I’m so Meta

The intro…

It’s week 2 of the second Vagabond Open and if you read last week’s blog you might be desperate to know who my opponent is this week (although, let’s be honest, you’re probably not).

Following last week’s loss against Firestorm Firecast’s Phillip Pond we had both noticed that some big names (in X-Wing circles) had lost and that, with the way that the Swiss pairings system works, the loser (that’s me in this case) would possibly get a tough second game.

Ever the optimist I awoke on the Monday morning to check who my next opponent was, hoping that I might get someone as mediocre as myself and have a chance to go 1-1.

In fact I had been paired with Marcel Manzano. The Marcel Manzano of Gold Squadron Podcast who made the top 32 at Worlds last year (and looking at Listfortress was 3rd in Swiss for the whole event) and came second in BOTH formats of the first Vagabond Opens.

Well, ok then. Could be a tricky game.

The Gold Squadron Podcast (GSP from here on in because I’m lazy with typing) is a great resource and one that I regularly listen to (every week actually, until lockdown started) and so to be paired against one of the hosts was exciting, weird and nerve wracking all at the same time. I want to chat, interact and get to know him while at the same time I’m kind of expecting to get beaten to a pulp and want to make sure I don’t make an idiot of myself.

I get in touch with Marcel to arrange a day/time for us to play (which, considering the 6 hour time difference, went very smoothly!) and we chat a little.

If you’re a regular listener to the GSP then you’ll know that one of the features they have is ‘List of the Week’ where they look at listener submitted lists and suggest changes or tweaks to improve them. Marcel is known to be a big fan of the Autopilot Drone in the Escape Craft (from the Scum Millennium Falcon set) and it’s often mentioned at this point of the podcast.
I mention this because, while we were chatting I casually mention that I’m not really sure what I will fly yet and, off the cuff and with no thought about consequences, suggest that in honour of his partiality to the Escape Craft maybe I should try that.

Did I know what I was doing? Nope. Did I care? Well, a little. Like I said before, I don’t want to embarrass myself. So I guess I need to work out a Scum list now?

A few thoughts flitted through my brain as I loaded up Fly Casual to have a visual layout of what Scum ships are available. I don’t own ANY Scum ships and there are so many that I sometimes forget some of them or get them mixed up. I select the Autopilot Drone in the Escape Craft as my first ship and see what I can do with the remaining 188 points.

After looking at a few ships and not really being sure what to do I hit on an idea. I load up Listfortress and look up a few tournaments to find specific builds. It’s not an idea I’m particularly proud of but if it gives me a fighting chance, I’m game.

What list am I talking about? Why, it’s Boba & Fenn of course.

I’m not really one for playing strong meta lists. Not because it’s wrong to do it but because I need reps with a list to learn it properly and just diving in with something at short notice puts me at risk of forgetting or missing things (obvious things) and ‘under-performing’ (relatively speaking, in terms of the general performance of that list) with a good list.

I’d rather take something that I put together myself, that I understand and have tested and tweaked until it works how I want and I know it inside out. Yes, I sometimes then get smashed BY a meta list but at least it was on my terms.

So, back to the point. Boba & Fenn. It’s a good list. I played against several Boba & Fang(s) lists at the System Open this year so I have some limited knowledge on how to fly it. I regularly hear/read about how good it is and so I know it’s well optimised. I just need a little bit of practice.

I was pleasantly surprised to find it has a big enough bid for me to add the Escape Craft without dropping any upgrades, in fact I STILL have a 3 point bid.
Bonkers.

Fenn Rau (68)
Fearless (3)

Ship total: 71 Half Points: 36 Threshold: 2

Boba Fett (85)
Fearless (3)
Jamming Beam (0)
Maul (12)
Proximity Mines (6)
Contraband Cybernetics (2)
Hull Upgrade (5)
Slave I (1)

Ship total: 114 Half Points: 57 Threshold: 6

Autopilot Drone (12)
Ship total: 12 Half Points: 6 Threshold: 2

Total: 197

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z97X121WY103X121W12WW48W70W92W164W161WY96X&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=coreasteroid0,coreasteroid1,coreasteroid3

I try it out a few times in Fly Casual to try and understand some of the tricks and make sure I remember triggers. I STILL don’t understand Concordia Faceoff without reading the card at least twice. Still, the basis of this list (as I understand it) is this:

  • Shoot people in the face with Fenn, preferably without getting shot back. 5 dice is good. Have a focus. Fenn hates crits.
  • Shoot people in the face (or out of the butt) with Boba. Be close for rerolls. Contraband is your ‘get out of jail free’ card. Go wherever you like with Slave I. Don’t forget the Proximity Mines.

