Living in the moment

The intro…

Hello there! Welcome to this week’s blog!

Well, X-Wing really is the gift that keeps on giving at the moment in terms of content and information!

Following on from last week’s blog I’ve had many conversations with people (both privately and publicly in comments sections) about things like the future of the game, their future in the game (or potential lack of it), a sense of impending doom and a ray of hope for what’s to come.

Things are all over the place.

In fact it feels like the only thing that is certain is a whole lot of uncertainty. We don’t know which rules are definitely coming (I mean, we do know some but others are ones that might be coming), whether they’re coming all at once or a bit at a time or even when they’re coming.

Lots of people have lots to say about this of course and while most of it is civil, some of it hasn’t been. Thankfully most posts that I’ve seen over the last week or so have been positive. That’s not to say that everyone posting is on board with the new rules but it’s starting feel that, generally speaking, the community is over the initial shock and looking at options for the future, either accepting AMG’s direction or rallying against it (but constructively and politely).

Personally I want to be optimistic. My head understands that any game has a certain shelf life and that nothing can last forever. Looking at Warhammer as what I consider to be the industry gold standard (from an outsider’s point of view of course!), that game had been around for a while when I was dabbling with it as a teenager and, from what I see in terms of mailshots and new product in my FLGS (JARGON ALERT!!) it’s still going strong a LONG time since first launch. I’m sure that Warhammer has been through it’s own dark times but a commitment to the product and drastic rules updates of it’s own has meant that it’s come out the other side.

**Small disclaimer here, my knowledge of Warhammer is purely casual observation. If I’m wrong please let me know!

AMG state that they want X-Wing to be around for the next 10 years or so. Being realistic, people’s jobs depend on it. Regardless of what we (the community), collectively or individually, think about the changes and the future of the game, clearly AMG’s ultimate goal is for it to succeed. I mean, who sets out for failure?

What does success look like? Let’s be honest, we know what it is.

The ultimate goal of any company is to make money, obviously.

So the question has to be, what is AMG’s ultimate vision for X-Wing and what are the steps they need to take to get there. I’m sure if I surveyed a cross-section of readers with open questions about this, I’d very a huge range of very different answers. We don’t know the whole plan, heck, at the moment some people might go as far as to say it looks like there isn’t a plan at all. I personally wouldn’t go that far but I can’t say that I believe AMG have handled things as well as they could have.

As I said to someone the other day it sort of feels like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I also think that AMG, while cracking this nut, have hit a wall, a car, several bystanders and broken a few of their own toes.

I am very aware that not everyone shares my view. Having eventually caught up with several of the podcasts I subscribe to that much is very clear. So, for the sake of balance, here are a couple of links of blogs that are looking at things positively. Not that I’m not being positive (I’m trying, really!) but these guys look to be increasingly on board with the changes and explain a bit more why. Go and give them a read, it’s worth it!

https://datanotrelevant.wordpress.com/2021/11/08/blame-and-shame-or-save-the-game/?fbclid=IwAR2cKh0KU3uey9zCGQSCEfQVelyzsBVal4sWQxV73ancgQdrWIp1q1m9Gb0

https://stayontheleader.blogspot.com/2021/11/the-road-warrior.html?fbclid=IwAR1YjhC2h1LyjDzLb5zc0z5bjF_yu0br_QtpJuwCogf2sVmD4me6udgKKms

But for now I feel like we’re in this weird limbo state where, technically, anything goes (rules wise) but at the same time my motivation to just do anything specific is not at it’s normal level.

Thankfully, I have something to give me a steer on that. A single anchor point in the seemingly directionless chaos we seem to exist in at the moment.

I have… a tournament.

Yes, Firestorm in Cardiff are having a Store Championship and Cai and I are going. I bought the ticket without knowing which rules would be used because, quite frankly, I didn’t care.

You see, being a player of middling ability means that I’m not primarily going to a tournament to gun for first place and the swag and glory that accompanies it (not that there’s anything at all wrong with that!). No, my main goal is to go and have fun. For me (and yes, it’s different for everyone) this means playing games against friends, getting to meet new people and spending time with Cai on an interest that we share together.

Do I want to win games? Yes, I do but it isn’t my primary goal.

