Category: X-Wing Battle Report

X-Wing: Canadian Nationals


My thoughts, experience and opinions on the event, my performance (Flawless obviously…) and the Meta.

It’s Friday 24 Oct and I am sat in Edmonton Airport waiting for the first leg of my flight to begin on my journey to the 2014 Canadian Nationals for X-Wing.  Now when I booked my ticket I was living not far from Calgary and was involved in a bustling X-Wing scene.
Due to real life I have had to move up to Cold Lake, Alberta which (much to my surprise) did not have quite as active a community.  It also meant that my simple short haul flight turned in to a three and a half hour drive in the wrong direction, a flight to Calgary and then a Flight to Hamilton.
Luckily I am a good sport and being ex-air force I am used to lots of traveling and long delays.
Due to my new surroundings I did not get as much practice in as I would have liked, as most of my games have revolved around introducing new people to the hobby and putting on Demo games at my FLGS (Arcane Angle in Cold Lake, Chris is an awesome guy and they have just had their grand re-opening after expanding the store so if you are ever about Cold Lake check them out!)
I did get a nice trip back to Calgary over (Canadian) Thanksgiving where I got to play a couple of good games against better quality opposition. (Thanks Greg!)  The reason that the trip was helpful was that if I don’t get to exercise my “fun list” daemons I do stupid things like taking an all Goblin army to the Warhammer Throne of Skulls, admittedly I did get best Orc & Goblin General and was the only player to beat the overall winner of the event but its still not a good grounding for a competitive event (true story)
Yes I really do have an Obi-Wan Goblin in my Army…

I had a couple of lists ideas that I wanted to try out varying from the old reliable 3 Bounty Hunter list through my Biggs Blounts the Daggers that I was messing around with before I left Calgary but I decided on a YT/A-Wing list.

This is something that I played in a few friendly games before Rebel Aces hit the streets as I really find flying the Falcon boring but the addition of the A-Wings gave me a nice challenging little ship to play around with while Han tried to do all of the work.

====================
A Prototype Han List
====================

Han Solo (60)
YT-1300 (46), Veteran Instincts (1), Gunner (5), R2-D2 (4), Engine Upgrade (4) 

Prototype Pilot (20)
A-Wing (17), Proton Rockets (3) 

Prototype Pilot (20)
A-Wing (17), Proton Rockets (3) 

100 points

Now that I have Rebel Aces to play with I thought I would give the list a second chance.

The Prototype Pilots changed from having a Hull Upgrade which made them 20 point 5 Hit Blockers in all effect to having Proton Rockets which actually makes them a threat to any of the low evade ships.

I did mess around with the Han Build a little as well, taking off a lot of tank, I was running him with Chewbacca and R2, Falcon Title and Push the Limits.  That gave me an Evade and lots of shield regen which made him really frustrating to take down.
This build is running on the theory that the Higher Pilot Skill and Gunner make him more threatening while Engine Upgrade should make him more fun to fly and just R2 to help with Tanking Damage.

The hope is that this build should have enough raw damage for 1 turn to give me a head start against other YT lists whilst maintaining the innate strength of Han/Gunner against the lower ship count lists.

Of course the list has a few holes as well but thats the fun of X-Wing.  Getting the alpha strike off from the PS1 A-Wings in going to be hard and the PS11 Falcon is not the best option in my opinion as what it gains against Whisper and the like it loses against generic rebel lists.

It is also worth noting that I don’t have the best history running a YT-1300 in a competitive event as I have a tendency to not put as much effort in to flying it as I should but as long as I didn’t run in to too many hard hitting multi ship Rebel lists I should do fine.

As I can see my first plain pulling in to its slot I should probably look at wrapping up this train of thought looking at my list and why I took it.

The other thoughts I wanted to cover before I went in to the event were what I was expecting to see Meta wise so that I can think about my expectations compared to the reality.

Not having done that much research in tot he Meta out west I am expecting to see a good amount of Falcons, especially supported by 3 Z-95’s.  I have heard that the Rebel Swarm is becoming popular over there and would expect to see some 6 Ship rebel lists with combinations of 5 Z’s and Biggs or Ethan.  I would still be surprised to see any 8 Z-95 list but a full on 6 Z-95 list with Missiles is something I am expecting to see and to do well.

On the Imperial side I expect more Whispers than Echos on the Phantom side.  Hopefully the Defender will put in a good showing as I do think it is a better ship than its results are showing (in the same way the the Lambda too time to master)

I really hope that there is at least 1 8 TIE Swarm just as I still think it is a really strong list.

Saturday 25 Oct and registration is done, obviously in stead of meeting new people I am hunched up in the corner working on the article.

The venue is a Royal Canadian Legion hall which I always like to see this kind of venue being taken advantage of as it gives a good amount of profit to the Legions which is always a good thing.

I shared a taxi with Greg Jackson who I featured in one of my Swarm Theory battle reports and after a bit of a chat about what he had decided to run and what we were worried about facing, B-Wings and Biggs for me and PS 11 Falcons for him as he had gone for Whisper, Vader Shuttle and a Bounty Hunter list which was something new to him but he didn’t feel that his usual Golden Daggers (2 Y’s with Ions and 2 Daggers with Advanced Sensors) would do as well in the expected meta.

At this point round 1 was called and it was time to get my game face on…

Round 1 saw me matched against James Neil running Echo, Krassis and Night Beast.  Echo had VI and Advanced Cloaking Device while Krassis had HLC, Rebel Captive and Engine Upgrade.

I was happy with the match up as Han should do fine against Echo and although Krassis could be a worry I was confidant I could deal with him.  For Asteroids I wanted a nice scattered field to cut down on the Echo shenanigans which I managed to create fairly well and I then deployed an A-Wing on each flank and waited.
Krassis was deployed just off centre while Night Beast and Echo were off to my left flank.  I decided to deploy Han just off to the right of centre so that I could get in to the centre of the table with him and dominate any of Echo’s approaches while going for a bit of a joust with Krassis (Yes I know he has a HLC but I was confidant that as it would only be hime shooing me for at least he first two rounds that R2 would do his job)
The early exchanges went slightly in James favour but just as he had Han’s shields down he had Target Locked and Focused A-Wings to worry about and had to switch targets.  He did manage to kill one A-Wing before it unloaded its cargo but the other one fired off and with Echo dead and Krassis down to 1 Hull while Han still had 5 and a Shield with 30 mins left to play it was a fairly safe 100-40 win to me with Han cleaning up the Krassis and Night Beast.

