Refining

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

Yes, I did say I wasn’t going to do one this week. Yes, I’ve done one anyway. Why, you ask? Well, a few reasons really but there are 2 main ones. Firstly because I went to Firestorm Newport and got a game in with a list that’s really starting to grow on me.

The second of those reasons is what went down on Friday. In case you missed it (and really, I’m not sure you could have?!), AMG announced that their planned X-Wing stream was going to be cancelled because poor weather conditions were affecting their internet but they decided to release the new rules that they were going to use on the stream.

These new rules certainly elicited… a strong response, shall we say.

I’ve seen various opinions on this change from ‘what? Ok, I guess’ right through to ‘I’m out’ and many colourfully worded in between. Memes, expletives, name calling and insults, they were all in there.

It’s like the whole X-Wing community went ‘full Karen’

Or, at least that’s how it felt at the time. Like with most controversies, it was a very vocal minority who were making the most noise. And I was only looking at the Facebook response. I imagine Twitter, Reddit and Discord were all having their own meltdown.

In fact, the best thing to come out of this for me so far was seeing this absolute gem of a GIF.

Do I like the new rules? No, not especially. I know I’ve championed the use of random effects (namely the dice for attack/defence) to somewhat level the playing field between good and bad players but this seems to be a really big step in leaning towards random luck over thought out skill and strategy (namely that the player order is decided AFTER dials have been set).

Then again, I’m yet to play a game using this rule, let alone 10-15 games to see how it feels with different lists, archetypes and opponents. Maybe it’ll be fine. Maybe it won’t. Time will tell (well, it might. If AMG never officially incorporate these rules, which they haven’t yet, then it might never need to be looked at futher).

My main concern though is over the community response.

Now, I know the internet is full of interesting characters and then people make comments online that would likely never say face to face (or at least not in the same way). But, screaming and shouting ‘I don’t like it!’ followed by insults and threats to quit the game aren’t the way to achieve change. At least, not in my opinion. I can tell you that in my job if a customer was rude to me over something that I’m doing to try and help them and I get screamed at, I’m downing tools and getting the heck out of there. And I know from experience (not mine, thankfully) that my company will 100% back me up on that.

Changes achieved by threats and insults are a very shallow victory at best because even if that change is eventually grudgingly undone, the relationship is NEVER the same.

AMG: look, just try it… Community: back off, I like what I like!
Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Following this train of thought, can we look at how change can be made? Let’s be clear, AMG are the custodians of the rules and are perfectly entitled to simply say ‘this is how it is now, like it or lump it’ but, being a year into this new relationship I don’t get the feeling that’s the kind of stewards of the game that they want to be.

Maybe I’m wrong but given their tendency towards more casual streams and announcements and their track record with customer interaction, perhaps they might have eventually recanted following a stream where negative feedback was given. Maybe simply posting new rules out on social media with no explanation of reasons or thought process was actually the very worst thing they could have done. The thing is, how can we (the community) best respond to these new ideas and suggestions? Because it definitely isn’t by throwing insults around on Facebook comments.

My other concern is longer term. Given how many people were simply saying ‘just don’t use these rules’ it seems that ignoring them is a viable and popular possibility. But there are longer term repercussions. AMG have stated that they are bringing back OP. It isn’t soon and it isn’t any more detailed so far than just a ‘yep, we’re doing it’ but they have said it’s going ahead and we can only take them at their word that they mean it.

Now, imagine that players decide to ignore the new rules. At kitchen table level play, no big deal, do what you want, it doesn’t matter. At local store level, well, if a few people are using it, everyone has to use it, right? It’s going to be really complicated to run a different set of rules depending on who you play. What if you want the new rules and the other person doesn’t? Do you roll off to see who picks? Or do you just not play against that person because your list is disadvantaged? No, you would, as a local community, have to pick one.

It stands to reason, then, that any store tournaments would also use that rule, right? Since all the local players are used to playing that way.

So now you have different communities across the region/country/world that are utilising 2 (or more?) different rule sets which fundamentally alter how the game works and how you build a list.

Now, if they do decide to implement these rules; and let’s be honest here, the post simply said they were going to use the rules for that streamed game, not necessarily that they are set in stone forever (although the official rules doc look does imply that), and AMG then proceed to enforce them at official OP events (which, of course they would), what happens? If you’re still using the old rules and hate the new, you simply don’t go, right?

