Once more unto the breach…

The intro…

Welcome back! Or, if this is your first time here, welcome!

If this isn’t your first time here then there’s a reasonable chance that you know that I’m playing in the Sith Takers league which is now on season 3. I played against Jason Sharp last week (for the second time in recent months) and was pretty handily beaten (for the second time in recent months).

What was very interesting off the back of that game, or more accurately, off the back of the blog of that game, were some of the comments I got. In particular I had some very interesting and in-depth analysis on a Facebook post from two people whose opinions I really respect – Louis Leong (of 186th Squadron) and David Sutcliffe (Stay on The Leader blog).

I won’t copy/paste it all (partly because I feel like it’s slightly lazy blogging but mostly because it’s quite long across several comments) but for those who can access it here’s the link. In short, Louis critiqued (very politely mind you!) some of my specific in-game choices and gave very well reasoned alternatives that could have resulted in better outcomes. David commented on my general strategy (or lack thereof!) and also suggested looking at changes in the list for improvements.

I really appreciated this feedback. A lot.

I’ve blogged before (several times in fact) about ways to improve and identifying how you learn best. Having specific feedback on my decisions (from list to deployment to dial setting) helps me to think more (or just differently!) about what I’m doing and that will hopefully lead to my being better at the game.

It could be quite easy to be hurt or offended by comments about how ‘bad’ your choices were but I want to clarify this here – I welcome it. I am very low on ego or pride and will ALWAYS listen to feedback or suggestions. Provided they’re polite of course. There’s just no need to be mean!

So to Louis and David – Thank you. But also, a quick disclaimer. The game below was played BEFORE I got your feedback. Just bear that in mind while reading…

And so to game 2 of the league.

It probably won’t surprise you to find my list unchanged…well, almost unchanged. Due to lack of use and my being tired of being outbid I have dropped Marksmanship on Ten Numb for an extra point of bid. It’s still not a big bid by any means but it should at least outbid the ‘accidental bidders’ who only have a bid because they can’t fit any more useful things on their ships.

Dash Rendar (85)
Expert Handling (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

Ten Numb (48)
Fire-Control System (2)
Autoblasters (3)
Stabilized S-Foils (2)

Ship total: 55 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 4

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

Total: 196

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54WWWY74XW113W232WWWW313Y50XWW&sn=Dash%20Ten%20Jake&obs=

Even though my win rate with this list isn’t fantastic I HAVE won games with it and Dash is fun to fly so even though there are ‘better’ lists out there. This is the one I am currently enjoying and so I stick with it for better or worse.

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

And so to my opponent. I just happened to open up the Sith Takers Discord on the Sunday evening and I noticed comments about pairings. I normally get notified on my phone when TTT (JARGON ALERT!!) generates pairings but it seemed I had timed it rather perfectly and beaten the system. I logged in and checked who I’d been drawn with.

Now, I’ve had a ‘funny’ relationship with TTT’s pairings for online tournaments over the last few months. On the one hand I want to be paired with players of roughly matching skill level to myself to have some chance of a win. On the other hand, having the opportunity to play against players vastly more experienced and knowledgeable is clearly an interesting challenge in itself and one that can be quite rare for real-life games.

I feel like TTT has a habit of paring me with very good players. Maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe the odds aren’t as outrageous as they feel at the time. Maybe. Looking back at some of the people that I’ve played against over the last 8 or 9 months it is crazy. Even if I was travelling to tournaments across the country (in a covid-less 2020) I would almost certainly have never had the chance to play against some of the amazing players I’ve met, mostly because they’d be playing at the top tables past game 2 and I….wouldn’t be.

Me? At top tables?! Bwaaaahahahaha!

Anyway, in keeping with this theme, TTT came up trumps again. I’d been paired with 2019 Euros finalist (among other honours), Mr Ashok Hemmings.

I got in touch over Discord and we arranged our game for the very next evening.

When the time came we kicked off a Discord voice chat and got started setting up the game. When Ashok loaded up his list I felt like it was a bit of a throwback!

Poe Dameron (62)
Outmaneuver (6)
R4 Astromech (2)
Overdrive Thruster (8)
Integrated S-Foils (0)
Black One (5)
Proton Torpedoes (12)

Ship total: 95 Half Points: 48 Threshold: 4

Rey (68)
Rose Tico (9)
Korr Sella (6)
Finn (9)
False Transponder Codes (2)
Stealth Device (4)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 100 Half Points: 50 Threshold: 6

Total: 195

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z231X126W5WW345W175W171W136Y244XWW173W245W174W369W166W193&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Rey and Poe, both having dropped in points of late and both starting to make waves in the meta (JARGON ALERT!!) in their own lists but not (to my knowledge?!) together.

