Taking the Sith

or How to Write Obvious Titles

The intro…

Over the last few months I have been mostly feeding my X-Wing habit by playing in the Vagabond Open series of tournaments arranged by the rather fabulous Steve Boulton. I have very much enjoyed the experiences that it’s given me and the people that I’ve met through being involved. I’ve played against several renowned players and spoken to the world champion. I even played on stream. Twice.

However when the opportunity of being involved in the third tournament arose I (eventually) decided not to take part. This was for two reasons.

Firstly, I’m a little weary of playing factions I don’t know. I can’t say that I ever join a tournament expecting (or even hoping!) to win it but I certainly don’t aim to be last. What has been highlighted to me over the last few months is that there are factions and ships that I’m not familiar (or good) with and while the challenge of building lists with these has definitely helped me as a player, I’m ready to go find a list I like and play it a few times in a row.

Secondly (and more importantly), my local store championship is coming up and I needed to start thinking about it! It’s on the 8th of August, just a few weeks away, and I needed to find a list I like, that I can actually get hold of (like, physically) and get some reps in with it.

Also with quarantine winding down and places opening back up I will be returning to work soon and my ability to commit to games will start to reduce. It wasn’t going to be possible to commit to 7 weeks of the Vagabond tournament AND get reps with a Hyperspace legal list all while rebalancing life again once back in work.

That said, when the pairing started going up last week and people were posting trying to find their opponents I felt a pang of regret strong enough to consider jumping in when Steve announced that a space had opened up.

I resisted. I’m still telling myself it was the right choice.

So with a Vagabond shaped hole in my schedule, where will these reps come from?

Enter the Sith Takers.

I had almost joined the Sith Taker league several weeks ago when first announced but as I’ve mentioned before I couldn’t commit to more than one game a week and it would have overlapped with the second Vagabond Open.

I contacted the Sith Takers (I think it was Ben I was talking to?!) who said I could join when season 2 started but it would be from the bottom (which suits me fine, it’s where I’ll probably end up anyway!). In the mean time, if I was interested, I could enter the knockout tournament.


I had a think about whether to enter and what I’d fly. I’ve got a store champs coming up in a few weeks and, while I haven’t settled on a list, I’ve got a fair idea of what to take. I need the reps.

Another consideration is the platform. I’m comfortable enough with Vassal now with roughly 15 or so games under my belt. TTS is a different matter though and the Sith Taker league will be running on it.

Best case I do alright and get some reps with a possible list for the store champs, worst case I get another chance to become more familiar with TTS and get to play more X-Wing, possibly against someone I don’t yet know.

It’s a no brainer really, I’m in.

I now have a deadline for picking a list which happens before the first pairings are made.

It’s not too tough a decision though as I’m around 80% sure I want to take the 5SF list to Cardiff (even though I’ll be needing to borrow every component!). Over the two Vagabond tournaments it’s a list I’ve appreciated the consistency and simplicity of and I think it’s a better list than the 5X option I’d been looking at taking before lockdown simply because of rear arcs and the optics/fanatical combo. Yes the X-Wings have an extra red die but if you bump (granted, only against lower initiatives but still..) or need to red turn to keep guns on target then the reliability of those dice drops off a cliff. The SF’s fly like X-Wings, defend like X-Wings, don’t need to do red turns to stay on target and once Fanatical triggers then you’re virtually guaranteeing 2 hits every time you shoot.

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Omega Squadron Expert (34)
Fanatical (2)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=First%20Order&d=v8ZhZ200Z285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWWY285X181W186WWWW&sn=5%20SF’s%20(HS)&obs=gascloud1,gascloud2,gascloud5

I build the list in YASB and submit it.

Now I just wait and see who I’m paired with!

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

My wait wasn’t very long, with the pairing starting the day after I’d made my list decision. The tournament has 100 players so no byes at this point (which is good, it’s table time I’m interested in, not advancement) and I was delighted to find I’d been paired with someone I didn’t already know – Martin Purves.

We got in touch and arranged to play our game on the Thursday evening. This is perfect for me because it allows me prep time for the game and writing time afterwards before BLOG TUESDAY comes around.

