Dicey

The intro…

Welcome! It’s been quite a week out there, hasn’t it!

In Real Life™ , here in Wales schools and certain services (namely hairdressers & barbers) started opening back up with a view to more places joining them over the coming few weeks. It’s looking like the kids will go back to school full time after the Easter break which they are (strangely) more excited about than I am! Hopefully this is the start of gradual change and while I hesitate to say ‘back to normal’ (because I’m of the opinion that much, or at least some, of the previous ‘normal’ is forever changed) I’ll be happy to be able to get out and about more and hopefully is a path to getting back to real life play.

In the world of X-Wing, well, AMG have been making quite the splash this last week with their Mini-stravaganza streaming event and announcements galore. There’s a new huge ship (which also includes rules for cooperative play against it!), more spoilers for cards in the now imminent squadron pack releases, a whole article dedicated to Darth Vader in a TIE Defender as well as confirmation of his points cost (sparking debates on too high/too low/just right) AND points for some other pilots too (last second edit – all points are released for new ships! PDFs are on this page and although I haven’t yet checked, I’m sure that all usual places like YASB and Launch Bay Next will be updated soon if not already!) AND to top it all off, this image…

I don’t own any Scum ships but I’m still REALLY tempted…

It’s great to have what feels like a reasonably regular flow of information from AMG in terms of releases and information. It tells me that the game has a lot of support within AMG and they’re keen to press on with their future plans which is great for us, the consumers.

The second thing that piqued my interest was an article drop really early on in their schedule. The Unconventional Warfare article was really interesting to me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s the first article (barring the original announcement that X-Wing was moving) to come out on AMG’s website rather than FFG. Is this significant? Maybe not and perhaps I’m reading too much into it but the Vader article I linked above was actually on FFG’s site. It was already mentioned in the squadron pack announcement stream last month that since development time is 18-24 months that whatever is coming out in that time frame starting from the November transition was produced by FFG. With this being on AMG’s site I’d speculate that this is perhaps the first foray into X-Wing content by AMG directly.

The second reason I find it interesting is that it’s a really interesting idea. I’ve only looked at the X-Wing content (there’s also rules for Armada and Legion) but the prospect of a new alternative game mode is really intriguing. Ex-FFG designer Max Brook has recently been a guest on both the Fly Better and Gold Squadron podcasts and in the GSP eisode he actually talked about alternative game modes and how difficult it is to produce them and balance them and how much demand there is for them.

I’ve not played a game with these new rules but they do look interesting, particularly with the escalating perks based on strategic approach. What’s REALLY got my attention though is that AMG is asking for game results. That looks to me like open beta testing. Is this a new approach we’re going to see moving forwards? Who knows!?

Anyway, that’s enough speculation for now, I’ve got a game to talk about!

Yes, it’s week 5 of the Sith Taker Cup ‘The Sequel’. I’m at a reasonably respectable (well, for me anyway) 2-2 record and while it’s very unlikely I’ll make cut I think it’s mathematically still possible since my MoV is actually pretty decent and I’m towards the top of the 2-2 players. My goal though is still just to break even at 3-3. Anything above that is a bonus.

I’m still flying the Rey-Wings list (since lists are locked in for this tournament):

Rey (68)
Korr Sella (6)
Rose Tico (9)
Finn (9)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 6

Tallissan Lintra (37)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Zizi Tlo (41)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2

Total: 196

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z244XWW245W173W174WWW193Y240X172WW102W186Y387X172WW102W186&sn=Rey-Wings&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2

And so what list might I be facing off against this week? Well, it’s only a list that’s recently won 2 online tournaments…

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (2)

Ship total: 31 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (2)

Ship total: 31 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Baron of the Empire (28)
Ruthless (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v8ZsZ200Z172X128WW332Y172X128WW332Y172X128WW102Y172X128WW102Y172X128WW102Y172X128WW102&sn=Omega&obs=coreasteroid0,core2asteroid0,core2asteroid2

Yep, 6 ships with 3 agility and the ability to be throwing 4 lots of 5 double modded dice. Precisely what Rey hates.

