For my brothers…

The intro…

It’s week 6 of the Vagabond Open. After a poor start (3 losses) I have picked up some wins to get to a 2-3 record with 2 games to go. More importantly though, I’ve had a great time. I’ve ‘met’ (as much as you can online!) new people, been able to keep my X-Wing skills up to date and been challenged to play with new factions and ships.

That last one has been very challenging for me. It’s been a particularly interesting feature of this tournament, having to play a different faction in each game. Having to find lists with unfamiliar ships and pilots and their associated abilities was far more difficult than I’d expected and with the list being ‘disposable’ (as in, you play once and then throw away), my usual process of list build, test, tweak, repeat was a no go.

As the weeks have passed I’ve found that, rather than diving in with ‘net-lists‘ (JARGON ALERT!!) or taking advice from friends (neither of which are bad options, by the way), I’ve personally benefited from looking at what available ships work similarly to ships that I know what I’m doing with.

In my Resistance game I ran ships that were very similar to their Rebel counterparts (3 T-70 X-Wings and 2 RZ-2 A-Wings) and it was close. 2 technical mistakes (wrong dial direction, i.e. me not being experienced with Vassal) were very costly.

Next I played CIS. This was hard. I net-listed for this one and ran a mix of Vultures and Hyenas, the list that Duncan Howard won a System Open with earlier this year. I felt that I knew enough from flying against them but I didn’t fully understand how the ships moved and this was my undoing. It was a massacre and it was all my own doing.

The third game was with Scum and I had NO idea what to do. On a whim I took a list that was just a bit of fun and got smashed up.

Then I tried an Imperial list. My son plays Imperial and over the last few months I’ve helped him to develop tactics for playing with TIE’s and a Decimator. With this knowledge to back me up (and a few fortunate dice rolls!) I finally got a win.

Next was First Order and I went with ships that I had accidentally discovered were more similar to what I knew than I had previously recognised. I ran 5 TIE/sf’s (remarkably similar to X-Wings, in my opinion anyway) against a very good player and came out on top.

Why recap all of that? Well, analysing what’s gone before helps to inform future decisions. You see, I’ve decided to leave my beloved Rebel faction until last. Is this a wise choice? Who knows, only hindsight will tell I suppose. What it means is that there’s no longer any meaningful choice to make, it’s the Galactic Republic for me this week.

FOR THE REPUBLIC!

But what about a list? Well, the purpose behind the recap continues. In previous weeks I’ve asked advice on our squadron group chat but this week there’s a small complication with that. My opponent is in there.

Yes, I’ve been paired with Mr Jonathan Hall. Officially a Vagabond based in Bristol he’s in our group chat at Firestorm in Newport as he has attended events there and in Cardiff and knows a few of the guys. He is actually the person who bought Cai’s First Order stuff a few months back but despite all this we actually only met in person for the first time at the System Open this year. We’ve never played against each other but he is very knowledgeable about the game and I’m expecting a very tough match.

The first issue I face in list building is with ships. There are only 5 to pick from. Two of those are very fast, nible, agile ships with low health (the Aethersprite and the Naboo N-1) and, while I get how they work in principle, my track record with them is….ummm…..patchy.

Torrents I’m also a little hit and miss with. I’ve played games with them where they have lived several turns longer than they should have and been generally annoying to my opponent. I’ve also played games where they die in the first engagement.

That leaves two ships that i’m much more familiar with. The ARC-170 and the Y-Wing. Both these ships are also in the Rebel faction and I’ve used them quite a lot. They are not fast nor agile but they have a lot of health and can put some damage in.

After a little experimentation, looking at points costs and abilities I realise just how cheap the Republic Y-Wing is. It’s 30 points. 30. Points. Is it fantastic? No. It’s got 2 attack and 1 agility but a whole butt-load of health AND the ship ability can convert a crit to a hit when defending (what I wouldn’t give to have that on a YT-2400!!). Throw a Dorsal Turret on to mean you don’t have to turn around so much and it’s not too dissimilar to the First Order list I flew last week of five TIE/s. Point the Dorsal Turret backwards and forget about it, take a focus (or Lock if not shooting that turn) and do what you can. They’re initiative 2 so can be flown like a swarm, except they’ve got 8 health each, not 3 or 4. And there can be 6 of them. That’s 48 health. Will some of them die? Yes, definitely. Enough of them before I’ve done some damage? Hard to say.

