Playing Catch up

The intro…

Wow.

I take a week off and LOADS of stuff happens. Typical.

INCORRECT IP ALERT!!

So where do I begin? Well, before taking a slightly impromptu camping trip last week I was planning to write about my first experience of playing Aces High a few weeks ago. I still want to write about that and it isn’t likely to be short so I’ll do the other bits first.

New Date

After posting two weeks ago about my prep for the store champs on the 8th of August some questions were asked and articles shared and it became apparent that the official FFG stace was that no organised play should be happening before the 1st of September due to the ongoing covid thing.

Watch out for the COVID!

The original date for the event had been April but once lockdown became a reality in the UK Firestorm quickly rearranged their events and set a new date (the 8th of August). It seems though that AFTER Firestorm had set a new date, FFG released the above information/instruction and, for whatever reason, this wasn’t picked up.

Once aware of this Firestorm got in touch with Asmodee and FFG and checked where they stood with regards to the date and were asked to reschedule and so the Newport store champs is now shifted to the 10th of October.

As much as it’s slightly disappointing that it’s pushed back again, I’m actually ok with this for a few reasons.

  • Firstly I don’t want Firestorm to have issues in future with holding official FFG events by holding this event against FFG guidelines (even though accidentally).
  • Secondly, the event TO (the honourable Mr Paul Westwood) and Firestorm have arranged for all ticket holders to have the table space for the day at no cost and will have some things organised so we will still get a full day of socially distanced pew pew.
  • Thirdly (and lastly), there are new points and new ships in Hyperspace and just 11 days between points change and original event date. This is not enough time (for me, anyway) to reassess my options, let alone get reps in with whatever I decide on.

Overall it’s the right choice even though it feels a bit bad. It also means that the Cardiff store champs now come first (the 12th of September barring any further update to guidelines from FFG or the government) so it’s still not all that long before getting some competitive play.

In the mean time I have a full day of plastic spaceship pushing with friends very close on the horizon and I REALLY can’t wait.

New points

So that third point leads nicely (ish) into my next point. Points change!

I won’t go in depth here because
A) I haven’t looked at all changes in detail
B) other people have already done so (see here for David Sutcliffe’s article).

But

Dash is down.

I repeat.

Dash

Is

Down

For reference, the (admittedly rather excessive) Dash build I was running from September to December last year used to cost 149 points.
That exact build currently comes in at 132. A 17 point drop. Crazy.

I’m certainly not going to complain about that! I do think we will be seeing rather a lot of the roguish Correllian (actually I suppose there’s quite a few of those…) Over the next few months as people try him out.

I predict a #Dashmeta.

I’ve had a couple of lists suggested to me already but the chassis is so versatile that I don’t know whether there will be one stand out build (initially at least). Not all builds have the title but with Dash & title coming in at sub 100 points for the first time since 2.0 I think there are lots of combinations to try with and without it. I can’t wait to try some out!

New Toys

Gen Con is one of the many cancelled events this year and is one that FFG often use as a platform to announce new releases. Being that it’s an American event I don’t normally pay attention to when it is and this year is no different. Imagine my surprise when I woke last week to rather a lot of posts in various Facebook groups with images of shiny new ships promised for later this year.

Again, I won’t go into detail because lots of places will do that. I’ll just say that Republic and CIS are getting a lot of love from FFG but my beloved Rebels are still without any new toys. Still, Cai is happy about the ETA2 and V-Wing (and already has an LAAT on preorder) and is looking forward to messing about with Hyperspace rings.

It also goes quite a way to allaying my fears (however small) of FFG being done with X-Wing or winding things down.
I feel that there are probably two distinct groups of people that have developed over these last few months of lockdown – those who are desperate to get back to the table and those who have lost interest and may not pick back up. Hopefully the new releases and points update will stir up some interest in those who have maybe not thought about X-Wing of late and keep them involved.

Right, I think that’s covered most of what I wanted to talk about so I’ll go back to what I originally had planned.

Aces Who?

