Welcome to my blog!
Another week has flown by and we’ve had a couple of days of nice sunny weather. Things are starting to feel a bit more normal with every passing day, the good (like seeing people eating outside restaurants and cafes in sunny Bath) and the bad (like school run traffic).
In Wales, our roadmap to reopening has some key dates and the 17th of May is being touted as a date for indoor social activities to return. That’s less than a month away!!
As I’ve mentioned before, Firestorm Games in Newport (my local) doesn’t directly have play space, just tables outside the shop in the space that belongs to Tesco (which Firestorm is inside of). So Newport may be a little while, but there’s still Cardiff, right?
Well, also not quite. Firestorm Games in Cardiff is moving to a new location. It’s an exciting development for sure but in the short term it means they’re not reopening their play space until the move is done
It feels so close though! I can’t wait to get back to the table. Playing online has it’s perks (like meeting new people from all over the world) but it’s got nothing on the real thing.
And so on to the X-Wing. Somewhat by chance (meaning I didn’t really plan it out this way!) I appear to be writing a series of posts.
Part 1 was looking at new options in the Rebel faction with the release of the Phoenix Squadron pack. I put some lists together as potential future lists.
Part 2 was the first testing stage. I tried the lists in Fly Casual (which, if you’re not aware, is a free X-Wing Simulator application), made some adjustments, analysed what I feel the potential is for each and then picking one to move forwards with.
Part 3 was the main testing stage. Trying the list against a real person to make sure there’s something about it.
And now we have part 4 – time to use it for real. Now, I’m under NO illusion that what I have here is some top meta list. It isn’t. But if I’m going to play it somewhat seriously (or should I say “seriously”, since I’m never realistically gunning for top spot in a tournament) then I need to play it in a meaningful game.
Enter the return of the Sith Taker league. Yes, it’s season 3 and I’m now in the Cloud City league following back to back promotions (although that first one is questionable…). I have to admit, I did deliberate over what to fly for a good while. I’ve been promoted off the back of switching from Dash to Rey and doing pretty ok with it actually. Interestingly I managed to hop on board the Resistance train just as it seems most players hopped off with literally ZERO people fllying it in the recent GSP Aces tournament.
Still, as my misadventures with Dash might suggest, I’m not averse to being a bit of a special snowflake when it comes to flying things that aren’t considered popular (or good for that matter) and so it was still very much a toss up between the lists.
Part of that consideration was my opponent…
I’d been drawn against TobyN. Now, I didn’t know Toby before the game. We’ve never played before but since he shares his name with my youngest son, while looking at the TTT standings for the Sith Taker Cup ‘The Sequel’ his name had sort of jumped out at me. That, plus the fact that he’d gone 6-0 in swiss, finishing 3rd and therefore his name was at the top (or thereabouts) every time I checked standings.
Now on the one hand I think “I’m more experienced with Rey-Wings than with elements of the Dash list plus I’ve got a half decent record with the list. That’s the one that gives me the best chance at winning. I should pick that.”
Then on the other I think “Toby is clearly a very good player. Since I’m reasonably likely to lose anyway, perhaps I should pick the Dash list to: a) get another rep in with it and b) get some feedback from a good player.”
When we got in touch to arrange the game Toby asked if we should announce lists in advance to give me time to write about it. While that made sense I was still very much in the deliberation stage and while maybe knowing his list might have helped me prepare, I had no idea what to take yet and sometimes I have tripped myself up by over-preparing against lists that I know in advance.
In the end I said no, let’s keep it to ourselves for now, giving me time to make my decision.
In the end (around 2 hours before the game) I decided that the win was less important than trying out the Dash list again and seeing if I can unlock the potential that I feel it has.
Ship total: 115 Half Points: 58 Threshold: 6
Jake Farrell (34)
Proton Rockets (5)
Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2
Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
XX-23 S-Thread Tracers (2)
Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 2
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z39X120WW77W54W165WW369Y50XWW102WY451XWW332W&sn=Dash%2C%20Hera%20%26%20Jake&obs=
Ok, great, decision made! I took in a few more games on Fly Casual to prep and was happy with how things were panning out. Mostly.
