Decision Time

So the countdown is on.

The system open is fast approaching and there are just 2 game nights left (at time of starting to write at least). At this point I’m not even looking at practice really, it’s about just picking a list. I’ve accepted that ‘doing well’ (whatever that means personally to each of us, for me it’s trying for a better record than last year) is out of the window and actually I think I’m ok with it. The excitement of going away for a weekend of pew pew with my son and some friends far surpasses any expectations I’m putting on myself in terms of performance. The #HypeTrain (which Kris Mitchell in particular seems to be the captain of!) very is real. I just have to find a list that I enjoy playing and that I’m at least a bit familiar with so as not to thoroughly embarrass myself.

Time to put songs in people’s heads again!

Going into game night I appeared to have a bit of analysis paralysis. I posted to our local player chat group asking for opinions on four lists that I was considering. Yep, four. It had taken quite a bit of thought to get it down to that, too.

I’m a Rebel player at heart and yet those slightly more beefy T-70 X-Wings and very versatile RZ-2 A-Wings have recently been turning my head when thinking about Hyperspace lists.

I’m also very intrigued by the efficiency of the named Rebel B-Wing pilots and especially curious about the new S-foil configuration, how it can best be used and which pilot(s) it suits best.

So around 2 hours before I was going to be heading out these are the four lists (in no particular order) I was considering:

  • Poe (with R4 Astromech and Heroic), two Red Squadron Experts (both with Heroic) and an RZ-2 A-Wing (either an initiative 3 Green Squadron Expert or an initiative 1 Blue Squadron Recruit, with Heroic and Advanced Optics)
  • Poe and 3 Red Squadron Experts (all naked except for S-foils)
  • Braylen, Jake, Ten Numb (with S-foils) and Luke.
  • Lando (with Nien Nunb), 2 Blue Squadron T-65’s and a-n-other (maybe Jake or an i2 Y-Wing with Ion cannon)

I feel like each have their merits and while none are likely to be considered S-tier (although in this new Hyperspace meta (JARGON ALERT!!) who knows really?) they all look like they might be fun.

Opinions were shared (and appreciated!) but when I arrived at Firestorm I actually still didn’t know what I would run. I had enough ships in my bag (probably) and some of the pilot cards but had also brought our folders with all the rest of our pilots, upgrades and dials, just in case.

I arrived knowing that I had enough time for 1 game comfortably as I also had some club stuff to sort out and I’ve found that I actually don’t enjoy the evening as much on the occasions when I turn up, get straight into a game, immediately jump into another and then leave while stressing about how late I’ll be getting the kids to bed on a school night.

No, I knew I had time (about 2 1/2 hours) and that was ok. I sorted the club bits and bobs (mainly the handing out of our lovely new Exile Squadron t-shirts, as modelled by us in this blog from lasts week!) that I needed to and put thoughts of a list out of my mind, even if only for a couple of minutes.

With that done I was now ready for a game and had an opponent – Mark.
I played against Mark just a few weeks ago with the first iteration of the list I’ve called ‘Poe’s Bro’s’ which is the first list in the above list (please excuse the double use of the word list, although now it’s a triple use (sorry) and also, in case you’re interested, the blog about that game is here). That in itself sort of put me off flying it again. Not that the game was a bad experience, I just thought it best to use something different against him. And so my decision was *sort of* made but, interestingly, not for purely performace reasons.

So it’s Rebels. But which list?

Practicality made this decision for me. I have the bases, dials and models pretty much ready to go for the list with Luke, Bryalen, Ten and Jake. Yes, that’s right, I picked it because it would be a faster set up. Four ships with just two upgrade cards between them. A sprinkling of shield tokens and a pair of Force charges and I’m good to go.

Luke Skywalker (62)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 62 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3

Braylen Stramm (52)
Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 4

Ten Numb (48)
Stabilized S-Foils (2)

Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 4

Jake Farrell (36)
Ship total: 36 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZhZ200Z4XWWWW142Y73XWWWWWWY74XWWWWWW313Y50XWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

So, back to Mark. As I mentioned in the last blog he is pretty new to the game but he is learning fast. Mark mentioned at some point during the evening that he and his son Josh are playing most days. Most. Days.
This makes it likely that Mark has played more games in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last 6 months.
Anyway, Mark had brought a list that was a bit of a twist on what seems to be becoming known as the FOcho (which is 8 Epsilon Squadron Cadets in the TIE/FO), dropping 3 of the FO’s to make space for Backdraft in a TIE/SF and Advanced Optics on the FO’s. With five of the i1 TIE/FO’s I suppose it makes this list a bit more like an Ace/Mini Swarm list (and yes, I know Backdraft isn’t an ace but you know what I mean!) than a true swarm but it’s still 6 ships.