I’m always nervous of 4 health ships and one with no shields is even worse. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve one-shotted a Fenn Rau myself previously (and felt very good about myself while doing it).

I try it out in Fly Casual.

Wow.

No, not that WOW!

Now, I know the AI isn’t the greatest. It wants to joust me and can sometimes quite easily be led in a way to split it’s ships and make them easier targets. In the first game I was paired with 6 Green Squad A-Wings. In the second game it picked 4 Warden Squad K-Wings with Barrage Rockets. In the third it was a Vulture Swarm with Energy Shell Charges. I won every game without losing a ship. I got close, yes but I was amazed at how good the dial options are for these ships and how hard they hit. Boba is reliable due the the rerolls and Fearless is really very good.

The Escape Craft *can* be used effectively but I’m guessing that a human opponent might try and steer clear of it more than the AI did (a prime example being that I hit 5 vultures with it in one of the games).

After having a little wobble over just picking one of my favoured Rebel lists instead (to hopefully put in a decent showing) I’m as set as I can be.

Bring.it.on

THE Batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

After having some fun and games setting up a Vassal room (I got there in the end!) Marcel and I got voice chat going and talked a little while we set up the game.

I took a look at Marcel’s list. Hmmm…

“Quickdraw” (45)
Pattern Analyzer (5)
Special Forces Gunner (10)
Fire-Control System (2)
Afterburners (6)

Ship total: 68 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 3

Major Vonreg (57)
Daredevil (2)
Deuterium Power Cells (9)

Ship total: 68 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 2

“Backdraft” (39)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)
Special Forces Gunner (10)
Afterburners (6)

Ship total: 61 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3

Total: 197

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z243XW206WW182W113W105Y381X117W318WWY242X181W186WW182WW105&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Yes, it’s just 3 ships BUT two of them are i6. There’s also the fact that Quickdraw has bonus shots, Backdraft gets additional an die out of the rear arc and Vonreg has regen. All of this played by a really REALLY good player.

We are both on 197 points and so we roll for the now rather important ‘first player’. I call misses, Marcel rolls and it’s a hit. Marcel (unsurprisingly) picks second player.

We place obstacles and I place the Escape Craft in the middle, hoping to be able to steer towards wherever Marcel’s ships are going to be placed. The rest of the ships go down and this is how the board is set when we start:

Could he BE any more in the corner?

I’ll b honest, I’m a bit suspicious of what he’s planning with Backdraft (in the middle) since it’s directly opposite the Escape Craft. Still, I set it for a 3 forwards while Boba and Fenn will both left hard turn.

Marcel sends everyone forwards tentatively, trying to feel out where things will go next.

We’re back at dials and now I want to pick a direction. I send Fenn the longer way around the gas cloud while Boba takes the inside track. The Escpe Craft will just have another 3 forwards.

Marcel shuffles Backdraft again (looking to go slow and wait for the Drone to blow up harmlessly I assume). Quickdraw hard turns and barrel rolls away from the incoming ships while Vonreg begins to flank wide on my right.

We are actually in range of some shots here and Backdraft plinks a shield off the Drone while it’s return fire does nothing.

We start planning the next turn and this time the Escape Craft will go boom. How to maximise that? I decide to try a ‘damned if you, damned if you don’t’ move. I decide to bank turn the Drone to the right and then roll it to cover if Backdraft goes left while turning in with Boba and Fenn to hit him if he goes right. After some deliberation I pick a 2 bank for the Drone instead of a 3. It was not a correct choice.

