Never tell me the odds…

The intro…

Right, I’m off camping and while I DO have a game I want to talk about, just like last week I’m also short on time so please consider this a disclaimer for potentially sub-par content. Again. Sorry.

In some breif X-Wing news it appears that AMG have officially-but-not-quite-officially announced (via a Facebook message reply to someone who directly asked them about it) that it seems that points may not be updated until Fall (or as it’s really called, Autumn).

There are some mixed feeling around regarding this. Some people feel that the current meta (JARGON ALERT!!) is solved and changes need to be made. Others believe that certain lists (*cough* like the one I’m using *cough*) are too strong and changes are needed to balance things out. And yet other people think it’s fine to leave it because a large portion of players (although there’s absolutely no way to tell how big a percentage) don’t play online and haven’t actually touched X-Wing during the pandemic and so there is still a possibility that as people start returning to in-person play that new lists and combinations will start to appear.

Personally, I’m biased because I am playing one of the current strong lists (no, it’s not the only one!) so maybe my judgement isn’t valid on this call. Either way, it is what it is and we get points when AMG release them.

Speaking of in-person play though, I’M BOOKED IN FOR REAL PLAY! REAL LIFE PLAY!!!

A store around 30 minutes from where I live is holding a tournament that someone in our local chat group found out about and I’ll be honest, I booked it without hesitation. Just the chance of playing against people again after 8 months (and having played on just two occasions in 14 months) was too much to overlook and I wanted to make sure I got a ticket.

I was excited to play but also excited because I get to fly my current list in person and see how I get on with it.

At least, I thought I would….

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

I guess that’s out then! Rey-Wings maybe? Nope, that’s out too. Wow. Time to do some research and see if there’s anything I know how to fly that’s current in Hyperspace.

At this point I’m pretty open to suggestions!

On one hand I’m a little disappointed that I can’t take my current favourite list to play but that’s counter balanced by the fact that I get the opportunity to go and play at all so in the grand scheme of things I don’t really mind! I’ll talk some more on prep for this when I get back from my holiday.

Before I move on there is one more thing I want to talk about – XTC

The hype for the ‘World Cup of X-Wing’ has been building over the past few weeks, culminating in final list submissions and quickly followed by the groups being drawn last week. The rivalry and banter has been ramping up across Facebook groups as the teams prepare to face off against each other.

There are 38 teams (I believe!) drawn in 5 groups (3 groups of 8 and 2 groups of 7) who will play each other in a ’round robin’ system (i.e. each team plays against each other team) with one round per week over 2 months. The top two teams from each group then progress to the ‘finals’ where each team plays each other over a weekend. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes!

You can find details at the website – http://thextc.space/

I’m excited to see how the games go. I’ll be supporting Wales!

Right, that’s enough of that, on with the game!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Another week, another game in the Sith Taker league! As I said, my schedule at the moment is a little bonkers and games are having to be slotted in as and when myself and my opponent are able.

This week I’ve been drawn against another Polish player – Michał Kozera

We got in touch and thankfully, with my work schedule being very up and down, we found some time during the day (rather than an evening I mean) to play our game. Michał informed me that he would be playing with a 2 week old baby in the background (CONGRATULATIONS BY THE WAY!!) and so he may be called away at short notice. Also it meant he wouldn’t be using voice chat.

This would be my second league game without it and, like I said last week, it’s fine and you can play the game functionally but I really do feel like I’m missing that connection with the person. Still, circumstances dictated otherwise and so we carried on without.

Now, what is Michał flying….

Darth Vader (66)
Fire-Control System (2)
Afterburners (7)

Ship total: 75 Half Points: 38 Threshold: 3

Soontir Fel (54)
Predator (2)
Hull Upgrade (7)

Ship total: 63 Half Points: 32 Threshold: 2

Ciena Ree (48)
Predator (2)
Hull Upgrade (7)

Ship total: 57 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 2

Total: 195

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Galactic%20Empire&d=v8ZsZ200Z173XW113WW105Y179X127W164WWY455X127W164WW&sn=666&obs=

Yikes. Now, I’m not going to talk about how I don’t like flying against aces because actually, I’m starting to improve on that AND I’m also finding that my list really likes the match up.

I’ve faced a few aces lists now and while I don’t like that I can be approached from different sides, I CAN generally turn my arcs to focus down one target and do some damage, even if I take some in return. Being that my list is quite beefy it can take some punishment. Aces can’t. Initiative does work against me but by the time I lose a ship I’ve generally scored enough points to compensate for it. Mostly. Lastly, my list’s ability to stall in the corner and wait a couple of turns means that my opponent generally has to commit to a lane of approach before I do, meaning I can adjust my position to minimise being flanked.

Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority
Obstacles
Deployment

Now, I have AGAIN made the mistake of missing a screenshot, this time of the opening placements. It’s fairly obvious when you see the positions after turn one but just to summarise, I deployed in my right hand corner (except Hera who went more in the middle). Soontir deployed directly opposite me while Vader and Cienna took positions in the far corner.

