Keeping it local

The Intro…

Hello there!

Is it just me or is this year going really fast? Maybe it’s just how my life is at the moment but it feels like the weeks are flying by. Crazy.

One highlight (or lowlight, depending on your point of view) of the last week was seeing photos reposted from last year’s UK System Open. Yes, it has apparently been a whole year (A WHOLE YEAR!!) since Cai and I and a few other Exiles trekked to Milton Keynes and got to play plastic spaceships and hang out with some awesome people for two whole days.

Seeing the pictures made me smile but also made me a little sad that we’re not preparing for it again this year and that we still don’t really know how long it’s going to be until we can get anything close to it again.

It was epic and I want more.

Sadly that also means it’s almost a whole year since the X-Wing community lost a very special person – Vince Kingston. I had only met him two or three times in person but his cheerful and friendly demeanour and passion for the X-Wing community sticks in my mind and the outpouring of love for him speaks volumes about his character. He is missed.

Anyway, getting back to the X-Wing, this is my second week with no league or cup game to play but where I’d arranged to play a casual game against one of my local players.

Let me underline something important here. I’m enjoying online X-Wing. Quite a lot, actually. The chance to play against people I’ve never met and some who, in all likelihood (due to geographical differences), will never meet in person is really cool. Also, there’s something to be said for not having to pack/unpack/repack ships, cards, tokens, etc (though it’s a price I’m more than happy to pay!).

But OH MAN am I missing my Wednesday nights at Firestorm. Yes I go to play but being able to hang out with the guys there and chat before/during/after games is something that can’t be replaced and has left a hole.

Anyway, as I mentioned last week I had asked a question in our local group chat to see whether anyone was playing online that I wasn’t aware of or if anyone wanted to learn…

The Batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

One of the responses from that message was from Luke. Luke is one of the top players at our store. He has a very methodical approach, a preference for acey ships (primarily Imperial but not always) and a very deep knowledge of the game. I have played him many times and more often than not (like, much more) have been on the losing side.

We arranged to play on Thursday evening and so I did a little bit of game prep through the week, testing my list on Fly Casual.

What is my list? Well of course it’s what I’ve been running since just before Christmas:

Rey (68)
Korr Sella (6)
Rose Tico (9)
Finn (9)
Rey’s Millennium Falcon (2)

Ship total: 94 Half Points: 47 Threshold: 6

Tallissan Lintra (37)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 49 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Zizi Tlo (41)
Heroic (2)
Proton Rockets (5)
Advanced Optics (5)

Ship total: 53 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2

Total: 196

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:,core2asteroid1,core2asteroid2

I’m pretty comfortable with it now and have been experimenting with different openings and approaches, trying to improve on it and make sure I have different options and (more importantly) understand when to use which ones.

But what about Luke’s list? Well let’s see…

Gideon Hask (Xi Shuttle) (40)
Sensor Buoy Suite (4)

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Kylo Ren (76)
Sense (5)

Ship total: 81 Half Points: 41 Threshold: 3

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Epsilon Squadron Cadet (25)
Ship total: 25 Half Points: 13 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

Hmmm…. I’ve faced a Xi shuttle before but it was Malarus, not Gideon. And then there’s Kylo. This could be interesting!

Luke said he’s put this together because he’d not flown much First Order of late (or much of anything, actually!) and was curious about trying the Xi shuttle before going to buy one. I mentioned that Malarus appears to be a more popular choice than Hask. More on that later.

There’s something new in there though. New to me, at least. Sensor Buoy Suite. Hmmm… They get placed at setup (after ships have deployed) and if an enemy ship gets within range 1 of it, you get a lock on that ship.

I will point out right here, right now that we messed this up. I’ll go into detail in the conclusion but I just want to make sure it’s raised right now before I mention it during the batrep and you start thinking ‘hang on, they’re doing it ALL WRONG!’ and start writing a comment about it – we messed up. We know. I talk about it later.