So official OP events like the UK System Open which historically is the biggest (in terms of player numbers) would attract around 500 players are now looking at attendance of maybe 200 or less. Events such as System Opens in the US which might normally get maybe 120-150 players are now looking at 60ish players.

What does this make AMG think? That they made a mistake with rules way back when and they should change it back? Or that the game is dying, interest is declining and they should knock it on the head?

Of course this is a worst case scenario thing I’m doing here. AMG’s announcement in September indicated that they’re intention is to keep X-Wing going long term. Keeping that in mind we should consider then that all decisions they make are intended to improve the game in some way (even if it looks ill thought out and massively controversial to us). Remember, people’s livelihoods depend on the success of this game, from their side of things. If it sinks, people lose jobs.

So what am I saying here? Accept the new rules and suck it up? No. Shout and scream and stomp our feet until we get what we want? No, not that either.

We need to look at the changes fully, test them (multiple times), compose our thoughts and, most importantly, collectively (as a wider community) find a clear, concise and efficient way to communicate to AMG what we, as experienced players and enthusiasts of the game, think about the changes.

THIS is how we should bring change (in my opinion, anyway!).

LATE EDIT:

Ok, I wrote most of that on Saturday with the events of Friday still pretty raw for most people. Looking back, perhaps my response to the response is almost as emotionally driven as the posts I was looking at. As I say to my kids, having the emotions is fine, we just have to be careful with what we do (or how we react) with them.

Anyway, I just wanted to add a little positivity before moving on.

Since Friday night I have seen MANY posts of people who have actually tested these rules. Some people several times. Feedback is fairly mixed with some thinking it’s ‘ok actually’, some finding pros and cons and some still disliking it. But with time to reflect properly, things are starting to calm down and responses are becoming less reactive and more reasoned and detailed.

I want to particularly applaud Ryan Farmer of the Fly Better Podcast for:
1. trying to encourage reasonable responses in the immediate aftermath
2. producing a short, calm and reasoned ’emergency broadcast’ and
3. incentivising actual proper testing

R(y)on Farmson (?)

At time of publishing things are still really up in the air with these rules. They are now ‘out there’ for people to use but not fully proper official yet. Then there are the reasonably accepted rules which GSP are using for their online tournaments (roll a single die at the start of the game to decide 1st/2nd player, plus deficit scoring). Of course, there are also the old/original/current/’technically real’ rules with initiative decided by points bid.

I’m planning to get some casual play in at Firestorm tomorrow and have no idea which rules to use. It’ll probably depend on who else is there and what we feel like trying out.

Which rules are you using?

Alrighty then, that’s the elephant in the room dealt with, let’s dive in to some fun stuff!

Photo by Oliver Sjöström from Pexels

In last week’s blog I talked about a game I played using Dash, Luke and AP-5. I lost the game (but not by much) and felt that a couple of the upgrades maybe didn’t pull their weight and so off the back of some feedback in comments and having looked at some lists from the Scarif GSP Galactic Qualifier the previous weekend I decided to make some changes.

It’s probably also worth mentioning that in said tournament, no less than 5 (!!) Dash lists made the top 32 (out of 178 registered players) AND a Dash list won the whole thing! A year ago there wouldn’t have even been that many in the whole tournament! It really pleases me to see Dash back in the meta. I do understand that not everyone is happy to see him back but given his roughly 3 year absence (from the launch of 2nd Edition) and the fact that he can no longer double tap I think what we’re seeing is a temporary large uplift in popularity.

My concern is that this means his points will go back up in the next points update (whenever that will be) but I honestly don’t think he’s under-priced where he is and that actually, he’s just an easy choice at the moment due to his significant drop and that as the meta evolves we will probably see less of him.

Anyway, back to my list.

Yes please!

Let’s start with Dash. Despite several different configurations showing up and doing well in Scarif, I’m happy with my build of Jyn, Perceptive Copilot, Trick Shot and Outrider title. I’ve tried with Marcel Manzano’s Kanan and K-2SO and just don’t get on with it. Pierre Binetruy’s build includes Expert Handling in place of Trick Shot which I get when not taking the title but I feel adds a bit less value when Outrider is there too. Also the inclusion on Stealth Device is nice but a little expensive for me. Then again, I’ve never won an almost 200 player tournament so what do I know?!

