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The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

I’ve been away camping this week. It’s always a bit of a gamble in the UK because the weather is so ludicrously inconsistent but while we did have a little bit of rain overall it was fine and it’s always great to have quality time with my family no matter where we are.

I’m back home now though and it’s time to blog!

All in all its been a rather eventful week in the world of X-Wing so let’s dive in!

the UK Games Expo happened this past weekend and was interesting for several reasons. It was the first big event using the brand new rules and points. The feedback I’ve heard (combined with my experience of last week’s tournament) is that it’s a definite improvement on the initial 2.5 rules. The games feel a bit more rounded and the points feel a little more balanced. There’s still progress to be made I think but it’s certainly steps in the right direction.

Congratulations to Martyn Chivers for winning with a TIE swarm, facing off with Bartosz flying Rebel X-Wings in the final. Very thematic! Overall feedback from players at the tournament (gathered via Facebook mostly) has been the same as above – ‘2.6’ is an improvement on 2.5 but still has issues. What’s positive though is that much of the initial feedback (whether directly submitted or just picked up by AMG via various social media sites) has been listened to. That in itself gives me hope that over the next few months further changes might be implemented that gets the overall enthusiasm levels for the game back up to where they used to be.

Please, let me hope.

Now, there has been another thing to talk about but its quite significant so I think I’m going to do that right at the end. For now, you can just have a teeny little clue to see you through until the end…

Alright, that’s enough of that, let’s get to it!

The batrep(s)… (JARGON ALERT!!)

So, this is what you’re really here for, isn’t it. The tournament games. What did I take? How did I do? Who did I play?! (ok, probably not but let me pretend, ok?)

Well, wonder no more! It’s time to get into it.

I’ve already talked about the day itself in last week’s blog including how much fun was had (spoiler – a lot) and who won (spoiler – not me).

A lot of my brain space going in to the tournament had been to do with organisation rather than play and given the quality of players we had managed to attract to our little ol’ store, I’d made sure that mentally my expectations had been suitability adjusted. Especially with a points change nuking my list.

With the decision that the points and rules update on the 20th of May would be used, despite not technically coming into effect until the 15th of June, I needed something new. You should all know by now that I’m no list builder but with my head just starting to get around the 2.5 shift I played about with existing lists to see what I could do.

Not a lot it seemed but thankfully, after a few conversations with people who know far more about list building than I do, I ended up packing this list for casual play on the Wednesday before the tournament:

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)
Heightened Perception (3)
Debris Gambit (6)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (21/22) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

Fenn Rau (Sheathipede) (4)
Swarm Tactics (5)
Tristan Wren (2)
R4 Astromech (2)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (9/9) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

“Dutch” Vander (4)
Proton Torpedoes (12)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (12/12) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z5X119W127W136W5WW142Y4X72W118W136WWW142Y69X132W438W5WWY27XWW136WWWWW&sn=FS%20Newport%20May%2022&obs=

It’s Rebel (which I like) and it’s also ships that I already know pretty well. Bonus.

The way I see it, this list is straight up murder alpha strike. Stuff your objectives, I’m going to take you out before you can score enough points to win. Hopefully.

I took it to casual night and played against Alex who had brought a somewhat experimental list including Hawk in a LAAT and Wolffe in an Arc-170.

I forget which scenario we played (I think it may have been Scramble?) but it didn’t actually matter. I removed the LAAT in one round of fire in the first engagement and the ARC in the second. I lost 2 shields on Dutch and one on Wedge in return.

Sorry Alex

Granted, my red dice were super hot and, by his own admission, Alex had both brought an underpowered list and approached the engagement incorrectly but still, the game was over before the end of turn 3 as Alex conceded, wanting to take some time to look at alternative list options.

My decision was made. I couldn’t reasonably expect Saturday’s games to go this ‘well’ (because I actually felt very terrible at the game being so one sided) but at the very least I could see it was strong enough to give me a fighting chance.

After having a cooked breakfast with a few of the guys, I arrived at Firestorm ready to get started. My excitement in the build up to the tournament had actually been far more about organising a successful tournament than being successful in it and while getting things ready to start this was still the case.

