Slave(r) Labour

The intro/recap

If you’ve not been following my blogs over the last few weeks let me catch you up.

When the lockdown began an online tournament was arranged by Steve Boulton, one of the guys from Vagabond Squadron based in Bristol. We’d only met at this year’s System Open when he had been paired up against my son Cai. We got to chatting and he had actually bought a ticket for the (now rearranged) store championship that had been scheduled in Firestorm Newport for the end of this month.

I’d been invited to join in and, despite not having played X-Wing online before, had taken up the offer since actual games would be very few and far between for the foreseeable future.

Vagabond Open Week 3

I realise there’s not much mystery in what faction my list is from when I’ve started mentioning it in the title so I guess the story is more about how I got there.

So do you remember last week when I talked about maybe trying to find an archetype or ship in a faction that’s a bit familiar to me to minimise the impact of lack of preparation or practice? How it would be a good idea to find a list early and then get some practice in on fly Casual?

Well I did none of that.

I’d settled on Scum as my faction quite early on in the week. I was initially looking at a list I’d been told about which was 7 Mining Guild TIEs and an M3-A with tractor beam. I played it a couple of times on Fly Casual, starting with a loss but winning a game or two with it once I’d figured out the best way to approach with the M3-A and using the tractor beam to reduce the agility of something and then pepper it with shots from the TIEs.

It was interesting.

I think an experienced swarm player would have a lot of fun and success with it. But I’m not an experienced swarm player.

I also looked at a well known list of Torkil Mux in a HWK-290 with the Moldy Crow title, Captain Seevor in a Mining Guild TIE and then 3 Cartel Marauders in Khiraxz fighters. The idea is that you aim for a single target, reduce its initiative to 0 with Torkil, Jam any tokens off it with Seevor and then hammer it with the Khiraxz.
I played it twice and lost with it twice. I think it doesn’t suit my play style (i.e. I didn’t play it right) so didn’t really fancy that.

A few days passed and now with the kids technically on Easter break (rather than being ‘in school’ at home) my week was looking a little different. Thoughts of X-Wing and lists faded as I started working on some projects around the house and no more practice got done.

Wednesday came and the pairings were published. I would be flying against Huw Davies, another new person! We got in touch and arranged a time to play. Maybe it was time to decide on a list!

It didn’t cross my mind to switch from Scum but I wasn’t 100% sold on either list that I’d tried so far. I thought about taking my own advice and perhaps looking at multiple Y-Wings since I’ve flown rather a lot of them over the last 18 months. Again life got rather in the way and the decision was pushed to the back of my mind.
It was suddenly brought back to the front of my mind by a message from Ian Franklin, following up on a comment he’d made on last week’s blog. He’d put together a ‘fun list’ with 3 YV-666’s and encouraged me to give it a go. He’d now tried it and it had gone rather well, getting a quite convincing win. I asked how he’d flown it and a few other details.

On a bit of a whim and with zero games (ever!) with YV-666’s or any scum ship in fact (other than those that cross over with Rebels of course), I thought ‘ah, why not!’ and decided to play using it.

Here’s the full list:

Trandoshan Slaver (52)
Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 6

Trandoshan Slaver (52)
Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 6

Trandoshan Slaver (52)
Ship total: 52 Half Points: 26 Threshold: 6

Hired Gun (32)
Crack Shot (1)
Dorsal Turret (3)
R4 Astromech (2)
Proximity Mines (6)

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

The idea is to bump things. Lots. My time on target is pretty good since every ship has a 180 degree arc and while repositions and turning around are off the table hopefully the high health will allow me to get enough time to get shots in to kill stuff.

The Batrep (JARGON ALERT!!)

In a bit of a rush to get online in time (because what does bed time even mean to kids when there’s no school on?!) I ‘met up’ (virtually) with Huw with absolutely zero preparation and we set up the game.

Huw was taking the opportunity to fly ships in volume that he doesn’t own and had gone with 5 generic Belbullabs, one with the title and the the others with Crack Shot.

Skakoan Ace (38)
Soulless One (6)

Ship total: 44 Half Points: 22 Threshold: 4

Skakoan Ace (38)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Skakoan Ace (38)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Skakoan Ace (38)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Skakoan Ace (38)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 39 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

Definitely interesting. Them being highly manoeuvrable could be an issue. Them being initiative 3 and so effectively all aces could be as well.