James was a really good opponent and recognized that I had managed to isolate Night Beast early on due to his deployment and that lack of firepower meant that it was almost always Han vs 1 ship at a time which just played in to my hands.  R2 did restore 5 shields over the course of the game and only flipped 1 Crit reducing my Primary Weapon Value during the end when it was just Han vs Night Beast but even that was not going to change the result.

Game 2 I was paired with Gary Bento who was running one of the lists I found quite surprising.  He had Bobba Fett with Slave 1, Flachette Torps, Engine Upgrade, HLC, Gunner and VI with Echo, VI, Advanced Cloaking Device, Fire Control System and Rebel Captive.  There were at least 3 variations of this 2 ship Imperial list at the event and I can see how it should work but again I was confidant I had all the answers with the Protons on the A’s giving me a massive head start on any damage triage of with Fett and Echo being irrelevant against my PS11 Han.
Again I wanted a good spread of asteroids around the centre of the table to help keep Echo under control which I got even better in this match up as I don’t think Gary got what I was trying to do and with my getting to place the last rock by the time it was obvious it was too late.
I used the same 1 A-Wing on each flank deployment again with Gary setting up on the table edge on the left flank facing across the table.
I just ignored this and stuck Han just of centre with the thought of just holding inside of the asteroid ring and seeing what he could do about it.

Gary did make a horrible mistake early decloaking Echo on to a rock where I then had the choice of Taking him out with Han but being double stressed due to Rebel Captive or letting him off the hook.
Looking at the positioning of Fett and how I would have to fly to De-Stress I figured I would need 3 action less turns but that it would be worth it to take out half of Gary’s squad early.  With Han reduced to “just” his ability and Gunner for 3 rounds of shooting Gary took the chance to get rid of the A-Wings that were about to Proton him and cleaned one out before it launched due to my usual 3 Blanks on the green dice and flipping the Direct Hit Critical. (Happened 3 times in the event my A-Wings are not supposed to live…)

Again it was a comfortable 100-40 win to me in the end.

Round 3 paired me against Greg Jackson, much to both of our disappointment.  In fairness, although we have played each other a lot when I was still in Calgary we had never actually faced off in a competitive event.
Greg’s list was Whisper with VI, Intelligence Agent, Fire Control System and Advanced Cloaking Device, Lambda Shuttle with Vader and a Bounty Hunter with Recon Specialist.
I went in to the game already knowing that Greg was not going to be confidant about the match up but I was a little worried about him just bum rushing Han with everything and seeing who’s dice were better.  To be fair that is not Greg’s style though and I went for a more clumped asteroid placement to give me a lot of open space in the my right hand side to play with.  Again the 1 A-Wing on Each flank let me see where Greg was going and he had the bounty Hunter central with Shuttle and Whisper off to one Flank.
With the Falcon deployed of on the far left Flank I had a plan to sucker Greg in to splitting his fire power.  If I could convince him that the Bounty Hunter was target number 1 I was confidant I could leave it isolated while I felt wight he Space Cow and Whisper.  Greg was fully aware of the damage my A-Wings had been doing to Firesprays in my first two games but also that the people who put too much fire in to trying to stop them left Han too healthy to stop.  With a mad dash forwards with both the Falcon and the Left most A-Wing and the Right Flanker moving to position to break for the left flank too. Greg moved the Bounty Hunter in behind the Asteroids heading left to meet the threat while the Shuttle started forwards while Whisper went 4 ahead and Cloaked to be a harassment in my back field.  Still happy that my plan could work I moved the A-Wing on the left with a Hard Turn to give him a shot on the approaching Bounty Hunter and Target Locked him while Han cut in just inside the line of asteroids and took a boost to get him as good as parallel to the Firespray and therefore out of arch..  The Shuttle had started to bank in to the centre while Whisper was a little more cagy but next turn was the make or break for the Deception. Han and the A-Wing went full speed across the table while the right most A-Wing cut back toward the Right Flank while the Bounty Hunter was left with no other option but to wither continue on his course towards the now empty left flank so that he could use his rear arc, K-Turn leaving him with only a Range 3 unfocused shot at the A-Wing or Hard turn in-between the asteroids but with no shot as a bank would have landed him on a rock.  Meanwhile Han went for Whisper and the A-Wings went for the Shuttle.  At this point I was more than happy as I had an A-Wing that had lost 1 shield but had fired its Protons and an Undamaged one with a full load and Han was still healthy while Greg now had a Shuttle that if he used Vader would suicide and a Damaged Whisper with a Firespray that was out of position for at least another round.

I cleaned up Whisper and the shuttle for the loss of the damaged A-Wing whilst R2 managed to reduce Han to Pilot Skill 0 (much to Gregs amusement that it had not happened a turn earlier when Whisper was still alive…) I then was happy to trade with the Firespray but Greg had moved in to a position where he had to do either a Hard 2 or a Hard 3 to not fly off the table and as Han was now PS 0 I saw my chance to end the game right there.  Powering in the full 4 ahead and then Boosting right I managed to cover the angle of the 3 Hard and had the A Wing positioned so that if it was a Hard 2 I would be getting 2 Range 1 shots at him while the 3 would leave him off the table.  Greg flipped the dial and sure enough it was the Hard 3 and we shook hands with me taking the game 100-20.

