aside, at this point I’m a bit unsure what to do with Warthog. He isn’t going to be doing much damage on the occasions he is shooting so the temptation is to keep him back. The thing is, he needs to be in range and have things in arc to trigger Fire Convergence, Wolfpack and 7FG. Anyway, I digress…

Jason send the Torrent a 2 bank inside the rock while the LAAT goes stright to go outside.

I move the ARCs and Warthog before Jason continues to flank with Plo and Obi heads back out along Jason’s board edge.

We check for ranges but nobody is close enough and we go back to dials again.

Now I have to start to commit to something. I decide to bank right with red and yellow. I decide to go around the outside of both obstacles with green and so 3 straight while Warthog will 1 bank in behind the ARCs.

Jason begins moving ships, banking in with the Torrent before the LAAT hard turns around the outside of the rock.

I move all my ships, focusing with the ARCs and reinforcing to front with Warthog (just in case Plo comes in hard).

Obi continues along the board edge while Plo does turn in but doesn’t advance as fast as I expect.

This time we do engage. Plo takes a pot shot at the yellow ARC and gets 2 hits on (typical!). Red takes a range 3 shot at Obi and misses before yellow takes a shot at Jason’s LAAT and gets 1 shield off.

It is at this point I realised that Warthog was not contributing a thing just yet. That needed to change.

Neither Tucker or the LAAT had shots here and so it’s time for planning again.

Now it was time to dish out some damage. I set yellow a 2 hard right to threaten the LAAT, red gets a 1 bank to back him up. Green banks around the debris to hopefully dissuade Obi-Wan from coming in. Warthog was a tricky one. He’s a prime target and pretty much no matter what I do, Plo could get a bullseye shot on him. I decide to lean into the pain and set a 2 hard right.

Jason moves the torrent hard right and bumps into Plo. The LAAT banks in and focuses. It’s going to be close!

Yellow hard turns and stops just short of bumping the LAAT. Red follows around and focuses before green comes around the debris. Warthog takes his bold hard turn and reinforces to front.

Jason hard turns Plo to his right (which is not what I expected) and bumps into my yellow ARC (which is not what he expected). He then turns Obi-Wan in and boosts to his right.

Obi shoots at red but misses bullseye. He still manages to land 2 hits though and is followed up by Plo getting 2 more (including a Fuel Leak). Ouch. Still, time for payback.

Green’s only shot is at Obi and he gets 1 hit through. I don’t feel that yellow can do enough with his rear arc on Obi and so I go for the range 1 on Warthog. It pays off as I register 4 hits with 3 going through. Red follows up with a range 2 shot powered up by 7FG and Fire Convergence and gets a hit and a crit through, getting half points.

As we joke about those typical range 3 shots from unmodded A-Wings that finish you off when you don’t expect it, I roll 2 hits with Warthog and Plo blanks out, getting half there too. Harsh.

Jason’s LAAT and Torrent fire at yellow and it’s his time to do unreasonable damage, getting 6 hits past his single green die (losing half points).

Brutal turn.

Back to dials we go as things start heating up.

At this point I need to try and push on and deal some heavy hits. I set yellow a 4K (JARGON ALERT!!) to clear some space while also keeping guns on target. Green will hard turn in while red will go 1 forwards to leverage the double firing arcs. Maybe I’ll get lucky. I debate the options with Warthog, deliberating between a red stop and a 3 straight since I’m thinking Jason is weighing up those same two options with his LAAT.

Jason starts with his LAAT which does the 3 straight. Tucker banks in and bumps into Plo. I move all my ships and while I bump Warthog into Jason’s LAAT, everyone else ends up pretty much where I wanted.

Obi-Wan hard turns and rolls out of green’s way, looking to get to range 2 before Plo sloops right in front of red. Hmmm….

Obi-Wan fired at Warthog and scored 2 hits.

Plo takes the big shot onto the red ARC, 3 dice at range 1 plus the 7FG with an added eyeball result gives him the maximum 5 hits (with some crits thrown in) and red is properly dead.

But not yet. Jason had forgotten about Warthog’s ability.

Red uses Wolfpack to take a lock at the cost of a rather inconsequential strain and rolls 4 double modded dice at Plo. Plo dies.

Yellow and green both fire at Jason’s LAAT and, powered up by Fire Convergence and 7FG, put 5 hits into it, finishing it off. More harshness.

Both our LAAT’s recharged 7FG and so both have weapons disabled.

Tucker’s only target is the green ARC which evades the single hit rolled.

Wow. That was a big turn.