The intro…

What is now a good few weeks ago, a week with no game (wait, did I use week too many times? Does the word week now look strange? Does it sound it too? Week. Week. Weeeeek. WEEEEEEEEK!) the week (dammit!) I had two. This also meant I had lots of ‘content’ (I use the term loosely!) so I split it into two posts because one game was a normal one which was a standard ‘batrep‘ (JARGON ALERT!!) type post. This one though? This one, if you haven’t already guessed from the title, is about Aces High.

What?

For those who aren’t aware (which is probably none of you but I’m still going to do this anyway), Aces High is an alternative format for X-Wing which was released as part of the Epic Battles expansion earlier this year. The basic premise is that up to 8 players take part, each with 1 ship trying to score points off other players in a standard 75 minute length game on a standard 3’x3′ board.

Why?

Because it’s fun, ok!!

How?

Ok, yes fine, I’ll stop with these now. They’re not making much sense anymore.

A few weeks back the rather awesome Mr. Chris Burnett (of Tin Squadron) asked if I was interested in playing a game of Aces High over TTS. At the time I wasn’t available to play but when Chris let me know that he was organising another session I decided I should give it a go, despite only having used TTS once before (against Chris actually!) and having NEVER played Aces High.

What could go wrong?!

In the lead up to the game I must have tried about 20 different ships and upgrade combinations, trying to work out what’s good/useful and what’s pointless. Regen (particularly at the expense of shooting)? Pointless. Lone Wolf? Very useful.

In the end, knowing that, this being my first go at the format, I’d be making mistakes and learning, I decided to go with something a little familiar – Ten Numb.

We were using an 80 point limit so I had a lot of points to play with since Ten Numb’s base cost is just 48. In the end I went with this:

Ten Numb (48)
Lone Wolf (5)
Fire-Control System (2)
Heavy Laser Cannon (5)
Jamming Beam (0)
Proton Torpedoes (13)
Shield Upgrade (4)
Stabilized S-Foils (2)

Ship total: 79 Half Points: 40 Threshold: 5

Total: 79

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z74X124W113W10W12W136W165W313&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

Yes, I filled every upgrade slot.

The S-foils allow me to link a roll into a red lock which, with Ten’s ability, means I have a potentially double modded shot. I can also use FCS and Lone Wolf to keep my lock meaning that I can possibly trigger a follow up cannon shot. Alternatively if I don’t have a torpedo shot but do have bullseye I can fire Jamming Beam, strip a token and then follow it up with HLC (JARGON ALERT!!).

Yes, some of it’s a bit niche but I figure that with lots of targets to fire at I should be able to do something to someone.

Decision made, the sultry Sullustan (no source for that, I just like the alliteration) is my guy. Time to load up TTS!

The batrep…? (JARGON ALERT!!)

Ok, here’s the thing. It’s now a good few weeks since the game was played and at the time I was so focused/enthralled by how things worked and what people were doing (as well as desperately trying to rmember how to work TTS) that I didn’t take many screenshots. In turn, this means I don’t have an accurate record of what happened throughout the game.

Also, keeping track of what 8 different players are doing on one board is just about impossible so this will be more of a summary of my actions and impressions rather than a normal report. Plus This post is already quite big before even starting!

So with all that in mind this is more a summary than a battle report. A few highlights and my thoughts on the game and the format.

When joining the game there were some familiar faces (or voices, rather). Obviously Chris was running the game and had invited me while Jonathan Hall and Ian Franklin were also in. I had played against Tony Cameron in the first Vagabond Open a few months ago and I *think* that Cai may have played against Cai at the System Open in February although I’m not 100% on that. Another name I recognised was Deathrain – Charles Berkhold, fellow blogger and someone I’ve never actually met.

The discord voice chat was quite busy with 8 people but just about manageable. For me, online games NEED voice chat. I’ve only played 1 game without it since learning and it definitely made a difference. With more than 1 other person in the game I think that Aces High would be almost impossible without it.

Obstacles were placed (6 of them) and we started to place ships in initiative order with bids being used for ships of the same initiative.

It’s worth mentioning here that we played using initiative as ‘normal’ (movement from low to high, shooting from high to low) but it’s also possible to play with rotating initiative. I’ve no idea how that works, I just thought it worth saying at this point!