Next up are the wing-men: AP-5 and Luke. I need to look at these together because changing upgrades on one affects points available on the other.

For AP -5 I found that, while Intimidation does have it’s uses (particularly at i1), I totally forgot it last week. I know that doesn’t mean it’s useless but it was only on there as a last minute addition. That frees up 3 points.

Then for Luke I’m really struggling with the regen. Having to (or trying to) disengage to get the shields back really goes against my play style and also I feel like it leaves Dash vulnerable.

Going back to other lists and comments I like the thought of K-2SO. I’ve got the points and a space for him on AP-5 which also keeps him relatively inexpensive.

But what about Luke? I’ve got 2 points to spare. Having seen a suggestion of Brilliant Evasion to help his defence I throw it in to give it a try. Done!

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

Ship total: 100 Half Points: 50 Threshold: 5

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

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Luke Skywalker (60)
Brilliant Evasion (2)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 62 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW54W40WW157WY72XW314WWWY4X199WWWW142&sn=Dash%20Thane%20AP-5&obs=

With Wednesday evening creeping ever closer I manage to dig out most of what I need (except I can’t find my Luke Skywalker base tile!) and pack it in my bag.

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

As I arrive at Firestorm it turns out we have an even number of people (which is always nice!) and most are already paired so it’s a simple set up, we will be having a Dylan-off!

Yes, our youngest Exile at 12 years old is also the only other Exile called Dylan. He’s been running the same list for a few weeks now with some pretty decent results.

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Blue Squadron Escort (38)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 38 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 3

Partisan Renegade (43)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Blue Squadron Scout (43)
Pivot Wing (0)

Ship total: 43 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z1XWWW142Y1XWWW142Y1XWWW142Y38XWWWWW140Y37XWWWW140&sn=Dash%20Luke%20AP-5&obs=

BEEEEEEFYYYYY

I played Dylan and this list a few weeks ago with the pre-points change (i.e. good) Heratanni and while I won the game, it wasn’t a walk over by any means. Sheer volume of 3 dice shots means the list leans a little on variance but can really pack a punch, especially if the U-Wings opt to coordinate, giving the T-65’s some double modded shots.

We’rd both at 200 points so we roll to see who is first/second player and I’ll be going first.

Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority
Obstacles
Deployment

Also, it’s worth noting that the changes to gas clouds had been made less than 2 hours before we played and nobody else was aware of them before I got there so we used the ‘old’ gas cloud rules.

We place obstacles and then ships and are ready to start!

I opted to place Dash directly opposite Dylan’s ships but face him along my board edge in order to try and draw his forces into the obstacles. Ideally I want to get Luke 2/3rds of the way up the board to engage by the time Dash hits my bottom right corner to be able to focus fire on a single target.

That’s the theory anyway….

The first few turns go roughly as I’d like and this is how the board looks as we enter the first engagement.

Balls. Dash is too far out.

Luke is the only ship of mine with a shot but while it is double modded, he rolls a blank into another blank and the lead T-65 survives unscathed.

Dylan opts to focus fire with 2 shots onto AP-5 at range 3 obstructed and I manage to roll total blanks for both shots and take 2 hits.

Oh dear. Not a great opening engage.

As we go back to dials I think about what my options are.

Ok, how about this…. I K-2SO a calculate to Luke, move AP-5 and coordinate Luke a barrel roll right and then 3 straight with Luke, clearing the stress and (having closed foils), boost in left to flank something?

Sounds COOL!

Dash will just 1 bank in order to not get too far away.

But where do I put AP-5? Hmmm….

I come up with a highly questionable solution. I put him in the way. I decide that a 3 bank puts him in a good spot to coordinate Luke again next turn but gamble that Dylan will focus on the higher threat target (Luke) and accept that if I’m wrong AP-5 may not be around next turn but if he isn’t at least it means he soaked up some shots that could have gone at Luke.

I do it.

I systems phase a calculate to Dash which gives him a stress. AP-5 3 banks and coordinates Luke a barrel roll.

Dylan starts moving ships but comes in a little more conservatively than expected, except with the leading T-65 who takes a talon roll right in front of where Luke now sits.

Balls.

The rest of the ships move and Dylan utilises the red coordinate from his U-Wings to give 2 of his X-Wings double mods. They lock AP-5. Ah.