Marcel moves and Backdraft hard turns left and barrel rolls, escaping the Drone’s explosion by a few millimetres. Quickdraw continues to skirt the edge of the board but now Vonreg has completed his flank. It’s at this point I realise just how annoying a ship with double reposition and Daredevil is. I’m going to have to watch that.

Vonreg is the only one who can fire and he does so at Boba. I roll greens and (somehow) take no damage. A bit of a let-off this time.

Back to dials we go and I realise that turning in with Boba has put me in a tricky spot.

Learning from previous games I decide to totally ignore the gas cloud and YOLO over it with a 4 forwards, picking up a (rather important) strain in the process. I turn Fenn towards Vonreg, hoping to scare him off with sheer weight of red dice.

Marcel sends Backdraft around the rock while Quickdraw turns in. Fenn succeeds in chasing off Vonreg who boosts and rolls to get out of range 1.

Time to shoot!

Fenn fires at Vonreg but gets nothing through. Quickdraw fries at Boba and hits hard, taking 3 shields. Boba in turn takes his shot on Backdraft but takes just 1 shield from him.

Not a great trade!

With firing over we’re back to planning and I need to work out what to do next.

I decide to send Boba after Backdraft while Fenn stays to play with Vonreg. I’m not really keen on a straight up face to face joust (although with my dice advantage and Fearless AND Concordia for defence, maybe I should have) so hard turn to possibly block or at least have Vonreg overshoot and go past.

Backdraft bank turns away from Boba, trying to put distance in before Quickdraw turns past Boba, towards Fenn, having the option to shoot either. Vonreg turns and bumps into Fenn.

Fenn and Vonreg have no shots but Quickdraw pours more pain onto Boba with the help of Backdraft as they put a combined 3 damage past my green dice.

Boba fires on Backdraft and puts 3 damage onto him too, leaving him on 2 health.

Back to dials again and I decide to press on after Backdraft with Boba. I Talon Roll (JARGON ALERT!!) with Fenn to try and actually shoot with him.

Backdraft continues to run away from Boba while Vonreg gives up on Fenn and brings Boba up in his targets, swapping roles with Quickdraw who now creeps up on Fenn.

Fenn fires. I actually can’t remember at who since no damage was done so I suppose it doesn’t matter! Quickdraw shoots at Fenn and gets hit, crit through on him, giving a Damaged Engine. Hmmm…

Vonreg and Backdraft fire at Boba but this time Boba’s green dice are on fire and no damage gets through.

Boba fires are Backdraft but suffers the same fate and Backdraft continues on 2 hull.

Time to plan again!

With Vonreg heading in I decide to play a game of chicken and turn Boba in on Vonreg while Fenn takes a 3 forwards to hopefully catch him in range 1.

Backdraft continues to escape to the corner before Quickdraw Sloops (JARGON ALERT!!) to turn around. Vonreg *somehow* manages to turn, boost and roll (or vice versa, I can’t remember exactly) and manages to evade Boba’s arc completely. Dammit!

No picture this time, I forgot to take a screenshot!

Baby Yoda makes it all better

What I remember from this turn is that Fenn shot at Vonreg and got 1 hit through (which Vonreg then Regenned (JARGON ALERT!!) next turn with the Deuterium whatnots) and that Quickdraw got 1 more hit onto Fenn, taking him to just 1 hull left.

Dials again and as we plan the timer goes off to indicate that we have this turn plus two more to finish.

With Vonreg facing where he is, the likelihood of my catching him are slim and so I decide to go all-in on Quickdraw. I set Boba a 1 hard while Fenn talon rolls over the gas cloud because, why not?!

Backdraft starts to get himself out of his corner while Vonreg takes his time turning around.

Marcel send Quickdraw 3 forwards. Yes! He then says he really regrets not picking the 1 forwards.

Quickdraw wonders where his backup has gone.

Fenn fires, range 1. However, with no mods and Fearless not active (he was just out of arc) he rolls 1 hit (and 3 eyeballs!!!). Quickdraw blanks. Quickdraw fires a bonus shot at Boba and gets 1 hit through.

Quickdraw then fires his (her? Can’t remember!) normal shot at Boba and this time 3 hits get through, leving him on 1 hull.

