Learning Diversity

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

There’s rather a lot of stuff going on at the moment so I’d better get started!

Tournament Update…

Yes, I AM still banging on about this! It’s just 11 days until the next tournament at Firestorm Games Newport and we’ve still got a few tickets left!

We’ll have participation prizes, spot prizes, a Louis Leong prize kit (complete with challenge coin and those gorgeous Beskar charge tokens!) and a trophy!

We will also have the guys from Firecast Focus with us to stream on the day! It’s going to be great!

firecast

You can get tickets here and you can check out the Facebook event here for more info.

Patreon Update…

Yes, the end of this quarter is rapidly approaching (12 days from time of publishing!) so maybe it’s time to show off a little more of the goodies on offer!

So to break it down…
Veteran Level gets the Wedge card and an objective token;
Commander Level gets three objective tokens, the Wedge card, the Leia card and the custom made Mando N-1 card;
and finally the Legend Level gets a full set of 5 objectives, all three cards AND the 3D printed Mandalorian N-1 to go with the card!

There’s one more announcement next week (the giveaway prize!) so pop back if you want to see what it is. If you fancy signing up to support the blog and getting your hands on some of these then you can do that right here. There’s no pressure though of course!

Right, that’s it for now, what’s next?

News update…

Last month AMG had to postpone their planned Ministravaganza event due to a chunk of their staff coming down with covid (boooooooooo covid!). Last week that rescheduled event happened with one particular stream about X-Wing and oh boy are there some updates from that.

Sadly there’s no article to link to (articles eh? Remember those?) but as a short summary (stolen from a post in the Fly Better Facebook group):

  • Battle of Yavin pack spoilers
  • Siege of Coruscant spoilers
  • Confirmation of Worlds at Gencon being ongoing
  • Store Champs returning and providing Worlds invites
  • Hotshots and Aces 2 announced
  • First round of reprints announced
  • Faction starter packs announced

There might be more that I missed since I’ve not had time to watch the whole thing through myself.

Several of these are pretty significant for the future of X-Wing in my opinion.

Firstly, the Store Champs invite structure being reinstated is a big indication that AMG are putting a big focus on OP moving forwards. This is definitely a good thing.

The new Hotshots pack is very cool, adding new pilots for existing ships which, as we’ve already seen from the last pack, can give a new lease of life to current ships, but also the first round of reprints (including the YT-2400! YAAAAAYYYYYY!) shows that AMG are thinking pretty long term. From a business point of view both of these are a win, with cards being inexpensive to produce (and enables them to bring back pilots that got banned in the 2.5 change like VCX Hera and Scum Han) and with the reprints being largely already designed (although they are apparently tweaking some things in term of cards) they can get these products our relatively easily compared to designing brand new ships from scratch.

Lastly but perhaps most importantly, the new starter packs. I have mentioned several times in the blog over the last couple of months about core sets being unavailable in my FLGS (JARGON ALERT!!) and lamenting over what this means for attracting new players and growing the game. With the significant changes to the rules not being enclosed even if you could get a core set there has been a critical need for ‘new player friendly’ starter kits.

These sets also solve the problem of ‘I want to start playing but I don’t want to be Rebel or Imperial’. With damage decks and range rulers and various bits all being available in some way or another it was technically possible to not have to pick up a box with 3 ships you don’t want however it was quite the effort to do so.

These starter packs will come with 4 ships from one faction and while I’m not exactly sure what else they will contain altogether, you can’t exactly call them starter kits if they don’t have everything you need to start playing the game, not in my opinion at least!

When you look at all of these things together it becomes clear (or rather, clearer than it previously was) that AMG are planning long term for X-Wing and that whatever you think of the current state of the game, that’s great news.

XTC Update…

The XTC is in full flow now and at time of publishing we’re now in week 4 of the group stage.

Having eeked out a win in week 2 against Malaysia (following having our break in week 1) last week Team Wales faced the seeded team in our group – Spain.

