The SAXH Invitational – Part 1

The intro…

Before we begin properly, let’s address the elephant in the room.

Goodbye FFG, hello AMG

I’m sure you’ve heard by now but the development of X-Wing (and other Star Wars miniature games) are moving from Fantasy Flight Games to another Asmodee subsidiary – Atomic Mass Games.

There have been a HUGE amount of posts and comments on various platforms ranging from ‘the game is dead and the sky is falling’ to ‘this is a great move for X-Wing’. Wherever on that spectrum the game ends up, I’m fairly certain that X-Wing has a strong future and there’s plenty more dice to be rolled with friends in coming years. I’m excited to see what unfolds.

There are also rumours of delays with the ETA-2 release (totally unrelated to the AMG thing), due at the end of this week, but with not many of us being able to play in person just yet I’m not too worried about that either. I should think we’ll still get points at the same time as the other ships in the wave (the droid Tri-Fighter and the V-Wing) and so those who play online can still give it a virtual run-out for testing.

For me personally this has been quite a week. I won’t go into detail but there’s been several things going on which have put a strain on myself and my family emotionally and (potentially) financially too. Having got this far into Covid relatively unscathed in our immediate circle, this week it took a big swing both directly and indirectly.

Now, I know some might be thinking ‘jeez, if it’s been a hard time why are you still blogging?! Nobody will mind (or care?!) if you don’t post out for a week’. And that’s right, in the grand scheme of things a blog about plastic spaceships (especially virtual ones at the moment) is not exactly a top priority.

But to me this blog is more than that. It’s a place for me to process my thoughts through writing and while yes, that’s normally for X-Wing related stuff, it extends to the rest of my life too. And so even though the bulk of people who will read this are, essentially, strangers, it somehow helps to almost confess or declare these feelings. Recent conversations with people I know have shown me that sometimes we can think that everyone else has everything all together and it’s just is that’s finding it hard.

So just in case anyone out there needs to hear this:

That’s not true. Nobody has EVERYTHING together.

Life is hard.

Everyone is dealing with stuff, some are just better at hiding it.

Not hiding it doesn’t mean you’re failing.

There is always hope.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a light-hearted blog about Star Wars stuff so let’s get back to the point, shall we?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about getting better with focused practice. It wasn’t a particularly short post to say the least but the general gist of it was that an effective way to improve your game is to identify what it is you want to get better at and find someone to help you practice in a way to do that.

Ideally that person should be more experienced/knowledgeable than you at the game so you can discuss what happened and what you might do differently next time.

Just a few hours after putting the post up I was contacted by the legendary X-Wing Hipster himself, THE Mr Phil GC. He had read my post (woop!) and liked it (double woop!) and off the back of it had a question for me.

Phil GC’s blog. You should check it out. It’s really good!

His birthday was coming up and in true GC style, he wanted to celebrate by playing X-Wing. He had invited some of his friends to play a 4 round, 1 day mini tournament and wondered whether I might be interested and available to join them.



I was of course VERY interested (and deeply honoured!) and, having had a day of in-person play cancelled the week before (because of stupid covid), I had brownie points in the bank and could make myself available.

I signed up to the Discord channel and TTT event and checked out who else was involved.

Part of the reason Phil had invited me was that the people he generally plays X-Wing with are of rather a high standard and he thought it might be interesting for me to play against some really top players and see what I could learn and then blog about it.

At the time of joining there was:
A world champion
A European champion
A system open winner
A worlds top 16 player
4 worlds top 32 players
With around 20 Hyperspace Trials (remember those?!) between them and a regional or two thrown in for good measure.

And me.


What everyone else was probably thinking.

Yes, Phil certainly knows a lot of rather good players and I was being given an opportunity to test myself against some of the best in the game.


Now, strangely enough I not only have played games against one or two of this pretty elite list of players but I actually have a win against one (sorry to bring that up Nic! ?) but still, in terms of actual results, I’m not expecting to win many. Or, well, any in fact.

But that’s not really what I’m here for anyway.

No, this is an opportunity for me to pit myself against excellent opponents and learn as much as I can. Oh, and get to know some of these guys, chat and generally have a great time.

I was excited.

What to play? Well, I think it’s fairly obvious actually. Yes, these are top players. Yes, they’ll probably bring great lists. Yes, I’m likely to get beaten. Heavily. Perhaps I should bring a strong meta list? Something known to be good perhaps.

But I’m known for flying Dash. Not flying him particularly well, nor to great effect necessarily, but for being passionate for getting the YT-2400 on the board no matter how much I should be looking elsewhere.