Do I still have fun while losing? Mostly. If my opponent is somehow being a jerk (which has very rarely happened!) then maybe not but on the whole I manage to detach the two things from each other in my head.

Case in point – one of my most enjoyable games from the tournament I attended in Bristol a few months ago was getting stomped by Ben Barber’s Bossk list while, unknowingly to me, he was undefeated and gunning for the top spot (which he did).

Having said all that, I still want to give myself a chance at doing alright and given my need for getting reps with a list, I’m already lagging behind given the timescales involved.

After a quick check with the TO, things become clearer:
– Hyperspace format
– CURRENT tournament regulations (bids for initiative)

Eesh, Hyperspace. Just as I’m getting into a groove with Dash.

So what am I going to fly then? Well, after the tournament was announced the ever lovely Mr Steve Boulton got in touch to say that, while he knows he can’t attend, he’s “happy to be a punching bag for you” (a direct quote!). A conversation about rules and format follows and he suggests a list that a fellow Vagabond took to a store tournament in Worcester and did well with:

Leia Organa (77)
Shattering Shot (3)
Millennium Falcon (3)

Ship total: 83 Half Points: 42 Threshold: 7

Luke Skywalker (60)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 3

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Instinctive Aim (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 2

Total: 198

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZhZ200Z393X419WWWWWWW154Y4XWWWW142Y463X73WW102W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

I’m not 100% sold on Shattering Shot, nor, to be honest, the Prockets and Instinctive aim on Ahsoka. The pros though? All i5 I like, all having Force I like a LOT. I do like the Falcon title on Leia too.

I’ll be honest, I went through SO many variations with the 11 available points that I lost track.

Ordnance on Ahsoka or Patience? What do I put on Leia? Do I put an Astromech on Luke?

And then since we’re using current/old rules, do I need a bid? If so, how much?

SO MANY DECISIONS!!

As I prepare for a practice game with Steve I juggle some more things around and end up with this list:

Leia Organa (77)
Novice Technician (2)
Jyn Erso (3)
Millennium Falcon (3)

Ship total: 85 Half Points: 43 Threshold: 7

Luke Skywalker (60)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 3

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Instinctive Aim (1)
Proton Rockets (5)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z393XWWW53W40WWW154Y4XWWWW142Y463X73WW102W&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Bonus points for you if you spot the mistake….

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!) – part 1

As I get online to play against Steve on the Tuesday evening, his first words to me about the game is something along the lines of ‘I’m happy to stop as we go and talk through things or reset if you want. This isn’t about who wins or loses’

What a guy.

Let’s see what list he’s brought:

Jango Fett (80)
Count Dooku (14)
Thermal Detonators (5)
False Transponder Codes (3)

Ship total: 102 Half Points: 51 Threshold: 5

General Grievous (44)
Deadeye Shot (1)
Impervium Plating (4)
Soulless One (6)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 4

DBS-404 (31)
Adv. Proton Torpedoes (5)
Cluster Mines (7)
Independent Calculations (0)
Landing Struts (0)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Separatist%20Alliance&d=v8ZhZ200Z429XWWW218W339W369WWY305X343WW207W229Y326X134WW316W367W237&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Hmmmm… There’s some nasty tricks in there.

Let’s do some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – JANGO. Half the list and NOT a ship I want to face in the end game. Also this Grievous is a jerk.
Obstacles – lanes for Leia is more important than clustering I think.
Deployment – With Jango being placed after all my ships it’s tricky but keeping my ships close together is best I think.

With this being a test game, we place obstacles while stating our reasoning out load. That was very interesting.

We place ships and are ready to start.

Since I’ve got 2 games to cover, I’ll keep this relatively short (rather than turn by turn).

Steve placing Jango in front of my ships made it clear (to me, at least!) that he’d be turning away. He really doesn’t want to joust my 3 ships. I decided that I want ed to play in Steve’s half of the table since Leia would struggle to negotiate the 3 rocks in my bottom left corner. If I need to, I’ll go right up to Jango’s position and swing back around in order to get that engagement zone.

In turn 3 I banked in to give me the option of fully turning in while also being able to bug out and go around.

With Grievous flanking, I thought it was definitely the better option to go around. Did it work out?