My first thought is that this is really not a good matchup for me. It’s entirely feasible that Rey doesn’t survive the first engagement if she takes three of the Proton Rockets, particularly if they’re double modded (which they almost certainly will be).

Yes the ships are only 4 health and it’s technically possible that I could take 3 off the board before any of them shoot if I target 3 different ships and land bullseye with the A-Wings and if I roll perfectly and if my opponent blanks out. It’s very likely that none of that happens.

I need help.

I go to Discord and ask for advice. It’s suggested that I try and stall in my corner for as long as possible to make my opponent come through the obstacles to meet me. If I can exchange any three of the v1’s for Rey (without taking damage on the A-Wings) then I’d be ahead and can then run away and make him chase me while I shoot out of the back and try and plink some more damage.

I’ll be honest, I’ve seen that this list deploys in two groups of three ships and I had half a mind to just go straight at one of the groups (I mean, not straight necessarily, I don’t want to make it too easy for the Prockets to land) and hit it while they’re split. The thing is, these v1’s are fast enough and nimble enough to just adjust their trajectory before I get there and just smash Rey up anyway.

Tough choices to make here…

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

My opponent this week is Ronny Gjendemsjø who, incidentally, is either the third or fourth Norwegian I’ve played over the last few months which is pretty cool. The variety of opponents in online X-Wing still boggles my mind. At some point I might make a pin map of locations of people I’ve played over the last year. Anyway, we get in touch and arrange a day and time to play.

Wednesday night rolls around and Ronny and I get together on Discord and get the game set up.

Time for those last minute Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – ummm… apart from every ship being almost identical, while the thread tracer barons give Ronny double modded shots it’s the Proton Rocket ones that’ll hurt me. Try not to get shot by them while also trying to smash them up. Simple, right?
Obstacles – the rather knowledgeable Oliver Pocknell generally suggests trying for an hourglass obstacle formation against swarms as it can disrupt formation flying. In the absence of a better plan, I’ll try for that.
Deployment – assuming deployment will be three in one corner and three in the middle (which I’ve seen people do on stream with this list), I’ll deploy in the opposite corner.

I have the bid and since we’ve got no crossover in initiative I take first player to take control of obstacle placement.

We places obstacles and then forces and are set and ready to start.

Obstacle placement didn’t go exactly as I’d have liked but there is a straight lane running left to right across the middle with the debris position meaning that Rey could sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) left towards/onto the debris and still shoot (unlike on asteroids).

Now, annoyingly, I didn’t get a screenshot of deployment without moving but I think from this image, you’ll get the idea.

In the first turn Ronny hard turned the middle flight away from my corner while the further flight just went 2 straight.

I bumped Rey into the A-Wings who themselves hard turned right and rolled towards the board edge, leaving us in the positions above.

Back to dials then. Now, I hadn’t really expected the middle flight of v1’s to just plough up the middle straight towards me but I don’t know that I would have said that he’d turn them away from me. Interesting.

Ok, so I want to send Rey down that left-right lane so she will hard turn left here while Tallie and Zizi will take 1 hard turns and rolls again.

Ronny starts moving his ships with the corner flight continuing straight and the middle flight hard turning to trail them.

Rey hard turns and focuses, the A-Wings hard turn left. I had intended to roll them but rolling right sends them closer to Ronny’s ships but it looks like they’ll clear another 1 hard to avoid the asteroid and so it’s just a focus for them too.

No shooting (obviously) so it’s back to dials again.

I need to start thinking about the approach for first engagement. Having stalled thus far with the A-Wings I need to make sure I gauge distances correctly.

It’s reasonably straightforward though, 1 hard turns for the A-Wings and 1 straight for Rey.

Ronny hard turns the corner flight and they all focus. The other flight also hard turns but the red one rolls left and focuses while the other two stay the far side of that debris.

Rey goes straight and focuses. The A’s turn and roll towards my board edge.

We’re still out of range but it seems this is the last turn for that and we’re going to be shooting next time.

Now I have some choices to make. The A-Wings will both take 2 hard turns left which should allow them to focus and boost to have a decent chance of getting bullseye since I believe that Ronny will send the v1’s in at me fast.

