All Remaining Systems…

Welcome! (or if you’ve been before, Welcome Back!)

Yes, I know there’s a missed Star Wars themed ‘Hello There’ opportunity here but I’ve used it before and that just feels lazy…

The intro/recap…

For those who have been following you might already know that it’s now week 5 of the Vagabond Open. This tournament was organised by the amazing Mr Steve Boulton of Vagabond Squadron in response to real life games becoming impossible to play as stores closed and tournaments for cancelled for some reason that I can no longer remember…

Apart from just being a way to get games in it also had a fun twist. It would be 7 games and each game you would have to use a different faction.

I’ve mentioned before how I need to have time with a list to learn it and so a tournament like this where you not only change your list with each game but most of the time you can’t even keep the same ships.

Ooooh, so there’s like a cartoon themed thing going on with the images, right? Right?!

As the weeks wore on I started looking at what I could possibly do to mitigate the weakness. Finding a list early was one thing so that I could at least familiarise myself with how it moves and what actions it can take. Another thing was to look at established lists or archetypes and see if I could make it work. This week I found another way. More on that in a minute.

I had already played with Resistance, CIS, Scum and Imperial. I still wasn’t quite ready to use Rebel yet and so the choice was between First Order and Republic. For no real reason I decided to look at First Order.

Now, we used to have FO ships from First Edition and Cai had been given (as a Christmas present) an FO conversion kit but in all honesty hadn’t touched FO in 2.0 and so around 6 months ago had sold it all. As such my experience with First Order is basically only from when I’ve flown against it and, normally, these are people who know what to do with it all. Being honest, Holo with Proud Tradition still leaves me like this:

Yep, definitely got a theme going on here. Nice.

I asked my fellow Exiles for some advice on a list and got some interesting responses. One was Holo (in the TIE/ba) with Tavson (in an Upsilon) and a second generic Upsilon. Someone else then advised that unless you’re well practiced with them that they can be hard to use effectively. Two test games in Fly Casual proved that theory very right and I decided to leave that well alone.

Another suggestion had been a mix of some unique TIE/SF pilots and a TIE/FO and yet another was Blackout (in a TIE Silencer) with 4 SF’s. That test game in Fly Casual got me thinking. The stat line (with the Special Forces Gunner) is quite similar to an X-Wing. 3 attack, 2 agility, 6 health. I then noticed that, unlike most TIE ships, the dial is also similar to an X-Wing. Blue 1 forward, all the basic 1, 2 & 3 moves. It’s missing a K-Turn but has a sloop instead.

Interesting.

I played a game and found that they flew more like Rebel ships than nippy Imperial ones. This deserved more investigation.

After a bit of trial and error with build out I noticed something else. When built without the gunner, an initiative 3 Omega Squadron Pilot could have Fanatical and Advanced Optics for 40 points.

This is very similar to the Resistance 5 x RZ-2 A-Wings list (with Heroic and Advanced Optics). The main strength of that list is reliable damage output (any 2 dice combination except eyeball + blank gives you 2 hits) and time on target (with the rotating turret.

This build is very similar, the only difference is that you’re sacrificing one agility to gain 2 health. The advantage for me is that unlike the A-Wings, they can go slow and fly more like ships that I’m already experienced with.

Ok, I’m in.

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

I flew 3 practice games on Fly Casual and won all 3 very convincingly against a couple of different archetypes. Ok then. I think I’m set.

Wednesday is pairings day and when I went to check I was, well, I don’t know what I was. Shocked? Surprised? Delighted? Terrified?! Maybe a combination of all of those all squished together and twisted into some disfigured balloon animal.

I’d been paired with Dale Cromwell.

Yes, THAT Dale Cromwell. The one who (I’m told) has won a Nationals tournament, been to Worlds and is lauded by several podcasts as a jouster of legend.

My first thought was that it was a mistake, that I’d misread the page. I mean, I was 1-3, Dale can’t be 1-3 can he? I checked and he was. Ok then. This made me realise that it’s obviously not just me struggling with trying new stuff out and adjusting to playing on a screen.

My second thought was to check whether he’d already flown Imperial (since this is what he’s known for, primarily Imperial Acey lists). I got in touch with Steve Boulton, keeper of information (it’s open information, just in case you were wondering) and it turns out that yes, Dale has already flown Imperial. Right, that made me feel a little bit better.

We got in touch over Facebook and arranged to play on the Friday night.

As is normal (well, as normal as anything can be over the course of 5 of the strangest weeks of my life) I didn’t get as much time to test out the list as I’d have liked but 2 rushed games on Fly Casual on Friday afternoon helped me to figure out a tactic I was happy with as time was running out.

Evening came and it was time to play…

The Batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Dale got voice chat going while I wait (im)patiently for the vassal update that I’d ignored the week before to download and then update and so we were able to chat a little before we started the game which I always like to try and do. I value connection with someone new far above any competition and so I’m always happy when I get the chance to do that.

