Virtual Insanity

The pretty pointless prologue…

Ok, it’s more that it’s irrelevant than pointless but I enjoy the alliteration.

What a weird time this is.

My street this last week

I find that I have more time at home (i.e. all of it) but also less time and I’m more tired than usual. It’s so strange. Is it just me? Maybe it’s because I have school age kids. They’ve been set work to do at home but (understandably) aren’t super keen to do it and so I find that while I *should* be learning about the drive array controllers of HP Proliant Gen10 servers and how to verify that the USMT has successfully collected data, what I’m actually doing is checking how to divide using decimals and making suggestions for similes for poems about the Amazonian rain forest.

As a result our day (that is, my wife and I) is a strange mix of working while also encouraging the kids to do some work (which they are!) whilst simultaneously feeling guilty about working while the kids are off and that we should be doing some fun stuff with them while we have the chance.

Anyway, all of that aside we are all well (i.e. not sick but also including not wanting to seriously injure each other) so we can’t really complain.

Back to the actual main thing (of this blog at least). X-Wing!

On to the point…

Last week I talked about staying connected during this time and that I had signed up to play an online tournament using Vassal.

When I signed up to the Vagabond open (organised by the very amazing Steve Boulton of Vagabond Squadron) I had no idea of how to properly work Vassal. I just knew that I wanted to play some X-Wing and meet new people and that this would help me do both.

Steve had set up 2 tournaments on TTO, one for Vassal and one for Tabletop Simulator (TTS) as not everyone had access to both systems. I had gone for Vassal because I already had it installed and because TTS costs money (although not a lot really. Thanks to Ian Franklin I found it for £7.50 here).

I had taken the plunge! Now, as with any classic hero type quest, I needed training from a wise mentor. Unable to find someone, I turned to Dan Eggs (just kidding Dan! ? ).

I stumbled through the game but, with much help from Dan along the way via voice chat over Discord, I felt like I found my feet as we approached the end of the game some 2 hours after we started.

I won’t batrep (JARGON ALERT!!) that game because:

  1. I hadn’t fully figured out what I was doing and spent more time focused on the ‘how’ (I shoot/move/set dials) rather than the ‘what’ (I should shoot, etc).
  2. I wasn’t aware at the start about enabling the log file which would let me see the details of the game (mainly damage count)
  3. I didn’t take many pictures but those I DID take were with my phone rather than screenshots using the built-in Vassal feature (which I found later).

Now, that makes it sound like I don’t WANT to batrep because I lost but actually, I did win the game and played the 5 T-65 X-Wings quite well. I mean, it certainly helped that Dan was flying a Scum list that he hadn’t flown before to figure it out but I’ll certainly take the wins however I get them!

So now that I had played an actual game I felt ready to do a ‘proper game’.

On the Wednesday morning Steve had generated pairings and I was to play against….. Steve Boulton! ?

Yes, I’d actually been paired against someone I had actually met in person AND had organised the tournament. I’d say the odds were slim but I guess they were about the same as playing anyone else!

We arranged to play on the Thursday evening which then left me with just one thing to think about – what list to play?!? Yes, the part of the tournament that I’d sort of forgotten about was that each of our 7 games would be using a different faction. What makes this interesting is that I normally only play Rebel and, occasionally, Resistance. I have some idea about Republic and my only experience of Empire is helping Cai to put lists together and form tactics. I’ve NEVER played CIS, Scum or First Order.

So now I had just over 24 hours to decide what list to fly while also home schooling my children (ish) and trying to shoehorn some Microsoft training into my day. Needless to say, theorycrafting lists for factions I’m not familiar with was NOT high up on my priorities.

So on Thursday with game time approaching I decided to try and figure something out.

I knew that I didn’t want to fly Rebel at this point. It’s my strongest faction (in terms of my knowledge of it) and so I felt it better to save that for later.

That said, if I could get a win on the board, that would be nice.

I decided to go with Resistance since it’s my second strongest faction (experience wise). But what to fly? I’ve not put a list together since the January points change aside from an option I had been considering for the System Open of Poe with 2 Red Squad Expert T-70’s and a Blue Squad Recruit A-Wing.

Since I’m most experienced with these ships I want a list with the T-70’s and RZ-2’s but my recent experience with the 5 T-65’s means I’m leaning more towards generics.

A little playing around with some list options and I found that this all fit in:

Blue Squadron Rookie (42)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Blue Squadron Rookie (42)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Blue Squadron Rookie (42)
Integrated S-Foils (0)

Ship total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 4

Blue Squadron Recruit (32)
Heroic (1)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 37 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 2

Blue Squadron Recruit (32)
Heroic (1)
Advanced Optics (4)

Ship total: 37 Half Points: 19 Threshold: 2

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

Ideally I’d like Heroic on the T-70’s as well to try and bolster their defence but I wasn’t keen on dropping Advanced Optics from the -Wings to accommodate it.