Ashok has the full on ‘Death Rey’ with Finn and Rose giving big, reliable damage output while Korr Sella and the title let her do what she wants with little/no consequence.

Poe is rocking the new Overdrive Thrusters which seem to be stapled to him at the moment with various toys to make him more dangerous and less predictable. And also Proton Torps.

Irritatingly Ashok has still outbid me by a single point and (unsurprisingly) makes me first player. My entire list will move before any of his ships (which he admitted that he took great pleasure in saying!).

Time for the pre-flight checks then!

Target Priority – Ummm… tricky. I feel like it’s Rey since she hits hard and has less agility but those proton torps on Poe are muddying the water. Poe with the Overdrive Thrusters will be pretty slippery so it’s possibly a question of whether I can
Obstacles – Ashok has brought debris which is perfect for me. I want as tight a cluster in the middle as I can.
Deployment – With all my ships going first I want to be able to be as flexible as possible. Jake and Dash go right hand corner, Ten in the middle. If I need to bide my time I can. If I want to approach hot I can do that too.

Obstacles and ships go down and we’re set like this ready to begin.

I probably could have predicted that Rey and Poe would go opposite corners had I thought about it properly. Ashok wants me to commit to one target and flank with the other.

I’m not going to play that game, I set all 3 ships a hard left turn.

Ashok also plays cagey, going 1 forwards and doing the 2 speed roll with Poe to move inwards.

No shooting this turn and so straight back to planning.

What’s refreshing for this game is not having to worry about rocks preventing Dash from shooting. It gives him basically a fully open board to play with. I want to try and draw Ashok into the obstacles but they don’t give me a huge advantage with Poe being able to boost and/or roll at one or two speed as he chooses and Rey can just pick up as much stress as she wants, still sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) or boost and shed it easily with Korr Sella.

Ten Numb hard turns back in to face Poe while Dash and Jake cruise forwards.

Rey banks in while Poe hard turns left and rolls away to his board edge.

Still no shots so back to dials we go.

Annoyingly Rey still has a nice channel to fly down (which I also did in the last game!) but at least I see it this time so I can make it harder for her.

Ten goes straight and rolls towards the board edge. Jake goes forwards and rolls in front of Dash (handing off a focus) who in turn banks over the top of Jake and rolls left (just in case Rey comes in hard).

Rey does not come in hard. Instead she goes 1 forwards while Poe hard turns and takes a 2 speed roll towards Rey.

Hmmm….

No shots again. Time to take stock. What are we actually doing here? Where does Ashok want to engage me? I really had expected Rey to come in hard at Dash and take one of those double mod shots she loves to do while keeping Poe away and mitigating Dash’s double tap.

Still, Ten isn’t in position to do anything yet and while Jake isn’t either I’m less worried about whether he can shoot or not.

Back to planning then. Ten banks in and then rolls left. Jake leapfrogs Dash and hands off a focus before Dash… fails his 2 bank and bumps into Jake. Oops. Still, he’s got a focus.

Rey hard turns away from Dash before Poe banks and 2-speed rolls away even further.

This cagey affair is feeling very reminiscent of last week’s game. Which I lost. Hard. What I want is to engage with Ten and Dash on the same turn, preferably with Dash having 2 targets to fire at and in ideal circumstances with Ten being able to double tap.

Will Ashok allow that to happen though? That is the question.

So far it’s looking like a no.

Planning again then. I’ll be honest, I’m fighting the urge to hard turn in with Dash and make something happen. I know that would be a disaster though and so I continue the long game.

Ten goes straight and rolls left to have an easier time around the debris next turn. Jake hard turns and rolls to give Dash a focus. Dash this time makes it over Jake with a bank.

Rey sloops while Poe banks.

Still no shots.

What is Ashok doing though? What’s his game plan here? Will he send both ships in at me down the middle? Is he trying to pin Dash in a corner? What is it?!?!

Back to planning and all I can do now is to just keep committing to the same plan. Wait.

Ten banks in, Jake leapfrogs Dash and rolls left, leaving Dash space to blast past him.

Poe banks in while Rey goes 1 forwards. So.Cagey.

No shots again and I’m beginning to wonder if this is the most turns I’ve ever had without shooting.

The question is. What do I do now? The logical thing is to turn Dash in after Ten. Do I want to do that though? Where does Ashok want to engage me?

