Cognitive Overload?

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

It’s been a slightly weird week for me. My wife was away with work for a few days (which is not something that normally happens. I coped just fine, thanks for asking. I really am a fully functional adult. Mostly.) and there have also been a couple of birthday things going on for various family members/close friends AND my eldest son Cai is in the middle of his GCSE’s AND there’s been XTC to think about (more on that shortly. In fact, it’s probably going to get it’s own weekly section once things kick into higher gear).

It’s all been a little bit bonkers

When all this comes off the back of our first 2.5 tournament (which a LOT of planning went in to!) which was immediately followed by my being away on holiday for a few days and spending time with friends, well, I’m having moments when I struggle to tell parts of my anatomy from each other.

Wait a minute, strike that, reverse it.

On a very positive note, at Firestorm in Newport we have had two new players tentatively join our group (hi Liam and Flora if you’re reading this!!)! They’ve turned up 3 weeks in a row now and played a couple of games. Two of our squad members (Mark and Peter) have spent time running through games with them (and hopefully not overloading them too much!) as they feel their way into the game.

It’s not understating it to say they are the first brand new players that we’ve had in a VERY long time but I certainly hope they’re not the last. While it’s tempting to discuss whether their joining us is because of or in spite of the recent changes I’m just going to assume it’s neither here nor there. They are here and we play 2.5 and that’s what we’ll teach them.

It’s good though and I hope for more!

XTC Update…

Told you it’d get its own section! That said, a fair few of my games over the coming months are likely to be related to it in some way so there’s really no avoiding it!

In case you weren’t already aware from last week’s blog post, I have managed to end up being the captain of the XTC team for Wales. Before you say anything, yes, I know. Weird. Do I feel worthy? Or qualified? Nope, I don’t. But I’m going to give my best shot anyway and see what happens!

Anyway, having managed to get a team together (no spoilers on that yet!) there are now several deadlines over the next couple of weeks that I need to try and wrap my head around while also looking at faction choices and list choices and player roles.

The next few weeks may need to be fairly secretive in terms of lists and players as things get firmed up and locked in but don’t worry, once everything is fully official and things like players, lists and groups start getting published, I’ll let you know!

The batrep(s)….? (JARGON ALERT!!)

Due to an unusual mix of opportunity and necessity (although more the former than the latter!), I actually played 3 games last week! I know, right?!

Y’know, for a non tournament week.

As I’d usually do when covering multiple games, in order to save both your time and mine, I won’t be going into turn-by-turn details here, just so you know.

What am I looking at lists-wise? Well, I don’t know if you know but there was the small matter of the Worlds Qualifiers at the UK Games Expo while I was away. I’ve got a feeling that some XTC lists will be inspired by/derived from some of the more successful lists and so as part of my role as captain, I’ve got to try ad figure out how popular lists work and what matchups might be favourable/unfavourable.

As such, I’ve been looking at Bartosz’s list which came runner up at the event:

Wedge Antilles (6)
Elusive (2)
Predator (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=v9ZhZ20Z5X119W127W136W5WW142Y4XWW136WW105W142Y69XW453W5WWY12X455WW5W92W142&sn=FS%20Newport%20May%2022&obs=

Now, those of you who read regularly (and have good memories) might notice that this is remarkably similar to the list that I did not particularly well with at Newport. Wedge is the same, Luke trades R3, Heightened and Debris Gambit for an Afterburners and Dutch becomes Kullbee for a regular 3 dice gun on the board. Also Fenn takes The Child to have some mods of his own while coordinating for his action.

On the plus side, I’m very familiar with the ships and while I’m not 100% sold on losing another set of double modded Proton Torps from Dutch, Kullbee can dish our strains with Notorious, turn around with a mod using contraband and get around the board faster than a Y-Wing.

Time to give it a go I guess!

Game 1 – Steve Boulton

Now, keep this just amongst yourselves but with a bunch of roadworks having finished recently, Steve and his son Alex have become semi-regulars with us at Newport. This is great news for three reasons: 1. it means we have more players turning up, 2. Steve’s a good, established player who knows his stuff and shake up our local meta but most importantly, 3. he’s a spectacularly nice bloke who I thoroughly enjoy playing X-Wing against or, in fact, just spending time around him in general.

So, what delightfully casual list had he brought this fine evening?

