So…Where to begin?
I’ve been wanting to write about my X-Wing experiences for some time now, but I’ve never had the time to dedicate myself to writing anything regularly or maintaining a blog of my own.
The opportunity to write something for Ben and RO has come up so I thought, “why not give it a go?”.
I suppose I’ll have to ramble a bit about my X-Wing back-story before I get onto something worthwhile! I’ve played D&D, board games, Warhammer, and RPGs on and off since I was about 6 years old but nothing Star Wars related until recently. I started playing X-Wing right at the start of 2.0 so don’t expect any comparisons to 1.0! I love Star Wars and was playing a bit of Destiny when I stumbled across X-Wing in some videos from Team Covenant which led me down the rabbit hole and here I am, a couple of years and one pandemic later!
I’m not a great player! I’m an average player with aspirations of making the cut in a decent tournament one day! I guess I’m much like many other X-Wing players out there. So maybe my experiences will help you in some aspect of your X-Winging!
“So what’s this all about then?”, I hear you cry! I guess it’s going to be about things I have picked up from playing over the last 2 years and how I have applied them to get better at the game.
I’ll start by focussing on the last few weeks and the first tournament since July 21st, (2021), at our local game store, (Dice Saloon), in Brighton. I’ll look at how and why I flew the list I did. It will, no doubt, digress along the way as things spring to mind!
The tournament was “super-relaxed-casual-tier” to get everyone back in the groove. 18 players. 3 games of swiss. No cut. More like a long day of casual play with some official prize support. it was made up of about half Bandit Squadron players, as we all play at Dice Saloon on a Tuesday night. There were some of the “Lewes Chapter” of Bandits who play at Trinity Gaming Cafe on a Thursday. It was great to dee 4 or 5 from the Flying Bantha Squadron in Chichester too. It was good to see people were willing to travel from further afield and I got to meet some faces that I previously only knew from plying online.
As it was such a relaxed tier of competition, I wasn’t expecting anyone to bring serious meta-lists like Jango/Zam or the Rebel focus-passing monster that have been doing the rounds recently on TTS. To be honest, I wasn’t as in touch with the meta as I have been in the past. Life had got in the way of me watching many video replays of recent games. I’d sadly had to pass up season 2 of the Rogue Outpost weekly TTS league which I had intended to help me pick something to fly in the tournament. I knew I was only going to get probably 6-8 games to decide, refine and practice my list.
So the first digression…how do you pick a list to fly? (This is a topic that can have its whole own essay/blog and maybe that’s the focus of what I write next)!
Usually, I fly what I am used to and what I like to fly. Sounds simple but I have 6 factions to choose from.
I’m not a jouster and swarms mess with my head when I’m trying to fly and not bump them. so arc dodging aces has become my thing. i4 is probably the lowest you’ll see in my squad unless it brings some kind of extra synergy to the list. I also like a good 3 ship list, (4 is probably my happy max). Not too much to remember or to clog my brain space when planning turns. I do like a good 2 ship list but find them too unforgiving for a tournament. It has to be flown consistently perfectly over multiple games to be worth taking. My consistency in flying and decision-making has got so much better over the last 6 months, but it’s not good enough to risk a 2 ship list yet.
So a 3 ship, ace (ish), a decent list that, probably, didn’t have to beat the top-tier meta-lists.
I recently, (in March), bought a YT-2400 model that I hadn’t had a chance to put on a table and I knew Dash has come down in cost. I read Dylan Jones’s blog before the Phoenix Cell pack was released and learned a lot about potentially flying Dash. Jake is always a good buddy for Dash and A-Wing Hera was the perfect third ship to put alongside Jake. I had the bones of the list.
Upgrades: I tried Dash a couple of times on TTS with various upgrades but finally settled on the usual. Bistan and Perceptive co-pilot double-tapping Dash. I found Dash could give up at least half points quite easily over the course of a game and decided to put a shield upgrade on him to raise the half points threshold. It was quickly apparent how much longer it takes for an opponent to halve Dash. If they do get half points, the extra point also allows me to be a bit more aggressive and not risk losing him altogether later in the game.