We got boards out and Mark and I sorted out the prizes as players started arriving at the store. Once everyone had arrived and the briefing done, we got to pairings.

Before I get to my first pairing though, a short story.

One of the players who was attending was none other than 186th Squadron member, England XTC captain, Twitch streamer and, oh yes, 2019 World Champion Mr Oliver Pocknell.

I’d been wound up by my squad mate and TO Mark Hall for weeks that he’d make sure that I was paired with Oli in the first round. Or even in every round. There was much hilarity.

So of course, you can guess what happened, right?

Game 1 – Chance Engagement – Oliver Pocknell

I knew something was up when Mark burst out laughing once the draw was made. He insists that he did nothing untoward and that he didn’t even press the button on Tabletop To! (that’s right Josh, it’s YOUR fault!)

It was fine though. I had no big aspirations of going 4-0 or anything (despite the lovely trophy!) and I always find playing against top level players really fascinating. Plus Oli is a really great guy, fantastic opponent and all round legend so how can I be upset with that?!

What was very interesting is that we’d been chatting the night before and not only knew each other’s lists but basically had each other’s lists. Well, almost.

Luke Skywalker (6)
Shattering Shot (3)
Trick Shot (4)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
R3 Astromech (3)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (22/22) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

Wedge Antilles (6)
Trick Shot (4)
Proton Torpedoes (12)
R4 Astromech (2)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

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

Bodica Venj (5)
Beskar Reinforced Plating (6)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (6/6) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Ezra Bridger (TIE Fighter) (3)
K-2SO (6)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (6/6) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 1

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z4X419W133W136W4WW142Y5X133WW136W5WW142Y499XWWW445Y14XW314W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=coreasteroid5,core2asteroid4,core2asteroid5

Oli had opted for Ezra with K-2SO for the pseudo coordinate and Bodica in the Rebel Fang for the double tap ability. Nasty.

We set up differently (should have been my first clue!) and started our approach. The first thing that struck me was just how much the no scoring on turn 1 changes things, there’s no mad rush to engage now.

After messing up my angles (doh!) and doing a little self bumping (with no damage, thankfully!), we met in the middle and rolled a LOT of dice.

On the face of it we traded equally with both Luke Skywalkers being nuked off the table but I’d also leaked some damage from Dutch.

I gunned forward with Dutch to get the bump on Oli’s Wedge to try and reduce his offensive output…

Balls

Oli whiffs (JARGON ALERT!!) his shot into Dutch though while in return I get 3 shots into Oli’s Wedge, taking him down to 2 hull.

Fenn takes a beating from E£zra and Bodica though, leaving him on 2 hull.

A funny protrusion on the bottom left asteroid means I go for a Talon Roll (JARGON ALERT!!) with Wedge rather than a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) like Dutch.

This almost works out perfectly as Oli tries to escape with his Wedge. Almost.

Being the pro that he is, he closes wings before turning and boosts out of harm’s way.

I think it’s at this point that someone reminds us that this is Chance Engagement and half points are a thing. Oops! Oli picks up 2 additional points for Fenn and I get 3 points for Wedge.

My damage dealers are stressed now though and my primary target is running away.

It’s difficult to get my target back onto Wedge but I try. Meanwhile Oli’s Wedge and Bodica converge on my (once again!) bumped ships and Fenn gets deleted. Ouch.

With time almost up and the 20 point target almost breached, we go into the last turn.

Ezra has run away, leaving me Wedge and Bodica vs Wedge and Dutch. Oli’s Wedge has 1 hull remaining, my Dutch has 3.

I dial in a 3 bank, hoping to get distance but Oli calls it right, landing Bodica point blank and Wedge comes in around behind him.

My Wedge talon rolls and takes out Oli’s Wedge from behind the rock but, with Simultaneous Fire, Bodica and Oli’s Wedge take out Dutch and the game is over.

Result: 17 – 21 loss

Mini conclusion…

That was closer than I thought it would be when the draw was made! I made a couple of errors (my deployment meant that I was threading through the asteroid gap when I should probably just have gone around it. Plus the bumps of course) but overall I’m reasonably pleased with how that went. Oli went on to finish in 4th place with a 3-1 record. It’s the start of a trend you’ll notice! Right, on to the next!

