X-Wing is cool. X-Wing is fun. Some of us just like getting together with our friends and a few beverages to play a round with house rules, others know no greater thrill than making the cut at a major tournament. It’s worth celebrating how many different ways we enjoy collecting and playing with our fully licensed plastic and cardboard. Welcome to the Dice and Cardboard Cantina, where we chat about what makes X-Wing fun and, well, just about everything else!
I think I've gone to great lengths so far to make it clear that I am primarily a casual X-Wing player but this past weekend I played in a tournament! My local group had our Spring Seasonal at one of our larger FLGS (Friendly Local Game Stores) with a pretty decent turnout and a great time was had by all. I'll be giving a recap of my experience at the biggest (by headcount) X-Wing event I've yet participated in.
First things first, big time respect to my friends at Houston's Apollo Squadron for building and sustaining an awesome community with X-Wing meetups at a different location every night of the week and multiple new players joining weekly. Thanks as well to The Forge Hobbies and Games, who host us every Tuesday night and gave plenty of space for the tournament. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend you check them out and also hit me up to meet for a game or two.
The tournament was run with 4 rounds of Swiss followed by a top-4 cut. I believe the original plan was 5 rounds and a top-8 but our group of 24 players negotiated a bit and voted as we all wanted to have a slightly more casual Saturday together and our TO/fearless leader was super chill and flexible. This made it much easier to accomplish what we wanted in a single afternoon. Our TO also made the decision when the new rules were released that this event would use only a single scenario: Chance Engagement. This decision was made to simplify preparation for the many new players who would be joining us as well as streamline setup and tournament management in the absence of an official OP document. While I personally have enjoyed trying all of the new scenarios I agree with our TO's decision as it was the right choice for our group's situation at the time. Prize support was a mix of cool alt-arts created by a member of our group (these were also just handed out throughout the day), official FFG/AMG prize support from past events, acrylic goodies donated by local players, some neat custom templates, and Forge store credit.
My goals for the day were:
1) Have fun with my friends
2) Don't do anything embarrassing or make anyone angry
3) Maybe win half of my games?
This was my first time flying Resistance in a while and my first list ever to utilize the new BTA-NR2 Y-Wing. I had also considered a 5-ship Republic squad with Jedi and V-Wings but I decided I don't have the skills right now to succeed with Jedi on limited practice against those in my group who I knew would be using them more effectively.
In all, I was happy with how this list performed and each piece played its part well without being too fussy to fly.
- Poe was...Poe, with Outmaneuver and Black One coming in very handy. I managed to fire both torpedoes in all but one game. This Poe build can be nasty and demands attention.
- C'ai delivered a consistent if unremarkable performance every game and, after I often forgot to lock one of my own ships with M9-G8 in the opening, utilizing the lock to force my opponent to reroll an attack die from their heaviest hitter proved very effective.
- Double modded ion cannon shots from Wilsa in the Y-Wing were very effective and in one case a game-winner. Her ability was never a factor and that was fine.
- Rose with C-3PO is a proven winner. Coordinating either Poe or C'ai helped me push through the first half of the game while Rose consistently ended up with great dice results and served her purpose of diverting attention from Poe. This spot was initially a second Y-Wing (Shasa Zaro) but in practice I found that I wasn't getting much value and switched to Rose.
- Merl Cobben in the A-Wing was the one disappointment for me. On paper his ability sounds great but the only time it triggered was in a just-for-fun game while a friend and I watched the cut. That said, for the points he's still great value as RZ-2s are unquestionably good. I just expected a bit more than what I got: he was either blown away in the first few rounds or zipped around all game without doing too much. I imagine he'll be much more useful in other scenarios.
In all, I was pretty pleased with how I flew this squad. Poe did most of the damage throughout the day but the unsung heroes were C'ai Threnalli and Wilsa Teshlo, putting out consistent hits and punishing any opponent who went after Poe and Rose.
I used what I think was a pretty effective and flexible setup that allowed me to threaten a lot of the table with Poe and take advantage of C'ai's ability to contest the center with enough tokens to hopefully take some fire if needed.
This isn't usually a "Batrep" blog as I don't think I have the writing chops to make that interesting, but here's a rough look at how my day went. All of my games went to time but, with the exception of one where we started late, we always got through at least 7 rounds.
Round 1 vs. L.S. (Empire)
He beat me with this list on practice night the prior Monday and flew it well again. X-1 Vader, Vult Skerris in the Interceptor, Zertik Strom, an ISB Jingoist, and Night Beast. A really neat opening move with Vult to utilize his ability allowed him to chip a shield off of Poe in Round 1 and I messed up my setup with Merl, leaving him out of the fight until Round 3. The ISB Jingoist's ability is brutal and I made the mistake of shooting at a double-tokened Night Beast instead of the Jingoist a few too many times. He also flew Vader masterfully and, when he and Poe met back there behind the gas cloud I was just outmatched. Vader's offense was frighteningly consistent and L kept my other ships occupied and unable to support my ace. I managed to grab a couple of kills to narrow the margin of victory but...
