New Beginnings

Welcome back! And Happy New Year! I have really enjoyed my Christmas/New Year and I hope you have too. Did you get any new X-Wing related stuff for Christmas? Have you beena ble to get any games in?

Cai (and by proxy me too I suppose!) got a Gozanti, Rebel Transport and Huge Ship Conversion Kit. All of which we are yet to put on the table! There will be blogs about it once we crack it all open though.

At time of writing (or at least starting to) I am in that strange place between Christmas and New Year…

I have a blog mostly written (with pictures and everything!) which I had planned to publish today (well, not today as I’m writing, today as of when I’m planing to publish which, when I started was a week away but now as I’m re-editing is just a few days away but when I started was next year. Know what I mean? Cos I’m not sure I do any more?!)

BUT

I have a little thing to write about before I write about the thing that I know that I want to write about (you might need to read that sentence a few times, sorry) while it’s still relevant because (in case you’ve been living under a rock) on the 9th of Jan (which is 2 days after when I’m planning to publish but, actually, never mind, it’s only relevant in my mind!) we have a points update which will reshape the meta for the next few months. And I have the System Open to prepare for.

Double points for a Star Wars related meme!

In my last blog before Christmas I brought my journey with Dash & Jake to a ‘close’. I’m not quitting the list, I fully intend to play it more, but with the main format for the System Open being Hyperspace (which Dash isn’t legal for) and the reveal of the date being early February (fully 2 months earlier than last year) I knew that changes needed to be made, lists tested and reps accumulated so as not to embarrass myself in the main event. I am totally flying Dash & Jake in the day 2 event though, don’t you worry.

So having to start again is not something I looked forward to. I was chatting with one of the guys at the store, the ever insightful Dan Eggs, about what to do. With that points change on the horizon even drafting a list could be tricky with only a rough idea of what could change, up or down. He said that maybe the way to go was to practice archetype rather than a full list, maybe with a bit of a bid in case any part of the list increased significantly. He also suggested that since I had been doing so well with Dash & Jake that maybe a 2 ship list, one big one small, would benefit me.
With my list having been inspired by Jack Mooney’s System Open winning Han & Jake list from last year perhaps that was worth a look.
Jake is familiar and built almost the same as in my list. Han is perhaps a little less manoeuvrable than Dash but still wants to fly close to obstacles (but without flying over them like Dash wants to) and actually benefits from enemies at range 1 (with an extra red die, unlike Dash). The Mooney build (as I shall call it from here on in) has a lot more toys and tricks than I’m used to so reps will be important. There’s also a white boost to consider as well as passive mods (i.e. 2 force charges) and the rotate turret with perfect information without action thing (Luke gunner)

Here’s the list in full:

Han Solo
Trick Shot
Luke Skywalker
R2-D2 (Crew)
Kanan Jarrus
Engine Upgrade
Inertial Dampeners
Millennium Falcon

Jake Farrell
Outmanoeuvre
Lone Wolf

In principle it’s ridiculous, crazy, even stupid. A 150(ish) point ship has a very large target painted on it. It is the X-Wing equivalent of ‘all my eggs in one basket’. But I’ve been doing this already and having a second ship which is cheap, annoying and hard to ignore is what makes this an interesting combination.
It also helps when your ‘points fountain’ has some rather cool tricks, a reasonable amount of health and good reposition options.

With changes having been made to several components of the list back in June (i.e. removal of the Illicit upgrade slot and some upgrades going up in points) it was impossible to replicate the list exactly. I think that having inertial dampeners may have been that extra step too far that fried my brain anyway. With that in mind, Dan and I made some tweaks to the list and ended up with this:

Han Solo (82)
Trick Shot (4)
Luke Skywalker (26)
R2-D2 (Crew) (10)
Kanan Jarrus (12)
Engine Upgrade (7)
Stealth Device (4)
Millennium Falcon (6)

Ship total: 151 Half Points: 76 Threshold: 7

Jake Farrell (36)
Outmaneuver (6)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 2

Total: 194

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z42X133WW87W56W41W107W166W154Y50X126W116W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Essentially the same list but with Stealth Device replacing (the now unusable) Inertial Dampeners on Han and Crack Shot replacing Lone Wolf on Jake. I *could* have kept Lone Wolf in this list but dropping to Crack Shot gives enough of a bid (at 6 points) to maybe have the choice in moving Han last unless my opponent has bid pretty hard. I feel that anyone going higher than that wants it more than me and I’d probably have to drop an extra 6-8 points to challenge it and to be honest I’d rather have the extra toys. Plus the ridiculously pointed Luke gunner on Han is my safety net if I need it.