The Spanish came into the round having won in the first two weeks, putting them on top.

We started off well with Adam Shipley steering his Rebel list to a solid 20-15 win over the Republic. Despite losing Wedge earlier than he’d have liked Adam took down the LAAT and then the Gauntlet to pull out the win.

The second match was Phill Blackmore taking the First Order into the Spanish Rebel list. It started off poorly but Phill did incredibly well to pull it back mid-game and with the last shot of the match got full paint with a Kylo Proton Torp into a 2 health Arvel. Arvel rolled full paint to take just the 1 crit which turned out to not be a Direct meaning he lived and the game ended as a 15-15 draw. It was a thrilling watch!

Paul Westwood’s Resistance list struggled to a 8-20 loss after some technical TTS issues and a tricky run of dice rolls before Alex Whitehead took his Imperial squad up against the First Order. A good first engagement took Quickdraw off the board and put significant damage into Backdraft and Whirlwind in exchange for Howlrunner and a Jingoist before Vader started cleaning up at get a 19 – 16 win.

With one game to go we were now 2 – 1 – 1 (W-L-D) meaning that at the very least we would tie the round. Not bad against the seeded team who were 2 – 0 going in!

Martyn went into his game against Vader, Vizier and TIEs looking at an uphill climb since Juanjo had stomped his way through the first two rounds.

After a shaky opening he fell just short of pulling it back in the last turn, finishing with a score of 13 – 20 at time and leaving the round on 2-2-1 and a tie overall.

So after well over 6 hours of play across 5 games, that one last defensive roll by Arvel against Phill coming up all paint turned out to be quite significant!

This week we’re playing against the Czech Republic, come back next week to find out how we do!

The batrep (JARGON ALERT!!)

So did I actually play this week? Well actually, yes I did!

In keeping with my attempts at learning/honing the Team Wales lists I was once again braced to fly something a little different than usual. This time, it was the Empire.

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

To say that this list is outside of my comfort zone would be… well… both true and not true. When I arrived at Firestorm for casual night and unpacked it I did get remarks from a couple of the guys. They’ve never seen me fly Vader. Or Imperials at all, generally speaking.

At the same time though, I do have a little experience with the Empire. My son Cai flew mostly Empire for a long time and so in the interest of helping him I have spent some time playing about with TIE fighters. Less so Vader though.

Anyway, as things got going I paired up to play against Alex Jensterle who had brought….Republic! I mean, it’s not a surprise really, he literally ONLY plays Republic but he does so very well!

“Hound” (5)
Yoda (12)
Seventh Fleet Gunner (8)
Agile Gunner (3)

Ship Cost: 5 Loadout: (23/23) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 5

Mace Windu (4)
Heightened Perception (3)
R4-P17 (4)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)

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

Obi-Wan Kenobi (5)
Predator (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)
Shield Upgrade (8)

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

Anakin Skywalker (6)
Predator (2)
R2-D2 (Republic) (8)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (0)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (10/10) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Galactic%20Republic&d=v9ZhZ20Z413XWWW322WW227W76WY314X72WW214WW200Y278XWW127WW200W165WY273XWW127W340WW200&sn=Unsaved%20Squadron&obs=

This is actually the same list I played against the last time Alex and I had a game. That one didn’t go to well for me in the end, can I do any better this time I wonder?

Let’s get some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Scramble the Transmissions
Target/Objective Priority – I mean…. Hound is the easies target to hit but if I can get Jedi off the board that’s much better for me in terms of incoming shots.
Obstacles – I’d like to stop Hound from being able to make a straight run for the middle, otherwise I’d prefer obstacles spread out to make it easier to keep my swarm together.
Deployment – Swarm in a block, Vader flanking. Is the plan, at least.

I’m first player for setup as we place objectives, obstacles and then finally ships and are ready to start.