Round 2 vs. T.S. (Empire)
Imperial again, but this time triple aces: Vader in the X-1, the Grand Inquisitor, and Soontir Fel, Ace of Legend. I was feeling pretty good about this one because I had a 2-ship advantage and knew that I could trade some points in exchange for reliable shots on their more fragile ships.
I was able to put shots on target pretty consistently and an M9-G8 lock on Vader most of the game meant that I could limit his offensive capability. There was one real nail-biter where I (only semi-intentionally) baited Soontir with Poe and took a range 1 bullseye attack right into Poe's back but, luckily, he rolled 3 blanks and a Focus and Poe was able to get away unscathed. Afterwards, Soontir was trapped in a killbox and got ionized by Wilsa Teshlo and was effectively out of the game.
At the end of the game I had lost either Rose or Merl, can't remember, but scored all but half of the Grand Inquisitor for a win.
Round 3 vs. J.R. (Rebels)
This squad gave me pause. Wedge Antilles, Thane Kyrell, Norra Wexley, and Ten Numb. Lots of red dice, lots of hull and shields, and some great abilities and upgrades. Pretty much all I had going for me was an extra ship and the fact that Ten Numb had bombs but no Trajectory Simulator.
I'll be honest, I got lucky here. I knew I'd need to fly a tight game to not get obliterated and J made a couple of errors that turned out to be really lucky breaks for me. He flew Ten straight into the center and I blundered straight into Ten's Proton Bombs not once but twice. Luckily for me, Ten got hung up and blocked on that asteroid right by the objective because of a miscalculated maneuver and took damage from his own bombs along with Merl and C'ai, but was then out of the fight for a few rounds. That allowed me to use Poe to deal with Wedge before finishing off Ten. Between the double Proton-Bombing and scary offense from all of his pilots, J still put serious hurt on my list and I struggled to get through the myriad shield and hull upgrades on his ships, but that pivotal fight in the center of the table swung this one in my favor. Barely.
Round 4 vs. A.S. (Separatists)
This one was also a tough fight, mostly because I'm pretty unfamiliar with Separatist swarms and my opponent flew his well. He brought 5 Trade Federation Drones (I think I had managed to blast a few by the time I took the photo) with the usual strut gimmick with a nasty General Grievous and Captain Sear with K2-B4. He set up his droid-asteroid turret combo pretty early but barely missed getting the two on the left and right set up with his first move which helped me in rounds 1 and 2. I did a Poe trick in the first round, coordinating him a Focus and Overdrive boost then activating a 3-straight to clear the stress and boosting to Outmaneuver the center drone and nearly deleting it with the first shot. I knew that my first goal was to reduce ship count and achieve relative parity quickly and I was fortunately able to line up shots early in the game where the Drones on rocks didn't benefit from obstruction. Once that was achieved I spread my ships out so he'd have a hard time concentrating Vulture fire and focused on Sear, eventually ionizing him and finishing him off (he spent his whole game stuck in that position behind the central droid). I barely even tried to hit Grievous as he was basically impervious to real damage and A did a nice job of diving at my flanks whenever he had a chance, but it wasn't quite enough to keep up once the droids started to fall. This list scared me and was flown well; I didn't feel like I had the capacity to remember all of the Separatist tricks so I just focused on flying cleanly and managed to stay ahead on points. He asked me if there was anything I thought he could have done differently and I said that maybe launching a few Drones off of the rocks to fly and mix it up would have thrown off my rhythm instead of letting me deal with them at my own pace. Not sure if that's a good idea but it feels like that would have messed with my plan a fair bit.
Wow, 3-1! My performance goal was to win at least half so I'm pretty pleased with how that went. TTO placed me 4th in Swiss but we ran the 3-1 tiebreaker based on strength of schedule and total Mission Points so I believe I ended up 5th overall. I had a great time with all of my opponents, all but one of whom I had never met, and the competition was fierce but friendly. Thanks again to the leaders of Apollo Squadron and The Forge for a great event.
Round 5ish? A Casual Game
Since this event was Chance Engagement-only a friend and I decided to play a quick game with a different scenario to see how our squads performed. I had biased mine a bit toward the dogfight but believe I can make it work a bit more generally. We arrived at Scramble the Transmissions, the one where you need to take an action to "scramble" a satellite and place your player marker on it.
This was so much fun and went back and forth quite a few times until my opponent pulled ahead in the last few rounds. They were using a beefy 3-ship Separatist squad of Jango, Sun Fac, and Grievous and I believed I could spread out and take the objective advantage while avoiding attacks. This was the wrong choice. Doing this allowed Sun Fac to chase down Poe and pick him apart while Jango charged through the center to prevent my other ships from claiming objectives. In my defense I was pretty unfamiliar with how the Nantex and Sun Fac work and completely overwhelmed once that Pinpoint Tractor business came into play. I eventually managed to hold 4 of 5 satellites but this wasn't enough points to make up for losing Poe and I lost after about 45 minutes and 6 or 7 rounds. If we played this again I think my plan would be to concentrate on Sun Fac as the weakest link as well as the hardest ship to pin down and keep away from objectives, then spread out and control the board once I've reduced their squad to two ships and let Poe chase down Jango with his torpedoes. With the right strategy I can see this list being effective in multiple scenarios, which is encouraging.