Boba fires at Quickdraw and after mods and rerolls gets 4 hits. Quickdraw blanks out, leaving him (her??!) on 1 hull. Overall, a reasonable turn for me. I do with that Fenn had been able to manage just 1 more hit though but I’m glad Boba is still alive.

Never mind, we go back to dials for the penultimate turn of the game.

I resolve in my mind 2 things while planning. Don’t forget a Proximity Mine, don’t forget to trigger Contraband Cybernetics.

I set Boba a Talon Roll and Fenn a hard turn, hoping to get distance from Vonreg (who seems to just be able to be wherever he likes) and cover Quickdraw if he/she doesn’t head towards the Prox Mine.

We started Activation before I dropped the Prox mine but Marcel very graciously allowed me to drop it, even knowing that his ship was going to hit it. Very gentlemanly conduct.

Backdraft turns in, Vonreg turns around, Quickdraw hits the mine. Marcel rolls and it’s 2 crits. Quickdraw is very dead.

Where is Quickdraw? Where is Boba?!

Fenn AND Boba fire at Backdraft but that pluckly little SF just won’t die. In return Backdraft fires at Boba and sneaks in that last damage to finish him off.

As we go into the last turn I know there’s no winning. I’m too far behind on points. No, it’s now about not losing all my ships and preserving MoV.

I have a choice to make. If I can finish Backdraft I won’t get shot in return. If I fail to do that, I’ll get wiped out. My position doesn’t rally help either, Fenn is stressed and if I’m going to shoot I will really need a mod.

I set a 2 bank and see what happens.

Backdraft hard turns towards the board edge. Interesting.

I move Fenn. I’m sat at range 1 of the back arc with no return shot. Crap. I go for the barrel roll (because why not) and, going as far forwards as possible, it fits by millimetres. I take the linked focus just in case.

Vonreg moves but is still pretty far away.

Vonreg just about has a shot but it’s unmodded at range 3 and does nothing. We bring up Backdraft’s arc and I’m out by a TINY amount.

That is how you arc dodge!

It’s a slightly underwhelming end to a very good game. It’s a 99-162 loss for me.

The Conclusion…

I was out played by a great player here. I know I made a couple of errors here and there but overall I’m actually quite pleased with how I played this.

Vonreg with Deuterium calls though. I won’t say he’s unkillable but double repositions, a very versatile dial and regen makes him almost a Jedi. I thought I had him closed in when I turned Boba away from Backdraft that one turn and he just ‘noped’ out of it.

Marcel and I chatted a little after the game and Marcel suggested that if I’d have boosted with Boba instead of taking a focus while chasing Backdraft then I’d have got range 1 for a reroll and had Maul’s force to back it up which might have taken those 2 last health. Something to remember for next time.

Marcel also clarified what he likes about the Autopilot Drone, namely that you play it with the Falcon and can do all kinds of shenanigans with being undocked, burning charges and then docking to add the shields to the Falcon before then using it to threaten with later with just 1 charge left before it explodes.
Wish I’d known all that before the game!

Have the full information before making a decision!

We also agreed that if I’d won the roll for the bid and could have moved Fenn after Marcel’s i6’s then it would have been a very different game. I can’t say that the outcome would have changed but I certainly would have had some easier choices in terms of reposition for Fenn once I knew exactly where Quickdraw and Vonreg were going to be.

Overall I feel that I played it ok, especially being the first proper game that I’ve used it. I didn’t get tabled (JARGON ALERT!!) so I’ll certainly take that as a positive! Interestingly, I actually really enjoyed playing this list. To the point where I may even consider buying just these two ships to put on a real board (unless of course this list gets nuked in the next points update!). They are really fun ships to fly and even though there’s not a lot of health and lot to think about in terms of risk/reward I found that I liked it. Interesting.

Marcel was a fantastic opponent and I really enjoyed spending time playing and chatting with him. Having that experience with someone who is SO far away (geographically) and that I’m not likely to meet in person was really cool and that it was with someone that I have learned from on a podcast I follow even more so.

So here I am 0-2, same as this stage last time! That said, I have played against two top level players so I’ll give myself a bit of break on that. With my pattern to follow for faction being blown out of the water I now have a question – what to play next week?

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