Did I activate Leia and stall in the first turn? Yes, yes I did. If was fairly obvious that Soontir wouldn’t zoom in at me and so I wanted 2 turns to just make Michał commit to attack lanes.

As predicted, Soontir turned while Cienna and Vader started creeping along the other board edge.

It’ll be a good few turns before we shoot it seems!

Back to dials then and part 2 of the stall. Hard stops and a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) for the lower initiative guys while Hera just takes a 1 hard and rolls.

Michał pushes Cienna further along the edge but Vader banks in a little, as does Soontir. Interesting.

No shots, back to planning.

Now I have to actually move. I doubt that Soontir is actually going to turn in on me here but it seems that Cienna might be going the long way around while Vader comes at me through the rocks. In that case I do NOT want the croissant-looking rock to be in my way for turns and/or rotates so I need to make the move from my safe little corner up to around the middle and I need to do it before Michał’s ships arrive.

Time to go faster then, with Benthic, Garven and Kyle taking 3 or 4 straights to cover distance. They’ll still be stressed but it doesn’t matter for now as I think we’ve at least 1 more turn before we engage and Kyle has already charged up his Moldy Crow focuses.

Hera will continue to turn and roll.

Soontir does indeed turn away (rolling as well) while Cienna banks around the rock and Vader goes straight and rolls away for a better angle of approach.

Dials again and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that there may be some range 3 tickle shots happening next turn.

The leading pack all go 1 straight, clearing stress and taking focuses while Hera slowly banks in behind, also focusing. She’s a little far out for the token passing nonsense but I’ve still got time before she’s needed. I think.

Soontir hard turns in his corner. Vader banks in and tries for a lock on Garven. It out of range. Just.

Cienna turns in, taking a focus and boosting towards my group of 3 ships.

Cienna has managed to creep into range of my ships but only Garven who takes no damage from the range 3 obstructed shot.

Back to dials then and time to get serious.

It looks like I may be able to get something onto Vader and so, with Leia now fully charged back up, it’s time to pounce.

Benthic stops and rotates anti-clockwise, passing a focus to Garven (since Hera is out of range). Kyle also stops and takes (another) focus. Garven takes a talon-roll (JARGON ALERT!!) left and takes a lock on Vader. Hera hard turns, takes a focus and, after a little consideration, takes a red boost just to make sure she can reach Garven with the range 2 bubble.

Soontir hard turns and boosts in at my ships. I can’t quite tell if he has range but it looks like he might…

Cienna turns out and banks back in after taking an evade.

Vader? Well, he banks away, just barely squeaks in an afterburners boost away and then rolls to his right to get some distance from my ships.

Soontir does indeed have range and not only that, he’s got bullseye too so gets his free focus.

He fires at Garven but the roll is poor and Garven escapes unharmed. Cienna takes a long range shot at….ummm….I actually can’t remember because no damage was done. It was probably Kyle. Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Neither Hera or Vader have shots so it’s Garven next. He fires at Vader range 3 and rolls maximum paint. Vader rolls his 4 greens and rolls nattie (JARGON ALERT!!) evades. Four of them. What are the odds of that?! Michał comments something along the lines of ‘it’s probably all downhill from here’.

Benthic and Kyle both fire at Cienna and, despite her evade token and distance from them, they put a hit and a Wounded Pilot crit onto her.

Back to planning then.

The issue I have now is the approaching Soontir. I want to chase down Vader and/or Cienna with Garven but a 1 bank means that the Ace of Legend could come in hard at him. Ok, Garven WILL 1 bank but I’ll take the red stop with Benthic to threaten Soontir. Hera will hard turn around Benthic to keep being the focus dealer while Kyle will carry on up the board edge. Sounds like a plan.

After moving I do miss Benthic having tokens but I’m confident there’s still enough on the board once Kyle passes one to Hera.

Now, what is Michał doing…

Cienna banks left and evades. Vader talon-rolls and Soontir… oh dear. Soontir dives in hard at Garven, taking an evade and then boosting into range 1.

This is going to be a big turn.

Cienna has missed arc on Garven so shoots at Kyle but does no damage.

Soontir fires at Garven with 4 dice. scores all paint and spends his focus. Garven rolls blank and eyeball (spending his focus and giving it to Hera) and loses his shields and takes one hit to hull.

Vader fires at Garven. Again it’s all paint and he spends Force for 3 hits. This time Garven blanks out and he takes a token from Hera as an evade and survives on 1 hull.

Time to make it count.

Garven shoots at Cienna (taking a focus from Hera, spending it and then giving it back to her) and again Michał’s green dice roll poorly and despite the evade, a damage gets through and Cienna is gone.

Kyle shoots his 2 dice side arc at Soontir and manages to strip his evade, leaving him tokenless.

Benthic follows up, rolling 3 paint and spending Hera’s last focus token for 3 hits. Soontir rolls his 3 greens and totally blanks out. Dead Soontir. Wow.

