A Tale of Two Duels

The intro…

Welcome to my blog!

Following on from last week’s tournament it was back to casual gaming for me this week. There was actually a tournament at my home store – Firestorm Games in Newport, but it had been announced after I’d already bought tickets for the Bristol event and while it was mooted and discussed, I felt that going out ALL day for two Saturdays in a row (AND on bank holiday weekend) was maybe a bit too much ‘take’ in the ‘give and take’ aspect of marriage.

Besides, now that Newport plans to host one every month going forwards, I’ve got plenty of opportunities ahead to play locally.

So a huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!! to fellow Exile Matt Lees who has persevered with Imperial Aces since in person play came back in and went 4-0! Well done mate!

This week I’m going to cover two very different games, one in person and one online. One against a friend, one against a stranger. One against aces and one against ‘beef‘ (JARGON ALERT!!).

I’m still flying the list that I took to Excelsior in Bristol last week:

Kyle Katarn (31)
Jyn Erso (2)
Moldy Crow (16)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 3

Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Rogue Squadron Escort (51)
Fire-Control System (2)
R3 Astromech (3)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Garven Dreis (X-Wing) (46)
R2 Astromech (5)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 3

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z48XWW40WWW156Y451XWWWY23XW113WW4WY6XWW2WW142&sn=Heratanni%20-%20evolved&obs=

I’m comfortable with the ships and I’ve now got 7 in-person reps with this exact iteration plus 10-ish reps (between in-person and online) of the U-Wing version. I wouldn’t say I’m fully proficient with it yet but I’m reasonably confident with it.

Let’s get to it then!

The semi-batreps… (JARGON ALERT!!) – part 1

When we arrived at Firestorm this week there was an odd number of people and one game that had already started a few minutes before. Being the nice dad that I am, I let Cai pair up with Peter while I went off into Tesco and picked up some random shopping.

Once the first game was finished I now had an opponent – Richard Otton.

I played Richard a few weeks ago when he was flying a double Punisher & double Heavy list against as a ‘fun’ list. This week I was slightly surprised to see him flying what you could almost describe as the polar opposite list.

Kylo & Vonreg:

Kylo Ren (76)
Supernatural Reflexes (24)
Proton Torpedoes (12)

Ship total: 112 Half Points: 56 Threshold: 3

Major Vonreg (55)
Outmaneuver (6)
Deuterium Power Cells (9)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 75 Half Points: 38 Threshold: 2

Total: 187

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z236X74WW136WWY381X126W318W102W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Since I’m covering another game today this won’t be a full step by step batrep but more a general overview.

My first (but not only, unfortunately) mistake was not reading Richard’s list. Like, at all.

I saw Kylo and Vonreg (which isn’t a list I’ve faced before, just heard about on podcasts) and just made some assumptions. Well, we know what happens when you assume.

Or, as in this case, just me.

The start was sort of as I expected but in the turn where I expected one to dive in and one to turn away, both of the FO aces stuck around.

Interesting.

I’d failed to commit to either in particular, banking in to spread my arcs and be able to threaten either of them. They didn’t seem to care.

It was when Richard announced Vonreg’s shot on Garven would be with double modded Proton Rockets that I knew there might be a problem. I hadn’t seen the Prockets.

Oh dear.

My feelings of impending doom increased when he spent his lock and then his focus to get all 5 dice as hits.

Garven rolled his 2 green dice. Focus and blank. Oh dear. He had rolled for his action and so took one of Hera’s focuses, spent it and gave it back to take just the 4 hits. Yikes. Still, he’s got R2 Astromech to regen. Maybe he can bug out for a few turns to do that.

Then Kylo fired Proton Torpedoes at Garven.

No, I hadn’t seen that either.

Needless to say that between the lock and Force, he also ended up at maximum hits and without even needing to roll dice, Garven was dead with no chance to regen shields and not even the chance to shoot.

Bad.Times.

I returned fire with the Rogue and Kyle and Vonreg’s greens blanked out but crucially, he survived on 1 hull. I certainly have taken a trade of Garven for Vonreg but Garven for half of Vonreg with time to gen? Not great.

Over the next few turns Richard flitted between targets, first picking at the E-Wing before chipping at Kyle and Hera as he cycled Vonreg out to use his Deuterium cells before diving back in having returned to full points value.

In return I managed to do absolutely nothing against the 3 agility ships who appeared to be able to be exactly where they wanted at any time with all the actions they needed.

It literally doesn’t matter where Kyle goes, Kylo can follow him and hurt him.

When I got to the Rogue, Hera and Kyle all being at 1 health and my having scored exactly zero points, I have to admit that I mentally checked out. There was no way to damage these ships and no way to stop them damaging me. It was a lost cause.

Somehow the game still managed to get to time and while Hera’s greens blanked out to Vonreg’s closing shot, Kyle refused to do the same to Kylo and survived on 1 health to prevent it being a complete whitewash.

TLDR: Basically this was 75 minutes of pain and misery. For me.