Ummm, Yellow Squadron?

Here’s the full (if rather repetitive) list:

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Dorsal Turret (3)

Ship total: 33 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 4

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z361X137WWWWWY361X137WWWWWY361X137WWWWWY361X137WWWWWY361X137WWWWWY361X137WWWWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

In testing (in Fly Casual) the list did well. I tried it against several lists including the FOcho (JARGON ALERT!!), 8 Vultire droids with Energy Shell Charges, Quad K-Wings with Barrage Rockets and 5 TIE Bombers. It beat all of those. Most straight up jousted but the TIE/fo’s and K-Wings didn’t and it still worked out ok.

Now, I know that Fly Casual isn’t the greatest for AI but it seems to be a fair indication of whether a list (or, sometimes, the way you play it) is viable or not. I’ve come up with several lists which have been blown away in fairly short order by it so, generally, I trust this process.

Ok, so list picked, practice done, now just the game to play!

The batrep (JARGON ALERT!!)

Back to the subject of my opponent, Jonathan. We got in touch and arranged to play on Sunday evening. Now, typically I have preferred to play on the Thursday or Friday so that I have time to do the write up before Tuesday when I publish but since the pairings had been delayed by a day to the Thursday and it was my wedding anniversary on the Friday we agreed to play over the weekend and Sunday was the most mutually convenient day.

Jonathan had mentioned that he had Scum and CIS left to play and was possibly leaning towards Scum. I can’t say that this really informed my decision on what to play, both factions have variety and some strong lists so I knew I’d just have to find something that I’m comfortable with flying and try to do what I can. In the end I knew that going for 6 generics with high health would mean I’d lose ships but would hopefully do enough damage by the time the game was done.

With Vassal ready we set up the game (switching to Facebook calling after an issue with Discord) and I saw what the list was that I’d be facing. Crap.

IG-88B (63)
Elusive (3)
Jamming Beam (0)
Autoblasters (3)
Contraband Cybernetics (2)
IG-2000 (1)

Ship total: 72 Half Points: 36 Threshold: 4

IG-88A (67)
Elusive (3)
Jamming Beam (0)
Autoblasters (3)
Contraband Cybernetics (2)
IG-2000 (1)

Ship total: 76 Half Points: 38 Threshold: 4

Nom Lumb (38)
Autoblasters (3)
IG-88D (3)
BT-1 (2)
Contraband Cybernetics (2)
Tactical Scrambler (2)

Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 5

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z82X119WW12W232WW92WW151Y81X119WW12W232WW92WW151Y400XW232W36W79W92W110W&sn=Droids&obs=

High health and (for the Aggressors) high agility. Am I going to be able to damage these things? They were also packing a bag of tricks, the main two being that they could double tap (if the first shot missed) and that they can pass calculates around.

We got obstacles placed and then started with ships. Once we were ready to start the board looked like this:

Time to work out some sort of strategy. Nom Lumb is annoying but more importantly has lower agility and so hopefully will be the easiest target to actually put some damage on to. I’ll start there and see what happens. Once he’s gone I can maybe start blocking the IG’s to prevent actions.

Maybe.

I set everyone with a 1 forwards to try and get an idea of what Jonathan is planning to do.

Nom Lumb is placed facing sideways and so his forwards move takes him along the board edge towards my ships.

The Y-Wings go forwards and focus. The IG’s both go 3 forwards, one boosts and the other calculates.

Obviously no shots this turn and it’s back to planning.

With the IG’s claerly approaching from my flank I decide to go faster this time and set my ships all with 3 forwards.

Nom Lumb unsurprisingly keeps going straight. My Y-Wings steam forwards but here I make an error that I realise only when it’s too late. I gave everyone a focus. What I *should* have done was turn all turrets in towards the incoming Aggressors. This would have at least have made them think twice about approaching and meant that I would have more options. Doing it nect turn would mean that I wouldn’t have mods for the first engagement which I definitely didn’t want. Still, too late now!

