Friday, April 24, 2015

The Phantom always calls twice

Second game with my phantom based list:
  • Sigma Squadron Pilot (34) x 2 - TIE Phantom (25), Recon Specialist (3), Sensor Jammer (4), Stygium Particle Accelerator (2)
  • Soontir Fel (32) - TIE Interceptor (27), Royal Guard TIE (0), Push the Limit (3), Autothrusters (2)
This time against a Corran Horn - Horton Salm - Ten Numb combine:
  • Ten Numb (33) - B-Wing (31), Fire-Control System (2)
  • Corran Horn (37) - E-Wing (35), Fire-Control System (2)
  • Horton Salm (30) - Y-Wing (25), Ion Cannon Turret (5)
Set Up
I got initiative so I started with the placement of obstacles. As my three obstacles, again I took the bigger asteroids as I think that my list needs as much hard obstacles as possible. My opponent also was of the same opinion about his list, so we ended up with pretty a lot of big rocks :)
My phantoms deployed first looking towards the open lane in the middle of the battlefield.
All my opponent ships were PS 8, he deployed Ten Numb and Horton Salm on the centre and Corran Horn on my left side, so I deployed Soontir I-am-awasome Fel on my right with the idea to made him run towards the back and approach the centre from an angle.
Set Up
In the first round I went very slow with the phantoms, they did a 1 turn to the right, keeping the distance and letting my opponent come towards the centre.
Horton and Ten moved 2 forwards, whereas Corran approached the centre with a bank.
Soontir speed up toward the enemy and boosted towards the centre also.
End of movement on round 1
Round two saw a what-if moment. From my point of view, Ten Numb and Horton were having two options: either moving forwards towards the centre and the flank of my phantoms or turning to face Soontir. My doubt was what to do with my phantoms.
If the enemy moved forwards I was wondering about making a K-turn and wait for the next round to decloak and attack. In this scenario Soontir will bank to his right and boost behind the asteroid at the end of the battlefield to get cover against the two enemy vessels and try to approach them from behind.
If they turned to face Soontir, then he will need to go towards then to get maximum attack power and the phantoms should try to face the centre of the battlefield and be ready to fire, that mean, decloak.
During the game I usually found myself confronted with this problem, the need to decloak to be able to attack and the apparent bad positioning which this decloak was forcing me to.
However, in this case, I was lucky. I choose to decloak to the side and to turn, so that both phantoms were facing the centre. During the time that I took to think what to do, my opponent changed his mind about what he was going to do from moving towards the centre to chasing Soontir. So, his change of mind suited my final movement.
Corran Horn moved further towards the centre and Soontir closed on the enemy.
The attack round was furious as I concentrated all my fire on Ten Numb who lost several shields. Only Horton Salm was able to fire back against Soontir to no effect.
End of movement on round 2
For round three I was able again to predict the movement of my opponent, this time the obvious move of Corran Horn (except for the barrel roll) who moved towards the centre. So Soontir turned I thin 2 and placed himself right behind Corran.
My phantoms moved to try to block the wounded B-Wing, which collided with one of them. However in the picture the Y-wing seems to be were it was at the end of the previous round of movement, this is due to the fact that when it tried to moved, both the B-wing of Ten Numb and the Interceptor of Soontir were in the way, so it barely moved this round. No actions for them also.
The uncloaked phantom killed Ten Numb and Soontir started chipping down Corran :)
Corran, however, double tapped the phantom on the back, which lost its shields.
End of movement on round 3
On round four, there was no Ten Numb any more, so my phantoms tried to block the Y-wing. The clocked one (with the number 1) decloaked right and turned 1 to try to get arc on the Y-wing whereas the other did a 2 bank and finished cloaked more or less where Ten Numb was the previous round to try to block Horton. The Y-wing turned 2 and avoided the collision with the cloaked phantom but not to be in arc of the uncloaked one and in range 1.
Corran did a 2 turn to his right and Soontir just did a 2 bank to his left and barrel roll to get Corran in arc at range 1.
I don't remember the outcome of the attacks but I think that Corran was lucky and was either undamaged or lost one shield, not more. Horton was able to ionize the phantom with the number 1, the one on the right.
End of movement on round 4
Sorry about the blurry picture for round 5.
The cloaked phantom decloaked left and did a K-turn whereas the ionized one collided with the Y-wing and barely moved forwards.
Horton ran for cover behind the asteroid and Corran did a K-turn which I was not really expecting, however Soontir is so manoeuvrable that it didn't really matter and none of then was in arc of each other that suited me well enough.
Horton managed to ionize again the phantom which finished the round lossing its last shield. Now, both of then were shieldless.
End of movement on round 5
Round six saw the forced movement of the ionized phantom which cloaked to increase survivability as no target was in range, the other one did a bank to approach the cneter and wait for Soontir to turn around and join and also cloaked.
Horton decided to try to get after Soontir with the idea of placing an ion token on it whereas Corran went after the phantoms.
Soontir turned away from the incoming Y-wing and boosted to turn around towards the phantoms.
The cloak and the asteroid helped the phantom on the right to survive undamaged to attack of Corran who double tapped him.
End of movement on round 6
Round seven. The phantom on the left, without number, did a turn towards Corran without decloaking and landed on the asteroid, the other did a K-turn also to try to look for Corran, who being stressed opted to go straight forwards to clear off the stress.
Horton turned towards Soontir who said "ciao bella" to him by speeding and turning to his right.
This was the moment I was referring before. From a tactical point of view I needed the phantoms uncloaked to be able to attack Corran but decloaking will have placed then somewhere else without proper way to chase Corran. So I was having a nice position to fire but no possibility to do so...
End of movement on round 7
On round 8, the phanotm on the right, the one without number, decloaked to its left and did a 1 turn and cloaked to block Corran. The other one decloaked forwards and did a 1 turn to try to cover a left turn for Corran.
Horton was turning to follow Soontir and Corran surprised me again by K-turning. I seem no to be able to predict those K-turns which now appears so obvious when reviewing the game...
Soontir speeded to help the phantoms.
Corran double tapped the phantom to no effect and Soontir attacked him but don't remember the outcome.
End of movement on round 8
On the final round, the phanotm and Soontir closed into Corran who moved just forward, the second phantom tried to turn around the rock and Horton was still trying to get to Soontir.
The initial attack of Soontir destroyed Corran and we finished the round and the game.
End of movement on round 9
It was a very nice game. I was very lucky being able to take out Ten Numb so quickly at the beginning of the game. I think that this really pushed the balance in my favour. Also, this time I did not forget to use the sensor jammer and the autothrusters. Those two upgrades are great imho, Soontir was free to fly and to attack the Y-wing at range 3 without risk of being ionized and with nice chances of not being damaged by the responding fire.
I also liked the list of my opponent and he really lamented his change of plans on round two; this was for sure a key moment of the game for both of us.
I am looking forward to fly my list a few more times :) :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

