A Game of Two Halves

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

There’s PLENTY to talk about this week so let’s get cracking!

Headline – AMG Shocks EVERYONE By Forward Planning

Yes! Given the spectacularly short notice of Worlds Qualifiers at Adepticon and the UK Games Expo and the rather, erm, unfortunate clashing of further Worlds Qualifiers in Italy and the Netherlands ON THE SAME WEEKEND, AMG have announced the date date the first World Championship since 2019 OVER 9 MONTHS BEFORE IT HAPPENS!

Crazy!

There are no more details than that right now and while I’m happy that it’s been announced in terms of allowing people time to plan and save, I do actually have two little gripes with it.

Sorry!

First is that that it’s at Adepticon. I’ve never been, of course (to Worlds OR Adepticon), but I kind of feel like it warrants being at it’s own event rather than piggy backing off a con. Maybe that’s just because that’s how it’s been historically but the World Championship is a pretty big deal for any game, right? Shouldn’t it get it’s own thing?

Second is that it’s at Adepticon. Same reason but the difference in this point is that attendance at an event with THOUSANDS of other attendees rather than hundreds means that costs (namely hotels) will be higher due to increased demand.

Is this a consequence of lower turn out than previous 2.0/pre-pandemic OP events? Maybe, who’s to say really other than AMG themselves. I get that this (running their events at established cons) seems to be how AMG want to navigate OP and it does make some logistical sense to run it at an existing event where there’s space and you can basically just turn up with your team and run it (apologies if I’m oversimplifying that!).

Personally, the cumulative costs of what I assume to be not particularly inexpensive hotels plus convention tickets plus event tickets plus travel plus eating out generally puts me off going to an event held this way (even within the UK) and I’m unlikely to do so any time soon.

Maybe this is just an interim plan until the established player base willing to go to events builds back up (following the 2.5/pandemic effect) and then stand alone events will become the norm again but, looking logically, I doubt it.

Having previously attended two of the larges X-Wing events ever held (UK System Opens in 2019 and 2020) I hope that something akin to those come back, whether they’re OP or community run. Heck, I’d even be up for helping organise one if enough other people with the knowledge and experience wanted to do it.

Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on the negatives too much, the fact that Worlds is back when it was entirely possible that OP was canned forever is definitely a very good thing for the future of the game!

Alright then, moving on to ANOTHER AMG announcement, we are getting a scenario pack!

I can’t remember which stream they mentioned it on but at some point AMG did say that they were working on themed packs which would contain pre-built pilot cards.

While I’m not sure whether or not I’d be interested enough to play what appears to be a Death Star trench run scenario at a tournament or anything, even the fact that it’s an option that’s being added is pretty cool. Even if it’s just an option of something a little different to do at casual night then it’s something that’s worth picking up.

It’s bound to be somebody’s cup of tea and more ways to play the game means it’s going to appeal to a wider group and perhaps attract new players.

Am I clutching at straws? Maybe. Any new release news is positive news though, no matter what it is!

Right, last thing before we get into it – we’re holding a tournament!

Yes, on the 30th of July Exile Squadron will be holding another event at Firestorm Games in Newport.

We have another prize kit from Louis Leong full of beautiful shiny things as well as plenty of participation prizes, spot prizes and there may well be another trophy on the line!

Disclaimer: the trophy might be a different ship this time!

What, that’s not enough for you? Ok, fine, how about we get the event streamed by the amazing guys from Firecast Focus?

firecast

You can get tickets from here and keep with news updates by following the Facebook event here. It’s going to be a great day!

Right, I think that’s enough for now, let’s move on…

XTC Update…

Yes! XTC Update is here again and this week there’s WAY more new AND it’s bigger news!

First of all the team and list rosters have been submitted and so I can now reveal the team representing Wales this year!

It’s been really great to get this group together and be able to spend some time getting to know people and building relationships. Will we be any good? Who knows?! Does it matter? What matters is that we’re here to represent Wales and do our best, whatever that looks like.

Secondly, you may have noticed in the picture that we have a logo! Thanks to Martyn Gruffydd of Vector Squadron Creative for sorting that out for us! Chances are you’ll see it being bandied about in my blogs over the next couple of months!