Ok, that’s dealt with. How about some Pre-Flight checks:
Target Priority – Points-wise it’s certainly Kylo. Will he let me shoot at him though? Kylo aside I think the priority is to get rid of Gideon because he buffs the TIE/FO’s to 3 dice attacks (or 4 at range 1. Nasty)
Obstacles – Luke has brought gas clouds so in a way it doesn’t matter so much although preventing Kylo having gas clouds to hide behind will certainly help. Plus if I can cluster them up then it might give Gideon some tricky choices.
Deployment – As I have a 4 point bid I can make Luke 1st player and ALL my ships place after his. I’ll keep them together though and split them to engage from different angles.

We place obstacles and ships (and buoys!) and are set ready to start:

There’s a nice big lane for Rey to go head on with Gideon. Yes Kylo is opposite me but let’s face it, he’s probably going to 3 bank, boost and then 5 straight and only come back mid-game. Maybe I can get Rey to engage Gideon between the central debris and top right gas cloud AND have the A-Wings coming in from behind/flank at the same time. Maybe.

So Rey goes 2 straight (just to give Kylo a bit of a scare) while Tallie and Zizi hard turn left and then roll towards the board edge.

Luke’s FO’s so straight and roll neatly in formation around the gas cloud before Gideon 1 banks in and Kylo goes straight and rolls to his right.

No shooting this turn of course and so back to dials we go.

I feel now that the 2 straight from Rey was a bit too bold. She gets a 1 straight this time while the A-Wings get 5 straights.

Luke pivots his FO’s around the gas cloud with some lovely formation flying. Gideon takes a hard stop while Kylo repeats his first move, going straight and rolling right.

Rey moves first followed by the A-Wings with Tallie bank boosting and Zizi straight boosting to slot in behind.

No shots again and so it’s time for planning.

At this point I consider the Sensor Buoys. Rey is well clear but if I bring the A-Wings in through the gap between the gas cloud and debris or even skirting close to the left of the debris, Luke will get some free locks on ships which, despite all the green dice, can be fragile when they want to be.

I decide to err on the side of extreme caution. They’ll go the long way around.

SIDE NOTE – yes, we know how it works now. No, this wasn’t the right choice.

So it’s a 5 stright and banked boost for Tallie while Zizi, having NOT bank boosted last time needs to take a 3 bank and straight boost which, as it turns out, covers significantly less distance. Rey will 1 bank in.

Luke’s FO’s all go 5 straight, Gideon banks in and clears his stress before Kylo…also turns in?!? Unexpected!

Ok. This is not good.

Kylo shoots at Rey but it’s range 3 through a gas cloud. A damage gets through and Luke gives Rey the ‘I’ll show you the Dark Side’ condition. Great.

Rey fires back and despite the gas cloud, range AND force (bloomin Kylo), she manages to chip 1 shield from him. It’s a start I guess!

My A-Wings are rather uselessly positioned and so Luke’s ships continue to fire. Thankfully Gideon is out of range and the two dice single modded shots from the FO’s only manage 2 more hits but one is a crit which triggers the aforementioned ‘Dark Side’ condition and it goes under Rey’s remaining shield. Ouch.

Ok, so not a great first engagement. Back to dials we go as I have to find a way to catch up.

A good start would be to get the A-Wings in on the action. Both will get a 3 bank. Rey wants to keep her front arc on target and won’t mind bumping too much so she’ll 1 bank in at the FO’s.

Luke begins moving ships with the FO’s cruising 2 straight and Gideon banking in at Rey. Kylo nopes out, hard turning over the gas cloud.

Rey’s bank bumps into the red FO (as I expected) while Tallie’s 3 bank is followed up with a focus and banked boost and Zizi chases her in.

With Kylo facing the wrong way my ships will fire first. Rey fires at the green FO, followed by Tallie but Luke’s greens hold out and it just loses it’s shield and takes a crit.

Rey’s bump has reduced one incoming shot but Gideon and the other two FO’s fire, boosted to 3/4 dice because Kylo’s crit went under the shields. Thankfully (for me, anyway!) the rolls aren’t great and I get away with losing the last shield and taking 1 damage card.

Still, Rey is 1 health from being halved while in return I’ve got half an FO and 1 shield off Kylo. It’s really not good enough.