I decide not to do that. Ten banks left and rolls left and backwards to buy some more time. Jake and Dash both K-turn (JARGON ALERT!!). Is it a good idea? I don’t know, I guess I’ll find out later?!

Rey continues 1 forwards (bumping Poe) before Poe banks right.

Will we ever shoot?

Back to dials again. This time Jake hard turns to his left and rolls towards Dash. Ten hard turns right and rolls backwards. Dash goes 1 forwards, bumping into Jake.

Rey continues her 1 forwards shuffle across the board while Poe banks in slowly and rolls right.

Do we shoot now?

Nope, not quite. But soon.

Back to dials again and it appears that I may have come unstuck. I now need to make a 50/50 choice with Ten. Do I think Poe will come at him through the middle or around the outside of the debris? And have I hung him out to dry again by having Dash too far away to support him (i.e. shoot at stuff).

I send Ten 2 forwards, roll right and backwards and try for a lock on Poe.

A swing and a miss. Poop.

Jake hard turns right and rolls before Dash banks over him and tries for a lock, knowing really that if Ten is too far out then he definitely is.

Rey hard turns in and locks Ten before Poe goes 1 straight and 2-speed rolls right.

No shot for Dash or Ten while Rey has a double modded shot (with a lock and Force) on Ten. Not ideal.

We finally shoot with 39 mins left on the clock.

Rey fires at Ten and scores a full 4 hits/crits. Ten rolls 2 eyeballs and spends his stress to lose just 2 shields. Could have been worse!

Back to planning and this turn will be a big one. Ten is likely to die but I need to make it worthwhile. The thing is, his position isn’t fantastic. I decide to hard turn left onto the debris. He won’t be able to roll and lock but he’ll still get a stress to spend as a focus.

Jake will bank around the outside of Dash and do his thing while Dash will also bank and lock Rey since he already has a focus from Jake.

Rey decides to disengage, taking a 3 bank away from Dash while Poe banks left and 2-speed rolls right out of Ten’s arc. Damn.

Poe shoots at Ten who has simply decided he isn’t playing this game and rolls 2 evades.

Dash has somehow managed to catch BOTH Rey and Poe in arc but the range 3 hinders the shots and he manages to get 1 shield from Poe and 2 from Rey.

Rey fires at Ten and this is more effective, bringing him down to just 2 hull remaining and 2 crits (a console fire and damaged sensor array).

Neither Jake nor Ten have a shot and so we’re back to dials.

Ten is clearly not long for this world but I need to figure out how to make him useful. He spent his stress but has to continue over the debris so will get another so it’s a 2 hard to possibly block Poe if he goes right.

Jake hard turns left, rolls, gives himself a focus and boosts to give Dash one as well.

Dash then banks left but has a choice to make. Which way will Poe go? If he goes to his right then he could disengage. If he goes left though? He could stay where he is and have a range 1 shot into Dash. If Dash rolls away he could be range 2 but would then be risking a proton torp. Or Poe could 2-speed boost into range 1 and reduce a die from Dash’s return shot.

On the other hand I could roll Dash AT Poe. If he goes right I can still shoot him. If he goes left I’ll block him and prevent a shot into Dash.

Yep, let’s do that.

Rey hard turns and boosts before Poe turns at Dash and bumps.

No shot for Poe or Dash but Rey takes one at Jake but misses. Jake in turn shoots at Poe range 3 obstructed and while he rolls 2 hits Poe manages to evade them.

We’re now at less than 20 mins to go. Somehow I’ve got all 3 ships still on the table.

That’s fine but I’ve lost points from Ten and have nothing back for it. I’m behind and have to try to get some points.

Where is Poe going to go?

Ten banks to lose a stress (but still has one). Jake banks left, rolls and boosts to get some distance from Rey. Dash hard turns right and rolls away from Rey. I’m sure I had a good reason for that at the time but it eludes me right now.

Rey banks in before Poe hard turns, rolls left and forwards and then does a 2-speed boost away from Dash. Damn.

The roll away with Dash has meant no shot when I could have tried to put some damage into Poe. We’ve no shots again and so it’s back to planning we go.

Jake hard turns right to come back in. Ten banks left and rolls….right?! Looking back at the images I still can’t quite understand what I was looking to achieve there. Dash hard turns right.

Rey cruises forwards and bumps Poe who in turn goes 2 hard right (VERY narrowly missing the debris).

With just 6 minutes left on the clock the only ships with a shot is Poe but it’s range 3 obstructed at a focused Jake and he evades it.

This will be the last turn and looking at board positions, it’s definitely going to be the one that decides the game.

