Looking to the future

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

I’m going to say it right now before we get into it, this week’s blog is going to be a little different than usual with several shorter subjects rather than one big thing so please bear with me!

I’ve got 2 main sections with each of those having 2 smaller sections. It’ll make sense once you start so I’ll stop waffling and get on with it!

The past…

Part 1 – Play the game…

This week I did actually get a game in (which is better than the previous week! But while I did take screenshots and I would most certainly be able to batrep (JARGON ALERT!!) the game I eventually decided not to do that.

Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

Firstly because I feel bad about it.

Having spent a few weeks on the Hyperspace train in preparation for Cardiff, I had the opportunity to repack my case (which doesn’t always happen!) and I decided to get Dash on the board, having just gotten into a pretty decent groove with him before switching format.

I went back to pretty much what I’d been using beforehand but put it together from memory (pro-tip: don’t do that! Forgetting things is easy!) and threw all that I needed (well, most, it turned out) into my bag to fly this:

Dash Rendar (79)
Trick Shot (4)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Jyn Erso (3)
Outrider (6)

Ship total: 100 Half Points: 50 Threshold: 5

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

Ship total: 62 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3

AP-5 (32)
K-2SO (6)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW54W40WW157WY4XWW5WW142Y72XW314WWW&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

When I arrived at Firestorm we had odd numbers but worked out who was staying for more than one game and who would play who. I ended up playing the other Dylan, our youngest squad member at 12 years old.

He had brought a somewhat experimental list:

Gray Squadron Bomber (29)
Dorsal Turret (2)
R5 Astromech (4)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 4

Gray Squadron Bomber (29)
Dorsal Turret (2)
R5 Astromech (4)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 4

Green Squadron Pilot (30)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 32 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Green Squadron Pilot (30)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 32 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Green Squadron Pilot (30)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 32 Half Points: 16 Threshold: 2

Jake Farrell (34)
Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z30X137WWW6WWY30X137WWW6WWY52X127WWWY52X127WWWY52X127WWWY50XWWW&sn=New%20Squadron&obs=

When Dash managed to initiative kill one of the generic A-Wings in the first engagement it was clear that this might not go so well for Dylan the younger.

My red dice turned SUPER hot as Dylan’s greens rolled blank after blank and the game increasingly became a bloodbath.

Apart from anything else, I have to praise Dylan’s attitude. He took it like a real champ, particularly when he’d managed to kill-box 3 health Luke with 4 of his ships only for 2 of them to be initiative killed and Luke to escape totally unharmed. He managed to laugh it off over the sound of my embarrassed apologies.

It was just one of those games. Dylan, if you’re reading, you’re an absolute star for keeping going, keeping a great attitude and not letting it bother you or ruin your day. Hopefully next time we play it’s your dice coming up all paint!

Clearly then the second reason I’ve not gone in depth on the game is because a good portion of the credit goes to the dice on this occasion. I also realised mid way though that R4 should have been on AP-5 and also that at this particular point in time I should probably pack something else in my case for casual play which is much less filthy than this.

Lessons learned.

Part 2: A year in the life?

If you hadn’t already noticed, 2021 is almost finished. While it hasn’t exactly been a huge year for organised play in X-Wing (bit of an understatement I guess…) there have been LOADS of community organised events both online and in person.

In my opinion this just goes to show how much demand and passion there still is for the game and while some of the developments over the last couple of months have perhaps dented the general optimism of many players, looking at the big picture of how the community responded and rallied when Covid started and in person play stopped, I believe that the game has a long future ahead of it no matter what happens in terms of AMG/Asmodee’s long term support.

Anyway, in the style of ’round up of the year’ type TV shows you get around Chritmas, I thought it might be interesting to look at what tournaments I played in and how I did. This is more for myself so I won’t be offended (or even aware!) if you decide to just skip this part!

Sith Taker league (Crimson Dawn Season 2): Nov 2020 – Feb 2021

Format – Extended, 24 players, 8 games (round robin), played weekly. Online.

