Experimentation…

The intro…

Hello and welcome to this week’s blog!

There’s not an awful lot to say in the intro this week as everything that I might have talked about is all kind of tied up into the main topic of the post so with that in mind, let’s dive straight in!

The back story…

Before I get into it I think I need to set the stage a little. You might know all about this so please bear with me if you do, I always prefer to assume that someone reading knows little to nothing and explain as I go so as not to put people off or make anyone feel like they’re out the outside for not being ‘in the know’.

First of all, there’s a thing called the XTC – X-Wing Team Championships. It’s sort of the World Cup of X-wing where countries enter teams into the tournament and eventually one team is the winner. This year (and last year but not every year), the teams have 5 players who each fly a different faction as well as substitutes who can step in if needed and maybe a coach, meaning teams are usually 5-8 players in total.

This year there are 27 teams entered to play. Groups were drawn to narrow down the field (again, a bit like the world cup) – 3 groups of 5 teams and 2 groups of 6 teams. Everybody plays against each other team in their group and the top two teams from each group go through to a finals weekend where each of the 10 teams plays everyone else and eventually there’s a winning team.

With me so far?

You may or may not know that, by some unusual turn of events (i.e. not on merit of being a good player!) that I am the current captain of Team Wales.

It’s weird and a lot of work (well, mostly when XTC is kicking into gear) but as well as being a HUGE honour I really enjoy it and love bringing together people I know and people I don’t to work towards something bigger than just my own results or individual experience.

This year I had a bit more time than last year (last year was around 8-9 days!) to pull together a team and, based on my own experiences and thoughts, wanted to approach it in a different way. I wanted it to be open and inclusive and as transparent as possible.

Around January time I circulated a Google form where people could express interest in being part of the team and outline what experience they have and why they would qualify to play for Wales (since each team can have a maximum of 2 ‘mercenaries’).

Depending on the number of responses I had, I was planning to perhaps run a short TTS based tournament to get a handle on what factions people flew, what results they had but most importantly (to me!), how they represented themselves.

In the end a tournament wasn’t necessary and I now had my team in place.

Who is in that team? Well I don’t quite have the announcement graphic ready yet so you’ll just have a wait a little longer to find out!

So now a team had been brought together, now who would we be playing? Last week Filippo Bosi (or Piffo as he’s often known) and Louis Leong ran a live stream of the groups being drawn. Last year’s final 10 teams would be seeded, meaning that there would be a maximum of 2 in a group. European teams and rest of the world teams were also split into different pots to try and vary opponents.

After some random shuffling and a bit of tension for dramatic effect, the groups were drawn…

Quite incredibly, Wales had been drawn in a group with Ireland and Scotland! THREE British teams in one group!!

The pre-amble…

After getting the right set of players, the next biggest task is picking which lists to fly. Lists are locked in for the duration of the group stage and so making sure we have some decent lists is essential.

List selection has been… interesting. It turns out that FOUR of the players prefer to play FO and of course we can only have 1 FO player. One of the issues to resolve was to find a Rebel list that would work.

Now yes, there is of course a very strong, very popular Rebel list doing the rounds at the moment. Han, BoY Luke, Sabine in a TIE Fighter and to A-Wings. It’s won tournaments and made lots of cuts and it’s among 3 lists that are pretty much everywhere.

Our Rebel player has been mostly playing FO for the last year or so and while that list is a known good list, wanted to know if there was anything else out there that might be worth a look.

After a little messy around and some interesting though exercises, we came up with this:

Han Solo (7)
Trick Shot (4)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Bistan (8)
Millennium Falcon (0)

Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (20/20) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 6

“Chopper” (6)
Magva Yarro (5)
Saw Gerrera (9)

Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (14/14) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 7

Dash Rendar (YLF) (7)
Trick Shot (4)
Ursa Wren (6)
Rigged Cargo Chute (3)
Contraband Cybernetics (3)
Ablative Plating (4)
Outrider (0)

Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (20/20) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 5

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v9ZhZ20Z42X133WW54WW77WWWW154Y63XWWW51W58WWWY648X133WW439W96W92W103W157&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Now, I’ve got be honest here about my motivations. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll know that I LOVE flying Dash Rendar. LOVE.

