Malware Bites

The intro…

Welcome back!

It’s been another eventful week both in the outside world and in the Jones household.

We’ve experienced the first week of Wales’ very own ‘firebreak’ lockdown which has been… interesting. Well, at least it’s been interesting watching some people have meltdowns on Facebook over not being able to buy socks but could buy as much vodka and whiskey as they please. The classification of ‘essential items’ is somewhat subjective it seems.

Yep. They covered the clothes.

Anyway, it’s also coincided with half term and, in the vain hope of going away on holiday, I had booked the week off. My wife works term time so we would all be off together. Perfect!

Needless to say, said holiday hasn’t happened and somehow we have ended up decorating/renovating the house. Two rooms. Simultaneously.

DIY is not my forte. So it’s been a fairly gruelling week for me. It’s also meant that I’ve not had a lot (i.e. any) of time for X-Wing practice.

Following last week’s (slightly unexpected) win in the Knock The Sith Out event I have a game to play though.

Ironically I had been chatting with Dan Eggs about a potential game/session and blogging about it for this week based on the assumption that I was going out of the cup. Looks like it’ll have to keep for another week!

Getting back to the game, if you didn’t catch last week’s post I was was flying a brand new and untested list which, as it turns out, is quite good and I rather like it.

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

“Warthog” (54)
Wolfpack (4)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (9)

Ship total: 67 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 5

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z340XWWWWWY340XWWWWWY340XWWWWWY414XWW352WW227WW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

It’s fairly simple to fly and when it works (meaning when I don’t screw it up) it’s pretty effective. It turns out that 3/4 dice doubled modded shots can be pretty good. With Fly Casual still not having Warthog and crashing when I fly an LAAT (wait, is it AN or A? If I say out loud ‘L-A-A-T’ then it feels like it should AN, but if I say ‘lat’ then feels like it should be A. The English language is odd) I would be going in to the next game with precisely 1 rep with this list.

While that’s not exactly ideal the ARCs are familiar enough that I’m comfortable flying them. I still need to figure out the puzzle of how to fly the LAAT effectively, particularly in finding the balance between keeping it out of the fight enough to protect it but in the fight enough to make use of the support it offers.

So with paint on my arms and sawdust in my hair (what’s left of it) I sit at the desk to set up for the game.

It didn’t get to this but I was close. Really close.

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

And so on to the main event. I had been paired with Brendon Osmann-Deyman who, as it turns out, is based in Canada. With me being off work it was pretty easy to set up a mutually convenient time to play (even with the 4 hour time difference) and so while I wasn’t able to prepare by actually playing X-Wing I could at least give it some thought.

As I mentioned last week the lists for the tournament are made public and so I already knew what Brendon would bring and could give some thought to how I could try and face it.

Commander Malarus (Xi Shuttle) (43)
Intimidation (3)

Ship total: 46 Half Points: 23 Threshold: 4

TN-3465 (28)
Ship total: 28 Half Points: 14 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZhZ200Z404X122WWWWWY261XWY269XWY269XWY269XWY269XWY269XW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Brenden was bringing a newly released ship himself and so I had a little look for some streams with Malarus and 6 TIE/FO’s or as I’ve head someone call it, ‘Malware’.

As far as target priority goes there’s a clear choice in the Xi shuttle but the real question is how to get to it? My ARCs can joust pretty well but 6 FO’s with Malarus rerolls, moving before me and not really caring about the strain they pick up from the Malarus reroll can probably joust much better. It’s going to be a damage race and I have to make sure I’m dealing as much as I can to those 3 agility ships to reduce incoming shots.

With the FO’s all being lower initiative than my ships Warthog’s ability doesn’t particularly come into play (since I doubt Malarus will shoot too often) so I have to make sure that Fire convergence, 7th Fleet Gunner (7FG) and Wolfpack will all do work but to do that I have to put him in range of those guns.

This will be an interesting puzzle.

With this in mind I aim to leverage turn 0 to make some nice channels for my ARCs from a couple of angles. I want to break up the block (assuming that’s how he deploys) and ideally remove at least one FO in the first engagement and put some damage onto another. I want to drag him through the rocks and try to focus down one FO at a time with more than one arc.

Easier said than done but hey, it’s a sort of plan.

Or at least, it could have been.

With obstacles placed Brendon started deploying the FO’s and split them into two groups of three. One group in my top right, the other more central.

Hmmm…..

I had intended to deploy in the opposite corner to his block but this maybe changed things. I decided to deploy in a line (since you can’t put medium bases in double rows) opposite his forces and hard turn everyone away to try and pull him through the rocks. Malarus was then placed in between the two groups and we were ready to begin.