Commander Malarus (3)
Marksmanship (1)
Cluster Missiles (4)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (5/5) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 2

“Blackout” (6)
Trick Shot (4)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
Cluster Missiles (4)
Sensitive Controls (0)

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

Kylo Ren (TIE Whisper) (6)
Shattering Shot (3)
Malice (4)
Trick Shot (4)
Concussion Missiles (5)
Sensor Scramblers (1)
Munitions Failsafe (1)
Enhanced Jamming Suite (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (18/18) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2

“Breach” (5)
Elusive (2)
Biohexacrypt Codes (1)
Plasma Torpedoes (7)
Ion Torpedoes (4)
Electro-Chaff Missiles (4)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (18/18) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=First%20Order&d=v9ZhZ20Z266X125WW98WWY237X133WWW136W98W374Y487X419W418W133W99WW415W108W413Y493X119WW202W234W135W420WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Ok then. Full disclosure here, there are several things in this list I’ve never faced before. Malarus, Whisper Kylo, Breach. Ok, fine, it’s quite a lot of it actually. Still, that’s the beauty of playing this game, right?

Time for some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Scramble the Transmissions
Target/Objective Priority – It may come down to targets of opportunity but if I can get Kylo off the board I need to do that. I also don’t like the potential of Blackout’s shots. In terms of objectives, I plan to place mine relatively close to the middle of the board. I know some like to place as far back as possible in order to ‘force’ me to wait behind with something to claim it in turn 2 but with an alpha strike list like this I’m simply not going to do that. I’d much rather ignore it and get a good position to blow things up
Obstacles – Unfortunately I didn’t especially think about this until AFTER I twigged how many dice Blackout would be throwing at me (and how many I wouldn’t be throwing). Suffice to say, I’d not do it this way again.
Deployment – I’m going to go in a rough block with 3 while also looking to claim an objective. Despite what I said above, I really should claim at least 1 to get points ticking over.

We set up objectives, obstacles and ships and are ready to start:

I send all my forces straight in turn 1, looking to see what Steve will do, mainly with Kylo and Blackout.

Blackout has turned towards my ships but quickly turns back the following turn in order to leverage the obstructed shot that I now realise is coming no matter what I do.

Wary of the torps, Kylo goes for the long way around while Breach takes a slow approach through the rocks.

I’m suddenly VERY (and painfully) aware of Kylo approaching the rear which causes me to bank out left so I can turn back in.

Luke uses an Afterburners charge to straighten up from the bank and claims the objective before Wedge comes forwards but falls short of reaching the lock on Malarus.

Fenn rolls up behind and gives Luke a lock which does reach. Meanwhile, Kylo has managed to gain enough ground on Kullbee to also get a lock.

Kullbee loses 2 shields and Malarus, having spent a charge to trigger the ability, lives on 1 hull. Close.

I now spend a couple of turns trying (and failing) to do 2 things: 1. avoid obstructed shots from Blackout and 2. kill Malarus.

Annoyingly, I lose Luke in reasonably short order but I do manage to delete Blackout in return and the objective point I claimed early on means I’m not behind because of it.

Nice.

Steve tries hunting down Wedge but as we enter the last turn a LOT of stuff happens.

Fenn moves up and coordinates Wedge a focus (adding to the lock he already obtained on Kylo). Wedge takes a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) and sits beautifully in front of Kylo.

Meanwhile, Kullbee, fresh from obtaining the middle objective last turn, banks in at 1 health Malarus. I’m. Gonna. Get. Her.

Fenn fires out of his rear arc at Malarus at range 1 and rolls 3 natural hits. YES!

Steve rolls…

Absolute nonsense.

I move on to Wedge. With the help of the lock (but crucially without needing the focus), rolls a full array of hits. Kylo, since Wedge has a green token and 1 less agility because of Wedge’s ability, rolls a single green, blanks out and dies in a single shot.

Neither Breach nor Malarus can do any more damage to my ships with their shots and so it falls to Kullbee to finish off Malarus and claim the glory.

I roll 3 hits out of hand from 4 dice. That’s got to do it, right?!

No, apparently today is not Malarus’ time to go. She lives on 1 health, time is up and the game is over.

Result: 19 – 8 win

Mini Conclusion…

A reasonably convincing win there, despite Malarus flat refusing to cooperate and Luke blowing up much earlier than I’d have hoped. Claiming the early objective, combined with Steve’s failure to do the same, meant that once I’d dropped Blackout I was still ahead despite losing Luke. The fact that I picked up a second objective in the same turn I dropped the Silencer just compounded the issue for Steve.

Not a prefect game by any stretch of the imagination but certainly a better result than any of my tournament games the week before!

Game 2 – Alex Boulton

Ah, my second Boulton of the evening!