The IG’s continued in through the middle towards my list.

Mistakes were made here.

Again, we weren’t close enough for firing and so back to dials we go.

This time I’m sure that we’re shooting next turn and so I throttle back on speed and go 1 forwards again to try and make sure I get more shots in before having to turn in some way.

Nom Lumb takes a bank turn towards the Y-Wings while the IG’s continue to push in from the flank.

The start of engagement shenanigans mean that Nom Lumb ends up with 3 Calculates and then we begin shooting.

The IG’s both shoot and, with a mix of bad rolls for Jonathan and good ones for me, both miss with both shots. A lucky escape.

The Y-Wings shoot but with all shots at long range I only manage to get 1 damage on to the JumpMaster. Nom Lumb returns fire but also fails to get any damage in.

Back to dials and now a tougher choice. I set the front ships to go 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) while the back ones will go 1 forwards.

Nom Lumb goes 1 bank and calculates. Two of the front Y-Wings complete the K-turn but the middle one bumps while the Aggressors angle in, catching the back Y-Wings in arc.

The closest Y-Wing to the IG’s takes a battering, losing 3 shields and 2 hull including a shot from Nom Lumb. Five of the Y-Wings shoot at Nom Lumb but even with 2 of them having mods and all being at range 1 get just 3 damage through (one of them being a rather inconsequential Stunned Pilot crit). The last Y-Wing takes a pot shot at IG88B but misses.

This is what I’d feared, not getting damage through fast enough.

Time for dials again and now I’m stuck in a bit of a jam. I set all my ships to 1 forwards, accepting that most will bump and hope that I can get some decent damage onto the JumpMaster before turning to the IG’s.

Nom Lumb goes 1 forwards but bumps, staying where he is. My ships start their little parade of calamity and I end up with just 2 of them having a focus.

Jonathan spends a charge on Contraband Cybernetics and turns one with a sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) and calculates while the other simply goes 1 forwards.

The IG’s shoot and, between them, wipe out the damaged Y-Wing.

The Y-Wings shoot but now only 5 remain and only 4 of those can target Nom Lumb (and just 1 has a focus). I concentrate fire but only manage 1 more damage. It’s a Blinded Pilot crit though which may make a difference later on.

Nom Lumb then fires at Red Squad Bomber 5 and takes a single shield from it.

Shooting all done we go back to planning again. At this point I’m getting concerned.

I set the 3 ships still facing Jonathan’s side of the board to take K-Turns even though it will prevent taking a focus. The other two take forwards moves but one bumps into an Aggressor and misses out on an action again..

Nom Lumb spends his Contraband charge and also K-Turns, taking a calculate. The IG’s pile in, no bumps now and both get double calculate. Those darn calculates.

Time to shoot and this time a Y-Wing gets it’s shields stripped from Jonathan’s 3 ships.

They Y-Wing keep their track record of poor shots, getting 2 damage onto Nom Lumb who just keeps on surviving!

Dials again and it’s clear that more bumps will be inevitable.

Nom Lumb simply takes a 1 forwards, expecting to bump but Jonathan had forgotten that they hadn’t bumped previously.

Again, a series of bumps means I end up with just 2 focus tokens while Jonathan flips his last Contraband charge and pulls out a very well judged sloop with IG88B and calculates. IG88A hard turns to disengage.

IG88B fires ruthlessley at the unshielded Y-Wing and hammers in 3 damage.

The Y-Wings ALL fire on Nom Lumb and do a combined ONE DAMAGE. ONE!!!!

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!

The annoyingly still alive Nom Lumb fires on the damaged Y-Wing and finishes it off. Typical. I’m two Y-Wings down in exchange for almost killing Nom Lumb. It’s not a good enough trade.

Ok, so now what?

I have to turn around three of the Y-Wings to have any chance of doing anything but it puts two of them well out of range for doing anything.

Nom Lumb decides that discretion is the better part of valour and decides to try and leave the party with Jonathan only remembering about the Stunned Pilot after just about clearing teh obstacle. That would have been unfortunate. Well, for him, anyway! IG88B shuffles forwards but bumps into Nom Lumb’s nubs while IG88A starts turning around the gas cloud.