I was finding that in some matchups I was outgunned since Dash is the only big hitter. I also had watched a Veteran Instincts game that Oliver Pocknell had tagged me in where he’d flown Dash, Jake and Wedge (in an X-Wing, not baby Wedge in an A-Wing). This gave me pause but I’ll talk more on that later.
On with the game!
The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)
Toby and I connected over TTS and Discord and chatted a little as we set up for the game.
Perhaps I should have taken him up on the offer of exchanging lists…
Ship total: 84 Half Points: 42 Threshold: 5
Ship total: 106 Half Points: 53 Threshold: 4
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Scum%20and%20Villainy&d=v8ZsZ200Z115X375W136W11W336WW369W165WY147X126W111W134W165W163W105&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=
I’ve mentioned many times before that my knowledge of Scum ships is not great. I’ve been caught off-guard several times by weird pilot abilities and unexpected manoeuvres. This list is no different. Well, mostly.
I know Dengar is i6 and can fire a revenge shot. I know Zam also lets you double tap and/or get a lock. I also know (pretty much on from Phil GC’s blogs!) that Guri is uncatchable when she wants to be, especially in a 2 ship list (leaving points for toys) when she is moving last. In case you didn’t catch it, Toby has a 10 pint bid for his list…
Toby makes me first player and we begin setting up to play.
Time for some pre-flight checks then!
Target Priority – Guri is worth more points but Dengar is going to do more damage. Also Guri will be harder to catch. Maybe try and keep Guri at bay while wearing Dengar down.
Obstacles – Toby has brought gas clouds so Dash doesn’t care where any of them go and the A-Wings should be nimble enough to negotiate them too. Same goes for Guri so maybe if I can group them to annoy Dengar that might help.
Deployment – Dash and Jake will be placed before Guri so I’ll just pick a corner and deploy as I normally would. Hera will be a bit further away and look to either flank or join up, depending on where Toby’s ships go.
We set up and the board looks like this as we begin to set dials.
Right, how to start then? If I’m honest, it crosses my mind to joust Dengar but I’m pretty sure that is the incorrect move. I set hard right turns for Jake and Dash while Hera hard turns left.
Guri banks to her left while Dengar zooms 4 straight towards Dash.
No shots and so it’s back to dials we go.
My goal with the list is to try and get 2 shots per turn with Dash. They have to be at different targets though and Guri is going to be slippery. It looks like Dengar wants to come in hard at Dash so I’ll try and delay that another turn while giving myself a chance of shooting Guri too.
Jake will go 4 straight, so will Dash while Hera will just 1 hard turn the other way to stay mostly in the bottom right corner. At this point I’m thinking that if Dengar is going to approach by coming around all the obstacles then perhaps Dash can go up the right edge, jumping over Guri when the time comes. Maybe.
Jake moves and boosts, handing Dash a focus action. Dash moves and rolls towards the board edge to hopefully avoid a long range Proton Torp shot from Dengar. Hera takes her turns and takes an evade, just in case Dash does get shot at.
Guri pulls her nonsense, ending up outside the gas cloud while Dengar banks in and rolls away.
No shots again then and back to planning.
And there’s an issue. All my ships seem a little…close.
Jake can 4 straight over the top of Dash and then boost to pass off a focus (but not roll and then boost because Hera is in the way). It looks to me like a 3 bank from Dash will clear Hera and he can then, umm, I dunno. He’s moving before Toby’s ships so won’t be able to lock. I’ll work it out later.
Hera will 3 bank right and then either evade, lock, reposition or focus, depending on where Guri ends up.
Sounds like a plan.
Jake goes first, 4 straight, boost. The boost puts him out of range 1 of Dash. No matter, I’ll give it to Hera instead.
Dash does his 3 bank and….
Oh dear. It’ not really far off but it’s far enough that I feel a bit stupid for having tried it. So Dash bumps Hera.
Toby moves Guri with some mysterious sorcery up to around half way across the board. Then Hera does her 3 bank… and clips the gas cloud.
Wow. I roll a die. The hit means Hera takes a strain token. Oh dear.
Dengar moves and takes a lock on Dash, triggering False Transponder Codes and jamming Dash. Only while writing this out have I realised that this should ALSO have trigged Dash’s FTC’s and jammed Dengar in return, losing the lock. That would have been game changing.
Ok, well, Hera to fire first then…
Maybe not then.
