A Rough Ride

The announcements…

Yep, it’s here again!

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Here’s a peek at what’s coming.

PLUS there might be a special treat thrown in.

Don’t forget there’s another giveaway too though I’m not quite ready to show you what that is yet!

You can sign up here if you’d like to support me in my blog writing (and get some shiny things!) but, same as always, don’t feel at all pressured to do so! I’ll love you just the same!

Alright, that’s enough shameless self promotion for now, let’s get on with it.

The intro…

Hello! Welcome to this week’s blog!

Before I get into the ‘meat’ of this post there are a couple of things I want to talk about.

Firstly – there are tournaments to promote!

Yes, Firestorm Games have events coming up in both Cardiff AND Newport stores!

The Newport tournament (which I’m helping to organise!) will be on Saturday the 28th of May. We will have one of Louis Leong’s AMAZING OP prize kits and will be supplementing it with some of our own Exile Squadron themed swag AND there will be store credit on the line!

If you’re local enough to be thinking about it I would LOVE to see you there! Tickets are available from here and the Facebook event for this one is here. Info about rules and prizes will be posted on the FB event so make sure to keep an eye on that!

The Firestorm Cardiff event is on Saturday the 30th of April with tickets available here and the associated Facebook event here.

Apparently some other minor event was announced over the last week or so as well, something at the UK Games something or other?

I kid, of course!

Seriously though it is REALLY exciting to have an official OP event coming up in the UK. Will I be going?

No, I won’t.

There are several reasons, none of which I’m particularly happy about because actually, I really would like to go. Firstly, it’s at the UK Games Expo. While not a bad thing in and of itself, I’d be looking to pay for a 3 day ticket (£45ish?), a tournament ticket (£18) and then 3 nights of hotels (since it’s almost 2 hours drive away across several days) plus meals out and so on. So, it isn’t cheap. Plus I’ve already been away for X-Wing relatively recently at the Sith Taker Open.

Secondly, it’s on a Bank Holiday weekend during half term. Great for some but for me it’s an opportunity for family time, not hobby time.

Thirdly, and this might be the biggest gripe I have, it’s really not all that much notice. From announcement to event is almost exactly 2 months and for me personally, that’s not enough time to plan around (especially when you include putting aside money to pay for it).

I know that there are many reasons that it’s been done now and not earlier, I get it. But for me and my circumstances it just doesn’t work this year.

I’m ambitiously optimistic that maybe another UK event will happen this year and maybe that will work but I’m not putting money on it. Perhaps 2023 will be my year for it!

I will, of course, be keeping a close eye on what happens at the event though!

Lastly before I move on to the main topic for this week, I want to give a mention to the tournament held at Board in Brum this past weekend. A few of our local guys went (Mark Beor, Mark Hall and Josh Hall) and had a great time.

Well done to Liam Baker for going 4 – 0 and winning the event (the event he organised…..suspicious much? 😜) and to Jordan Bishop (from the Tales of a Space Junkie blog) for going 3 – 1 with his only loss being to Liam.

https://tabletop.to/board-in-brum-xwing-april-2022

When congratulating yourself takes a whole new meaning

It’s awesome to see more and more events popping up. It’s worth checking out the 186th Tournament Tracker to see what’s going on around you!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Alrighty then, let’s get to the main event. I played an in person game! Woop!

I’m still flying the list I’ve been using the last few weeks. It’s versatile, it’s resilient, it’s, well, it’s pretty good and I like it.

Gina Moonsong (4)
Elusive (2)
Trajectory Simulator (6)
Jamming Beam (0)
Seismic Charges (3)
Stabilized S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (11/11) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Netrem Pollard (4)
Hopeful (1)
Trajectory Simulator (6)
Jamming Beam (0)
Ion Bombs (4)
Stabilized S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (11/11) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Derek Klivian (2)
Vectored Cannons (RZ-1) (0)

Ship Cost: 2 Loadout: (0/0) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 2

Lieutenant Blount (2)
Ship Cost: 2 Loadout: (0/0) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 2

Magva Yarro (5)
Hopeful (1)
Sabine Wren (3)
Leia Organa (7)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (14/14) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Shara Bey (A-Wing) (3)
Crack Shot (3)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (4)
Vectored Cannons (RZ-1) (0)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (7/7) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 2

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z391X119W114W12WWW71WW313Y464X378W114W12WWW317WW313Y461X371Y55XY34X378WW57W46W92WW140Y462X116W332W371&sn=First%202.5&obs=

Our local scene on a Wednesday evening has been relatively quiet since 2.5 dropped but we’ve been getting reasonably regular numbers as we all adjust to the new rules and scenarios.

