Welcome to this week’s blog!
It’s a fairly chunky post this week so no time for idle chit-chat, let’s get going!
We are having another tournament at Firestorm Games in Newport!
If you’re a regular reader then you might know that over the course of this year we’ve been holding events roughly bi-monthly. This month’s tournament (the Firestorm Doubles Cup) has actually been arranged by Richard Otton and is happening this coming Saturday.
PSA For those who are booked to come along: we are short on stools and so if sitting down is important to you, it might be helpful to bring a stool/camping chair/whatever.
If you’re not booked to come but you’re interested there have been a couple of drops so 2 tickets are available! Tickets can be bought from here and the Facebook event page is here. It would be AWESOME to see you there and I can’t wait to play!
Along those same lines, we are holding our next bi-monthly tournament on the last weekend in Novemeber! We’ve got Louis Leong Holocron objective tokens as prizes plus our own Exile themed prizes and, as you’ve come to expect from us at Firestorm by now, a trophy!
Tickets don’t go on sale until this Saturday (24th of September) but you can keep up to date with ticket info and updates on the Facebook event page.
Alright, I think that’s all for the moment, let’s dig in to today’s stuff….
If you’ve been reading recently then you’ll know that I’m going to the Firestorm Doubles Cup this weekend.
The main, uhh, conundrum, I guess, has been finding a partner.
Initially I bought a ticket as Cai indicated he would play but a couple of no shows for casual night triggered an honest conversation and he was out.
Then fellow Team Wales XTC member Martyn Gruffydd stepped up (coming all the way to Newport from North Wales mind you!), only to find that he was already booked in for something else that he hadn’t been aware of.
Then a team dropped out because one player wouldn’t be able to make it. Dan Eggs had been his partner and so I asked Dan if he still wanted to take part and be my partner.
Being that he still isn’t won over by 2.5, he said if I still didn’t have a partner by a day or two before then he’d do it.
Then another team dropped out due to unexpected changes with Chris Fear’s work shifts. Again I approached the partner (Kyle Hopkins) and we spent a whirlwind 24 hours looking at Scum lists before the work issue was cleared up and Chris was available to come again.
At this point I offered Kyle back to his original partner (I mean, they had been planning together so I thought it only fair) while Chris insisted that it was his drama that had caused this and so he was fine to just drive down and be moral support.
This is when Dan Eggs stepped back in and said he’d happily play if it meant that nobody missed out.
What a hero.
Since Chris and Kyle were already set with lists, Dan and I paired up and had a quick chat about what to fly. In all honestly I’m not overly bothered about going try-hard to win the tournament, I just want to have a good fun day of plastic spaceships with my friends so changing list or even faction wasn’t going to be an issue.
As it happened, Dan had been looking at a list remarkably similar to what Cai had been planning to use and so I wouldn’t need to change from my Decimator list at all. Perfect!
The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)
So after all that partner drama, chopping and changing, I actually didn’t need to repack my bag (or did I….?), I could stick with the Oicunn and TIE swarm list that I’d been running. Great!
After printing my list on Infinite Arenas (having failed to do it last week….) I trotted off to Firestorm for a game.
I ended up playing against Paul Westwood. This is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, he doesn’t normally come to Newport for casual play so this was a treat for us! Secondly, he was one of my XTC teammates and this is actually the first time I’d seen him since taking part and thirdly he’s one of my Patrons!
So, what had he brought along with him then?
Hey! I know this!
Yep, it’s Wales’ Rebel XTC list flown excellently by Adam Shipley (and poorly by myself!) in the group stage. Pros and cons? Well, pro, I know the list. What it can do and how it works. Con, I know the list, what it’s going to do to me and that I need to try and stop it. Eesh.
Let’s do some quick Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Scramble the Transmissions
Target/Objective Priority – I mean, if I can take out Fenn to prevent the coordinate and stop his ability then that’s cool but honestly I’d rather face Fenn in an end-game scenario than Wedge or Luke. Plus they’ll bag me more points.
Obstacles – A nice wide channel would be lovely for Oicunn to cruise down.
Deployment – Oh boy. I’ll get to this later as I went in with no plan and now on reflection, have rectified that.
ROAD initiative is going to matter in this game with overlaps at i4 and i5 and I get to be first player for setup.
We place objectives, obstacles and ships and we’re ready to set dials.
Immediately I see what I’ve done. I’ve got fast TIEs closer to Paul’s ships than my not exactly slow but not exactly fast Decimator. Oicunn being placed first should be expected on my part and I made a quite massive mistake placing him on the side when the middle would have been much better.
What happens next is that in order to try and correct that mistake, I make another….
ROAD 1st Player – Paul
Oicunn screams forwards. He’s looking to get the objective in turn 2 before turning into the fight. That’s fine (fine being relative to the trouble I’ve already caused myself, of course).