Game 2 – Assault at the Satellite Array – Gavin Kirby

Caught you at the wrong time there Gav, sorry!

Wait… Gavin lost his first game? Sound s unlik… no, hang on, no, no he won it. That’s right, the curse of Tabletop.To strikes me AGAIN and I’m paired up to a round 1 winner after losing my game! Still, I’m not that upset because Gavin is a genuinely lovely guy and great to play against.

But what list did he bring? Oh, it’s a TIE swarm. I guess they’re back now!

“Howlrunner” (4)
Crack Shot (3)
Elusive (2)
Precision Ion Engines (2)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (7/8) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 1

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

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

“Scourge” Skutu (3)
Crack Shot (3)

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

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

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

Iden Versio (3)
Disciplined (2)
Crack Shot (3)
Jamming Beam (0)
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=v9ZhZ20Z217X116W119W338Y219X116W12Y220X116Y223X381W116WW338Y218X381W116W12WW338Y504X92Y221X381&sn=TIE%20Swarm&obs=core2asteroid0,core2asteroid2,coreasteroid0

Eesh. Now, I’m not great at assessing matchups on the fly and I’m torn here over my chances. What I do know is – do not joust it. I’ll need to get Gavin to spend that Iden charge as early as possible and then try and take out Howlrunner. Maybe then I’ll have a chance. He’s also got more bodies than I do for claiming objectives so I need to delete things as fast as I can. Thankfully, that’s what my list is designed to do. The question is – can I make it work?

As we take the first couple of turns I’m cursing myself for not deploying closer to the middle for a faster engagement as Gavin dangles Wampa and a Jingoist out for me to take. I turn in slowly though and the distances are just perfect for me to take out Wampa without any return fire. Lovely.

The thing is, I’ve been drawn into that joust after all. Oops.

Fenn uses Swarm Tactics to take Dutch up to i6 and forces Iden to spend her charge to save herself.

With the rogue Jingoist sitting right in front of Wedge he takes a shot but it (rather annoyingly and importantly) lives on 1 hull. Meanwhile Luke takes out Iden (but should probably have taken Howl instead) and over the rest of this turn and the following one, I lose Wedge but Iden and her pesky charge are gone and I take out Howlrunner too.

It’s looking pretty ok I think? By the end of turn 4 I’ve removed Wampa, Iden (plus her charge) and Howlrunner in exchange for Wedge. The thing is, to get to this position I missed out on some objectives and while Gavin has scored 7 points from them, I’ve scored just 1 which puts me 10-13 behind.

I come in for another run and take out another TIE but this time it costs me Dutch and while Fenn is now off trying to score objectives, things are looking really tight.

In the closing turn Luke takes out yet another TIE but that 1 health badly limping Jingoist does the pretty much impossible by dodging Luke, evading Fenn’s shot and then, just to rub salt in the wound, manages to snag TWO objectives by the closest of margins

Ain’t that a kick in the nuts!

This prevents Luke from claiming the central objective and means that I fail to score that one extra precious point…

Result: 20 – 21 loss

Mini conclusion…

Well, that’s annoying! In any other scenario I think that this probably goes my way but my choice to basically ignore objectives in the early-mid game (picking up just 5 objective points all game) cost me the result. Gavin felt (and correct me if I’m wrong mate!) that I deserved at least a draw and in all honesty, given the rate I managed to kill ships, maybe has a point but the result is what it is and I don’t begrudge him for it because he’s such a lovely bloke! Gavin went on to go 4 – 0 and finished in 2nd place overall.

Game 3 – Salvage Mission – James Moring

So this time I’ll get paired with someone who’s lost both games, right? Right?! Nope, TTT has paired me with James who has a loss and a draw. Not too bad I suppose but still, TTT strikes again!

James is one of three guys who drove all the way from London to play which blows my mind! This time the scenario is Scramble. I wonder what my chances are based on what his list is….