Sort of.

Luke chipped a shield off Jango but Leia’s arc was the wrong way to capitalise further. Steve put Grievous on a rock and lost a shield for his mistake. Oops!

THEN I remembered to look properly at Steve’s list.

Balls.

Thermal Detonators.

Accepting my fate, I turned in anyway with Luke while Leia banked in (straightening up along the board edge) and rotated her turret. Leia rolled for both bombs and took nothing. Luke rolled for one and lost a shield. Sadly (for me) no further damage was done anywhere that round.

This time I had remembered Steve’s list and gently disengaged while DBS-404 dropped Cluster Mines. Grievous was continuing to play safe way out on his own while Jango circled the asteroid to come back in and hunt some Jedi.

Steve failed to get any damage onto Luke or Ahsoka but had committed to re-engaging. Time to pounce!

Leia came around the debris while Luke Talon rolled (JARGON ALERT!!). Again no damage was done on either side but Jango now had no clear escape routes.

Or so I thought. I moved Luke and Leia into position to hit Jango while Ahsoka slid around Leia’s flank to support with her ability.

DBS and Grievous were still too far out to meaningfully assist but Jango came 3 straight and boosted right to dodge Luke’s arc. Sneaky.

Jango had managed to get arc on Leia but managed to get just 1 damage on while in return Leia took 2 more of his shields.

With not that long left on the clock (around 20 minutes) and with his movement options limited, Jango opted to chase down Ahsoka. Steve also turned in with Grievous and cruised DBS over a rock (consequence free with struts, of course). Leia’s options were also limited since I didn’t fancy hitting the Cluster Mines so she and her brother decided to abandon Ahsoka and regroup.

Not without a parting shot, though. Leia struck lucky, and got 2 hits and a crit onto Jango, range 3 and obstructed. Harsh.

Half points on Jango scored, Ahsoka managed to dodge Grievous’ arc and avoid any damage from the other two incoming shots before getting a cheeky hit onto DBS.

Looking at the board, the scores and the time I now had some choices to make. I’ve got half of Jango and it’s worth more than half of Ahsoka. I have to admit, I was VERY tempted to bank in at DBS and unload some double modded Prockets into his face.

VERY.

But, given that Jango needed to turn, that Grievous couldn’t turn at her without hitting a rock and that a 3 agility A-Wing with Force and evade at range 3 is stupidly hard to damage, I made the sensible choice and ran away.

Meanwhile, the Skywalker twins were merrily wending their way around the asteroid and back to find that Grievous has turned vaguely in their direction.

Neither Jango or DBS can hit Ahsoka and Grievous fails to hit Luke. Luke also misses Grievous but Leia once again shows herself to be the better shot and puts 2 hits and a crit onto DBS from range, leaving him on 1 hull.

As we go into what turns out to be the last turn, Steve sends Jango and DBS after Ahsoka but she is having none of it and ducks in behind a debris for cover.

Grievous comes out at the Skywalkers and locks Luke.

Luke comes forwards and, having a lock from the last turn, rolls out of Grievous’s arc before Leia bears down on the Belbullab with a boost to range 1.

Unsurprisingly, Ahsoka survives unscathed.

On the other side of the board, Luke and Leia pummel Grievous but, thanks to the title adding 2 hull, he survives to take a shot at Leia which takes off 1 more shield.

Result: 101 – 0 win

Mini Conclusion…

What a strange game! It felt really close until all of a sudden it wasn’t.

Dice variance had some bearing on the result but with my Jedi being able to lock for their action and effectively have a soft-double mod meant that my shots were pretty accurate.

I like this list.

The question is, what do I think about the upgrades? I didn’t use Ahsoka’s Prockets nor Leia’s Novice Technician. Does that mean they’re bad? No. Going in to my next game I may look at different options though.

Before I continue I do want to thank Steve for the game. He’s such a lovely bloke and any time we get to play or hang out is always great. We didn’t end up stopping and resetting or anything but I know he’d have been fine with it had I thought it constructive. Funnily enough, it wouldn’t be all that long until I actually saw him…

The batrep… part 2

Wednesday is casual play night for X-Wing at Firestorm Games in Newport and it turned out that Steve and his son Alex were heading over from the other side of the bridge to join us!