Round 4 was against Ron Brannon and as I had been keeping an eye on the Nova Squadron guys I new I was in for a hard game.  Ron was running 4 Blue Squadron B-Wings and a Bandit Squadron Z-95.  So a hard hitting Rebel list, just what I didn’t want to see.  To make things worse Ron out played me for Asteroid placement leaving me with a slightly tighter field than I had hoped for but I had decided to take a chance and if I could get behind him and for him to K-Turn I could get the A-Wings in from one side and the Falcon on the other and hopefully do enough damage before he took Han down.  I set myself up for a small exchange of fire but with a line over the asteroid field with the Falcon that as long as Ron continued his bank would put Han where I needed him taking a shot only from the back most ship and the A-Wings coming in from the other side.  Ron unfortunately read me like a book and Hard turned the B-Wings splitting them apart slightly around one of the asteroids but giving him all 4 to shoot at Han.  Shoot they did with Ron getting no less than 11 Hits from his 12 shots and even with the help of the asteroid I only evaded 2 leaving Han on his last legs for the loss of only the Bandit.  Unable to escape all of the Arcs in the next round, even with the Engine Upgrade Han went down and that left 2 A-wings to take on 4 relatively healthy B’s… I did manage to cause some nice pile ups and get some shots of un answered but my Green dice were never going to be up for that challenge and Ron took me for a 100-12 point loss.
I was happy with the game and although it was a silly risk I think I would have tried it again but I do with I had been able to give Ron more of a game but ultimately I don’t think my list was up for beating his.

Due to my quick thrashing in Round 4 I had a bit of time to explore what was going on at the mid tables as that was where I was expecting my opponent to come from for Round 5.  There was a good mix of lists there with some Falcons and even a couple more of the 2 Ship Phantom/Firespray lists but equally there was a fair number of Rebel B-Wing heavy lists that I did not feel my A-Wings would be up for the job of taking on.

Sure enough I wing in to Round 5 against Dany Laberge and his 4 Blue Squadron with Fire Control System and Jan riding in one of them.  At this point, in reflection I think I went in with the wrong attitude and a little on tilt.  I kept my 1 A-Wing on each flank set up with the plan of trying to out fly Dany and chip away some shields before I committed.  Not only did I not out fly him I practically handed him the 2 A-Wings early with no pressure from Han, needles to say it didn’t end well with my first 100-0 loss of the day.  In reflection I think I should have put both A-Wings on the same flank and either accepted the joust if he had set up facing me or placed the Falcon opposite him if he had gone to the opposite flank and rushed the A-Wings to support and just tried to pile on the fire.  Ultimately though it was another hard match up against good quality opposition.

So how did the 5 Rounds of Swiss play out?

Name
Score
MoV
SoS
Record
Byes
Ron Brannan
25
878
75
5 / 0 / 0
0
Glen Nielsen
25
776
53
5 / 0 / 0
0
Remi Dumais
20
874
66
4 / 1 / 0
0
Grish K.
20
739
53
4 / 1 / 0
0
Dany Laberge
20
713
75
4 / 1 / 0
0
Jeff Dunford
20
694
45
4 / 1 / 0
0
Nelson Cravo
20
661
80
4 / 1 / 0
0
Matt Berge
20
631
75
4 / 1 / 0
0
Johnathan Neale
20
612
80
4 / 1 / 0
0
Gerry Russell
18
489
61
4 / 1 / 0
0
Lucas Crosby
16
627
44
4 / 1 / 0
0
Shiu Yik Au
16
607
50
3 / 1 / 1
0
Victor Naqvi
15
680
55
3 / 2 / 0
0
Cody Martell
15
645
50
3 / 2 / 0
0
Eric Lalande
15
596
68
3 / 2 / 0
0
Chris Engler
15
589
70
3 / 2 / 0
0
Mark Tang
15
582
60
3 / 2 / 0
0
David Ross
15
581
60
3 / 2 / 0
0
Trevor Ryan
15
572
73
3 / 2 / 0
0
Chris Viola
15
566
65
3 / 2 / 0
0
Richard Hsu
15
540
46
3 / 2 / 0
0
Chris Orr
15
524
70
3 / 2 / 0
0
Greg Jackson
15
520
60
3 / 2 / 0
0
Marco Mancini
15
513
68
3 / 2 / 0
0
Kris Sherriff
15
512
80
3 / 2 / 0
0
John Ozoga
15
470
38
3 / 2 / 0
0
Preston Bitzer
13
672
69
3 / 2 / 0
0
Jacob Lowery
13
468
49
3 / 2 / 0
0
Drew Edgar
13
446
70
3 / 2 / 0
0
James Binnie
11
483
55
2 / 2 / 1
0
Benoit Philippe Girouard
10
665
58
2 / 3 / 0
0
Dien Tran
10
560
48
2 / 3 / 0
0
Tim Godberson
10
515
55
2 / 3 / 0
0
Ciaran Russell
10
487
75
2 / 3 / 0
0
Frederick Weaver
10
474
80
2 / 3 / 0
0
John Wasch
10
470
65
2 / 3 / 0
0
Norm Weir
10
469
56
2 / 3 / 0
0
James Neill
10
455
59
2 / 3 / 0
0
David Rodriguez
10
418
50
2 / 3 / 0
0
Shereff Ishak
10
416
59
2 / 3 / 0
0
Joe Silva
10
356
46
2 / 3 / 0
1
Cameron Carmichael
10
334
65
2 / 3 / 0
0
Garrett Lowe
10
330
65
2 / 3 / 0
0
Gary Bento
10
327
76
2 / 3 / 0
0
Eric Grier
8
426
65
2 / 3 / 0
0
Brandon Mallett
8
405
45
2 / 3 / 0
0
MIke Croft
5
535
50
1 / 4 / 0
0
Jeff Bizzak
5
431
65
1 / 4 / 0
0
Andrew Kim
5
425
34
1 / 4 / 0
0
Hossam Mohyeldin
5
316
55
1 / 4 / 0
0
Darren Collins
5
265
58
1 / 4 / 0
0
Noah Chapman
5
249
68
1 / 4 / 0
0
Steven Buie
5
172
46
1 / 4 / 0
1

You have no idea how much grief I got for Greg coming 2 places higher by I just remind him that I beat him in the event and that his first win was a Bye (to which he reminds me that he earned the bye placing above me at regionals too…)

That is where my participation in the even finished 25 out of 58.  As it is now Sunday I am happy with that, yesterday I was a little more disappointed but when I look at my Strength of Schedule it is not that bad, I lost to First Place and 5th Place and had the highest SoS score on the day so I didn’t get an easy run opponent wise.  I would have liked to play more varied lists as the day felt a bit repetitive with Friesprays and Phantoms and then B-Wings but that is the luck of the draw I suppose.

