Don’t Call Me a Mindless Philosopher…

The cyclical nature of things, be it life, games, coincidences, is something that fascinates me. It always has.

When I first got into X-Wing, a little over a year ago, I had no experience of tabletop gaming, let alone gaming at a competitive level. Tom and I had spent some time talking about this game that he had been playing and how it was fun and something different,

‘You like Star Wars, right?’

‘You’re off work right now..’

I had spent some time talking myself out of the game — I could see easily that it set my nerd senses tingling and that it would eat away at my wallet. My then 11 year old had been given a core set and a Falcon for his birthday and the phrase plastic crack was bandied around a few times in jest.

There were four dads that January that got into X-Wing because they needed a distraction from life and an excuse to get out of the house. We woud meet every week and play at Dark Sphere.

It’s now only me and Tom that remain from that original group.

When we began, I was part of an escalation tournament (four weeks with a 50 point list, four weeks with 75 points, the final four weeks with a full list — you can read about it here). Tom had suggested I should listen to this thing called the 186th Squaron Podcast as it was good and more importantly, it was hosted by a group of guys who met and played at our local haunt.

I remember seeing Jesper Hills (former Nationals Champion and all around good guy) at the table next to ours and slyly motioning to Tom

Being socially awkward at that moment, doesn’t begin to describe me. I still haven’t played against Jesper, and it’s not through want of trying.

It binds all things…

So here I am at the end of my first busy regionals season — no shiny dice, no orange Regionals templates, not even an acrylic Thermal Detonator token.

What’s changed? What have I gained? What do I know?

I’m beginning to think the Force and me have different priorities.

You can read my Road to Regionals series here, where over three separate posts, I readied myself for Exeter, London, Daventry and the Yavin System Open all within the space of little more than a month.

I began blogging my performance because I wanted to improve. I think too much about shit. I over analyse. If you’re looking to read a post where somebody tells you how they won a Regional, I refer to the book of Skywalker, chapter four

I was genuinely honoured when I was asked to join the 186th Squadron on the day of the Exeter Regional. I’ve never had a bad game against a member of the group and I have always learned something about my play style and approach to the game. Wearing the shirt, to me, is like a symbol of the sports clubs that I wasn’t ever a member of when I was a kid, the clubs that I was left out of. I’ve shown a relative group of strangers that I’m an alright guy and that I’m not That Guy. I’m not asking for your pity, I’m simply trying to articulate why being part of a community (both big and small) is a big thing for me.

With Daventry, I went in wanting to prove something (I still find it hard to articulate what that was). This was my third tournament wearing a 186th T-shirt — this didn’t necessarily mean that I felt I needed to win, but I wanted to make the second day.

My list for this final regional was

FFG had given me an early birthday present, dropping the new FAQ on March 6th and I immediately thought of abandoning my list because I might be in need of something new. I had been feeling the fatigue since my (under)performance at Yavin. Rationally, the right thing to do was stick with Fangaroo (which I did), I had the most experience with it and the changes to Roo would not kick in for another week after the tournament. My gut was telling me I needed a break but with limited practice time before the weekend, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

After a year, I’m not sure how much longer I can continue to call myself a ‘rookie’. What have I learned thus far?

Fly Better Yes, there are bad match ups, but the biggest contributor to my losses at Daventry was thinking ‘How can I survive?’ Rather than ‘What do I need to do to make an impact?’ score my points and then move back.

Ben Lee’s most recent article Pride, Prejudice and Time Management advocates a much more disciplined approach to your game

It is not good enough to count up points once you have destroyed the first ship, as that often is too late to effectively inform your entire strategy. As part of my pre-match ritual, I will often ask my opponent the exact points split between each of his ships, doing some quick math in my head to understand which of his ships are comparable to my ships in terms of points and what trade-offs I can make. Complacently believing that you have “killed more plastic ships” is a recipe for disaster in the late-game.

Game One Dale Cromwell 0–100

K-Wing Miranda Doni (Twin Laser Turret, Extra Munitions, Homing Missiles, Sabine Wren, Proximity Mines, Ion Bombs, Advanced Slam, Conner Net)

K-Wing Warden Squadron Pilot (Twin Laser Turret, Extra Munitions, C-3PO, Cluster Mines, Ion Bombs, Advanced Slam) 99 points.

Being tabled in your first game is pretty daunting. I’ve played against Paul Owen and Lloyd Boman’s K-Wings many times, but I can count my wins against this list against the tally I have of how often I have used Imperial ships in play (it’s three times).

Dale is a lovely man and came equipped with alternate art Sabine, Mindmeld and Soontir Cards to give out to everybody.

I approached this game knowing it was a bad match up for me and that got in my head. I quickly thought to aim for the Warden over Miranda (due to her re-gen ability) and opened in a cagey fashion, controlling my range and hoping to stay by the rocks, increasing my chances of making it harder for Dale to SLAM and drop.

Dale’s opening was not what I expected, he was more aggressive than both Paul and Lloyd. I should have seen this coming, particularly as Dale’s ships had TLTs and he would want to start using them.

I managed to get the Warden down to three hull within the second round of combat and things seemed to be looking good with Roo rolling perfectly with the Plasmas. It was shortly after this point, I began to use hard one turns to try and mitigate where the bombs might be.

What was the point in this? Maybe I let the fear in — Who knows? What I do know is, I’m not going to get any shots in if my arcs are pointing the wrong way.

Teroch exploded to a bout of Cluster Mines in the next round and it was at this point that I should have disengaged with Fenn and waited to make another good engagement.

