This week, the unimaginable happened. We got down to Firestorm for game night. That’s right, that makes it 3 weeks in a row!!!
In the chat group once someone had kicked off the usual ‘who’s down this week’ message I was called out for a game in advance. The inimitable ‘Dan Eggs’ (not his real name by the way) wanted to see how he fared against Dash. The proverbial gauntlet had been thrown down and, not one to back away from a challenge, I accepted, even though I already knew what he would probably play. And what is that I hear you cry? Well, it’s X-Wing’s most controversial bad boy ace, Sun Fac and friends.
We arrive at the store and begin unpacking and setting up for the game while chatting about the match up. Dan is quite experienced with this list now, having played it almost exclusively since the Nantex was released and taking it to the top 4 of the Worcester HST (JARGON ALERT!!) last month. We’ve never played each other before but I know he’s a better player than I am despite having played the game for roughly the same length of time. That’s never stopped me taking someone on before (not that I particularly enjoy losing but at the same time I know I can still enjoy a game I don’t win) and it wasn’t going to stop me now.
As we chat Dan mentions that he thinks that my list is quite well teched against his and he doesn’t quite know how it’s going to go.
I guess this is a good point to show you his list:
General Grievous (44)
Crack Shot (1)
Impervium Plating (4)
Soulless One (6)
Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 4
Crack Shot (1)
Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2
Sun Fac (54)
Crack Shot (1)
Ship total: 79 Half Points: 40 Threshold: 2
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Separatist%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z305X116WW207W229Y356X116W248Y357X116W248&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=
Now, after some discussions on Facebook and Reddit following last week’s blog it was suggested by several people to try Arc-170 Norra rather than Y-Wing Norra. I argued that Y-Wing Norra’s cheaper chassis (meaning more upgrades) and mobile arc (options for time on target) made her a better choice but, knowing that I was facing a double Nantex list, I thought that Arc Norra was worth a go (with a medium base being less prone to being tractored). Adding Zeb crew and Intimidation meant that getting a bump was what I wanted to do and that the medium base made it less likely that she could be tractored out of the bump.
Dash Rendar (98)
Trick Shot (4)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Ship total: 138 Half Points: 69 Threshold: 5
Norra Wexley (55)
“Zeb” Orrelios (1)
Ship total: 59 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 5
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW77W54WW157WY77X122WW65WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=
So going back to Dan’s comment I can sort of see his point, with no small base ships I won’t be easy to tractor and have some big guns but those little ships with lots of green dice are slippery and will be hard to put damage onto.
So we started with rock placement. Dan had brought the smallest possible rocks with him and was careful to try and spread out the obstacles as much as possible but I was still reasonably happy with how they ended up.
Dan placed his I4’s in my far right corner. I placed Dash opposite and Norra 3/4′ s of the way across the board. Sun Fac went down almost opposite her and so we began.
So the first few turns were somewhat cagey from both of us. Dan wasn’t quite sure how aggressively to approach and I wasn’t sure how best to pin down 3 slippery repositioning ships.
We slowly edged everyone towards the middle of the board and prepared for a first engagement like this:
Norra has a range 3 shot on Grievous and (inevitably) does nothing.
Next… well next was the turn that decided the game.
I assumed that Chertek and Grievous were going to come in towards Dash and so I dialled in a 3 bank with Norra to go for a block. With Dash I was unsure. Either a 1 forward or a 2 bank. A 2 bank would more than likely give me options for shots out of both sides where a 1 bank would point me directly at Sun Fac and put the other 2 ships in my side arc.
I went with the 2 bank. It was a spectacularly poor choice.
Chertek and grievous came in faster than I anticipated. Norra overshot the block and ended up behind them. Dash took his 2 bank and ended in range 1 of both before Sun Fac threw himself forwards and finished up at range 1 unobstructed of Dash.
But it gets worse.
Dash fired at Chertek and Sun Fac and Norra fired at Chertek. In total I did 3 damage to Chertek and 1 to Sun Fac.
Dan rolled 12 red dice at Dash. I rolled 6 greens. 9 damage got through. 9, including 2 crits, a disabled power regulator (not a major issue) and a console fire (rather a big one, but I’ll cover that later).
So now I have Dash, my 138 point ship, at 1 hull. I’ll be honest, I was tempted to concede right there since there would be time to reset and start a 2nd game. There’s almost zero chance that I can pull this back even to a semi-respectable score with only Arc Norra in play. I just can’t bring myself to do that though and so we continued to the next turn.
At least it can’t get any worse, right?
Wrong, but I’ll get to that.
The next turn is planned, Norra takes a 1 forward (to hopefully keep something in arc for a shot) and takes a lock on Chertek and Dash pulls off a 3 hard turn taking Dan slightly by surprise. After all the tractor nonsense this is how we end up.