The knock out stages were unfortunately also on the 60 Minute time limit but again that comes back to the event being run in a Legion building so you take the rough with the smooth I suppose, my only criticism of the organization of the even falls on this point as it was advertised with the usual 75 minute rounds for the top 8 split so some people may have taken a different approach in list design as some list defiantly have an advantage in the 60 minute format.

Here is the Rundown anyway.

Top 8
1: Ron Brannan VS Matt Berge – Match Results: Ron Brannan is the winner 100 to 44

2: Grish K. VS Dany Laberge – Match Results: Grish K. is the winner 100 to 36
3: Remi Dumais VS Jeff Dunford – Match Results: Jeff Dunford is the winner 52 to 100
4: Glen Nielsen VS Nelson Cravo – Match Results: Glen Nielsen is the winner 48 to 38

Top 4
1: Ron Brannan VS Grish K. – Match Results: Ron Brannan is the winner 100 to 22
2: Jeff Dunford VS Glen Nielsen – Match Results: Jeff Dunford is the winner 100 to 0

Top 2
1: Ron Brannan VS Jeff Dunford – Match Results: Jeff Dunford is the winner 52 to 58

Unfortunately I don’t have all of the details for the top 8 lists but the final was between;
Jeff’s Double Falcon
100 points
Lando Calrissian (52)
YT-1300 (44), Push the Limit (3), Nien Nunb (1), C-3PO (3), Millennium Falcon (1)
Chewbacca (48)
YT-1300 (42), Veteran Instincts (1), Jan Ors (2), Recon Specialist (3)
And
Ron’s Z’s and B’s
100 points
Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Bandit Squadron Pilot (12)
So with the addition of wave 5 and Rebel Aces Falcons are still good and B-Wings can more than hold their own!
Ok so its now Sunday 26th and I am starting the long trip back to Cold Lake, Ab.
I have had some time for introspection and to look back on the event and what was on show.  For my performance I got to mix it with the best on the day as my SoS showed but then I was found wanting at the end of the day so I have some things to work on.
I may not be happy with my over all placement of 25 but think it was a fair reflection of my play on the day when I take in to account the last game where I defiantly was on tilt and could have played much better.  I still think I would have taken the risk against Ron but now that I have played him once I have a better approach but was defiantly out played there!
My predictions on the Meta were fairly scattered as although I didn’t get to play a Falcon there were a few on display including a good percentage of the top 8.  There were no 8 TIE warms but there was an 8 Z-95 Swarm and it did very well.
I saw more Echo’s than Whispers which did surprise me and I still don’t see the value in the Fett and Echo list at this level of play.
There were lots of B-Wings so the people who thought they had died with the emersion of the Phantom were dead wrong and I still believe a well flow B-Wing  based list has nothing to fear from a Phantom.
I do have one thing that has been nagging at me that I found shocking.  People actually left the even after rounds 2 and 3.  I personally would still have been playing if I were 0-4 and not just because I had come such a long way.  I just think its disrespectful to your fellow players and the event organizers to leave just because you lost.  I have seen it happen a couple of times since I moved over her so maybe it as a cultural thing that I don’t get but even in an event lilt this my primary goal is to play some toy soldiers and that just does not mesh with the  walking out after 2 losses mentality.
I would like to thank all of the people involved in running the event and the Royal Canadian Legion for hosting us.  A massive thanks you to all of my opponents who all played well and took there dice rolls (good or bad) well and made the trip worth while!

X-Wing: Swarm Theory Part 3

Hi Guys,
It’s time for another Swarm Theory, now that we have got the 8 TIE swarm out of the way we get to look at the 7 TIE Swarm and Howlrunner!

So just as a quick recap over the last two parts of Swarm Theory we have gone over how the basic TIE Swarm works with lots of small attacks focused in to one area and the advantages that presenting multiple targets has by helping you keep ships alive after they have taken damage, due to the fact that they continue to operate at full effectiveness until dead, so if you can keep them an extra turn or two with some fancy flying it can really help drag the enemy down.

We also covered how important the opening moves are for a Swarm and I stressed the importance of practicing them a few times, even if it is by yourself.  This principle gets even more important when flying with a fulcrum such as Howlrunner (or Biggs if you are Rebel Scum…)

So lets just jump right in and show all of you TIE lovers the woman of your dreams!

Here she is, Howlrunner in all of her 18 Point glory.  She is still just a TIE Fighter but does boast a lovely Pilot Skill of 8 and has access to an Elite Pilot Talent.

The important part though, is her Pilot Ability;

“When another friendly ship at Range 1 is attacking with its primary weapon, it may reroll 1 attack die.”

Having done the rough math* this bumps your base chance to hit to the same as if you took a Focus Action. If you stack that with a Focus Action and assuming range band 2 or 3 that give you a 98% chance of getting at least one Hit or Crit Result and an 84% chance of getting 2 Hits of some sort.

If you feel like taking an Evading Action instead of a Focus Action the numbers are still a 75% Chance of at least one Hit and a 38% chance of 2 Hits.

As a force multiplier this is fairly insane and while obviously your opponent will still get a chance to Evade your shots as long as you took a Focus Action you will have a 78% chance of getting at least one Hit through two Un-Focused Evade Dice, which is not too shabby at all when you are rolling up to 6 Attacks.

*Take numbers with a pinch of salt as its a dice game and some rounding was done to keep the math easy.

Now that we have covered what she does and why it is good lets look at how she fits in to a 100 Point Squad.

