This past weekend I played in my second tournament and my biggest one yet! I had a great time hanging out with my friends from Apollo Squadron in Houston who I haven't seen since I moved away last month and played 8 games of X-Wing over two days, which is more than I've played in at least the past two months combined! Shoutout to our TOs for a really nice event. The sense of community was very real and I made more than a few new friends.
My goals for the weekend were to:
- Have fun: I certainly did! It was great to see my friends from Houston's Apollo Squadron after I moved away about a month ago and all of my opponents were cool. Every game that I played was interesting.
- Don't do anything embarrassing: well, I flew poorly in my first game and at one point set a bunch of dials for the wrong ships (which my opponent was gracious enough to let me fix as it didn't really change anything) but otherwise we were okay.
- Maybe win at least half of my games: Well, if you don't count my bye and include the side event on day 2 then my record was 3 wins/1 draw/3 losses. I'll take it!
I don't remember enough to provide a full report of each game I played but I learned a lot this weekend so I'll cover the important stuff.
Yes, I decided to go with Juke Skywalker. I leaned toward this one because the initiatives are simple, X-Wings are powerful and pretty forgiving to fly, and I haven't played Rebels much lately but didn't want to use the same thing as everyone else. All told, it ended up being a pretty successful squad when I didn't make too many mistakes and I finished as (I think) the 2nd best Rebel player in Swiss ahead of a couple of classic Wedge+Luke+Dutch+? squads. I got some compliments and a chuckle from my opponent every round when they read the squad name followed by a, "wait, why does Luke have Juke? Oh, I see. Cute." I tend to jump from list to list (and faction to faction) and the 8 games this weekend are quite possibly the most I've played in a row with the same list. This one will probably underg a few small changes and than get the KEEP marker in my Launch Bay Next app.
The Good Stuff:
- The easy initiative matching and similar ships made this pretty foolproof to fly in most games. I usually like to keep an I6 in my list just in case I need the ace advantage but in most cases the two I5s were enough.
- 2 double-modded Proton Torpedoes a round is always good and becoming a Rebel trademark. This weekend it seemed like many people (or at least the ones that I played against) have backed off of the hard counters to munitions and I was able to fire at least 3/4 of my torpedoes in most games.
- X-Wings with evade tokens stick around for a while, especially with Force or a calculate token from K-2SO. I only lost Luke once.
- Kullbee is good. Period. Sometimes stacking stress and doing crazy things with Contraband Cybernetics was a good trick.
- Notorious and FTC on Saw discouraged opponents from shooting him, keeping his ability and crew upgrades relevant throughout the game. I only lost Saw twice.
- Juke only worked out a couple of times, though when it did it was quite fun and was pretty clutch on one occasion.
- I struggled to get Thane to the endgame to take advantage of his ability. Might switch him to Ahsoka in the A-Wing but I worry I'd miss the consistent damage and simplicity of having 3 X-Wings. Thane is really good and I wonder if I didn't just fly him poorly.
- Saw was such a bad target that he often didn't even take damage and rarely got to utilize his own ability. Moving forward I'll probably give Notorious to Kullbee which is a more conventional choice. Also considering Selfless to spread damage around and trigger the Saw rerolls?
LSO Main Event:
Round 1 Assault at the Satellite Array: 21-11 LOSS (7 rounds)
I don't feel too bad about this loss as my opponent ended up 1st in Swiss and playing in the final, but I played pretty poorly as this was my first game in over two weeks. He got an early lead on objectives while I tried to concentrate fire but as soon as I got his squad in my sights he scattered and methodically tore my ships to pieces. I still did an okay job of staying in it but blew my chance at a comeback when I accidentally dialed Saw's maneuver backwards so that, instead of banking in for a pretty good shot at Vader, he sailed over an asteroid out of the fight, took two damage, then was killed in the subsequent engagement and left Luke hanging out to dry. Ouch.
- Not much to this one except that it helps to fly better.
- If you're okay with ceding the objectives to your opponent early in the game (I was) then you'd better be prepared to execute a plan to compensate for it ( I wasn't).
- Assault at the Satellite Array feels like it's less forgiving to those lists with lower ship counts that just want to fight. It's much easier for large groups of cheap ships to score easy points and you can't shut off their source of objective points after you've evened the odds like you can with Scramble and Salvage.
