Green Rookie’s Report from Yavin

It was Friday night in Yavingham and all through the hotel, not a creature was stirring, except all of the excited pilots about to embark on the invitational.


Hullo!

I’m Joel, one of the newest recruits to the 186th Squadron. Roughly a year ago today, I picked up X-Wing with Tom Tattersall, you can find his Yavin report here. My first competitive tournament was a Store Championship in Aldershot, where my opening game would be playing against Tom Duncan and his, then six ship, Tie swarm. I was schooled supremely in blocking and learned that even though your opponent might be willing your dice to blank out (he did on every roll), that they can also be quite charming about it (he was, with every time I blanked out).

Since then, I’ve been blogging about all things X-Wing at It’s Getting Hoth in Here and aiming to evaluate my game and eventually win some loot. I travel with an astromech, who is somewhat Gabbo like, he holds me accountable for my losses. The droid watches all. The droid knows all.

This was after the Warboar London Regional 2016, where I came 79th. No Hera card for me.

When James Dowdall asked me what my goal was for the following day at Yavin, I gave him a slightly more conservative answer than the one I had given Tom earlier in car,

‘I’d quite like a set of target locks but getting through to the second day would be nice.’

‘Yeah — day two is a really good goal.’

Two weeks before, I had played my ultimate best at the London Warboar Regionals. It was my first tournament wearing a 186th T-Shirt and I came 23rd out of 98. I was four and two — yeah, that’s right — me. I felt gutted with myself that I missed the top 16 cut by 40 MOV.

That’s me, off to the far right with the lego man hair cut.

I wanted shinies from Yavin, I was under no illusion that I might make the second day (needing to be five and two) but I wanted four wins in order to take away at least one set of target locks.

Before I go any further, I want to write a massive thank you to Alex Watkins for all of his hard work and organisation. The day was smooth and I had an awesome time. I enjoyed the company of my opponents and I hope they didn’t find me too much of a chore.

Here was my list from the day

Roo with a toolbox.
Teesus!
Fennikin.

I’ve been experimenting with Mindlink since Alderaan, where I played a similar Roo build, Palob, N’Dru and a naked Binayre Pirate (I belive it’s pronounced Bin-Yarr!). Though I liked Palob’s ability to steal a token, especially if you are Mindlinked, Teroch’s ability to strip all green tokens from your opponent at range one is much more beneficial if you can get it right.

Seven games in one day becomes a real test of enudrance and incredibly gruelling. With this, I want to write about the games where I learnt the most: my losses.

Game One Dan Bohane – 29–100

My first battle at Yavin finished, leaving me with 22 minutes to spare to write this report.

Dan’s list was

YT-2400 Dash Rendar

  • Push the Limit
  • Heavy Laser Cannon
  • Kanan Jarrus crew
  • Engine Upgrade
  • Outrider Title

Arc-170 Norra Wexley

  • Push the Limit
  • Kyle Katarn crew
  • BB-8
  • Engine Upgrade
  • Alliance Overhaul

This started so well. I had a plan: donut hole. Aim for the donut and pummel.

I hesitated as we went into this, playing Manaroo upfront and hoping to make an impact with blocking.

I completely underestimated Nora.

So this plan had largely worked by round two and I managed to boost Teroch into range one but couldn’t quite manage the same with Fenn as he needed to focus everybody.

Fenn rolled three natural evades against the heavy laser cannon but came off with a Shaken Pilot crit from Norra.

There are worse crits that Fenn can get but Dan’s green dice at this point were awesome. Please don’t think I’m blaming the dice, it’s NEVER the dice but I could have done with taking some shields off of Dash at least.

The picture above is actually incredibly useful from an evaluation perspective. My choice at the beginning of this combat phase was cautious and, at the time, one I deemed as sensible – I used Fenn to focus everybody rather than attempting a boost or barrel roll into range one. I’m certain I couldn’t make the range one option at the time, but now I look at the picture, I’m unsure.

Fenn exploded within the next three rounds, followed by Teroch. I managed half points on Dash, using the Extra Munitions to fire two rounds of Plasmas at him.

A taxing first game and well played by Dan. He even gave me a few wine gums.

Game Two Tim Choy 69–42

This Party Bossk build really caught my attention. Tim’s list was fittingly titled 179 Bus (he assures me it’s an actual bus in Ilford) and was as follows:

Protectorate Starfighter Fenn Rau

  • Push the Limit
  • Concord Dawn title
  • Autothrusters

YV-666 Bossk

  • Determination
  • “Mangler” Cannon
  • 4-Lom crew
  • Zuckuss crew
  • Dengar crew
  • Inertial Dampners

Quadjumper Jakku Gunrunner

  • Intelligence Agent
  • Pattern Analyser
  • Spacetug Tractor Array

I’ll explain more about what makes this particular Party Bossk quite so annoying in time. Looking back at my photos of the game, my opening seems fairly standard and secure. Roo is making her way towards the middle and hoping to either block or get off the Plasmas. Fenn and Teroch are sticking together, holding back, but ready to engage when given an opportunity.