When I arrived at Firestorm, it turned out that one of my fellow Exiles had brought a Hyperspace list that he wanted to try out against another HS legal list and so I took him up on his offer, keen to test against something legal too.

I’d spent some time before going sorting out our X-Wing stuff (since it was a bit of a mess!) and had discovered that I was missing a few bits. I was fine to proxy missing cards for the moment though but discovered something a bit more significant as I was compiling cards for my list.

Remember that mistake I mentioned earlier? Did you spot it? Well, this was the point that I discovered it.

JYN ERSO IS NOT HYPERSPACE LEGAL

What an idiot.

My sincere apologies to Mr Steve Boulton. It seems that I am a cheater. Sorry.

So, an ACTUAL Hyperspace legal list would be good, yeah? Let’s see then.

I wanted to try Patience on Ahsoka since it means not having to line up Prockets and that her ability can proc more often so I gave the list a few tweaks.

Leia Organa (77)
Novice Technician (2)
Millennium Falcon (3)

Ship total: 82 Half Points: 41 Threshold: 7

Luke Skywalker (60)
R4 Astromech (2)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 62 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3

Ahsoka Tano (A-Wing) (49)
Patience (2)

Ship total: 51 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 2

Total: 195

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z393XWWW53WWWW154Y4XWW5WW142Y463X342WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Yep, this one is now Hyperspace legal. With the tournament using current rules I added R4 to Luke to help clear stress as well as a 5 point bid.

Matt has been on a bit of a mission to fly aces lists since returning to in person play over the summer and, as evidenced by his store tournament win in August, has been doing pretty well with them.

His list looks to stay on that theme but he’s found that the Empire is missing some toys in Hyperspace that he’d really like to make use of. He’s flying this:

Gideon Hask (TIE Interceptor) (48)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Ciena Ree (48)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Soontir Fel (53)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 2

“Vizier” (42)
Angled Deflectors (3)

Ship total: 45 Half Points: 23 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v8ZsZ200Z456X127WWWY455X127WWWY179X127WWWY185XWW247&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

i6 – yuck. Predator – also yuck. Coordinating, jamming blocker – double yuck.

Time for some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – I don’t want to face i6’s in the end game BUT that Reaper is a big juicy low agility target.
Obstacles – lanes for Leia are ideal but with 2 rocks and the rest you shoot while landed on, as long as the rocks are well out of the way I don’t mind.
Deployment – Together is good, especially with 50% of Matt’s list placing after me. I want to see how he will commit.

We place obstacles and ships and are ready to start:

With all of Matt’s ships in the opposite corner I decide to hedge my bets a little, sending Leia along my board edge, Luke up the flank and Ahsoka banking in. All ships can still easily converge or split if needs be.

Matt opens by sending Ciena and the Reaper down the flank, Gideon along his own board edge and Soontir in at the middle. I can’t see that being where Soontir wants to go though.

I start turning in, preparing to take on the Reaper. Leia hard turns in and rotates arc, looking to catch Soontir or Vizier (and hoping Ciena stays back).

Ahsoka banks to stay with Leia while Luke (with foils closed) goes around the gas cloud with one eye on Gideon and the other on Soontir,

Matt turns away with Soontir while Vizier and Ciena come in (but not too quickly). Giedon sloops to give himself an angle for coming into the middle of the board later.

Only Leia and Vizier have shots and take a shield each.

I think Vizier is going to make full use of his ailerons this turn and try for a block on Leia so she’ll go 4 straight which will also (hopefully) keep her out of Soontir’s way. Luke will turn in to fire at the Reaper while Ahsoka.

Well, let’s just say that while I thought about the block when planning Leia, I didn’t for planning Ahsoka.

Vizier comes in fast and jams Leia. Interesting.

Gideon hard turns to clear stress but is still way out.

Leia’s 4 straight clears Vizier and she rotates. Luke hard turns and locks him but Ahsoka’s turn doesn’t clear and she bumps the Reaper.

Ciena does turn in but hangs back while Soontir turns quickly and after some internal debating, Matt rolls and boosts and manages to catch Ahsoka in bullseye to get a focus.

Nice.