Fresh off the back of a mirror match, Alex was rocking the UKGE winning list:

“Howlrunner” (4)
Crack Shot (3)
Swarm Tactics (5)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (8/8) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 1

“Scourge” Skutu (3)
Crack Shot (3)

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

“Mauler” Mithel (3)
Crack Shot (3)
Jamming Beam (0)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (3/4) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

Iden Versio (3)
Crack Shot (3)
Disciplined (2)
Precision Ion Engines (2)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (7/8) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

Gideon Hask (3)
Crack Shot (3)
Disciplined (2)
Precision Ion Engines (2)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (7/8) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

ISB Jingoist (2)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)

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

“Wampa” (2)
Disciplined (2)

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

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v9ZhZ20Z217X116W132WY220X116Y219X116W12Y218X116W381WWW338Y223X116W381WW338Y504X92Y221X381&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Yuck.

Lots to look out for here with Swarm Tactic’ed (?!) Wampa adding to the i5 shots, meaning it’s going to be difficult to initiative kill anything, especially with Wedge’s first shot likely to be cancelled by Iden. Three agility all round means getting kills is a bit of lottery anyway and the number of 3/4 dice shots this list puts out between Wampa, Mauler, Gideon and Scourge is a bit bonkers.

Alrighty, let’s do some Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Chance Engagement
Target/Objective Priority – H-O-W-L-R-U-N-N-E-R. Got to be. And get rid of Iden’s charge nice and early.
Obstacles – I need to try and cluster in order to make the TIEs split up a bit.
Deployment – With formation being important for the swarm, Wampa’s early placement gives a good indication of where they’ll all deploy. I’ll do diagonally opposite, as far as possible. Probably.

With the objective set in the middle we place obstacles and ships and are ready to go.

Now, I didn’t see it at the time but you do, right? The fairly sizeable gap into the middle along the right hand flank?

‘it’s not a problem’ I thought to myself ‘they’ll have to break formation to get through there’ so this is where I deployed.

I slow roll the first turn so that I’m not too close in turn 2 but still close enough to score on the objective.

Then we start turning in.

And oh boy, it’s bad.

I now see that the TIEs will mostly fit through. Wampa will be in front but that’s fine from Alex’s point of view since it gives me more target choice decisions.

Annoyingly, Wampa and Kullbee are in range of each other. ‘No problem’ I think. Until Howlrunner uses Swarm to take him to 5 and he rolls all hits after the Howl reroll. Kullbee rolls blank, blank, eyeball. I spend the focus but shields are lost and so it my mod for the return shot. That shot, of course, does nothing.

Cool.

Now, I don’t hate Wedge’s position here. He’s going to bank in, giving him obstacle cover, and nail something.

Fenn will hard 2 in and coordinate him. Luke will slowly turn in to keep away from the swarm but still fire a torp. And Kullbee….. hmmmm…. I dial in a 4 straight, planning to go past the approaching Wampa and bank boost into the middle of the swarm to disrupt the i5’s.

Except, instead of going the expected 2 straight, Wampa banks fast at Luke, blocking Kullbee’s approach.

Oh.

I feel like I have an opportunity here (sort of) but my ‘winning’ the ROAD roll has actually screwed me over.

Wedge has locked Howlrunner and Luke has locked Iden. I’d have liked Luke to lock Howl too so that once Wedge’s initial shot had been cancelled by Iden, I could try and wipe out the rerolls. However, as I was first player, Luke moved before Howl and was out of range for the lock.

The rest of the plan works(ish) as Wedge’s torp nails Howlrunner and Alex spends Iden’s charge. Luke then fires at Iden and does take her out but on reflection, once the charge is spent, she’s just a 2 die gun. There were better targets to take out.

And Alex starts firing back.

Now, I can’t quite recall exactly how it happened but I’m fairly certain that Kullbee actually died to the first incoming shot. Whether it was an unfortunate crit or how extra dice were obtained and from which shot I’m not sure. I do recall that there was a strain from the Jingoist involved. But he died spectacularly quickly either way. So early, in fact, that it allowed the rest of the TIEs to bring Luke to do 1 hull in the same round of fire.

Big. Ouch.

Turn 3 and the game is slipping away. Yes, I’m only 5 – 9 down (4 for Kullbee, 3 for half of Luke and 2 objectives versus 3 for Iden and 2 objectives) but I’m down a body on the board and Luke is certainly burning down next turn.

Except he doesn’t. Wedge starts to instead.

Nice.