It wasn’t a given though. Following on from my games against Dan Eggs (and a comment from David Sutcliffe a week or two before that), I’d had my head turned a little by the prospect of flying Rey. She hits like a truck very reliably and even a fully loaded ‘Death Rey’ that can almost guarantee 3 hits (or 4 at range 1) is cheaper than what I consider to be a stripped back Dash. Even though his points have dropped twice in the last year he’s still just too expensive.

(SIDE NOTE! – if any of the devs are reading this, Christmas is on its way and I’d quite like Dash to drop another few points and I think maybe bringing the Outrider title down by at least 4 might be good too. It still won’t be anywhere near as good as this Rey build, honest!)

Happy Christmas to me?

So Dash is still a bit overpriced. Will I let that put me off though? No chance.

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 (36)
Ship total: 36 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Total: 199

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

There’s a reasonable chance that if you’ve read some of my recent blogs then you know generally how this list is supposed to work but Ten’s job is to die but to die well. He’s there to get in my opponent’s face and try to force them to turn on him instead of Dash. Ideally if I can get both of them focused onto one target in the first engagement then there’s a reasonable shot at deleting it. I’m yet to manage that outside of Fly Casual so far but still, I can try!

With this week having been what it has I was short on practice but I’m comfortable with Dash and Jake and I do have a couple of reps with this list.

Now, my intention had initially been to do what I did with recent (well, it’s been a few months but, y’know, sort of recent) events and summarised each game rather than fully batrep each one.

Quite simply, I changed my mind. I feel that each game was such a great experience that I want to not only do them justice but out in as much detail as I can to look back on in future.

As such I will be posting a blog covering each game (which is going to take me a little while!) as I am able. I’m sure if you really want to know how I got on then there are ways to find out but where’s the suspense in that? I’m hoping to get a bonus blog out this Friday followed by another 2 next week but it may all hang on how much time I can find.

Anyway, that’s enough nonsense, you’re here to find out what happened!

And so, to game 1…

The batrep… (JARGON ALERT!!)

We began to congregate in the Discord voice channel around 30 minutes before that start of round 1. General chit chat, a bit of friendly banter and asking others what list they had brought, exactly like you’d get at a real life in person event (remember those?).

As Phil confirmed everyone was ready he ran through some guidelines (setting up rooms, voice channels by table number and most importantly, no Mandalorian spoilers) and then the first pairings were drawn.

Now, this was a tough room. Full of very experienced, top quality players. I went into the day expecting (but not hoping!) to lose 4 games of X-Wing.

I knew that.

Phil announces the pairings. My first game? It’s only some scrub by the name of Oliver Pocknell.

TTT has a sense of humour!

Oli and I hop into the voice channel and set up our game.

Now, I can’t pretend that it isn’t just a little intimidating playing against the world champion but Oli’s just so darned nice that he actually puts you at ease and makes it easy to play. That said, he will, at the same time, ruthlessly smash up your list with no mercy.

Poe Dameron (67)
Heroic (1)
R4 Astromech (2)
Overdrive Thruster (6)
Integrated S-Foils (0)
Jamming Beam (0)

Ship total: 76 Half Points: 38 Threshold: 4

Merl Cobben (32)
Intimidation (3)

Ship total: 35 Half Points: 18 Threshold: 2

Tallissan Lintra (36)
Proton Rockets (6)

Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Seftin Vanik (36)
Proton Rockets (6)

Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2

Total: 195

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

A quick analysis of the list, Poe is where the points are at and can do a not insignificant amount of damage. I think he’s my first target if possible but will Oli let me shoot at him? The Overdrive Thrusters mean that, depending on the order he does them in, Poe can decide to roll and then boost or boost and then roll at 1 or 2 speed, deciding to engage or not once he has full board knowledge. Cool…

With Oli having the bid he makes me first player. In case it’s not obvious, that’s really bad for me since the A-Wings will have full knowledge of where all my ships are before moving and are able to double reposition. Bad times.

We place obstacles and ships and are ready to begin.

As per usual I hard turn everyone but with the A-wings heading in towards Ten quite quickly I decide to do a red 1 hard turn with him instead of my normal 2 white.

Oli sends Merl towards the middle of the board while the other A-Wings both go 5 forwards and Poe banks towards them from his 90 degrees starting position.

There’s no shooting but I immediately regret my decision with Ten.

He’s now tied to either a blue 1 bank to clear the stress or a white 2 hard and keep it. For some reason that I no longer recall I pick the blue 1 bank. I send JAke forwards to feed Dash a focus action and send Dash a 3 bank, wondering if I’ll catch the A-Wings at range 3.

Oli turned in with Merl (but still quite far out) while Tallie and Seftin went another 5 straight. Poe, well, looking back at the images did some seemingly impossible moves to put himself in the middle of the board, outside of Dash’s arc but in range for a shot himself. Bloomin Flyboy.

