Casually testing…

The intro…

Welcome (back?)!

What
A
Week!

In case you’ve been under a rock (or like, working or whatever), then you probably know about last week’s twitch stream from AMG about the future plans of their Star Wars games. They covered a LOT of stuff from confirming the ships will still come painted (though I’m sure they confirmed that well before Christmas?!) to new releases and the return of Organised Play (eventually).

Personally I’m excited for the squadron packs, in particular the Rebel one – Phoenix Cell. I definitely don’t need more A-Wing or B-Wing models BUT more A-Wing pilots is a huge deal for Rebels and another i6 for the faction is pretty big as well (although a support ship ability on an i6… I’ll have to try it out before I decide whether I like it).

YAY! NEW THINGS!! Sort of…

I will certainly be pre-ordering one of those! (By the way, this feels like an appropriate time to plug my affiliate link with Firestorm games! If you have an FLGS (JARGON ALERT!!) get them from there but if you don’t then please consider ordering from Firestorm, they’re awesome!).

With the Sith Takers league now done and dusted for this season, the Sith Takers cup not starting for a few weeks and the next league not starting until the cup is done, I was at a bit of a loose end.

I know myself. I know that if I don’t proactively set up a game for a time when I know I’m free, I’ll just let it slide past me and miss the opportunity. And with a blog to write, it could leave me scratching for ideas.

Side note:
I actually have some ideas but they need some time invested in actual testing and research and I’ve not started doing any of that yet. I’ll get to it though. Eventually. Probably.

Of the local players that I’d normally get games against on a Wednesday evening (it’s crazy to think it’s now almost a year since we last did that!), not many regularly play online X-Wing. In fact, just myself and two others as far as I knew.

I decided to put a message in our local group chat to check whether I’d missed anyone or if anyone who didn’t currently play might be interested in getting started. It turns out that I’d actually forgotten someone (oops!) and to make it worse, we’d actually played online in one of the Vagabond tournament games (double oops!) but also that someone else was a user of TTS but mostly for other games. One other person said they’d like to learn X-Wing on TTS since it had been a long time since they’d got a game in.

I guess the message here is this – check in with people. We maybe don’t know everyone’s circumstances or thoughts on things and we also don’t know how things have changed for people in this season. Maybe someone wants to learn but doesn’t know how to start.

If you want to read deeper here then this absolutely applies beyond the sphere of X-Wing. I know for myself I’ve found it very easy during this time to fall into a routine which actually doesn’t include many other people. It’s becoming easier to put distance between yourself and others (whether on purpose or accidentally) and it’s not a great habit to develop. At some point there will be an end to the enforced lockdown/social distancing season but my concern (for myself and for my kids in particular) is that during this time we will have developed habits and patterns that are bad for both our physical and mental health. From not getting off the sofa all day to forgetting how to properly interact with actual real life people, there are things that it’s pretty important to remember how to do and the way to do that is to keep doing it even when it’s difficult or feels optional.

If you hadn’t guessed, I’m pretty fed up of all this now and that’s taking into consideration that I’m back at work as normal while my wife and kids still have to do all their stuff from home.

Wow, massive side-track there. Sorry!

Aaaaanyway, of the back of that message to the group I ended up getting two games organised, one for this week and one for next. Perfect!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

And so to my first game.
One of the people in the group who I definitely knew played online is Dan ‘Eggs’. I know because it’s him that taught me Vassal when covid first kicked off and because later we played a huge session for a blog post.

Anyway, he had also signed up to play in the Sith Takers league and, knowing it was done, offered me a game. He was set to play in the GSP Flight Club Delta Qualifier event on the coming (now passed) weekend and wanted another rep with his list. I don’t know why mind you, he’d just gone 7-1 with it in the league!

The list in question is very much a new one to me.

Baktoid Drone (34)
Cluster Missiles (4)
Ion Missiles (2)
DRK-1 Probe Droids (5)
Repulsorlift Stabilizers (3)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 4

DGS-047 (35)
Cluster Missiles (4)
Ion Missiles (2)
Kraken (11)
General Grievous (3)
Repulsorlift Stabilizers (3)

Ship total: 58 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 4

Baktoid Drone (34)
Cluster Missiles (4)
Concussion Missiles (6)
Repulsorlift Stabilizers (3)

Ship total: 47 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 4

Baktoid Drone (34)
Cluster Missiles (4)
Concussion Missiles (6)
Repulsorlift Stabilizers (3)