What’s interesting about how this tournament works is that you set your list and stick with it (as you would with a real life tournament). This is published once pairings go live and so, for the first time (for me), I could see what list my opponent is running and work out how to fly against it.

I logged in to TTT (JARGON ALERT!!) and searched up Martin’s list.

Norra Wexley (55)
Intimidation (3)
“Zeb” Orrelios (1)

Ship total: 59 Half Points: 30 Threshold: 5

Jake Farrell (36)
Crack Shot (1)

Ship total: 37 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 2

Wedge Antilles (55)
Crack Shot (1)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 56 Half Points: 28 Threshold: 3

Thane Kyrell (48)
Servomotor S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z77X122WW65WWWY50X116WWY5X116WWWW142Y9XWWWW142&sn=Unnamed%20Squadron&obs=

Ooof. Rebel Beef (JARGON ALERT!!). I like Rebels, I know rebels. At least I’m not having to go and look up what everything does. Norra is tanky with an added evade result when enemy ships are at range 1. With Zeb and Intimidation on there I do NOT want to be anywhere near her. Wedge is just Wedge and should be avoided. Jake is slippery and Thane will start flipping damage cards when possible.

Looking at it, I actually quite like the list and wonder why I’ve never thought to put Zeb and Intimidation on Norra myself.

Anyway, I load up both lists in Fly Casual and try it out. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I’m trying to re-adjust how I use Fly Casual and what weight I put on results. In my first go against the list I targeted Norra first. It went poorly. Norra didn’t die in the first engagement at range 3 and then then continued to not die at the second engagement at range 1. All the while pumping out 3 dice shots. Focused fire meant that an SF dropped in each of those turns and so my return fire was getting gradually worse. 4 natural hits/crits from Wedge in two successive turns weren’t helping but the writing was on the wall.

Ok, lesson learned. Ignore Norra to start with.

New objective. Kill Wedge.

It’s rather obvious that Wedge is a priority since his pilot ability is very harmful, especially if he gets into range 1 of something.

I tried again, taking out Wedge first, then putting distance between my ships and Norra to chip away at her 9 health. This worked much better. Ok, the plan is there in principle. Whether I can manage it against a real person, that’s going to be the challenge.

Thursday evening rolls around and we get the game set up. Martin has created the room (thankfully!) and I join and spawn my squad. We place obstacles and ships and when we are ready to start the board is set like this:

Yes, TTS is a little more tricky to clearly see the screenshots. Sorry.

It’s worth noting at this point about the position of a couple of obstacles. Martin places both the one in the very middle and the one to its left. Ideally I wanted to deploy down the middle but the position of that middle cloud made it a poor option. I deployed in a block on the left because I want to turn in to face ships (since Jake is almost certainly turning in to run away) and the line of obstacles up the right makes that a worse choice.

I also don’t want to move over obstacles if I can help it since having a focus to activate optics is a big part of my strategy.

For placement Martin has put my priority target (Wedge) in the opposite corner of the board while putting the tankiest ship (Norra) in the way.

Martin has made good turn 0 choices. I feel like I’m at a disadvantage already and we haven’t set dials yet. He’s clearly a good player.

In order to clear obstacles and get stuck in, I set all ships to 5 forwards.

Martin turns Jake away while Norra banks in towards my ships. Thane and Wedge start to position on the flank but Wedge’s banked boost shows me that he isn’t sending him the really long way around.

Obviously there’s nobody in range and so we go back to planning.

I’m expecting everyone to start to turn in with Norra leading. I still need to get around that second gas cloud though so it’s 3 forwards for my SF’s.

Martin banks Jake, rolls him to give Norra a focus before Norra then banks in and just about scrapes a lock on the closest SF. Thane angles in while Wedge goes on further around the next gas cloud.

Norra is the only pilot with a shot and fires at the locked SF, managing to take 2 shields. Not a great start. At least that ships is closer to triggering Fanatical I guess…

Back to planning we go. This is definitely not going to be the first proper engagement that I’d have liked. Norra is going to be front and center with the X-Wings pitching in as well.

Still, the only other option is to 5 straight which limits my options in further turns so turning in and trying to take something down is the way forwards. Not a great way but it’s what I have. 2 turn and focus for everyone.