Right, Vassal is (finally!) loaded and so I join the room and start opening all the different windows you need to play. I opened Dale’s player window and saw his list.

Ah. Jedi

Ahsoka Tano (44)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (2)

Ship total: 46 Half Points: 23 Threshold: 2

Plo Koon (44)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 2

Obi-Wan Kenobi (48)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

Ric Olié (42)
Outmaneuver (6)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 3

Total: 194

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z276XWW200WY312XWW200WY278XWW200WY333X126WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

I immediately recognise that my 2 dice attacks (since I don’t have the Special Forces Gunner) may struggle against 3 agility ships (assuming Ric is always going faster than my ships). Not only that but an experienced player (which Dale definitely is) will be able to get the bullseye arcs needed to trigger CLT (JARGON ALERT!!).

Dale has the bid and, since Ahsoka is I3 (like all my SF’s) he decide to be second player, meaning all of my ships move first (and, more importantly, all his ships can reposition to get bullseye after I’m done moving).

Following a rather spectacular fail on my part in activating arcs on all my ships simultaneously and unable to find how to switch them off :

What the crap is happening here?!?!?!

We eventually got obstacles placed and then placed forces, looking like this when we were ready to set dials.

Just a quick side note – since I don’t have the SF Gunner, all my ships have the turret set to rear to start and will stay like that the whole game. No need to keep swapping it since it’s 2 dice (or 3 for range 1) whichever way I’m shooting.

Just what is sneaky Ric up to over there?

Being a Rebel player at heart, I decided to play safe the first turn and see what Dale had planned. I shuffle all 5 ships 1 forwards and focus up.

Dale sends everyone forwards with a mix of boosts to start heading into the middle fo the board.

Next turn and time for dials. I definitely don’t want to get broadsided by Dale’s squad and so I’m going to have to turn in to the middle. Now, I’ve flown enough practice games to have figured out how to position my ships to take a slow turn in. The front row take 1, 2 and 3 bank turns respectively (inside slowest) and the back row take a 1 and 2 bank. Sometimes The rear ships need to barrel roll to maintain formation but I didn’t do that this time and give them all a focus.

Dale wastes no time and all his ships start to angle in towards me. Obi-Wan sits just outside of range, waiting for next turn to engage but Ric and Plo look like they will be firing this turn.

Indeed they do have range but while a few shots are fired from both sides, no damage is done.

I don’t think that will last long though.

I set all my ships to 1 forwards and focus up. This turn could be nasty.

Dales ships dive in and, between Ahsoka’s ability and Plo having taken a lock last turn, are all basically double modded except for Ric who bumped.

Then the shooting starts.

Plo takes 2 shields from Omega 1 (who got off lightly if you ask me) while Ric, Obi-Wan and Ahsoka focus on Omega 2 and reduce it to just 2 hull. Crucially, Ahsoka had marginally missed bullseye and so didn’t get to add a focus result. Omega 2 survives when it was entirely possible that it may not have.

My turn to shoot and Ahsoka having used her focus and burned up both Force charges makes her a glaring target. All 5 ships fire on her and, slightly underwhelmingly, get 2 damage through. It doesn’t feel great but it’s a start at least.

Back to dials we go and now the SF’s strength comes to the fore. Dale’s ships have to turn around. Mine do not. All I need to do is move forwards and make sure that I clear Dale’s ships to get the focus I need to activate Advanced Optics.

My front row take a mix of 3 and 5 forwards while in the back I try and leapfrog Ric with one and just shuffle 1 forwards with the other, hoping that a range 1 ship with no damage will draw fire away from the damaged ship at range 3. Apart from bumping Ric with a 2 bank from the back right SF it all came off. Now to see where Dale’s ships would land.

Plo and Obi-Wan both took a 5-K (JARGON ALERT!!) while Ahsoka did a 2 sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) and Ric stayed put with a 2 hard turn not fitting between my ships.

Dale began to fire and (thankfully) the range 1 shots were just too tempting. Plo again took 2 shields from the ship he had in bullseye while the other 3 focused on the other back row ship. This time they were less effective but only slightly, stripping it of shields.

The return fire was brutal. The bumped SF fired on Obi-Wan and even without any mods took his single shield away. The now unshielded back row ship fired 3 red dice at stressed, Forceless Obi-Wan and between Fanatical and Advanced Optics got 3 hits. Dale rolled his greens – 3 blanks. Obi-Wan dead. Ouch.

The other 3 ships plinked ranged shots at the already damaged Ahsoka and, again with the aid of advanced Optics, got through the 2 damage needed to finish her off.

Well. Wow.

We were at dials again and now I just had to keep my guns on target and keep chipping away. I knew I was in a great position but I also knew that I’ve lost games when in a more commanding position than this. Concentrate!

Dials again and, to be honest, my choice was easy – 1 forwards. Well, except for Omega 5 who I sent a 1 bank.

