Homecoming

The intro…

Hey! Welcome to this week’s blog!

And what a week it’s been! After what felt like FOREVER following AMG’s Ministravaganza stream about X-Wing we got the points update we’d all been waiting for. And boy was it a big one.

I’ve (mostly) written a separate post about points so I won’t elaborate here but I do know that the points changes have been (mostly) well received. Things that needed to go up went up but more surprising was the scope of things that went down in cost.

The meta for the next few months should contain a lot of new and interesting lists and I’m excited to see what comes up!

The pre-amble…

So at the third attempt, I managed to make it to my first post-covid monthly tournament at my ‘home’ store at Firestorm Games in Newport! Yay!

With in-person play returning to the store in late June, in July we were away and in August I’d booked to play at Excelsior in Bristol (before Firestorm decided to go monthly) which then happened to be the week before it and 2 Saturdays in a row was pushing my luck…

And so the big question – what list to take? Well, that’s an interesting tale.

I just need to preface this with a little disclaimer – with the points change having only been 2 days before the tournament, the decision was taken quite early to stick with the existing (now old) points to avoid people’s lists being trashed just before coming. This is in line with FFG’s tournament guidelines (may they rest in peace) of no changes within 11 days of the tournament would be applied.

Following on from last week’s blog where I discussed 3 different variants of Heratanni across 2 games, I opted to run the ARC and U-Wing version in my Sith Taker League game. It was apparently time for my ‘once a season’ game with the ever awesome Mr Jon Vicary who was running a list he sort of wants to keep under wraps.

While the initial engagement went well enough I made some very crucial errors resulting in more self bumps than is reasonable, even for someone of my middling experience/skill level and to top it off I forgot to flip Benthic’s wings back to attack position in not just one but two important turns, resulting in his agility being reduced for several incoming shots.

The token passing nonsense bailed me out much more than I deserved but losing Benthic and Kyle in the same turn (Benthic before having fired) made it impossible to scrape back anywhere near enough points to even make it close as Jon deservedly rode out a 150-77 win.

My confidence in the list was slightly shaken and so the question remained – with just Wednesday’s casual night for testing, which variant of the list would I take?

Too many variants!

I arrived at Firestorm on the Wednesday full of doubt.

I took ALL the ships out of my case that make up the various lists and just stared at them for a few minutes.

I was to be playing Peter who was still riding the 4 x T-70 train that I’d faced a few weeks before but had made another tweak to his list since we last played.

We briefly discussed the pros and cons of X-Wing Garven vs ARC Garven (in terms of hit points, agility and opportunities for his ability to ptrigger) and U-Wing vs E-Wing (in terms of beef vs mobility and Perceptive Benthic providing an extra focus in the list) as I genuinely struggled to decide which list to field.

In the end I opted to go with Arc and U-Wing for no particular reason. I mean, another rep with it can’t hurt, right?

Kyle Katarn (31)
Jyn Erso (2)
Hull Upgrade (5)
Moldy Crow (16)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 3

Garven Dreis (49)
Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 5

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

Benthic Two Tubes (46)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 4

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/old/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z48XWW40W164WW156Y79XWWWWWY451XWWWY36XWW54WWW140&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

I manage to balance my ship positions a little better than I did against Jon, despite hard turning in from my corner set up and rolling with Garven.

WRONG WAY HERA!!!

I hit the initial range 3 engage with plenty of tokens and traded 2 shields from Peter’s ships for 1 shield from Garven.

Things escalated a little from there with Peter’s Ello Asty choosing to roll red natties (JARGON ALERT!!) multiple times while my tokens were whittled down.

In response Kyle later put 4 hits into Ello at range 1 and the T-70 blanked out, halving him immediately.

In the end I took out his i3 and i1 X-Wings (as well as the half on Ello) while still having all 4 ships on the board (in varying levels of health) giving me a 120-ish to 52 points win which, in all fairness, felt a lot closer than that.

So what’s the decision? I need some time to think about it. I’ve still got a few days, right?

What’s that you say? The points update ended up dropping in the next 24 hours? Oh. Maybe I’d better chose quickly so that I can print out my list then.

