Embrace the Suck

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

Once again there seems to be a lot going on but also I had a couple of days away on holiday very last minute. It was GREAT but unfortunately it also means that I’ve had a little less time to get the blog written so apologies in advance if any of this seems rushed!

Right, let’s get on with it then!

The next Exile Squadron tournament at Firestorm Games in Newport IS THIS COMING SATURDAY!!!

There are a couple of tickets still available if you’d like to come along. For those who are already signed up you need to get registered on the Tabletop.To event as soon as possible and get your list uploaded using a YASB link (important!!) by FRIDAY NIGHT!

Like I’ve mentioned like A MILLION TIMES already, we’ve got a Louis Leong OP kit (complete with challenge coin and beskar tokens!), some Exile themed prizes AND a trophy and on top of all this, the awesome guys from Firecast Focus will be live streaming the event!

firecast

For those who are booked to attend, you can turn up from 9:30 even though the store normally doesn’t open until 10am as we’ll have access to set up just outside plus we’ve got a staff member turning up early just for us! Provided all lists and players are registered nice and quick we should be good to get started by 10:15 and be done by around 4:30ish. I can’t wait to see you there!

On the subject of Tabletop.To, I guess that’s more news that needs to be talked about.

A sad day, not only for X-Wing TO’s, but also for other gaming systems who use this incredible, free, community driven tool. Even though the site will be closing, if you have ever run or even taken part in a tournament hosted on TTT please consider donating as a thank you to Dennis and all the incredible work he’s put in over the years.

Patreon Update…

Remember last week I said there was one more reveal for this quarter’s Patreon? Well get ready because it’s coming!

Last week I outlined what the members of each Patreon tier would be getting which (in case you don’t want to go back and look), consists of Exile Squadron objective tokens, a Wedge Antilles A-Wing card, a Leia Organa Falcon card, a Customised Naboo N-1 Mandalorian card and a Customised Naboo N-1 3D printed ship!

Pretty cool in my opinion (although I’m biased I guess!).

The last thing to reveal is the giveaway prize. In case you don’t know, different Patreon tiers have increasing levels of entries and the giveaway is drawn live on Instagram and the prize added to the winner’s other gifts.

This quarter the prize is…..

AN LED LIT TIE INTERCEPTOR!

Modified by the LED master himself, Kei Tanaguchi, this lit (in both senses of the word!) ship will be won by someone this month!

So, if you’d like to support what I do in this blog (and get in on some of this cool stuff!) you can become a Patron by signing up here. As long as you’re in by the end of this month (that’s the 31st, this coming Sunday) then you’re eligible for the gifts and prize entry for this quarter.

As ever, don’t feel any pressure to sign up, I’ll still be doing the blog either way, I just love being able to send cool things to great people!

Alright, enough of that, let’s move on!

XTC Update…

Oh boy.

This week has been super interesting. Given our tie with Spain, I realised quite early into this week that this round versus the Czech Republic was going to be the cruch round that determined qualification.

We’d sort of been on the back foot from the off since week 1 of the group stage had been our break week and it’s made it quite difficult to figure out exactly where each team is at.

With Spain having won 2 games before we played them (and tied), they topped the group. The Czech Republic had also played 3 by this point and had won 2 (against South Africa and Malaysia) and lost 1 (to Spain) and would be having their break week in the final week of the group stage.

Basically, if we beat them, they are 2-2 and we are 2-0-1 going into the last week. If we were to lose, they would be 3-1 and we would be 1-1-1 and unable to catch them even if we won against South Africa in the final week.

No pressure then.

This week was then affected by a raft of rearrangements and scheduling headaches, meaning that the last game wasn’t played until LAST NIGHT! Talk about stressful!

Whatever happened, I had gone into this tournament more concerned with Wales being represented and building relationships with new people than with qualification. That hadn’t changed but having taken Spain so close and getting a taste of the possibility that we could qualify had meant that now it was on all our minds as we headed into the games.

We started off strong with Adam getting a 20-6 win in game 1 on Friday. On Saturday two games were played in quick succession with Paul Westwood taking his tough matchup on the chin with a 13-21 loss before Alex Whitehead pulled us back in front with a 20-16 victory.

On Sunday night Phill Blackmore took on the Czech Imperial list with his FO forces but came out with a 6-27 loss to level the match up at 2 games each.

That meant that Martyn Gruffydd’s Scum vs Scum match would be the decider.