Turn 1

So, I’m slight perturbed by Alex’s spread out deployment but really it’s fairly obvious that he wants to pincer into the middle where my TIEs will be.

I’m already unhappy with my deployment with Howlrunner being off to the side and directly facing a rock. Not a great start.

I’m also slightly thrown by Mace’s position. I’ll see what he does turn 1 and worry about that later.

I set straight moves for everyone with Vader planning to go slow enough to claim the objective in turn 2.

ROAD 1st Player – Alex

This turn goes pretty much as I expected. My TIEs go straight and Vader a little slower.

Anakin goes fast and boosts in, Obi goes slower, Hound banks away. The only question was about whether Mace turns away or comes in. He comes in. Not super fast, but fast enough.

There’s no shooting this round (and no scoring, of course) so back to dials we go.

Turn 2

Right, so, now is the question. Into the middle and target Hound? Or turn right with the swarm and try and take out Mace?

Taking on Mace seems like it might yield a better result but do I really want to offer unanswered shots to Obi and Anakin, especially powered up by Hound’s buffs? As tempting as it is, I decide to go for the middle with the TIEs and bank in slowly with Vader to claim 2 objectives.

ROAD 1st Player – Me

Alright then, let’s go.

I bank in with the front two TIEs (2 and 3 bank respectively) while the ones behind go straight except Howlrunner who does not fancy landing ont he rock and hard turns away, tucking in behind.

Iden is a bit far out so I think about trying the barrel roll into the small ship sized gap but decide it’s a bit risky and just pick up the focus. I do check to see if it would have fit…

I coulda made it!

Not bad! I stuck with the focus though as that had been my choice.

I claimed the central objective with the front Jingoist and Howlrunner AND Iden are both range 1 of all my TIEs. I’ll take that.

Obi stayed slow and Anakin continued his long flank, both expected. Mace though? That’s the curveball. He goes 5 straight, fine tunes a bank boost and claims the objective. Balls.

Vader 1 banks in, sitting RIGHT in front of Mace but with no shot on him. While it’s tempting to claim the objective and tank the shot, it’s a range 1 CLT shot and Mace has 2 Force. I decide it isn’t worth the risk so I try for the barrel roll and it fits, slotting him out of arc. Phew!

Now, I can’t recall all the damage done here but what I do know is that no ships died, Iden spent her charge (but had no shot) and I put some (but not a lot) of damage into the reinforced LAAT.

End of turn score: 1 – 1

Turn 3

Right, now what do I do? I feel like I’ve not taken full advantage of the extra turn I got before Ani and Obi get into the mix and now I need to watch out.

The LAAT is still the juiciest target and so I need to try and land some blows.

Wampa, Iden, Howl and the back Jingoist will hard turn with Wampa possibly blocking Hound. The other Jingoist will go 4 straight, possibly blocking Obi if he slow rolls again.

Vader…. hmmmm….. He’s stressed which isn’t great. I decide to go 3 straight which clears the stress and then see where everything is to maybe Afterburners boost, roll, lock and all that nonsense. It depends on where Obi lands.

ROAD 1st Player – Alex

And so we begin. Wampa 1 hard turns and focuses but Hound sails right over the top with a 3 straight. Not terrible.

Mace simply hard turns and takes a focus before my TIEs start moving, turning and focusing, except the Jingoist who does the 4 straight and rolls left for the possible block.

Or not… Obi goes 4 straight too and Alex agonises over whether to go aggressive or not with repositions.

He does and is facing off with Iden.

Anakin cruises over the top of Hound but he’s overshot the distance to hit Howlrunner and even a roll right backwards and boost left gives him no arc.

Vader takes his 3 straight and then Afterburners a boost left, takes a lock on Obi and spends a Force for a focus. Can I get Obi?!

Oh boy, here we go.

Anakin has caught Vader and takes a shot but it’s 2 dice at range 3 and Vader shrugs it off.