Since I was now a few games deep with the U-Wing and ARC version and it’s the one I’ve flown most recently, I decided to stick with it, building the list in YASB and printing it out before any changes came to nuke it from orbit.

I later found out that I could have just used https://raithos.github.io/old/

Saturday morning seemed to come around quite quickly and was…interesting.

Without boring you with too much detail it involved about 4 times more driving time than the expected 15 minutes, a possibly positive lateral flow test* (not me, incidentally) and going from being parked up on site 45 minutes before pairings were drawn to being there 2 minutes before and desperately unpacking my bag as quickly as I could.

Not exactly the best preparation for 4 back to back games of X-Wing!

Still, I was there to enjoy myself and while a tilt at winning it was in the back of my mind, my main targets were, as ever, to break even and to have fun with friends!

*said possibly positive result was Cai and he hasn’t been particularly ill with it but a PCR test taken that morning has since come back positive which has had it’s own implications…

Right, on with the games then!

The batreps… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Still slightly reeling from the morning’s events so far I tried to organise my stuff and got ready for round 1 pairings….

Game 1 – Ben Fry

Ben is local and he I have played before but not for AGES and it was great to see him. He’d brought an interesting First Order list.

Kylo Ren (76)
Instinctive Aim (1)
Advanced Optics (5)
Proton Torpedoes (12)

Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 3

“Quickdraw” (47)
Special Forces Gunner (9)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/old/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZsZ200Z236X73W186W136WWY243XWWW182WWY269XWY269XW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

A 94 point Kylo? Crazy. As far as I can tell there aren’t any crazy tricks or anything, just need to try and not get shot by Proton Torps, double tapped by Quickdraw or blocked by the i1 Cadets.

I had the bid by 1 point so made Ben first player so Hera can move last.

I deploy in a corner and take my time to work up to the corner debris before turning in around it while Ben spreads his ships slightly before bringing them in through the middle.

The initial engagement sees one of Kylo’s torps hit Benthic but the token passing nonsense means he only takes one damage. Ben overcommits with Kylo in the follow up and while Benthic’s 2 hard turn rather than hard stop and rotate was designed to keep me in tokens, it means he misses arc.

Garven gets it though and halves Kylo in one shot. Nice.

Benthic bleeds a little more damage in the following turn while I try (and fail) to get more damage on Kylo. In return Kylo fires his last torp at Hera and manages to strip shields for half points. Balls.

With Benthic 1 from half points and time ticking down I decide to 4 straight him over the debris and, of course, roll the crit, halving him. Double balls.

With neither TIE/FO damaged and quickdraw only having lost 1 shield I’m setting dials while trying to work out points in my head but there are no written points in front of me and I’m guessing at rough values. It’s close for sure.

As we play out the last turn Ben puts Kylo on the central rock by maybe 1mm and he rolls a hit but lives on 1 hull while I dodge with Hera and Benthic runs far away. Garven fails to do any more damage to Quickdraw and then we’re done.

We add up the points. I was close.

Result: 48 – 51 loss

Oof. This feels a bit harsh but I’m paying the price for chasing Kylo when I should have settle for half on him and chased down something else. I was probably too cautious about Quickdraw’s double-tap, declining at least one shot, possibly two (and one of those would have been unmodded). Another 2 shields on her would have won me the game. And also not taking the crit when Benthic went over the debris of course. A calculated choice that didn’t work out.

LATE EDIT – oh my days I’m such an idiot!! ALL DAY I used Launchbay Next to total up my points at the end of games. Who sees what’s wrong with that…..?

Yep, my list went up in the change and I was using NEW points instead of old ones. Oh no. Having reviewed the games while writing this blog it’s only this game that would have been affected, making it a 48-48 draw and going to Final Salvo so it’s still possible I’d have lost. I’m not particularly upset with myself for it, my choices during the game are what lost it for me anyway!

Lessons learned and time to move on to game two!

Game 2 – Steve Boulton

It seems that if Steve and I are in the same tournament, we will end up playing each other, guaranteed. Whether that’s the Vagabond tournaments he organised during lockdown, the Sith Taker League or last year’s tournament at Firestorm Cardiff, if he’s there, we’re paired and today was no exception!