Dengar fires at a tokenless Dash with Proton Torpedoes and (thankfully) only manages to get 2 shields from him. That certainly could have been worse.
In a turn filled (literally crammed) with poor choices, I was about to make another. Do I fire with Dash? I know Dengar can revenge shot me but I should try and do some damage, right? I debated this for what felt like an age before deciding to go for it.
Dash rolled 4 dice at Dengar and took 2 shields from him. Not terrible.
This then triggers the revenge shot and this time Dengar strips Dash’s remaining 2 shields and puts a crit onto the hull. A Hull Breach, in fact. Awesome.
Guri then fires at a strained, outmanoeuvred Hera and things finally (though given my incompetence so far, probably unjustly) go in my favour as Guri blanks out. Bullet dodged.
All shots done (since Jake is facing nobody at all) and we’re back to dials.
I think at some point during the turn (when Dash bumped I believe), I said ‘that’s the game’. Not out of being sulky or defeatist (at least, I hope that’s not how I came across!) but because I knew that my chances of winning would hang on Dash pumping out damage to both opposition ships and that with at least one, potentially (and actually, in the end) two incoming shots and no tokens to defend with, I was in trouble.
Still, he’s not dead yet. Can I do anything useful before he explodes?
Dash will take a 2 bank left. Hopefully Guri will end up in the side arc there but with the angle that Dash is at after the bump I’m not sure. Jake will take a 2 hard left, as will Hera. I thinking that if Jake can pass a focus to Hera she can link it to a boost to turn enough to fire her Tracers at Dengar.
Jake takes his 2 hard turn, takes a focus and boosts, giving the focus to Hera. She links it to a red boost. All good so far.
Dash takes his 2 bank, lands nicely and takes a (double) focus.
Guri goes 2 straight and then manages to perfectly land a bendy roll to her left, narrowly landing between Jake and Hera. Very nicely played.
Hera takes the 2 hard, clears the stress and then goes to boost to get a firing angle on Dengar, forgetting that she’s already boosted. Balls. Dengar is too far out so she takes a lock on Guri instead.
Dengar banks right, going in hard at Dash, and takes a focus.
Well, this isn’t great either. Not as bad as last turn, sure, but still…
Hera has no shot so Dengar shoots first. Only 1 hit gets through but with Hull Breach in play it’s a crit and it’s a….Fuel Leak. Of course.
Again I have choice here, I could decide not to fire with Dash and last another turn since it’s likely that Guri won’t finish him off.
But again, I decide to go for it. I mean, why play the game only to not roll dice, right?
Dash rolls 3 paint and spends a focus for 3 hits. Dengar gets 1 evade meaning his last 2 shields are down (but still not half points). Dengar then fires his revenge shot but with no mods left can only get 1 hit past Dash’s greens. It goes through as a crit though and so triggers the Fuel Leak, leaving Dash on 3 hull.
Guri has dodged arc and so it’s her turn to shoot. 4 dice at range 1 turned out to be a crit, 2 hits and an eyeball. Toby spent the focus of course for 4 hits. Outmanoeuvre was in play so just 1 die for Dash which was an evade but it’s enough to finish him off (even with the Hull Upgrade).
I’m not done yet though, Jake fires range 1 at Guri, getting hit, eyeball, blank. I move Hera’s lock to Jake, spend it and roll the blank to a hit and spend the focus for 3 hits. Toby rolls 2 evades to lose just 1 shield.
Back to planning then. But what to do?
I’ve clearly lost the game but can I claw back some points? I’ve got to try. Jake will take a 2 hard left to try and get closer to Hera who in turn will turn in to try and get arc on Dengar. I dialled in a hard turn but then thought that if she’s got a focus from Jake I might be better off doing the 2 bank and then roll and boost in.
As soon as we say ‘set’ I regret my choices.
Jake’s 2 hard turn lands on the gas cloud. I roll and he gets a strain. Cool.
Guri does a bendy roll and goes 1 straight, just stopping short of the bump on Jake.
Hera’s 2 bank was totally the wrong choice. Toby very kindly offers to let me change it but I decline. It’s my mistake and I’ve got to own it. She rolls and boosts in but sits without a focus token.
Dengar hard turns and bumps into Jake, landing on the gas cloud and getting a strain. Small mercies!