===================
As Basic As It Gets
===================
Howlrunner (18)
Academy Pilot (12)
Academy Pilot (12)
Academy Pilot (12)
Academy Pilot (12)
Academy Pilot (12)
Academy Pilot (12)
90 points

Now obviously as she is 18 points you can no longer fit 8 Ships in to a list with Howlrunner.  The simplest thing to do is stick with TIE Fighters and if you went with 6 Academy pilots you have 10 Points left for Upgrades.

The Upgrades I like the most are things to help Howlrunner stick around for a bit longer, with a Stealth Device being a popular choice that gives you an extra Evade Dice until you suffer your first hit.
With the emergence of Lt. Blount with Wave 4 and his ability to always count as hitting his target I can see a Hull Upgrade becoming more popular but that could just be a knee jerk reaction.
I am also a fan of giving her Determination for 1 Point as her Elite Pilot Talent, ensuring that you ignore any pilot related critical hits can help to ensure that you Pilot Ability continues to function even if you are hit by an Injured Pilot result.  It may not happen often but when it does you will be glad of the one point spent!  There are 8 Critical Hits that are related to the Pilot and seeing as that is just under 25% of the deck there is a fair bet you will get some mileage out of it, especially if you do go Hull Upgrade rather than Stealth Device.

So even if you go for that you will still have 6 points left to play with and this is what is so interesting about a 7 TIE Swarm.  After the essentials of Howlruner and something to help her you have between 10 and 6 squad points left to upgrade a TIE or two.

The same options are open to you as in the 8 TIE Swarm where you can include a named TIE to add either some more Offense or Defense depending on your play style.  The most common choices are Dark Curse or Night Beast for defensive options or Mauler Mithel or Backstabber for a more offensive take on the theme.

Most of the time you will see this seventh Ship deployed as a flanker rather than in formation but another option that adds another level of protection to Howlrunner is to go for Night Beast as your Flanker (or drop Determination if you want to stick to one of the 16 pointers) and then use the remaining point to upgrade a second Academy Pilot to a Black Squadron Pilot with Draw their Fire allowing him to absorb any Criticals from Howlrunner on to himself. 
All of these options do focus on sticking with an build which is exclusively TIE Fighters, which whilst perfectly viable is not your only option.
If you feel like adding a whole load of Hit Points and a little more firepower to your list why not throw in an Omicron Shuttle to the list (although that does leave Howl without a Modification) or if you are looking for more punch in the list but on a slightly cheaper platform going for an Alpha Squadron Interceptor is a choice I like as operating it as a flanker/blocker, it is a hard ship to ignore but also quite hard to pin down.
A happy medium could be to add in a TIE bomber for 3 extra Hull Points in the list for a fall off in Maneuverability.  All of these options are viable and offer there own slight variations on how the list will play.
The main thing about the core build for a seven ship list is that you are going to finish up with a group of 6 TIE Fighters including Howlrunner and now all you need to do is figure out how they will work together on the table.
I find the formation flying of the 7 TIE Swarm more limiting that the 8 TIE swarm just because of the reliance of remaining in Range Band 1 of Howlrunner but the advantages she brings have been spelled out.
One of the common mistakes that a new player to the TIE Swarm can make is that they know that you can’t fit in column during deployment and so they deploy in two ranks of three.  This means that as you had to deploy first (being mostly Pilot Skill 1) your opponent can have an easier time flanking you and dictating range on the rear most TIE’s
This can be avoided with a little practice and a set up like this.
With this type of deployment you would deploy four Academy TIE’s in a square (ensuring you have enough space to maneuver without collisions) You then place Howlrunner and the remaining TIE facing the square ready to Hard Turn in to formation on your First Move.  As you can see there is adequate space for the Square to perform a Two Ahead while the outside TIE’s perform the Hard Three to form the Column.  
This then allows you to Bank in to a Checker Board Formation or to Hard Turn in to Line when it is time to Cut In on to the opponent. Giving you a better control of the engagement range of all of your ships whilst maintaining the tight formation to ensure everyone benefits from Howlrunner.
When flying in this manner it is well worth taking a moment to consider your opponents list, especially now that Wave 4 is on the shelves and being played.  There is a lot of talk about the Assault Missile Swarm on the Headhunters and if you fly carelessly this kind of list can do a massive amount of damage to your tightly packed formation.  Whilst I am yet to see anyone put this plan in to action on the table as it is very geared towards anti-swarm and it is essential that you are aware of it!

More on the actual flying of the Howlrunner Swarm and specifics on how I would deal with facing off against an anti-swarm list will be the feature of the next Swarm Tactics, I hope you have enjoyed reading this instalment and as always if you have any questions or requests please do not hesitate to leave a comment!

X-Wing: Battle Report Twin Defenders v Twin Falcons

Here we are again, taking the time to write another X-Wing Battle Report featuring the Wave 4 Ships.

As I said in the last battle report I wanted to try the two Defender list against a two Falcon list and Gill was happy enough to give the Falcons a go. (Although she was not happy with two of them as we are both Fluff Bunnies at heart…)

So jumping right in to the action I was going to use the same list as our last game;

TIE Defender Swarm

Rexler Brath (51)
TIE Defender (37), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Push the Limit (3), Engine Upgrade (4)
Colonel Vessery (47)
TIE Defender (35), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Veteran Instincts (1), Engine Upgrade (4)

98 points

Same plan as before, but for those who missed it.  Veteran Instincts makes bot Ships Pilot Skill  8 whilst Push the Limit should let Brath get Focused Target Locks at the right time while Vessery just needs to Focus and then get his free Target Lock if he shoots at the same target that Brath locks on too.

The Heavy Laser Cannons allow me to just roll 4 dice all the time with the plan being to try to hold range, take advantage of my High Agility while I chip away at the enemy.

Gill’s list was the following list;

Han And Chewie Get Busy

Han Solo (52)
YT-1300 (46), Swarm Tactics (2), Engine Upgrade (4)
Chewbacca (49)
YT-1300 (42), C3-PO (3), Engine Upgrade (4)

101 points

So as you can see due to our poor math skills she was a point over but it was not a big deal for our friendly game (Honest it was friendly…) for the future however Swarm Tactics would be dropped and Chewie would gain either Veteran Instincts or the Falcon title.