I’ve also got Trick Shot on Dash as it works well with the biggest debris clouds I take to each game. I have toyed with the idea of expert handling for the white barrel rolls but haven’t had time to try it out with this list yet. It’ll have to stay as Trick Shot for now. It works best with the outrider title as they lose the obstruction bonus. Still, I’d rather throw 5 red dice against 3-4 green dice when obstructed.
That’s Dash sorted and a fairly pricey Dash at 113pts. 57 for half. However, he is quite capable of taking 57 points off the board early and often covers his own points well before he gives them up. He has to though, as Jake and Hera aren’t the damage dealers in the list.
Hera: Prockets? Outmaneuver? Thread Tracers? I’ve tried them all and gone back to naked Hera! I have found she is most often taking an evade to help Dash out. Prockets and Tracers need the focus/lock to trigger so can be less useful. Outmaneuver puts her at 48pts, which seems a little high if she goes to half or dies early. So no upgrades on Hera and I’m fine with that.
Jake. Again, I’ve tried all of the above, and Predator I’ve even tried Marksmanship and Deadeye Shot as a combo together. It didn’t trigger in either game I tried it. Then I played Kevin, a fellow Bandit, who had Prockets and Marksmanship on his Jendon plus three x1 list. It tore Dash apart in two engagements and I liked the extra kick that Marksmanship gave the missile. Jake always has his own focus for the Prockets and they have triggered in every game I’ve had them, apart from one where Death-Rey one-shotted Jake early game! This Jake load-out still lands at only 40pts which is really cheap. It allows Jake or Hera to be both bait and/or support in the list and Jake has the potential to swing a game with a big Procket hit.
So there’s the list:
Hera Syndulla (A-Wing) (42)
Ship Total: 42 Half Points: 21 Threshold: 2
Dash Rendar (85)
Trick Shot (4)
Perceptive Copilot (8)
Shield Upgrade (6)
Ship Total: 113 Half Points: 57 Threshold: 6
Jake Farrell (34)
Proton Rockets (5)
Ship Total: 40 Half Points: 20 Threshold: 2
View in Yet Another Squad Builder 2.0: https://raithos.github.io/?f=Rebel%20Alliance&d=v8ZsZ200Z451XWWWY39X133WW77W54W165WWY50X125WW102W&sn=Hera%2FDash%2FJake&obs=
195 points seem good in the current meta, where many lists are sitting at 198-200 points. This means I stand a good chance of moving Dash and Hera last, which suits my style of play. It’s never going to beat the player bringing the silly 189-191 bid, but that’s why they bring the silly bid in the first place! Dash is the heavy hitter, hopefully firing 4-5 dice twice a turn with at least a focus for each attack and hopefully double mods with Jake and Hera supporting. Hera will support both Dash and Jake with mostly evades and locks to pass around. Jake is primarily there to be bait, support Dash by passing a focus action, and bide his time until he can get off a procket. (Not bad for a 40 point ship).
So I’ve got my list sorted and my bag packed and I’ve done all my usual tournament prep, (that’s another one I’m going to dedicate another blog to). Our Bandit Squadron chat has been full of banter and discussion about the tournament and some probing to see what people are flying. Some are cagey and some, like me, are fully open about what they are bringing. We’ve all flown against each other enough times to have an idea of play styles and list preferences!
Saturday 24th finally rolls around for the first post-lockdown tournament! It’s the most exciting day since SOS 2020!
I rock up at Dice Saloon, register, and get my box out ready. My first game is against Peter Burmis who isn’t a Bandit or a Flying Bantha. He’s come down from South London and is flying Vader/Ryad/Fifth Brother. I’m pleasantly surprised to see no homing missiles on 5th Bro. Just naked. I’ve got the bid so I give Peter the initiative and we set up to play. The round starts and we are off. I’m quietly optimistic as he’s flying ships I know well and my list can cope with his.
It’s a cagey first few rounds until I manage to line up a procket shot on Vader! I roll 2 hits and no focus. Marksmanship made it hit/crit but it’s still underwhelming. Vader shrugs it off. Next round, Peter puts Vader in Dash’s arc after a red maneuver and Dash takes 2 shields and a hull. I’ve lost a couple of shields on Dash for half Vader and a shield on Fifth Bro. Looking good so far.