Pew pew, kid

So far I have put this on the table exactly once. Sure, I’ve tested it in Fly Casual a good few times and after some practice had more good results than bad (and when it’s bad it’s SO bad) but I wanted to see how it panned out in a proper game against a real person.

It was Wednesday the 18th of December. Cai and I were heading to game night for a little bit before going to the midnight showing of Rise of Skywalker (no spoilers but, in my opinion, it’s the best one of the new trilogy and the first one I’ve been to see twice in the cinema). There was a good turnout at game night but as we got there a little later than normal everyone was already paired up and playing so we just hung out and chatted a little until someone finished. With one eye on the clock (as I had to get Cai back home to try and get a little sleep before the movie) one of the games finished and I asked Mark if he wanted a game.

To this point I’d only known Mark through our Messenger chat group. We’d met in person for the first time tonight and I had no idea of his experience or flying style. He’s a really nice guy and had travelled from Swansea to play (as he knows one of our locals, Neil, from before they both started playing X-Wing).

Mark was running an imperial list with some interesting pieces. Duchess in a TIE Striker, Marek Steele in a TIE Advanced x1 and Rexler Brath in the ever-annoying TIE Defender (they just won’t die!!).

Here’s the full list:

“Duchess” (42)
Fifth Brother (9)
Hull Upgrade (5)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Maarek Stele (46)
Fire-Control System (2)
Afterburners (6)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 3

Rexler Brath (81)
Juke (7)
Fire-Control System (2)

Ship total: 90 Half Points: 45 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v8ZsZ200Z211XW82WW164Y174XW113WW105Y196X123W113WW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Now before I go any further, I need to apologise. Pictures were limited and (due to tiredness following the 3:30am bed time due to the film) details are spotty. I will do my best though. Ok, excuses made, off we go!

Now with all of Mark’s ships being initiative 5 (and mine being 4 and 6) the bid means nothing and my choice of 1st or 2nd player only has bearing on obstacle placement.

This is where I came up against my first new challenge. With Dash obstacles mean nothing. Well, that’s not quite true, I always bring debris so I can still shoot when on top of them and if my opponent bring rocks I try and place them a bit more out of the way. But now what? I want to keep Han close to rocks to activate his pilot ability but definitely don’t want to touch any and lose an action (or a health).

On somewhat of a whim I pick 2 debris and a smaller rock and aim to spread my share of them close-ish to each other but not too close. We end up with a loose cluster in the middle which I’m pretty fine with as long as I can keep my large base ship close but not too close. Ok, first hurdle jumped (though I’m yet to see how it pans out).

Now – how to set up?

I place Jake in the far left corner. Mark places all 3 of his ships just right of (my) centre. I put Han in the far right corner. There’s no huge reason for this other than I want to bide my time and see what Mark’s approach is like before I commit.

Yes, here is where the first picture normally sits. Sorry.

I turn both my ships in to the middle while Mark sends Duchess forwards and the other 2 as if to chase her. Interesting.

So, now what? Dialling in straight manoeuvres I decide to keep playing neutral until I get an opening.

Mark uses the Adaptive Ailerons to push Duchess forwards in the Systems phase. I move Jake forwards and boost to give him a free focus. Mark then banks to his right with Duchess but manages to land her on the rock by just mm’s. Harsh. The Advanced and Defender turn in towards the action but are still quite far back.

Han shuffles 2 forwards and tries for a lock on the stranded Striker and gets it. Bad news for Mark.

Spoiler alert! Don’t look at the red dice. I said don’t!

Han takes the shot, enhanced to 4 dice with Trick Shot. It’s super harsh. 3 hits and an eyeball. I turn the eyeball with a Force charge. Mark rolls his greens and blanks out. If it wasn’t for the Hull Upgrade she’d be toast.

I feel bad.

Just like that, the game is now balanced very heavily in my favour and Mark has a very long way to go to claw back some points.