Soontir gets a shield from Ahsoka and Ciena takes 2 more from Leia.

Luke and Leia then focus fire onto the Reaper and (since it has 1 less shield from Angled Deflectors), it burns down.

Wow.

Ahsoka’s pot shot at Soontir does nothing.

I decide now to turn my attention the Ace of Legend. If I can catch him.

I send Luke in, looking either for a range 1 trade or a block while Leia hard turns and rotates, threatening Soontir if he gets blocked and Ciena wherever she ends up. Ahsoka will bank to chase after Ciena.

Matt makes one bad move and two good ones. Gideon hard turns but clips the asteroid and takes a hit (ouch). Ciena turns right (where Leia now is) and rolls and boosts to dodge her arc. Soontir is having none of it and 4 straight’s out of the way, boosting for good measure.

The only shot is Ahsoka’s range 3 pot shot at Ciena which does nothing.

With Ciena now stressed and Leia facing a gas cloud anyway, I make a choice. I opt to sloop left with Leia (hoping to block Ciena who realistically needs to 2 hard or 2 bank left to clear her stress), 3 bank with Ahsoka and 3 hard left with Luke.

The block works beautifully, leaving Ciena stranded, tokenless and locked by both Luke and Ahsoka who dutifully wipe her out.

Two down.

With position an issue and tokens not, I now hard turn Leia, keeping the stress but still picking up an evade after being given an action by Ahsoka.

Luke Talon rolls and manages to catch poor Gideon who has very unfortunately clipped the debris. He takes no damage from the obstacle but Luke’s range 1 shot deals the 2 damage needed to take him out.

Harsh.

Three down.

Soontir’s shot at Leia, while in bullesys for a free focus AND a Predator reroll does no damage.

Also harsh.

We go back to dials. Leia will 1 bank right to clear stress and rotate, Ahsoka will come in to the middle while Luke will use the R4 blue 2 hard to clear stress.

Luke’s turn inadvertently blocks Soontir who has no shot and takes 2 hits from Leia at range, leaving him on 1 hull.

With around 20 minutes left on the clock, Matt suggests we call it there since he’s unlikely to do much damage and will just be running with his 1 health Soontir. I can’t say I blame him.

Result: 172 – 0 win

The conclusion…

Ok, that was a good result but let’s not get carried away here.

Matt brought a somewhat experimental list which included a ship that he’s not flown much of before (the Reaper). He also tried a few things with Gideon which didn’t turn out as he might have liked (early sloop and landing on a rock) which kept him out of the game for too long. The game for him (in terms of strategy and list) was basically an early testing game which he will have learned from.

As for my side of things? Let’s break it down.

List

I like the R4 on Luke. A lot. I was tempted to have R2 Astromech at one point to keep him in the game longer but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like the disengage you have to make in order to do it. Plus I have had games before where the regenning ship actually just gets destroyed in one round, wasting those points.

Feels. Bad.

R4 means I can Talon or 4-K and have better options for clearing it the following turn. It’s not huge but then neither is the points spend.

Patience on Ahsoka. Hmmm…. This game ended up a little more one-sided than I expected but even then I only actually trigged this once – in the last turn. Conversations that I’ve had since the game have pretty much convinced me to go back to Prockets and Instinctive Aim on Ahsoka so that she carries more threat.

Another conversation (with Ben Saunders of the WhatTheActualZuck blog) has caused me to look at swapping out Novice Technician for Chewbacca crew. It’s just 1 more point, has the same effect (repair a crit) but no down side (rolling to reveal a crit). The timing is different but with that point spare and my not needing a bid (in test games thus far at least!) I might as well give it a go.

Plus it’s really thematic.

Gameplay

I’m not one to blow my own trumpet as the saying goes but I’m actually really happy with how I played this. I think that targeting the Reaper first was the correct choice and while it seems that setting my sights on Soontir once the Reaper was gone was not correct, it did cause him to run away for a few turns which allowed me to work on Ciena and Gideon.

I do like this list. Has it reached final form? I don’t know. But I do have opportunity for another 3-5 games before the tournament with it to see how it goes.

There are still some tickets left for the tournament so if you’re free on the 27th and getting to Cardiff isn’t a problem, it would be awesome to see you there!

The outro…

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