Dash Rides Again

The preamble

Finally there’s a game week to talk about! Woohoo! Since I was going out for a meal straight afterwards, I was flying solo this week (i.e. no kids) so was able to get to Firestorm a little earlier than normal and get a game in.

Early warning! This is an extended battle report about 1 single, individual, lonely game followed by (average) analysis. Just so ya know.

Consider yourself well and truly warned!

Having chatted via Facebook comments and then DM with the awesome Chris Stevens a short while back and then having tested in Fly Casual I had something new I wanted to try as wing man to Dash – Kyle Katarn (in a HWK-290) with Moldy Crow title, shield upgrade and Jyn Erso crew. Actually Chris had looked at Kyle and was looking at other options so while not exactly a recommendation my curiosity was piqued and I wanted to try it out.

At 62 points it exactly fits in to make the list a full 200. The general premise is that Kyle stacks focus tokens the first few turns and then can hand one of them off to Dash at the start of engagement if needed. When combined with Jyn’s ability this means I can pick one of Dash’s focus tokens (since perceptive co-pilot gives him 2) to be an evade instead so in theory at first engagement Dash can have 2 focus and 1 evade and Kyle can have either 2 focus or 1 evade and 1 focus. It’s also a 3 dice gun out of the front and 2 out of the side, giving a 180 degree firing arc.

Fly Casual testing had gone rather well against different list types but there is only so far that will go. I’d had games where I’d not taken any damage to either ship but in all games I never lost a ship (even with variance very much not in my favour). Now I wanted to try it in the real world.

Now, getting out of the house with kids is always a bit of a rushed affair. I was dropping them off at youth club on the way to Firestorm and they weren’t *quite* ready when asked (this becomes relevant later, honest!). We headed out and I arrived at Firestorm quite excited to give Kyle a run out and see what would happen.

We got tables out and exchanged ‘hello’s and started to pair up for games. I lined up against Luke, a VERY good player who I’ve only beaten once to date (and even then because he misjudged a barrel roll with a full health Whisper and couldn’t avoid flying off the board next turn). Probably a harder match that I wanted but his post game analysis is always honest, insightful and very constructive so I knew I’d appreciate his thoughts on the list. Being undecided about what list to play he asked me to pick a number between 1 and 6. I chose 4 – Vader, Soontir and 4 Academy Pilots. However, I had flown against that list the last time we played so he offered out again. This time I picked 2. That turned out to be an Inferno TIE swarm – Howlrunner (with Swarm Tactics), Iden Versio, Del Meeko (with Swarm Tactics), Gideon Hask, Wampa and an Academy Pilot.

I played against this list a little while ago with a different list (which went spectacularly badly and you can read about in this post) so I at least knew how it worked. I started to unpack and found that in my rush to leave the house, I’d left the HWK-290 base tile and dial at home! Noooooooooooo! I could live without the tile but certainly not the dial.

I asked around but nobody had one. Right. What DO I have in here? I still had Luke and Norra. I opted for Norra (since I used Luke last time, got to keep things fair!) and ran my usual Dash & Norra list:

Dash Rendar (98)
Trick Shot (4)
Bistan (14)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Outrider (14)

Ship total: 138 Half Points: 69 Threshold: 5

Norra Wexley (Y-Wing) (41)
Ion Cannon Turret (5)
R2-D2 (4)
Spare Parts Canisters (4)
Veteran Turret Gunner (8)

Ship total: 62 Half Points: 31 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X133WW77W54WW157WY25XW138WW3W215WW90&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

So the challenge is on!

The nitty gritty

Luke had brought gas clouds (fine by me) and I had brought debris (standard with Dash). We placed obstacles and we ended up with most on my side of the board, also fine by me. When I place I really want them clustered together to offer Dash move cover in defence and trick shot opportunities and to make it harder for my opponent to navigate through.

Luke had initiative and so placed all his forces first, in my far left corner. I placed Dash directly opposite (with turret side to side) and Norra in the opposite corner, to my right. Standard operating procedure, I forgot pics for the first couple of turns and then remembered. To be honest,not a whole lot happened. Luke’s forces hard turned one way and then the other as he turtled his way diagonally up the board.
I turned Dash in towards Norra while the Y-Wing sauntered 1 forwards.

I will stop here to mention that I made rather a lot of mistakes with Norra. The spare parts cannister is not intended as an extra charge for R2-D2 (as Luke assumed, although it is an option of course) but to drop an extra debris for Dash’s benefit. Could I line it up properly? Could I heck.
My first error was thinking it was system phase, not an action. My next mistake was then forgetting that it places directly behind (not with a 1 forward template). This resulted in rather poor positioning for Norra for at least 3 turns. Bad times. And I actually never ended up dropping it. What a waste!

On a plus side, Luke was totally ignoring her, making a focussed tilt at Dash and Dash alone once close enough for engagement. I can’t blame him, that is the correct tactic.