Next turn and this time I push Jake forwards and straight boost to pass off a free focus to Han.

Mark turns to disengage with Duchess while Marek and Rexler come further in to the middle, more cautiously than Duchess had.

Han takes a 2 forwards and an evade, just in case the Advanced is in range.

It turns out not to be in range and so we go back to planning.

Now, I’m missing pics so at least 1, possibly 2 turns here so this section will be more highlights than batrep (JARGON ALERT!!)

Mark’s two undamaged ships and Jake all headed in towards the middle while Han turned to chase the fleeing Duchess.

With a little reposition trickery Jake came out relatively unscathed but also failed to do anything to either of the ships facing him down.

Han caught the Striker and popped it rather unceremoniously.

When we pick back up with pics the board looks like this:

I start to bring the Falcon back in and turn Jake around while Mark does the same with his forces. It seems that Marek is up for a joust but Relxer wants to try and flank.

After a little more jostling for position we finally get to shoot at each other. Except now I’ve got my forces split as I’ve focused Han on Marek but sent Jake out to give the Defender a little distraction.

Having some damage from a previous engagement (I hate it when I can’t remember when though!!) Marek takes a full volley from Han which I think included a crit. Mark’s green dice whiff (JARGON ALERT!!) AGAIN and Marek takes them all. The crit is a Direct Hit and the TIE Advanced is gone.

Harsh. Again.

With just the TIE Defender remaining Mark sends it down the flank around the rock while Jake tries to turn after it but can’t quite get it in arc. Han turns in and rotates turret to take a shot.

I can’t remember the range on this but whatever happened, I did 0 damage to the Defender. Rexler took a return shot and also missed.

With time running out I move Jake in for a full roll, focus to self, boost, focus to Han move which fits perfectly in front of Han.

Marek turns in towards Han while Han takes a 3 hard turn to make sure he clears Jake.

Shots are fired though I can’t exactly remember what happened I do recall that Jake ended the game on half points with both shields gone, Han was undamaged but so was the TIE Defender.

So, it’s a win for me. Yay! I do feel like the game was more lost by Mark’s green dice than it was won by my skill though. In a tournament that’s ok but on a casual night I feel like it’s harsh, particularly against someone I’ve only just met.

I also found out throughout he course of the game that Mark only started playing around 6 months ago. This gave me pause.

I read a very interesting blog on Reddit a few days ago about the phrase ‘Fly Casual’ and the attitude towards the game that players have. It was a really good read and it actually summed up my feelings, on this game in particular, about what my approach to the game should be. If you’ve got a few extra minutes then I really recommend you read it, especially if you’re part of a local gaming community.

Fly Casual: Balancing a Casual Attitude with a Competitive Mindset.

Ok, back to the game. Looking specifically at my list and what I did with it, I’m pretty happy. Flying Jake was fine, the only difference from how I’ve been using him over the last few months is that he’s missing Prockets (JARGON ALERT!!). He does lack reliable damage output with just 2 red dice but Outmanoeuvre helps when I can trigger it, as does Crack Shot. Anyway, he’s not there to be the main damage dealer.

I was comfortable flying the Falcon for the most part. The lack of a 1 hard turn compared to the YT-2400 is annoying at first (as is the 3 red dice instead of 4) but the other tricks you can do make up for it. Free rerolls with Han, rotate turret at start of engagement if needed, 2 Force charges, white boost action and (if you get a free focus from Jake or can rely on the Force for offensive dice mods) you can evade for an extra free reroll on defence (as rerolling with Han’s ability doesn’t count as a reroll) and all kinds of other nonsense. Add the R2-D2 ability and this ship is really hard to kill provided you don’t park it in a killbox (JARGON ALERT!!)

So yes, I like it. With some more reps I think it could be a very interesting option to take to Milton Keynes which (at time of..actually, forget it, it’s too confusing) is almost exactly a month away now. A short enough period that I can probably count out how many practice games I’m likely to get in. With a choice of ‘stick or twist’ in terms of list picking, I think I choose to stick. For now at least. Let’s see how this month goes!

Now I just need that points update to drop so I can see what needs tweaking. Ok FFG, bring it on!

Stick or Twist? Depends on what you’ve got!

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