From this point, I can look at the photo and think ahead. My next move should be to draw Bossk et al further into the rocks. That’s where I want the action to take place. I want to be able to use the rocks to offer some extra protection where needed and I know that most of the time my flying is good enough to negotiate the rocks. Should and most are key words to bear in mind before you see the next picture.

Roo sticks with the plan, Fenn hugs the rock. Thanks, Fenn.

Making this sort of mistake in round two of game two, when you’re already a game down is definitely unsettling. It’s one of those moments when you should stop, re-set and then remember the plan. I failed to do this and then rather than engaging Tim on my terms through the obstacles, I started to head for him on his starting side of the board. This could have been simply avoided, had I not panicked about landing on the rock.

Perhaps I’m a bit harsh, this doesn’t look too bad, and I can see where my ships are planning to be on my next engagement, can you?

So, Teroch is reasonbly well protected with Concord Dawn and his focus token. Fenn has been passed a focus token and target lock from Roo and Roo, well, Roo…well…she’s probably not long for this world.

Fenn with a target lock and a focus token at range one should be five certified hits, unless two of them are crits and the Party Bossk has Determination. Two of my hits were discarded — well played, Tim. I could have killed Bossk then and there. Was this the best movement of tokens from Roo? In hindsight, no. I wanted to guarantee my hits with Fenn, but if I’d passed the target lock along to Teroch, he would also have had an extra focus and probably have come off better when defending himself.

What about Roo’s placement — ideally, she should have been further back to ensure she could actually gett off a round of Plasmas. Teroch failed to do any real damage and the bus survived for another round.

Tim managed to eliminate my Roo. I took out the Party Bossk and then we ended up with a Fenn off that my dice blanked out on. So close and an excellent second game. Thanks Tim!

Game Three was the win I sorely needed, being 100–0 against Andrew Smith’s excellently titled Wexley Crushers (Two Arc 170s, Nora and Shara alongside Biggs).

Game Four was one of the most enjoyable games I had all weekend, David McCurdy — you are a gent. I don’t feel quite ready to go through our game in detail just yet. I will simply say, I still owe you a pint — claim it whenever you wish.

Two and Two by Game five. By now, the idea of being a submarine, as I had seen Alex Birt do at the Exeter Regionals, was a posibility but not one I would have engineered by choice.

Game Five Matt Button 52–100

Mat’s list was:

VCX 100 Kanan Jarrus

  • Fire Control Systems
  • Twin Laser Turret
  • Rey crew
  • Finn crew
  • Tactical Jammer
  • Ghost title

Attack Shuttle Zeb Orrelios

  • Phantom title

X-Wing Biggs Darklighter

  • M9-G8
  • Integrated Astromech

M9-G8 in this list is a stroke of genius, being able to target lock a friendly ship in order to re-roll their dice. Damn.

Double TLT?! Damn. Damn.

Chuck the Attack Shuttle out of the rear just before you die? Oh, go on then.

I’ve known Matt a little while and we regularly practise at Dark Sphere in Waterloo. Playing Matt was exactly what I needed in Game five, not because I thought I could win (it was 50/50) but because the two of us put each other at ease.

My approach? I needed to separate Biggs and take out the Ghost before it did any real damage. Even staying at Range one with the Concord Dawn titles, my ships would be severley at risk from a four dice attack from the front if I didn’t play it right.

Roo managed to get off her plasmas and strip the shields off of the Ghost and then the fangs simply went for it as best they could. After two rounds of attack though, I had traded Fenn for the Ghost and Teroch was down to one hull. Damn double TLT business.

Biggs was on one hull and spent his time flying out in deep space. Even now, I regret not finishing him off earlier. Matt did the right thing by choosing to take him out of the game when he was most vulnerable.

The deployment the Phantom when the Ghost was down to three hull made things hella tough. I managed to fire another round of Plasmas from Roo, knocking it down to one hull.

It came down to this for the final round at time. Roo was on three hull, both the Phantom and Biggs had only one hull left. You can guess what happened.

I felt gutted. I had flown right all of the way through but just couldn’t wipe out either of these two.

With that, the submarine dream sunk way back below the murky depths.

Final game Ian Kafka 14–32

Parattanni

My one and only Mindlink match up of the day and it had to be this. I have a zero percent success rate against Parattanni. We both knew the other was also three and three. The victor would get a set of target locks.

What was the most I could muster here? half points on Ian’s Roo. I got her down to one hull and somehow, I let her run away.