I decide to bank the TIEs away from Paul, immediately making it difficult to keep formation. Not what TIEs want. This was very much a mistake as you’ll see later.
Paul’s ships cruise forwards with Fenn lagging behind a little.
No shooting and no scoring so it’s back to dials.
What to do now?! I can’t send the TIE’s all stright becase Howl will hit the right hand rock. Banking left is a bit risky and Iden will need to go probably 3 bank to make sure she doesn’t hit the rock.
I should not be in this much trouble making dial decisions in turn 2. I decide that Iden and Mauler will both 3 bank, Howl will 2 bank and barrel roll right while Scourge will 2 straight before changing my mind and risking the 2 bank with Scourge.
ROAD 1st Player – Paul
Oicunn starts the turn off with a long 3 bank and claims the objective. Kullbee goes straight and banks in next before Iden takes her 3 bank. Wow that’s far. She claims the central objective since it’s possible that Mauler will be too far and Scourge might land on the rock. It’s going well isn’t it!
Luke move next, banking in and tries for a lock. He has Iden in range. Balls.
I move mauler and focus, I move Howl and…. remember how I’d initially planned for Scourge to go straight so Howl would need to roll out of the way before then changing my mind and risking the back with Scourge? Well, somehow I managed to forget part of that was happening. So Howl rolled right.
Scourge’s 3 bank then lands PERFECTLY next to the rock. Not on but right next to. Like I was totally confident it wouldn’t land on it. What a pro.
Wedge then banks in, measures for a lock on Iden and gets it before Fenn slides in behind and coordinates Wedge a focus.
Ok, well maybe this won’t be too bad. Wedge fires a Proton Torp at Iden and rolls 3 hits and an eyeball out of hand. Well, crap. Paul spends the focus and one hit turns to a crit with the torps.
As long as I don’t die here, I’m planning to keep Iden’s charge. I roll my 2 green dice (no range 3 bonus on ordnance and 1 less for Wedge’s ability) and blank out. Nice. Guess I am spending that charge then!
Luke goes next but with the angles, doesn’t quite have Iden in arc. Phew! He targets Scourge who is range 3 and obstructed and fails to do any damage.
Kullbee is too far out (and NONE of my ships are even pointing the right way!) so the turn is done.
End of turn score: 2 (me) – 1 (Paul)
Spending Iden’s charge on what should have been a range 3 pot shot isn’t ideal but at least Wedge has used a torp and none of my ships are dead. What do I do now though? Iden’s position means she has to go around the rock as a 1 hard turn won’t clear it. It also means she won’t be shooting. Not great.
I set her a bank while the other TIEs and Oicunn all get hard turns. Must. Shoot.
ROAD 1st Player – Paul
Oicunn turns in and takes a focus before Kullbee closes foils, swings in with a bank, boosts left and then reopens wings with the pilot ability. Nice.
Iden banks around the rock and takes a focus (since she isn’t likely to shoot). Luke banks in and takes a lock on Howlrunner (uh-oh). Scourge pulls a 3 hard turn, landing pretty close to Luke while Mauler and Howl both takes their turns. They all focus.
Wedge banks in and locks Howlrunner and then Fenn banks in and gives Wedge a focus.
Oh boy. Things are about to get real.
Wedge fires torps at Howlrunner and again rolls all paint out of hand. He spends the focus for a full string. Howl rolls 2 dice and blanks out. Dead Howl. Before firing. Wow.
Fenn fires next and rolls 2 hits into Scourge. I roll 1 paint from 3 attack dice and take the hit. This is not going well!
Then it’s Luke who fires range 1 into Scourge and finishes him off.
Wow. Two dead TIEs.
Scourge can shoot with simultaneous fire though and rolls 4 dice into Wedge as he’s in bullseye and I roll all paint and spend the focus. Wedge evades one but loses shields and takes a hit to hull to be halved. Mauler follows up and puts another hit in, leaving Wedge on 2 health.
Kullbee fires at Mauler and gets a hit past my hideously incompetent (and statistically anomalous) green dice before Oicunn rolls dice at Wedge, hoping to kill him but getting just 1 more hit on, leaving Wedge on 1 hull.
End of turn score: 2 – 8
Total score: 4 – 9
Wow. What the heck just happened?!?
MY poor positioning gave my green dice the opportunity to abandon me and abandon me they did. Granted I should definitely have lost one ship in that exchange and I suppose two wasn’t entirely unlikely. Had Iden not been in range the turn before (leading to her charge being spent) then one of them maybe survives (although perhaps not?) and I get one extra shot at something from Howlrunner and maybe kill Wedge.
Anyway, I can’t do anything about the past, only what lies ahead! Speaking of which, what do I do next?