Off the back of my disappointment from the previous game I have to admit I wasn’t overly pleased at the prospect of facing Steve’s list

Bossk (60)
Cutthroat (1)
Zam Wesell (4)
Gamut Key (6)
Greedo (1)
False Transponder Codes (2)

Ship total: 74 Half Points: 37 Threshold: 6

Joy Rekkoff (47)
Cutthroat (1)
Ion Torpedoes (4)

Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

Genesis Red (31)
Cutthroat (1)
Proton Torpedoes (12)

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 2

Lando Calrissian (Scum) (Escape Craft) (29)
Ship total: 29 Half Points: 15 Threshold: 2

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/old/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z153X375WWW336W386W83W369WWY100X375W135WY133X375WW136Y93XWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Friggin Bossk. I’m yet to beat a Bossk list of any variety and I know Steve’s done well with this list of late. I have to admit that a part of me gave up a little, resigned to a second loss and as a result I relaxed a bit as we started. It also helps that Steve’s a really lovely bloke who manages to keep you smiling even when he’s smashing your ships to pieces.

My resigned feeling didn’t really abate when the first meaningful engagement took Kyle down to 1 health (God bless that Hull Upgrade!) in return for exactly zero damage.

RUN AWAY KYLE!!!

The next few turns saw me trying to block and arc dodge Steve’s i4’s with Garven and Benthic while trying to get some damage in onto something (anything!) to score some points. I managed to get half on Genesis Red in exchange for half on Benthic while desperately trying to pile damage into Bossk since he is the points fortress in Steve’s list.

Meanwhile Steve was trying desperately to finish off Kyle but the resourceful Rebel successfully stayed out of range until the very last turn when Steve managed to get arcs onto him with Genesis Red, Lando AND Bossk. Yikes.

A ridiculously unlikely sequence of events then played out as Genesis, Lando AND Bossk all rolled poorly with their reds and Kyle (helped by Hera being close by) dodged EVERY. SINGLE. SHOT.

Kyle Katarn. Unreasonably lucky, even without the Force.

Adding insult to injury, he then proceeded to fire at Bossk and using the last remaining focus in the list managed to get the damage needed to halve him.

What a freaking jerk.

Result: 59 – 54 win

After the result had been submitted Steve remembered that Zam should have triggered when Kyle shot Bossk and while he didn’t want the result changed, he did want to know how it would have played out.

Steve rolled his 3 red dice (with no mods) and rolled 1 hit. Kyle rolled his 3 greens (since it was obstructed) with no mods and evaded that to. Gross.

I’m genuinely surprised that the game played out the way it did. Steve’s early damage output definitely had me on the ropes and while I’m pleased with my overall play I DEFINITELY got lucky with Kyle surviving and DEFINITELY didn’t deserve it.

I did find this Bossk list a bit easier to figure out how to approach than the triple large base monstrosity that Ben Barber brought to Bristol. The M3-A dished out more pain than I expected but once again, the plethora of tokens helped my ships to weather the storm.

One win, one loss, time for a very short lunch break!

Game 3 – Alex Jensterle

Yes Alex, this picture is now on the internet forever.

Alex is one of our local guys but circumstances since covid have meant that he doesn’t get down on Wednesdays any more. In fact the last time we played was in the ‘final’ (as the only two 2-0 players) in the tournament at Duke’s Gaming which I very narrowly won. I don’t know that I’ve seen Alex EVER bring a list that isn’t Republic and today was no different:

Jedi Knight (37)
Delta-7B (12)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 3

Jedi Knight (37)
Delta-7B (12)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 3

Squad Seven Veteran (44)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 5

“Warthog” (54)
Clone Commander Cody (4)

Ship total: 58 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 5

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/old/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v8ZsZ200Z277XWW201WY277XWW201WY340XWWWWWY414XWWWW225WW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

With all of Alex’s ships being i3 I gave him first player in case moving Kyle’s arc (or even boosting him) makes a difference.

As we begin Alex starts sending his Knights up the far flank while Warthog and the ARC start up the middle. It looks like we’re going to meet in the middle so I try to range control accordingly…

…and I blew it, landing Benthic within range of all 4 of his ships while I’ve only got 2 arcs on his ARC.

I lose half on Benthic while getting half on the Squad Seven Vet. It feels like a fair trade but given that Benthic is 10 points more expensive, it probably isn’t.