“Backdraft” (39)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)
Special Forces Gunner (10)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z242X181W186WW182WWY269X186WY269X186WY269X186WY269X186WY269X186W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Having not seen a lot from the First Order over the last year or so I feel like that is a trend that will change following the last points update. The TIE/FO has a better dial, a shield and the ability to target lock over it’s predecessor (the TIE/ln) for just 3 points more.

Anyway, with both lists at the full 200 points we roll for first player and Mark gets the choice. He decides to take first player and we move on to obstacle placement which leads to a reasonably tight cluster towards Mark’s side of the board.

Having taken first player, Backdraft is the only ships that I have initiative crossover with and Mark places all of his forces before any of my ships go down. His placement gives little away and so I place the B-Wings on the left, Jake in the middle and Luke to the right.

I decide to wait and see what Mark is doing before I commit with Luke so he gets a 1 forward while Jake goes 1 hard left and the B-Wings 3 forwards.

Mark reveals his dials and it’s clear he’s going all in on Luke.

I decided at this point to try and run away with Luke while setting the rest of the squad up for as favourable an engage as I could. The question is – have I already over-committed with Luke? He’s not a typical double reposition ace so this could go very badly. For the moment I keep the s-foils closed to keep the option of either reposition (boost or barrel roll) open.

This time I plan in some stalling moves with Jake while slamming the B-wings forwards as fast as they’re able (i.e. not that fast). I give Luke a 2 hard left.

Mark’s swarm all go straight and focus up, still heading towards Luke.

The B-Wings take their forwards moves while Jake hard turns and boosts to start sneaking in behind them.

Luke takes the 2 hard and then rolls towards my board edge to keep his distance from the swarm.

Now my next move has to be setting up the B-Wings to turn in while keeping Luke out of danger and hopefully doing something useful with Jake. I set the B-wings to move forwards (again, don’t want to turn in onto the debris. Or do I? More on that later) while Jake hard turns to chase and Luke takes a 4 forwards and straight boost.

Mark wheels the swarm around, narrowly avoiding the rock and with the SF ending up a little way off the main pack. Still no shots to be had, Luke has managed to stay out of range.

Assuming that Mark will now go in for the kill it’s time to set up an engage.

I dial in hard turns for the B-Wings and a 2 straight for Jake to (hopefully) get him in range of the B’s to hand off a focus. But what for Luke? I toy with the idea of a 4K but would rather not be stressed. A 4 straight would keep him out of range but I also want to turn and shoot with him at some point. I decide on a 3 bank and will work out the action once everyone else has moved.

Mark surprises me a little with his moves. All the ships move forwards except for one who banks towards the B-Wings. Unfortunately for Mark this causes some traffic meaning that 2 of his ships end up with no action.

I turn the B-Wings in, roll and red lock with Ten and then focus and red roll with Braylen before Jake steams in and rolls, giving Ten a bonus focus.

I then move Luke the 3 bank to find that he’s likely in range of 3-4 shots. I barrel roll away to hopefully reduce that number.

Luke doesn’t have a shot and neither do Backdraft or Jake so the B-Wings step up. Ten fires at the closest TIE which is (only just) unobstructed, followed by Braylen but even with all the mods they have only manage to do 2 damage between them. Annoying.

The TIE’s who have range (2 or 3, I can’t quite remember exactly) all fire at Luke who, by virtue of the Force (charges), tanks the lot and suffers no damage. Annoying for Mark.

Here is where things got a bit more tricky. I am finding with the B-Wings that the dial is rather restrictive, more so for Braylen who keeps his stress (unlike Ten who, hopefully at least, spends his like a focus). So now I have a dilemma. Where do I go?!

I give Ten a 2 hard turn, Braylen a 1 bank (to clear the stress), Jake a 2 forwards and Luke a 2 hard.

Mark sends his swarm in towards the B-Wings again with the 2 furthest ships coming in from the back. One in particular pulls out a 4K which blocks off my route for Ten. Hmm…

Seeing that the bumps are inevitable I move Jake first, roll and give Ten a focus before taking a red boost to get out of dodge. Ten moves and bumps, Braylen goes into the back of him. It became clear that this would be my issue with the B-Wings. To double mod they need to move and then linked action to get the stress they want. The thing is, the next move then needs to be either blue to clear that stress and go again or white to keep the stress but only be single modded. I think this is a puzzle that only experience with the ships will solve.