Martin sends his ships in with Norra getting a focus from Jake and the X-Wings settling for ranged shots.

Martins ships begin to fire. The Red SF, only on 4 health anyway, goes down and the blue SF loses a shield.

Only 1 of my ships has Wedge in range and so, despite REALLY not wanting to, everyone fires on Norra. On top of the free evade she gets on each shot Martin’s green rolls are hot and Norra ends up taking just 2 damage.

2 shields for 1 ship and 1 shield on my SF’s. Really not a very good trade. At this point I feel like the game is done. I need to try and do some damage.

I set the blue, yellow and brown SF’s to move forwards. I give green a 1 bank in the hope that it blocks Norra who I suspect will shuffle forwards to shoot from the rear arc.

Martin bumps Jake into Norra to keep him where he is before Norra pulls out a 4-k (JARGON ALERT!!). Damn.

Assuming faster moves from my ships, Thane Tallon -rolls while Wedge 1 banks, sitting him squarely in 3 arcs.

To try and reduce incoming fire Wedge fires on the yellow SF and strips a shield. Martin is too tempted by the range 1 shot on green but the unmodded shot does nothing.

I return fire and am really wishing that I’d sent the green SF forwards and not the bank as the other 3 SF’s strip Wedge’s shields and put 3 hits onto his hull, crucially failing to get that last hit to finish him off.

With green I decide to take the shot at Thane since Norra will have a free evade and I’ve already spent the focus on defence for optics. 1 hit lands.

A better turn for me but I feel that Wedge not dying is going to cost me.

Planning again. I didn’t really take the time to fully consider where Martin might move his forces this turn. I sent all SF’s forwards. Yes, even the green one. I’m sure I had a reason at the time but what that reason was escapes me at the moment.

Martin moves Jake a hard 3 and then bank boosts in to get the range 1 bullseye on the yellow SF. Norra takes the blue 2 forwards to clear stress while Thane does the same with a 1 bank which bumps. Wedge does a 4-K which, for some reason, I never saw coming and manages to evade ALL my arcs. Damn.

Wedge, Norra and Jake focus on the 5 health yellow SF and, inevitably, wipe it out. Thane takes a shot at his only viable target and misses.

In return fire green fires at Norra (the only ship in arc) and, since she has the brown SF at range 1, doesn’t land any damage. With yellow gone blue and brown focus on Jake and manage to strip his shields.

Back to dials we go. I’m losing ships far too quickly here. This is not good.

Full board status – I’m down 2 ships but of my remaining 3, two are full and one has lost 1 shield. For Martin he has Wedge on just 1 health left, Jake is halved while Norra has lost 2 shields and Thane has lost 1. I have to get rid of Wedge, do something to Than and try to get some distance from Norra to get damage in on her.

Easy, right?

All my ships get hard turns to the right, time to leverage these rear arcs.

Martin banks Jake towards green, Norra shuffles forwards and Thane banks left (with foils closed) before doing a focus linked boost to try and chase blue. Wedge then banks to clear stress and rolls right to get brown into his arc.

This is where some nonsense starts to happen. Wedge fires on brown but misses. Thane doesn’t have blue in arc. All good so far.

Then Norra and Jake fire on the green SF and proceed to roll the maximum possible damage while I roll double blank, twice. The crit that Jake lands is direct hit. Norra and Jake just totally wiped out a full health SF.

This is definitely not going to plan. Blue fires at Thane but nattie (JARGON ALERT!!) evades from Martin save him from any damage. Brown fires and, finally, thankfully, Wedge dies.

Right. What now?!

Jake will need to go and turn around but I have a choice to make. Try and focus fire on Thane (since blue is a bit far from Norra) or fire at 2 targets? Brown’s position in relation to the bottom right gas cloud means I’d either have to do the 1 hard turn (which is red) or hit the gas cloud. With Norra breathing down my neck I’m not keen on taking a 4 dice shot so it’s big bank turns for both ships.

Jake starts to turn around while Norra and Thane both turn to chase their respective targets.

Sorry, forgot the screenshot this round. Here’s Baby Yoda instead.

