Hello! Welcome to this week’s blog!
First of all, unless this is your first time reading my blog, you might notice there’s been a few changes!
When I set this blog up I already had some web hosting (from some old projects from years ago) and an available domain name (dylan-jones.co.uk) that I wasn’t doing anything with and since the web host had a nice easy auto-installer I botched together my jargon buster and my blog pages and all has (mostly) been well since then (except for when the site crashed or went offline plus the fact that it could be quite slow to load…).
Like I outlined a few weeks ago, the web hosting company got taken over by another company and when my renewal came through it was no longer ‘eeh, it’s fine’ sort of money (more like ‘it’s HOW MUCH NOW?!?’ sort of money) and so I needed to close the account and find a new place for the blog to live.
When I looked at changing to hosted wordpress I found that my existing domain name supplier had a deal and that even when the deal was done it was WAAAAY cheaper than what I had so it was a no brainer!
As a bonus, they threw in a free domain name and, since it’s a bit more star wars-y and on theme than just, well, my name, I decided to change it up!
I still own the old domain and have set it up to redirect to this new one (well, depending on when you’re reading this!) so if you find me by web search it should still be fine. If you keep a bookmark of the page though it might need updating! Over the next few weeks/months/whatever I might start looking into updating or changing the template I use for the site to make use of the Exile Squadron logo and squadron colours. It’ll also mean I might start putting Exile info or pages up at some point (tournaments for example) but who knows, let’s see how it goes eh?
Right, that’s it for updates, let’s get to some….more updates?
So yes, I’ve taken a 2 week hiatus while my site transferred. It’s also coincided with being on a holiday that we should have taken in January but had to change. We spent 4 days in Iceland and it was AWESOME. We saw geothermal pools, geysers, mountains, lakes, waterfalls and the northern lights and it was all incredible! If you can get there, I highly recommend it. If you live there, you are blessed!
While I was away there was a tournament at Firestorm Games in Newport (rude of them to do it without me, right!!) which was won by Miles Horry who had travelled from Swansea. It was our 3rd store tournament this year (not counting the doubles which wasn’t organised by us) and a visiting player has won each one! Looks like we might have to do some more next year to give us a chance!
Seriously though, I do want to thank everyone who has attended one of our tournaments in 2022, we’ve worked hard to organise and promote and our aim is always to give people lovely swag and lots of fun. This community is amazing and we want to do everything we can to keep people involved. We’ll be looking at 2023 events soon!
Speaking of which, I’m planning on going to Firestorm Cardiff’s Christmas store tournament this coming Saturday. There are a few tickets left if you’re at a loose end and fancy some pew pew!
And so on to this week. Do I have something to talk about?
The…. batrep?! (JARGON ALERT!!)
A little while ago I participated in a little endeavour by Connor Holmes to ‘Get Liam (Baker) to Worlds’ which was a sort extension/offshoot of the (incredibly amazing and wildly successful!) Isoplane initiative. I bought a raffle ticket and lo and behold, I was the first name pulled, winning a pair of 2019 Worlds dice!!
Not only that, but the top 8 names pulled out would be invited to a game of Ace High (played online on TTS) for a chance to win even more loot! (Namely Oliver Pocknell’s 2017 Worlds template set, the ones that he won 2019 Worlds with!).
After a little game of ‘when are we all available’, we landed on a date – Saturday the 3rd of December. Cool. Now I just needed to pick a ship to fly…
I have played precisely one game of Aces High, a TTS game hosted by Chris Burnett of Tin Squadron way back during 2020 some time. It was great fun and my not playing since then is more a question of opportunity than willing and since list building has changed significantly since then, I was somewhat unsure of what to do.
After getting back from holiday time was running short and it was definitely time to start thinking about it. As if to compound this, I neglected to think about what to fly until around 5 hours before the event, brainstorming a few ideas and throwing them together in Launchbay Next.
It was around 30 minutes before that I remembered that I hadn’t picked one.
So, rather hurriedly I looked at what I’d put together…
Now, I’d better outline how this iteration of Aces High would work (or, at least to my understanding while I was list building…. does that imply some sort of disastrous misunderstanding? Surely not? Right!?).