I got a little time to prep with Martyn just ahead of the game but with the game not being on stream the rest of teh team and I were left waiting on a Whatsapp notification to inform us of our fate…

This was the first message:

I can’t exactly describe how I felt in that moment. A strange feeling of disappointment but also some relief. After all, I’m not sure I’m free on finals weekend, nor how my wife would feel about spending a portion of the bank holiday weekend in front of the laptop. Also sorting list changes, maybe player changes if people aren’t available, practice reps, matchup strengths, and so on…

Then I got the next message…

Oh!

Right!

Of all the possible connotations of results, this is not one I’d actually considered. We tied ANOTHER round?!? Wow.

So, what does this do to the group? Or qualification? Well, that’s interesting. I didn’t know. I had to work it out.

Czech Republic have now played their last match and have 2 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss, putting them on 7 points (3 for a win, 1 for a draw).

Spain are also on 7 with 2 wins and 1 draw but now their 4th game this week against Malaysia.

We (that’s Team Wales, if you haven’t been paying attention) are now on 5 points with 1 win and 2 draws (2??!?!) and this week we play South Africa.

Regardless of what happens in the other match (i.e. whether it’s Spain or Malaysia who win), our pathway is clear. If we lose we finish on 5. If we draw we finish on 6. Both fall short of the 7 that Spain and Czech Republic currently have.

If we win we go to 8 and qualify no matter what happens in the other match (though that match determines whether it’s Spain or Czech Republic qualify). That’s a big if though!

Still, by the time the next blog comes out the XTC group stage will be done and dusted and we will know whether we’re in or not.

Whatever happens, it’s been a great ride!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

So did I actually play a game this week? Indeed I did! Despite taking a bit of a beating with it last week, time constraints meant that I’d been unable to repack my bag and so I ended up taking our Imperial XTC list again:

Darth Vader (7)
Malice (4)
Brilliant Evasion (2)
Swarm Tactics (5)
Afterburners (10)

Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (21/21) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2

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

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

Iden Versio (3)
Disciplined (2)
Ruthless (1)
Tractor Beam (4)

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

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=v9ZhZ20Z173X418W199W132WWWW105WY217X132W116WY218X381W128W13WWY504X92Y504X92Y221X381&sn=XTC22%20-%20ALEX%20WHITEHEAD%20-%20WALES%20-%20EMPIRE&obs=core2asteroid0,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2%22%7D%7D

Off the back of last week’s game I’d had a few pointers on what to do/not do and so I was fine giving it another try.

I rocked up to Firestorm and wound up being paired with Martin Williams who was flying a Scum list:

Zealous Recruit (5)
Shield Upgrade (8)

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

Kad Solus (5)
Lone Wolf (5)
Concussion Missiles (5)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (10/12) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Joy Rekkoff (5)
Elusive (2)
Concussion Missiles (5)
Ion Torpedoes (4)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (11/11) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Palob Godalhi (5)
Deadeye Shot (1)
Gamut Key (6)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Moldy Crow (0)

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

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v9ZhZ20Z102X165WY99X124W99WY100X119W99W135WY112X343W386WW92WWW156&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Interesting. It’s not often you see 3 Fang Fighters in a list these days and Palob coming in to steal my tokens could be annoying.

Right, let’s do those Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Scramble the Transmissions
Target/Objective Priority – each ship is worth 5 points so it’s fairly irrelevant on those terms. Kad has ordnance, Joy is pseudo-Wedge, the Recruit has a shield and Palob will likely be at the back. Take whatever comes at me is the answer here I think.
Obstacles – A wide spread if possible in order to allow me to keep my TIEs together for as long as possible
Deployment – TIEs together on one flank or the other, preferably not directly opposite wherever Martin sets up but as we both have an i1 then it’ll depend on the ROAD roll.

As it turns out Martin ‘wins’ the ROAD roll (i.e. he goes first), we place objectives, obstacles and ships and we’re ready to get started!

Turn 1

It isn’t easy to tell from this pic but Kad is the on who’s set up opposite my TIEs and forwards while Joy is slightly back. The top left Fang is the Zealous Recruit.

Now, I’m not really fully expecting a full joust from Martin here but given that my ships can’t go 1 straight, I set everyone a 2 straight and will see what happens. I do have a nice big space to turn into after the debris if I need to.

ROAD 1st Player – Martin

Alrighty then, off we go!

Martin turns away with Joy and Palob while Kad and the Zealous Recruit both go 5 straight.