“Klick” (3)
R3 Astromech (3)
Synchronized Console (1)
Alpha-3B “Besh” (0)
Proton Bombs (4)

Ship Cost: 3 Loadout: (8/8) Half Points: 1 Damage Threshold: 2

Anakin Skywalker (Delta-7b) (7)
Outmaneuver (12)
R4-P Astromech (2)
Synchronized Console (1)

Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (15/15) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3

“Hawk” (5)
Dedicated (1)
Proton Rockets (8)
Novice Technician (2)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (8)
Synchronized Console (1)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (20/20) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 5

Barriss Offee (Delta-7b) (5)
Predictive Shot (1)
C1-10P (8)
Synchronized Console (1)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (10/10) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v9ZhZ20Z433XW4W211W337W69Y528XWW126W213W211Y415X210W102WW53WW227WW211Y530X203W252W211&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Interesting! The slight surprise is that the Aethersprites are the 7b variety, reducing their agility but still, Anakin is a worry (especially since I get 1st player for setup).

We set up objectives, obstacles and ships and are ready to begin.

Aside from my placement of Fenn, I’m pretty happy with what’s happening here. I can sink three double modded torps into something, possibly before it fires. The question is, what do I shoot?

It seems that my logical brain took a short break as, while planning for turn 2, I opt to kill the LAAT to prevent rerolls for James. It was….not the correct choice.

In order to do it I had to completely ignore the objectives so that I could get all my mods. Meanwhile James used Klick to pick up one crate way off in the far corner.

Now, I did manage to wipe out the LAAT before it could shoot or even do anything at all, but in response I lost Wedge to a brutal outmanoeuvre shot from Anakin followed up by a shot from Barriss.

Not a great trade.

I then proceeded to put my ships in terrible (and somewhat predictable) positions, all the while allowing James’ ships to fire on me while unable to punch through much damage myself.

I did manage to killbox Anakin eventually…

…but in the meantime Barriss had picked up another crate and buggered off.

By the time Dutch died I was 10 points behind and even when Anakin eventually fell it was far too little too late.

Result: 12 – 20 loss

Mini conclusion…

While the first two games were very close and never felt like I was totally out of it, this one was pretty rough from the first engagement onwards and very much my own fault. Had I gone a little slower or banked left in turn 2, I could have nailed Anakin with three lots of Proton Torps for a 7 point head start and then gone to work on the LAAT or Barriss while maybe picking up an objective or two.

James was a lovely opponent and actually went on to win his last game and finish in 6th place.

Lessons learned (I mean, I hope!) and one more game left to play. Was I going to to go 0-4 for the day?!

Game 4 – Scramble the Transmissions – Dylan Hall

Yes, it was to be a Dylan Vs Dylan grudge match to finish the day. Not only that, we also had some matching pilots too. Sort of…

Wedge Antilles (A-Wing) (4)
Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (0/10) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Lando Calrissian (8)
Ship Cost: 8 Loadout: (0/21) Half Points: 4 Damage Threshold: 6

AP-5 (4)
Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (0/4) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

“Dutch” Vander (4)
Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (0/12) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z452XWWWWY43XWWWWWWWWY72XWWWY27XWWWWWWW&sn=FS%20Newport%20May%2022&obs=

Sadly his list isn’t on TTT and I can’t remember loadouts except that Lando had Nien crew (as he should!) and I think his Dutch had Plasma torps, R3 Astromech and Dorsal Turret.

Despite what had happened in my last couple of games (lessons not learned then?!) I opted to ignore the objectives for now and I had a nice clear run at the middle of the board.

I chipped a little damage into Dylan’s Wedge who claimed and ran, giving him an early lead.

I stole the central objective back to keep up on points as we started to get into the beginnings of a scrum with Lando edging just a little too close to my ships and eating 2 double modded torps.

The next turn was exceptionally bloody as I lost Dutch (after he’d fired his second torp thankfully!) but managed to finish off Lando in reply.

Everybody shoots except Lando!

Fenn and Wedge are doing ok but Luke is taking a bit of a pounding and while he finished off AP-5 to score 4 more points, he dies the next turn after a poorly chosen 3 bank lands him RIGHT in front of A-Wing Wedge.

Another of Dylan’s ships dies (though I can’t recall which one!) and while it’s really close, looking back, I miscounted one of the ship points (scoring myself 3 instead of 4!) and we are (incorrectly) at 19 points each at the end of turn 8.