Result: 0-174 loss

Mini conclusion

It seems that this is an archetype that I need some sort of plan against despite not being something that you actually see very often.

I can see that my eagerness to jump in and get started with the game at the expense of reading Richard’s cards was a significant component of my downfall here. Looking at what happened after that though, that has me puzzled.

Kylo can almost literally be wherever he wants. Pre-position into manoeuvre into action into linked action. Crazy. Yes, he’s expensive and I’m sure it’s always tricky figuring out the right move to make but man, against my lower initiative ships he just got to see where they were going and then bully them the whole game.

Richard’s strategy of switching between targets also kept him unpredictable, meaning I couldn’t get focussed fire onto him (when I got to fire at all!).

Overall it was a really good (but risky) list which was very well played by Richard.

And very humbling for me.

So what can I do against this sort of list next time? Well, reading cards would be a start. Jumping in and hard committing on one feels like it would be a mistake since they can quite easily turn and disappear, leaving me to be flanked by the other. I think that Richard’s aggressive approach took me by surprise for a list of this type and I wonder whether against a different opponent things might have gone differently. Or is that just the way this list is played?

I guess I’m still pondering this one. I’d appreciate any tips or suggestions on facing it!

The semi-batreps – part 2

It feels like an AGE since X-Wing on TTS was my weekly staple. I’ve definitely been spoiled by the number of opportunities I’ve had to play in-person and the announcement that the Sith Taker League was returning sort of caught me off guard.

I deliberated for a few days whether I wanted to actually continue or whether to drop since I was now getting to play once a week and tournaments would be popping up once a month. All in-person.

Here’s where I have to admit something. Not a fear, exactly, but a concern. Covid hasn’t gone away. I’m double jabbed (as most adults are in Wales) but the possible prospect of restrictions coming back once autumn and winter approach could mean that in-person play gets shelved again. TTS may need to become my main conduit for play again.

Plus I’ve now spent a year (a WHOLE YEAR!) working my way up through the divisions. If I drop now and want to re-join later, I’d be starting again from the bottom. Ok, I’ve definitely lucked my way into some of the promotions by way of drops from higher up but they still count! I believe that I missed out on promotion from Could City to Fortress Inquisitorious last time by way of one last loss I think (which I don’t mind because it was to Jon Vicary who not only sent me a pile of alt arts but inspired me to take his list to a tournament – which I won!) but still, 3 leagues is a long way t climb back.

Am I ready to do that? Can I commit just 2 hours a week to ‘keeping my hand in’?

In the end, my lack of decision made the decision. Pairings were made. Ok then! I’m IN!

My opponent for the week was the mysteriously named Dubois. We got in touch over Discord and arranged to play on Thursday evening.

When Thursday came I loaded up TTS and set up a room. I opted to stick with my list. Why not, right?

As we chatted while getting Dubois into the room he loaded up his list.

My heart sank.

Asajj Ventress (68)
0-0-0 (5)
False Transponder Codes (2)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Shadow Caster (1)

Ship total: 79 Half Points: 40 Threshold: 5

Lando Calrissian (Scum) (42)
Jabba the Hutt (6)
False Transponder Codes (2)
Lando’s Millennium Falcon (3)

Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 6

Bossk (60)
Jamming Beam (0)
Zam Wesell (4)
BT-1 (2)
False Transponder Codes (2)

Ship total: 68 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 6

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z125XW63W369W92WW160Y90XWW39WWW369WW152Y153XW12WW336WW79W369WW&sn=i%20hope%20you%20like%20jammin%20too&obs=gascloud1,gascloud2,gascloud3

It’s almost identical to the list played in my last game at Bristol against (eventual winner) Ben Barber.

I do NOT know how to play against this list. Even knowing a lot of it’s tricks now, I just cannot fathom how my ships can do enough damage without getting smashed to pieces in the process.

‘Get behind Bossk!’ I hear you cry! Easier said than done is my reply.

My thought process begins: ‘heck, if I’m going to lose anyway, why not try something different to see if it works?’

I take first player (which surprises Dubois) with the intention to line up to joust and hopefully do some blocking before doing some sort of turn over the top to get behind them all.

*places Kyle in left corner*

*doubt begins*

*places Garven and E-Wing central*

*changes mind and places near Kyle*

Dubois then places all 4 of his large base ships in the corner directly opposite Kyle.

*places Hera *

*immediate regret for entire turn 0*

Looking again at those big scary ships with game mechanics/abilities that I only sort of have a grasp of (specifically Asajj with the various upgrades she has), I decide that jousting it is suicide, particularly if I put Hera in an even slightly wrong position. I bottled it. But worse than that, I bottled it once it was already too late to change my mind on placement.

As we start planning I decide (for some reason that is still not clear), that I’ll abandon Kyle. I mean, that wasn’t my exact sentiment but it’s an accurate reflection of what happened. The others can turn and escape before the monsters arrive. Kyle can’t, he’s just not quick enough. Plus he could maybe cause some blocks on Dubois’ ships.

Bye Kyle! See you…never!