Not really a hard list to figure out, if they can stay close together Swarm Tactics passes the Pilot Skill 9 for shooting letting them both fire before my Defenders and 3P0 should do his think to keep Chewie alive even longer.

Gill was not overly familiar with the Falcon but was happy to throw them down confidant that with her 360 Degree arch of fire she would be fine.

Asteroids and Deployment


With the Imperials having initiative I placed the largest asteroid just off center of the table wanting to stop the Falcons from just sitting in the center and picking me off.  Gill then started making a channel for her to fly along and we ended up with a line from the left in to the center with two lose asteroids.  Chewie was deployed in the center and I stuck both ships down in the face off again but this time more to the left flank while Han deployed on the far right.

Turn 1


Just a warning the early turns were quite as we both jostled for position with Chewi advancing but failing his boost as it would have placed him just on to the asteroid and Han starting to cut in.

My Defenders headed to the left with me being about 1mm out with my guess thistime for getting them to line up in formation.

Turn 2


Knowing that the gentle 1 would lead to a crash for Chewie he did a hard left and then boosted while Han rushed down behind me.

The Defenders turned up my left flank with Vessery doing a Gentle One and then another Gentle One with the Boost Action and Brath pulling a Hard Three and then a Boost for a Gentle One.  at this point I did start to wonder if I should cut in as I was not getting the positioning I wanted and didn’t want to gift her my rear for the opening shooting.

Turn 3


In the end, I decided to stick with the plan of swinging up in to the Rebel deployment area and trying to drag the Falcons back through the Asteroids.

Unfortunately this time I misjudged my bank and landed on an asteroid, losing my action and allowing Han to catch up enough to get a shot off, luckily he did no damage and I survived the collision with no damage too.

Turn 4


As I had been caught last turn I needed to adapt a new plan as I had been planning to do a K-Turn this round and come back along hand for a strafing run but I would be to far back down the table now and with Chewbacca lining up along the bottom table edge I decided to cut across in to the channel.

Both Falcons fired on Brath this round stripping all 3 of his shield off and I had no shots.

Turn 5


This round Gill misjudged her turn with Han going for a Hard One rather than the Hard Two and clipped the asteroid giving me a fair amount of breathing space.

Both Defenders Pulled the K-Turn this round with Brath Pushing the Limits to Target Lock and Focus on Han while Vessery just Focused.  With no shooting from Han both Defenders opened up with Vessery firing first for the Free Target Lock from his card text and between them they managed to strip all five shields and one hull point from Han so I was feeling a little better about the early play for position as another round of shooting like that and my troubles would be over…

Chewie took his Range 3 shot through the asteroid at Brath but only got one hit which was easily evaded on five dice.

Turn 6


Chewie turned up the table whilst I did a K-Turn with Vessery and Focused whilst Brath just did a Two Ahead to clear his stress and Target Locked Han.

Hans bank off the Asteroid left him in arch of both Defenders so Gill chose discretion and boosted to clear Braths fire arch but it did cut down on her offensive options with no Focus on Han.

This round the Dice gods mocked Gill a little with Chewbacca having Focussed he rolled all misses and Han’s Shooting was 3 Focus so the re-roll was used resulting in two hits which made it through Brath’s Evade roll had they been the other way around he would have been dead!

My shooting on the other hand had Vessery putting 3 hits on to Han leaving him with 4 Hull Points remaining.

Turn 7


This time I decided that I needed to try to keep Brath alive to ensure his Target Lock was still there for Vessery to take advantage of and managed to crash him in to Chewie while Vessery did a nice slow bank behind Han to ensure that he would not be getting out of his arch.

In the Combat Phase Han took what was to prove to be his last shot of the game and even with focus and his reroll only took one shield off of Vessery whilst the return fire got all 4 hits through with the Heavy Laser Cannon and sent Han to the dead pile!

Chewie’s shot at Vessery missed completely leaving it as a 2v1 even though Brath only had 1 Hit left.

Turn 8


Gill decided that she was tired of running and K-Turned with Chewie to put her in to a Head to Head with Brath who had pulled a One Bank ready to boost if I needed to chase one direction or the other but took the Target Lock instead just incase he managed to live…
As I had completely miss read what Gill would do with Chewbacca Vessery was way out of position as I had expected her to run up the Table back towards her table edge.

Shooting happened with Brath stripping 3 Shields from Chewie as Gill got Greedy with C-3PO guessing at 1 Evade and Rolling 0.  The return fire did put 4 Hits on to Brath who didn’t even bother to try to evade and exploded.

Turn 9


The only move left open too me really was to cut in to the table with a Hard Turn adding Stress to Vessery whilst Chweie headed in to the table again.

In the Combat Phase Vessery managed to land 3 hits on to Chewie but took one in return leaving him with 1 Shield and 3 Hull remaining compared to the 7 Hull left on the Falcon.

Turn 10


With the thoughts of No guts, No Glory i took a gamble and went for a Hard 3 in to the table while Chewie burst over the Asteroid to get some open table to fly in.

My hard turn left me still Stressed and just short of a collision so I opened up with some Range Band 1 Shots (still 4 dice and its not like I could Crit Chewie anyway…) with 2 Hits getting through after 3PO did his thing.  The return Fire took the last Shield down from the Defender and i decided that I didn’t want to be in Range Band One anymore!

Turn 11


Gill had obviously had the same thoughts as she banked off hoping that I would have either turned to chase her, in which case she would have been out of arch or that I would just be not moving as fast as I did.

Knowing that i wanted to clear my stress and would be unlikely to get a shot this round I went for the complete disengage with the 5 ahead and a boost as well.  Meaning that Gill had now shot either.

Turn 12


Getting more comfortable with the Falcon’s dial and Large base Gill went for the Three Bank and then the Boost to move a lot father than I expected her to meaning that I would be running the gauntlet of the asteroids to get to her.