My TIEs all go 2 straight and focus while Vader does the same in the middle.

No shots this time so back to dials we go!

Turn 2

This is interesting. Unfortunately for me, I set up just a little in from the edge so even if all my TIEs just go 2 straight, it’s possible that a 5 straight from Kad followed by a boost will get him past me. Still, it’s a safe move in case Joy hard turns in around that gas cloud. Palob and the Recruit are still far away enough that I’m not worrying about them right now. The question is – what to do with Vader?

I could try going toe-to-toe with Joy but if Palob hard turns in I could be taking multiple shots.

No, I’m going all-in on Kad and set Vader a 3 hard turn to the right.

ROAD 1st Player – Me

I start moving TIEs forwards and focusing with them all ecept for one who claims the right objective. Martin bring the Recruit in along the left flank and boosts but he’s still way out.

Palob does NOT turn in, instead opting to go straight and claim the left objective. Interesting.

Joy goes 4 straight (narrowly avoiding landing on a rock! and takes a focus linked boost, clearly expecting Vader to be in the middle. Kad does indeed 5 straight and also takes a focus linked boost to dodge all but 2 of the TIEs. Balls.

Vader takes his 3 turn in. I spend afterburners to not only make range 2 of Kad but hopefully dodge Joy’s arc, take a lock and spend a Force for a focus.

So, I should have been closer to my board edge I guess. Never mind.

Vader fires at Kad but even with 3 dice and double mods I just put 1 damage into him. Underwhelming.

Howlrunnner has given a Swarm Tactics boost to the closest Jingoist so two TIEs fire at i5, hoping to intiative kill Kad. Martin’s green dice continue to have other ideas and between decent rolls and Concordia Faceoff he takes just one more damage and finishes the turn on 2 health.

Kad takes a shot at Howlrunner and lands a single hit which she takes (I’m not spending Iden for that).

Joy has just caught Vader’s corner in arc but at range 3 she fails to do any damage (or even make Vader spend another Force) and so it’s back to dials we go!

End of turn score: 1 (me) – 1 (Martin)

Turn 3

Right, what to do now then?

It’s K-turns (JARGON ALERT!!) for most of the TIEs but I’m going to bank with Wampa to start approaching the central objective. The Jingoists will use Contraband to still have tokens and they’ll all have Howl rerolls too.

What’s tricky is Vader. I’m tempted to turn after Kad but he’s got so many places he could go I can’t guarantee catching him with Vader. I also don’t want to commit him to an obvious area- to Martin can chase him down.

I decide that a 4-K is a bit risky in terms of going off the board but a 3 Talon roll (JARGON ALERT!!) is much safer.

ROAD 1st Player – Me

Wampa turns and focuses (as I curse the lack of a boost on TIEs) while the rest of the swarm take their K-turns.

Palob and the Recruit come in but very slowly while Joy turns in at the swarm. Kad banks to clear the stress and just takes a focus to stay unstressed.

Vader’s Talon roll sits him in front of the swarm (not great planning from me there) and without actions. Oh well.

The shots this turn are a little underwhelming. Vader fires 2 dice (since he’s got no lock) at an obstructed Joy and does nothing. The TIEs put 4 shots into Kad with 2 of them double modded but can still only take 1 health, leaving Kad alive on 1. Balls.

Joy fires Concussion missiles into Wampa who takes 2 hits and that’s about it.

End of turn score: 1 – 1

Total score: 2 – 2

Turn 4

It’s decision time now. Chase Kad or hit Joy? Palob and the Recruit will be joining the fight now too.

Also, I’ve got Vader in the way of the TIEs and even I get them past, they’ll then be in his way. Sigh.

I set banks for 3 of the TIEs with the back Jingoist going straight which will hopefully not bump Vader.

Wampa will turn and claim the central objective while Vader…..hmmm…… I don’t quite know. Turning him in at Kad is tempting but I may struggle to get him clear of the TIEs. A safer option will be to bank right and afterburners away to start turning in at Palob. Yep, I’ll do that.

ROAD 1st Player – Martin

Palob and the Recruit zoom into the fight while Kad K-turns and Joy takes a 1 hard turn to avoid the rock which leaves her in no-mans-land.

The banks from the TIEs land right in Joy’s flank but the back right Jingoist bumps into Vader and rolls a hit for it. Poop.

Vader takes the 3 bank, boosts left with burners but can’t take any other actions as the 3 bank is white and he’s still stressed.