Looking at Brendon’s formation he almost certainly will speed down the right with the 3 FO’s there while the middle 3 will bank in left and Malarus will go forwards. I dial in 2 hard turns for all 3 ARC’s while Warthog takes a hard stop. Looking back, the stop here from Warthog was unnecessary and rather stupid. More on that later.

The right hand FO’s did go straight but slowly, to see if I was really going to joust. The middle 3 banked in as expected and Malarus also took a hard stop.

I now realised what I’d done. I’d put my biggest target at the back of the conga line, or at least kept him out of it. With the direction that the FO’s would be approaching from he would be the easiest target in a turn or two. Silly.

Back to dials we go and this time all 3 of my ARCs got a 3 straight while Warthog went 1 stright to clear the stress ready for the next turn.

This time Brendon’s flanking FO’s came forwards quicker, looking to establish position and gain ground.

We’re still too far away for shooting and so back to dials we go. At this point I need to start doing something positive while getting Warthog out of danger. Red gets a bank, looking to come more into the middle later. Yellow and green both go straight while Warthog will hard turn into their wake and reinforce to rear, just in case.

Brendon sends his FO’s forwards but not quite as quickly as I’d feared. Malarus creeps up behind them. At this point Malarus only gets about half in his range 2 bubble for rerolls and so it would have been a decent time to shoot something.

As it happened, the green FO and Warthog had each other in range. Warthog fired his 2 dice and got 1 hit. The FO rolled 4 natural evades.

The FO rolled it’s 2 dice and got 2 hits. Warthog blanked out, blocks one through reinforce but loses a shield.

With just those 2 ships firing we go back to dials again. Now I need to start putting guns on targets. Red will 2 hard to the right, green will 4K but yellow…. yellow. I decide to 2 hard with yellow too, looking to set up for next turn. Warthog is still stuck at the back so will go 2 forwards to try and hit the sweet spot of ‘got stuff in arc for the buffs’ but ‘in arcs for getting shot at’.

Brendon wheels his FO’s around the obstacles with a couple of bumps but nothing that’s going to cost him. Malarus shuffles up in behind them.

Malarus still isn’t in range to shoot so Warthog and the red ARC fire, making use of 7FG and Fire Convergence on red’s shot. I can’t quite remember how or why I fired at 2 different ships here (I think that the blue FO was unmodded?) but I score 2 hits onto brown and 1 onto blue.

In return Brendon fires at Warthog and, somewhat protected by the reinforce, he only takes 2 hits but one is a crit – Wounded Pilot.

Back to planning we go and this next turn is going to be make or break I feel.

I set red a 1 bank, yellow gets a 2 hard. Warthog will 2 hard into the space yellow vacates and green….well…. I need to clear stress. I debate the 1 or 2 straight before going with the 2 in the end.

Brendon goes all in with the FO’s at Warthog while Malarus banks in to keep as many as possible at range 2.

It’s time to fire. Malarus puts a damage onto Warthog from range. I don’t mind too much since I now know that he’s in range for 7FT and Fire Convergence to be used.

Red fires a double modded shot at Malarus and scores 4 hits. Decent start. Yellow follows it up but it’s only single modded since he landed on the debris. He gets one crit through – Loose Stabilizer.

At this point I’m cursing at myself for not banking in with green to have arc on Malarus to finish him off. Green shoots at brown and does 1 more hit but it’s not enough to finish him off.

Brendon’s FO’s start to return fire, all at Warthog. It takes all 6 of them but with rerolls and focus tokens aplenty Brendon gets exactly the number of hits needed to finish him off.

Sad.

So I’ve lost my most expensive ship, the one that makes my list tick and in exchange I’ve got….well…not enough. Two ships almost dead but not dead enough. I wonder at this point whether I should have focused on taking out a TIE or two to reduce incoming fire rather than hit Malarus. Also not being able to shoot an effective target with green was bad.

Still, points wise it’s 37-60 so while on the surface it isn’t too bad, he still has his force multiplier and I don’t. I won’t give up though!

Back to dials we go. At this point I consider that the Xi shuttle has intimidation on it. The last thing I want is my agility reduced. I decide to 2 hard with yellow to turn the rear arc into the mix while also keeping red where he is. It means both will be unmodded though. Green takes 3 forwards, looking to avoid a block and get some time to regroup.

It doesn’t work out though as the FO’s start to K-turn and sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) to get/keep arc on the ARCs. Green’s straight does get blocked and so with yellow being double stressed (white move and going over the unavoidable debris) and red bumping (on purpose but still…) I’ve got zero mods this turn.