Ship total: 47 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Separatist%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z405X98W101WWW221WW323Y409X98W101W222W219WWW323Y405X98W99WWWWW323Y405X98W99WWWWW323&sn=Quad%20Gunships&obs=coreasteroid0,core2asteroid0,core2asteroid2

Four HMP droids. It does rather expose one of my known weaknesses – I’ve never faced them before. That said, I’m vaguely aware of the two main features:

  1. Sideslips. When the config is flipped a particular way they can pivot around a point rather than a traditional turn, meaning their time on target is pretty good.
  2. Networked Aim. They can’t share calculates like other droids but they can get rerolls from locks (but can’t actually spend the locks).

Dan’s list also features some upgrades to leverage the second of these, with DRK probe droids to get locks early and Krakken tactical relay to store up and keep calculates.

There’s a HUGE amount of ordnance in this list. If he was playing it in person I think he’d be struggling for enough charge tokens! These increase the damage output, turning 2 dice primaries into 3 dice and, when at range 3, reducing my green dice.

In other words, it’s all a bit filthy.

As for me? Well I’m sticking with my current list. One of the reasons Dan wants to play me is because Rey-Wings is an archetype he hasn’t faced with his list and is concerned it’s a bad matchup for him.

Rey (68)
Korr Sella (6)
Rose Tico (9)
Finn (9)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 6

Tallissan Lintra (37)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Zizi Tlo (41)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2

Total: 196

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z244XWW245W173W174WWW193Y240X172WW102W186Y387X172WW102W186&sn=Rey-Wings&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2

I won’t bore you with the ‘what it can do is…’ stuff, I’ve covered it in a few of the previous blogs if you fancy looking it over.

Best see what I want to try and do then with some Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – Ummmm…. Ok, well DGS-047 is worth the most points BUT he’s carrying Grievous crew so will also be harder to get damage onto. Overall each ship is worth roughly the same though so there’s not one obvious target.
Obstacles – Dan’s brought rocks so my goal is to space them out, giving Rey options for moving through the middle. That said, these droids don’t have struts so maybe there’s value in making it difficult for them to move through the middle…
Deployment – With all 4 of Dan’s ships heading at what is really an obvious target (Rey), it’s going to be important to engage all my ships at the same time which is something I find hard to do sometimes (ok, fine, most of the time). I decide to deviate from my usual deployment of all 3 ships together, going for Rey opposite Dan’s droids (but facing sideways, that’s Ray AND Dan’s droids, by the way) while the A-Wings set up for the (obvious) flank.

We place obstacles and ships and are set ready to start.

Ok, fairly simple to start with for me. Rey goes 1 forwards, the A-Wings go 5 forwards.

Dan’s droids (sounds like a terrible band name?!) all turn 2 hard to their left and calculate.

Obviously no shooting at this point. Three of Dan’s droids keep their calculates due to Kraken and then launches a probe droid. Yuck.

Back to dials we go. I decide to go a little bit neutral with the A-Wings to see whether I should turn in after the debris or go all the way around the cornered rock. Rey will also slow roll a bit with a 1 forwards.

Dan also keeps things neutral, sending everyone 1 forwards and then flipping the Repulsorlift Stabilizers.

Hmmm…. still no shooting, clearly, and during the end phase Dan launches his second probe droid vaguely towards the A-Wings and the turn is over.

Back to planning then!

I decide to send the A-Wings the long way around and so need to further stall Rey. She gets a 3 forwards this time (as I’m wary of trying to avoid the probe droid’s range for as long as I can) while the A-Wings go 5 straight and will banked boost.

Dan’s biding his time too as the 4 droids sideslip left. The probe droid’s 3 bank had given them locking range on Rey before she moved and now every droid has one. Poop.

STILL no shots but it’s coming.

Dials then.

I’ve perhaps been a little too fast with the A-Wings. Dan now has a decent approach angle in both directions with the A-Wings probably closer by the time Rey has turned. Hmmm….

The best way to stall with an A-Wing is hard turning so Tallie gets a 1 hard turn while Zizi (not wanting to have a rock in her face) takes a 2 hard turn. Rey also takes a hard turn right.

Time to see what Dan’s decided. All 4 droids take a 1 bank right, towards the A-Wings. Only the brown droid changes their target lock though, taking it on Zizi.

Rey’s 2 hard is followed by a red boost. Zizi turns and takes a focus, Tallie turns and does the same.