As I had pulled the K-Turn I just Boosted to get in to a better position to avoid the rocks next turn but we still had no shooting.

Turn 13


Gill again went for the Three Bank taking cover behind the asteroid, unfortunately my orientation after my bank meant that closes to closes there was no cover so I took the target lock and got 3 Hits and decided not to spend my lock.

With C-3PO ignoring one of the hits Chewie was left with 3 Hull points while even with the Focus Gill missed completely with her 3 attacks.

Turn 14


At this point I think that Gill let frustration at her attack dice get the better of her and instead of Boosting went for a Target Lock on my which allowed me to take bank in and Focus giving me a Target Locked and Focused attack on her.

With only 3 Hit Points left one both of our ships it was a tense turn but with Vessery firing first he managed to land all four hits thanks to his Target Lock and Focus.  Gill called the 1 Evade result she would need with 3PO to survive but promptly rolled a blank to end the game.

Final Thoughts
Well that was a long slog but again the 2 Defenders came out on top.  I do think there was a bit of luck involved  but mainly the error of landing Han on the Asteroid and losing his shooting really cost her.

I am really liking the 2 Defenders and with a bit of fancy flying they are a lot more viable than I thought they would be.

Honest time now though, this was the second game we played for the battle report as in the first game I deployed facing off against Han intending to focus him early and Gill just took my stuff off in 5 Turns for 0 losses!  We both decided that a bit of a longer game would be better for a battle report and reset and I went back to my more passive opening moves.  So I do think that you need to pick at thinks with this list to make it work but we will be playing the decider soon and I will let you all know how we get on!

Again, thanks for reading people and let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this game or let me know what else you would like to see, more Defender games or is it time to bring out the Phantom?

X-Wing: Battle Report Twin Defenders Vs 5 Ship Rebels

Hi All, now that Wave 4 had been around for a few days I decided to get a battle report together featuring some of the new ships!


So taking advantage of the long weekend here in Canada I managed to convince my Wife that whilst doing some gardening was all good what we should really do is a battle report featuring some of the new ships.

So, my main goal was to have some fun with the TIE defender and as I had been struggling to fit it in to a more conventional list I threw all of my ideas out the window and just embraced the defender for what it is.  A high Tech powerhouse that should be able to bully any other fighter in the game one on one.  With this in mind I came up with the following

TIE Defender Swarm

Rexler Brath (51)
TIE Defender (37), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Push the Limit (3), Engine Upgrade (4)
Colonel Vessery (47)
TIE Defender (35), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Veteran Instincts (1), Engine Upgrade (4)

98 points

So fully embracing the Elite nature of the Defender I went with both named pilots, Veteran Instinct on Vessery to bring him up to pilot Skill 8 meaning that the can fire at the same time as Brath, hopefully triggering his Card Text for Free Target Locks whilst letting Brath spend his Lock if necessary.  Both Defenders get Engine Upgrades to add maneuverability and unpredictability to their locker and they also both get Heavy Laser Cannons to throw out 4 dice at all range bands and prevent an extra evade dice at range band 3 due to them being secondary weapons.

The Rebel list was a mini swarm just taking advantage of fielding the new ships with the B-Wings adding some reliable Fire and a good amount of Hit Points.

It’s A Mixed Bag

Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Blue Squadron Pilot (22)
Tala Squadron Pilot (13)
Tala Squadron Pilot (13)
Blackmoon Squadron Pilot (29)

99 points

So relatively low Pilot Skill compared to my Two ship list but if they could concentrate fire it could be a quick game…

The Imperials gained the initiative sitting at 98 point so I tried to force the majority of the asteroids on to the Rebel side of the table but we ended up with a ring of Asteroids and then on to Deployment.

So with all the Rebels going down before the Defenders the deployment was something I had been thinking about whilst planning the 2 ship list and the Defenders white K-Turn.  Seeing that the E-Wing had been deployed as a Flanker with the B’s and Headhunters in a box formation on the opposite flank I decided to not give anything away and deployed on the back line facing off against each other looking like a head on collision.
Turn 1
The E-Wing burst forwards at full speed whilst the Rebel ships on the right flank were a little more cautions due to the slower nature of the B-Wings.
The defenders on the other hand started having some fun right from the off, with Vessery doing a 5 forwards and then Barrel rolling in to the table whilst Brath pulled out the White 4 K-Turn and then Busted to bring himself in to formation with Vessery.  (I was really happy with my guessing on deployment as I didn’t measure anything and they are withing millimeters of being lined up side by side!) Both now gunning for the E-Wing.
Turn 2
Seeing the threat to the E-Wing it tried to stall this turn to give the 4 man group time to get in to a firing position, unfortunately the Engine Upgrades ensured that I had all the movement I needed to sneak both ships in to range band 3 with Brath taking the Target Lock as he moved first and seeing as he was just in range Vessery took a Boost to take advantage of his lock.  The E-Wing had Evaded whilst the 4 Ship Group started to cut across the table to help out their isolated comrade.
As the shooting began I remembered to do Vessery first as i normally forget about Veteran Instincts but with it being the whole premise of the list, it was a little easier to remember and the free Target Lock let me get 4 hits with the first shot of the game.  Only 1 evade on the 3 dice forced the spending of the Evade token for Two shields lost and then Brath opened up and and took the last shield down and put one point of damage on the E-Wings hull, no to bad for an opening volley.
The return fire went on to Vessery and got 2 Hits and with 4 Evade dice I got 4 eyeballs but with no focus tokens I was down two only one shield with him.
Turn 3

I gambled this turn as I really wanted to just focus down the E-Wing before I had to take on the other 4 ships, so a K-Turn and Focus for Vessery and a Two ahead and target lock for Brath (who luckily didn’t crash) The E-Wing did a K-Turn hoping to at least get behind one of the Defenders but I had managed to out bluff the movement and was just out of range of the B-wings who came through the gap to occupy the center of the asteroid ring.
The E-Wing unsurprisingly went down under the weight of fire but with the positioning from turn 2 I don’t think there was much else she could have don’t that would have kept it alive.
Turn 4

