Indecision

The intro…

Welcome back!

If you’ve been following over the last few weeks you’ll know that I’m taking part in the second Vagabond Open on Vassal and that each game I need to use each of the different factions.

If you followed my progress in the first Vagabond Open you might also know that I found that a bit of a struggle. There are so many ships and lists that I’m not familiar with and don’t know how to fly properly (or well).

Having used the Resistance and Scum so far (and lost both, albeit to VERY good players) I was at a bit of a loss as to what faction to play next. Being 0-2 means I’d rather not use something that I’m likely to get smashed while playing (I’m looking at you, CIS) but I don’t want to play Rebels just yet (though I may not leave them until last like I did in the first tournament).

So, what to pick?

I did actually look at CIS first. My last experience playing was terrible but my realisation/understanding/whatever that I can play separatists WITHOUT it being a droid swarm helped me to not dread it so much.
I looked at 4/5 Bullbalabs in various forms (generics with/without Grievous) and actually liked how it flies but they do still seem quite squishy (except Grievous with title and Impervium Plating of course). I thought about Sith Infiltrators but never got around to finding a build for one and then, not fancying flying a pair, realised that I’d have to fill a list out with other stuff and it seemed altogether like too much work.

Ok, what else can I try?

A couple of blogs ago someone on Reddit (/A10airknight, I’m looking at you!) commented on my 6 Republic Y-Wing list and suggested that dropping one ship allows all the rest to have Ion Turrets and Proton Bombs and makes the list better.
I tried it in Fly Casual and liked it. I’m comfortable with Y-Wings from using them in Rebels and the whole Ion/Bomb trick is one I like and have used before.

A BOMB!

One of the lists I tested it against interested me too though. 5 CLT i3 Jedi Knights. The trick of this list is to get into range 1 with bullseye, trigger CLT to add a focus result and then smash things. You normally have to spend your single force for the ‘free’ reposition (which of course isn’t free as you’re paying a force point for it) and then focus as your action so that when (if?) you get bullseye you can still add the eyeball and change that (plus any others) to a hit.

I don’t usually get on with ‘acey’ style ships. I find that I’m more prone to jousting and doing that with 4 health ships is generally not advised (for exceptions see Dale Cromwell). I’m also historically not great at landing with ships in bullseye and that’s kind of the whole point of the list. Taking 3 agility ships and having 4 red dice results to play with.
Anyway, I decided to try it out and it didn’t go as terribly as I expected. Yes, I did end up with dead Jedi. Yes, I did barrel roll and then boost to get range 1 bullseye only to find I didn’t have a focus/force to mod with. Yes, I messed up my approach and bumped things/missed arc.
However, I did get bullseye more than I’d expected. I also managed a few killboxes with more than 1 CLT shot on a single target. I even managed one with a focus to mod those dice.
Hmmm… I’m starting to see the value in this list.

With my match approaching I played with Y-Wings, then Jedi then Y-Wings again, unable to decide which list to play.

With just a couple of hours to go I chickened out and went with the familiar Y-Wings.

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 4

Red Squadron Bomber (30)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Proton Bombs (5)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z361X138WWWW69WY361X138WWWW69WY361X138WWWW69WY361X138WWWW69WY361X138WWWW69W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=gascloud1,gascloud2,gascloud6

I hope the match up would vindicate my choice.

The Batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Speaking of the match ups, my record so far has been, umm, interesting. My first round had been against Phillip Pond of the Firestorm Firecast who is a very good player and, just 2 days before our game, played in a tournament final on Vassal.

My second round was against Gold Squadron Podcast host Marcel Manzano who, just last year, made the top 32 at Worlds (3rd in Swiss overall) and had just finished second in the previous Vagabond Opens (yes, plural. He played and finished second in both the Vassal AND TTS versions).

So surely, at 0-2, I would now get paired with a far more mediocre player like myself and have a shot at getting a win. Right?