With no screenshot for reference, what I recall is that I took a little damage on both SF’s while putting 1 onto Norra and 3 onto Thane (getting half points).

Time is not on my side and neither are the odds. I’m not giving up but I’m realistic about my chances here. I think that finishing Thane without losing any more health will put me ahead so I decide that some ‘hail Mary’ moves are required.

I hard turn both SF’s, hoping to catch Thane in both and that Norra will bank the other way to chase where brown had been headed.

Jake finishes turning around but is still too far out to do anything. Norra banks but, seeing where brown is, barrel rolls and catches it in arc at range 1. Thane banks in and, seeing blue’s position, rolls out of arc while keeping blue in his.

Thane fires and puts blue to half points. Norra fires and, even unmodded, destroys the brown SF.

Now left on his own and robbed of arc on Thane, blue fires on Norra and puts another single damage through.

We’re back to dials and, despite not being able to win any more I want to play out the game. I set my lonely SF a hard left turn.

Jake hard turns and boosts, Norra hard turns and Thane? Well, with the game in the bag, Martin gives Thane a rather risky 4-K which puts him just off the board edge. Just.

I suggest we roll to decide if it’s on or off but Martin removes the ship and says it’s fine. Had the game been in the balance he would have gone for the Talon-roll instead.

No screenshot for the rest of the positions though, sorry!

I can’t remember the rolls, I suspect that nobody actually had anyone in arc anyway.

The time goes just after we go to planning and so this is now the final round. I can’t win but I could try and scrape a little more MoV (JARGON ALERT!!), not that it matters in a knockout tournament!

I just shuffle my SF forwards while Jake and Norra both angle in towards it.

They both fire, they both miss. He survives!! One more hit onto Norra will give me the consolation prize of half points but, having spent my focus to survive I roll eyeball and blank. I turn the eyeball to a hit with Fanatical but Norra, typically, evades it and the game ends in a bit of a whimper.

The final score is 123 – 180

The conclusion…

Even after a couple of days and writing this game up, I’m undecided on how I feel about it.

It started out badly (which was a combination of my fault and great deployment by Martin) and then picked up and then went badly again. Every time I felt I was catching up, I lost another ship (or went to half on one) and went behind again. The final score wasn’t as close as the game had felt at some points but considering that I was positioned poorly I feel that I did ok overall. Yes, I still lost but I hadn’t really expected to win the game (hoped, certainly, but not expected!).

Looking back over the game I felt very much like the dice variance had made an impact. Losing a full health SF to two shots feels incredibly unfortunate. I didn’t realise that you could bring up dice stats in TTS but thankfully Martin knew how. I took a screenshot but it’s a little hard to read so I tabulated it.

I was quite surprised to see that it all looked reasonably average. Martin rolled higher than average crits but less than average hits and eyeballs to balance it out. My red dice were also fairly average. In terms of green dice Martin was slightly above average but not massively (thoughI don’t thikn it takes into account the extra evade results for Norra since they aren’t rolled). My greens were a little below average but not significantly.

What IS significant though is the overall number. I rolled almost exactly HALF the number of red dice than Martin and therefore, even with average results, he was simply doing more damage than I was. It also speaks of his positioning, the fact that he almost always has shots and many of them were at range 1.

I also feel like, while the results seem balanced, the individual match ups of the dice (which, when using Lady Luck on Vassal matches, I can look back on) were not in my favour, thinking particularly on the full health SF I lost to two incoming shots.

It was nice to have a bit of a chat with Martin afterwards. I want to say thanks again for the game and I wish you well in the rest of the tournament. Maybe we’ll even be able to play in person some day!

I think I’ve learned some things from this game. At least, I hope I have. Martin’s list is very jousty and, quite simply, hits harder than mine does. I think against a list that jousts well I need to not fly in formation and try to pick ships off rather than smash it in the face. At various points between then and writing this I’ve considered dropping the list and changing for something Rebel. In going over the game again to write this though I think that some better decisions on my part and maybe a little swing in the variance might have at least made it closer. I don’t think I’m ready to drop this and should stick it out for the store champs which is now just under 3 weeks away.

That’s it for this week, I’d best get on with some tournament prep!

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