Lastly, the groups for qualification have been drawn! You can see all the groups here but of course what I’m interested in is our group which is:

So that’s us in group A along with Spain, Czech Republic, South Africa and Malaysia. Since the groups all have 5 teams, each team will get a week off during the group stage and ironically, our week off is week 1! That does mean that we are going to look like we’re lagging behind since we will have 1 result less on the board initially (though I’m ok with being the underdog!). Still, on the plus side it gives me a little extra time to prepare so I maybe know what I’m doing a little bit more before we start!

The first round kicks off on the week starting the 27th (which is next Monday at time of publishing) so I won’t have any of our XTC Games to cover for a couple of blogs yet but I’m sure there will be plenty of news.

Check back here next week to find out what’s been going on!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

As a result of nothing more than not making any decision on what list to pack ahead of time, I ended up running the same list as last week, the Rebel Alpha list that Bartosz Wójcicki took to the final table of the UK Games Expo.

Wedge Antilles (6)
Predator (2)
Elusive (2)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
R4 Astromech (2)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (18/18) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

Luke Skywalker (6)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
Afterburners (10)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (22/22) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

Fenn Rau (Sheathipede) (4)
The Child (7)
R4 Astromech (2)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (9/9) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Kullbee Sperado (4)
Notorious (2)
R4 Astromech (2)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (7/7) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z5X127W119W136W5WW142Y4XWW136WW105W142Y69XW453W5WWY12X455WW5W92W142&sn=Bartosz&obs=

It’s reasonably straightforward in what it’s trying to do and I know (and like!) the ships in it.

I turned up at casual night at Firestorm and with a couple of games already set up and in progress, I got set up to play against Alex Jensterle.

What delightful list was Alex rocking this evening? Rather unsurprisingly (for Alex!), it was Jedi!

“Hound” (5)
Yoda (12)
Agile Gunner (3)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (8)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (23/23) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 5

Mace Windu (4)
Heightened Perception (3)
R4-P17 (4)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (7/7) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Obi-Wan Kenobi (5)
Predator (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)
Shield Upgrade (8)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (10/10) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Anakin Skywalker (6)
Predator (2)
R2-D2 (Republic) (8)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (10/10) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v9ZhZ20Z413XWWW322WW76W227WY314X72WW214WW200Y278XWW127WW200WW165Y273XWW127W340WW200&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

That’s a lot of bullseye arcs to dodge along with rerolls and coordinating. How about some Pre-Flight checks before we get stared:
Scenario – Assault at the Satellite Array
Target/Objective Priority – Ideally I’d like to get Anakin burned down. Whether Alex gives me the opportunity to do that though is a different matter.
Obstacles – If I can be annoying with obstacles, forcing opposing ships around them if they want to claim an objective then that’s what I’m going for.
Deployment – I’d normally deploy fairly close but with Anakin to take out (and pin down, more to the point), I might spread out a bit to widen my net.

We roll for ROAD and, crucially, I’m second player. That means that Fenn and Wedge go down after Anakin.

We place objectives, obstacles and ships and are ready to get started.

I’ve got Kullbee and Luke on the outside of the rock with Wedge and Fenn inside of it with the intention of turning into the middle if Anakin looks like he’s going to come in. I can’t blame Alex for placing Anakin as far as he could away from my X-Wings and while I was tempted to put Wedge and Fenn directly opposite, the Aethersprite is squirrely and could easily run away, leaving Luke and Kullbee cut off.

It also means I can threaten the bottom left (ok, middle/side left) and central objectives come turn 2.

Turn 1

ROAD 1st Player – Alex

Alex turns Mace and Hound away from my forces (not entirely surprising) but turns at them with Obi (although from further away). Interesting. Anakin takes a 5 straight and boosts in. Clearly Alex is ignoring that objective then.

My ships all go straight but with Luke boosting in (which I’ll come back to in a minute) and Wedge rolling left. This gives me a nice wide net should anything stray too close next turn.

No shots, no objective points to score and so we go back to dials.

End of turn score: 0 (me) – 0 (Alex)

Turn 2

Now, that boost I mentioned. It wasn’t a good idea. I mean, it does give me the flexibility to go straight or turn lots of places BUT I want to 2 bank with Kullbee and it now looks like a 1 straight from Luke will bump him. How can that be though? I placed them far apart enough at setup, I know I did! Had I left Luke where he was, a 2 bank from Kullbee and 3 bank from Luke would have done nicely. Still, I’m convinced a 1 straight from Luke will be fine.