No, the choices are with Rey. I had intended to hard turn in but the thing is, I don’t want to face off with 4 of his ships, three of which have Prockets. But what are my alternatives? I could 4 straight and boost but that leaves me way out of the way for future turns. I could 3 bank to face off with where I’m expecting the other two v1’s to come in but then she won’t be shooting at the same target as the A-Wings.

Or I can do the hard turn. I go with that option, deciding that the best option is the 3 hard. That way I can deny a shot if one comes in fast and I bump it. It’s not ideal and it’s pretty risky but if I can deny a shot AND take one v1 off the board, hopefully I’ll be in decent shape going into the next turn.

I dial it in and I’m ready to go.

Ronny starts moving ships, sending the blue v1 5 straight and boosting linked to a focus. Perfect.

Green zooms in behind him but hangs back a little. Pink and red both bank left and focus but Pink bumps into green.

It’s all going quite well for me so far…

Brown and yellow both go straight and then bank boost left and link to focus.

I move Rey first and she does indeed bump into the blue v1. Awesome.

Tallie hard turns and takes a focus. I could link to a boost but I don’t like where it’ll put her so she stays put. Zizi follows suit and sits in behind.

So Rey has denied blue a shot. If I can kill the green one I won’t be taking ANY Procket shots on Rey.

Tallie goes first, getting 2 hits (as RZ-2/Heroic/Optics tend to). Ronny rolls natural evades and takes no damage. Zizi goes next, getting 2 hits. Ronny rolls natural evades and takes no damage…

Ok, fine. It’ll still be here to shoot but hopefully without it’s focus. Rey shoots, rolling 3 dice, adds a blank, spends it for a lock and spends the lock to reroll. Spending a force gives me 3 hits.

Ronny rolls his 3 green dice, rolling 1 evade and 2 eyeballs. He decides to keep his focus and loses the 2 shields.

This is not how I’d hoped this engagement would go.

Then Ronny started shooting.

Firstly the yellow v1 fired thread tracers at Rey, easily hitting and giving a lock to all his ships.

Then brown fired, followed by pink and red, each of them rolling paint out of hand or spending it’s lock and getting paint.

Rey’s single green die rolled valiantly, rolling more natural evades than she deserved but when it was green’s turn, Ronny fired the Prockets and rolled 4 paint, spent the lock on the blank to make it 5 and then spent the focus for 5 hits.

Ouch.

Again Rey rolled an evade but 2 hits and 2 crits went through (a console fire and a wounded pilot), leaving Rey with 4 hull remaining.

That did not go well. Not at all.

I’ve lost half of Rey (and let’s face it, she’s going down next turn) in exchange for half of a v1. 17 freakin points.

Oh well, got to keep moving forwards! What to do next?

Rey should have the space to sloop left (can’t go right because of that asteroid). But what about the A-Wings? I need to get bullseye on something because I desperately want to fire these Prockets. With the two coming in from the flank I give Tallie a 2 bank left (letting her straighten up with a boost) while Zizi will just take a 2 straight.

Ronny’s flankers (steady now…) both take the BLUE 1 hard turn (that v1 dial though….) and roll in opposite directions, avoiding the debris and take focuses.

Blue take a hard turn left, green banks left, pink banks right and red hard turns and rolls to basically just rotate 90 degrees clockwise.

Rey’s sloop lands perfectly…perfectly between the yellow and red v1’s that is.

Tallie’s 2 bank bumps into the blue v1 (so no focus for her) but Zizi manages to clear the 2 straight and takes a focus.

Right, time to shoot. Tallie goes first since it’s a basically pointless shot. She fires unmodded at brown and of course misses. Not entirely unexpected.

It’s Zizi’s turn to shoot and I have a dilemma. I want to kill green. He’s in bullseye of Zizi so I could fire Prockets but Rey also has a shot on it and also has a lock (and one force charge). I decide (for some reason) to take a primary shot with Zizi to soften it up and maybe kill it, leaving Rey to shoot at other targets or finish it off if Zizi can’t.

Looking back now, I should have fired with Rey first since the lock means she’s better off shooting that target anyway. Hindsight and all that…

Zizi fires at green with 3 dice. It’s hit, blank, eyeball. I spend the focus for 2 hits. Ronny rolls 2 natural evades.