In the following turn Alex totally forgets that U-Wings can stop and bumps two of his ships into him. Nice.

Despite only have 2 ships that can fire at it I manage to take the ARC off the board while Benthic lives on 1 hull. Close one!

The bad news though is that the two bumped ships manage to half Hera.

Hera then runs away, leading the Jedi Knights on a merry chase while Garven and Kyle chip away at Warthog.

Alex abandons his chase of Hera and manage to halve Garven. Not ideal.

As we approach the end game I decide to turn away with Garven but prevents me getting decent shots onto Warthog. Meanwhile the Jedi have switched back to Hera (which I didn’t see coming) and while she lives they are now dangerously close.

Alex manages a block on Hera but she lives (again!) but time is running out.

I try and tot up the points in my head and figure that even if Hera dies, if I can finish off Warthog I might be in with a chance.

Hera turns in, range 1 on Warthog and kills him.

Warthog shoot back and kills Hera at the first attempt which allows the stressed Jedi to take long range pot shots at Kyle and annoyingly they half him and the game is over.

Result: 148 – 102 loss

So it seems that I can’t add! Even if I’d have not lost half of Kyle in that last round of shooting, Hera needed to live in order for me to win and while that may have been possible with 2 shots onto Warthog from Garven and Kyle, both were 2 dice and both were obstructed so it wasn’t especially likely.

I lost the game much earlier than that, though, not getting my range control right for the first engagement and targeting the ARC first which was the cheapest ship in Alex’s list. The decision to turn Garven away didn’t help and while it had felt like it was close going into the last turn, I’d muddled the points and so came up with the wrong win condition.

Silly me!

So now at 1 – 2 I went in to the last game of the day…

Game 4 – Alex Boulton

Achievement unlocked – play two Boultons in one day!

Maarek Stele (45)
Marksmanship (1)
Fire-Control System (2)
Mag-Pulse Warheads (5)
Afterburners (6)

Ship total: 59 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 3

Rear Admiral Chiraneau (76)
Lone Wolf (5)
Grand Inquisitor (13)
Seventh Sister (9)
Darth Vader (14)
Fifth Brother (12)
Proximity Mines (6)
Hull Upgrade (2)
Dauntless (4)

Ship total: 141 Half Points: 71 Threshold: 9

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/old/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v8ZsZ200Z174X125W113W311W105Y214X124WW33W60W26W82W70W164W147&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Holy Cow – 141 point RAC (JARGON ALERT!!)!!! Funnily enough this wasn’t dissimilar to the crazy Deci build that Cai had taken to our Epic event a few weeks ago. It’s a MASSIVE target for me to shoot at but it’s nasty to deal with while taking it down. I read the crew cards several times but none of it really goes in as we get started.

Alex feints in with Marek before (slightly predictably but correctly) turning away while RAC accepted the challenge of turning in and navigating the obstacles.

Sadly for Alex, Marek clipped the debris while turning and, like me earlier, rolled that 1 in 8 and lost a shield for it. Unfortunate.

I began assaulting the Decimator from range, VERY aware of not getting behind it. What I forgot to consider was getting close to it as the following turn got interesting.

It started with Vader crew stripping a token before RAC’s ability and Fifth Brother aided the ship’s shot in tearing chunks out of Benthic. In response I got 4 good shots back in. Progress.

The next turn I couldn’t quite figure out where he was going to go so I dived in for the block with Benthic.

And missed. Just.

NOT A BUMP!

While I rue the missed bump, Alex turns RAC 2 hard right anyway, putting my entire list behind him and dodging Benthic’s arc. Balls.

More damage gets traded as I slowly grind the Decimator down. Meanwhile, my only saving grace is that Marek seems to be taking a while to circle around the debris and come back in.

With Benthic now behind him RAC drops the inevitable Proximity mine on him but only the auto hit goes through. I get one more turn or piling damage in without thinking about Marek, getting half points on RAC but now Garven starts leaking damage too.

RAC drops another Prox mine but this time I can avoid it, stopping Benthic and rotating to blast past it next turn. Hera now starts parking in front of the Decimator but that feels like a bad idea too since the Dauntless title lets him still take an action.