Ric did now take that 2 hard turn that he’d tried before, just as Dale realised he should have made it a 3 turn to get the free evade. Plo shuffled 2 forwards.

The shooting began and I found Plo’s target a little confusing at first. Dale chose to fire at Omega 1 who was at range 3. When I asked why Dale said that he had bullseye on him and it was possible (but admittedly not likely) that he could destroy it and therefore reduce the number of return shots. The closest SF while also in bullseye didn’t have a shot on Plo and therefore was less of a priority.

Plo fired and Dale’s dice were rather sub-par. The extra green die I got for range 3 did it’s job and just 1 damage was done. Ric fired but failed to do any damage.

My SF’s returned fire and between them took 1 shield from Plo and 2 from Ric.

Dials again and I decide it’s time to split up a little more. The back 2 press on towards the centre of the board, 2 of the front row take a 1 forwards again while the left most one takes a hard left (to avoid smashing into an asteroid) and barrel rolls left.

Ric takes a 3 bank and gets his free evade and then a focus. Plo goes 2 forwards, takes a focus and barrel rolls to get out of arc of the rear-most SF.

The dice in this round were rather swingy, mostly in that the red ones had a lot of paint and the green ones did not.

Plo fired range 1 at Omega 5 and, with the extra CLT focus result got 3 hits. I rolled greens – both blank. Omega 5 is gone.

Ric fired at Omega 1 (who was on 3 health) and got hit, crit. I rolled greens – both blank. He’s still alive though but the crit, somewhat annoyingly, is a Weapons Failure.

It’s time to return fire and Omega 4 is after revenge on Plo Koon for his fallen wing-man. He rolls 3 dice at range 1. Blank, hit, hit becomes 3 hits with Advanced Optics. Dale rolls green – all blank. Plo is gone.

The other 3 SF’s fire on Ric but, rather unsurprisingly (given the range of one and the Weapons Failure on another), not a lot of damage goes through (just 1 I think) but the combination of Fanatical and Advanced Optics turns hit, eyeball blank into 3 hits.

With the timer having gone off a few minutes previous we already know this is the last turn of the game. I hard turn Omega 4 while Omegas 1 and 2 take bank turns left, aiming to keep their rear arc on Ric. Omega 3 goes 1 forwards with little other option.

Ric takes a 2 hard turn and sits in behind Omegas 1 and 2. He fires and, despite going faster than Omega 2 and getting the extra die, he does no damage.

Omega 2 returns fire and the super consistent dice that you get from Fanatical and Optics turns up 3 hits again. Dale rolls greens and they’re all blank again. Ric is gone and the game is over.

The conclusion…

OH EMM GEE!

I won? I won! I WON?!? Against Dale?!?! With FIRST ORDER??!!?

Yes, the cartoon memes keep coming!

Total destruction in the last turn while losing one SF and 2 being at half points mean that the final score is 200-80.

Dale and I were unable to really analyse or chat over the game as Dale had to run off (something to do with the dog!). Looking back, I think that from my side I played the list right. Having compared this list to the 5 RZ-2 Resistance A-Wings at the start of the blog I would say that I was both right and wrong. They definitely fire a lot like them (once they’ve lost shields) in that they give very reliable damage output but they move more like X-Wings (which I prefer) and also don’t need to take a stress to rotate the turret.

Again, I (well, we) no longer own and First Order ships but, assuming points don’t change before it’s possible to play physical games again, I’d be tempted to look at this list again. The TIE/SF was the first ship that Cai bought (even before we owned a core set, see here for our origin story) and has always been a strong, solid ship. I guess it’s not too dissimilar to 5 T-65 X-Wings which makes me wonder why it wasn’t as popular? Perhaps the points dropping on the T-65 to the magical threshold of 40 drew attention away? I had been flying 5 T-65’s in the weeks leading up to the lockdown with the intention of taking it to 2 Hyperspace tournaments and it’s biggest flaw was lack of reliable dice since you’re almost always just taking a focus and, if your opponent is firing first, spending them on defence. These SF’s have the same amount of health, a slightly better dial, reliable damage output and don’t need to turn around.

It seems I accidentally stumbled onto something which I’d be very tempted to try again, even if only electronically.

Did I make a beautiful thing?!

It’s always easy to say you enjoyed your game when you win, especially when you didn’t fancy your chances at the outset but I really did have a great time playing against Dale. He’s a really nice guy and even when the dice rolls weren’t going his way and when it was becoming clear what the result would be his attitude or demeanour didn’t change one bit.

Dale, it was a pleasure (and not just because I won!) and I really hope to be able to meet you in person somewhere along our X-Wing travels. Hopefully there will be a System Open next year!!

So there we have it. I’m now 2-3 in the Vagabond Open with 2 games to go. Rebel and Republic are what I have left to use and I *think* I may know what I’m going to use for each. I’m open to suggestions though if anyone has any!

See you next week!

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