I HAVE to get Iden in. She will hard turn in, maybe I can get the HLC onto Fenn. Oicunn is in a weird spot too with Mauler in front of him. I set a 3 bank, confident it’ll clear Mauler and not land on the rocks.
Mauler…. hmmmmm…… I try and eyeball whether the 4K (JARGON ALERT!!) will fit past Wedge. I think it might. Let’s do it!
ROAD 1st Player – Paul (again!)
Alright then, it’s decimating time! Oicunn’s 3 banks lands PERFECTLY, missing the rocks and Mauler and he lands smack bang in the middle of all the ships. Nice. He takes a reinforce to front.
That unexpected move scuppers Kullbee whose 1 bank bumps into the Deci AND forces him to land on the rock. He takes a damage and rolls for another, losing both shields. I’ll take those small victories wherever I can get them!
Iden hard turns in and takes a focus before Luke also 1 banks into Oicunn. Mauler’s 4K does NOT fit past Wedge and so he just bumps into the back of Oicunn (although with the bump rules it counts as hitting Wedge so no rolling for damage). You may notice from the picture that he took a red focus. That should not have happened, I forgot that it was a K-turn and he would have just been stressed. Did it matter? Well, you’ll see….
Wedge goes 1 straight, bumps Oicunn and takes the red focus. This triggers Seventh Sister and I spend a force to change the stress to a tractor token but leave him where he is. Fenn hard turns away from Oicunn, facing Iden and coordinates Wedge a lock which he takes on Mauler.
Ok, shooting time then.
Wedge goes first and once again, rolls all paint at a TIE (Mauler this time) and I roll 1 evade and Mauler dies. Wow. I just cannot catch a break here.
Fenn fires at Iden but opts not to spend force on the shot and does nothing.
Luke shoots at Oicunn at range 0 and gets 1 hit.
Now it’s my turn. Iden goes first. I already know that Fenn is range 1 so HLC sadly isn’t available. She rolls her 3 dice but fails to put in any damage.
Ok, never mind, move on. Oicunn’s about to murder Wedge. Armed with a lock (from Disciplined which triggered when, well, everyone died) he rolls 4 dice (since Oicunn treats range 0 shots as if they are range 1) at Wedge who is tractored (so 1 less agility) and I roll this:
Just as well I’ve got a lock, eh? I spend the lock and reroll. Then Wedge rolls his single green die with no mods to help him.
End of turn score: 2 – 4
Total score: 6 – 13
This game is getting away from me here. I’m failing to do damage while being wiped out. So far I’ve ONLY got points from objectives while giving away 10 points of ships.
The game is pretty unwinnable from this point but can I at least make the score respectable?
Oicunn will take a 2 straight which will clear Wedge and almost certainly miss Fenn. He’s also going to drop a seismic charge. Hopefully that’ll finish Wedge off. What to do with Iden though? I consider turning in but given how the game has gone so far, I want to keep her close-ish to Oicunn. On reflection, that makes little sense since there’s nothing he can do far her!
ROAD 1st Player – Me!
Oicunn drops his bomb and akes the 2 straight, clearing Wedge and dodging Fenn. Nice. He locks Wedge (although looking back, this was NOT the right move). Iden reveals a 3K and spends a Precision Ion Engines charge to change it to a 3 sloop (JARGON ALERT!!)
Kullbee goes 4 straight, not clipping the rock again and claims the middle objective (noooooooo!) before Luke takes a 4K and Wedge a 2 bank and then rolls right.
That roll from Wedge means that I’ve now got to pick the bottom rock to blow up and kill him, meaning it won’t hit Kullbee. Smart move there.
Wedge dies before shooting so Fenn fires first, picking Iden but failing to land any damage. Luke follows up and does 1 hit onto the TIE.
Iden and Oicunn both fire at Luke (who lost a shield from the seismic charge) and between them put two hits on, halving him (but scoring no points).
During the end phase Oicunn uses Agile Gunner to rotate his turret.
End of turn score: 7 – 2
Total score: 13 – 15
Hang on a minute, I’ve pull this back quite significantly! Do I have a win condition though? Paul needs 5 points to win while I need 7. Kullbee is in prime position to dive over and grab the other objective so I’ll need to use Oicunn to claim the one I’m on. He also needs to hard turn in order to stay on the board (hence the Agile Gunner rotate). I dial in a hard turn right.
Iden though is a bit more tricky. She’s stressed and damaged. I need her to live to have a chance but how? Luke is approaching with a wide arc while Fenn can just shuffle a 1 bank and keep Iden in.
A 3 straight and roll right might block but is more likely to just present Luke with a range 1 shot. I opt for a 3 hard turn because, well, actually, I don’t know why. I figure maybe it means she’ll get an extra green for Luke’s shot.
ROAD 1st Player – Paul
Oicunn drops his second Seismic, hard turns and claims the objective.
Kullbee also hard turns and also claims an objective!