Ok, cool. A list I’ve never flown before using a system I’ve used once before. What could go wrong?!

The batrep…

After some initial issues setting up the game room (Vassal spawned me a 66 card damage deck?! and no, I didn’t press it twice and yes, I did click the back/undo button which did nothing) we were ready to start.

Steve was flying a Republic list:

Obi-Wan Kenobi (48)
R4 Astromech (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 54 Half Points: 27 Threshold: 2

Plo Koon (44)
R4 Astromech (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (4)

Ship total: 50 Half Points: 25 Threshold: 2

Ahsoka Tano (44)
R4 Astromech (2)
Calibrated Laser Targeting (2)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 2

Ric Olié (42)
Outmaneuver (6)

Ship total: 48 Half Points: 24 Threshold: 3

Total: 200

View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0:

Pfff. Jedi. Could be a LONG time of not shooting at things. Maybe the A-Wings would be able to keep up with them though and hopefully my blocking game is improving. Probably not though…

Now, before I get started, a small disclaimer. I hadn’t played about with (or even noticed initially) the screenshot function until a few turns into the game. Also, I was quite focused on getting the mechanics right so forgot to take screenshots at various points.

Ok, disclaimer done. Let’s go!

Both lists being on 200 didn’t really matter with no crossover in pilot initiative but we rolled and Steve took 1st player for obstacle placement. We placed and then forces went onto the board. There was a quite convenient lane through the middle so I placed all 3 T-70’s there and the A-wings off to the left of them with some space in between.

Steve responded by spreading his ships across his side of the board. Clearly there were going to be some slippery Jedi killbox shenanigans going on.

In the first turn I started shuffling the T-70’s forward and hard turned the RZ-2’s towards the X-Wings with the intention of bringing them together at some point in the next couple of turns. Steve’s ships all started to angle in towards my squad.

A poor quality screenshot of the end of turn 1. Sorry.

We went back to our virtual dials and planned the next turn. With one eye on Ric (out of shot on the above pic but approaching from my right flank) and another on Obi (so, slightly cross-eyed I guess?) I decided another rather neutral 1 forwards from the X-Wings was best while the A-Wings would take a 2 forwards.

Again, I’ve no recollection of quite what happened during the next turn (no screenshot!). I *think* I was able to take a single shot with my ships and nothing went through.

With ships now getting into range I had some choices to make. I had Plo and Obi approaching from my left and Ahsoka and Ric from my right. I decided to split my squad to make sure that I wasn’t about to get hammered with unreturned shots and hopefully give Steve some decisions to make.

Turning 2 of my T-70’s hard left would certainly give Obi and Plo something to think about while the other turned hard right with the A-Wings coming in behind for backup.

Steve’s Jedi did indeed approach from my left and my moves caused Obi to take a detour around the debris. Plo was out of my arcs but Obi was going to take 2 shots. On my right Ric had bumped into Ahsoka and neither had a shot but they’d evaded the T-70 and only 1 A-Wing was in range.

Slippery ships!

The ships on my right weren’t able to make any headway in terms of damage on Ric or Ahsoka but the ships to my left managed to take Obi’s shield away, making it the only damage taken this turn.

Back to dials again and now some decisions to make.

I decided to press in to my right, hoping to catch Ahsoka with my A-Wings and, if he decided not to run possibly Ric with the T-70.

To my left I set the front T-70 to a Talon Roll and the back to a 2 hard, hoping to get a block on Plo.

Sure enough, Plo’s 2 forwards didn’t clear, giving me a range 1 shot on him. Obi decided not to risk coming into anyone’s arc following the 2 hard turn while Ric blaster off to the other party and Ahsoka slipped out of my arcs once again.

Plo and Ahsoka were without shots but Ric and Obi did (but only just) Obi took the range 3 shot on the A-Wing but missed while Ric, making full use of outmanoeuvre, managed to plink a shield from the closest T-70.

Now it was my turn! My only shot was the range 1 on Plo – 2 blanks, an eyeball and a hit. Unsurprisingly Plo evaded it. Damn.

Dials again and now to figure out what to do next.

My talon-rolled T-70 had limited options. I gave it a 1 bank right to clear the stres and (maybe?) get a block on Obi-Wan. The other T-70 on that side had no real choice but to go around the debris (well, I mean I could 4k I suppose?) and possibly get a block on Ric as a bonus.

On my right flank I decided to hard turn both A-Wings and possibly catch Ahsoka in their rear arcs while the last T-70 completed his trip around the gas cloud and could maybe get Ric if I managed a block.

Spoiler – I did not get the block.

Ahsoka crept out of all arcs (again!) while Ric blasted out a 4 (or5?) straight and boost. The remaining Jedi both turned (Plo a sloop) onto a T-70. This could be bad.

It was bad.