Actually it turns out that I must have upset someone at Tabletop.To because I got paired with Louis Leong. Yes, 186th squadron member (according to his TTT profile anyway!), attender of Worlds 2019, occasional blogger and maker of VERY lovely metal alt art cards – Louis Leong.

Now, I have had some interaction with Louis before as I bought one of the aforementioned cards for my son as a Christmas present last year so he isn’t a complete stranger but other than that we’ve never really crossed paths, let alone in person. I’m also aware from his (so far) one and only blog post of the rough version of his X-Wing journey and the fact that he’s a good player (despite what he’d tell you in person!).
So at least I’ve got the chance to get to know someone better, even if my chances of a win are pretty slim.

I suppose before I resign myself to defeat I should check out what he’s running. He’s gone with a thematic list based around Spectre Squadron from the Rebels TV show.

Hera Syndulla (VCX-100) (72)
Intimidation (3)
Advanced Sensors (10)
Dorsal Turret (3)
“Zeb” Orrelios (1)
Saw Gerrera (9)
Hull Upgrade (2)
Veteran Turret Gunner (10)
Ghost (0)

Ship total: 110 Half Points: 55 Threshold: 8

Sabine Wren (41)
Debris Gambit (4)
Kanan Jarrus (12)
Phantom (0)

Ship total: 57 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 2

Ezra Bridger (TIE Fighter) (31)
Ship total: 31 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z61X122W111WW137W65W58W164W90W148Y66X118W41WWW167Y14XW&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

I have to say that, initially, this gave me a little hope. My own record with the Ghost in 2.0 is pretty awful. In my experience it burns down SO fast that you don’t get to do much with that big 4 dice gun (or 5 at range 1). If I can focus it down, maybe I’ve got a chance.

Since we have no crossover of initiative the bid is irrelevant(ish), rocks are placed and ships go down and when ready to begin we are set like this:

JOUST MEEEE!

Louis quips about jousting me with Sabine and Ezra. My silent reply (although it may not have been silent?!) was either ‘Yeah, right” (heavy with sarcasm) or “I wish”. Either way, I realise it isn’t likely. We decide that, with Louis having a young child who might wake and need attention at any random point, we’re better off with turns rather than time and go with the (apparently) standard 12 turns.

I set dials and we’re ready to begin.

Joust or no joust, my first turn is always going to be a tentative one, trying to gauge my opponent’s intentions before committing 100% to my own. This is a long-winded way of saying I went 1 forwards and took a focus with everyone.

Louis (slightly predictably) turned Ezra and Sabine in while Hera slowly ambled in towards the middle of the board.

All fine so far. This time I’ve identified the ‘lane’ between the middle line of gas clouds and the one near Ezra and Sabine as where I want to go, figuring I’ll have *something* in arc to shoot at so to get my forces there I set everyone to another 1 forwards and give out more focus tokens.

Sabine and Ezra snake their way towards Hera with a mix of straight/bank moves and boosts/barrel rolls while Hera bank turns in, heading for the ‘lane’ adjacent to where I’m going.

With engagement looking likely this round I begin my slow turn in with a series of 1, 2 and 3 banks before taking more focuses.

Sabine and Ezra wriggle themselves around to turn without moving too much and still having the gas cloud to cover them from most shots. Hera bombs forwards and takes a lock but not on the closest Y-Wing.

Hera fires but nothing gets through from this range. Ezra and Sabine fire and one of them (I can’t remember who though, probably Sabine looking at the range) puts 2 damage onto a Y-Wing. Typical.

My return fire does absolutely nothing (which I kind of expected with 2 dice guns at range 3 but still…).

Back to dials we go and this time there’s definitely going to be some action. Wanting to get in close to *something* I set all my ships to 3 forwards except for the bottom right (closest to Hera) who gets a bank to go for a block.

Think about that one. Go back, check out the Hera build above. No, I don’t know why I did that either.

Two Y-Wings rotate turret to the right to threaten whoever thinks about trying to flank around the gas cloud. The bank manoeuvre means that the Y-Wing behind now bumps AND lands on the gas cloud, picking up a strain in the process.