I’m assuming that Rey will either go for Dash or for Ten. I know that I want Ten to shoot so he gets a 1 talon roll (JARGON ALERT!!) to make sure he’s at least facing the right way.

I want Dash to have a double modded shot so Jake will go 5 straight.

I initially moved Ten first and then realised that it would make Jake bump. Ashok very kindly let me change the order, meaning Jake could move, roll and boost to get behind some cover.

Dash just goes 3 straight, assuming a bank from Rey.

Rey does not bank. She simply goes 1 forwards and takes a lock on Dash.

Poe hard turns around the debris, locks Ten and takes a stress to focus.

Here we go!

Poe fires a Proton Torp at Ten and annihilates him. Ouch.

Dash fires at Rey. It’s double modded but she moved into range 1 so it’s only with 3 dice. It’s 3 hits but she rolls, gets an evade, adds a blank with Finn and spends a force to make another evade to take just 1.

Dash has Poe in range too and a focus left over. The range 3 shot hits but only takes 2 shields, 1 hit short of half points.

Rey fires at Dash and gets 2 shields from him. With Ten gone and Jake facing the wrong way the game is done.

Result: 0 – 55 loss

The conclusion…

Well… yes, I lost. Is that a surprise though really?

I’m actually quite pleased that I kept it as close as I did.

Maybe. Probably not. But maybe.

One more damage onto Poe would have given me half points there. Not quite enough to win (vs the points for Ten Numb) but still, I’ll take it given the gulf in skill and experience between us. On reflection, a 3 bank from Dash would have blocked Rey and given Dash a double modded shot onto Poe. Hindsight though eh?

I needed another 3 damage on Rey for half on her too and while that might have been possible to engineer with a couple of turns to go, the bank and roll with Ten in the last but one turn (seriously, what was I thinking?!) meant that his position was not good enough to make it happen. Plus Rey probably would have blasted him to pieces before he could fire.

But still, almost.

Ashok was a fantastic opponent and it was great to chat both during and after the game. I hope we get to play again some time, maybe even in person if that ever becomes possible again!

In comparison to last week I feel like I played this game a bit better overall. At least, that’s what the core indicates. Referring back to Louis and David’s comments though I feel I have to try and analyse this critically. In particular, one set of stats that Louis brought up.

Blue player – Ashok, Red player – Me

Bearing in mind that I have a 2 dice attack ship, a 3 dice attack ship that can (in certain circumstances) double tap and a 4 dice ship that can double tap, Ashok STILL managed to roll more red dice than me with two 3 attack dice ships, neither of which can double tap. Over 50% more.

Now these numbers are somewhat skewed by things like rolling for obstacles and console fire but still, the pattern is clear. I’m not getting enough shots out.

And there lies the issue with my list. It’s me.

Well, sort of. It’s some sort of unmeasurable combination of how I’m flying the list versus what it can/should do. And maybe, after 6 or 7 games, I’m realising that Ten Numb isn’t really pulling his weight.

He’s 56 points of double tap which can be devastating but I just can’t seem to get him to do it very often. It certainly doesn’t help that I seem to have faced off against many lists with high initiative pilots. This makes it very difficult to get the lock which allows him to put damage out so reliably and turns him into a very expensive blocker in the hands of someone who just really isn’t great at blocking (that’s me, by the way!).

I’m still not 100% convinced that Wedge is the right alternative but his recent drop in points and that big orange number are certainly making me think about it.

It’s interesting that the general meta is accepted as leaning towards ‘high efficiency generic spam’ and yet in my last 6 games every list has had a pilot of initiative 5 or higher and all except one had outbid me.

So is this the end for me and Ten? Maybe for now.

And so what to move on to?

The last few weeks have seen two large online tournaments (the Lima Open and the Polish Nationals) and there are some very interesting lists among the top 16 in both.

In the Lima Open not one but TWO Dash lists made top 16. Conversely, in the Polish Nationals there were only 2 Dash lists at all (according to Listfortress) and the highest placed was 61st. However, in the Polish Nationals, 4 of the top 16 were Rebel lists and one of those actually won it.

Interesting times indeed. I might have to check these out some more.

Before I sign off I just want to share a quick thing about the Sith Takers league.

The pairings for each round are drawn on a Sunday evening (provided everyone’s played!) and so by the time I post out on a Tuesday I already know who I’m playing next. I don’t usually say on here though, just to keep each week as a separate thing. This time though, I appear to have a bye. While this gets me a slightly underwhelming win (yay?), it also leaves me with no game to play.

Don’t worry though, I do have something in the works to blog about next week before I take 2 weeks off over Christmas. See you next week!

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