What it did mean is that with Norra now facing the wrong way I had to waste an action turning my turret since I wanted to keep her in the fight.

Anyway, I digress, we’re not there yet.

Close your eyes and roll the dice time!

In the first engagement Dash took the brunt of 6 range 3 Howlrunner supported shots (4 with a focus and including a 3 dice initiative 5 Wampa shot) and *somehow* managed to escape with just 3 shields taken. Norra didn’t have a shot (see above paragraph again for why) but Dash (with Bistan gunner) had 2. Pot shots at Del (obstructed with no focus) and Howlrunner (because that ship must die) didn’t do a huge amount but I snuck a little damage in to each. No use of Iden’s charge from Luke since there were no outright kill shots.

On to the next turn and Luke continues to YOLO over obstacles in pursuit of Dash. This is when Norra turns the turret and also has enemies at range 1 for those free evades (not that anyone shot at her!).

No, it’s not your eyesight, this one is blurry, Sorry!

Due to the classic ‘run away’ move from Dash (4 forwards), he only has 1 available shot but on a plus side it is at Howlrunner. He shoots and misses, just as Norra (now with turret facing right but no mods) fails to kill or even ion him. In fact the only damage done to Luke’s ships this turn was by a debris cloud. If I recall it may even have been a direct hit but still, all 6 TIE’s remain on the board and pour some more pain into Dash. Shields are gone and he’s into hull. Somewhere in the distance a bell tolls.

On to the next turn and a rather risky move with Dash. A 3 bank left (rather than the anticipated hard right) means he makes 0 shots this turn but having lost shields and with Gideon Hask lurking in the field, defence has to be considered. The move puts him at range 3 obstructed to give the best chance of survival. But Norra? Oh Norra, you beautiful Y-Wing. Norra lands a 2 hard right squarely in front of Howlrunner at range 1 with both primary and turret. She focusses up and with Luke’s Iden charge having now been used Norra nukes Howlrunner and the game is turned on its head.

Next turn and the TIE’s press on in their chase of Dash who takes the only manoeuvre sensibly available, 1 hard left.
This puts the entire TIE squad at range 2/3 with some obstructed shots. Dash pounces and wipes out a TIE with each of his 2 shots while Norra manages to land a 3 hard onto the debris to end up double stressed.

Dash and Norra quickly exchange their ‘Hero’ and ‘Zero’ status

With just 3 hull remaining it’s clear Dash is not long for this (or any) world but as the plucky Academy Pilot throws himself in for a block, Dash initiative kills one more TIE (with an unmodded shot) before giving up the last 3 hull points and becoming just another pile of space debris. Norra simply takes a 1 forward to start clearing some of the stress before facing up to what’s next.

Now at this point, Luke suggests we stop playing since I’m (marginally) ahead on points and up close Norra is near impossible to do significant damage to, particularly with 3 R2-D2 charges and that Spare Parts Cannister charge still left.

I know that I’m more than capable of throwing it away from here but since it’s not competitive and I still have around 25 mins before I need to leave I ask if he’s ok with playing it out just a bit more. I need to practice decision making at this stage of a game.

We play out another 7 turns rather quickly and…. pretty much nothing happens. Norra lost 2 shields and put maybe 1 or 2 damage into the 2 previously undamaged TIE’s

There are more pictures but they pretty much all look the same!

We decide to call time on it as this could possibly last forever and we were both losing interest!

The post-mortem

In post game analysis Luke mulls over some mistakes he made – firstly in obstacle placement and secondly in his approach to engagement, mostly due to this being a casual game, and thirdly in when he chose to use Iden’s charge. Dice had also had a bearing on the result as he would have expected to put more than just 3 damage onto Dash in the first engagement. I had started to consider whether this means that Norra is the best companion for Dash and asked what he thought about that. In Luke’s opinion Norra worked well against this particular squad but would possibly struggle against other list archetypes (JARGON ALERT!). Being able to tank a lot of 2 dice attacks with the free additional evade result with an enemy ship being at range 1 makes her particularly annoying for a TIE swarm. He thinks that Kyle in a HWK-290 with the build mentioned above would still be worth trying out as between the additional support for Dash (with the evades), the almost endless focus tokens, possible evade tokens and the 3 dice front gun (plus turret) could make Kyle quite an asset.

Overall, it’s still not a really good list. I know that. Dash is simply too expensive and it’s impossible to put 2 other ships is the list that are good enough. But, as you probably know by now if you’ve read some of my other blogs, I’m ok with that. I enjoy flying the ship and throwing lots of red dice. I feel like I’m working out how to solve a puzzle, it’s just taking me rather a long time. I feel I’d still rather be doing that than just trying to fly some new meta list (not that there’s anything wrong with that of course!)

So there we are, I may not be fighting a losing battle after all!

Gratuitous Dash/Outrider shot. Just because.