Technically this season started in 2020 but most of the games ended up being played in 2021. After a shaky start I switched to running Rey-Wings and won 4 games out of my last 5 (and losing the other by 1 SINGLE POINT!!) to finish 6th with a 5-3 record, earning me a promotion to the next league up.

Switching lists was key to this league. At that point in time Dash was just so expensive and while he is a ship I love to fly, it made sense to switch to something more competitive and the uplift was immediate. Overall I was happy with how things went once I’d made the change. And promotion! Yay!

Sith Taker Cup: Feb 2021 – Apr 2021

Format – Extended, 193 players, 6 round swiss, top 32 cut, played weekly. Online.

The Sith Taker Cup was arranged to fill in the weeks between league seasons. I entered because in person play was still off the table locally and I very much had an X-Wing itch that needed scratching.

I opted to stick with Rey-Wings given my recent success but after starting with a win I hit some tough matchups and ended up going 3-3 overall. Nowhere near the top cut of 32 but I finished 67th out of 193 registered players. Not too bad by my standards!

THE Ben Hyde!

Sith Taker League (Cloud city Season 3): Apr – Jun 2021

Format – Extended, 24 players, 8 games (round robin), played weekly. Online.

Promotion into the next league up proved difficult initially as I (again) lost my 2 opening games. At this point the ‘Herattani’ list was created and took me to 3 straight wins before being brought back down to earth with a very close (1 POINT!!) loss followed by a more convincing one the following week. I ended up going 4-4 and settled for mid table obscurity finishing 12th out of 23. No promotion this time but given the step up, that’s probably a good thing!

Duke’s Gaming Pontypool: Jun 2021

Format – Hyperspace, 8 players, 3 rounds (no cut). In person (!!).

AN IN PERSON TOURNAMENT! YAAAAYYY!

In person play had only just started back at Firestorm Games in Newport when I was made aware of this tournament. Some rushed testing and borrowing of a few cards allowed me to play a list I’d been quite thoroughly drubbed by in the closing game of the Sith Taker league (thanks Jon Vicary!!). This Resistance list had passive mods galore and while I certainly rode my luck in the second game (sorry Luke Weston!) I managed to go undefeated through the day and come away with a trophy! Woop!

Excelsior! Bristol Summer Store Championship: Aug 2021

Format: Extended, 18 players, 5 rounds (no cut). In person (again!!)

Aside from the utterly ludicrous 500+ player UK System Opens that we’d attended, this was really the first tournament that Cai and I had attended where we wouldn’t know most people going. With points due to change at some point I opted to run a variation on the original Heratanni list, subbing in an E-Wing for the usual U-Wing.

The highlight was winning against Ben Lee from the 186th squadron (who went the rest of the day unbeaten) and my only losses were against Dan ‘Eggs’ Xuereb and Ben Barber who were both flying very strong Bossk lists and went on to finish 2nd and 1st respectively. My losses put me 8th out of the 18 players but I had the highest SoS (JARGON ALERT!!) of any player, having faced all top 3 finishers. Not too bad!

Sith Taker League (Cloud City Season 4): Aug – Oct 21

Format – Extended, 24 players, 8 games (round robin), played weekly. Online.

Another season of the STL, another mixed bag of results. There was a little chopping and changing of lists but even the evolved iterations of Heratanni were starting to fail me as I failed to win any games consecutively. A points change threw things into disarray for me as I experimented a little and I ended up 3-5 and 11th place. Disappointed to not have broken even but I still managed mid-table which will have to do!

Firestorm Games Newport Monthly Store Tournament: Sept 21

Format – Extended, 10 players, 4 rounds (no cut). In person.

With my local store starting monthly tournaments from opening back up to in person playing June, rather unbelievably this tournament at the end of September was the first one I’d be able to make!

I took the original Heratanni as a ‘goodbye’ with a points change imminent. Despite having quite the reputation when initially discovered it was always beatable and this proved true here as I narrowly lost my first game. I recovered with a win against Steve Boulton but then lost to the eventual winner Alex before defeating my second Boulton of the day (and second Alex!) to break even. Not exactly the farewell for Heratanni I’d have liked but definitely a sign of the meta having shifted over the course of the year!