Dials then, and I need to make this count.

I want to sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) with Rey but the thing is, will the space be clear? I decide to just go 1 straight instead, thinking that I can still fire out of the back. Tallie gets a 2 straight while Zizi will go 5 straight.

Slightly predictably (although, not by me at that time apparently) Two of the FO’s k-turn (JARGON ALERT!!) while the green one sloops. Gideon 3 banks right, sacrificing a shot to stay range 2 of the FO’s. Kylo talon-rolls (JARGON ALERT!!) into the corner.

Rey takes the 1 straight and takes a focus. Tallie goes 2 straight and focus/boosts in at Gideon. Zizi’s 5 straight is followed up by a focus and bank boost.

Kylo starts the shooting, getting 2 hits onto Rey. Rey takes the range 1 shot at the green FO but Luke’s greens hold up again and just 1 crit goes through, leaving it on 1 hull.

Tallie fires Proton Rockets at Gideon but the roll ends up being 1 hit, 1 eyeball and 3 blanks. Disappointing. Luke’s greens blank out this time so shields are stripped.

Zizi’s range 3 cloud obstructed shot at the green FO rather predictably fails to finish him off.

In response the FO’s fire at Rey with additional dice from Gideon and push through some significant damage but the lack of mods means that Rey survives on 1 hull. Ouch!

Back to planning and things are looking a bit grim. Rey’s almost dead and all I’ve got in return is an almost dead FO.

Rey will sloop this time, definitely. I figure that Gideon will stay put so Tallie will 3 bank over the top. For Zizi I’m torn between a 2 or 3 bank to threaten Kylo. In the end I go with a 3.

Luke moves the FO’s with yellow going 3 bank, red going 2 forwards and green 2 banks but bumps into red. Gideon does indeed so a hard stop while Kylo comes in faster than I expect with a 3 straight. Oh.

Rey’s sloop sits Rey RIGHT in front of Kylo. Tallie banks over Gideon, focuses and rotates arc. Zizi moves and…smashes into Kylo. Poop.

I should have gone with the 2 bank then which I think would have given me bullseye for Prockets. Never mind eh…

On top of that Tallie has landed within range 1 of the Sensor Buoy and Luke picks up locks on her from all his ships (yes, we know now!).

Kylo shoots and finishes Rey off fairly easily. Simultaneous fire means Rey can still shoot though and had taken a lock on yellow using the Finn/Rose combination when being fired on last round. 4 dice with an added blank, reroll from the lock and a force to mod resulted in 5 hits/crits. Luke did roll an evade but just the one, meaning that Rey 1-shotted the poor FO as she burned down.

Zizi can’t shoot but Tallie puts 2 more hits onto Gideon. The green FO fires at Tallie (and misses) while the red one fires at Zizi (and misses).

Back to dials we go at this point I notice that time is running out. Yes I’ve taken an FO off the board and halved Gideon but I’ve lost Rey and she’s worth quite a few more points.

Planning again and now I need to do some work.

Tallie will bank left while Zizi will take a 3 hard turn around the gas cloud.

The red FO sloops, the green hard turns left while Gideon banks left. Kylo goes for a hard turn but bumps into the red FO.

Tallie’s 2 bank clears the green FO but lands her right in front of it so she barrel rolls left. Zizi turns around the cloud, focuses and bank boosts.

Kylo doesn’t have a shot so I get to shoot first. Between both A-Wings I manage to finish the green FO and put 1 more damage onto Gideon.

Only the red FO has a shot in return but can’t land any damage.

The clock is running down as we go back to planning. The thing is, my positioning isn’t great. Zizi is ok although she has 2 ships coming in from the flank but Tallie is facing the wrong way.

Both get a 2 straight.

Luke moves the red FO a hard right turn while Gideon banks to try and escape. Kylo goes to follow but bumps the FO again.

Tallie goes 2 straight and focuses before Zizi starts the same before linking to a banked boost.

Sadly Zizi hasn’t got bullseye on Gideon but thankfully she’s managed to stop just short of the sensor buoy.