This turn was the inevitable joining of the party by the B’s and Z’s with them deploying to cover as much of the table quarter we were fighting in with lines of fire as possible.  The Defenders also cut in with Brath pulling the White K again and boosting in to position and then using Push the Limits to get a target lock on to the B-Wing that had locked on to him whilst Vessery did a hard 3 and then boosted to get in to Range Band 1 of the closes B-Wing in the hope of putting some potential Crits on to it.  (this was me being stupid really as I would be firing him first to take advantage of his free target lock so would only be taking shields down but I got excited…)
The fire from the defenders stripped all 5 shields from the closes B with Vessery taking some punishment this round and being left on 1 Hull point, he so far, had failed to make a single evade in the game but was still alive so would just have to do some work before he went down.
Turn 5

The Rebels tried to hold position as much as they could to try to continue the joust for one more round before they had to K-Turn or go evasive.
Again she just miss judged the distance on the 4 K which got Vessery out of arch whilst Brath did a 2 Ahead to clear the stress and then Barrel rolled to get out of arch of all but 1 Rebel Ship then Pushed the Limits to get a Target Lock on to the Damaged B-Wing which took the fire from Vessery first and went down leaving Brath free to strip 3 shields from the other B-Wing.  The only Shot from the B-Wing got 2 hits as the target lock was on the wrong defender but the Evade dice continued to mock me with 3 blanks.
Turn 6

With my confidence high now I got a little complacent and whilst I knew the Rebels would have to K-Turn this round or be faced with unanswered fire I miss judged the distance they would be going.  Vessery’s K-Turn was blocked by the Headhunters but he was out of arch of the B-Wing meaning he only had to contend with one Headhunters shooting, Brath also went for a K-Turn electing to keep his stress for better positioning next turn.
Both Defenders focused on the B-Wing this round and even without any re-rolls this round took down it’s last 2 shields and all of its hull points with a lucky Direct Hit from Brath.
The shooting from the Z-95’s was split due to Vessery’s collision (More luck than judgment this time…) taking the last shield from Brath and putting a point of damage on to his Hull (still no Evade’s…) but the Range band 1 shot at Vessery came up with 3 Eye Balls much to my amusement.
Turn 7

Vessery again went for the K-Turn ( I am sure I said in my review that the Defender was going to get gimmicky to fly at first..) landing behind both the Z-95’s whilst Brath crashed in to the lead fighter, with the other out of his arch. (It did clear his stress though so I was not too down about it.)
Shooting this round was getting much tighter as both the Headhunters were undamaged but I still had two much better Defenders on the table even if they were starting to bleed a little.

Vessery Boosted in to close range of the rear Headhunter and opened fire doing 3 Hits, all of which got through whilst its shots on to Brath left him with 2 Hull points.

Turn 8

Focusing both Defenders on to the Stricken Z-95 I wanted to ensure that I at least went in to the next turn 1v1 with it banking away to line up a shot for its wing-man.  Vessery K-Turns (no really he did, it’s white on the Defender you know…) and then boosted to be right behind his foe whilst Brath Banked in and just avoided the crash whilst he target locked.
Shooting predictably dealt with the damaged Headhunter with the surviving one choosing to shoot at Range band 2 on Brath rather than Range Band 3 on Vessery.  This resulted in a a Hit and a Crit but I finally managed to evade something with just the Crit getting through and damaging my Primary Weapon reducing it to 2 until repaired.
Turn 9

So 1 Undamaged Z-95 against 2 Defenders both on 1 Hull remaining.  the game was getting tense and I decided to try to pull range and take advantage of my Heavy Laser Cannons again, especially whilst Brath’s primary’s were damaged anyway.
With the Z-95 banking in Brath K-Turned whilst Vessery Banked to face off against him but ended up in a collision rather than the Range band 1 shot I was hoping for as I broke for the center table.
My shooting managed to knock down a shield but the Tala Squadron pilot was a Hero and got two hits on Brath, unfortunately Brath finally managed to jink his fighter and evaded bot shots to last for at least one more round!
Turn 10
Concerned that I was getting predictable I deiced  not to K-Turn this turn which ended up costing me a round of shooting as I was out bluffed by Gill, with Brath Colliding with the Tale squadron Pilot whilst Vessery covered a lot of table in preparation for next round with his Hard 3 and then a Boost to the right.
Turn 11

Without many options this round the Z-95 went to start the bank around the asteroid hoping that that and range would give it one more round to position.  This almost worked out with me miss judging the hard turn on Brath and just clipping the Asteroid in question, luckily no damaged came about and then Vessery managed to roll a hit and a Crit with 2 Focus, promptly spending the token for 4 hits meant that a at least 2 evades from 4 Dice would be needed, only one was rolled exploding the last Rebel for an Imperial Victory.
Final Thoughts
Well it was a very enjoyable game, that could have gone either way despite the early mistakes by the Rebels.
It was our first go with the Wave 4 Ships and I was impressed with the Defender List to be honest, I know I was lucky to get the Evades at the end when I needed them but feel that is balanced out by the damage I took early.  I do think this list could have been flown better and I did get K-Turn Happy in the middle of the game but with the Engine Upgrade as well it becomes so versatile.
From a Rebel Perspective I think being so aggressive on turn 1 with the E-Wing was a mistake and that a slower advance may have been the order of the day, other than that I think that luck played its part in the end game and that attrition almost won out the day.  I do think that replacing the Blackmoon Squadron E-Wing with  Two Prototype Pilot A-Wings with Chardaan Refit’s (once Rebel Aces hits the shelves) will keep the style of the list the same but will just preform better in almost all cases but then it could just be inexperience with the E-Wing in general talking.
Thanks for reading people and if you would like to read more of my ravings please take a look at my blog at The Dice Hate Me – Kris
I hope you have enjoyed the read people and I will be sure to post another battle rep once I try out some more Wave 4 Ships or I am considering taking the two Defender list against a 2 Falcon list to see if I can get the damage down quickly enough…