(Virtual) Reality Check

The intro…

Welcome to this week’s blog!

This has been an interesting week. Not all in good ways.

Having fractured my ankle almost 2 weeks ago I’ve an inordinate amount of time simply sitting on my backside on the sofa. At first I was quite efficient, getting some ‘admin’ type jobs done that I had been putting off over Christmas but once I’d got through my ‘to do’ list and had a few visitors I eventually relented and I did a bad thing.

I downloaded the demo of Football Manager 2022 and my time over the next few days just disappeared. I had forgotten just how addictive it is, how easy it is to keep clicking that NEXT button. Then I reached the end of the demo and bought the full game. Oops!

Aaaaaanyway, I did manage to arrange a game for this week (yay!) as I try and prepare as best I can for the upcoming Sith Taker Open in just under 4 weeks time (triple extra super duper yay!).

I’m in the process of testing out a list I’d started flying not long after the last points change:

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

Ship total: 100 Half Points: 50 Threshold: 5

AP-5 (32)
K-2SO (6)
R4 Astromech (2)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

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

Ship total: 60 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW40W54WW157WY72XW314WW5WY4XWWWW142&sn=Dash%20Luke%20AP-5&obs=

Results with it have been…interesting. I’ve ranged from absolutely destroying opponents to being unable to beat multiple lists in Fly Casual.

Fly Casual has long been a tricky subject for me. On one hand it’s a basic testing ground where you can experiment against a fairly rudimentary, often predictable AI. If I couldn’t beat the AI with a list then it probably isn’t worth persuing.

On the other, well, I’ve tried known good lists and tactics and the AI has mercilessly wiped me out as it sends wave after wave of 5+ ship lists at me and rolls paint incredibly consistently causing me no end of frustration.

Me, when the AI rolls all paint EVERY TIME

I’ve also written before about playing it to the point where I felt it was affecting my real life play in a negative way.

Anyway, I’d had my fill of AI games, I wanted to play against a real person and start to get a feel for how best to fly this list against an opponent that won’t split up it’s formation to avoid obstacles.

Off the back of last week’s blog where I mentioned my injury and the face that I’m out of action for in person play for a while, I had several offers of online games to get myself ready for the Sith Taker Open (STO from here on out) and I reached out to Mr Jon Vicary to see if he was free to play.

I’ve played Jon a couple of times now and while each one has ended with a loss for me, I’ve ALWAYS had a good time and I’ve ALWAYS come away having learned something from it. He’s a top guy.

Jon was free and so we set a time, loaded Discord and TTS (for the first time quite a while!) and got ready to play!

The Batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Jon had brought a variation on the ‘Third Wheel Wookiee’ Resistance list which has been doing the rounds for quite a while now. You can’t exactly call it that here though because there’s not a Wookiee in sight:

Han Solo (Resistance) (62)
C-3PO (Resistance) (5)
Tactical Officer (3)
Rey (10)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 82 Half Points: 41 Threshold: 6

Kare Kun (47)
Heroic (2)
Ferrosphere Paint (3)
Integrated S-Foils (0)
Adv. Proton Torpedoes (5)

Ship total: 57 Half Points: 29 Threshold: 4

Temmin Wexley (49)
Heroic (2)
Ferrosphere Paint (3)
Integrated S-Foils (0)
Plasma Torpedoes (7)

Ship total: 61 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Resistance&d=v8ZsZ200Z245XWW191W61W187WWW193Y252X172WW198WW175WW134Y297X172WW198WW175WW234&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Jon had juggled things a little and spent the 2 extra points to upgrade Chewbacca to Han Solo but the general principle remains the same. What you lose in same initiative convenience and revenge shot, you gain in the higher initiative and setup advantage. Interesting.

Time for some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – it’s got to be Han, really. That co-ordinate with free calculate added to the high initiative means he’s a real threat. Plus he’s worth a good chunk of points.
Obstacles – Jon brought asteroids which Dash hates (ok, it’s more that he likes them a LOT less than the other obstacles) but tight clustering still works to block up lanes for Han.
Deployment – that’s pretty much the trickiest part of this list. Placing AP-5 before most things means you somewhat telegraph your positions if you want him available for support. This part I’m still working on.