Home sweet home!

Firestorm Games Cardiff Store Championship: Nov 21

Format – Hyperspace, 21 players, 4 rounds (top 8 cut). In person

In what would be the final tournament of the year it was back to Hyperspace but with different points and more options. Steve Boulton put me on to a Rebel list of Luke, Leai and Ahsoka flown by Jordan Bishop (of the Tales of a Hyperspace Junkie blog). Jordan got in touch and we spoke regularly and tested against each other as we prepared to both attend the tournament.

On the day I started well, going 2-0 but a loss was followed by another very close loss as I finished 2-2 in 9th place. There was a drop from the top cut which put me in and I won in the top 8 against Dan ‘Eggs’ Xuereb (for the second time that day! Sorry Dan!) but crashed out in the last turn of the top 4 game against Gavin Kirby.

Crazy close to the final table but my first ever top cut and a top 4 finish is a great way to finish the year!

TWICE!!!

Mini conclusion…

Overall, while it may have been a mixed year in terms of game results (no, I haven’t totalled them up. Maybe I should…?), a few good performances at single day events mean that I’m actually pretty happy with how things have gone.

I’m not going to raise my expectations or start aiming higher or anything like that (not that there’s anything wrong with doing that!) but it does mean that perhaps this blog is doing one of the things intended it to do – help me record and analyse my play and try to improve a little.

The future…

Part 1 – New Hotness

Over the last week or so AMG have suddenly started dropping info and spoilers on the upcoming new content which had seemed like was WAAAAAY off in the future but I guess isn’t actually all that far away?

I’m not going to go into massive details here because: 1) other places have already done it, 2) they’ll have done it better than me! 3) if you’re really interested, you’ll already know.

That said, some of the stuff looks REALLY cool so I just want to mention a couple of highlights.

Firstly let’s look at the Gauntlet Fighter.

It’s HUGE and I love that. I can’t say I’m overly impressed by the colours (of the painted one or of the boxed one shown to be honest…) but more ships is always good and the fact that this one is valid in 5 factions is amazing!

The Pride of Mandalore is a card pack themed around Mandalorians (obviously…). There looks to be some pretty cool stuff in there but what I’m most excited for are the pilots for Rebel Fang Fighters.

There’s 2 reasons I’m looking forward to these. Firstly, Fangs are cool. Simple. Secondly, with these (and with the Gauntlet), AMG (or FFG, whoever designed these!) are showing that cross-faction ships is a direction they’re willing to look at.

With so many ships already designed and released this is an interesting design space for them to branch into. We saw Rey in a T-65 X-Wing. We’ve seen Kylo in a TIE fighter (a scout class, yes but looks to be the same chassis). With this second card pack these options (and many more) become possible in future releases. And I love that.

The Gauntlet being multi-faction also paves the way for the inevitable Bad Batch releases (SPOILERS HERE!!!!) with the potential for the ship to be usable in the Republic and Rebel factions. Heck, maybe they’ll even somehow include Imperial crew or pilots.

I always thought that there was never the possibility of certain pilots or crew being released because even though we do have some cross factions ships already (like ARC-170’s, BTL-A4 Y-Wings, etc), they have all had their own ‘black box’ (2.0) release pack.

A Rebel Fenn Rau in a Fang Fighter which you can only buy as a Scum pack and then add the new card pack is an interesting move. I can see how it’s not that great from a consumer point of view (i.e. having to buy 2 packs to achieve it) but from a player point of view it’s cool and from a business point of view it makes new content available with minimal costs.

Lastly, it’s this beautiful wreck:

The Mandalorian is THE reason I got a Disney+ subscription and while I would have watched it even if it was rubbish (I mean, I watched Resistance…), there is SO MUCH about it that I loved, it made me fall back in love with Star Wars (after the sequel trilogy tragically stomped all over my heart).