Iden’s hard turn is FAR less effective than my faint hope was and as she’s stressed, she can’t take an action. Being that the blue 2 bank was blocked by Fenn’s position, I’m actually `not sure what else I could have done.
Luke 1 banks, clears his stress and locks Iden before Fenn also 1 banks and takes a focus.
Ok, moment of truth.
The seismic charge triggers and the rock explodes, catching Luke and Fenn. 1 damage each. Decent start. Luke is now on 2 hull.
Fenn moved a lot less than I expected. He rolls 3 dice at Iden, getting 2 hits after spending the focus. Iden blanks and dies.
One benefit is that it triggers Disciplined on Oicunn who takes a lock on Luke.
Luke fires at Oicunn but doesn’t do any damage.
This is it. If I can kill Luke I take it to a draw.
Oicunn rolls, spends the lock and his force for a full 3 hits.
Luke rolls. I need 2 damage to get through to take him out.
He rolls evade and eyeball and spends a force, taking 1 damage and lives on 1.
End of turn score: 1 – 5
Final score: 14 – 20
Ok so yes, I did lose, but given just how disastrous the early and mid games were, to be just 1 single ‘paint on a die’ away from forcing a tie at 20-20 was pretty decent I think.
When you consider that a tractored, 1 health Wedge survived not one but TWO shots, one of which was 4 dice with a lock it really starts to look not so bad in the end.
So clearly what I need to look at here are the early and mid game phases since that’s where the game was really lost.
First of all, I massively disadvantaged myself in turn zero with Oicunn’s position.
Oicunn’s main negative point is that his low initiative means that he’s often being placed first. Since I wouldn’t know where Paul would start placing until after he was down, putting him way out on the right was a definite mistake. The TIEs CAN’T go slowly so having them in the middle and, as it turned out, closes to Paul’s ships meant that in order to delay the engagement until Oicunn arrived I had to turn them away (which, of course leads me to point two. But not yet….).
On reflection, when Oicunn has to go down first, he needs to be in the middle. Being a big base ship with a 4 straight and 3 hard turn means he can actually go quite fast but he needs the space to do it so obstacle placement is important too.
So that’s a clear learning point here. Oicunn in the middle when going first. Because who in their right mind will willingly joust him down the outside? (Answer: the Fly Casual AI, but that’s another story).
And the secondly, the point I alluded to earlier, my crazy manoeuvring of the TIEs. Now, Up to a point I feel like I’ve got some of this figured out. Iden (because i4) and Mauler (because he wants r1) in front with Scourge and Howl behind. All good.
What I failed on here though was planning opening moves after forces were placed. Paul setting up in a block was fairly obvious (I mean, I’ve flown his EXACT list and that’s what I’d do) and so taking the first engagement well was going to be important. I set them up facing the central rock and then banked away to stall while Oicunn made up ground.
I made a mistake taking the central objective with Iden when Scourge could have grabbed it. The main thing here was misjudging the distance edge would cover. He only just barely got the range 3 for the lock and shot but when he chimed in with 4 natural hits without using the lock and I blanked out, I clearly had to spend the IDen charge to live.
From that point on I was scrambling. Losing Scourge at i5 was acceptable but losing Howl to another Wedge proton torp with ANOTHER green blankout meant that I was struggling badly, not only missing the extra body in terms of damage output but also the rerolls from Howlrunner. It just all felt super harsh.
Oicunn was my trump card though, diving in and causing mayhem and while Fenn just refused to take any damage from Iden, nailing Wedge with the Seismic made up for my failure to roll more than 1 single hit from 8 red dice to take him out.
In fact, according to Gate of Storms, I had a 96% chance of dealing 1 or more hits (if I’m doing that right!) and that’s with Wedge having 1 green die and a focus (which I can’t remember if he did or not).
Now granted, even if I HAD managed to take out Luke in what turned out the be the last turn and got the score to 20-20, I’d still have lost automatically the following turn with Paul owning 2 objectives to my 1 and my not being able to catch up with either of his ships.
Still, Iden died and Luke didn’t and that’s just how things roll out sometimes.
I do feel like I learned some clear lessons in this game, ones that I can make practical changes with.
In terms of list composition, I think I used most of the upgrades in one way or another. There’s actually not that many of them compared to some lists I’ve flown in 2.5 but one I’ve been torn on is Disciplined. For the same points I can have Elusive and I’ve pondered whether getting a lock with Disciplined is worth it with Howlrunner in the list but since Howl was the first ship to die it actually came good in this game. Y’know, when I remembered it.
I’ve built Howl out before with just the shield upgrade but I think Swarm is perhaps worth it, especially when factoring in points for other upgrades.
So, some points to take away from this game and improve on. Hopefully I’ll be able to do Team Eggsiles proud at the doubles tournament. Check back next week to see how it went!
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