Then I made a mistake! I had Fifth Bro and Ryad in Dash’s arc with a double focus. I fire at Fifth and spend a focus. Then Bistan into Ryad and spend a focus. Neither shot was likely to do damage and I’ve got 2 shots coming back in, 1 from Fifth Bro and one from Ryad with no defensive focus! I got greedy and paid for it as I lose all but 1 shield on Dash! I’m only two away from half!
We carry on until the final round with no further significant damage and get to the final turn. Ryad positions to block Dash. Jake positions to block Vader. Hera moves up to support and takes an evade. Dash fails to land his move by about 2mm and Vader clears the block with his talon roll by about the same amount. Bugger!
Vader rolls spends the force and ends up with hit/hit/crit. I need 1 squiggle to not half Dash as I can use Hera’s evade. I roll average, Blank/focus/evade. Then I measure for Hera’s ability and I’m 1mm out and can’t use the evade! Dash takes hit/crit and drops to below half. I’m now down 38-57 and with my remaining shots, can’t do enough damage to Ryad or Fifth Bro to pull it back.
It was a great first game and at least I know exactly where I lost it. Getting greedy with Dash and the double-tap. Peter flew a great second half of the game and pulled back a great win. He went on to finish 2-1 in 7th place after losing his 3rd game to the eventual runner-up.
Round 2 and I find myself down on table 8 out of 9 but at least I know where I went wrong in what was a great, close game. I’m up against Nick. A fellow bandit who is flying Death-Rey/Zizi/Bastian. We are flying the same lists we flew against each other on Tuesday night before the tournament although Nick has swapped optics on Zizi for Proton Rockets. It was a comprehensive victory for me, (even though Rey took out Jake with one shot early on), but I know Nick will have learned from that game.
I have the bid and want Dash moving after Zizi and Rey so I give Nick first player and we set up and get going.
A couple of rounds in and I’ve used Hera as bait and nick has just caught her at range 3. It’s the only engagement of the round. I’m fully expecting 3 hits to come in as it’s Death-Rey and sure enough it’s hit/hit/crit. but Hera, with 4 greens and a focus should be ok. Right? Wrong! Hera rolls 4 blanks and draws a Direct Hit as the crit and explodes in a pathetic fireball. It’s going to be an uphill struggle from here and Dash is going to have to put in a shift!
Jake manages to line up his prockets on Zizi but only with a focus now Hera has gone. He rolls 2 hits and 3 blanks. Zizi blanks and I’ve got half points but it would have been a dead Zizi if I’d rolled better reds. It happened again! Maybe I should have saved the prockets for a different target, but when you have the chance, you use them in case the chance doesn’t come again.
Dash doesn’t manage to roll more than 2 hits for the rest of the game, even when he is throwing 5 dice and fully focussed! Nick bleeds Dash and he pops with 10 minutes to go. Game over!
I run with Jake to preserve some MOV, but Nick catches him with Bastian and he goes the way of the others.
We have a chat about the game and Nick tells me that he thinks it was good luck that won him the game but his flying of Rey was superb and she always seemed to have a front arc shot on something in my list to make his shenanigans happen! Yes, I had some very unfortunate dice, but Nick was always able to capitalise on it with his positioning.
So I was 0-2 at the lunch break with only 1 game to play! I took myself off for some lunch and a brain reset. I figured that I could relax for game 3 and not stress about position or MOV. So I ordered a cup of tea for the break and a beer for the start of the game, (Dice Saloon do beer and cocktails which is really rather civilised)!
I’m paired against another Bandit, Rob H, for my final round. Rob usually brings some kind of degenerate, janky scum list and today is no exception! He’s got Bossk in the 666 with Zam crew, Greedo gunner, and false transponder codes (FTC). Ship 2 is Lando in the falcon with Jabba crew, FTC, and the falcon title. Ship 3 is Asajj Ventress in the Lancer, with 0-0-0 crew, FTC, Contraband Cybernetics, and the Shadowcaster title. I’ve never flown against Bossk, or Lando, and only a couple of times against Zam crew. (I’m still waiting on my backorder of the separatist Firespray since the release date)! Rob’s list has so many triggers, I’m never going to remember them all.