With the central objective still mine, I send Fenn up to the top left corner and steal the one up there, giving me 2 to Dylan’s 1 and the game ends with time called.

Result: 21 (though should be 22!) – 20 win

Mini conclusion…

I had thought this game was all over when Lando popped but some consistent damage into Luke from Dylan’s other ships made it much much closer. It was certainly thrilling going in to that last turn level (wrongly!) on points but I knew I could grab the second objective to see it out.

Now, do I feel bad about beating a child? A little, sure but Dylan’s a good player AND it meant that he got the voucher for store credit so am I really the bad guy here? Mark certainly made sure to tell me that I was!

The conclusion…

On the face of it you’d probably think that I’d had a bad day. You’d be wrong. Yes the results didn’t go my way but my attitude and primary goal going into the day was to make sure everyone had a good time.

Lots of work went into prizes and pushing ticket sales and the fact that we got some pretty well known people from the UK X-Wing scene to come to our little store where we play next to Tesco tills STILL has me buzzing.

Remember, our next event is in July and you can check the Facebook event here and get tickets here. It’s going to be AWESOME!!

As for my results, I went 1 – 3 overall (finishing 14th).

Is the result I was hoping for? No, probably not. Do I mind? Actually, no, not really. I had 4 really good games, took 2 very top level players closer than I might have (considering my track record with 2.5 so far!) and the tournament itself went really well which is the real win for me in all this.

If you’d like to see the final standings, the TTT link is here.

The list is good and good fun (for me, I’m not sure how opponents feel about the relentless Torps!) and I’ll probably keep using it, at least for the moment. I can’t say that I got the fullest value from Elusive, Predator or Heightened Perception so perhaps I could look at whether they earn their place in the list but that’s fine tuning really. The list jousts pretty well and makes things go boom, two things I like!

I clearly still need to work on my objective play though. While this list loves the action efficiency and can deal devastating damage, I got WAY outscored on objective points over the day. Looking back at the score sheets, I got just 17 points that way while my opponents scored 38 against me. If I redress that balance, even just a little bit, I probably win at least one of those losses.

It’s a work in progress I guess!

The mysterious bit…

Being away has perhaps limited the available time I’ve had to put this blog together but I need to make space for this next bit. Remember I said about that significant thing to talk about that I’d save til later?

Well later is now people so strap in, things are about to get weird.

In a rather unusual and unexpected turn of events (which is still actually freaking me out to a certain extent), it seems I have become the captain of Team Wales for the XTC.

I know, right?!?

Following a chat with Oli towards the end of the tournament day, he sent a message to Stephen Gage (Wales captain for the last few years). Stephen is one of the players based out of Firestorm Games in Cardiff who has, unfortunately, not taken to the changes to the game with the release of 2.5.

Speaking with him directly, he said that, coupled with his own loss of interest, several other previous XTC players felt the same way when asked and he decided not to go ahead with organising a team. Totally understandable given his feelings on the game.

I’d been vaguely aware of the XTC pre covid but last year’s online event was just amazing. The build up and excitement that came across through Facebook posts of team reveals, podcast hype and so on just built it into this thing that I really enjoyed following.

The thought of missing out on that for Wales this year just made me feel sad. So I decided to do something about it and here I am, neck deep in the unknown, making it up as I go along!

As you can imagine, this will mean that my blogs over the coming weeks may well be XTC heavy in content in some form or another and will be heavily biased towards Wales, just to warn you! Time to get aboard the hype train for XTC! Woop!

Getting a team together has also made me realise how little I know (and, I suppose how few people I know) about X-Wing in Wales. Where is it played and on what nights? Who are the community leaders and TO’s? Who’s got aspirations of playing at World’s and who just likes keeping it casual?

And so, on top of all the other stuff I’ve got going on in my head, I decided to create a Facebook group for that. Why not eh?

So if you’re Welsh, Wales based, Wales adjacent or even just nosey, join up to the group and make yourself known. There will eventually be some pinned posts for stores that host casual sessions and tournaments and things like that and it’s yet another place to just chat about the game we love.

That’s MORE than enough from me for this week. In the meantime I’d best get some practice games in and get these results looking a bit healthier!

Catch you next week!

The outro…

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