With the re-release of the YT-2400 he’s back in contention but honestly, I’ve got my doubts over the new pilot ability but given that the idea behind the list is for Chopper to dive in and cause mayhem while Han and Dash pick at ships from further out, I’m hoping that it balances out a bit.

At the very least, this was an opportunity to get my beautiful YT-2400 back on the table

So, I (mostly) packed up what was needed to fly this highly experimental list and, following some very rushed practice reps in Fly Casual to figure out how to even start thinking about deployment, I was ready to try it out!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Attending casual night at Firestorm Games in Newport was none other than the fabulous Mr Steve Boulton.

He’s currently tweaking his Resistance list which he’s actually been doing pretty well with of late.

L’ulo L’ampar (4)
Marksmanship (1)
Predator (3)
Shield Upgrade (8)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (12/12) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 2

Jessika Pava (4)
M9-G8 (5)
Electronic Baffle (2)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (7/7) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Temmin Wexley (4)
Heroic (2)
Ferrosphere Paint (3)
R6-D8 (4)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (9/9) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Ello Asty (4)
Swarm Tactics (5)
Heroic (2)
Integrated S-Foils (0)
Jamming Beam (1)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (8/8) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 3

Zorii Bliss (4)
Dorsal Turret (2)
R4 Astromech (2)
Wartime Loadout (2)
Plasma Torpedoes (5)

Ship Cost: 4 Loadout: (11/11) Half Points: 2 Damage Threshold: 4

Total: 20

View in YASB 2: https://yasb.app/?f=Resistance&d=v9ZhZ20Z239X125W127WW165Y296XW197W106W175WY297X172W198W359WWW175WY299X132W172WWWW175W12Y477XWW137W5WWWW409W234W&sn=XTC23%20-%20STEVE%20BOULTON%20-%20WALES%20-%20RESISTANCE&obs=coreasteroid0,coreasteroid5,core2asteroid0

It’s stacked with double modding ships with decent guns and a pretty good amount of health. It’s going to joust you and it’s going to do a pretty good job of it.

Let’s look at those Pre-Flight checks:
Scenario – Chance Engagement
Target/Objective Priority – Honestly? Maybe Zorii? They’re all 4 points so it’s a case of identifying the ones that will punish me most.
Obstacles – A pretty even spread in order for Han to get rerolls
Deployment – I genuinely don’t know. I’ll elaborate…

We place the objective, obstacles and ships and are ready to start.

Now, I kind of purposely made some choices to put the list to test. First was the scenario. In my opinion one of the advantages of big ships in 2.5 is that you can basically points fortress. Dive in, take some hits and then leave before giving up a big chunk. Chance takes that away by giving half points. Second is to go up against a known good jousting list.

Chopper needs to be used carefully. He’s a hammer, yes, but he’s also low initiative. He wants to joust but he’s sure as heck not going to out-joust Steve’s list. The disadvantage here is that Chopper gets placed at i2 and Steve can (and did) just deploy directly opposite.

My plan now is to try and engineer a block with Chopper while Han and Dash do damage from range.

I made my first mistake in turn 1…

I sent Chopper 3 forwards while Dash went faster and Han went slower. I’m not it was game changing (or wrecking) but I think going a little slower might have helped because next turn I found he was in range 3 of all 4 of Steve’s jousting ships…

Being range 3 with a reinforce definitely helped but Chopper lost all shields and took one damage card. In response I got shields down on Jess. Not exactly a great trade…

My dilemma was now what to do next. 1 straight? What if the front ships just 4-K over the top? Hmmm…

In the end, I 1 bank in with Chopper. Initially I think it’s ok. He’s reinforced and Han can turn in and do some damage too.

