Return of the Sith (Takers)

The intro…

After a few weeks break the Sith Takers league was back for another season. I’d joined in season 2 and so had started from the ‘bottom’. In reality what it means is that new joiners to the league start in the bottom division and players are promoted or relegated based on their final position after 8 games.

Now my 8 games in the last season hadn’t all gone especially well and I finished with a 1-7 record and was bottom but one of the players who completed all 8 games.

Imagine my surprise when season 3 was announced and I had moved up from league 6 (Wretched Hive) to league 5 (Crimson Dawn)!

I can only assume that people from higher leagues had dropped out and so I was benefiting from the spaces made as things were reshuffled. Fine by me!

Interestingly there were a good few people in the league who had been in Wretched Hive with me in the last season so there could well be some rematches!

The first round was drawn and lo and behold, I was drawn against Jason Sharp who I had played against just a few weeks ago at the beginning of October!

So what list was I going to play? Well, off the back of 4 really fun games in Phil GC’s birthday tournament I was feeling very comfortable with my Dash, Ten & Jake list and want to give it an extended run.

Since then there’s been a points update and Jake has dropped by 2 points. Over the course of that tournament I’d been outbid (not hard at 199 points!) and been made to go first in 3 out of the 4 games and Dash really hates to go after other i5’s. There’s not a lot that I can do with those 2 extra points and so they’ll go towards a bid.

Dash Rendar (85)
Expert Handling (4)
Bistan (10)
Perceptive Copilot (8)

Ship total: 107 Half Points: 54 Threshold: 5

Ten Numb (48)
Marksmanship (1)
Fire-Control System (2)
Autoblasters (3)
Stabilized S-Foils (2)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 4

Jake Farrell (34)
Ship total: 34 Half Points: 17 Threshold: 2

Total: 197

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

I won’t go over what my general strategy is as I’ve covered it before. But the short-short version is: shoot things with the big guns, try not to die.

Ten struggles against higher initiative ships and blocking isn’t something that I’m particularly good at but I’m working on it. Jake doesn’t care really since his main job is to be Dash’s focus generator. Dash is there to land the big hits, preferably double modded with Jake’s help.

Ok then, it’s time to see what Jason has brought!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

Well what Jason has brought is aces.

Darth Vader (66)
Fire-Control System (2)

Ship total: 68 Half Points: 34 Threshold: 3

Soontir Fel (54)
Predator (2)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 2

“Whisper” (60)
Lone Wolf (5)
Stealth Device (6)

Ship total: 71 Half Points: 36 Threshold: 3

Total: 195

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

Bang goes that bid then I guess!

Right, time for the pre-flight checks:
Target Priority – tricky one. Vader and Soontir are dangerous and i6, Whisper is unpredictable. All are capable of 4 red dice shots. I’ll have to see who I can get as opportunities arise.
Obstacles – Jason has brought rocks. I don’t care so much where the debris are but I can’t have Dash landed on rocks.
Deployment – Jake and Dash together, Ten further away. Jason has the bid and gives me first player so ALL my ships get placed first which isn’t very helpful.

Obstacles and ships go down and we are ready to begin.

My initial thought is to get Dash between the two rocks closest to my side and go up the middle to give me the best chance of shots on multiple targets. I’m expecting the flank with Soontir but provided I can smash some damage into the other two I’m ok with it for now.

Dash and Jake will both hard turn left (with Jake rolling left). Ten will just cruise forwards at Whisper and Vader. He’s there to die but to dole out some heavy hits before doing so. Ten turns hard left and rolls.

Annoyingly I didn’t get a screenshot of the first turn but Whisper and Vader both take rather non-committal moves while Soontir comes forwards.

Also, going back over screenshots to look at what move a ship makes is pretty easy. Except for TIE Phantoms. That is hard. Apologies in advance for any mistakes there.

Back to planning we go.

I decide to send Dash and Jake along my board edge rather than turn in just yet. Ten will hard turn right to face Jason’s ships again.

Whisper and Vader both hard turn away while Soontir comes straight forwards. Whisper’s manoeuvre following a decloak just barely clips the rock and Jason rolls a hit, meaning Whisper loses a shield and Stealth Device. Ouch.

No shots here, obviously and so it’s back to planning. Now, maybe I was naïve to presume the joust with Vader and Whisper but the early disengage rather changes my plan. If I hard turn and send Dash up the middle now Jason could hit Dash with all 3 ships. Meanwhile Ten is out on the edge a bit too far away to do scary things.

I set Dash and Jake both a 2 forwards while Ten will bank in and roll left to improve turning options in case Jason approaches aggressively.

Jason does not approach aggressively. All 3 of Jason’s ships go straight.