Round 2 Chance Engagement: 19-19 DRAW (time)
I got to play a game against one of my friends from Houston! Dean told me that he doesn't normally play Resistance and was trying something new and I liked his fresh look at Resistance X-Wings, though he told me that a few upgrades like Snap Shot just weren't really pulling their weight. We went back and forth all game, staying within a few points of each other every round with both of our squads well-suited to the scenario. He did a good job of swapping ships out of the fight as they took damage to protect his points and the game came down to the last shot, where a single additional damage on Poe would have won me the game.
- I possibly could have done a better job of focusing fire or maybe deleted the Y-Wing when I had the chance. One point here or there would have made the difference. However, Dean very intelligently kept the X-Wings alive and out of danger just enough to deny me easy kills. It's easy to coulda-woulda-shoulda this one so what I'm taking away from it is that we both played pretty well and you may have a plan but the enemy always gets a vote.
Round 3 Scramble the Transmissions: BYE
Don't quite understand how the pairing system works, to be honest, as it was made by smarter people than me, but I drew the bye this round and ate lunch. It seems pretty random but I was told that I got the bye because I was the "Best Loser," and, to be honest, I can live with that description.
Not that there could really be anything done about it but I didn't really care about the free win and would have rather played, especially since I haven't had many chances to try the updated Scramble rules. Oh well, c'est la vie.
Round 4 Salvage Mission: 11-8 WIN (4 rounds)
Another one of my friends from Apollo Squadron! Despite Greg and I having played at the same store every week for over a year this was only our second game against each other. His list had a lot of arcs and the potential to do massive damage if I let him get close. My plan was to try and blow away either the Decimator or Reaper with torpedoes before the TIEs could get in the mix and, fortunately for me, I got that opportunity and it worked out. Captain Oicunn got hung up in the corner and I was able to zoom in with the X-Wings and blast him before the TIEs, which he flew expertly in a block, could swoop in from my flank. If killing the Decimator had taken more than a round or two I'd have been in real trouble.
- It's almost never a bad idea to snap up a cargo objective or two at the beginning of Salvage Mission as points insurance. Try to put pressure on your opponent to discourage them from doing the same.
- I knew that I needed to take some ships off of the board because there was no way I'd be able to compete on objectives against 6 ships, 4 of which had 3 agility.
- My opponent was 1st player for setup so I got to place my entire list after his which was SUPER helpful for my plan to eliminate a big ship early in the game. High initiative is almost always good.
- If you see an opportunity you should definitely go for the high-value target! Just make sure you commit and get the job done or you'll have wasted valuable time and will be chasing those points all over the board for the rest of the game.
Round 5 Assault at the Satellite Array: 22-15 LOSS (6 rounds)
Another Vader+Rexler+3 TIEs. I was able to catch Vader in a compromising position and eliminated him and then blew Wampa away with an opportune Proton Torpedo shot and was feeling pretty good. I must have gotten complacent, though, and my opponent skillfully rallied and used Rexler and the Jingoists to isolate my ships one after the other and come back for the win.
- I stopped paying attention and blew a solid early lead, simple as that. My opponent told me that he hadn't really planned to use Vader as bait and it was an error that allowed me to get him off the board. I didn't realize, though, that it put me in a compromising position and I let my guard down. Pretty upset with myself for that mistake but you live and learn and my opponent deserves a good amount of respect for staying in the game to come back for the win.
- The ISB Jingoists are REALLY good. Intellectually I knew this and still didn't properly account for them. Don't let them get close unless you have a plan to mitigate their ability or you'll be in trouble. After I killed Vader and Wampa I lost both Kullbee and Thane one after the other to strained shots from both Jingoists as they swooped in and trapped me against obstacles.
"Top Gun" Sunday Side Event:
Well, that last loss in Swiss meant that I would not be playing in the cut the next day; a few players who are much smarter than me informed that had I won my 3/1/1 record would have put me above the 3/0/2 players who made it. Oh well.