Vader then fires at Obi, range 2 with a lock and focus and gets all paint. Obi blanks out and sits on 2 health, his shield upgrade proving it’s worth there.

Obi fires at Iden. It’s a range 1 CLT shot and Iden dies before shooting. Boooo.

Howlrunner then gets a shot at Obi, landing a single hit past his green dice and leaving him on 1 hull.

Now Mace takes his shot and crucially he has bullseye on Vader and comes out with 2 hits. Vader blanks out with his 4 green dice. Ouch. Shields gone.

Iden is dead and one Jingoist is off doing his own thing but annoyingly the other has missed arc on Hound.

Still, Wampa is range 1 with a focus and hasn’t been shot AND is range 1 of Howlrunner. Could I put a decent chunk of damage into Hound here?

Not this time, apparently. And yes, this is after the Howlrunner reroll. Poop.

The turn is done and while we’ve still just got 1 objective each, Alex got Iden.

End of turn score: 1 – 4

Total score: 2 – 5

Turn 4

I’m starting to feel like this is slipping away from me now. I’ve still got more bodies but with Hound refusing to take damage (having 4 hull left) and Obi living on 1 hull I’m running out of time to score points.

Also Vader losing his shields feels like a big deal.

I strongly consider just hard turning in with Vader to nuke something, knowing full well that it could kill him but I decide not to, planning to bank away to the right, roll and afterburners in some order to get away before Talon Rolling (JARGON ALERT!!) the following turn.

My TIEs need to turn around so most will K-turn (JARGON ALERT!!) while the one on his own will just hard turn and claim the objective.

ROAD 1st Player – Alex

Wampa takes the K-turn before Hound simply hard turns left, dodging arc and coordinating (though I can’t remember who or what!). Mace banks in and takes a focus before I start moving TIEs.

Obi bugs out (and I can’t blame him!) before Howlrunner… ah yes, Howlrunner. Now, when I was planning, I had some choices to make. In my indecision with Vader’s move I opted NOT to K-turn with Howl since that might block Vader. As a result, I set her a 3 hard left turn. Now that Vader wasn’t doing that move any more I could actually have done that but alas, I forgot. So she takes her 3 turn and focuses.

Alex goes slow with Anakin, picking up a lock on Vader. Good job I didn’t turn in, I think!

Or is it….

Vader banks right but the template clips the debris.

I roll a dice and he takes a damage. I then pick up a stress, meaning no barrel roll and the position and angle means no afterburners to get out of arc.

Oops.

MASSIVE balls up.

Ok, maybe he’ll be ok.

Anakin fires at Vader with 2 dice. It’s range 3 and obstructed AND I’ve got Force. He’ll be ok, right?

No, apparently not. I roll 1 eyeball and all the rest blank on Vader’s greens for the second time this game and he’s down to 2 hull.

Thankfully Mace doesn’t have him in arc. There are other shots but no other damage is done and the turn is done.

End of turn score: 2 – 1

Total score: 4 – 6

Turn 5

Now, technically our time was up here. The pace of play had been pretty slow though and we were both fine to play another turn since 4 turns is NOT enough X-Wing.

While it’s fairly obvious that my TIEs need to clear stress and dive in at something, I agonise over what to do with Vader.

I can’t Talon roll since he’s stressed. I have to hard turn since there’s a rock in my face. I’m behind on points but if nothing else dies and no objectives change hands, I still lose.

Since this is a casual game I decide to go for the high risk/high reward move, consequences be damned! As long as I’m not 1st player I might still be able to survuve with Vader AND kill Obi. Maybe.

ROAD 1st Player – Me

Balls.

I move TIEs with Howlrunner (finally) K-turning, Wampa taking a blue straight move., one Jingoist going 5 straight to try for a block and the other Jingoist finally turning in (but still miles away).

Hound had casually banked and coordinated Anakin a focus.

Mace banked in, clearing the TIE and took a focus.