Anyway, my moves are enough to scare off Ezra who shoots off past the gas cloud while Sabine manages to end up facing off with most of my ships (although my 3 dice Ion turrets are now facing away from her). It was precisely the point at which Louis announced that he would use advanced sensors to take a lock on the banked Y-Wing that I realised that I hadn’t seen or taken in the FULL build of this Ghost.

I’m in some trouble here.

Yes, there is something missing. Yes, this is after firing has happened.

Hera fired, range 0 (because Zeb) at my 0 agility (because Intimidation) Y-Wing with 5 dice. Then spent a lock, then changed 3 eyeballs results to crits (because Saw). I change 1 crit back to a hit with the Y-Wing’s plated hull ability but still, that’s 3 shields and 2 crits onto a Y-Wing. Louis talks about hopefully finishing one off this turn and I’m assuming he’s talking about getting 3 hits with Sabine before I check again and notice VTG and Dorsal Turret. So, yeah, Hera’s not done yet.

Dice are rolled, Saw is used and a rather unfortunate Fuel Leak means that Hera has one-shotted an 8 health Y-Wing.

Slightly shaken I start rolling dice for return fire and somehow (and I’m not quite sure exactly how), I do precisely ZERO damage to ANYTHING. The Ghost is a 0 agility ship and I failed to hit it. At all. In fact Hera is only down by 2 health becuase Louis used SAW twice to change results. He’s done more damage to himself than I have done to him.

Bad times.

It’s time to plan again and I’m a little bit on tilt from that last round. The trade off between Y-Wings (and other tanky ships) versus acey ships is that the extra health helps them to last out longer. Not against this Ghost though, apparently.

Slightly panicked I set 2 ships to 3 forwards, one to a red 4 forwards (to make sure I clear Sabine) while the middle/rear Y-Wing takes a 3 bank to get some distance from the bombs I’m about to drop.

I drop bombs with everyone, hoping that Ezra is looking to come in from the rear and that perhaps I’ll catch Sabine in there too by blocking and hopefully Hera will take some of it too.

I move my ships. The banking Y-Wing moves before the closest one to Hera, causing the second one (who, incidentally hasn’t cleared the strain from last time, not that it matters…) to bump. Sad, sad, sad.

Ezra hard turns, ready to watch the fireworks from afar. Sabine pre-barrel rolls (into a red evade, which is made white with Debris Gambit) before taking a 3-bank and then boosting. She’s out of danger too.

Hera moves and smashes into the strained Y-Wing but not before taking an Advanced Sensors lock on it. She can’t do it again, can she?

I manage a total of 1 shield off Hera with my poorly thought out bombs (and very narrowly avoid hitting myself with one). Not good enough.

Hera fires. Spends the lock and turns eyeballs to crits with Saw again. Shields are gone and 2 crits onto the Y-Wing. One of them is a Direct Hit. With 2 hull remaining Hera fires again with Dorsal Turret and spends ANOTHER health with Saw to get the 2 hits needed to finish him off. Hera has single handedly annihilated yet another Y-Wing from full health.

At this point turn 12 feels like an awfully long way away and I’m doubting I’ll make it that far.

Hera is about 3 pixels out of the closest Y-Wing’s arc while the 2 further ones are too far from Ezra to fire with Ion Turrets. The only shot I have is on Sabine with 1 Y-Wing. I take it. Nothing gets through.

So far I’ve done one single damage to Louis’ list. The other 4 he has done to himself. Suffice to say, it’s not going great.

We go back to planning. What the heck do I do now? This Y-Wing killing machine is chewing up my list one ship at a time. With limited options (and because I don’t want to waste the points). I’m going to drop the rest of my bombs. Why not. At least it’s more likely that they’ll ALL hit this time.

All my ships take straight moves. Two take a focus and the third rotates turret to point at the Ghost. If I’m going to have ANY chance, it’s got to go.

Ezra finishes turning around while Sabine continues with her disengage. Hera 1 banks left and takes a lock.