The ship ‘feels’ authentically Star Wars-y and as soon as it was announced I started scouring my FLGS’s web page for pre-order availability.

I maaaay have (i.e. definitely have) pre-ordered ALL of this content. If I’m being honest, the announcement of the release of the Razorcrest is what initially triggered our spiral towards buying into Scum. Naughty.

It seems that an official/unofficial release date appears to be the 25th of Feb which is still over 2 months away but with other stuff happening (apparently there’s some big holiday coming up?!) I’m sure it’ll creep up faster than expected.

Whatever you think about what AMG has said about the future of X-Wing, this stuff looks great and I cannot wait!

Part 2 – Before I go, a question…

So, I’ve got something I want to talk you all about and it’s a teeny bit uncomfortable for me (less so through a blog than it would be in person though…) so I may waffle a little. Please bear with me.

For the last 2 and a half years I’ve been blogging pretty regularly. Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement. It’s been pretty much every week and this is my 131st post (which boggles my brain actually!).

I’ll be honest, I figured at first it was a bit of a fad and wouldn’t last. But here I am, still blogging, still with ideas of stuff I want to write about and do and still with things I believe I can improve on.

Crazy.

A few months back I ran a questionnaire/poll at the end of a couple of posts. I want to say a big thank you to everyone who responded, you guys gave me enough data to see what was possible, what people would be willing to do in terms of support and from there enabled me to figure out how I could proceed.

So at this point in ‘the journey’, here’s what I’d like to try and achieve.

No no, not THAT Journey

First of all, web hosting. My hosting is…. meh. Whether it’s my self-installed WordPress installation or the host servers themselves, I’m getting far too much down time. Being that I write posts directly to WordPress via the browser 90+% of the time, it not only affects the site being up in terms of visitors finding it working and being able to read posts but it’s having an impact on how long I’m spending scowling at my laptop while trying to write semi-coherent blog posts and upload pictures.

To say it’s annoying is a bit of an understatement.

And so I’ve been looking into hosted WordPress accounts which will not only let me improve my uptime but gives me better bandwidth, better security, regular (basically live) backups and some shiny new options that I might play with in time. This, of course, costs money.

I’ll be honest, this is my main reason for looking at the possibility of funding support and what it looks like to start spending money on this aspect of X-Wing on top of the game itself. It does give me options to do much more than just this though, depending on the level of support I get.

Recently I’ve been pretty inspired by Gold Squadron Podcast and the amount of stuff they give away during streams. To say they are a cornerstone of the X-Wing community would almost certainly be underselling what they bring. I understand that giveaways during their live streams are linked to Twitch subscriptions which, of course, generates more revenue for them but at the same time, I admire what they are able to do in terms of giving ships and other goodies to people in the community and being very generous in general.

Gold Squadron? Gold standard more like!

On top of this, they (and others) have also been able to give funds to charities, as well as offer great prize support for tournaments.

I’ve got no ads on this blog and while I had been thinking that having an affiliate account with Firestorm Games might generate a few pennies that I could put towards costs, it hasn’t’ really worked out as well as I’d have liked (i.e. it’s not paid out anything at all yet).

And so, with no further ado, I hereby announce that I’m going to launch on Patreon!

Will I get many (any?!) subscribers? Maybe? (Probably not?!)

In the questionnaire several people indicated that they’d be willing to support the blog for little or no reward and some that they would support depending on available rewards, all of which is amazing and would allow me to improve the site, give away cards and tokens and ships and perhaps do some other cool stuff in future too.

And so, in a move which is very unusual (and uncomfortable) for me, I’d like to ask you this:

Would you possibly consider signing up to be a practical, financial supporter of the blog?

There are several Patreon tiers and none of them are especially expensive (in my opinion anyway!) with options from £1 a month up to £10 a month (for those with more money than sense!).

I’m also partnering with fellow Exile Squadron member, the very awesome Dan Lines who runs Nixon’s Rogues. He’s a fantastic painter who has very beautifully painted up many of my ships including the now infamous (in my mind at least!) Exile Squadron themed YT-2400!