Now I don’t know if you noticed that I didn’t mention what Dash’s action was. This is where the aforementioned console fire comes in. You see, I had a dilemma. Normally it’s automatically a focus but clearly, not this time. No, I had 2 choices – rotate my arc (risking the damage from the console fire when engaging) and try to get a shot (provided Sun Fac hasn’t already finished me off) before dying OR clear the console fire and pray that I survive and see what happens.
So Sun Fac takes his shot at Dash, range 2 with no mods (because of a bump) and….. misses.
Phew! I might just get something out of this!
I roll for the console fire and…
Well, yeah, I mean it’s a reasonably likely result. Never mind, I still get my shot with Dash! I mean, it’s unmodded and (since I’ve no focus) there’s just the one but I can still take 1 health Chertek off the board, right? I mean, I’ve got a 4 dice gun!!
No. No I can’t.
Chertek escapes unscathed and now it’s Dan’s entire list (with only Chertek at half points) against poor old Norra.
Now, I won’t give you the full low-down of what happened for the rest of the game but there are some honourable mentions:
- Firstly, Norra (as she does so well) lasted an unreasonably long time against 3 ships.
- Secondly, Impervium plating is stupid good. I’d have finished the game with Grievous on 1 hull if Dan hadn’t just been able to completely disregard a Hull Breach and Direct Hit.
- Lastly, the ONLY time that I got a bump with Norra (triggering Intimidation and Zeb crew), I got bumped side on by Sun Fac and it worked against me:
So, what can I take from this? Well firstly, Zeb and Intimidation on a medium base I5 is rather difficult to take advantage of. Possibly it’s that I’m not experienced or practised enough with blocking or anticipating my opponents manoeuvres, or just doesn’t suit my play style but whatever the reason, the only time I got a bump it benefited my opponent and not me. Secondly, the Arc is not manoeuvrable enough to keep up with small base repositioning ships. The rear arc makes up for it a little but turning around (while trying to not be stressed and keep actions) takes so long that it’s almost futile.
For the same points Y-Wing Norra, while vulnerable to being tractored, could have double tapped and ion against these ships could have been very useful, even just the threat of it.
The turn where I took the 2 bank and not the 1 forward definitely swung the game. A 2 forward would have put me at (possibly) obstructed range 2 of Dan’s I4 ships and, even though I missed the block with Norra, a possible 2 5 dice shots (rather than 2 3 dice ones), plus reducing the number of incoming red dice from Dan on that turn would have resulted in a very different game. I like to think that I could have removed 1 of his ships (namely Chertek) but even if not, I think that Dash with more health left, even for just 1 additional turn would have made a significant contribution.
Of course, it’s even harder to make any conclusions from this because potentially at least 1, sometimes 2 of Dan’s ships can move at the start of engagement.
On a plus side (because there should always be a plus side, even if it’s just what you learned NOT to do), I put up a ‘fun’ (i.e. not highly competitive) list up against what is appearing to be a rather good list in the current meta (JARGON ALERT!!) and whilst yes, I did get smashed up, it could have gone differently. I would almost certainly have still lost but taking even 1 of the Nantex off the board before losing Dash would have made a difference.
Also, this was a very interesting first experience of the Nantex. Trying to figure out where they would move and then factoring in where they could move AGAIN (or maybe WHAT they could move if I’d had a small base ship) was definitely, ummm, educational? I can’t say I’ll know what to expect next time, it’s probably more like I’ll know that I can expect to not know! Know what I mean? (I’m not sure I do any more!)
Dan was kind enough to message me with some of his thoughts from the game:
“Obviously we discussed at the time that the 2 bank in you pulled ended up swinging the game. Not particularly insightful of me to point out that Dash ending up with three ships in range 1 is bad!
I can definitely confirm that Dash is terrifying for Nantex. He does double down on what they want to do anyway (dive into range 1, preferably from outside range 3) but he really ups the consequences for getting that wrong! I felt like I got as good a rock placement as I could have, and as I said your approach with Norra gave me a lot to think about. That rock blocking a 2 hard towards Sun Fac early on made her a bit more predictable. Fundamentally though I think the issue with Norra is that she doesn’t hit hard enough to really worry me, so in the end I just resolved to dive in and not worry about her. That was probably easier for my list, knowing that I could tractor myself away from any bumps, but I think it’s probably true of most lists. I definitely agree with your preference for the double tap version in the Y-Wing, because ion is scary (especially with the new changes).”
So all in all, Nantex’s (Nantices? Nantexi?) are evil and ARC Norra isn’t all that good. Is any of that new information? Nope, probably it isn’t. Sorry for wasting your time! Again!