With STO running existing (not new) rules we decide to run those too since we are both going (yay!). We’re also both at 200 points so a single dice roll decides player order. Jon wins and, with no overlap in initiatives, takes first player to take control of obstacle placement.

We place obstacles and then ships and a ready to start.

Pyramid obstacles!

It seems that this was, I realised, the first time I’d ever faced Resistance Han as Jon’s placement caught me a little off guard. Still, if I’m aiming for Han first it isn’t too terrible. Is it?

AP-5 goes 1 straight, as does Dash while Luke hard turns in. We could be engaging quickly here but I forgot to set Luke’s wings to closed and don’t change them when he activates so no boost for him unfortunately.

Jon brings Kare in to come through the obstacles while Temmin goes straight to line up next to Han. Han simply slides casually 1 forwards.

I realise at this point that I had no real plan when I placed my ships. Hmmm….

I will freely admit that I had no real idea what I was doing here. I was initially going to reverse with AP-5 but that denies the co-ordinate. It also stops him giving the K-2SO calculate to himself. He’s also positioned in Dash’s way. A reverse means that Dash needs to go 3 bank to get past which a) means he may not get range on Han and b) means he’s behind Dash for future turns which is annoying since he moves first.

So I made a choice. I turned him 2 hard right. More on that later.

That meant that Dash could 1 freely bank (which he did) while Luke took a 3 straight.

Jon banked Kare Kun and locked AP-5 while Temmin took a 3 straight, banked with his free boost and took a focus. Then Han 3 banked in (unexpectedly) and (also unexpectedly) boosted in order to shoot since his arcs were set side to side.

AP-5’s hard turn now felt like not quite the right move.

Han fired first, hitting AP for 1 shield after forcing him to spend his calculate.

Luke chekced arc, Han was out. Balls. No shot.

Dash took a range 2 shot at Han but being single modded and Han rolling a natural evade meant that just 1 shield was taken.

Temmin and Kare then proceeded to roll maximum paint while AP-5 rolled anything but evades and died,

So, definitely not the right move, taking that 2 hard turn then…

Back to dials we go and I really don’t like what’s happening here. I decide to get Dash into the rocks sooner rather than later and set him a 4 straight. I set Luke a 3 bank, thinking that if Han is turning after Dash that it could block him. Seems good.

At least it did.

Jon 1 banks Kare towards where Dash is headed and then goes fast again with Temmin, taking a 4 straight, a free banked boost and takes a lock on Luke.

Dash leaps forwards and takes a focus and evade but Luke’s 3 bank doesn’t get past Temmin. Still, at least he’s not getting shot by him.

Han takes a 1 straight to clear his stress and as his action coordinates Temmin a barrel roll (since his wings are closed) which he links to a focus. Han then gets a free calcualte.

Balls.

Han shoots first. At Luke. It’s range 1, he rolls 4 paint and spends his calculate and Force for 4 hits. I roll greens and get 1 blank and 1 eyeball. I spend a Force to evade one but Luke is immediately halved.

Ouch.

Luke then shoots at Han with 4 dice and rolls blank, blank, blank, hit. Jon rolls an evade. Ok then.

Dash doesn’t have arc on Han so fires at Kare who opts to NOT spend her focus and so loses her shields. That’s more like it.

Now it’s Temmin’s turn. He fires his double modded Advance Proton Torps at Luke with 5 dice, spends his lock and focus for 4 hits. Luke rolls eyeball blank. He’s dead. Awesome.

Kare takes a return shot at Dash and rolls maximum paint. Dash rolls one evade and spends his evade token to dodge another and so loses 1 shield.

Current feels

Ok, we are 3 turns (20 minutes) into the game, I have lost 2 of my 3 ships and half of my points. I’ll be honest, I considered conceding here, just for a second. But. Playing X-Wing and losing is still better than not playing X-Wing and I wanted to see if I could claw back some dignity by managing to score at least some points.

Time to get creating I guess.