This time we have ships in range for some dice rolling action! Poe fires at Dash but misses. Dash is short of having arc on the A-Wings. Seftin plinks a shield off Ten Num while Ten’s return shot misses. Jake and Merl are both off doing their own thing, not firing at anybody.

I’m relatively pleased that all I’ve lost is 1 shield but I’ve done nothing in return and I’m concerned about the positions of Ten and Dash. And Merl is looming ahead aiming to make it worse…

Back to planning then.

I send Jake ahead of Dash to pass off a focus while Ten will bank around the asteroid and roll, assuming the A-Wings will zone in on Dash. Dash doesnt’ fancy being in the middle of all this and will take a 4 straight.

Merl heads in, takes a focus and rolls right. Jake does his thing and, in a move I appear to manage all too often, rolls and passes a focus to Dash and just stays where he is because if he gave HIMSELF the focus and then boosted, he’d be outside of range 1 of Dash. Annoying.

Ten banks, rolls and links it to a lock on Merl.

Dash takes the 4 straight and I agonise over the action for a little while. Rotate arc to the side to get some shots at A-Wings? Or leave it front/back to dissuade Poe from coming in to my aft and take a lock for later?

I eventually go with the lock.

Then the A-Wings turn in and focus us before Poe just takes a 1 straight and locks a tokenless Jake. Oh dear.

It seems my leaving the arc front/back did keep Oli from sending Poe in at Dash but the cost of that is that Dash has nobody in arc. Nobody.

Double modded Poe takes shields from Jake before Oli decides that rolling red blanks isn’t something he fancies doing today and the A-Wings murder Ten Numb before he can fire. Jake plinks a shot at one of the i5 A-Wings but, predictably, does nothing. Merl tries a shot at Dash but nothing gets through.

Not a fantastic turn for me. Ten is gone, Jake is halved and I’ve done literally no damage to anything. And there’s 55 minutes to go…

Ok then, planning. What can I do?

I give Jake a hard turn, he can then roll and boost to give himself and Dash focus actions. Dash will hard turn left to try and get some distance.

Oli moves Merl who goes straight and then rolls right into Jake’s path, blocking his turn. Oh dear. Jake bumps before Dash hard turns and rotates arc to the side.

Oli calls the move perfectly and sends both i5 A-Wings in on Dash’s tail beofre Poe sweeps into range 1 of poor tokenless Jake.

Emergency! EMERGENCY!!!

Poe unleashes a range 1 shot but with s-foils closed it’s only with 3 dice. Somehow Jake survives but Poe deals a crit – a Weapons Failure. Typical.

Dash fires at Merl but misses. At this point I remember that I rotated rather than focused (since I was denied the Jake focus) and so there’s no second shot here. Frustrating!

Seftin and Tallie both fire range 1 at Dash and take 3 shields from him. Jake rolls his single, lonely red die at Tallie and rolls a blank. Awesome!

Back to planning and I’m rather amazed that Jake is still around. I give Dash another 3 hard turn while Jake will go straight.

Oli disengages with Merl before I move Jake forwards and manage to find the spot to roll him into to pass Dash a focus. Nice.

Dash hard turns and, focus in hard, rolls back towards the oncoming A-Wings hoping for a block.

Seftin bumps into Dash while Tallie avoids it. Poe disengages and repositions well out of Dash’s range.

Only Tallie has a shot and she takes it at Dash but the Corellian natties out of taking any damage. Phew!

Back to planning again and at this point I’m just glad it isn’t already over!

I debate whether to give Jake a 1 or 2 hard turn, planning to roll left but eventually decide to try the 1 hard, roll right and boost left to get range 1 on Dash. Dash will hard turn again to try and lose those pesky i5 A-Wings.

Merl comes in with a hard turn and boosts, looking to block the 4 straight for Dash. Jake hard turns, rolls, gives himself a focus and boosts. I check range for Dash.

Despite what your eyes might tell you, the computer says it’s out. No focus for Dash. Balls.

Dash hard turns and focuses, neatly avoiding a bump on Merl but he is now sitting squarely in range 1 of him.

The A-Wings disengage, looking to get better position for next time while Poe continues a slow turnaround in the corner.

Not a great screenshot this one but it’s all I’ve got!

Dash fires 3 dice at Merl but does nothing. Neither RZ-2 A-Wing rotated their arc so the don’t have shots.

Then up steps Jake. He rolls his single red at range 3 Tallie, rolls an eyeball, spends his focus for 1.single.hit.

Oli rolls greens. Blanks.

Single red die Jake has just registered my first damage of the game from range 3. What a freaking hero.

Merl fires at Dash and takes his last shield token.

Ok, planning time again. What can I do?

Jake will hard turn while Dash will…..also hard turn. Seems ok.