With Ten being i4 (and that being the joint lowest initiative anyone was using) I was roughly the third ship to place. While others were deciding where to deploy I tried to look at what everyone else was running.

It was a bit tricky to check out everyone’s exact builds but for now just knowing what ships/pilots were out there would do.

Let me see, an IG-88, a ShadowCaster, Duchess, Vonreg, Luke, a Fireball, a TIE Punisher (flown by Deathrain but not, if you know what I mean?!) and my B-Wing.

Gentlemen! Start your engines!

Ok.

At this point I really had no idea what I should do. This is a far from normal game and I’ve just genuinely no idea who to go for. Nobody is immediately targeting me which is good. I decide to just 3 forwards to the middle and see what presents itself.

Immediately two distinct skirmishes looked to develop. One in the top left corner and the other in the bottom right. Being in between both I decided to head to the top left in my second turn. Duchess tried a range 3 pot shot at me but did no damage while other ships started to score ‘first blood’ points on each other.

I dialled in a 3 forwards to press on to the bigger pool of targets (and also to get away from Duchess in case they turned in) and did a barrel roll linked to lock, taking the lock on the Punisher.

Deathrain then kindly landed in my bullseye (albeit behind a rock), confirming the Punisher as my primary target. As a bonus, nobody had me in arc which was nice.

Shooting began and eventually it was my turn. The Punisher had already taken a damage (so I wasn’t going to get a point for ‘first blood’) but I thought ‘what the heck, I just want to shoot someone’.

I fired a Proton Torp, rolling 1 crit, 1 hit and 2 blanks. I rerolled one with FCS into a hit and the other with Lone Wolf, also into a hit. Turned one to a crit (Proton Torps ability). 2 crit, 2 hits.

Charles blanked out. Ouch. I can’t remember which crits they were but the Punisher was now down to 4 health.

Being that he was in my bullseye I then fired again (using the s-foils ability to fire a cannon) with HLC. 4 dice. I rolled 2 hits and 2 eyeballs then spent my stress for 4 hits.

Charles blanked out. Dead Punisher.

Wow.

Almost certainly the best shot/most damage I’ve managed from a single ship in a game for a while, possibly ever.

Charles wasn’t best pleased but I was over the moon. 2 points to me for killing a ship.

Ten Numb. What a freaking hero.

As the game progressed I had my health chipped away little by little before then getting a finishing shot onto Chris’ Luke to score another 2 points, taking me to 4 in total. Not bad. I also had 2 ‘bounty points’ (for my 2 kills). Anyone who managed to kill my B-Wing would not only get 2 points as normal but would collect my 2 bounty points, meaning my death was worth 4 points to whoever managed it.

As the timer wore on my health continued to drop and as we entered what would be the last turn my poor old B-Wing was on 1 health.

I suddenly had rather a large target on my back.

Vonreg shot at me but missed but my freshly acquired collection of red lock tokens became obsolete when Ian’s Shadowcaster finished me off from range 1, taking all 4 points and the overall victory with it.

The conlcusion…

Wow.

Aces High is fun. Yes, it’s a little chaotic with the full 8 players but it was just so. much. fun.

Laughing together at other people’s misfortune (not in a nasty way, of course!), collective groaning at improbably dice rolls and a mass sucking in of breath when this bullseye arc was checked.

As with any game (that I can think of right now at least), the best part of it is the people you are playing with/against. This format of the game is great to play because you have more people involved and, at least for now, doesn’t have a developed ‘meta‘ so you’re likely to be facing combinations of ships and upgrades that you wouldn’t normally see.

So if you’ve never played it and get the opportunity to do so, whether in person or online, I can’t urge you strongly enough to take it. You won’t regret it!

I personally can’t wait to try it out in person!

By the time next week’s post is due I’ll have played actual real games against real life people. A whole day of it, in fact (as long as everything goes ahead as planned!).

And I can’t wait.

This blog is supported by thegamingplace.co.uk
Links from cards mentioned in the post will take you to the relevant page to buy that card from their website. These links are sponsored.