You can get discounts for painting commissions from Dan in a couple of the higher tiers.

I’m also partnering with the amazing Dan Eicher of StraightFive Designs who is creating amazing art (like the one above!) for me to get printed as alt art cards to send out to Patrons. I’ll be honest, I’ve already done a first print run (premature? Maybe!?) and the cards look awesome (yes, I’m biased, I know!).

I’m not intending to be actively peddling the Patreon all that often but since I’m launching today, I guess I should take a little time to outline what you get at each level.

Exile Initiate – £1 per month

At the low, low price of £1 per month you will have the pleasure of supporting my blog and you name (or online alias or whatever you prefer!) listed as a Patreon supporter.

Anonymous Exile Initiate – £1 per month

If you want the pleasure of supporting the blog but without having your name listed, that’s ok too! Select this option to keep your anonymity!

Exile Veteran – £3.50 per month

Now we ramp things up a bit. In this tier, as well as getting your name listed as a Patron on the site, you’ll receive quarterly gifts (tokens, alt art cards and the like), an entry to quarterly giveaways (for brand new ships, repainted ships, etc) and I’ll also follow you on Instagram (if you like that sort of thing!), in case that’s some sort of deal-breaker for you!

Exile Commander – £6 per month

Commander Tier is the ‘double up’ Tier! You get all the Veteran Tier perks, but (where applicable, of course) doubled! So double the quarterly gifts, double entries to giveaways and access to a 5% discount to Nixon’s Rogues paint commissions! For less than double the price too!

Exile Legend – £10 per month

Ok, now we’re at the top Tier, Legend level. Being totally serious here, I’m not really expecting support of this level. But as people say, if you don’t ask, you don’t get! Anyway, you get all the perks from the previous Tier but MORE with triple entries to giveaways, an EXTRA additional gift (so triple the Veteran Tier), double discount (now 10%) for paint commissions with Nixon’s Rogues AND, the most underwhelming perk of all – a once per quarter game against me (on TTS, unless you’re local!) with a blog written about it!

So there we have it! I wanted to outline things as clearly as possible with the launch of the Patreon and I promise that, while I will link to it in every blog post (like at the bottom, just below), I won’t go on and on about it. Honest. In the lead up to quarterly deadlines (for gifts and giveaways) I will probably stick a paragraph at the end just to make people aware of what goodies will be available.

I know that being a Patron isn’t for everyone but if you’ll consider signing up, I’ll do my very best to take things to the next level. Whatever that is!

If you want to take a look in more detail (or just jump straight in and sign up!) then here’s the link.

The conclusion…

I know it’s been a long blog today and has a pretty big question at the end of it so I’ll keep this part short!. Thanks for taking the time to read this far, I appreciate it more than you know!

I’ve got some time booked off work over Christmas and I normally take some time off from blogging while at home with my family. That said, with the Patreon launch and some games happening, I’m a little undecided whether there will be a blog next week or not. Check back just in case or keep an eye on the usual social media spots on Tuesday.

If I don’t put something up next week, I hope you have a fantastic Christmas and a blessed New Year!

The outro…

Thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you’ve enjoyed it! If you’d like to support me in continuing my X-Wing blogging adventure there are a few ways you can do that.

You can follow my social media accounts for updates

If you’re looking to buy some gaming ‘stuff’ and don’t have a local gaming store, you can use my affiliate link for Firestorm games. They’re great!

If you would like to directly support the blog then please consider becoming a Patron! I would be forever grateful!

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

Exile Initiates:
Douglas Thomson

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

Exile Commanders:
Sean Saville, Darin Schwarze, Tom Robertson

Exile Legends:
Paul Westwood, Admiral_Ackbar47, Joshua Whiddett

You are all amazing humans!

This blog is supported by thegamingplace.co.uk
Links from cards mentioned in the post will take you to the relevant page to buy that card from their website. These links are sponsored.

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