Kylo manages to land a hit onto Zizi. Zizi lands another hit onto Gideon but it’s not enough to finish him off. Tallie takes a shot at the red FO but nothing gets through.

We go back to planning and as we’re setting dials the timer goes off. This is it.

On the off-chance that Luke’s about to make a massive mistake, Tallie gets another 2 straight while Zizi banks in to chase Gideon down.

The red FO goes 2 straight, Gideon hard stops and then Kylo hard turns in behind the red FO.

Tallie’s 2 straight takes her MILES out of the fight. Zizi’s 2 bank gets really close to Giedon and thankfully stops short of the bump.

This time Zizi is definitely in range 1 of the buoy and both Kylo and the FO take a lock on her (I know, I know!).

Kylo shoots at Zizi but despite having a lock, focus and the force, Zizi rolls all paint and spends her focus to evade the lot.

Tallie is useless and shoots nobody. Zizi goes for teh overkill option and fires Prockets at Gideon, annihilating him easily.

We click the buttons on the points tracker.

Ummm, ok. That’s slightly unexpected. I thought I’d still be behind.

The thing is, there’s still one more ship to fire.

The plucky red FO rolls his 3 dice (since he’s range 1). He spends first his lock (yes, I KNOW!) and then his focus. It’s 3 hits. Zizi has already used her charge and both focuses.

I roll my 3 greens. 2 Evades and a blank. Zizi loses her last shield and gives up half points.

Result: 94-121 loss

The Conclusion…

Well, I messed that one up didn’t I!

Ironically, the main thing that tripped me up here was the thing that was new to both of us – Sensor Buoys. I was so wary of Luke getting free locks on my A-Wings early on that I sent them WAY too far around, ending up with my recurring issue of not engaging my ships together.

It was only after the game was done that we read the Sensor Buoys card properly and discovered that actually, it probably (almost definitely?) only enables the ship carrying that card to get locks. Yep, we’d played it wrong. Oops! Did it affect the result? Well, yeah it did. But it’s just a casual game so it’s not a big deal.

I think that had I understood it properly that I’d have not swung Zizi and Tallie so far around. Actually, I know I wouldn’t have. In fact, I shouldn’t really have let it affect my approach anyway since Rey was Luke’s main target and I’d be making sure to keep her clear of the buoys whether I correctly understood it or not.

Luke said that had he understood it properly he’d have dropped the card altogether because if it’s only benefiting a single 2 red dice ship whose main function is support, it’s basically pointless. And I can’t really find a reason to disagree.

Luke had a few thoughts about his list following the game. He agreed that Malarus is a better choice than Gideon Hask and that if he was to pursue this type of list that there are definite changes to be made. He also said that he thinks I should have won the game which I might sort of agree with from the angle of the comparison of list strengths but I (again) made errors which contributed to my own downfall.

1. Avoided buoys (probably needlessly)
2. Split targets early on (green FO, then yellow, then Gideon and a bit of Kylo)
3. The 2 Vs 3 speed bank with Zizi
4. Tallie’s final position

So what can I conclude from this game? Well, my knowledge needs to be better. Not knowing about certain things (Sensor Buoys in this case but previously, well, loads of stuff) contributed to my problems. I already know this though and the best way for me to learn (and retain) the knowledge is to experience playing against it. It’s tricky to do with just one game a week on average but it is what it is!

On paper my list should have probably beaten this somewhat experimental First Order list but then again, it does include some strong pieces in Kylo and the Epsilon Cadets. Also Luke is a really good player.

At the end of the day it was a casual game and I had a great time playing against a mate who I haven’t seen in ages (and still haven’t if we’re being picky but you know what I mean).

So what now? Well, this week is the start of the Sith Taker Cup 2 “The Sequel” which I signed up for along with 191 other people! It’s a game a week with 6 rounds of swiss and a top cut (which isn’t really relevant to me I expect!) and I can’t wait to get playing. Come back next week to find out how it went!

If you’re looking to buy some gaming ‘stuff’ and don’t have a local gaming store, you can use my affiliate link for Firestorm games. They’re great!