Except no, not really.

Chopped causes a bump chain, sure, but Steve’s ships have a fair amount of passive mods. Han does some damage to Jess. Dash, who landed on the rock but not enough to use Trick Shot, needed Ablative Plating to not take damage. What I had failed to consider was that combining Ablative and Dash’s new pilot ability is all well and good until you realise you can’t take actions when landing on a rock. The ability allows you to shoot and the Ablative allows you to dodge a damage (although rolling for that second damage still happens on rocks) but you can’t take an action. Balls.

I did manage to take Jess out but as she was swarmed up to i5 she still fired and once Ello’s Jamming Beam took out the reinforce Chopped burned down before being able to fire a second time.

Big. Ouch.

My two remaining ships put up a decent fight but Steve’s ships simply refused to die with Lulo in particular rolling maximum paint on greens at every opportunity. Apparently this is the norm.

Easy now Ben! This is a family blog!

It wasn’t long before Han was burned and Dash was halved and the game was all over.

Result: 12 – 22 loss

The conclusion…

So, a loss. Not really surprising given the challenges that the matchup and the scenario posed but is it a list worth persevering with?

In short, no, I don’t think so.

Playing it in person made me realise a few things about the composition that are either no good or would need to be adjusted.

First up is Chopper. The free lock from Magva crew is definitely good. That said, Chopper’s swift demise meant that he only got to fire once, at range 3 and didn’t even use Saw’s ability. Ouch.

You could argue that’s down to my poor range control in the first couple of tuns and you’re probably right but the fact remains that at initiative 2, he’s likely to die before being able to take the big swings that he’s there to do.

Which leads me to Han Solo. Swarm Tactics to bring Chopper up to an i6 would be super useful but you’re 1 point short of being able to do it if you keep Bistan and Perceptive Copilot and let’s face it, the only way this list is even remotely viable is if Han is double tapping.

Lastly we have Dash. My beloved Dash. He’s just not very good and I’m so sad about it. Ablative makes him almost like the Dash of old but since landing on a rock prevents you from taking an action, it’s simply not worth the effort. Sure my positional play (and my turn 0 if we’re being honest here) wasn’t good enough to take advantage of obstacles for Trick Shot nor the title but even when rolling 4 dice at range 3, without a lock (which Ursa picked up just the once since Steve rarely locked) you’re prone to poor rolls and that’s exactly what happened. Big rolls neutered by variance.

Maybe I’m just bitter about losing a ship that was probably overpowered in the first place but now that’ he’s finally here in Standard I’m just a bit underwhelmed. Perhaps when the meta shifts and Han inevitably goes back up to 8 points he’ll be a possibility but I’m not holding my breath.

Still, despite the poor scenario and poor matchup I scored a respectable amount of points and wasn’t far off bagging a few more (Zorii left on 1 hull, Temmin on 2 and 1 more hit into Lulo score another 2 points). Not enough to win but still…it could ahve been closer.

And so the big question – does this list get picked as the Rebel option for Wales?

The answer, quite clearly, is no. The limitations are too severe and even though overall ship count is down since the last major points change, three big base ships are just big juicy targets for the high number of big hitting ships out there at the moment. I’m not saying it could never work, I just think that while there are options which are obviously better why would you handicap yourself?

It’s fine though. When I first saw the new ability for Dash it was clearly not as good as the old one (the whole reason for changing it I suppose…) but the fact that he’s now the same points cost as a very potent, double tapping, higher initiative Han just means he isn’t really a viable option, at least not in this sort of list composition.

In the end we’ve plumped for a different (more boring) Rebel list and so, in a way, even though the games was a loss, the test was successful as we tried out an option and then ruled it out of contention. Which is what testing is for really!

That’s all from me for this week. I’m not sure I’m getting a game in tomorrow. Well, not in person anyway. Maybe I’ll have to start looking at a list for the Newport Store Champs soon though, less than a month to go now! Why not come back enxt week and see!

The outro…

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