Round 3 went badly. I didn’t really have a plan so we circled for a while and it took ages to engage. I wanted to wait until Bossk had split from Lando so I could get some guns in on Bossk but Rob turned in from the do-si-do first and got the better first engagement.
Dash couldn’t get double mods because of the FTC’s on all Robs ships and he was able to keep recharging them with Jabba at the end of each turn. I took a few shields from each of Rob’s ships but not enough for half all game.
Hera did what she did all day and blanked out to end up on 1 hull and spent the rest of the game after that running for safe positions. She was out of the game for at least the middle section. When she did finally get back in the game, her 1 remaining hull ended up being too little.
Jake did his best to support Dash but often this meant not being in a position to shoot. Dash did his best but was never double modded because of the FTCs. Also, having to keep focus for defense meant he couldn’t push enough damage through to make a difference. He eventually got burned down with a couple of minutes to go. Jake had to keep running and never got his prockets off. 5 points well spent today……not!
So I ended the day 0-3, in last place out of 18, and fairly cheesed off with my list.
However, I had a great day socialising with my Bandit buddies and meeting new players that didn’t know before. And I got to push little plastic spaceships around for a whole Saturday! So, I feel like a winner whatever my position in the tournament.
So…I’m sitting here writing this on the same evening, after the tournament, and what have I learned?
- Variance is a bitch!
2. Prockets aren’t worth it!
3. I don’t play enough games to know everything I might come up against in a tournament!
I enjoyed myself and had a great day even though I went 0-3 with a list I felt should have done better. Let’s break down those headlines and analyse it all a bit closer.
1. No matter how hard you prepare for a tournament, Dice variance will always play a part. You can mitigate the variance with better positioning, modding better, having a more efficient list, rolling more dice, etc. But if you have a game with consistently bad dice throughout, it will make that game a struggle. Players usually exaggerate the impact of bad dice rolls, especially green ones, but, (like that second game), sometimes a truly unlucky game can tilt a tournament day.
2. Prockets are probably actually worth it. They just didn’t seem that way today. I’ve flown them on Jake for six games and they are generally better than outmaneuver. However, with marksmanship, they stack up to 6 points and I feel they need to consistently hit better to feel worth it. If I could have had locks as well as a focus for the procket shots today, they would certainly have hit much harder.
The list that made me look at procket + marksmanship was the Jendon and three x1s list. By the time the x1s got into range, they had focus plus lock with the ability to turn two hits to crits. Consistent with extra added punch!
3. Table time and reps with a list are something I will always struggle with! I have to live with this and accept it as fact. I only play once a week at one of the two gaming venues I have mentioned, (Dice Saloon in Brighton and Trinity Gaming Cafe in Lewes). I get two games a week and If I choose to play familiar list types and factions, I am not going to come up against everything that is out there. I may convince my other half that an extra TTS game at home one evening might help me progress more, but a balance has to be struck that suits family life as well. Maybe I will sign up for Season 3 of the Rogue Outpost League. The weekly themes get me flying lists I wouldn’t normally consider and I really missed playing in Season 2.
I enjoyed the day. I played X-Wing and hung out with buddies for a whole day. This is the heart of what we play the game for! I’m a decent player, who on my day can win games and do well but I’m not going to get depressed or grumpy over a bad day. I came home from the tournament ready to throw Dash in the “bin”, but I’m writing the conclusion to this blog a couple of days later and I’m thinking “How can I make this list better and get it to work?” Next game night I am going to try AP-5 in the Sheathipeade shuttle instead of either Jake or Hera and give Dash the outrider title and see if it looks viable. For the second game of the night, I will fly Defender Vader / Echo for funsies.
I hope this may have given you some insights that you can take away and use in your own X-Wing games and tournaments.
If you like it and Ben will let me, then I’d like to write more from the perspective of a mid-table casual flyer!
Bye for now!
Thanks, Jamie! As he said above, let me know in the comments if you’d like to hear more from him.