More by luck than skill, I’ve managed to keep Zizi outside of the droids arc, escaping range 3 but only just. With no other shots for anyone both Rey and Zizi fire at the probe droids and take them out of play. I mean, they’re not a huge help for Dan now that we’re getting closer but still, I’ll take the small victories where I can get them.

Dials again then and definite pew-pews next turn.

Ok, what to do next.

I feel that Zizi is a little close and decide she should disengage, turning arc in the process (especially given the lock she’s carrying). Tallie banks in and takes a focus while Rey 2 banks onto the debris and takes a focus(isn’t Korr Sella great!).

The red droid banks at the rock while the green one turns at Rey. The other two sideslip to their right.

Finally, we shoot!

All my ships fire at the red droid, stripping shields and getting 2 damage cards on.

The green and red droids fire at Rey, taking 2 shields but the others are slightly too far out and have nothing in arc.

Not a bad turn for me. But what to do next?

I want Zizi to fire so she gets a 2 straight to try and keep in range. Tallie is feeling bold and wants to fire Proton Rockets so she goes in with a 5 stright, looking to either boost into bullseye or out of trouble, depending on where Dan moves.

And Rey? Well. You might think it’s obvious to sloop here. So did I. Reviewing the game to write it up and looking at the screenshots, I still think that.

And yet, I managed to decide to go 1 straight. This is possibly (short of moving off the board) the worst move she could have made.

Dan moved his ships, this time green and red sideslipped neatly around the rock while the other two trundled forwards.

Zizi took her 2 straight, Tallie moved and then focused, getting the bullseye on the brown droid.

The Rey took her sad, slow 1 forwards. I had wanted to boost right to double down on damaging brown. But Tallie was there. Of course she was, that’s what I’d planned! With no other viable option, Rey boosted left to at least try and get out of range 1 of some droids.

Ok, let’s start with Tallie. She fired her Prockets at the brown droid, scoring 4 paint and spending the focus (because Dan’s firing everything at Rey, right?). The droid blanks and is immediately halved. Ok, decent start.

Zizi just about has range on the red droid. It has 3 hull left and I very much need it to die. As RZ-2 A-Wings are known to do, she gets 2 hits. Dan rolls and gets 1 evade.

Rey needs to get 2 hits past Dan’s green dice to reduce the number of incoming shots. But with the Falcon facing the wrong way I’ve got no Finn or Rey nonsense to fall back on.

I roll the 3 reds. 2 hits and a blank.

Dan rolls his single green and rolls an evade.

The red droid lives.

Oh dear.

The red droid goes for immediate retribution, firing cluster missiles and rolling 2 hits and a crit. Rey blanks out. Costly.

Dan then uses the cluster missiles again, firing at Tallie (who is very clearly range 1 of Rey) and strips her shields.

Errr….

Dan’s remaining droids fire at Rey and reduced her to 1 hull.

Not a great turn for me then.

Back to dials we go. This time Rey DOES get a sloop (got to make sure that dying shot is a good one!) while Tallie will 3 bank out of trouble and Zizi will 3 hard to start turning.

All Dan’s ships turn on Rey. It’s not looking good…

Rey fires at the red droid, taking it out this time. Tallie’s rear shot misses before Dan’s ships open fire on Rey and inevitably burn her down.

So I’ve traded 94 point Rey for one and a half droids (72 points). Not ideal. Worse than that, Dan’s still got 3 guns on the table. Tricky.

Back to dials we go.

This time Tallie will go straight (in case she needs to be getting out of range) while Zizi needs to turn in, after all, she’s still got Prockets to fire.

Dan’s droids (it’s growing on me y’know!) all hard turn left and calculate.

Tallie’s 2 straight looks like it may still give her a rear arc shot on someone so I leave it and focus.

Zizi turns, takes a focus and then boosts.

It’s bad news all round. Tallie’s rear arc is empty so no shot there. Zizi’s boost has given me range on the yellow droid but it has also given me range on brown and, therefore, given him arc on me.

Zizi fires at the brown droid, hoping to chip it down a little bit further and does plink off one more hull.

Dan’s return shots do exactly what you’d expect a 2 dice, range 3 obstructed shot onto an A-Wing with a focus and an evade. Precisely nothing.

And back to planning we go.

As much as I want to fire Zizi’s Prockets, there’s no way she survives facing all three of Dan’s ships, particularly when she can’t dodge those 180 degree arcs. She will turn and rotate. Tallie needs to come back in so hard turns.