The bombs go off and this time the results are better. 3 crits onto an unshielded Hera. However, the damage deck betrays me and there are no particularly helpful (to me) crits (like Direct Hit, Weapons Failure, Fuel Leak). No, instead she draws a Loose Stabiliser, Wounded Pilot and one other that was largely irrelevant. Cool.

Hera fires at the locked Y-Wing. This is the one that took teh 2 unlikely damage from Sabine in the first engagement and so even though Intimidation isn’t in play this time, she has a 2 hit head start over the last 2 Y-Wings she smashed.

This one was just stupid.

By his own admission, Louis thought that using Saw twice when on 6 hull (taking him down to 4) was probably not the best decision but between the primary and turret shots Hera removed the poor Y-Wing’s single shield before then putting in 2 hits immediately followed by a Fuel Leak. The resulting crit chain (including a Direct Hit) meant that the Y-Wing ended that engagement with 8 damage cards.

So, quick analysis – I’ve lost 3 whole 8 health ships in 3 (meaningful) engagements. In return I’ve got half of one ship (which has almost exclusively been doing that damage to itself).

It feels absurd.

But it’s revenge time.

The variance (finally) starts to swing in my favour as my two remaining Y-Wings pour fire into the Ghost. It takes 2 damage and 6 (yes, 6) ion tokens. Better.

At this point in the game Sabine has shot twice and done 2 damage. I’m not sure Ezra has even fired. It’s crazy.

It’s time for dials again and I finally feel like I’ve got a shot at doing something, even if it’s just limit my MoV loss.

With both my ships now out of Proton Bombs (thanks to that wasteful first drop) I need both ships to fire on the Ghost to finish it off. This means that I can’t chase Sabine with the one which is annoying but there is no way I can let the Ghost survive.

The other Y-Wing is in a tricky position. I think that just a 2 hard turn will leave me in arc so I’ve got to use the ‘lesser spotted red barrel roll’ to make sure sure Hera doesn’t get a chance to do anything. As she’s ioned she can’t rotate her turret either so as long as I dodge the arc, I’m safe.

Ezra moves and bumps into the barrel rolled Y-Wing. No incoming shot there either. Lovely. Sabine does her usual shennanigans and covers rather more board than you’d expect to start moving back around.

The only ships that can fire are my ships.

The Y-Wings fire and between them manage to put through the 2 damage needed to wipe Hera out. Better late than never I suppose. Now for those other 2.

Now, I did miss a couple of screenshots over the next few turns but the general gist was this – the far left Y-Wing cleared stress before slow-rolling to try and shoot at Ezra. The right side Y-Wing tried to go as fast as possible to get into the fight.

Meanwhile, Ezra and Sabine tried to box in the left side Y-Wing and kill it, generally being less effective at it than Hera has been.

We resume here, with Sabine an Ezra chasing the Y-Wing:

Yes, the right side Y-Wing IS still stupidly far away.

Sabine and Ezra took 1 shield from their target while in return he put another damage onto Ezra (taking him to 1 health) while still being unable to ionise him. Annoyingly.

Dials again and now a choice. Turn the Y-Wing and spend his action to turn the arc? Or risk a straight and focus for (hopefully) a better shot?

I went with the straight manoeuvre (again, wishing I hadn’t wasted that bomb!) and hoped that would be enough. The other Y-Wing took a 2 bank (since a 3 would likely put it over the gas cloud, on reflection it wouldn’t have mattered. Lesson learned).

Ezra went 2 forward and took an evade while Sabine pre-rolled (linked to another white evade) and then YOLO’d over the gas cloud (like I should have).

Sabine and Ezra fired, putting 2 damage onto the Y-Wing (taking it to half points). In return it fired at Ezra but, even with a 4 dice Ion Turret shot AND a focus failed to get that single damage on to finish him off. It turned out that this would be a defining moment.

Dials again and now my choices are very limited. The damaged Y-Wing took a 2 hard turn and had no option but to rotate turret to keep arc on his enemies. The other took a 3 forwards, trying desperately to be relevant again.