I dial in a 3 hard turn to the right. Let’s see if I can get some trick shots.

Kare banks right and boosts right as well, right in front of Dash. If Dash gets blocked here it’s definitely all over. Temmin banks right to clear his stress but (thankfully) it isn’t fast enough to get a free boost.

Dash’s 3 hard just barely clears Kare. I debate a barrel roll but rolling left puts him on a rock (no shot) and rolling right maybe doesn’t get him out of Temmin’s arc. It also means no mods and a stress to deal with next turn. He stays put and takes a focus and evade.

Han hard turns and rotates his turret for a stress.

Han shoots and takes a shield from Dash. The return shot isn’t bad, managing to take the rest of Han’s shields and give him a Wounded Piot crit.

Temmin’s shot takes ANOTHER shield from Dash before Kare takes the ‘yeah it’s range 1 but I’ve no mods’ shot and gets a hit and a crit past my green dice. It’s a Panicked Pilot. I’m starting to know how that feels…

So Dash is halved and I’m yet to score ANY points.

With 2 stress on Dash I know that I’m dead if I try and engage tokenless. I decide to take the hit on trying to shoot and dial in a 2 straight. The blue move will remove 1 stress and Outride title will enable me to remove the second. Noice.

Kare decides to bug out (avoiding being halved) with a 3 hard left and banked boost while Temmin decidedly bugs in (sounds wrong, but I’ll run with it) with a 3 hard right and straight boost.

Dash takes the 2 straight, clears both stress and takes a focus and evade before Han hard turns in but is still stressed so can’t take an action.

Han does have arc but the angle means that it’s not only range 3 but it’s obstructed. Handy. This time Jon’s roll isn’t quite so good and Dash manages to dodge it all.

Dash’s return shot leans the other way, landing 3 more hits onto the YT-1300 including a Panicked Pilot (yay!) and FINALLY getting points on something (also yay!)

Temmin chips another damage onto Dash for good measure (leaving Dash on 4 hull) and we’re back to dials.

With Kare running away, Temmin in the rocks and Han now triple stressed I feel like it’s my chance to try something. I debate a 1 straight and trying to knock some helth from Temmin but if I keep trading I can only lose. I decide to play safe-ish and dial in a 1 hard left turn.

The gamble sort of pays off as Kare takes a 3 hard turn and Temmin goes 2 straight, anticipating a straight move from Dash.

Dash’s 1 hard turn still looks like it might just be in arc though so I roll him left and pick up a stress.

Han takes a 1 straight and clears one of his 3 stress tokens. I am glad I didn’t go straight this turn.

No shots here so back to dials we go.

While deliberating the barrel roll I already planned my next move – a 3 hard turn left will take Dash over the rock (clearing the stress) and allow me to token up again.

Kare hard turns in and (with wings closed), takes a focus linked to roll to line up an approach on Dash. Temmin 2 banks around the debris and takes the free boost followed by a focus.

Dash’s 3 hard easily clears the rock, drops the stress and he takes a focus and evade. Nice.

Han, with the help of the Falcon title, Sloops (JARGON ALERT!!), picking up a 3rd stress again but improving his future approach on Dash. Yuck.

Han’s WAY out but Dash just about has a range 3 shot on Temmin. I roll 4 reds and get 3 hits. Temmin….rolls 3 evades out of hand.

Temmin’s return shot isn’t great and Dash evades it easily and we go back to dials again.

Now I’ve got 2 T-70’s converging on Dash. I fear his time is almost up.

I toy with a 3 bank but decide it’s too risky and go with a 2 bank instead.

Kare Kun 1 banks in and takes a focus while Temmin takes a 3 hard turn, takes his free boost left and focuses.

Dash’s 2 bank fits easily and he takes a focus and evade. The 3 would have fit as well but looks like it would have put him in Temmin’s arc which, thankfully, the 2 bank hasn’t.

Han banks left and drops a stress.

No shot for Han means Dash goes first. I toy with the idea of the range 2 Trick Shot onto Temmin but I decide that I want points and I just need 1 more hit on Kare to get them. Plus I might strip her focus for the return shot.