Back to dials we go and while I’ve not checked scores, I’m sure I’m ahead. The question is, how aggressive do I go?

I set green and yellow 1 banks while Warthog takes a red stop to try and block Obi-Wan.

Jason moves Tucker…right onto the debris. Green moves and stops short of Obi-Wan by a very small margin. Yellow moves in and clears his stress. Warthog stops and already has weapons disabled from recharging 7FG.

Obi-Wan takes a 5K right over the top of Warthog (dammit!).

Obi-Wan and Tucker both fire on Warthog and between them land 3 hits (getting half points). Yellow and green fire at Tucker and Obi-Wan respectively and both land 1 hit each. That’s Obi at half now too.

Back to dials we go and time is running down.

I set Warthog a 3 bank to get out but to do it I need to bump into him with yellow first. Green will bank in to try and catch Obi-Wan again.

Jason banks in with Tucker who blocks green. Yellow does his bump into Warthog who in turn leapfrogs over him to get out of the way (having taken a disarm again for 7FG). Obi-Wan banks to clear his stress and then boosts to try and get arc on green since he can’t evade arc on both my ARCs (too much ARC/arc!!).

Obi-Wan just barely missed getting arc on green. Oh dear.

Green and yellow both fire range 1 shots at Obi, backed up by Fire Convergence and I manage to do….one single damage. Obi lives. Damn.

Back to dials we go and with just over a minute left on the clock it’s our last turn.

Yellow will bank while green will go forwards. Warthog? Well, that’s a bit more tricky. While it’s tempting to red stop I’m not 100% sure it’s impossible for him to die and give up rather a lot of points so it’s a slightly cowardly ‘tactical retreat’ for him.

It’s time to move. Jason banks Tucker. Both yellow and green land their moves without bumping and focus. Warthog moves and reinforces to rear. Obi-Wan hard turns, boosts and focuses.

Slightly late screenshot. Spot the missing ship.

Obi-Wan fires at Warthog but the roll isn’t great and he does no damage.

Yellow fires at Tucker and scores 3 hits while Jason’s greens blank out, giving me half on him. I deliberate which target to shoot at with green and (questionably, in hindsight) opt for Obi-Wan. I miss (again) and the Jedi survives.

Tucker fires at yellow and gets 3 hits. Yellow blanks out, dying in the final shot.

Final score: 153 – 122 win

The conclusion…

Well, that’s a turn up for the books! A win, and a reasonably solid one too. I didn’t exactly follow my ‘kill the Jedi’ plan (or Order 66 I suppose you could call it!) but took the targets I could while still generally threatening the Aethersprites.

Jason forgot about Warthog’s ability which cost him Plo (I doubt he would have been ok with sitting in an ARC’s face if he had) and while Obi-Wan decided he just wasn’t ready (or willing) to die, Jason’s LAAT did fall rather quicker than he might have reasonably expected.

Overall, I like my list. All ships being initiative 3 means I can make manoeuvres and shots in the order that suits me. Warthog’s ability is just awesome and, while it can be annoying to take a disarm token to recharge 7FG, the boost it gives the ARC’s (along with the Fire Convergence ability) is significant. It’s got enough beef to tank some shots while being able to dish out some significant damage reliably between Fire Convergence, Wolfpack and 7FG.

I had been worried about these ships being arc dodged by aces but the rotating arc of the LAAT combined with the double arcs of the ARCs definitely helps.

I spoke to Jason over Discord the day after the game and he’d been thinking about alternative choices he could have made. I’d said in the aftermath of the game that I wasn’t expecting Plo to turn in (and bump) when he did. We considered whether it might have paid off for him to actually go right arount the bottom right rock and come in to fully flank. He also said that towards the end he was fixated on getting the damaged (yellow) ARC off the board. He wished that he’d decided to focus on Warthog earlier t try and get him out of play.

I believe he’s right, after all half an ARC is only 22 points and it’s Warthog who powers everything up in this list.

I’m still a bit unsure how to use Warthog properly. He needs protecting but keep him too far out and he’s not doing his job right. Jason suggested that at i3 he might be a decent blocker against higher initiative ships, especially since he doesn’t mind bumping into something when he has a weapons disabled token from recharging 7FG.

Maybe I need to watch some stream games to see what people are doing with him. Please comment with links if you know any!

Jason was a great opponent and outlined right at the start of the game that he wanted a casual, laid back gaming experience (i.e. don’t worry about missed actions, that sort of thing). It was a pleasure playing you Jason (and not just because I won!) and I hope to play you again some day!

So it seems that I have another game lined up to talk about next week. I wonder how that one will go!

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