Initially I thought this could work as Kyle dodged Lando’s arc with a hard stop and Bossk stayed outside range 3.

He survived Asajj’s attack and the following turn hard turned in for a block.

He did get the block on Assaj but Land took a 1 straight and rotated arc while Bossk managed not to hit the Shadowcaster.

Aaaaaaaaaand he’s gone.

Right, so now I’m down 25% of my list and one of my 3 dice guns. And facing the wrong way.

Over the next few turns I try to balance out looking for an opportunity to turn in while minimising incoming fire.

That doesn’t exactly go to plan as Garven gets caught after boosting in and blanks out on greens to get halved.

Garven starts to regen his shields as the timer clicks ever downwards and with just over 10 minutes to go, I have not yet rolled red dice.

This has never happened before.

I am incredibly disappointed with myself.

Something breaks and I decide ‘screw it, this is NOT working’.

I hard turn the E-Wing in while Garven and Hera turn in a little more gently, lining up for the following turn.

Asajj bumps into it which gives a little bit of breathing room but, as if waiting for this moment, Hera bumps into Garven to prevent me from token passing.

The E-Wing strips Bossk’s shields in one go. Nice. But far too little, far too late.

Bossk returns fire but the Rogue Escort’s green bail him out and he takes no damage. Lando and Asajj also fire but nothing gets through.

We go the planning phase and before we finish setting dials, the time goes. This is the end.

As much as I’d like to continue hitting Bossk, my ships aren’t positioned in a way to let me do that very easily. Fine. Maybe I can get half points on Lando?

I turn in on the (presumably) approaching Lando with all 3 ships.

Dubois does indeed go straight with Lando while also turning in with Bossk and Asajj.

Hera, Garven and the E-Wing all unload at Lando. However, the position of the debris has meant that two of those shots are obstructed and Lando manages to roll enough evades that I fail to get the 6 hits I need to score half.

Rubbish.

Dubois, having deliberated for a little while on whether to lock Hera or Garven for her action, picks Garven, Lando fires and rolls natties at him (with an extra die because he’s stressed) and Garven blanks and dies.

Cool.

Asajj fires range 1 at Hera but fails to do anything like Lando’s hit and Hera dodges it. Bossk fires range 1 at the Rogue Escort and knocks 2 shields off to end the game.

Result: 0-100 loss

The conclusion…

So that’s 3 games with this particular Rebel list (4 games in total) against a Bossk with large base buddy (or buddies) list over the last few weeks and every single one a loss.

So let’s analyse – what the heck am I doing wrong?!

Ok, let’s start with this particular game. I have major regrets for how I played. Yes, it’s the lowest points given away of the three but I actually only rolled red dice in 2 turns and Kyle died without firing. That’s, like, really poor form.

In the initial set up I’d resolved to head in at the list face on in an honourable joust. Then, after I’d placed ships, I recanted and decided to try and burn down the FTC and Jabba charges before engaging properly. Of course, by then it was far too late to save Kyle from his fiery fate because, despite having a white 4 straight, he would have been unable to keep pace without getting stressed from the boost and his blues are not fast enough.

As a result, once Kyle had died we ended up in a ‘Benny Hill’ style chase around the obstacles as I attempted to run away and pick up locks while never giving myself a decent opportunity to turn in an punch something.

I will admit that my heart sank a little when I saw the list and, having resigned myself to a loss, I really should have just dived in, risked a 0-200 loss and tried something very different to see what might work in future.

As it was I robbed myself of the chance to shoot at anything until the penultimate turn and despite a heroic last ditch effort to hammer Lando from the Rogue Escort, I wasn’t even able to score half points on the cheapest ship in the list.

My overall feeling is one of frustration, I think. Frustration at the list for existing is a part of it but mostly it’s at myself for a) not putting up more of a fight against it and b) not knowing how to put up more of a fight against it.

I guess that leads me back to a question that I’ve been asking of myself since well before the blog began.

Does it matter?

After a few days thinking about it, the answer no. But also yes?

In the broader sense of ‘it’s only plastic spaceships guys’ and the wider view of life, no, not working out how to deal with one particular list which is currently quite popular doesn’t particularly matter. I play this game for fun. It’s my hobby. I have to admit that I’m probably taking it a little more seriously than I was two or three years ago and attempting to get better at it but at the core of the issue, it’s not a big deal.

But on the other hand, it sort of does matter. I play this game for fun and, for periods of this game, I was not having fun. And that’s no reflection on my opponent at all. He was great and the tone of our interactions were very casual and light-hearted. But I enjoy rolling red dice. I rolled a sum total of 14 dice this game. Not fun. I enjoy blowing things up. I didn’t do that here.

Unfortunately I’m totally out of time to get into this any further but I think looking at how much impact prepping against certain lists or archetypes is definitely an interesting subject to look at some point in the future.

For now that’s it though! Thanks for reading and I hope you pop back next week!

The outro…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, I hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you’d like to support me in continuing my X-Wing blogging adventure there are a few ways you can do that.

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