First flight of the Phantom - a X-Wing battle report

When I started with X-wing upon it release I was a bit frustrated with the game and I did not liked it too much, however some months later with more ships than the few ones coming with the core game on the table, I loved it.
However, for some unfathomable reason, I decided to buy only the ships that were part of the movies, so no HWK. Then wave 4 arrived and they were only ships not from the movies, so I passed. Shortly after I changed again my mind and got them but after reading on the web and watching videos of the way phantoms were played and taking into consideration that I was still learning to fly TIE interceptors I decided to let them rest in their storage box.
Actually, a friend of mine used one of my phantoms before I even considered trying it :)
Now, there is the new FAQ with new rules for the decloak and here I am trying my phantoms for the first time, maybe a little bit to late for the great decloak party but anyway...

For my first flight with phantoms I took two generic, low PS ones, which should be great blockers now and this little fellow called Awesome Fel.
My list:
  • Sigma Squadron Pilot (34) x 2 - TIE Phantom (25), Recon Specialist (3), Sensor Jammer (4), Stygium Particle Accelerator (2)
  • Soontir Fel (32) - TIE Interceptor (27), Royal Guard TIE (0), Push the Limit (3), Autothrusters (2)
My opponent knows that I like to fly Empire, so he went with the following Rebel list:

  • Dutch Vander (39) - Y-Wing (23), R2-D6 (1), Proton Torpedoes (4), Ion Cannon turret (5), Shield Upgrade (4), Wingman (2)
  • Dash Rendar (60) - YT-2400 (36), Squad Leader (2), Heavy Laser Cannon (7), Proton Rockets (3), C3P0 (3), Outrider (5), Engine Upgrade (4)
A very heavy two ship list, with a Dash on steroids.
When I saw that, something in my brain started yelling to me "stay outside of arc, stay outside of arc", which is one of the mantras of the TIE Interceptor although at that time I was having the impression that I was missing something and of course, try to get into range 1 of Dash because of the famous "donut hole".
For the Set Up, my phantoms were first, then his two ships and then Mr. Baron.