Malarus takes a 2 straight, opts not to repair his crit and focuses.

Malarus clearly doesn’t have a shot. As it happened, neither did red. Yellow fired out the back at Malarus who managed to evade everything. I then had a choice to make with green. Range 2 (although just barely) at a still focused Malarus or range 1 at an unmodded, already damaged TIE/FO. I took the TIE shot. I missed.

Brendon then returned fire, getting shields off both the red and the green ARCs.

It’s not going well!

Back to planning we go. Yellow is now heading for no-man’s land so a 1 straight will help to start clearing stress while hopefully keeping his rear arc on something. Red will 3 bank to try and avoid being blocked while green will go straight to try and catch something in the rear arc too.

Brendon shuffles his FO’s with a couple of bumps to clear stress while also keeping them pointed the right way. TN-3465 chases green (or rather, calls where he’ll go).

My ARCs do their thing before Brendon cheekily banks away with Malarus, taking the damage from Loose Stabiliser but evading all arcs and staying alive on 1 health.

Yellow fires at the blue FO and misses. Red and green, despite being range 1 and focused only manage to get 2 hits onto TN-3465. Rubbish. Have I mentioned that I hate 3 agility ships?

Return fire begins. TN puts 2 hits onto green before Brendon then sacrifices her to use her ability to put 3 crits onto red, the first of which is a Hull Breach. Cool.

So I’ve now lost Warthog plus half points on two of my ARCs in exchange for half of Malarus, half an Epsilon Cadet and TN-3465.

With the clock almost out we go into what will be the last turn. Yellow continues his escape. Green 4-k’s (I don’t know why?!) and red hard turns in.

Brendon brings all his FO’s to bear facing the right of the board before Malarus banks again to make sure he’s clear.

What happens next is absurd.

Green is totally out of range and irrelevant. Yellow fires at blue out of the rear arc but at range 3 obstructed he was never going to do anything.

Red fires range 1 with a focus at the red FO who shrugs it off with nattie evades (JARGON ALERT!!).

The FO’s then return fire and even though only 3 of them have red in arc the Hull Breach means that a ridiculous crit chain was triggered.

This dude is really dead.

Result: 64 – 133 loss

The Conclusion…

Ok, well, yeah.

It’s kind of the result I was expecting even before I discovered that Brendon had made a top 32 finish in one of the Galaxies events or won a Worlds (2019) invite from winning a Hyperspace qualifier at a system open. He’s pretty good.

Looking back, I definitely bungled deployment and placement of Warthog in particular. Putting him at the back while positioning to engage made him a very easy target to chip damage onto. I also should have got all 3 ARCs firing on Malarus at the same time to take her out. I almost managed it with the two but not finishing her off combined with losing Warthog (due to aforementioned stupid positioning) sealed the deal really.

If I was to play this game over I’d probably still position the ships in a line but more centrally and I’d 2 hard Warthog to put him at the front of the conga line rather than the back. Better to have worse quality shots in the first turn or two of engagement than to lose Warthog as easily and as early as I did.

A couple of the FO’s not blowing up when they could have compounded the issue but the fact is, I was facing a really good, really efficient list flown by a really good player. We looked at the dice results afterwards and while the pure results don’t always tell an accurate story the fact that Brendon rolled twice as many red dice as I did says all that needs to be said. Of course that includes rerolls but by my list was overwhelmed by sheer volume of dice.

Dice luck or raw numbers, I’ve come to find, don’t always mean anything. For example, my ‘dice luck’ score was actually significantly higher than Brendon’s. But if I was to analyse the matchups of those dice then you’d see that he pretty much managed to roll the exact number of evades needed to either totally avoid being damaged or take just one. The only exception really was the turn where I hit Malarus hard with both ARCs.

Another way to look at it is that I was lucky to last as long as I did with Brendon’s red dice running a bit cold!

Still, I really enjoyed the game and, even though I went into the game not really know how to engage the list, I felt like I was in with a chance for at least half of it. I want to thank Brendon for being a great opponent, it was great to spend time chatting over the course of the game.

The day after he got in touch as he’d realised that his computer had died at one point and he’d had to reload TTS and I think I’d forgotten to stop the clock. He offer to play out from the end of the last save point for another 3 turns but, to be honest, I didn’t think that the result would be any different but I definitely appreciated the sentiment.

So, I guess that next week’s post will now be the little project that Dan Eggs and I will be looking into over the next few days! Come back next week to see what it is!

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