Luke takes a 2 hard and locks an FO that could target him (with the blue lock token). After all, Luke is the ship that I really want to keep to the end game.

Bumpsville!

Luke fires at the FO, spends the lock and uses the Force for 3 hits. Mark rolls…all blanks. Harsh. Ten follows up and finishes it off. Braylen shoots at the already damaged FO but with no mods nothing gets through.

Now the TIE’s return fire. Mark focuses on Ten Numb and between 4 shots from the FO’s and SF (3 of them with a focus) strip his 4 shields and get a crit through – a Direct Hit. Ouch.

It doesn’t feel like a great trade, 1 and a half FO’s for Ten but it does put me slightly ahead.

The question is, where do I go now?

With the TIE’s all moving first I’m almost certain to bump no matter what I do, meaning no actions and, unless I try a red move, no stress. Looking back at the options I considered (deliberately moving over the debris to get a stress was one of them) I don’t know that there was any move more optimal than another. Bumps were going to happen. I’ll just have to try and make it as favourable as possible.

I give Ten a 2 bank and Braylen a 4 forwards. Jake, well, he’s off doing his own thing, clearing a stress just to take another and try to get back around. I dial in a 1 bank with Luke to maybe get a shot on the SF as it’s worth the most points.

I can’t even remember what manoeuvres Mark dialled in but after all the nonsense was done, this is what we were left with:

I’m really not sure this is how it works in outer space.

This give Luke a plumb range 1 shot on the SF. He only has the Force to mod but that’s ok, he pushes 2 damage past it’s green dice.

Backdraft fires at Braylen and gets a single hit on.

Ten doesn’t have a shot and neither does Jake. so Braylen fires at the SF (despite the juicy range 1 FO right in front of him) and, with the stress for rerolls, gets a damage on, taking it to half. The 2 close range TIE’s with Braylen in their sights fire and get another 2 damage on. It could have been more if it weren’t for the stress rerolls!

We begin planning for what turned out to be the last turn. I dial in a risky 4K for Luke, a 2K for Ten, a 3 forward for Braylen and a hard 2 for Jake to hopefully get in his first shot of the game.

Mark’s TIE’s begin to spread out (finally!) with some K-turns so no mods for him this turn. He does manage to get the bump on Jake though which prevents his normal shenanigans.

Sadly I cannot remember much about the firing in this turn but here’s what I do know. Mark got a crit onto Ten which was another Direct Hit, wiping him out. He also got one more hit onto Braylen, taking him to half.

I managed to take out a whole FO, meaning I had taken out two and a half FO’s and half of the SF, making it a 101-76 win for me.

Conclusion

So here’s what I think about this list in a nutshell:

  • B-Wings are hard.
  • Luke is really tanky, especially against lower initiatives. Force for DAYS
  • Jake is SO much faster than anything else in this list.

Thinking back about the game I’m happy-ish with the initial set up and that I managed to engineer a relatively favourable first engagement. After that though things got difficult as the B-Wings both got jammed in by TIE’s and had a turn of no mods. With hindsight I should have assumed the bumps and either taken red moves (to take the stress and use that for a mod) or YOLO’d over the debris to get a stress for the mods. It would have maybe been difficult to turn back around to re-engage but I think that will come with more experience with the ship. Getting used to the very red dial and not knowing with Ten Numb whether the next move will need to be blue or not (since spending his stress to change focus results only works if you roll any eyeballs!) is going to perhaps take more time than I have.

As for changes? Well I don’t feel that Jake pulled his weight on this occasion. I flew him like a support ship but realistically it was only two tuns where ha gave any support and only one turn where he fired. Perhaps changing him down to a Phoenix Squadron Pilot for an initiative 1 blocker and freeing up some points either for a bid or some more toys on something (or a mixture of the two options).

Am I sold on this list? Well, yes and no. I think I was ever so slightly more comfortable with the Poe, 2 X’s and an A from the last time I played against Mark but I do feel that if I can get my head around how best to fly these B-Wings that the potential is there for it to be better. I have run this list a good few times in Fly Casual with good results (to be fair though, some of the pre-loaded lists in Fly Casual are a bit out there in the newest version. I played one game against 6 i2 Naboo N-1’s!) but I’m always wary of how much to read into what happens in Fly Casual. That said, I tried out the Lando, A and 2 X list I mentioned and got smashed up by the AI so maybe I’m not giving it enough credit.

If you know of any specific stream games I should watch with great B-Wing play PLEASE post a link for me!

I still have no firm decision on which list I’ll turn up to the System Open with and we’re now just 4 days away…

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