Over the next couple of turns I take out a TIE in each engagement to creep up in points but Alex takes half of Wedge, then the rest of Wedge before then finishing Luke and scoring half of Fenn to hit the threshold for the win.

Result: 14 – 23 loss

Mini Conclusion…

Look, I’ll freely admit it, I messed this up. Sure, losing Kullbee’s shields to a range 3 Wampa shot was unfortunate. Yes, almost EVERY Howlrunner reroll turned a blank into paint. Fine, my green dice were trash.

All of these were factors to some extent but the real reason I lost is down to 3 things.

  1. Alex flew the list really well. His approach with the TIE’s, pinwheeling around the rock into the channel that I had failed to prevent, was brilliant.
  2. In a round about way, I indirectly accepted the joust. However hard my list hits (and it hits HARD), this TIE list hits harder. Between rerolls and Crack Shots and strain and Disciplined, stuff is going to get deleted. All I can do to try and mitigate that is to not accept the joust. Watching the UKGE final back I can see Bartosz trying to do the same, forcing TIE’s to split formation and stray away from Howlrunner. My attempt at dragging the TIEs through the rocks failed and all my ships were roughly in one area to be shot at by TIE after TIE.
  3. This one rock placement:

I put that one there. Had I placed it closer to my side of the board by maybe 5 or 6 centimetres, I block the easy turn in and force either a split from the formation or make them go the long way around. Probably the former.

Avoiding the joust is certainly not an easy thing to do. I think I’ll need some more games against a TIE swarm to figure out how I’m going to do it. If the ROAD roll for that turn had gone to Alex and not me, there’s a good chance that Luke can lock Howlrunner and both he and Wedge can put torps into Howl and maybe it’s a different game from there but that’s not something that I can control and therefore not something I can plan to do.

It’s going to be interesting working this out!

Game 3 – mystery opponent?!

Yes, My last game of the week was actually against one of my XTC teammates and since teams haven’t yet been announced, I’m keeping their identity under wraps!

Not only that but, as it was my 3rd game of the week AND primarily a list testing game for XTC, I didn’t take any screenshots.

We won’t end up using the list that was tested so I technically could post it but I won’t bother because I don’t feel there’s any real value in doing so.

“Why bring the game up at all then?” I hear you ask. Good question. And I have an answer.

In all my time playing X-Wing, the goal has generally been the win. Sure, I’ve not been overly bothered if I lose (well, mostly. Sometimes it has bothered me!) but overall, the aim has been to have fun and try and win.

This aim in this game was slightly different (as in, it was to test out the feasibility of a list) but I also did feel something different at the end.

I won the game. But I didn’t feel great about it.

I made mistakes here and there and there was a difference in variance (more the matchups of dice rather than straight stats) which I was on the favourable side of. At the end of the game though I didn’t feel the good feels that you get after a win. You know the ones. The happy relief that you scraped a close game or the cool satisfaction after a well played game.

None of that.

Ok! Ok! No more What’s! Oh….

I felt, well, I’m quite sure what words to use. Disappointment isn’t quite right but it’s something along those lines.

I wasn’t happy because we were no closer to a list choice following the game. It doesn’t mean the time was wasted, far from it. We played through with a list and it didn’t perform as well as it might have and probably isn’t strong enough to select for the team. The time was worthwhile spending.

I guess what’s strange is that, generally speaking, X-Wing is a single player game. It’s you vs them. At a tournament, every pairing is a new challenge and you face it on your own. Everybody’s looking out for themselves. Not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just the nature of what it is.

But this was different. I felt bad that we hadn’t found a list to play. I felt bad that one of my team lost. I felt a tiny bit of pressure that deadlines are coming and lists are needed.

All very new, very different and very odd feelings. And I guess this is what I’m actually looking forwards to in XTC. Chatting with the other players, looking at potential pairing match ups, discussing strategy and tactics, using different perspectives and experiences to inform and encourage players to do as well as they can.

The conclusion…

I guess I’ve covered quite a bit in those last few paragraphs as well as the mini ones after each game but I think it’s fairly obvious that the next couple of months are going to really stretch me. Looking at the game more from the ‘outside’ than I am used to and analysing lists and play styles outside of my norm for the benefit of the group.

Y’know, I’m actually quite looking forward to the challenge of it. Will I be any good at it? Hard to say (I’d lean towards no!) but time will tell. At the very least I’ll have got to know some people a bit better than I already do and made sure that Wales is represented in our game’s very own ‘world cup’.

Wales, X-Wing, Golf. In that order.

The outro…

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