- Extended. No banned cards.
- Up to 7 squad points. No deficit scoring.
- Small base only (Because Firesprays)
- Bring 1 obstacle
With how 2.5 works I decided to use the full 7 or at least 6 points. I wanted to go high-ish initiative and all too late I realised that I didn’t know whether or not charges came back once you died. Just in case I decided not to lean on upgrades with charges, just in case…
Option 1 – Rebel
Luke Skywalker (6)
Heightened Perception (3)
Debris Gambit (6)
R3 Astromech (4)
Shield Upgrade (8)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)
Ship Cost: 6 Loadout: (21/22) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3
Whatever the situation, Luke’s a decent, solid ship. Mostly modded with the Force because of his ability, the Debris Gambit allows him to evade if needs be and the R3 means he doesn’t have to limit his shooting options. Heightened perception prevents initiative kills. In theory.
Option 2 – Imperial
Darth Vader (7)
Passive Sensors (5)
Shield Upgrade (8)
Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (21/21) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3
Similar to Luke, Passive Sensors means you can pick a target after moving and Malice helps deal crits as well as potential force regen. Hate for the added regen!
Option 3 – Republic
Anakin Skywalker (Delta-7b) (7)
Heightened Perception (3)
Brilliant Evasion (2)
Spare Parts Canisters (3)
Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (12/15) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 3
‘A Vader by any other name would be as sweet’. Look, this build is particularly defensive which, in all honesty, isn’t how best to play Aces High (in my opinion). Still, it could be fun?
Option 4 – Scum
Fenn Rau (7)
Homing Torpedoes (5)
Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (18/18) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2
And so yes, this option was effectively the polar opposite. Fenn wants to burn bright but burn out fast. He’ll dive in, punch someone in the face. Hard. Then die. Although maybe he’d just die. Who knows?!
Now there are PLENTY of other options I could have taken if I’d put more thought into it. Do I regret not doing that? Well, I’ll get into that in a bit.
By now we had loaded up the table and I still hadn’t picked.
I slightly panicked.
I went with the familiar. The comfy slippers. The safety blanket.
Yes, boring old Rebel-loving me went for Luke.
As we set up 8 players around the table (not a simple task!) I begin to realise some things.
- This table is a shark tank.
- I should have read the rules document properly because
- I’ve made HUGE mistakes in list building.
Let me explain…
First of all 1. I know or know of most people playing in the game. Chris Burnett (‘Commander'(?) of Tin Squadron), Gary Colton (previously Irish XTC captain), Tim King (English XTC regular and Sith Taker), Chrispy (Chris Patrick, multi GSP Galaxies event winner) and Oli Pocknell (reigning world champion. For a little while longer at least!). There’s also Tom Candlin and the mysteriously named ‘Ladrion’ who I don’t know.
Now, I didn’t go into this game with any big ambition of winning or anything. If anything, I’m just looking to avoid making an idiot of myself. As you’ll see in a moment, that’s going to be a little harder than I’d hoped.
Point 2 then. What became apparent once it was all too late to change what I was flying was that I definitely should have done more than scan read the rules document. We would be ROAD rolling by elimination to find a first player. Once we had one we would be ignoring initiative and player order would be rotating clockwise each turn.
Also, my assumptions on banned/excluded cards were misplaced so things like Lone Wolf (which I’m aware is sometimes banned in Aces High) were fine to use. Great.
Which leads me on to point 3. My lack of knowledge/understanding of the rules has screwed my list building. Initiative doesn’t matter at all. Lone Wolf is fine to use. Charges get reset when you die and you’re better off getting blown up or trading shots (since your ship is guaranteed to shoot once the turn starts) than dodging damage.
Having had time to reflect on this (and how the game went), I think I’d have been better off going for something like this:
Fenn Rau (7)
Lone Wolf (5)
Ship Cost: 7 Loadout: (18/18) Half Points: 3 Damage Threshold: 2
Passive mods to be used in offence and burners (which you can use freely since they reset when you die) to get in people’s faces. Roll up, smash face, die, repeat.