No shooting again but I have now driven Dash towards a rock which, while he can fly over it with no issues, landing on it means he can’t shoot. Which is bad. I’m sort of sure we won’t be taking meaningful shots next turn but Jason’s ships can go fast if they feel like it

Ten goes forwards and rolls right, Jake goes straight, boosting to pass Dash a focus. Dash banks right and rolls left to get off the rock.

Whisper decloaked forwards before hard turning and rolling away. Vader just goes 1 forwards while Soontir goes straight, rolls away and banks in.

At this points we still aren’t shooting and I’m reasonably certain that I’m ok-ish with the board positions. Ten can threaten Soontir or Whisper. Jake is behind Dash and Dash himself has one rock behind him and can go play in the debris is he wants to in the next couple of turns.

I do have one eye on Soontir though.

Back to dials then. Jake will hard turn, roll and boost to pass a focus to Dash. Ten banks right

Whisper turns in before Vader K-turns (JARGON ALERT!!) and Soontir swings around the rock to complete the flank.

Only Soontir has a shot and even then only just. It’s a range 3 obstructed shot on Ten and he neatly evades it.

Back to dials and this time it’s going to matter.

Ten needs to pick a target. Whisper or Soontir. I can’t decide where I think the interceptor will head so I pick Whisper, giving Ten a bank to the left so spread his arc. Jake will hard turn right but I misjudge the distance between Dash and the rock and a boost won’t fit so Jake gives himself a focus. Dash, assuming a fast manoeuvre from Whisper banks left to keep his side arc spread wide.

Whisper does NOT engage hard, banking and rolling right. Vader is similarly cautious and banks in slowly. Soontir comes in hard but not at Ten as I suspected, going left instead to try and get a shot at Dash

This time we have a couple more shots. Soontir fires at Dash but Dash escapes with no damage. Whisper shoots at Ten and knocks 2 shields off but Ten’s attempt at return fire is fruitless.

Annoyingly I’ve pointed Dash at the wrong thing AGAIN with another rock coming up. Looking at the distances I decide that nothing is going to clear it and so Jake will have to 3 bank to catch him and hand off a focus to make sure he can roll off it.

Ten is wary of Vader and so when facing a superior (in initiative) foe does the only thing he can. Goes 3 straight, roll and locks, hoping for a bump.

Dash does indeed land his bank on the rock and rolls off.

Whisper decloaks with a roll, hard turns right and focuses. Vader comes in and bumps Ten. Soontir banks away from the rock, decides that a tokenless Jake looks like a juicy target and rolls left and boosts to get Jake range 1 and in bullseye to pick up his free focus.

Soontir shoots and rolls 4 hits with the aid of his focus and a Predator reroll. Jake rolls a single evade, surviving by the skin of his teeth. Ouch.

Vader doesn’t have a shot so Whisper takes his at Ten Numb. This one isn’t so effective and he evades it.

Dash fires at Vader but the Sith Lord rolls the exact number of evades needed to escape unharmed. Neither Ten nor Jake have any shots.

Not a great turn there. Need to roll off the rock meant that Dash couldn’t take a lock on Vader which could have made a big difference.

Back to dials we go and now some decisions to make.

With Jake there’s a choice of safety or sacrifice. Does he fly to Dash, hand off a focus and accept his fate? Or try and arc dodge the Ace of Legend? I decide he needs to stick around and set a 1 hard right and then roll right.

With Ten it’s a matter of targets. Does he hard turn at Whisper? Or Talon/K-turn and stay on Vader? He already has a lock on Vader so it doesn’t take long to decide.

Dash banks, skirting the board edge and takes a focus.

Whisper banks in and rolls left, taking a focus. Vader and Soontir both hard turn right and focus.

Now the shooting begins.

Soontir fires at Dash but misses. Vader doesn’t however, getting 2 shields off Dash. Whisper rolls hit, hit crit at Ten who blanks out and takes a Console Fire.

Dash has missed arc on Soontir and and range on Whisper so takes his only shot into Vader at range 1 which he evades.

Ten’s Console Fire triggers and causes a damage (!) and he then takes his double tap at Vader but only gets 2 hits past those green dice. Jake again doesn’t have a shot and so the turn is over.

It’s looking rather grim. Jake on 1 health, Ten on 2 and while Dash is reasonably healthy, all I’ve managed to do is 2 shields on the ship with the least green dice. Oh, and the rock damage on Whisper.

Back to planning

Jake will hard turn left and boost to try and block Soontir. Ten banks, rolls and locks Soontir. Dash also banks and while I considered a 3 bank, in the end I go with a 2.

Whisper had decloaked with a roll right and then banks in, RIGHT into Dash’s face. Soontir bumps but Ten’s roll puts him in Soontir’s bullseye and so he still gets a focus.

Vader hard turns again and then, choosing violence, rolls right to get Dash in arc despite it putting him in Dash’s arc too.

This turn did not go great for me…

Soontir fired at Ten, landing a Loose Stabiliser crit, while Vader and Whisper managed to get 5 hits past Dash’s green dice, leaving him on just 3 hull.