The Top Gun event was 3 rounds of Swiss, Chance Engagement only. After matchups were posted everyone was given 5 minutes to reconfigure the loadouts of their chosen pilots if they so desired. In reality, not many of us took that opportunity as we were pretty happy with our squads and wanted to use the extra time for setup. I finished 3rd overall with a 2-1 record and a decent SoS, having played the eventual winner.
Round 1: 22-8 WIN (5 rounds)
Oof, three big ships all with Force. And I hate Firesprays. Luckily for me neither Firespray had anything on it to discourage shooting at them and I was able to stay out of their arcs to avoid triggering Veteran Tail Gunner and chip away enough damage that he had to fly them away from the fight. With the Firesprays temporarily out of the way I could focus my red-hot Proton Torpedo dice on Han who went down under a pile of faceup damage cards. My opponent dropped a textbook Chaff Cloud shot on Kullbee but since it wasn't Luke or Thane I could afford the loss and used the other ships to chase down the Firesprays one at a time to win.
- Scum Firesprays that aren't Boba aren't all that scary if you just shoot at them. Use your attack arcs to force them to boost into places where they can't shoot you. Try to keep at least two arcs on them at all times.
- Don't be afraid to get up close to Scum Han. He only has 2 printed attack dice and the closer you are the less likely he is to be able to get an obstacle in the shot.
Round 2: 20-8 LOSS (6 rounds)
Ugh, more Firesprays. This one has bombs and a lot more tech to discourage attacks. He did an excellent job of never presenting a good target and making me play mind games to counter the bombs. He was also super nice about reminding me of triggers and things since I think it was pretty clear that his complex loadouts were scrambling my brain a bit. I can never deal with Zam...
This opponent wound up winning the side event.
- Just don't shoot Zam! I have made this mistake before and I think it's what kept me from at least being able to compete in this game. Every time I look at these two Firesprays I think, "well, Jango will be too slippery and all of Zam's stuff can't be THAT bad if I get enough shots on her quickly." And...that's exactly the trap, especially when all of the retaliatory upgrades are on Zam and not spread between the two. Sure, Jango is initiative 6 but if I had just cast a net with my strong attack arcs I could have trapped him and neutered the squad. I spent the whole game getting burned by Zam's inscrutable ability and it was entirely my fault.
- If you get a chance to quickly wipe out the "bait" ship I think you should take it. Sure, spending a Proton Torpedo on a Vulture Droid or a 2 point TIE feels like a waste, but if it means you don't have to worry about taking a missile in the back or cuts their list from 3 ships down to 2 then go for it. Just don't continue to chase it if you can't kill it in one or two shots.
Round 3: 13-7 WIN (5 rounds, time)
A super fun list flown by a super nice guy. He told me that he knew that RZ-2s aren't technically "competitive" right now but he likes them so it's what he flies. Mad respect. He also played this list really well! The A-Wings were annoying and hard to kill, exactly as they should be. I had the clear offensive advantage with my X-Wings and with the ability to Jyn up an evade token he was going to struggle to do damage to me so he led me on a merry chase all over the table and made me work hard for every half-points score I could get. I was gunning for L'ulo as his ability, while strong, seems like it would make him the easiest to kill. My opponent also knew this and did a great job of dangling L'ulo to make me commit to an attack and then boosting him out of danger to leave me with a sub-optimal shot on Zizi or Tallie. One of the more exciting and interesting games I've played in a while.
- This was the only game where I switched up my loadouts since I knew I wouldn't be playing for the side event championship after my loss. I cleared out Saw's upgrades and gave him Clan Wren Commandos and Shield Upgrade and moved Notorious to Kullbee. I was trying the Commando remotes for the first time just for fun and they were indeed a lot of fun! However, competitively they were underwhelming...the first set got initiative killed by Zari before they could shoot because they ended up being her only available target and the second set managed to fly 2-straight and strain Tallie at the start of activation but my opponent saw it coming and just dialed a blue maneuver to clear it. Additionally, once the Commandos had been dropped then Saw was just a big slow X-Wing and the Shield Upgrade meant his ability never triggered. Oh well, at least I tried something
- Kullbee's ability really does turn him into a pseudo A-Wing.
- Notorious Kullbee Sperado is an amazing combo to keep enemy aces in check.
So that was my weekend! I like the list I flew but I'm ready to start switching things up again.