Obi-Wan had gone aggressive. He hard turned left and then boosted, looking to get a shot on the (assumed) fleeing Vader.

Vader 3 hard turned right, over the rock. Yep.

I took a damage and rolled a die to see if he’d die before even shooting.

He doesn’t! Yay!

It bumps into Obi but he can’t take a red focus as he’s still stressed from the debris.

Now Anakin moves, going 3 straight, boosts right and rolls right for a range 1 shot at Vader.

Ah well.

Vader shoots first and (thankfully) kills Obi-Wan.

Anakin shoots next and (sadly) kills Vader.

There are other shots but nothing else dies and the game is done.

End of turn score: 7 – 8

Final Result: 11 – 14 loss

The conclusion…

A loss, yes, but I actually had a lot of fun in this game. Alex is always a great opponent and while we both made mistakes here he leveraged his extensive experience of the Jedi’s abilities well to gain the advantage and take the win.

Looking back as I’ve reviewed this, I do feel that Alex was expecting Vader to go left on that last turn. He’d have likely been in arc of Anakin, Obi and Mace when going first but even if Alex had ‘won’ the ROAD roll, I think Obi and Mace could have still finished him off. Even if he’d lived I’d have still lost. As bonkers as it felt at the time, I think that the right turn over the rock was the correct choice. Had I moved second it’s likely Anakin would have gone in the other direction and Vader would have been taking just a 2 dice range 3 obstructed shot from Mace and had a reasonable chance of surviving.

Equally though, had Obi not died to Vader’s shot (which, with 3 green dice is always a possibility) then it could have ended with a score much more in Alex’s favour.

I certainly made mistakes here. My deployment with the TIEs was one, my failure to take out either Hound or Obi-Wan quickly enough makes two and three. My positioning with Vader wasn’t too great either I don’t think. Still, I rolled lots of dice and came pretty close considering how badly I feel that I messed up in the mid-game.

I keep feeling like the LAAT is the target of choice in this list but when it reinforces, my 2 dice guns just don’t have the impact required to get rid of it fast enough. I had a similar issue last time and that was with 3 dice gun X-Wings! Still, I’ll consider it a lesson learned.

So I’m on a bit of a losing streak at the moment I guess but actually, it doesn’t feel bad in the way the previous runs like this have done in the past.

I’m going to mostly put this down to the fact that in none of the last 6 or 7 games I’ve played between real life and TTS have been with lists that I would chose to fly of my own volition. I suppose I’ve mentally been a bit easier on myself as I’ve tried to get to grips with other people’s lists (and sometimes strategies) in order to benefit my team, either by being ready to step for them if needed or to help them understand what they’re facing.

At no point have I not been having fun though and I think that my having another purpose to using these lists other than trying to see how good/viable something is has helped me to shift my focus.

What’s interesting is that it’s been good to explore ships and pilots (and factions for that matter!) that I’d not normally pick to fly. While it’s been challenging in terms of getting results, I do feel like it’s benefitting my overall game.

What list will I be flying next week? I actually really don’t know! Why not come back and find out!

The outro…

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2 thoughts on “Learning Diversity”

  1. Should you had used Swarm tactics from Howlrunner on Iden, she would have taken a shot back at Obi at the same engagement initiative, wouldn’t she? Obi might be gone that one round earlier.
    What was the idea on taking Swarm tactics for Vader? He does like to flank, rarely being in range to use it effectively.
    Anyway, I love the way you describe your games and I drop by every tuesday for a new one. Keep it up! 🙂

    1. Oh man! Another missed trigger!! 🤣 Thanks for pointing that out, that would actually have made a huge difference!

      In terms of swarm on Vader, this isn’t my list so it’s hard to say exactly. While Vader is a good flanker (and I’ve been using him that way), I can see how it could have situational value but perhaps other options might be better based on play style.

      Thanks for you kind words as well. 😁

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