One player who’s been down a little less than some others is Luke Weston. Luke’s been playing X-Wing for a long while, a veteran of 1.0 and 2.0 and a very good player.

He’s been a little unsure of 2.5 since it released but has been more than willing to give it a go. So, what had he brought with him today?

Alpha Squadron Pilot (3)
Enduring (2)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (2/2) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

“Night Beast” (2)
Ship Cost: 2 Loadout: (0/0) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

“Pure Sabacc” (4)
Lone Wolf (5)
Shield Upgrade (6)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (11/11) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Major Vermeil (5)
Composure (1)
ISB Slicer (1)
Shield Upgrade (6)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (8/8) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Soontir Fel (6)
Crack Shot (3)
Targeting Computer (3)
Shield Upgrade (6)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (12/12) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v9ZhZ20Z182X456WWY226XY210X124WWW165WY183X115WW38W165Y179X116WW249W165W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

It’s interesting. It’s got fast ships, a tanky ship and ones that can really put the hurt on.

Let’s do a little Pre-Flight checking shall we:
Scenario – Salvage Mission
Target/Objective Priority – First priority will be to prevent Luke stealing too many boxes. After that I need to hunt down points.
Obstacles – Luke has brought big rocks so there’s an element of blocking off objectives/making unfavourable lanes while also clustering to give me options for those Traj Sim Seismics.
Deployment – The norm for 2.5 is to be quite widely spread but I have to see which objectives are favourable/unfavourable and maybe let some go to be able to cluster my ships for focused fire.

I’m first player for set up so we place objectives, obstacles and ships and are ready to get started

With Night Beast picking up the top right box I’m fairly safe to claim the other right hand box with my A-Wings plus the one next to me with Blount. That’ll do for now objective wise while I position my B-Wings for Traj Sim nonsense up the middle.

Turn 1

ROAD 1st Player – Me

I systems phase boost with both A-Wings before they streak forwards. Hobbie takes a focus while Shara picks up the box. Meanwhile Blount has picked up my closest box while Magva, Netrem and Gina have all gone straight.

Luke picks up boxes with Night Beast and the i1 Interceptor while Sabacc and Vermeil streak forwards to set up a flanking position. Soontir double repositions in the middle to threaten the middle objective next turn.

The only shot is from Hobbie on Night Beast. He takes it and, despite being range 3 with a focus, crucially a crit goes through and Night Best drops his box, it’s a Loose Stabiliser too so no turning for him. Harsh AND unlikely. I place the box behind him.

Other than that, we’re all done for this turn.

End of turn score: 2 (me) – 1 (Luke)

Turn 2

A decent start and rather important box drop since it not only prevents Luke from scoring an additional point in that round but from the next round too AND lets me swoop in to pick it up which is exactly what I’m planning to do.

I’ll Traj Sim a Seismic with Gina but not with Netrem, I’m not expecting Luke to come in hot. He will turn towards my other ships to threaten the bomb out the back next time. Gina will go 1 straight while Magva will bank in. If anyone comes for the middle objective, they’re getting shot. Blount will sneak quietly out of the way. Hopefully for a while!

ROAD 1st Player – Luke

Luke catches me off guard with some bold moves down my left with Vermeil and the Aplha Interceptor while Sabacc chases down B-Wings.

I’ve messed up my distance judging meaning that Magva’s bank causes Gina to bump her. No damage (thankfully!). Netrem’s hard turn plans change quickly with that Alpha in his rear so takes a focus and roll and rotates with his ability.

Hobbie launches forwards and picks up the dropped box while Shara goes slower and turns in behind.

Luke has gone straight with Night Beast (obviously, with the Loose Stabiliser crit) and picked up the central objective rather than rollout of the bomb so as not to block Soontir who is going A-Wing hunting. He stops short of a boost with the threat of the Seismic charge hitting him.

Before we start shooting I have to make a decision – which rock do I blow up? I can do the one by Night Beast, maybe get Soontir and about 70% sure I’ll hit Magva.

OR

Blow up the the one by Sabacc, definitely hitting Magva and Gina.

I debate it for a minute before deciding that I might be able to stop Sabacc rolling 5 dice by taking her shield upgrade out.