Deep breath….

Rey rolls, take the Finn blank then spends the lock and uses a force for 3 hits. Ronny rolls 1 evade and an eyeball and spends the focus to survive on 1 hull.

And so Ronny begins firing.

Rey dies easily to the two range 1 shots, blanking out both times on the green dice.

Between the rest of Ronny’s ships he manages to strip one shield from Tallie (using Ruthless on the blue v1 in the process).

So I’ve lost my main damage dealing ship (costing half my list) in exchange for…. 17 points of v1.

Wow.

I guess the plus side (since I’m scraping for anything I can get here) is that I’ve still got 2 Prockets charges. I’ve just got to try and land them on exceptionally manoeuvrable ships which, at the same time, want to get bullseye on me.

Cool.

Alright then, dials it is and now I need to pull out some major moves to at least keep the scoreline respectable.

Tallie’s in the worse position because of her angle. She gets a 3 bank to the right.

Zizi will risk a bank to the right where I can hopefully try for bullseye on red or yellow.

Ronny begins moving ships. Blue talon rolls and misses the asteroid perfectly. Yellow and brown both approach around the debris. Red banks left and rolls left, pink just goes 2 straight and green just hard turns right.

Is that everyone? Good.

Tallie’s 3 bank clears the traffic but I’m not happy with the position so it’s a boost into a red rotate for her (and no token. Again). Zizi’s 2 bank lands just millimetres short of the red v1. No boost required, just a focus. Lovely.

Zizi mercilessly launches Prockets at red, rolling 4 paint and spending the focus for 4 hits. In a sudden (but heavy) swing of dice luck, Ronny blanks out and Zizi wipes the ship out in one fell swoop. Wow.

Tallie’s unmodded shot still rolls 2 hits onto pink who also decides today is a good day to die and blanks out, stripping it of shields.

What a turnaround. A bit late though….

Ronny starts returning fire. Blue’s pot shot at Tallie misses while green and pink don’t have arc. Yellow and brown both focus on Zizi though who survives by the skin of her teeth on 1 hull but scoring Ronny half points. The writing is very much on the wall here.

Time for planning.

Zizi is being chased down by two v1’s which will probably be joined by the blue one while pink and green try to turn around. I dial in a 3 bank right for her. I did consider escaping with a 3 bank left but in the moment wondered whether that would block where I wanted to send Tallie. Looking back at it now there was definitely space to do it.

Tallie will 2 hard right around the debris. I’m not going to win this but I sure as heck don’t want to lose with Prockets charges left on the table. I’m out for blood.

The v1’s begin moving. Yellow hard turns to it’s left and boosts, brown banks left, blue goes straight and boosts right, green hard turns right and rolls and pink swings around right in case Tallie tries running away.

Ronny’s called the bank from Zizi and she bumps into the yellow v1. Bad times.

Tallie’s 2 hard looks to give me bullseye on yellow so she stays put and takes a focus.

Zizi’s arc is forwards and so there’s no shot for her. But what about Tallie? Her arc is to the rear but I really want to shoot the Prockets at yellow….

That, ladies and gentlemen, is out.

Tallie takes the only shot she has which is at pink out of the rear arc. It’s 2 hits (of course) but the v1 evades them both.

Ronny starts shooting, annihilating first Zizi with her one remaining hull and then Tallie who had gone all out and spent the focus on attack. Adn with around 20 minutes still left on the clock, the game was done.

Result: 82 – 200 loss

The conclusion…

Weeeeeeeeell, that escalated early.

I knew going into this matchup that it could swing one way or the other solely on the variance, I guess I just didn’t count it swinging THAT heavily! That said, I believe (or at least, I think) that the odds favoured Ronny anyway with the sheer number of green dice he can roll with the ships in his list with the other factor being that his red dice would be double modded from the thread tracers. At this point I can’t decide if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that TTS doesn’t currently give you dice stats. I was interested to know if Ronny had rolled above average (I believe he did) but if he hadn’t, that would certainly have confirmed my belief that this was a bad matchup for my list.