Vader just about catches Palob in arc but the HWK rolls enough paint to dodge any damage. Dammit.

Wampa gets swarmed up to i6 from Vader and also fires at Palob but ALSO fails to land any damage. Geez….

The 3 angles TIEs all fire at Joy but between them can only get 2 hits past the green dice while the Jingoist takes a range 3 pot shot at Kad and, you guessed it, fails to kill him.

In response Martin focuses fire on Howlrunner from Kad, Palob and the Zealous Recruit. Iden’s charge saves her once but my greens fail me and Howlrunner dies.

Not good.

End of turn score: 2 – 5

Total score: 4 – 7

Turn 5

Time is ticking down now and it looks like we have just 1 turn left. I set Wampa a hard turn to try and block Palob. I figure that if I can focus a few shots on him including a range 1 from Vader then I can bank some points to catch up.

I set Iden a K-turn, the angled Jingoist a 3 bank while the (previously) bumped Jingoist…hmmm….. Do I dive in at Kad or try for Joy?

In my indecision, I set a 1 hard turn.

Vader will 1 bank to clear his stress.

ROAD 1st Player – Martin

Alright then, time to start moving. The Zealour Recruit 3 banks in towards Kad and takes a focus.

Wampa hard turns and rolls right, going for the block.

Palob…. hard stops. Ah. That’s leaving the 2 health Wampa a little nervous.

Kad 2 banks to clear his stress and focues before Joy K-turns.

The Jingoists take their turns (one banking, one hard turning) and both focus before Iden takes her K-turn.

Vader 1 banks, clears his stress, takes a lock on Palob and spends a force to get a focus too.

At the start of engagement I am reminded of Palob’s ability and he steals the Jingoist’s focus. Balls.

Vader goes first, launching 4 double modded dice at Palob and it comes up all paint. Martin rolls greens and rolls 2 natural evades.

Shields down I guess but now I’ve just got one, 2 dice unmodded shot at him. Eesh.

I swarm Wampa up to i6 again and fire at Joy who dodges with ease.

Kad fires at his only target and gets 1 hit into the already damaged Jingoist but doesn’t kill it. Yay! Joy goes next, rolling 4 unmodded dice into Iden but also just gets 1 hit through.

The left hand Jingoist fires at Palob and gets 1 hit on, leaving him on 2 hull but not taking any other shots while the damaged Jingoist fires at Joy but can’t do any more damage either.

Palob fires at Wampa, range 1 with the focus he stole from my Jingoist and wipes him out.

The Zealous Recruit doesn’t have a target and so we’re all done!

End of turn score: 2 – 3

Final score: 6 – 10 loss

The Conclusion…

ANOTHER loss?!?

I joke, of course.

There’s only so many times I can say that I’m facing a bad matchup before I just look ridiculous BUT sending 2 dice guns against 3 agility ships with an auto-evade at range 1 was always going to be tricky.

Kad not dying to goodness knows how many shots (10 I think?!) and Joy also getting enough evades to comfortably live several times over combined with my slowly decreasing number of TIEs meant that I was the very definition of fighting a losing battle.

My choice to disengage with Vader felt like the good, safe choice at the time but while putting him in harm’s way would have maybe been stupid and sending him blindly after Kad would have put him in 2 Fang arcs (3 if Kad had miraculously escaped again), I should maybe have been more aggressive with him. With Vader costing 7 points, losing him is not something I could have come back from but without taking a Fang out I was never going to get anywhere anyway.

Still, losing is learning and all that.

I think I’d play Vader differently next time, perhaps flank a little more, put the swarm a little closer to the board edge and have a closer lane for turning them in.

Anyway, after all this experimentation with other factions, I’ve subbed in to play an XTC game this week using….. Rebels!

With the Newport tournament coming up on Saturday I guess it makes sense to use that to get some reps in before playing out the final XTC round which suddenly feels like it’s carrying some pressure!

I’d best go repack my bag then hadn’t I! See you next week with updates on all of that!

The outro…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, 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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A MASSIVE thank you to my wonderful Patrons for their ongoing support for the blog and enabling me to give away shiny things!

Exile Initiates:
Douglas Thomson

Exile Veterans:
Mark BeorJoshua Watson, Barrie Robertson, Matt Jennings, Daniel Barringer, Dan Xuereb, Michael Bird, Steve Boulton, Jason Desmarais, HasNolo

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You are all amazing humans!

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