Dengar doesn’t have a shot (yay!) so Hera gets to go first but completely blanks out (boo!).
The only other shot is Guri’s range 1 on the strained, outmanoeuvred, tokenless Jake and she takes his shields, getting half points.
This is not going well.
I have a little bit decided ‘screw it’ with my approach. I dial in a 3 sloop (JARGON ALERT!!) but, with my track record for judging distances in this game I bottle it and change it to a 5k instead. Hera will 2 turn away in order to try and stay safe while maybe also being in range to pass Jake a token.
I reveal Jake’s 5k but ask Toby if I can check the 3 sloop. It fits. Of course. Still, the 5k isn’t too terrible, hopefully. This time the gas cloud roll goes in my favour (yay!) but Jake is still slightly stranded.
Guri takes a bendy roll and then banks to straighten back up, sitting in front of Jake.
Hera’s 2 hard is followed with a focus and boost.
Dengar also takes a K-turn, taking him out of Jake’s range.
Right, shooting time. Nothing for Dengar or Hera so it’s just Guri vs Jake. A nearly dead Jake. Clench.
Guri fires but blanks out. Phew!
Jake fires back and rolls hit, crit. Nice. Toby rolls one evade and Guri loses a shield. Baby steps.
The clock is running down but there’s still time to try and do something. With both A-Wings stressed and needing to turn, both get set 2 hard turns, Jake to the left and Hera to the right.
Jake takes his turn, clearing the stress, rolls left (gets a focus) and then boosts to hand a focus to….balls. Hera’s stressed. You’d think I’d know this by now.
Guri banks in at Hera but takes a lock on Jake. Hera then rounds the gas cloud, takes a focus and boosts.
Dengar just goes 1 straight and rolls right.
Engagement begins with Hera, rolling 2 dice at Dengar and getting 1 hit past his greens, finally scoring me some points.
Dengar fires at Hera and manages to knock a shield off. Guri takes aim at Jake with a lock and a focus but Jake gets away taking just one hit. Well, a crit actually. And it’s a Console Fire.
Jake has no target and so we go to dials.
Just as we are about to reveal I remember the Console Fire, roll a die and of course, it’s a hit and Jake is dead. Awesome. Toby asks if he can change his dials with this new information which, of course, is fine.
Now, sadly I didn’t screenshot the last turn (booo!) but I hard turned Hera in at Guri, after all if I just got 1 more hit on her then I get half points and that’s quite a lot.
Seemingly reading my mind, Toby turns Guri in and manages to get the block on Hera, leaving her (Hera) tokenless. Dengar then moves, takes some sort of token and mercilessly smashes Hera just as teh timer goes off.
Result: 42 – 200 loss
Ok, so first things first. I lost. Badly, actually. Again.
I’m trying not to make reactionary judgements of this list and so I’ll try to rationally analyse what happened.
What are the causes of this result? Let’s break it down:
1 – My mistakes Bumping Dash into Hera, shooting Dengar with Dash, putting Jake on a gas cloud, forgetting Hera was stressed. I messed up. Quite a lot. It was human error or, as we like to say in the IT industry sometimes, PICNIC (problem in chair, not in computer). And that is frustrating. It’s frustrating because when it’s my messing up that triggers ‘catastrophic’ (in X-Wing terms) events then it becomes really hard (like, really really) to actually judge the strength of the list. And it’s particularly frustrating that it’s manoeuvres and bumping because after years of doing it, I should have a better handle on it.
How can I change that? Plan better and take less risks. The clutch turn where Dengar hammered Dash with 2 Proton Torps happened because Dash didn’t clear Hera with the marginal (and risky) 3 bank. A 4 straight (or not having Hera in a stupid position in the first place…) clears Hera easily AND gets Dash out of Dengar’s range.
2 – Lack of knowledge I do not know how best to approach Dengar. Just from reputation I knew that Guri was always going to be tricky to get damage on to because I was first player and Toby’s 10 point bid meant I was never going to be anything other than that. I’ve faced Dengar a handful of times but not much and this is the first game that I can ever remember flying against Guri. Combine this with my limited understanding of the Scum faction in general and you have a problem. Other than ‘try to shoot them’ I had no real plan because I didn’t really know what I was doing.