Oli sends Merl right over Dash and boosts out of the way. Jake hard turns and rolls, giving himself a focus. There’s no change a boost will get me around the rock and close to Dash so I just leave it.

Dash hard turns and takes a focus. Seftin hard turns and rolls away to make sure he (she?!) is out of Dash’s side arc. Tallie continues around the asteroid and focuses before Poe finally turns in, takes a focus and a lock on Dash.

Poe unloads on Dash at range 1 and lands 3 hits. Dash fires first at Poe double moddded and lands 2 hits before firing at Merl and landing nothing. Tallie takes a shot at Dash and gets another hit on, leaving him on 2 health. Seftin has nothing in arc and so it’s Jake’s turn again.

Oh Jake.

Jake takes his range 2 obstructed shot on Tallie with his single red die. He rolls an eyeball. I spend the focus.

Oli rolls greens and, having spent his focus on the attack on Dash, rolls blanks and eyeballs.

Single red die Jake has done precisely the same amount of damage as double tapping 4 dice Dash in this game. And he’s just got half points on Tallie. It’s not much, but I’ll take it.

Merl’s arc is facing front so we’re done shooting for this turn.

Back to planning we go, but what do I do?

Jake will hard turn to try and not hit the asteroid (because that’s a really crappy way to die!). Dash? Well, that’s more tricky. At this point I’m DEFINITELY not winning this game. But if I can score some more points that would be nice. I think Oli is probably expecting a hard or bank turn left so I decide it’s time for the last resort, hail Mary play and dial in a hard right turn. Poe can’t shoot me if he’s facing the wrong way or, worst case, if we’re bumped, right?

Merl hard turns and rolls, looking to block the 3 hard left.

Jake takes a 1 hard turn which just barely misses the rock (we did have to check it with a template!). He then rolls left and focuses, optimistically hoping for a shot at Seftin.

Dash takes the hard turn right but I’ve misjudged the distance and he bumps Poe. Poop.

Seftin obligingly banks in but a focus linked to roll puts him (her?!) out of Jakes arc with a range 1 shot. Ouch.

Tallie simply goes 2 forwards and takes a focus before Poe takes a 1 forwards and bumps into Dash.

Dash fires at an unmodded Merl but can’t hit him. Tallie fires but Dash’s greens hold up and just 1 damage goes through.

Seftin mercilessly annihilates Jake at range 1 before Merl tries his luck killing Dash but fails.

I survive!

Back to dials we go. Dash, the lone survivor is on 1 health and there’s just under 10 minutes on the clock. I don’t think he can hold out, especially in this position.

I set a hard left turn.

Merl comes in, rolls and boosts and sits right where Dash wants to be.

Dash reluctantly slides into the bump before Tallie turns the other way and rotates arc to rear, Seftin turns and boosts (just about into range) and Poe executes the most perfect Talon Roll (JARGON ALERT!!).

Bloomin heck.

Merl’s ability finally triggers and, combined with intimidation leaves Dash on zero agility. Poe does the honours and finishes Dash off with 7 minutes left on the clock.

A rather comprehensive victory for the world champ.

Result: 21 – 200 loss

The conclusion…

Yes, I lost. But did I?

I mean, in terms of result, yes, of course I did. Obviously.

But in terms of a gaming experience, I think I won. I had an amazing time playing against an expert of the game and while we didn’t break down and analyse each and every decision I still definitely got a window into Oli’s play style and an idea of how he processes the game.

In practical terms I started off really poorly with Ten taking the 1 hard rather than the 2 hard that I normally do, leaving him stressed. For some reason I hadn’t expected the A-Wings to approach quite so fast and, between limiting my 2nd turn to a blue manoeuvre and moving before them meaning he couldn’t lock, Ten was sunk before he could shine.

Gone too soon old buddy.

Of course this puts me on the back foot and a couple of missteps with Jake (leaving him tokenless and that turn where I missed range 1 on Dash) all just compounded the issue.

I was quite thoroughly outplayed here and I’m not ashamed to say that. Yes Oli’s red dice were absolutely on fire in the first couple of engagements but the way that he positioned his ships to minimise the effectiveness of my main threat (Dash’s 4 dice double taps) meant that I was doing no damage back while he picked off my ships one by one.

In the end getting half points on Tallie was as much as I could muster to salvage any pride from this game. And I’ll take that because at one point Oli did mention that he was aiming for a clean sweep (!!).

But as I already said, this was always about more than the result and the opportunity to spend 75 mins chatting with Oli and seeing first hand how he plays was amazing and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you Mr Pocknell! I look forward to doing this again some day!

Practically speaking, yes, mistakes were made. Definitely. The question is, can I learn from them for game 2…?

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