I set Wedge a 2 bank right and Fenn a 2 straight.

ROAD 1st player – Me

Balls.- That is not what I wanted.

That means that Wedge will move before Anakin and still be out of range for a lock. Not ideal.

Hound banks in slowly around the rock before Kullbee takes his 2 bank and focuses. Mace then takes a hard turn in the corner, rolls and boosts.

Now it’s Luke and (after a little debating) DOES bump Kullbee. Poop. We think that between the board having a little more give in it than usual (long story) and Luke having see-sawed over the obstacle on 2 moves, the angles aren’t what they should have been and he has bumped. Sad. Times. No damage though so that’s not too bad.

Obi-wan then pulls a 5 straight, boosts with Fine Tuned and takes a focus, sitting in Luke’s flank.

Man, that ROAD roll is really screwing me here.

Wedge banks and, with no ship in range, takes a focus before Fenn takes his 2 straight.

I decide that I can’t let Obi have an unanswered shot into Luke so I coordinate a barrell roll, giving Luke a juicy range 1 at Obi.

Anakin comes in tot he middle but, desperately wanting to avoid a shot from Wedge, rolls and boosts away. He denies himself a shot but he’s now able to flank pretty hard next turn.

Time for some shots! Wedge just falls short of range on Hound so the first shot is Luke at Obi. It’s 3 paint which become 3 hits after mods but Alex rolls all paint and Obi takes nothing.

Obi shoots back (and doesn’t have bullseye) and nicks a shield from Luke. Typical.

Kullbee takes a long range shot at hound but with Hound having reinforced, just takes 1 shield.

Mace’s 2 dice at reange 3 do nothing to Luke and Hound can’t do anything to Kullbee so we’re all done for the turn. We’ve both got 1 objective in range each with Anakin having taken himself out of range with his repositions. Still better than getting shot though probably!

End of Turn Score: 1 – 1

Turn 3

Interesting. ROAD order (and my self bump I guess) helped Alex avoid taking locks last turn. This turn we’re all likely to be a bit close for torps. Not ideal.

Looks like I’ll have to settle for some good old fashioned range 1 scrum shots then.

I set Kullbee a 3 straight, Luke a 1 straight, Fenn a 3 straight and Wedge….. hmmmmm. I decide to risk it and go for a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!).

ROAD 1st Player – Alex

Alex REALLY wanted 2nd player last time (and got it), this time it isn’t so vital. Or is it…?

He starts by send Hound a HUGE 3 bank into the middle. Interesting. He takes a reinforce again.

This time Mace moves before Kullbee and comes in fast with a 4 straight and boosts left. Kullbee goes 3 straight and then rolls left rather than focus so that he can hit the LAAT without the reinforce coming in to play.

Obi-Wan banks over the top of Mace- and while Alex doesn’t especially like his final position he stays put and takes a focus.

Luke takes his 1 straight and bumps Mace (which Alex had not expected). I opt not to take the stress focus.

Anakin hard turns in and while I’d thought that Fenn might have blocked the boost, he doesn’t and Anakin banks in and takes a focus.

I move Fenn his 3 straight (fast, to get away from Anakin) and coordinate a focus to Wedge who himself takes the 4-K with a focus in hand.

Balls. Wedge has missed arc on the LAAT. With hindsight, I should have given Wedge a lock onto Anakin to get some torps fired.

Anakin pumps 2 hits into Fenn from close range. Wedge then fires at Anakin and while my dice aren’t terrible, Alex’s are better and he rolls enough natural evades to dodge it.

Fenn rolls dice into Hound and does 1 damage before Obi shoots into the Sheathipede and sticks him with a Stunned Pilot crit.

Luke AND Kullbee fire into the LAAT but it simply refuses to take any more than 1 hit per shot.

In response Mace rolls at Fenn but misses while Hound rolls at Luke and doesn’t, taking a shield.