How can I change that? Ideally, lots of games against (or with?!) scum lists. In reality that’s hard. I normally get the opportunity for 1 game a week and don’t get to dictate what my opponent will fly. I can load up some lists in Fly Casual to try out but then I don’t quite know what I’m doing and the AI doesn’t tailor it’s approach based on the ships it’s flying. It just points and shoots.
3 – Back luck Look, it’s not a factor I can do much about but rolling blanks on attacks and defence, hits for strains, certain crits being pulled (Hull Breach into Fuel Leak anyone…?) all has an effect.
How Can I change that? I can’t! Or can I….? I could have mitigated some of those by simply doing things better. Dash is supposed to have one of his attacks be double modded, either from Hera’s Tracers or by taking one himself after getting focuses from Jake. For strains? Well just don’t land on the gas clouds dummy! Sometimes it is about bad luck but a lot of the time I put myself in a position where bad luck can have a major impact. More on that in a minute…
4 – Bad list This is the crux of what I’m trying to determine. In my head, this list could be good. Dash hits hard and A-Wings are slippery to catch. Jake can hurt you with Prockets while Hera (theoretically) lets everyone live longer and can last in the end game because she’s i6. In practice though? Different story. So far I’m 0-2 against real life opponents and not only that, I’ve lost both quite heavily and with the result being reasonably sealed quite early on. Sure I lasted out the 75 minutes in this game but once Dash bumped Hera (and then Hera hit the gas cloud and missed arc on Guri), I knew I was done for. I wouldn’t say I was being defeatist (which I can have a tendency to do sometimes), I simply recognised that there was no real way back from the mess I’d put myself in.
How can I change that? Well, changing the list is the obvious answer but the whole point is that I’m trying to test it out…
Another slightly frustrating thing is that at a rate of 1 proper game a week, it’s actually pretty difficult to come to conclusions at any decent speed.
My general feeling is that no, this isn’t a great list. Possibly not even a good one. Last week the 186th Veteran Instincts YouTube channel put out a game where world champ Oliver Pocknell played a Dash list. It is different from this one but at its core, it’s still Dash (with Bistan and Perceptive Copilot) and Jake. Oli has X-Wing Wedge instead of Hera as the 3rd ship.
Spoiler alert, he won the game, by total destruction and with Dash and Jake still holding all their points.
Oli had commented on last week’s post with some very good insight:
Good read, and a curious outcome. I think you’ll enjoy this week’s Veteran Instincts release! (It might have a similar dash list in it…). On a more serious note, I feel like you are introducing lots of “coin flips” into your play. You are putting ships into positions, and dialling in moves that, if they do go in your favour are fantastic, but also have a massive cost if they go wrong. Not only that but often the odds of these scenarios happening are 70% good to 30% bad, that means 1 in 3 games you’ll lose by making that decision, which isn’t ideal in a competitive setting. Playing it a little safer when you can, especially with the A wings will allow you time in the game, time which is super important when the whole idea of the list is to allow dash to trade effectively with your opponent. Had that first engagement been Jake safely out of range and dash with TL and focus into sabacc, then it’s a win-win for you.
Talk about getting it spot on with the coin flip moves. Ironically I had read the comment AND watched the video before going into this game but still made basically the same errors as I had in last week’s game. Clearly that’s a failing on my part in terms of learning from mistakes and taking on advice.
But where does this leave me with the list?
Well, it’s certainly a gross understatement to say that Oli’s a bit better at the game than I am, that’s for sure. What the Veteran Instincts video shows me though is that there is potential in Dash to be good. Does it mean that you need to be a top level player to get the most out of him? Maybe.
Will I keep trying? I’m actually not quite sure. With my game a week now sort of counting for something in the Sith Takers league I feel this would be better suited for a casual Wednesday night game down at Firestorm. Like I said at the start, that’s sadly still some way off and so perhaps, for now at least, the list gets shelved.
Then again, I may get the urge to play it again next week. Who knows?!
Toby was a great opponent and played really well. We discussed the game and the list afterwards and when the question ‘what’s the weakest part of the list?’ came up I had to admit that it’s Dash but that I enjoy flying him so much that I just keep doing it!
So that’s season 3 of the league off to a… start. Let’s see what next week brings!
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!