Set Up
I you can see we were using the new tournament obstacle placement rules, so each one of us took three from the two core sets and the YT-2400 and Decimator expansions and made the obstacle pool and place them following initiative order.
Having highly manoeuvrable ships I went for the biggest rocks, also Dash laughs about the debris clouds as he ignores then during the activation phase, therefore no roll of dice and no stress and as you can land on them and still shooting, he will have a lot of fun doing so and flying carelessly all around if you only put debris clouds or too many of them.
I placed my phantoms on the central lane to keep my options open and let Soontir la-mano-de-dios on the right with an open acceleration lane to the far end of the battle field.
Dash Rendar with engine upgrade is able to cover 9 units of forward movement on the first round (36 cm) and he will be able to fire at range 3 if you try to move towards him which is disturbing if you happen to have lower PS as my phantoms do. Therefore they turn 3 to the right, to keep the distance with the enemy and cloaked (free evasion due to the Stygium Acc.).
My opponent went soft with his ships and moved forward on a straight line.
The Baron went also forwards and boosted left to go into the back of the enemy.
There was no exchange of fire this round.
End of the First round
 Here I had a "what if" moment. My phantoms could turn to their left again keeping the cloak to seek cover behind the debris cloud and try to decloak next round to attack the approaching Dash or to follow Soontir to the back of the battlefield or could do a K-turn, still cloaked, to be prepared to confront the approaching Dash face to face also on the next round.
I was afraid of the jousting face to face which with Dash maybe was an error to be afraid of, so I decided to turn left.
He bank with the two ships and I think that Dash boosted forwards.
Soontir went forwards, boosted left and barrel roll to stay away from Dash, outside of arc of the Y-wing but keeping it within his own arc. This was the part when my brain was happy about the being outside of enemy firing arcs, however:

  • Dash has turret weapon and was in range, so Soontir was attacked by a Heavy Laser Cannon which rolled three impacts; Lady Fortuna gave Soontir three pure evades on the defence roll. So far so good.
  • Dutch Vander also has a turret weapon (surprise!!!) which I have forgotten about and he also attacked Soontir.
  • Soontir was equipped with autothrusters but maybe concerned as I was with the movement and options for the phantoms I totally forgot about it.
  • Relevance of it: I cannot tell because I cannot remember if Dutch rolled  two or three impacts. Soontir rolled one evade and two blanks; therefore if Dutch rolled two impacts with the forgotten autothrusters there will be no damage to him; if Dutch rolled three impacts there was no difference.
Any way, Soontir finished the round stressed (Push the Limits) and ionized due to the attack from Dutch. Just the dream of every Tie interceptor's opponent.

End of the second round.
I decided to decloak the phantoms to the left and made them turn 1 to the left. One managed to avoid the debris cloud and was able to focus (2 tokens because Recon Spec. and evade because Stygium Acc.), the other one only got the evade from Stygium Acc.
Dash was blocked by this second phantom, so no actions for him :)
And universal Karma made Dutch to collide with the asteroid, so no actions and no shooting for him which overcompensate the forgotten autothrusters :)
Soontir was forced to go 1 straight and to keep the stress.
Dash fired on the other phantom and here, again, I forgot something, the phantoms have Sensor Jammer, I designed then to be as tanky as possible and then I forget about it...
Anyway, that was end of round three.
End of round three.
On round four I made another miscalculation. I moved one phantom forwards over Dash and into cloak but for no reason I let the other one, which was flying behind, to fly onto Dash instead of over him. So no actions, therefore no cloak, ouch!
Dutch cleared the asteroid and approached the phantoms; Dash moved a bit away.
Soontir turned left just right on the border of the battlefield to approach Dutch from behind :)
There was some heavy shooting here, an one of the phantoms was ionized, the one closer to Dash. I forgot again to use the sensor jammer :(
End of round four.
The phantom closest to Dash moved the forced 1 straight of the ionization, the other one I cannot remember.
The Y-wing moved towards the phantoms and Dash started to turn around.
Soontir approached Dutch.
And it seems to me that I do not have a picture of the fifth round...

On the round six, one of the phantoms made a K-turn and the other one somehow managed to move close to the asteroid to block Dash who was turning. Soontir also managed to get there. Both phantoms have a evade, so both decloaked somehow and got no further actions, one because of the stress of the K-turn and the other one I have no idea, sorry.
The mixing picture of round 5 makes it difficult for me to recall the details.
Obviously there was some heavy shooting here, Dash fired against Soontir and both, Soontir and the left most phantom fired against the Y-wing, which was destroyed.
Anyway, end of round six.
Next round, obviously the phantom closed on the centre of the battlefield. The other one tried to use a rock for cover and Soontir just flyed pass Dash. This round finished with the death of the phantom closest to Dash.
Round seven at the end of movement
And we called it. We did not count victory points, but my phantom was 34 points and his Dutch was 39 points, so it would have been a modified victory for me. Not so bad taking into account all the thing we forgot concerning not only my ships but also his, for example, both of his ships were having ordnance which was not used (yes, we are aware about all the discussion concerning the uselessness of ordnance, and it can also be that he did not find a moment to use it, but I think, honestly, that he forgot about it).
A special comment about his list. Dutch Vander allows another friendly ship at range 1-2 to acquire a target lock after himself acquires one. So, he was moving Dutch (PS 6), making him to do another action apart from target lock (for example, focus) and then moving Dash (PS 7) and using his action to activate squad leader and ordering Dutch to acquire a target lock. This allowed him to give target lock-focus to either Dutch or to Dash according to the circumstances. I found it very nice.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Game's Club tournament - Round 3