Time to fire. First Obi and then Plo poured fire into the killboxed T-70. Miraculously, despite Plo having a bullseye shot (Obi had missed his but only just) they managed just 3 hits between them, stripping shields but no more. What they had achieved though was also removing the focus so when I took the return shot onto Obi it was unmodded. I did get 1 hit through though, taking Obi-Wan to half points.

Nobody else had any shots so we moved to the next turn.

Here’s where I made my first mistake. See if you can spot it.

Can you spot the glaring error?

Ok, to be fair it’s not that easy to see so I’ll forgive you for missing it, particularly as I missed it and had no excuse. Yes, that’s right, I did the old ‘incorrect turn direction’ trick. *sigh*.

The A-Wings had turned in to (finally) get Ahsoka while the shieldless T-70 was to go 3 forwards to possibly block her r at least get some distance from the other Jedi. The full health T-70 was turning into the fight looking to get some shots and the last T-70 was supposed to nestle in behind. Sadly that’s not how it worked out.

Ahsoka turned in and the barrel rolled right into the mix to get bullseye on an A-Wing. Obi took a 2 sloop while Plo banked back in. Ric was off doing his own thign at this point but now had an unexpected future target to contend with.

This turn was somewhat of a blood bath for me. Obi had just about got the bullseye on the running T-70 and hit it for 3 damage taking it to just 1 health. Plo took a bullseye shot on the top A-Wing and took a shield before Ahsoka hammered another 3 damage onto it and wiped it out.

The remaining A-Wing took it’s range 1 shot and, with a focus in hand got 3 hits. Steve rolled…. blanks. 3 damage onto Ahsoka.


No other ships had her in arc. They should have. That other T-70 should have a range 2 shot with a focus to try and finish her off but my mistake with the dial had lost that for me.

We moved on to what was the last turn.

I didn’t quite know what the state of the game was at this point. I had half on Ahsoka and Obi while having lost an A-Wing and had one T-70 on 1 health. Baring 1 health lost from the T-70 lining up against Ric the rest of my ships were full health. It seemed pretty close to me.

Totalling that up now, I had scored 51 and Steve had scored 58. The next turn could go either way.

I decided to set the A-Wing a 4 forwards and rotate the arc while the full health T-70 would take a 2 hard left turn and try to get a block on Plo or Obi, whoever was coming in that way. I would send the limping T-70 2 hard left and try to catch someone in arc.

The hardest choice was what to do on the other side of the board. Try and shoot Ric or go for the block and protect the points?

I decided to try and shoot Ric and took a 2 bank.

That was one of many mistakes I made this turn.

I moved that T-70 and took a focus.

I moved the RZ-2 A-Wing and did a focus & rotate.

I moved the full health T-70 and focused.

I moved the limping T-70 and…. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!

Yes. I had set the wrong direction. Again. It went 2 hard right instead of left leaving it with no shot. I decided to boost and give it some chance of survival by hopefully dodging some arcs and then prayed silently.

Ahsoka slooped, Plo banked and rolled out of arc before Obi slammed in but stopped short of the bump and Ric took a 3 hard turn and focused.

This was going to be bad.

Plo had no shot but all of Steve’s other ships did. Obi took the range 1 bullseye shot on the T-70 and got 4 hits (including the extra CLT die).

My greens blanked out.

Ric took the range 1 double modded shot with extra Ric die on the other T-70. 3 hits.

My greens blanked out.

Ahsoka too a shot at the now wounded T-70. 2 hits.

My greens blanked out.

The full T-70 was now on 1 health and the other healthy T70 now on 3 health. Both had given up half points.

With 2 of the T-70’s having no shot I fired with the A-Wing on Obi-Wan and, with a focus and Optics got 2 hits. Obi rolled blanks and exploded.

Well, that’s something I suppose.

Now for the one stupid/brave T-70 with a 4 dice range 1 modded shot on Ric.

I rolled…… blank blank eyeball hit. I spent the focus for 2 hits but with 4 green dice and an evade token it was useless. I missed.

And so the game was over.

I had scored 78 while Steve had scored 100.

The post-mortem

I don’t feel like I need to analyse the game or result in the same way I might normally do because, in the tournament at least, I can’t fly this again.

What I CAN do is to analyse what I did and what I’d do differently next time. I think the easy answer here is ‘don’t mess up the dials’ but there were decisions I made along the way which also contributed to my downfall. I should, for example, not have faced off against Ric. That would have saved me 21 points. That decision on it’s own may not have swung the result (well, it would have made it 78-79) but marginal decisions in one turn can have big consequences further down the line.

My main take-away from this (aside from having got to know Steve a bit better) is to try and avoid rash decisions. Yes, going into that last turn I was down on points but had I really thought it through a bit more I could have maybe swung it my way.

Next time?

Anyway, that game is done and that faction marked off my list. What next? Not just faction but what list within that faction? I’m really open to any suggestions (please!) of lists that you think may suit my play style. Also, if you know what my play style is could you let me know?

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!