In return, from 4 shots, I got 1 hit onto Soontir and 1 crit onto Vader (Blinded Pilot of all things…). Not. Great.

Time was running out but I think not fast enough to save me!

Back to dials we go and it’s just bad choice after bad choice.

Jake goes for the 5 straight to get in front of Vader, get close enough to Dash to hand off a focus and and hopefully make Vader bump but I’ve misjudged it and he smashes into the back of Vader.

Ten is on 1 hull with a Loose Stabiliser so he has to go straight and repair it.

Dash is in tourble but also needs to try and dish out some damage before going down so takes a 3 hard and a focus.

Whisper decloaks with a roll right, hard turns and focuses. Vader hard turns and focuses. Soontir goes 4 straight and rolls right to get a nice range 1 bullseye shot on Dash.

Soontir and Vader combine to kill Dash before he can take his shot at initiative 5.

Jake fires at Vader but does nothing.

Ten’s Console Fire triggers again and finishes his with a whimper.

Bad. Times.

With 2 mins left on the clock there will be 1 more turn. With Jake on just 1 health it really doesn’t look too good.

Now, I probably could try and fly away to preserve points but really, what’s the point? I decide to hard turn in, roll and boost, hoping to cause one of Jason’s ships to bump and save an incoming shot.

It doesn’t work out though and instead Jason manages to engineer a shot with everyone.

Somehow Jake manages to evade the shots from Soontir AND Vader but Whisper manages to sneak through that one last hit and Jake explodes before being able take a shot at anyone.

Result: 34 – 200 loss

The conclusion…

Ok, I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit torn about this game.

I actually really enjoyed the game, especially the puzzle of how to engage the aces at the beginning. I’m normally a bit more…impatient (direct? violent?!) and will usually try and engineer a direct approach to get started.

Ironically I was a bit more cautious here, trying to get Dash in a place to get 2 shots and preferably one double modded but, despite that caution, got pretty heavily smashed up.

I know that many people aren’t keen on dice stats being available in TTS and how it can skew people’s view of how games went. My general view on it is that I think that the raw numbers don’t really tell the full story and that you can get more by comparing the total dice each player rolled and how the dice match up in each attack (which you can do in Vassal using Lady Luck but not in TTS as far as I know). For example, in this game my dice were technically ‘more lucky’ (going by raw numbers) than Jason’s but he rolled significantly more red dice than I did.

Red player – Jason. Blue player – me.

By contrast, how it felt to me during the game is that Jason’s red dice were significantly hotter than mine and on more than one occasion he ended up with 4 hits/crits in a single attack, doing significqnt damage, while on my attacks he often managed to roll the exact number of evades/eyeballs needed to not take damage.

Looking at the dice stats helps me to get past that feeling bias and understand that while it may have felt like his dice were hotter than mine, the truth is that Jason’s positioning was excellent and as a result he got to roll a lot more red than me (as you can see in the screenshot), giving them a chance to do better.

Discussing the game afterwards I was trying to identify what I could have done better and, if I’m honest, I’m struggling to do so (not from an ‘I played it perfectly and dice screwed me over’ angle but from an ‘I just can’t see how?!’ one. Know what I mean?).

I think my cautious start got Dash into a reasonable position to try and get some double shots in but Jason did very well at preventing that while also getting shots himself.

Having gone back over each turn while writing this up it’s felt like fine margins have made a massive difference. Having to roll Dash off a rock when he could have locked Vader with that action could have made a difference but equally, I’ve definitely rerolled blanks into blanks before. Taking a 2 bank with Dash instead of a 3 meant that Whisper landed at range 1 of him but TIE Phantoms are hard to predict at the best of times. He could have gone anywhere!

The turn where Soontir got 3 hits onto Jake is what Jason thinks was the decisive turn. From there I would normally have sent Jake in to chase Dash but sitting on just 1 health made me play safer with him and abandon that plan. The following turn saw Soontir take a relatively neutral move from which he could have chased Jake (if he’d gone over to Dash) or pick another target which is what he did in the end.

I would genuinely like some comments about what I could have done differently in my general strategy here. I always want to learn from games I lose and aside from not trusting my dice I’m struggling with what to take away from this one!

Result aside I had a great time playing and it was good to catch up with Jason again. Thanks for the game!

I’m starting to wonder whether dropping Marksmanship from Ten to get another point of bid will help. Maybe I’ll try it next time. I’m certainly not done with this list. I do think that Dash is still a few points too expensive although some strong showings from Dash lists in the Lima Open just over a week ago perhaps suggests otherwise. Incidentally Jason Chong’s Dash build from the Lima Open looks very similar to what I was running a year ago and is making me want to try a loaded up Dash again now that there are more points for options of other ships.

Either way, I’m looking forward to another game next week!

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