The droids perform a mix of turns/rolls/sideslips to line up behind where Zizi ends up. Pretty glad I didn’t turn in now!

It’s all feeling a little bit hopeless with Tallie too far away to fire. Zizi takes the least efficient shot at the brown droid since it’s the closest to dying but no damage gets through.

Zizi’s luck runs out though and Dan manages to strip shields and put a damage through onto hull.

Ouch.

Time is running out as we go into the next planning phase. It’s likely to be the last turn.

I set Zizi a 3 straight while Tallie banks in.

Dan starts moving ships. Green sideslips while brown and yellow move forwards.

Zizi moves and focuses. Tallie comes in and also focuses.

Zizi fires at the brown droid, getting 2 hits on. Just 1 to go! Tallie checks arc…and hasn’t got brown. Well…that’s unfortunate.

Not that it really matters, I wasn’t going to get enough points to win with that shot but still, it would have felt good!

The droids fire at Zizi and manage to get the single hit through needed to finish her off.

Result: 72 – 172 loss

The Conclusion…

Ok, so… that wasn’t so great.

In particular there were 3 clutch moments which could have swung the game.

  1. Red droid doesn’t die. The knock on effect of there being an extra ship on the board when there may not have been turned out to be significant as it then pumped 2 hits and a crit into Rey. Bad times.
  2. I go 1 straight with Rey. What a stupid move. I was so unsure of where Dan’s ships would go that I just defaulted to something, well, not good. It had crossed my mind to do it and then boost right but I ended up putting Tallie in the way for that. I don’t know what I was thinking. Despite lasting one more turn on the table, this is where Rey really died.
  3. Brown droid survives on 1 hull. It was a bit of moot point by this time (as the game was already lost) but it was the second time that one of the droids lived when it was equally as likely (I think?) to have died. I don’t have the numbers for that actually, but that’s how it felt!

Having gone back through the game there’s a certain bias to these points though as you can argue that Rey should have died before taking out the red droid and that Zizi was fortunate to survive as long as she did too. It’s interesting how these aren’t the moments that stick in my head as much as the ones above.

What’s funny is that during the game, once I’d made that poor move with Rey it felt like the game was over. I didn’t give up (either practically or mentally) but I did feel like we were playing out to a foregone conclusion. However, looking back at it overall, it wasn’t an unwinnable game. Had I slooped with Rey instead of the (stupid) 1 straight, she probably either takes less damage or deals out more. Maybe both. If the red droid had gone down a turn earlier, there’s a very decent chance that brown follows quickly afterwards before I lose Rey. If I then get half points on one of the two remaining droids without losing half an A-Wing then I win.

Is it a bit of a stretch? Maybe. Probably. Something I often feel after a game is that if I had the chance to play the match again, armed with information on things I maybe didn’t fully understand (in this case, sideslip and rerolls buy in other cases too. Particularly Scum lists) then I feel I’d have a better shot at getting a win. Tournament play doesn’t work like that and I think that part of becoming a better tournament level player is to understand the meta and what people are likely to bring to the table. There’s also a lot to be said for understanding what isn’t necessarily popular and being able to understand that too. I’ve been taken down by unfamiliar ships more times than I care to count but whatever that count is, it’s a +1 for this game.

Speaking of tournament play, Dan took the list to the GSP Delta Qualifier and went 5-1 with it, finishing 5th in Swiss and beating (the pretty legendary) Niklas God in the 6th round. So maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad about losing!

Sadly he was knocked out in the first round of swiss but came top of faction so is pretty pleased with himself for that (as well he should be!)

When chatting about writing this game up Dan offered to send me his thoughts on putting his list together which I thought would be interesting as it’s a list with a lot of tools. What I actually received from Dan was a HUGELY comprehensive file documenting testing, list revisions, notes and screenshots. I was going to copy/paste it here but…

  1. this post is already pretty long and I don’t want to make it even longer! But more importantly…
  2. I think there’s value in further analysing the list building and testing process and while I’ve done a basic post about it before, I think it could do with an in depth follow up.

So there we have it. I’ve now played against droids and had a good game against a friend. I may have lost but it feels like I still won!

With another game lined up for next week before the Sith Takers cup kicks off I’ve got another opportunity to decide if this is the list I want for that tournament.

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

If you’re looking to buy some gaming ‘stuff’ and don’t have a local gaming store, you can use my affiliate link for Firestorm games. They’re great!

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