The ship positions have Wedge and Fenn nullifying Hound’s claim while Luke is outnumbered by Jedi and Kullbee has snuck into range 1 in the corner

End of Turn Score: 1 – 1
Total Score: 2 – 2

Turn 4

Things are looking rather cluttered in the middle of the board here. Kullbee is easy, he’s taking a 4-K and using Contraband for a mod. Luke is easy-ish – he’ll just 2 hard turn in.

Wedge and Fenn are the tricky ones. I set Fenn a 3 straight to try and clear past the LAAT while Wedge will 1 bank right, clearing his stress and hopefully face punching something really, really hard.

ROAD 1st player – Me

Does ROAD matter this turn? Kinda. If Anakin could just bump intot eh back of Fenn that would have been handy but alas, it isn’t to be.

Alex open by moving Hound….nowhere. He stops. Balls. I had NOT accounted for that. Fenn’s 3 straight won’t clear any more.

He took a disarm token in the systems phase to recharge Seventh Fleet Gunner so isn’t a danger per-se but he’s really in the way.

Kullbee’s 4_K lands nicely and he takes a focus (having spend Contraband) before Mace banks left (uh-oh) and rolls even more left (phew!). Having vacated where I was sending Luke, the T-65 2 hard turns but since Hound didn’t move, can’t fire at him. He locks Anakin instead.

Obi unexpectedly hard turns to his left and then boosts RIGHT into Wedge’s face and takes an evade. Yeesh.

Now Fenn moves and bumps but instead of bumping Hound as expected, he bumps Ani. Hmmmm. He takes a stress focus because why not!

Wedge now takes his 1 bank and bumps into Obi-Wan and takes the red focus.

What a mess!

Right, engage ‘kill Anakin mode’.

I roll with Wedge, range 1 with a focus and roll 2 hits. Hmm…. Anakin rolls his 2 dice and gets natural evades. Ok then.

I debate rolling into him with Fenn at range 0 but decide against and put 2 damage into Hound instead.

Anakin fires range 1 at Wedge, gets 3 paint and converts them all. Wedge rolls blank, eyeball. I spend the focus to take 2.

Luke’s turn. He rolls 4 dice at Anakin with a lock and Force and comes up with 3 hits and a crit. Nice! Anakin rolls 2 natural evades to lose his shield and take a…. Stunned Pilot. Rubbish.

Obi fires point blank at Wedge and rolls hit, crit. Wedge blanks out, leaving him on 1 hull. Oh dear.

Kullbee then takes his range 1 focused shot into the back of Hound and really hammer home some damage but falls short of wiping him out by one hit. Poop.

That’s pretty not great. Want to know what’s worse though? It’s Mace taking a range 1 shot into Wedge and wiping him out as my greens blank out again.

Double. Poop.

Luke sneaks a claim on the bottom left objective while Alex puts a huge claim on the central one but Wedge dying gives Alex a huge swing in points.

End of Turn Score: 1 – 7

Total Score: 3 – 9

Turn 5

Wow. This isn’t lost just yet though. Hound is almost dead and Anakin is halved. Maybe I can still do something here.

I set Fenn a 2 hard left which will clear the stress (thanks to R4 Astromech). Kullbee will 1 bank to clear stress and will be moving after Hound who can’t stop again as he’s stressed.

The question is – what do I do with Luke?

I eye up the 4-K and set it but and second (and third. And maybe fourth) look reveals that there’s a VERY real chance that I don’t clear Anakin (who will move after Luke) and that even if I do, he’ll land on the rock and won’t be able to shoot. Turning to his left is risky as it’s so congested and not likely to land me anything useful (or so I thought at the time). Resigned to defeat, I set him a Talon Roll (JARGON ALERT!!) to the right, meaning he will at the very least claim the objective.

ROAD 1st Player – Me

Ok, just as well I didn’t shove Luke into the mix as Obi will still definitely be in the way.

Alex shuffles Hound 1 forwards and uses Aayla to (I think) do a purple coordinate which gives a lock to Mace on Fenn.

Kullbee goes next, taking his 1 bank and focusing before Mace does a 5-K over the top of Hound.

I move Luke his Talon Roll and, well just sit there. There is actually something that I could have done which I thought of IN THE CAR ON THE WAY HOME DAMMIT but I#ll get back to that.

Obi also takes a K-turn before it’s time for Fenn to move.