I get to put even more damage on to the Deci (but it still won’t die!!) as Alex switches to hitting Garven with RAC and Marek takes a pot shot at Benthic from long range.

The next turn is total carnage as I opt to pass a focus from Kyle to Benthic instead of Garven. Alex uses Vader crew on Garven to deal the last card needed to kill him. Ouch.

Marek then finishes off Benthic and before I can even shoot this turn, I’m 2 ships down.

Panic!

Kyle does the business though and manages to (finally!!) finish off RAC.

Ok, time to quickly take stock. I’ve lost my 2 chunky ships at just over 50 points each while Alex is down 141 points. Marek is 2 damage from being halved, both my remaining ships are full health.

This time I’m confident that my maths is correct and I’m up.

Over the next 20-ish minutes I try my best to be unpredictable while also asking Alex to look at the x1’s dial goodness knows how many times while I try to stay out of it’s arc or engineer a bump. It feels like every turn has a huge number of options and connotations and picking the best one feels more taxing than it should.

I eventually manage to circle both ships around to converge shots but my purposeful (and successful) block with Kyle is tempered by an accidental bump with Hera and nobody shoots anyone.

At this point, with Kyle fully stocked with focuses, Hera being super fast and Marek needing to turn around quickly I decide to run away which, while it isn’t particularly nice or fun, is objectively the right thing to do with just a fistful of minutes to go.

As we hit the last turn Marek has caught back up but Alex has to pick a direction to go. He sends Marek left after Hera but she’s hard turned the other way and is well out of arc. She does have a shot but it does no damage and the game is done.

Result: 141 – 103 win

I reply to Alex’s exclamation of ‘you coward!’ at the end with an ‘I know! Sorry!’. On reflection, I’m not proud of what I did here. Being mid-low table I should have probably lined up a joust and left it to the dice to decide my fate. If we had been vying for first place then it’s definitely the right call and I would have been quite proud of how I’d played it out but with nothing (other than my own stupid pride) resting on the result I now feel that it was a pretty harsh thing to inflict on someone.

Sorry Alex! I hope you can forgive me!

In terms of the game itself, that Decimator is horrendous to deal with and I think that if Alex had got Marek in on the action a turn or two earlier I’d have been in real trouble. Not catching the Vader hit onto Garven was a bit silly too and while he may still have died that turn it might have meant that maybe Benthic didn’t as Alex would have needed to commit a shot to him.

Still, it was a good game overall and probably worthy of carrying more weight than who finishes where in mid-table mediocrity!

The conclusion…

What a great day. Despite a few unfortunate late drops due to illness and other things we had a fantastic time.

With this ‘last hurrah’ for these points I’m a little disappointed in how I did with what I anticipated being the last decent Rebel list we’d see in the meta for a while. The losses were both close (well, maybe not against Alex) but then the wins were as well.

I think my biggest take away from the day was knowing points and win conditions. It’s annoying because I know that already. I think between the rush in the lead up and not having correct points or printed points on hand meant that I was guessing (educated guessing but still…) and I should have taken the time to work that out properly.

There seems little point in analysing the list all that much since the points update bumped it to 206 points in it’s current form and the OG version (with T-65 Garven, no Hull Upgrade on Kyle, Leia on Benthic and Tracers on Hera) now at 209. That said, being that the update hasn’t blown the list out of orbit (like FFG’s used to do), it is still possible to juggle things around and have the bones of it as a legal list but I’ll save that for another blog and some test games at a later point.

I want to say a massive thank you to our TO, the very awesome Paul Fallon who ran a great tournament (as always!) and a huge congratulations to Alex Jensterle who went on to win (despite claiming to be out of practice!).

I’ll also give a special mention to Richard Otton for bringing an Imperial list with 2 Bombers and 2 Punishers which had a HUGE 33 charges in it and to Josh Hall for not only bringing his Squid ship along for me to take pics of as a favour for someone but for manging to pull off this beautiful bomb drop.

Yes, it’s pre-activation but he did manage to hit someone. Awesome.

I’ve got a crazy week coming up so my game time (and writing time!) will be limited but as I said at the start, I’ve already got something lined up. I hope you come back next week to check it out!

The outro…

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