Final round of the tournament, this time against Antonio who was flying a "Panic attack list" which he developed without knowing that he was working on an already known design, which for me probes that basic, solid design are sometime that people find again and again independently from each other.
His list:

  • Blue Squadron with Tactician x3
  • Gold Squadron with Ion Cannon Turret and R3-A2 (the so called stress-bot)
Both of us we were already tired after the other two rounds and the working day as the tournament took place Friday after work, so we made probably not the smartest decisions during the battle.
Anyway, I calculated more or less the amount of "pure" hits that his list was worth as 24 (each Blue is 3 hull, 5 shield and the Y-wing is 5 hull, 3 shield) whereas my one was about 28 (Vessery is 3 hull, 3 shield; the shuttle is 5 hull and 5 shields and each bomber has 6 hull) and I decided to go in a pure jousting run.

Set Up, ready to smash into each other
 Both of us moved forward, so that at the end of the second  round we were in range of shooting but I moved too far away one bomber and the other not enough so that I was not able to concentrate my fire on only one B-wing, so all his ships were alive after my initial salvo.
The end of round three is depicted in the awful picture here, it seems to me that my mobile phone was drunk, anyway we block nicely each other on the left side and on the right side my bomber was able to K-turn onto an asteroid (!) and Vessery was totally out of position.
Drunk mobile phone photo
 All his available ships fired on the shuttle which went kaboom. I was still trying to reposition my forces :(
Shuttle gone and Vessery looking for Vespene gas :(
 At the end, time was called and even after been able to destroy one of the B-wings it was a lost for me :(

Final round.
It was a nice confrontation but a bad game, we were tired and not really focused.

It was a nice, friendly tournament and everyone got something (cloak tokens, yepa!! )

Game's Club tournament - Round 2

After winning against Ciro I got to play against the other winner, our best player, Jose Luis as the other game between Andreas and Antonio finished in a draw.
He was supposed to fly a Ten Numb / Dash Rendar list for which everyone else was trying to find a counter. I have early on decided I wanted to try Vessery, so not worries on this front, or so far so good for me :)
However he shoed up with the following Dash/Corran list:

  • Dash Rendar with Veteran Instincts, Heavy Laser Cannon, Outrider and Engine upgrade
  • Corran Horn with R2-D2, Fire Control System, Lone Wolf and Shield Upgrade
A very tanky Horn and a Dash Donut of Death, copy-paste more or less from the more current meta.
Just to recap, my list was:
  • Vessery with Veteran Instincts (36 points)
  • Omicron with Adv. Sensors, Fleet Officer and Engine upgrade (31 points)
  • Scimitar x2 (32 points)
My list was 99 points, his was 100 points, so initiative was for me, with Vessery moving and shooting before Corran.
Set Up
 For the Set Up I decided to try to get all the asteroids on one section of the map and to avoid that section by deploying on the other side. Jose Luis, so far, has always deployed his two ships on opposite corners. This time he deployed Corran on one corner opposite my one and Dash in the centre.
I am aware of the incredible speed of a Dash with engine upgrade, so I decided to roll it slow in the first round (part of the battle field is occluded in the picture, actually I moved 1 forward with the shuttle and the rest of the ships moved accordingly).
End of the first round
 As you can see, he also moved slowly forwards, so that at the end of the first round we were not even close to engage in combat.

 For the second round I tried to start turning towards Horn using the Fleet officer with Advanced sensors to get the two focus tokens before revealing a green maneuver to clear off the stress immediately. My opponent kept moving slowly towards me. Again we were outside of engagement distance.

End of the second round.
 In the third round I "banked" again with the shuttle which was able to target lock Corran, I used barrel rolls for the bombers to cover the exit of the pocket where Dash and Corran were and stopped Vessery against the shuttle (I cannot remember now if on purpose or just by accident).

Third round after my movement.
 My opponent made Dash to slice out the pocket whereas Corran just came through it firing like crazy. I tried to block him on the fourth round.

Fourth round after my movement.
Fourth round after his movement.
 As you can see Dash was just flying around shooting with his turreted heavy laser cannon and, I must say, the Lady Luck was on his side; he did not stopped rolling impact after impact (we all known that a "hit" is not an outcome of the red dice ;D )
End of the fifth round
I was forced to try to regroup my forces after the dispersion on the fifth round, but lost the two bombers on the final round, without being able to seriously damage any of the enemy ships...
End of the game
To add salt to injury, I must say that my opponent was playing simultaneously on another table against Andreas and also beat him.
As I said, our best player :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Game's Club Tournament - Round 1

Last posts I was talking about Colonel Vessery and how I was faring trying to do a list based on him and all my considerations about it. The reason behind was partially an official Store Championship and the totally un-official tournament at my local game's club.
At the end I was not able to participate in the Store Championship but only in the club one.