To satisfy my curiosity we then measure around the other rock. I’d have hit Night Beast for sure. Also Magva AND Shara (which I hadn’t expected) and MISSED Soontir. Given that I’d have done 2 damage to my own ships either way, I’m happy with the choice. I mean, at least as happy as I can be doing more damage to myself than the enemy.

Soontir has Hobbie in arc and, armed with a free focus hits him at range 3 and Crask Shot’s an evade to halve him. No crit though so the box doesn’t drop.

Sadly Gina doesn’t have Sabacc in arc. She takes a shot at Night Beast and gets another damage on him though. He lives on 1 hull.

Luke debates his target with Sabacc since Gina is range 2 and Magva is range 1. He goes for Magva with a big 5 dicer but the attack whiffs (JARGON ALERT!!) and Magva takes just a single damage. Harsh.

He follows with the same same shot from Vermeil but again the dice are underwhelming and Magva gets away with it.

Shara tries a shot at Night Beast to finish him off but can’t get that last hit on.

Now it’s the i3’s with Magva getting 2 damage in on Sabacc to deprive the extra dice while Netrem takes shields from Vermeil.

The dice are certainly favouring me here.

As if to underline that, Night Beast and the Alpha are unable to do anything significant and the turn is over.

End of turn score: 3 – 2

Total score: 5 – 3

Turn 3

Right, time to cause some havoc. Gina throws out her last Seismic while Hobbie boosts in the systems phase and Shara rotates her turret.

Also, I activate Leia.

Magva will stop, Blount will 3 hard, Shara will go straight, Hobbie 2 bank and Gina will take a (now white) 3 bank to the right. Netrem will go 3 straight to avoid the straight up joust with the Alpha.

ROAD 1st Player – Luke

Right then, here we go.

Luke’s Alpha Interceptor comes in at Netrem with a 2 straight while Night Beast takes a 3 straight, gets his free focus and takes an evade. Fair.

Magva’s stop is now white (from Leia) and she takes a focus, leaving her wings open since there’s no need to rotate. Hobbie’s 2 bank clears the stress from the systems phase boost and he takes a focus.

Now Luke moves his i4’s with Vermeil turning in to the middle while Sabacc hammers forwards, chasing Blount.

Blount’s 3 hard goes further than Luke anticipated and it looks like he’s dodged her arc. He focuses.

Shara goes 3 straight and takes a focus before Gina takes the long, raking 3 bank. It is at this point I question the wisdom of the Seismic. Gina can’t roll away from it so she’ll just have to take it on the chin. She focuses.

Luke comes forwards with Soontir but he’s now caught in a bad place. He’s in 3 arcs and needs to reposition to get away from the Seismic. The best he can do is to get distance from Gina and Blount with a focus while settling in behind Shara.

Gina takes her range 3 obstructed shot at Soontir and rolls all paint, spending her focus.

Luke rolls 5 dice and gets 2 paint. He spends the focus and loses the shield upgrade.

It’s Luke’s i4’s are up next but, crucially, Sabacc has missed Blount. Just. Vermeil lays into Gina but she just keeps on living, taken down to 2 hull now.

My 4’s go next with Shara taking her range 1 3 dice shot out of the back at Soontir and again rolls all paint. Soontir’s greens are bang average and he’s down to 1 hull left.

Up steps Blount, rolling 3 dice from range 3 with his ability and he also rolls all paint.

Luke’s greens fail AGAIN and Soontir is dead.

Wow.

At this point Luke concedes. He isn’t having fun and losing his big hitter puts me way ahead with less ships and not enough guns to pull it back.

End of turn score: 9 – 2

Total score (and end result): 14 – 5

The conclusion…

First off, it’s a win. Yay.

It feels pretty hollow though if I’m honest.

Swingy dice in the right/wrong places (depending on your point of view!) meant that the game was effectively over even before the end of turn 3. I’ve said before that a 5 turn game isn’t enough X-Wing for me. At 3 turns it’s barely worth the setup time. Yes, technically it wasn’t over but even if I lost Gina the following turn (which was pretty likely), Night Beast, Vermeil and Sabacc were all damaged to an extent and one more turn of objectives plus any ship except Night Beast gets me the win by the end of turn 4. I totally get why Luke opted out at that point.