I reveal the 2 hard turn and Alex’s eyes go wide. He hadn’t expected that. He 2 turns and coordinates a lock to Kullbee which he takes on Anakin.

Anakin reveals – a 2 bank and bumps into the back of Fenn.

No. Action.

I’ve left myself a LOT to do here but can I pull it off?

Fenn fires first, rolling 3 dice at the LAAT and wipes it out. 5 points in the bag, no Fire Convergence rerolls and no Seventh Fleet Gunner. Nice.

Anakin shoots next, the only target he has is Fenn and can’t mod at range 0. He shoots, he misses. Fenn lives.

Oh wow. Could I…. could I do this?!

Luke has no shot so Obi is up next and goes to shoot at Fenn. He’s in range but it’s 2 dice at range 3 and Fenn takes no damage.

Tension. Is. Building.

Now it’s the key shot. Kullbee rolls his 4 range 1 dice at Anakin. Anakin is on 2 health and only the Force to mod with.

I roll 2 hits and 2 crits out of hand!
YESSS
Alex rolls his 3 greens.

3 NATURAL FREAKING EVADES!!!

The one that gets through is a crit though, if it’s Direct then Anakin is dead.

It isn’t. He lives.

So close!

All that’s left if for Mace to take his shot which, unfortunately, he has bullseye for and Fenn’s greens blank out to give Alex another 4 points.

At this point we realise that we didn’t set a timer but we’ve played longer than most other games going on around us so we call it there.

Luke has claimed his objective but Kullbee doesn’t have the top left while Alex comfortably claims the middle.

End of Turn Score: 6 – 5

End Result: 9 – 14 loss

On the drive home, afterburners after the talon with Luke? Shot on ani to win?

The conclusion…

A loss. Boooooo.

Still, there are very definitely things I can take from this.

First, let’s revisit my homeward bound revelation.

Luke Skywalker has freaking Afterburners. I could have boosted after that 3 Talon in the last turn despite being stressed.

Having looked at the photos afterward though I did realise that I was probably still not quite back enough to have got him in arc. And I couldn’t have been any further back because I had to position where I did just to avoid the debris.

Please excuse the crude art skills

Thinking on it more as I’ve batrepped here though, had I turned in the other direction (even with a failed Talon), Luke would have been facing Hound and could have taken that finishing shot, leaving Fenn to take a range 0 shot on Anakin and maybe do that extra damage.

Or maybe not. There’s really quite a lot of luck required in this game sometimes.

Like the blog title states, this was very much a game of two halves. My deployment and initial approach were pretty poorly thought out. Conversely Alex’s first few turns were very well planned, drawing me in for the first engagement before turning and flanking with Obi and Mace and distracting me from focused fire on Hound or Ani.

Alex’s range control combined with being second player on precisely the right turn meant that I didn’t manage to take a lock with any ship until turn 4 and failed to launch even a single proton Torp the whole game. Bravo!

Alex’s choice to reinforce with Hound meant that he survived at least 1 (probably 2) turns more than he should.

Later in the game though, Alex’s misplays with Obi (landing nowhere really useful in turn 3) and Ani (taking a 2 bank instead of a 1 bank in the last turn) meant that I got the chance to drag myself back into the game and give myself a shot at the win. I just fell one damage short.

To be fair though, rolling a good amount of natural hits, crits and evades certainly helped! Had Anakin rolled anything except 3 paint on that last attack he dies and I win 15-14. Even then, the crit could have been a Direct and still killed him but alas it was not to be.

Plenty of learning opportunities for me here, mainly around approach and range control. I felt that my deployment was ok, giving me an even approach and options for targets but when it came to it, my ships were a little bit too spread out to focus fire effectively. When I did focus fire, it was at a reinforced LAAT which soaked up shot after shot from my ships. Alex may have never used the fire convergence ability nor the purple coordinate from Yoda but still felt that Hound was his MVP as he drew fire without dying and clogged up board space in the right place.

It was a very enjoyable game and tense right down to the very last dice roll. Thanks for the game Alex, I really enjoyed it!

That’s it from me for this week. I’ve got a fair amount of planning and homework to get done for XTC over the next few weeks but don’t worry, I’ll still be blogging!

Catch you next time!

The outro…

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