Dash rolls 2 hits and an eyeball and spends to focus for 3, Kare rolls blank and eyeball and spends her focus to take 2. Half scored.

Kare’s return shot desperately misses the focus as she rolls a crit and 2 eyeballs. Dash rolls and spends his evade to take nothing.

He lives another turn!

Time is definitely running out for this craft Corellian though.

Back to planning again. The bank in is pretty obvious. But it’s also pretty obvious, it’s almost certainly what Jon is planning for. The turn he gets 3 arcs on Dash, it’s over.

I set a 4 straight. Dash hates being in a corner but I still want to scrape some points (and dignity!) and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Temmin takes a 1 straight and focuses. Kare takes a 4-K (JARGON ALERT!!). Interesting.

Dash goes the 4 straight and takes a focus and evade. I’ve dodged Kare at least, I’ll take that!

Han takes a 1 straight, dropping yet another stress but still has 1 left.

My goal here was to chip away at Han some more. Unfortunately to both our disappointment, Han is out of range. Ah.

Dash checks arc and while Han is out, Temmin is in. And it’s obstructed. With Trick Shot and Outrider, that’s 5 dice vs 3. I like those odds.

The dice appeared to not like those odds though and I manage to take just a single shield from Temmin.

His return shot fails to land and so, with Dash cornered, it looks like he’s toast.

I debate the pros and cons of a 3 hard turn but in the end go for a 1 bank.

It doesn’t really matter though as Jon brings all 3 ships to bear on Dash.

Han goes first, rolling 3 dice and modding for 2. Dash dodges 1 of them and takes the other. It’s a crit. It’s a Blinded Pilot. Guess I didn’t want that focus for offence anyway….

On reflection, it makes sense to fire at Kare. She’s range 3 but only 2 health. Then again it’s 4 unmodded red dice vs 3 green with a focus.

My silent rage decides that, in a horribly unlikely scenario, I could kill Han and score some more points and 4 red vs 1 green is better.

I roll my dice. Blank, blank, hit, crit. Han rolls an evade. Of course. Jon apologises for around the 50th time since we started.

Still, the crit goes through and it’s a Console Fire. Could it be relevant?

Temmin answers that question by rolling 4 paint with his range 1 attack and spending his focus while Dash rolls blank and eyeball. Even spending the focus he’s dead and Kare has yet to fire.

Tha game is done and there’s 18 minutes left on the clock.

Result: 71 – 200 loss

The conclusion…

Oh dear. Oh dearie me.

That was rather a disaster.

First let’s start with the bad.

While discussing the game afterwards I believed (and still do) that the game was won (or lost) on two decisions. The first was when I dialled in a 2 hard right for AP-5 in turn 2. That ended up putting him at range 1 of Han and in range of the two T-70’s. He never fired or, more importantly, co-ordinated. Not even once. A total waste of points in a sense. Dice variance certainly didn’t help but it was my poor decision that put him there and that is 100% avoidable. Silly me.

The second was Jon’s 3 straight and boost with Temmin. I’d set Luke a 3 bank to try and block Han but he ended up being blocked himself. ‘Fine’, I thought, ‘at least Luke’s not being shot by Temmin and Luke’s Force should make it fine’ but then Han rolled in, coordinated Temmin a roll off the bump and, with C-3PO ended up with 2 mods himself. Luke died have shot ONCE and that shot didn’t even do any damage. More wasted points.

It certainly felt harsh and Jon apologised for his good dice (and my poor ones!) more times than I’ve ever heard in a single game.

Alright, now let’s look at the good.

Both of these issues stemmed from positioning, one in game and one in the initial set up. The good news here is that it’s something I can learn from and adjust. Jon suggested putting AP-5 closer to Luke’s starting position for setup and keep Dash separate as I did here. Dash’s 4 straight could then have zoomed him across the board while Luke and AP-5 come in slowly and allow Dash time to go play in the obstacles.

The issue with this is with AP-5 being initiative 1. You’re either telegraphing your start position to middle initiative ships or putting him in totally the wrong place. Still, it’s something I can play about with and see what happens.

