Tuesday, February 23, 2016

X-Wing Store Championship BatRep (The Island Games, 2/20/16)

Though this is primarily a blog about my painting and modeling, every once in a while I like to touch on one of my favorite hobbies: the X-Wing Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games. I've written about this game previously, right before the Imperial Raider-class corvette expansion was released last summer. In that article, I went over some new and interesting ways to incorporate the TIE Advanced into competitive play. As the Store Championship season is in full swing, I had a chance to play in a local one, my first since January of last year, over the weekend. The competition was fierce, the games were hard fought, and I ended up having one of the best days playing my favorite tabletop game!

My List

A lot of thought went into what I was going to bring to the table on Saturday. Some of my favorite ships, like the YT-2400 light freighter, have not seemed to have fared well in the latest metagame. Another one of my favorite ships, the TIE Phantom, is in a similar position, having had it's cloaking mechanic reworked by the game designers last year to scale back its power (it was a much needed changed that I was happy to see). Given that these two ships are what I feel I'm best at flying on the table, I decided to use them in my list that day. Unable to decide between a Dash/Poe list and a Whisper/Omega Leader/Palpatine list, I packed both in my tournament bag and decided to use my 20 minute ride to the game store to decide which to fly. By the time I arrived at the store, I had settled on my Imperial list:

"Whisper" — TIE Phantom (32)
  • Veteran Instincts (1)
  • Fire-Control System (2)
  • Agent Kallus (2)
  • Advanced Cloaking Device (4)
Ship Total: 41
"Omega Leader" — TIE/fo Fighter (21)
  • Juke (2)
  • Comm Relay (3)
  • Stealth Device (3)
Ship Total: 29
Omicron Group Pilot — Lambda-Class Shuttle (21)
  • Emperor Palpatine (8)
Ship Total: 29

Total: 99
(Yet Another) X-Wing Miniatures Squad Builder

Round One

My first opponent was a guy named David who was also flying a Palpmobile, which turned out to be rather popular in this tournament. I don't remember much from this game, other than David telling me that he's "pretty new to X-Wing," something that I didn't necessarily believe following the end of our game! This game was awful from the get-go for me; my positioning was bad, my dice were cold, and my opponent's dice were hot. His 14-point Wampa, whom I left alone in favor of trying to kill Vader, ended up taking my 41-point TIE Phantom off the board after only getting one round of shooting with her. I was only able to strip the shields from Vader before loosing all of my ships. This game was over in about twenty minutes and I'm pretty sure we were the first table done. Not a good way to start the day!

Loss: 0-100

Round Two

Following my dreadful performance in round one, I was given a bye round since I was in last place and we had an odd number of players. I used this time to stew about how badly I played and to get a burrito from Chipotle. The one good thing was that a bye round awards you a modified win with a margin of victory (MOV) of 150 points. Technically, I was 1-1 at this point!

Round Three

This time, I squared off against a Rebel list feature Poe Dameron, Biggs Darklighter, and Kyle Katarn. I was feeling pretty good about this list, since low agility, low pilot skill ships are a Phantom's natural prey. My flying was considerably better in this game while my opponent made some not-so-good decisions which helped tilt the match in my favor. I pushed some damage through on Poe pretty early, nearly killing him before he had a chance to do anything. I ended up hitting him with a Damaged Sensor Array critical hit, which prevented him from doing any actions other than the action on that card (which is to roll a die to see if you can flip it face down). My opponent (whose name escapes me), forgot about this and had Poe positioned near an asteroid token he had intended to barrel roll away from using BB-8. I reminded him of his critical effect which prevented him from taking a barrel roll action and he ended up flying into the asteroid, taking a Major Explosion critical hit, and then rolling another hit from the Major Explosion card, killing Poe! Biggs died soon after this before I turned my attention of Kyle and finished him off. My memory is a little hazy, but I think the only ship I lost was the shuttle.

Win: 100-29

Round Four

At this point during, I was feeling better about myself because I had won a game (prior to this, I had been on a wicked losing streak that extended far beyond this tournament) and received my alt-art C-3PO card.