The tournament at my local game's club was very good. It was not limited to original copies of the cards, so it was possible to play "virtual" lists. We shared ships with people who were not having enough and we allowed to play with list generated by including Scum and Villainy, so that you would be able to use anything you were able to come with as long as we were having the actual ships for you to play. There were some nice builds, I must say.
There were to be three rounds of 75 minutes with short breaks in between.
Nice thing was that precisely the day of the tournament we got our new gadget for the club, a laser liner which was the hit of the evening, we used it all the time :)

Before the actual tournament and as usually happens to me, I spent a lot of time and energy thinking about the list, the initial deployment, the approach to the enemy, etc. etc. just to kind of black out in the moment of the real thing and just play as it goes. This leads to interesting games, not so intelligent decision by my side, a bit of frustration and the feeling of wasted energy/time but always a huge amount of fun :)

I was expecting to fly against a Dash based build with a Ten Numb as side-kick. This was the list that our local best player was testing to go also to the Store Championship. However, at the end, he changed his mind and went there with a more or less established Coran / Dash list. You can read a nice report on this Store Championship tournament here.
Anyway, I was expecting this two ship list and made my plans for it, including my initial opening which I intended to use only against a two ship list; at the end I used it in all the games, with mixed results :)

My list (99 points):
  • Vessery with Veteran Instincts (36 points)
  • Omicron with Adv. Sensors, Fleet Officer and Engine upgrade (31 points)
  • Scimitar x2 (32 points)
My idea was to deploy the shuttle facing the approaching enemy, with one bomber perfectly parallel to one side; on the other side there will be Vessery and the other bomber slightly turned so that they will be able to block the shuttle by just going forward in the third round. The point of this deployment was to allow for Dash to move maximum speed as it has been the case in the test we played before so that at the end of round one none of my ships were below range 3, approach for a combine shooting in the second round and them instead of don't moving the shuttle with the red zero and getting one stress for nothing, use Vessery (placed in front of the shuttle the round before) to stop the shuttle, which will use Adv. sensors to get its action before not moving one green forward. This blocked one green forward will allow me to use Fleet officer as action to give two focus tokens to the bombers and clear the stress.
So, on round three, the plan was, bombers get focus from the shuttle which clears stress and does not move, they red K-turn with focus and Vessery white K-turn and focus.
For Vessery to be effective, on the second round I should have get some target locks on my intended target.
All this was based on the assumption that Dash was going to deploy on one corner and Ten Numb on the other, with Dash deploying in front of my shuttle as was the case on the test games, where he also moved forward full speed, boost or barrel roll forwards.
Spoiler alert: the real game the day of the tournament (my second game) didn't play this way...

Anyway, the first game was against Ciro. He was flying (100 points)
  • Luke Skywalker with R2-D2, Veteran Instincts and shield upgrade (37 points)
  • Tycho Celchu with Concussion Missiles, Veteran Instincts and Hull upgrade (34 points)
  • Airen Cracken with Homing Missiles, Adrenaline Rush and Engine Upgrade (29 points)
I got, obviously, initiative so that Vessery was moving and shooting before Airen.
We placed the asteroid in a kind of arc and after I deployed in my formation, Ciro decided to deploy his ships slightly apart from each other.
Here you have a visual story of the game. We finish after the fifth round as time was called and I got a win (5 points) as none of my ships was destroyed and I managed to destroy the A-wing of my opponent (spoiler ;D )
First round after set up, my movement and first movement of Ciro 
Close up of my formation. Notice the inclination of Vessery and the bomber.
Second round, just after my movement.
Second round, Ciro moves and closes on my force.
Third round, bombers do their red K-turn, Vessery and shuttle bump against each other.
Third round, Ciro forces fly away.
Fourth round, Vessery K-turn, bombers clear stress and follow the enemy, the shuttle starts turning around.
Fourth round, Ciro split his forces left and right.
Fifth round, the shuttle completes the turning (thanks engine upgrade) and bombers and Vessery close on the A-wing.
Fifth round, Luke is blocked by one bomber and the combined fire destroys the A-wing.