Luke is a good player, that is a fact. So looking at the other possible factors for why things went this way lead me to look at 3 different things:

  1. Dice. Yes, the age old nemesis of many a player. We can’t control dice though so let’s just move on quickly…
  2. Strategy. Like me, Luke is working on how best to approach 2.5. This was his first go at Salvage Mission whereas I’m about 4 games in with it now, in fact I’ve got more reps with this scenario than any other at this point in time. I’m not saying I got it perfect here but it’s probably fair to say I got it at least a little more right than Luke did on this occasion.
  3. List. Ok, this is the one that I think really swung it. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Since totally smashing and rebuilding the entire way that lists are conceived and constructed AND SIMULTANEOUSLY redefining exactly what a list needs to accomplish in a game to be successful, I think that taking a 2.0 list building mindset into 2.5 will bring only sadness.

Using this game as an example, well, I mean, I hit myself with my own bombs. Multiple ships. Twice. And STILL I would have come out of turn 3 considerably ahead had we carried on. In 2.0 I’d probably have lost and deservedly so.

I believe that there is a very VERY strong argument for stating that, at the current time, if you’re not doing X and Y with your list, you’re quite simply doing it wrong (if your goal is to win games. For purely casual games, play what you like!).

Of course time, experience and experimentation will mean that exactly what X and Y are will change over the coming months as strategies and tactics emerge for each scenario, what strategies are achievable with common ships and how that can be applied to each faction.

At the moment, to sum it up very broadly, I think that passive mods are good (namely the Force), hard to kill ships are good (whether by high agility & mods or high health) and fast ships are good. There’s certainly more to it than that but broadly speaking, those are good places to start.

I also think that the rush to engage means that there’s potentially less opportunity to get good value from certain things (like bombs and ordnance), meaning that if you don’t get your initial approach right, it’s just wasted points.

Looking at Luke’s list I think he got value from most of it (Shield upgrades plus both Targeting Computer and Crack Shot on Soontir) but a good few didn’t trigger. I just think that some pilots and upgrades are not good enough value when compared to others at the same price point (or at a marginally higher/lower price). The loss of granularity means that some things are just better than others and, without making some other thing totally overpowered, there’s nothing that can be done about it.

For example, what’s better: the Soontir Luke used above? or this:

Wedge Antilles (6)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
“Chopper” (Astromech) (2)
Afterburners (6)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (20/20) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

Total: 6

In a 2.0 situation it’s probably a toss up between the two based on player preference, experience and play style. In 2.5 though, where the first engagement is early and the turn number low, it’s GOT to be Wedge, right? If there’s something in the squad to enable him to get an extra token you’re looking at at least two, maybe even three (via Chopper) double modded Proton Torps coupled with Wedge’s ability for opportunities to wreck something quickly. The time (in terms of turns) needed to thread a delicate Soontir into a position to devastate an opponent a la 2.0 just isn’t there any more.

Maybe not this time eh Baron?

And when you consider that Wedge isn’t even considered particularly strong at the moment…? Well, let’s just say that the gap between good and not good just feels pretty big right now.

It can’t be that far from one side to the other, right?

Of course I’m no analyst and a few months down the road people may quote this post and laugh at my ignorance and stupidity. And that’s fine. Like I said, I’m certainly no expert here. But I can see why in these early days some people aren’t fans of what 2.5 is. I’m sure that some carefully crafted, cleverly nuanced strategies will emerge as we all get more experienced at what is, essentially, a new game with old pieces but in this uncomfortable transition period there are some harsh lessons being learned.

Unfortunately, one of them seems to be – bring the top stuff or don’t bother coming. And really, is that what we want it to be?

Will I change up my list for next time? Maybe. I still feel like I’m in the middle of the process of getting the hang of what X-Wing now is and having something that I know and understand to navigate the journey with is definitely beneficial. Maybe I’m just fortunate that my favoured faction with some ships I knew well is part of what’s in the ascendancy.

What bout those who aren’t though? I’ve certainly felt before like Rebels were underpowered compared to other factions and it felt, well, not great. How much more is that amplified with a new version with new rules and now scenarios in play?

Jordan Bishop pointed out to me that there were ZERO Separatist lists at the Board in Brum event. Now I know they’re often underrepresented compared to other factions but ZERO?

I guess the biggest question right now isn’t’ about whether the game is balanced (because it’s certainly not) but more about what exactly AMG will do to balance it and how quickly will they do it?

I know this conclusion may have come off rather negative so let me clear it up. Aside from the feels bad of the dice, I actually enjoyed this game. I felt like I had the right approach to this scenario and aside from bombing myself excessively (without major consequence as it goes…) I think I did ok. What will the next game bring? Who even knows? Maybe come back next week and find out?

The outro…

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