The Aggressor shoots and takes 2 shields off the stressed Y-Wing.

Both the closest Y-Wings have arc on Nom Lumb (just!), both fire and both miss. Because, of course they do.

Nom Lumb fires at the damaged Y-Wing but does no damage.

We’re back to planning again and I’ve a sneaking suspicion that I won’t be seeing any more of Nom Lumb.

I set all ships to blue forwards moves and all take a focus. Time is running out and I’ve got to try and get some damage in!

Nom Lumb does indeed get the hell out of Dodge with a 3 bank and calculates.

My Y-Wings take their straight moves and focus. IG88A hard turns around the gas cloud again and calculates while IG88B moves forward and bumps. At start of engagement though Jonathan still transfers 2 calculates to it, one from each of the others.

This time it’s Jonathan’s turn for frustrating dice and each of the IG’s do just 1 damage to two different Y-Wings.

This time I’ve only got the Aggressors to fire at. The 3 agility of the IG’s makes the difference here and even with focus to help I fail to do any damage.

With time having already run out we know this is the last turn. I set moves to try and keep arc on where I expect the IG’s to end up and focus with all 4.

Nom Lumb continues his outward trajectory but at least he’s too far away to pass any calculates over. I move the Y-wings into position and, for once, everyone gets a focus.

The IG’s come in hot but B bumps having not expected the Y-Wing to have come in so fast. A completes and calculates.

The IG’s fire at the already damaged Y-Wing (by the board edge) and, while he survives, he gets taken down to half points.

My turn to fire now but what I have in front of me are two undamaged 3 agility ships. With the one Y-Wing having bumped and another being slightly further out I have a maximum of 3 ships that can focus on either target (since the board edge Y-Wing has the range 1-2 Dorsal Turret in arc and not primary weapon). I start with the bumped Y-Wing to see if it can sneak any damage on to IG88A (since it can’t shoot B) and advise my decision. It can’t but it does for Jonathan to use the calculate.

Here is where I make my next mistake, more on that in a minute. The furthest out Y-Wing takes it’s shot on IG88A as well and puts 2 damage on. Hmm… The Y-Wing at the board edge can’t reach A so he shoots at B. 2 hits, Jonathan rolls blanks.

So now there’s a dilemma. I have 1 remaining shot with a focused Y-Wing. I have 2 potential targets and both are 2 hits away from half points. One is at range 1 with a calculate, the other at range 2 with no mods.

I fire at the range 1 IG and get 2 hits. Jonathan rolls blank, blank eyeball. Spends the calculate and the game is done. No half points on either of the IG’s means all I have to show for ALL those shots is 25 points for half of Nom Lumb.

Jonathan has destroyed 2 Y-Wings and halved 2 others. meaning the result is a 25-83 loss for me.

The conclusion…

Well, all things considered, it wasn’t awful.

I made a couple of mistakes and had some terrible dice rolls and still was in the game until close to the end. As I’d feared, the 3 agility high health ships had been difficult to get damage onto and the one that I’d focused down first just.wouldn’t.die.

In chatting afterwards Jonathan and I talked over my last round of shooting. Looking at the figures again now I realise that getting half points on one of the IG’s wouldn’t have got me enough points for a win but it would have at least made me feel a bit better! The mistake that I mentioned earlier was that in the end I fired 2 shots at each of the IG’s when I probably would have been better off focusing 3 on one and try to get half on it.

I think the list is ok, sort of but the 2 dice shots really struggle to do very much, especially when unmodded.

Jonathan mentioned that he’d faced a similar list before of 5 Red Squad Bombers with the extra ship being dropped to put a turret (Ion I think?) and Proton Bombs on everyone. Less hull and less shots but the potential for ion control and making your opponent think twice about approaching from the rear or flank. I think maybe next time I would look at that and see how it works out.

So that now puts me at 2-4 in the tournament with 1 game to go. With Rebels. I have a few lists I’m thinking about using so I hope that I can at least make a decent go of it and try to get 3 wins in total.

Incidentally, Steve Boulton has decided, due to popularity, to reprise the tournament so if you’re interested take a look here for more information. I’m 99% sure I’m joining so maybe we’ll get paired up!

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