In retrospective, we fired upon each other only twice, maybe three times. Once on round two when we first met and I target lock everything I could, we were at range one of each other. I was not able to fire with one of my bombers as it was touching the A-wing and I think to remember than the other one was not having arc on it neither; so it was only Vessery and the shuttle firing on the A-wing.
On round four, there were some range three inconclusive shoots and finally on the fifth round I got the A-wing again on range one, this time of Vessery and one bomber.
As you can see I was not able to really concentrate fire on any particular ship; in round two only two of my four ships were able to fire on the A-wing, on round five, again only two were able to do so.
My formation looks more or less fine but maybe I need to fly it a bit different, maybe less linear, so that I can point all ships on the same direction with overlapping arcs.
Also, on round three Ciro made a tactical mistake, instead of taking target locks on my ships, he went for focus when it was clear that none of my ships was able to fire on him and that he was also not able to fire on me. However, I am not sure how much this could have influenced the final outcome, as flying the A-wing directly into my forces on the 4th and 5th rounds was more critical.
I was lucky with my dice and choices and Ciro was still warming up for the evening. It was a nice victory, but one not based neither on my formation, my flight plans nor superior tactics; just the combination of happy and less happy events.
Round two was going to probe this :(

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Colonel Vessery - Aftermath

Last post I was talking about Colonel Vessery and some random thoughts about him and squad builds based thereof.
Today I finally managed to play and try the list I have devised:
- Vessery with Veteran Instincts and Engine Upgrade (40 points)
- Omicron with ST-321 title and Weapons Engineer (27 points)
- Scimitar Tie bomber x2 (32 points)

for a four ships list with a total of 99 points which will allow to try to get the initiative to be able to fire first at PS 8 with Vessery.

My opponent was flying something like this:
- Academy Pilot Tie Fighter x3 as filler (36)
- Sigma Squadron Tie Phantom (25) with Fire Control Systems (2), Advanced Cloaking Device (4) and Gunner (5) = 36
- Saber Squadron (21) with Stealth Device (3) and Push the Limits (3) = 27
for a five ships list with also 99 points in total

Set up
The asteroids were placed more or less doing a open loop, with five of them and the sixth one placed by me on my left corner (West), with an open lane of about range 3 broad on my right side (East). The opening of the asteroid's loop was facing my right corner. From my point of view resembled an inverted U tilted 45 degrees counter clockways.
My opponent deployed the three Tie fighters looking forwards on the edge on his deployment zone on the open lane on the East side.
I decided to place my shuttle on the opposite corner, shielded by the astoriods and looking forwards. The two bombers were to the right of the shuttle, facing away from each other 45 degrees.
My opponent deployed the phantom and the interceptor in the center-left from my point of view.
I have taken the decision to go first for the phantom, therefore I placed Vessery on the further West side of the field, on the left side of the shuttle.

We wanted to play as close to possible to an official tournament as training for an unofficial tournament of our club, so after set up and deployment we fix a time limit of 40 minutes and here we went :)

The Game

On the first round the Tie fighters just moved 5 straight forwards and barrel roll to their right (my left) closing distance on both axis with my deployment corner.
I wanted to play it slowly to see the intentions of my opponent (quite clear now, full gas forward) so the shuttle moved 1 forward and target lock the phantom and the interceptor.
The bomber closer to the shuttle did a bank to its right and collided with the shuttle, no problems here, just bad judgement of distances and movement templates. This will probe to be a constant in this game.
The other bomber did another bank this time to its left and went facing forward between two asteroids, right were I intended; so far so good.
The phantom and the interceptor moved forward, also at maximum speed and the phantom cloaked.
I moved Vessery 4 forward so that he overtook the shuttle and barrel roll in front of it. I completely forgot about the engine upgrade :(
Anyway, the Tie fighters were packed on my right, the other two enemy vessels were heading for the center and I was more or less packed on the left corner and moving forwards. My idea was to turn the shuttle towards the center, K-turn with the defender and try to approach with the bombers. It was a good plan, at least in my head :)

On the second round two of the Tie fighters just moved forward and the third one banked towards the center.
I miscalculated the distance for the Tie bomber on my right and instead of a nice 5 K-turn I decided to go for a 4 straight due to the proximity of one asteroid which turned out to be much further away that I thought :( However a barrel roll put it with another asteroid behind it and facing one possible phantom approach.
The shuttle banked towards the center followed by the other bomber, which due to the initial collision was lagging behind.
The enemy phantom decloacked, moved somewhere in the center and avoided some of my firing arcs but collided with the bomber at the asteroid. The interceptor pushed the limits after approaching the phantom.
Vessery did a white K-turn and barrel roll into position. At this point I have already remembered about the engine upgrade but the positioning of Vessery was such that it was of no help to get better shooting spot.
This was the situation at the end of round 2.
Different view of the end of round two.
The phantom fired on the shuttle and ciao bella two or three shields !
The interceptor scored one damage card on the bomber and neither the bomber returning fire nor the shuttle did anything to the enemy.
The closest most Tie fighter, at range three with a blocking asteroid managed to score against the shuttle !