We placed obstacles and then I placed all my forces – 2 YV’s on the outside of the obstacles, one just in from that (so as not to hit it) and the Y-Wing in between (who would bank in behind the single Slaver).

Huw set up his ships in the opposite corner. Hmmm. Bumping things would be tricky if he got around behind me.

With everything set up, we began.

I sent the Trandoshan Slavers all 4 forwards and the Y-Wing a 1 bank right to get in behind. Huw’s shipped all went forwards and straight boosted.

Of course no shooting this turn but it already looked like Huw was going to weave the nimble ships through the obstacles and get the flank although the 180 degree arcs would help. First mistake here, taking a focus with the Y-Wing instead of turning the turret. What’s the point of dorsal turret facing forwards when you don’t have VTG!! (JARGON ALERT!!).

Turn 2 and I was now having to consider an engagement of some sort this turn.

I set the central Trandoshan Slaver to 1 forwards (to get around the asteroid better next turn) while the other 2 would bank in. The Y-Wing would go 1 forwards to start getting into position to drop a Proximity Mine between the 2 asteroids in a couple of turns time.

Huw’s Skakoan Aces all banked in and boosted (except the one who had started adrift of the pack who took a focus)

None of Huw’s ships had any shots but, thanks to the 180 degree arc, the closest Slaver just about had a shot but at range 3 and no damage went through.

Back to virtual dials we go. I set the rightmost Slaver a 3 hard turn with the other 2 taking banked turns. All 3 either bumped, went over a gas cloud or did both those things. One ended up with a Strain token but were otherwise unscathed. The Y-Wing took a 2 hard left ready to drop a Prox Mine in between the asteroids next turn and took a focus.

Huw’s Belbullabs shot forwards, 2 of them barrel rolling into linked focus with the Y-Wing their primary target.

The shooting bagan and it was a little bit brutal. The closest Ace to the Y-Wing got just one hit in spite of the focus. As the shooting continued though the Y-Wing’s health dropped and dropped and then the furthest Ace, the one on the gas cloud with a range 3 obstructed shot, rolled 3 hits and the Y-Wing blanked out.

He wasn’t dead but on just 1 health left, he was certainly to be short lived.

Another mistake became apparent as I found that the Y-Wing had no shot. The only ship in arc was outside of the turret’s range. Had I moved the turret to the rear instead of the side 2 turns ago I’d have a lovely shot but it was not to be.

The YV’s opened fire but between them all they managed was to remove shields from one of the Aces.

So now what?!

In the Systems phase the Y-Wing dropped a Prox Mine (though I’d initially forgotten, Huw very graciously allowed me to drop it). The Slavers started turning and the bumping started. Unfortunately I was mostly bumping into myself. No actions again though.

Huw’s Aces began moving. The undamaged Ace blasted straight over the mine, taking 2 shields in it’s pursuit of the Y-Wing. The second followed now the path was clear. The other 3 Belbullabs turned in tight to try and get the Slavers in arc.

Not the bumps I had been wanting when the game started

The Y-Wing was obliterated in the first shot by the Ace that had only that ship in arc. This left the other to shoot at the rear Slaver which it did and duly took 3 shields from it. Ouch.

The shots continued and the 2 furthest Aces poured fire into the middle Slaver, dropping 3 shields. The bumped Ace took the only shot it had and put a Weapons Failure crit into the back Slaver. Great.

Now it was my turn to get some revenge. The 2 Slavers who were able to, fired at the bumped Ace and between them got 5 hits on. My initial relief and joy was short lived when I realised it was the Ace with the title, meaning it still had 2 health left. Poop.

My last shot was with the middle Slaver who took a single shield off the furthest Ace.


So now I have a choice to make. Keep turning and bumping or send all my ships forwards and try to regroup.

With hindsight I believe my choice was the wrong one.

I set all 3 ships to 4 forwards. What I forgot to consider was that 2 of them would cross over gas clouds denying them an action. I rolled for the gas clouds. Both hits. Of course. So 2 strains for them then. The last one took a reinforce to rear to try and minimise the damage.

The Aces started turning around with 2 in close to my ships while the others were the other side of the asteroid.

No shots for me of course so I was just bracing for the incoming pain.

The furthest Aces fired first and even with the reinforce the Slaver was reduced from 8 hull to 4. The leftmost Ace couldn’t resist the range 1 shot into the strained middle Slaver and reduced it from 9 hull to 6. Brutal.