Back to dials and the game state suddenly looks very different. I’m ahead, yes but with Garven almost dead and facing a full health Vader who moves after all my ships. I need to be careful here.

I anticipate a blue bank from Vader so I give Benthic a white 2 hard turn left. He’ll still be stressed but I’m hoping to block and now with just 1 opposing ship on the board I’ll not need as many tokens.

Kyle hard turns, he will need to make more meaningful contributions to this fight as it goes on.

I 1 straight Garven into Benthic, hoping that a block on Vader will make him miss arc. He still has a lock on Vader and can get a focus from Hera anyway.

Hera is facing the wrong way but a 1 hard turn into the space vacated by Benthic means she stays relevant and helpful.

Michał does indeed give Vader a 2 bank in but it stops just short of Benthic. No bump! He then takes a focus and spends a force to barrel roll left. It puts him right in front of the rock to go over next time but gets him out of 2 of my ships arcs and gives him a tasty range 1 4 dice shot at poor old Garven.

Yikes.

Vader takes his shot at Garven and even with a token from Hera, he dies.

Kyle takes a 2 dice range 3 obstructed pot-shot at Vader but, rather obviously, it does nothing.

Back to dials then!

What to do now? Thankfully Leia is fully recharged so I can turn Benthic around for some threat (although he is still carrying a stress token so can’t focus).

Vader HAS to go over the rock, there’s no avoiding that. This means though that he could go pretty much anywhere. I set Kyle a 1 bank left, hoping I catch Vader in arc. Hera will just 1 hard turn again and focus.

Michał reveals a 3 bank for Vader and bumps right into Kyle, directly in front of Benthic. Lovely!

He rolls for damage and takes a hit from the rock too.

Only Benthic has a shot and he takes it at Vader, range 1, rolling 3 paint and spending Hera’s focus for 3 hits.

Vader rolls 2 nattie evades and loses his last shield.

Ok then, back to dials we go.

I deliberate this turn for a little while. What will Michał do? Will he talon-roll Vader? Or will he disengage? What’s the objectively correct choice? Heck, if I knew that I’d be a much better player than I am!

Ok, Benthic wants to clear stress and after studying the board I think that a 2 straight might block the talon-roll. If not then it gives me a range 1 shot with a full health ship which isn’t too bad either.

Kyle just goes 1 straight, rotating his turret even though it means he can’t pass Hera a token. Hera just goes 2 straight and focuses.

Vader disengages, take a 3 hard left and dodging all my arcs.

No shots so back to planning we go.

Where will Vader go this time? Got to be around the rock, right? Leia’s charged up again and so both Kyle and Benthic stop and focus with Benthic rotating himself and Kyle rotating his turret (which, while reviewing the screenshots and writing this blog I realise he should NOT have done because he was already stressed from the linked rotate in the last turn. Feels bad.).

Hera banks around the rock, looking to take up some sort of useful position next turn.

Vader banks perfectly around the rock and takes a focus.

Neither Hera or Vader can shoot so Kyle fires, doing no damage (thankfully, given that he shouldn’t have shot at all!).

Benthic takes his range 3 obstructed shot and rolls all paint, spending a focus for 2 hits and a crit.

Michał rolls his green dice. Five of them…

Oh. My. Word.

Five blanks. FIVE FREAKING BLANKS! I’ve seen some harsh dice rolls in my time but this?!

Vader takes 2 hits and a crit to hull and dies.

Result: 200 – 46 win

The conclusion…

Wow. Just, wow.

First of all, Michał was a great opponent. As much as I wasn’t able to chat to him over voice we did communicate through the game text chat a bit, mostly about how awful his green dice were. And of all the lists that don’t want terrible green dice, it’s an aces list.

Second of all, I need to make sure I remember this game. Not because I played it especially well but because of the dice. We tend to mostly remember when our dice abandon or betray us. When we need that one evade to live or just that one more paint to kill then ship that then goes on to wipe out the rest of your list. We have a tendency to only remember the bad.

Well, the dice certainly went in my favour here. As much as I try not to look too much at dice stats, a quick look at them showed that we were both roughly average/expected for reds but while I was marginally under average on greens (8 blanks, 6 expected) Michał was more so (18 blanks, 14.25 expected).

More than that though, what’s interesting here is the volume of dice. We both rolled the same number of red dice at each other (27) but Michał rolled more than double the number of green dice than I did (16 vs 38). Normally these dice numbers might favour the aces lists since throwing more green dice versus the same number of red dice (with similar results actually) should mean that the aces have done more damage. What these stats DON’T show is how tokens have affected these numbers and the sheer efficiency of my token passing meant that I overcame the volume of incoming fire.

Did I mention this list is good?

So after losing the first two games of this season I’m now 4-2. Not too shabby!

Anyway, that’s all from me this week. I may or may not have a blog next week since I’m away this week and getting a game in AND writing about it by next Tuesday might be a little beyond what I can manage! Either way, I’ll be back sooner or later!

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