The third (and final round due to time constrictions) was chaotic and catastrophic.
The two Tie fighters on the further right turn 3 to their right and landed on the same asteroid. The third Tie Fighter banked towards the center and landed on another asteroid.
One of my bomber K-turned onto an asteroid also. The one lagging behind the shuttle was so angled that luckily it was having at least the interceptor inside of its firing arc.
The shuttle, however I managed to move it just in front of the interceptor which collided with it.
The phantom decloacked towards its right and moved close to the asteroid, where the Tie fighter was sitting, not hitting it by nanometers.
Vessery moved towards the asteroid, also barely touching it and barrel rolled into firing position.
View of the battlefield at the end of round three
Close-up of the main conflict zone, the asteroid around which the phantom and defender were engaged
Vessery managed to remove the two shields of the phantom.
The interceptor landed two critics on the bomber behind the shuttle, one reduced the agility in one, the other canceled the next attack.
The phantom return fire landed two critics on Vessery. Here I am a bit confused as the defender has three shields which I don't remember to have lost, so either there was another round of shooting or I forgot about my shields, uhm...
I think I just forgot the shields as the bomber has none and had just received two from the interceptor.
Anyway, one of the critics reduced the agility in 1 and the other was the terrible one which negates the pilot special ability. Just great!

But, anyway, time was up, and I consider the game lost.

In retrospective
It looks like it is not a good idea to try to catch a phantom with a defender and a shuttle. They are not maneuverable enough for the task. Neither are the bombers.
My opening idea was maybe good, but for sure, badly executed.
Maybe it could have been a better idea to have deployed the defender in front of the Tie fighters and try to joust them out of the game; a white K-turn and three attack dice should give it an edge against the Tie fighters. But on the other hand, one ship against three...
Funny thing is, I do not consider myself a good tactician or player of x-wing, actually I will very probably lose against anyone of you out there; however, in our group, I am one of the two guys with more flying experience and my opponent has been only recently hooked into the game. So, he was the whole time concerned that I was having some kind of master plan and that he was, probably, doing everything wrong :)
Thing is, I think he did very well. Yes, sure, he bumped the interceptor into the phantom in round one. But, how cares? it was round one, we were to far from each other for it to have any consequence. Yes, sure, he hit the asteroids with all his Tie fighters, but they were in better position that my ships and managed to scape some of my firing arcs.
And, on top of that, he did his list from scratch, without too much web search, just looking what sounded reasonable.
Not too bad, I will say :)

I am really looking forwards to our little club tournament to see how he, and everyone else, fares there. This is specially true, as in our very non-official tournament not every have even a single ship of xwing as the rest of us have more than enough for every one, so we are going to allow "virtual" list, that means, you do not have to have all the official cards you need for your list; just print a list with some squad builder, borrow the ships you need from someone and go play !
Therefore I expect to see a lot of just released cards, such as Autothrusters :)
even Scum and Villainy as they have just been delivered to one of our members. This can be scary :)

I was thinking a bit more about my set up and the list and maybe I should have played it more jousting style, at the end, I think this is the main idea behind the defender. After watching the video of the Gen Con USA Nationals, wherein a two Falcons list, very defensive, was crippled down by a Whisper on steroids, the incredible Soontir Fel and just a shuttle with Captain Yorr; I started reconsidering the upgrades on my list.
  1. maybe engine upgrade is wasted in Vessery, however after having been deal a critic which incapacitated him, maybe determination is not a bad idea,
  2. the shuttle does not need the title and the weapons engineer if it flies more or less like in the above cited final escorted by the two bombers, more than enough target locks there for Vessery, specially if the shuttle gets the Fire Control Systems upgrade,
  3. Predator is a real pain if used against you, so maybe it could be a good idea to take bombers with higher PS.
Prospective list:
-Vessery (35) + Determination or Veteran Instincts (1) for 36 points
- Gamma Squadron (18) x 2 for 36 points
-Omicron shuttle (21) with Fire Control system (2) for 23 points
for a subtotal of 95 points
which still leaves me 5 points for further upgrades or to change the Omicron for Captain Yorr and something worth 1 or 2 points more..

Friday, February 27, 2015

Colonel Vessery - Random Thoughts

Colonel Vessery, Tie Defender, 35 points, Special ability: when attacking, immediately after you roll attack dice, you may acquire a target lock on the defender if it already has a red target lock token.

I am an Empire player in X-wing, but curiously enough there are still some kinds of ships that I have not taken to the table. Not because I lack motivation, mainly because I do not have time to play as much as I wish. Two of the ships I still have to try and by try I really mean that I have never used then before are the Tie Phantom and the Tie Defender even if I have them since they were released.

Two weeks ago I tried the Decimator with Soontir Fel as companion basically because I didn't want to try two new ships at the same time. Someone said that the real trick on playing x-wing is to know the list you are flying, and I must say that I agree totally. A decent list that you know is on your hands much better than an incredible good list which you do not have any experience and cannot exploit to its limits.