What was my approach? Well, my most successful games have always been when playing the boys a little further back, not jousting until given a golden moment. I think the biggest lesson that I learned from this game was that I don’t need to adjust the position of my ships needlessly.

As well as this, you only get to fire dice if you’re actually pointing at a target. Look at the picture below. At some point, I’ve engineered it so that Teroch is facing the wrong way. What was I hoping to achieve?

I separated the boys and I paid for it. In the next round, I would have a range one joust with Fenn where my Fenn would die and then blank out with simultaneous fire. After that, I couldn’t pin Roo down or Fenn.

The lesson? Focus fire and think carefully about your actions.

So there we are, three and four. No target locks. Only Hangar Bay for me on day two.

I finished at rank 175. 370 entered, which was reduced to 251 after people dropped. 175 out of 251. Not awful, but not the target locks I hoped for.

What of the final? Mishary Al-Farris took the top spot with Parattanni — well done, a thoroughly nice man and well deserved. Commiserations to Cal Jones with his Rebel Ghost build.

The State of the Game

Episode 54 of the Mynock Squadron Podcast, the State of X-Wing Address (You can find it here) and David Sutcliffe’s blog post of a similar title (you can find it here) both examine (one of the politer verbs) the notion of power creep and the apparent diminishing complexity of the game.

What’s happening right now in all this recent fuss about the state of the game is that all these four factors are combining to hit a lot of the same group of players. If you like the older ships or object to being forced to play the new flavour of the month, if you like the elegance of the basic rules of X-Wing, if you like the importance of positioning on the table, and if you like playing with the most iconic ships in Star Wars… then everything is set against you.

I love A-Wings. I enjoyed taking a Crack A-Wing swarm to tournaments and knowing that the variance of my dice rolls would be the defining factor of my game, but I know that I can’t play them competitively. What about Jack Mooney’s Han and Jake list — he took that to Worlds and made the top 4. THE TOP 4?! With an A-Wing?!

Of the Top 8 Cut at Yavin, six builds were Scum and only one Rebel. That’s one Dengaroo, Two Fangaroo, Three Parattannis, one Fenn, Old Teroch and Ventress. What’s the common link amongst these lists?

Two of these lists were flown by 186th(ers) — Pete Wood with Fangaroo (who went 7–0 on day one) and Oli Pocknell with Fenn, Teroch and Ventress. You guys are awesome!

  • Manaroo appears in six of these lists (although only one does not have mindlink)
  • Fenn Appears in six of these lists
  • Attanni Mindlink appears in six of these lists

It now seems that Parattanni is enemy no.1 according to facebook and various forums. As a list it’s incredibly efficient but is it a problem? Is it broken?

The list is powerful and incredibly cost efficient. Some might even say both Fenn and Roo are undercosted.

Although I only played against one Parattanni (another nameless member of the 186th suffered for all of us playing five Parattanni mirror matches), there were a few choice reactions to my list as the day went on

‘Oh, not another Fenn’

or

‘Mindlinked Scum again, oh well…’

With one game, an opponent said the following as we began to set up

‘There’s a winning reputation that goes with a 186th T-shirt’ to which my response was

‘You don’t know how long I’ve had the t-shirt!’

There may well be an imbalance of one faction, but when I started playing a year ago, it was the same story with Imperial Aces. Soontir Fel broke a basic rule by subverting the stress mechanic to gain a focus and was apparently invincible when tokened up. Oh Soontir, where art thou?

As a comparison point, Fenn with Mindlink is cheaper than Soontir, coming in at three points less than the standard Soontir build of PTL, Royal Guard Tie, Autothrusters and Stealth Device. Is this a fair comparison? In stats? Perhaps. In abilities? Not really.

Parattani may well be the new bogey man and Mindlink along with the apparent overpowered qualities of Fenn certainly provide something for disgruntled folk to moan about.

For the Hangar Bay, like many, I packed my main list and only one other list (Sabine’s Snap Attack — Ashoka Tanno with VI and Captured Tie, Sabine Wren with Snap Shot, Sabine’s Masterpiece and Operations Specialist and then three Snap and Crack Green Squadron A-Wings).

I played this for game one and lost to Tom playing K-Wing bombers and Biggs. I was paired against Henry in the second game; when I saw that his Imperial list contained Omega Leader, I went straight for my Fangaroo (hoping to minimise any target locking Juke shenanigans — I’m sure Henry probably looked at my two lists and chose the strongest of his lists too). After my win, I was told:

‘It’s Fenn, he’s just unbeatable’.

My response was to simply point to the side of the hall where games 8–10 were taking place and ask why I then hadn’t qualified for day two of Yavin. There may well be some undercosted elements to Scum lists right now, but there is certainly a better emphasis on flying.

I’m not quite ready to pull the fangs out just yet.

Particpation prize loot.