Sabine Pre-rolled and 1 banked, crucially NOT bumping, taking a focus AND having the Y-Wing in arc. Ezra shuffled forwards and bumped into Sabine. No action but with a Force token and the initiative advantage.

Spectre Squadron collectively attacked and wiped out the Y-Wing before it could return fire. What small hope there was had faded quickly since failing to take out Ezra in the previous turn.

With 2 turns to go it was now very difficult to get a win. A quick check of points showed that halving and then removing that Y-Wing had swung the game in Louis’ favour with me needing to take out Sabine OR get half on her AND wipe out Ezra. Unlikely.

But not impossible.

The plucky, lone Y-Wing dialed in a 3 forwards adn took a focus, his arc already pointed left.

Ezra hard turned and rolled again, parking RIGHT in front of the Y-Wing while Sabine turned with a bank, rather close to the board edge.

Ezra fired and, even at range 1 only managed to take 1 shield from my Y-Wing.

Now I had a dilemma.

Ezra is RIGHT there. He’s not only in my front arc but in my turret one too, meaning I have a 4 dice ion shot at him and just need that single hit to do it. But Ezra alone is not enough and there’s only 1 turn after this one.

I also have Sabine there. She’s in Ion range and is facing teh board edge. If I can ionise her she’s dead and I have 1 turn to try and get that last hit onto Ezra.

I go for the shot on Sabine. I roll my dice, spend my focus. I have 2 hits. It’s not enough. Sabine has an evade, so whatever she rolls, she’ll avoid getting the ion token. Damn. I do take 1 damage though, leaving her on 3 health.

We move on to the last turn. I’m not optimistic. Half on Sabine isn’t enough.

I dial in a 3 bank to go for the side arc shot but it’s too late. Ezra and Sabine both reveal fast manoeuvres, Sabine running away while Ezra does a 5-k (JARGON ALERT!!).

Somewhat adding insult to injury Ezra rolls 2 hits and the Y-Wing blanks out, taking the 2 damage needed to take it to half points while I’ve got no shots in return and with that, the game is over.

It’s a loss of 126 – 180

The Conclusion…

Yes, it’s another loss. But MAN, this one was fun.

Around turn 7-ish after having ANOTHER Y-Wing punched in the face by Hera I did wonder if I’d make it to turn 12 but once that completely absurd Ghost build was out of the way (and the red dice started to swing in my favour) I almost pulled it back and it was thrilling. The dice variance was all over the place and some different rolls here and there could have swung the result (for example getting a damage onto Sabine when at range 1 behind her, or getting just 1 more hit onto the Ghost before the turn it died so that the Y-Wing chasing Sabine didn’t have to stop chasing her to get that last hit on, or getting that 1 more damage onto Ezra so he couldn’t finish off a Y-Wing, etc, etc).

BUT. Dice are dice and this game is more prone to variance now than it was in 1.0 and I’m fine with that, even when it works against me.

I know I made mistakes and really wish I’d been a bit more conservative with my bomb use as it would have helped me later but still, fun was had.

Looking back at my list choice I wonder whether the CLT Jedi might have fared better. On one hand, if Hera could one-shot an 8 health Y-Wing then the Jedi would have been even more at risk. Then again, 3 agility backed up by Force or focus would have helped and add to that a different approach (i.e. not just lining up a joust) then it may have worked, especially with a nice big base to catch in bullseye.

Either way, the game is done and I’m now 0-3. Of course it’s not a great record, I know that but I’m in this for the fun and I’ve certainly had that over the last 3 games. Looking back, all my games have been against top, top players and none of them have been a complete disaster (not by the end, at least!). In fact, they’ve been closer than I might have expected and they’ve all been with lists that I would never normally play and only got to play-test a little bit before the match.

The best part though is that I got to hang out with Louis on Discord for a while and make a new friend. Louis it was a pleasure to play you and I look forward to meeting you in person some day!

So there we are. 3 games, 3 losses. What will next week bring? At 0-3 I should be paired with someone as average (ok, below average!) as myself and at least have a bit of a shot at picking up a win. Come back next week to find out!

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