The first engagement set the tone and settled the match. That green Baron not dying (or even spending his focus!!) after being attacked 3 times and surviving to fire double modded Proton Rockets at Rey was, obviously, pretty key. Ironically I was actually pretty happy with the approach to that engagement as I avoided bullseye from one Prockets Baron and bumped another to deny the shot. If I’d been able to remove the green Baron (or even just take it’s focus) then I’d have come out of that turn with just 4 or 5 hits on Rey and she would likely have lasted an extra turn, making a (potentially) big difference in the result.

As it was, 5 of Ronny’s ships were able to fire at her and without having to trigger Ruthless even once rolled all paint on every attack. Thankfully Rey rolled an evade almost every time otherwise she’d have been in some really serious trouble. Even more so if the blue Baron hadn’t boosted.

My approach with the A-Wings wasn’t fantastic and while they were in a position to get shots onto a common target early on, neither was a Procket shot and also it put them in a position where they were easy (or at least somewhat predictable) to block in the following turns. Looking back, I should probably have hard turned Tallie to the right to duck around the asteroid to engage later rather than bank left and get blocked. I should have also fired the Prockets shot at green with Zizi when I had the chance and not trusted that two 3 dice shots would do it.

When discussing the game afterwards we talked about my general approach. Contrary to what had been suggested to me before the match, he felt that I shouldn’t have stalled in the corner and maybe should have gone quite aggressively with Rey to catch one of his ship groups before they had a chance to converge. It’s a fair point and one I had considered but deploying the way he did meant that both groups were relatively close to each other anyway and by the time Rey had started to joust could still have set up a killbox for her relatively easily.

Another approach could have been to split all 3 ships up and fly them like aces, forcing him to either split or pick a target. I think this may have been more viable than just going aggressive but it’s not a strategy that I’m practiced with and I most certainly would have screwed it up in some way.

Ronny also believes that, despite playing (and enjoying) the list, the points should go up on the v1’s, as well as some of the other 3 agility generic pilots which have been dominating the meta (JARGON ALERT!!) over the last few months. He has a point I think and it will be interesting to see what changes at the next major update.

It struck me a while after the game about my list and it’s points. At one time I have tried False Transponder Codes on Rey and in the end I dropped it for an extra 2 points of bid since Rey is pretty sad when she isn’t moving after other i5’s. However, in this tournament, the only game where there has been a crossover in initiative was against another Rey list. Yes, the 2 points gave me the bid there but I’m starting to wonder whether overall it’s worth keeping/putting back. In the case of this game it would have immediately removed the focus from the green v1 and while, given it’s green dice rolls, it may have survived, it wouldn’t have been able to hit Rey for the 4 damage.

I know it’s regarded as a REALLY good upgrade (particularly for it’s cost). Maybe I should chop and change the list around a little to make space for it. Maybe.

Before I finish there’s something I want to add. Did this result swing on dice variance? I believe it did*. Does that mean I pin this loss (and therefore Ronny’s win) solely on dice? Absolutely not. That detracts from Ronny’s good choices (in terms of positioning his ships) which put him in the best position to take advantage of any variance. It’s still a win he had to earn and he played well to do so.

*it did but was always favouring Ronny due to the volume of dice that his list rolls.

I have long accepted (and appreciated) that the game we play is a dice game. I know there are mixed feelings on this but one thing that I disliked from 1.0 was the sheer volume of dice mods. Experienced players could build a list in such a way that it actually didn’t matter what your first dice roll was, you’d end up with 3 hits one way or another.

I know not everyone feels this way. There’s a school of thought (which I do understand) that says this actually removes some of the randomness of the game and therefore rewards players for their positioning and play and so the more work and practice you put in, the better you do.

Roll Dem Dice!

I accept that. I do. I also know that when, as a 1.0 player who was just starting out, I went into a game and saw there’s simply no way I can win it before we even begin that it feels really bad. At least the randomness of dice would maybe give me a fighting chance in 2.0.

Maybe this just highlights that I’m much more a casual player rather than a competitive one and that’s ok with me.

So next week is the last week of the tournament (well, for me anyway!), I wish good luck to those who have made the cut. With the next season of the league not due to kick off for a couple more weeks I’ll have to try and find some way to entertain myself. Maybe I’ll experiment with these new points somehow…

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