Anyway, it was too late to change anything now, on with the game!
After a few rolls of gold dice we found a first player – me!
My initial joy turned to disappointment when I realised that would mean I placed first. The first 6 players (clockwise, starting with me) put down obstacles, scattered amongst the hyperspace markers where players could respawn.
We could deploy anywhere within range 1 of the board edge but outside range 2 or any other ship meaning that I’d get free reign to go where I like. I picked the side close to where my cards were laid out for real reason other than that, plus the fact that there weren’t any obstacles directly in front of me.
My concern began to grow when first Tim and then Chris Burnett placed near to me, slightly angled in at me.
Now, once everyone had placed we were ready to begin.
Now, you’ll remember that I said I had no great ambition to win, right? But that I also didn’t want to make a fool of myself? Well, that second one didn’t last too long….
With Tim and Chris both able to turn in on me and with the potential to do some serious damage, I decided to take what can only be described as somewhat drastic measures.
From the board edge, I did a talon roll to the left. I was anticipating Tim’s FO Bomber coming in at me and since I’d be moving first I could block and maybe prevent some damage.
What I failed to consider two things. Firstly, that blocking isn’t as effective as it used to be. Yes, you’d have thought that 9 months of 2.5 would have taught me that by now. Secondly, that even if I did get the block, blocking an FO Bomber loaded with bombs that can boost in the systems phase is NOT a good idea. And yes, I’ve had that done to me before too.
What makes it worse/more stupid/more funny? Tim systems phase boosted left and then moved in at Anakin, leaving me with nothing to shoot, stressed and facing the board edge with only the Force for mods.
Thankfully, that meant that only Chris (flying Poeverdrive) was able to shoot me and he took a shield.
The next hurdle? Turning.
I dialled in a 1 bank towards Poe, closing s-foils in case I could boost (which I couldn’t) so I took an R3 lock instead.
In all, it took me until turn 3 to actually shoot someone. Cool.
Once I did though, I made it count. Tom’s Quickdraw had come in to the area and the double tapping play was certainly interesting with Tom happy to be shot at since it increased his chances of killing things.
My poor old Luke inevitably died but not before taking out Ladrian’s Anakin, getting 2 points for the kill and picking up an extra one since Anakin was carrying a bounty.
After respawning just off to the left of where I’d died, I needed to try and score some more points with an eye on Oli’s Whisper who was limping badly and carrying a bounty.
Ladrian had the same idea though and, being the player just ahead of me, managed the kill shot on Oli on the last turn, adding enough to his tally to pick up the win with a total of 6!
I took my shot at Ladrian and picked up a ‘First Blood’ point, moving me to 4 in total and making me joint 3rd after Chris B had managed to pick up some late points to take him to 5.
If you’re interested in watching the game then you can view it on Oli’s Twitch channel here.
First of all, I want to thank Conor for arranging this game and, I suppose, for the whole raffle to raise funds to get Liam to Worlds. The game itself was REALLY fun and reminded me just how great Aces High is as a format. Might be worth arranging something locally….
As for the game? Well, while there may or may not be value in analysing the fine details of this game, I think there is value in looking at things from slightly further back.
Firstly, I put my hands up to the lack of preparation. Time got away from me and if I’d had time to check on what I could/couldn’t use and paid more attention to the document which VERY CLEARLY told me that initiative was going to be irrelevant, maybe I could have done a little better. Maybe.
Secondly, I will admit, I got a little flustered. Which is bizarre and a bit silly given this was essentially a fun friendly game. I overthought my first move and missed opportunities to score points as a result. Did that stop me from doing better? Who knows. If I hadn’t been where I was to shoot Ladrian I may not have scored the points that I did so it’s hard to say really. The point stands though that I should have maybe thought a bit more about my initial deployment and reacted to other player’s deployments with less panic when it came to planning the first turn.
Anyway, it was a great game, a really fun experience and I had a brilliant time.
That’s it from me for now. I’ll be back next week but will it be with tournament batreps? We’ll have to see!
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