As it was, Fenn fell victim to another set of bombs (I forget which) and then Roo was left on her own. Not awful, but really only a matter of time before she succombs to the TLTs.

In the end, it was the homing missiles that finished off Roo.

I quite literally seized defeat from a possible victory.

Game Two Phil Barber 63–100

VT-49 Decimator Rear Admiral Chiraneau (Veteran Instincts, Gunner, Vader, Hotshot Co-Pilot, Engine Upgrade)

Tie Defender Rexler Brath (Tie/X7, Juke)

When you know that you have a horrid match up in front of you, Fly Better is something you must do. I have suffered badly against this — in the past. It’s the ‘Gunner/Vader part’ that is so dastardly — Unavoidable crits.

My point is: if you know this is going to be a slaughter based on past experience — surely you should be able to mitigate this.

My plan was to get the Deci off of the table first at all costs. Does this mean zooming into range one with both fangs? Maybe.

I know what the perfect first engagement with this should be.

Fenn gets five dice, Teroch deletes a token (or two), Roo manages to get her plasmas off. The biggest risk is that Fenn evades the first shot from RAC, then gets Vadered, then takes some hits and gets vadered once more. There is a very good chance that Fenn might end up in trouble out of this. At best, he has the Concord Dawn title to support him and maybe comes off clean from the guns, but there is no way he can avoid the crits from Vader.

Anyway — let’s say this were a successful strategy, Fenn fires five dice, but maybe has no focus because of Hotshot Co-pilot — statistically, that’s 2.5 expected hits. Then Teroch gets fires three dice but has a focus — that’s 2.25 expected hits. Then Manaroo manages the Torps — that’s three expected hits. If this all goes to plan (and Fenn has survived) RAC should aready be missing his shields because he Vadered me, which means he’s then down to roughly four hull left.

That’s according to statistics.

Whatever I should have done

The final score here was 63–100 — I wish I could say it was more.

Games three and four were clear wins, with game four being 100–0. My submarine attempt felt stronger and with a record of two and two going into game five, I felt I had a good chance until I was paired against Lloyd with his Double K-Wing bomber Biggs list. I’ve beaten Paul at this, but never Lloyd. Today was no exception. My loss at this game was gutting, I knew I stood no chance of making four and two. All aspirations of making the cut died at this point.

Game Six Luke Townsend 18–100

Luke’s List was

Jumpmaster 5000 Manaroo (Attanni Mindlink, Anit-Pursuit Lasers, K4 Security Droid, R5-P8)

Protectorate Starfighter Old Teroch (Attanni Mindlink, Concord Dawn title, Autothrusters)

Protectorate Starfighter Fenn Rau(Attanni Mindlink, Concord Dawn title, Autothrusters)

My final game of the day was against Luke ‘Fishy’ Townsend. He has been a long time supporter of It’s Getting Hoth in Here and meeting him was a pleasure. Luke also took his bumpmaster variant of Fangaroo to the Top 4 of Yavin.

Things were looking good from our first engagement. Luke had landed his Roo on a rock and rolled a hit for the damage. With the next round, I can only illustrate it with Vassal pics.

Fig 1

My Teroch was yet to take an action, but I had a hunch that I might be able to block Luke’s Teroch if I boosted forward to the right. I also knew that my Fenn would land beyond Luke’s Roo, so my best chance of tearing a hole in his list was to focus some fire on Luke’s Teroch — so a boost to the right it is.

Fig 2

Now look at where everybody elso lands

Fig 3

That seems ok, right? I might even end up with a cheeky barage on Luke’s Fenn.

Problem One look at the firing arcs on the Fenns

Fig 4

Both are at range two, both are just as vulnerable

Problem Two (a)I forgot to tell you that when we rolled for initiative, I lost. Luke gave me the disease that is initiative, so my Teroch deletes tokens and then Luke’s Roo passes them back, before deleting my tokens.

Had I stayed where I was and simply taken another focus with Teroch (see Fig 1), I could have deleted the tokens on Luke’s Roo and she would not have been able to pass them on (you don’t get to pass on tokens you don’t have). I could have taken Luke’s Roo down to half health at that point.

Problem Two (b)Luke deleted Rookie Teroch’s tokens. Rookie Teroch is now susceptible to attacks from all three of Luke’s ships.

Problem Three Teroch explodes in a blaze (no glory).

In the next round of combat, Fenn pulled the Damaged Cockpit crit. I’ve been playing this list for pretty much three months solid and I got PS0 for the first time.

No shinies.

You know that little droid is going to cause me a lot of trouble…

Alex Birt and Luke Townsend both took a Fangaroo variant to Daventry and neither of us made the cut. In fact, Alex and Luke both finished three and three, better than my two and four. Did we all have a bad day in terms of match-ups?

Having written my report, I know that the combination of match-ups, sub-optimal decisions and fatigue really did result in my under-performance.

The biggest lesson that I can take away from this is too not get stuck in the panic.

Objectively, I know that my performance over the last month hasn’t been too shabby:

Exeter 57th (out of 120)

Warboar 23rd (out of 98, missing the top cut by less than 40 MOV)

Yavin 175th (out of 370)

Daventry 88th Sad face. Heavy Sigh.

I have to say a massive thank you to Nobbie and his team at Daventry — the day was smooth (even with the problems caused by Tome).

I can’t say how proud I am of Tom for making the Top 8 (you can read his report here).

Now I look at forums and people post their swag — the biggest bit of swag I have accumulated over the last month is in the photo below:

They are range rulers of a certain sort, along with some particpation prizes. I gave my second Red Ace card to my eldest. It’s enough to keep the droid happy.