The next good thing was the dice.

Hear me out here…

In the first two engagements I lost 2 ships, one per turn. AP-5 didn’t shoot at all, Luke shot once (at range 1). That’s 4 red dice that I rolled instead of potentially 11 or 12 (depending on ranges) had both ships fired in both turns. Let’s put a pin that for a moment and come back to it.

In those same 2 turns I rolled 13 green dice and rolled 1 single (lonely!) evade, 4 eyeballs (at least 2 of those being rolled by AP-5 in turn 1 who had 1 calculate) and 8 blanks (yes, I screenshotted the dice stats at that point!).

Now, the numbers may not be all that accurate due to mods and rerolls and the like but the green dice here feel like they were statistically pretty poor for me. When you combine that with Jon getting paint on roughly 75% of his dice in those turns (and having the mods to convert them), the matchups meant my ships died very quickly.

So in that respect, the result was more swayed by dice than it probably should have been so, from a certain point of view the dice being horrible meant that perhaps things aren’t as ‘doom and gloom’ as it’s tempting to feel about it, and that’s good.

Now, before you accuse me of dice blaming (which I’m not!), please, let me finish. With better positioning in turn 2 (i.e. AP-5 not being in range of EVERYONE and Luke getting the shot onto Han) and turn 3 (Luke not being blocked), my ships would have survived longer and, therefore had a better chance at dealing our more damage before burning down. Yes the dice contributed but it’s primarily my positioning that’s at fault. I essentially gave the dice the opportunity to fail me.

So I’m not blaming dice here, I’m looking at the numbers and trying to determine whether what happened was statistically likely or not. I feel that losing both of those ships in consecutive turns from full health was NOT statistically likely and if the same events played out again, at least one of those two ships would likely have survived at least one more turn. However, that definitely does NOT mean I think I made the right calls in terms of positioning, rather it means that positioning myself better would have given those ships an even better chance of surviving even if the dice turned out poorly for me (which they did).

Am I making sense here?

I don’t normally approach a turn with a ‘what’s the worst that could happen here’ mentality (maybe I should?!) but if I did, I certainly wouldn’t have put AP-5 where I did and as it turned out, the worst did in fact happen.

I guess that in a nutshell I could say that the positioning was the error and that the bad dice matchups (rather than simply the raw stats overall) punished me harder than you’d normally expect. With a combination of better positioning and less harsh dice I can’t say I’d have been fine but it would have been more of a fight.

So my ‘learning moment’ here is really two things. Firstly, don’t be stupid with positiong AP-5 and secondly, dice are gonna be dice. Don’t trust them.

Right, my last positive from this match? Dash Freaking Rendar.

Rocking the shoulder pads

With 2/3rds of my ships (and half the points) gone within the first two turns and the clock at around 55 minutes, I thought that we had maybe 10 minutes left and we’d be done before playing half an hour.

The fact that Dash managed to last another half an hour, take Kare and Han to half and 1 away from half on Temmin was, quite honestly, pleasantly surprising. A panicked pilot crit on Han certainly helped as he tried to clear the stress and Kare turning away to avoid being halved did too but Dash managed to claw back 71 points basically on his own with no support and as the only target for Jon to focus on.

I’ll take that.

So, what am I taking away from this?

Is the list awful? No. It’s still decent, I just played it poorly.

Am I awful? Not really, my set up was not great and I got heavily punished for it. The dice certainly didn’t help the situation.

What can I do to be better? A better set up is a good place to start and while it’s tempting to say range control for getting Luke into range in that first engagement, I had no idea Jon was going to boost in like he did. And then of course the old classic, just roll better!

In the first few turns at least!

Still, an hour and a half of getting smashed at X-Wing is always better than no X-Wing at all and it’s even better when your opponent is a lovely person so I want to say thanks again to Jon for the game and I’m looking forward to seeing you up at Element Games mate!

That’s it for this week then, next week I’ll have some news on my ankle which hopefully means I can figure out when I might make it back to Firestorm for some real life games!

Have a great week, catch you next Tuesday!

The outro…

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