Dash 1 banks and takes a focus and evade while Luke, who I had intended to 3 straight into a boost, now leaves his foils open and bumps.

In a slightly bizarre turn of events, I have some mods but no shots onto the same target. And AP-5 looks to be toast.

It’s me to shoot first though and Dash and Luke do their jobs well, taking 2 shields each from the X-Wings that have AP-5 locked.

Dylan concentrates fire on AP-5 and in a quite ridiculous (and statistically unlikely) turn of events, from 3 shots (2 of which are double modded), AP-5 takes 1 single damage.

One.

I am simultaneously delighted and embarrassed.

To add insult to injury, AP-5 rolls 3 hits into the range 1 T-65 and strips it’s shields.

What a jerk.

Back to dials we go and now I’ve got what I consider to be a bonus turn with what should have been a dead ship. A coordinating one at that. And a blocking one.

AP-5 gives Luke a calculate (and stress) in the Systems phase before hard turning and coordinating Luke (which he can while Luke is stressed with his ability) a barrel roll.

Pure jerk.

Dylan’s U-Wings ominously approach but the rear one bumps, preventing an action. The previously blocking T-65 hard turns right, attempting to block Luke’s escape route and remains stressed. One T-65 takes a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!) while the other 1 banks right into AP-5.

Luke’s new position means that he keeps his foils open and 1 banks left, clearing the stress and taking a lock on the bumped T-65.

Dash takes a 1 hard turn left. Risky, given the U-Wing positions but means that he won’t get chased down into a corner later on. He takes a focus and evade.

I won’t lie. This turn was brutal.

Luke and Dash focus fire on the shieldless, bumped T-65 and wipe it out.

Ouch.

With one T-65 facing the wrong way, Dylan focuses on AP-5 with the stressed, modless remaining T-65 and the one U-Wing that has him in arc. Neither of them land any damage.

AP-5 continues to be the MVP as he then takes a shield from the i1 U-Wing.

What. A. Jerk.

Back to planning then.

Time to run with AP-5 I think. I mean, he can still shoot out of the butt and honestly, I feel a bit bad that he’s still on the board.

In the systems phase he gives Luke a calculate and stress before hard turning right and coordinating Luke a lock onto the i1 U-Wing.

Said U-Wing hard stops and rotates anti-clockwise, hoping to catch AP-5 in arc. The top T-65 continues it’s long, stressed turn around while the right hand one straights to clear stress and takes a focus. The other U-Wing also hard stops, intending to block Dash.

Luke takes a casual 1 bank left, clearing the stress and find himself with a lock, a calculate and 2 force. Nice. He takes a focus but with Dash & Jyn within range 3, takes it as an evade, just in case.

That’s not how it goes though and Dash 3 banks left which keeps his side arc facing at both U-Wings while dodging the arc too. He takes a focus and evade.

Despite the angle not looking like it in the picture above, both Luke and Dash had arc on the i1 U-Wing and, hampered by it’s closed wings, fall just short of destroying it, leaving it on 1 hull.

Luke has just about dodge the arcs of the i2 U-Wing AND the T-65. Nice.

The U-Wing’s revenge is to finally kill off AP-5 despite being unmodded.

Even I cheered.

AP-5 had the chance to be a jerk one more time though with simultaneous fire in play but he blanks out on reds.

Back to dials then.

This turn I decide that I don’t quite like where Luke is heading and, since I’m in a reasonably comfortable position points-wise (even though AP-5 is nearly the same points as the only other dead ship) I opt to take a turn to get him somewhere useful. With both U-Wings stressed I dial in a 3 bank right, sending him towards Dash.

Dash will hard turn to leverage his side arc.

Now Dylan starts moving. The i1 U-Wing 2 banks left to clear stress and takes a focus. The other U-Wing goes 1 straight to clear stress and, not being able to take any shots, takes a lock on Dash. The engaged T-65 simply goes 1 straight and focuses while the still turning stressed T-65, well, turns and stays stressed.

Luke’s 3 bank puts him in what would be a lovely position, were it not for that T-65. He takes a focus as an evade before Dash hard turns and takes a focus & evade.

With Luke having no shot, Dash manages to get the kill shot onto the i1 U-Wing. Dylan’s T-65 takes what is a just about range 2 shot onto Luke but with the Force and an evade, the Jedi escapes unharmed.