That said and after the Decimator experiment I was listening to some podcast doing a review of Wave 4 and talking very good of this fellow, Colonel Vessery. So I decided to take a second look to him.

I have already read the card when I got the Tie defender expansion, but it is one of those cards that I read, I do not really understand and that I put to side for future reference.
There are fantastic reviews out there about every single card in the game, this entry on my blog does not intent to go so far, it is only a couple of ideas and random thoughts that I got when I was wondering about this Colonel guy.
Let's take a look to his special ability on detail:
  1. when attacking, 
  2. immediately after you roll attack dice, 
  3. you may acquire a target lock on the defender 
  4. if it already has a red target lock token.
point 1, when attacking; no surprises here, a special ability which can be use when Vessery attacks some one, nothing strange here
point 3, you may acquire a target lock on the defender; ok, this sounds similar to Fire Control Systems; Vessery attacks some one and get a target lock onto this some one, so far so good
point 2, immediately after you roll attack dice; yes, that is before you modify those same attack dice; in silver, Vessery can attack some one, roll dice, target lock on that poor some one and use that target lock to modify those same dice
point 4, if it (the target) has a red target lock token; which means that some one else on the side of Vessery needs to "mark" the target for him.

In short, as long as Vessery has some ally spotting targets for him, he will be able to use his incredible special ability.

Two main lines of thought here:
  1. how can Vessery become more formidable?
  2. who is going to spot for him?

Colonel Vessery has an Elite Pilot slot, so in theory he can get some extra power here. He also has, as each defender does, the Cannon and the Missile slots. I have read that the "current" meta goes about Vessery with Heavy Laser Cannon, which really sounds scary to anyone but I was looking to Vessery and was only able to think, missiles, this guy needs to get some Cluster Missiles.
Cluster Missiles is 4 points and according to the FAQ is treated as two separate attacks against the same target.
In my imagination this goes:
  1. Someone targets lock an enemy ship
  2. Vessery targets lock the same enemy ship
  3. Vessery fires the Cluster Missiles by spending his target lock and discarding the Cluster Missiles card
  4. Vessery rolls attack dice, gets a free target lock and uses it
  5. Vessery rolls attack dice again and gets, again, a free target lock 
So, you are rolling twice 3 attack dice with reroll against the same poor guy. True, you can only do this once, but what a nice strike if the dice are with you.
On this trend of thoughts, some people always complain about the dice being bad with them, so I was thinking maybe get Vessery Marksmanship, to ensure some impacts, but this will add 3 extra point to the cost of Vessery, raising it to 42 points in total. Which, by the way,  will be the same cost as Vessery with Heavy Laser Cannon and some schools of thought in the xwing community think that Marksmanship is not really useful.

Now the question is: the possibility of rolling twice 3 attack dice with reroll on them once in a game is worth 4 points?
Not sure about the answer yet.

Other upgrade I was thinking about in this context was Engine Upgrade, actually I always consider Engine Upgrade as upgrade for my builds. I really like the flexibility that the boost action offers. In the case of a Tie defender I think that this upgrade can surprise an unwary opponent as who has seen a boost action after a K-turn?
Usually,this manoeuvre is red but not in the defender, for a defender this manoeuvre is white, which makes possible to take action(s) after it. I think this can be nice to try, feint an entry into the asteroids on the centre with a white K-turn and a boost action and see if my opponent missed the spot I was supposed to be but I am not :)

Ok, Vessery needs red target lock tokens on his intended enemy. Who can give them to him?
First answer which came to my mind was, anyone with Targeting Computer, a 2 points Modification available to anyone.
The cheapest option for this approach will be standard Tie fighters, either the black or the obsidian squadron, depending on the local meta concerning Predator.
Second idea was a Lambda shuttle with the title which allows it to target anyone anywhere. This can be very juicy. Adding Weapons Enginer to be able to have two target locks with only one ship (the shuttle) and using only one action sounds even better. This on an Omicron will amount to 27 points.
Third idea, someone who already has target lock action in its action bar, like Tie Advanced or Tie Bombers. The current consensus is that until the release of the new Raider huge ship for the Empire, the Tie Advanced is overcosted, however the Tie Bomber amounts to the cheapest and robustest ships of the Empire's arsenal.
Some web search showed that, again, there is nothing new under this Sun. There were plenty of entries on the FFG forum about Vessery and lists based on him combined either with Scimitar Tie bombers or shuttles or Firesprays. One particular list was basically Vessery and three Scimitars,which sounds very scary on paper at least.

My current list
At the end I settled for this:
- Vessery with Veteran Instincts and Engine Upgrade (40 points)
- Omicron with ST-321 title and Weapons Engineer (27 points)
- Scimitar Tie bomber x2 (32 points)
for a four ships list with a total of 99 points which will allow to try to get the initiative to be able to fire first at PS 8 with Vessery.

More on this coming soon (I hope so at least ;D )