The timer had gone off during the start of this turn so there would be 2 turns left. Would I be able to get anything? at the moment I had got half points on the Belbullab with the title but on 3 others I’d only taken shields which didn’t put them at half points. It wasn’t looking good.

I had to start turning to try and get some shots in.

I set all 3 ships to do a hard 3 to the right and see what I could get arc on. The middle Slaver bumped but the other 2 were able to take reinforce.

The Aces started swarming in on my ships. Huw targeted the straggling Slaver with 4 of his ships while the fifth placed itself in between it and another. He only had a focus with one of them though. Maybe it would all be ok?

It was sort of ok.

The Separatists opened fire focusing down on the lone Slaver. Three of them were in the rear arc and so had to contend with the reinforce and only one had a focus as the took it from 4 health down to 2 remaining. Slightly frustrated at not being able to remove it this turn the closest Ace took the range 1 shot on the middle Slaver instead and, even without the aid of a Lock, took 2 health from it, reducing it to 4.

In return I only had the one shot. I had to decide between the 2 health Ace at range 2 or the 4 health Ace at range 1. If it wasn’t for the Weapons Failure crit I’d have fired at the one closest to being destroyed but I didn’t fancy my chances with 2 dice and no mods. I fired at the Ace and rolled crit, hit, eyeball. Huw rolled blanks and drew a Wounded Pilot crit.

Time for the last turn and it isn’t looking good. I’ve got 2 of the opposition ships to half and another 2 just 1 health away from half. I’ve not looked at points but I’m pretty sure it’s all over anyway.

I send the front Slaver another 3 hard and focus. The middle Slaver also goes 3 hard and bumps the front one. I give the rear Slaver a red stop, hoping that something bumps into it to prevent the odd incoming shot.

Huw totally forgot that the YV’s could do stops but manages to put 2 ships in position to target it while two of the others can target my other 2 ships. The Ace with Wounded Pilot tries to move to safety.

The firing begins and it’s just brutal.

The rear Slaver dies to the first shot. The middle Slaver then dies from focused fire of the other 3 ships.

My last remaining Slaver tries to claw back some points by taking the range 2 shot on the Ace with the title but blanks out. And with that, the game is over.

The lonely Salver


Time to review. Did it go terribly? Well, yes. The final result was a 42-148 loss. Not close at all. While we discussed the game afterwards Huw felt that some of his dice results had been fortuitous but, in fairness, I’d rolled in defence of a couple of range 3 obstructed shots and got 3 natural evades more than once. The early loss of the Y-Wing hurt me and denying myself actions on the YV-666’s with repeated bumps and gas clouds meant ym damage output was not what it could have been.

I’d say the match up wasn’t fantastic for me. The Belbullabs are nippy little things and placing my whole list before Huw had meant he could just totally nope out of a joust without any disadvantage in terms of positioning and approach me on his own terms. That said, I think with some reps with this list I think I could come up with some sort of way to leverage things to my advantage.

And there lies the problem.

Due to the nature of this tournament (i.e. having to use a different faction for each game) I will NEVER be able to get reps in to be good with this list. Actually, that’s not true. I could totally do that. But not for this tournament. In fact, the chances of me playing a Scum list again are very VERY slim. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the game or this ships, the fact is, I don’t own any and am unlikely to buy into it.

This does highlight something about me that I already knew. I need reps. I am totally unable to just pick up any old list and play it well. And that’s ok. Yes, I could say that after over 2 and a half years of playing this game I should be able to fly any ship or archetype and be good with it and actually, if I had the time and inclination to do that then yes, I’m sure I’d be MUCH better at the game than I am.

But that’s not what I want from this game.

I’m in this because I love Star Wars, because it’s something I can do with my son, because the models are cool and because the people that I can play it with are amazing.

Winning or losing are almost incidental.

That said, I don’t always feel that way in the immediate aftermath of a game. There are times I come away from a game thinking ‘why do I even bother?’ or ‘why am I so bad at this now?!’. I’ve learned over the years that it’s ok to have feelings. What’s not ok is to immediately react (or overreact) to them and especially to do so in the direction of other people. Be honest with yourself, be kind to yourself and, if needs be, take a break from it. Or even just from trying to develop a super awesome broken domination list that destroys all before it. Take the time to have some fun with it. That’s why we started, right?

Anyway, that’s enough analysis for today. I should start thinking about what ridiculous list I can use in my next game. Heck, if I get my act together early enough I might even get some practice with it!

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!