Back to planning then.

I’m expecting the U-Wing to rotate 180 while the closes T-65 closes in, so what should I do? Dash dials in a 3 bank right to see if I can trigger Trick Shot again, while Luke will Talon Roll (JARGON ALERT!!) to his left, possibly dodging the U-Wing’s arc and giving him a choice of shots.

Dylan’s U-Wing does indeed pivot 180 degrees but the T-65, rather than chase down Luke turns on Dash with a bank right. The furthest T-65 finally clears it’s stress (yay!) but is still too far out to actually shoot.

Dash’s 3 bank puts him neatly on the other side of the debris from the oncoming T-65, he takes a focus and evade. Luke’s T-roll gives him a range 2 onto the U-Wing or a range 3 on the T-65. Lovely.

Dash and Luke again focus fire and the T-65 dies. Ouch.

The U-Wing takes a shot at Luke and manages to take a shield but the last T-65 is out of range.

Dials then and it’s starting to feel like a rout.

I dial in another 3 bank for Dash before changing my mind and going for a 1 straight instead, not wanting to allow Dylan’s ships to close to range 1. Luke gets a 2 bank to clear stress.

It seems Dylan is going all in on Dash as the U-Wing banks in but unfortunately clips the debris, denying himself an action. The T-65 banks in and focuses.

Dash takes his 1 straight and a focus & evade before Luke sweeps in with the 2 bank to clear stress and locks the T-65.

Once again Luke and Dash focus fire and, with shields already down from earlier on, the T-65 quickly melts.

The U-Wing’s range 2, unmodded, obstructed shot fails to damage Dash and we go back to dials with just a handful of minutes left. One more turn then.

I set Dash a 3 hard turn while Luke will bank again.

The U-Wing dives in aggressively at Dash but the template clipped the debris again and it remains stressed.

Dash’s 3 hard doesn’t bump (which, on reflection, might have been handy actually) and he takes a focus & evade while Luke approaches from behind and takes a lock.

This time the dice abandon me a little and while rolling 7 heavily modded dice, I only take 2 shields from the brave Blue Squadron Scout, just 1 short of halving it.

It responds by firing at Dash but manages to get just a single hit past the green dice, taking 1 shield. And with that, the game is over.

Result: 157 – 38 win

The conclusion…

Ok, that went pretty well.

Do I feel bad putting a result like that on a 12 year old? Sort of, yes but Dylan is far too good at this game to need people to go easy on him. He more than holds his own against adults a good majority of the time and has been having some good games recently with his generic Rebel beef list.

Mmmmmmmm…beef

Looking back over it I think there were 2 big factors contributing to the result, both involving AP-5. The first was when he refused to die when faced with 3 shots (two of them double modded!) when he should definitely have die. Then Dylan’s choice to rage hunt him, leaving Dash and Luke to put some serious damage in was certainly not the correct choice (but understandable! We’ve all been there!).

So some strong variance made the win look really convincing but I think that on the whole everything went to plan and the list worked well. Having the options to move Luke around with a boost or roll before he moves is really valuable and helps him not only avoid blocks but get out of danger if he needs to.

I like it.

Analysing the list a little more, there are new 2 upgrades to check out. K-2SO worked out pretty well I think. Having the option to give that calculate to any ship (including AP-5 himself) is good. Combining it with AP-5’s ability to coordinate a ship with a stress token is even better. It also means that if I’m willing to sacrifice having 2 actions (plus a calculate) then a K-2SO’d ship doesn’t even necessarily need to make a blue manoeuvre. It’s complicated thinking through scenario’s to work out where I can go but with practice I think it’ll come.

If AP-5 coordinates Luke a roll, then Luke can close foils, blue move and boost…

Brilliant Evasion was, well, pointless. Luke didn’t get shot at much in this game anyway but the chance of rolling 2 eyeballs with 2 green dice is not huge. It didn’t trigger at all here.

Having thought about it, perhaps with those 2 points adding R4 Astromech to AP-5 might help open up the dial in situations where I want to give him the K-2SO calculate but also want to coordinate. Then again, it could be handy on Luke too? No, I think it’s more useful on AP-5.

Ok then, looks like I’ve got another tweaked list to test out for next time!

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.

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