That feeling quickly evaporated when they announced the pairings and I found out I was paired with Paul Heaver, the reigning three-time X-Wing world champion. I've played in tournaments with Paul, but thankfully never against him. His raw skill alone was enough to cause me worry, because like a lot of people, I've watched him play and I know that he is ridiculously good at maneuvering his ships. His list also concerned me; he flew Fel, Omega Leader, Wampa, and a Palpmobile (which I was similar to the first list I played, except it had Vader instead of Fel). After my run in with Wampa and Palpatine in my first round, I knew how dangerous he can be to a TIE Phantom. I decided that Wampa was going to have to be a priority target if I expected to win, which I didn't. He played it safe with Wampa in the beginning, keeping him in the back with the shuttle, so I followed suit played cautious with Whisper and OL while I waited for the play to develop. While we were feeling each other out, he moved Fel around to try and flank me. After a couple of turns, he decided to make a push with Wampa, but I out-guessed him, leaving Wampa open to shots from OL and Whisper. When this happened, Paul told me that I surprised him with the move, which I took as a wonderful compliment! Wampa died a fiery death shortly thereafter, so he never got a chance to do anything. I killed the shuttle a couple of rounds later, leaving only Fel and OL. Unfortunately, I made a huge decloak error and ended up flying a nearly healthy Whisper off the board when I executed my maneuver. My OL and shuttle took down his OL and then I turned my attention to Fel who was desperately trying to kill my shuttle. I chased him down and snipped Fel at range 3 with my OL and killed him to win the game. The only ship I lost was Whisper, which I did to myself!

Paul is an awesome guy and a gracious opponent and winning a game against him was one of the highlights of my time spent playing X-Wing. I also learned not to be afraid to bring my Palpmobile shuttle into the action offensively, something that would come in handy during my next game.

Win: 100-41

Round Five 

In the final round of Swiss, I was paired up with a buddy of mine named Ira. I've played Ira before and I know that he's a very good player, so I was a little worried about this match going in. Like Paul before him, his Han Solo/Miranda list also had me a little worried. Luckily, I had the perfect Han Solo counter with Omega Leader, since his pilot ability doesn't allow target locked ships to modify dice when attack or defending against him. This effectively shuts down Han's pilot ability, Predator, and C-3PO. At the start of the game, he attempted to bring Miranda's K-wing down my right flank and Han down the middle. I flew Whisper and Omega leader toward the middle to face Han while keeping my shuttle back so Han couldn't get behind it. Bringing the Phantom up the middle was a feint; I instead turned to my right flank to face off against Miranda, choosing to leave Omega Leader to face Han alone. This both worked for and against me as Omega Leader was about a millimeter out of range to target lock Han but Whisper was in an optimal spot to put a range 1 shot into Miranda. Han managed to stay in range three of Omega Leader and opened fire, able to fully use all of his tricks. In doing so, he managed to roll three hits (including one critical). Being at range three and with Stealth Device, I was able to roll five defense dice... which netted me five blanks. I was speechless for a moment because I couldn't believe what just happened. I opted to use Palpatine and my evade token (which meant no Juke) to only lose a shield, but it also cost me my Stealth Device. Han ended up killing Omega Leader the following turn after my green dice failed me again. However, I managed to finish Miranda off before she could get around Whisper and plink the shuttle to death with her Twin Laser Turret. Little did I know, this ended up setting the stage for how the rest of the game was going to play out.
Ira brought Han back around and decided to fly him back to my right flank, but in doing so he left himself open to a nasty range one shot from Whisper that took all but one of his shields. In the activation phase before of that turn, I had forgot to decloak Whisper and I moved my shuttle first. Realizing my mistake, I asked Ira if he would allow me to decloak. Since this falls under the "missed opportunity" rule from the Tournament Rules, he could decide whether to allow it; he did and I was very gracious for it. I hadn't forgot to decloak all day, but fatigue was starting to set in as it was past dinner time, I had been playing X-Wing for the last seven hours, and I was starting to get hungry. The following round, seen above, I again forgot to decloak, only this time Ira didn't allow me to go back and do it. Though his only ship wouldn't have moved before I decloaked, he was well within his rights to not allow me to do it and I in no way fault him for it, as I would have made the same decision if I were in his shoes. I ended up having to stay cloaked and was unable to attack (which I wouldn't have been able to anyways because he wasn't in my firing arc). He ended up getting two hits through which took my remaining shield and dealt me a Damaged Cockpit critical, which reduced my pilot skill to "0" and is probably one of the worst damage cards to get on a ship that relies on shooting first! Alive with one hull point remaining, I decided to high-tail it out of danger and flew Whisper up Ira's right flank. Meanwhile, I moved my shuttle across the top of the board and down the right side. Since my shuttle was healthy and Han was nearly shield-less, I decided to try and finish him off with my shuttle since we had plenty of time remaining in the round. It was going to be a tall order, but I'd rather go down fighting than just trying to outlast Ira another 25 minutes. He circled Han back around toward the right side of the board before doubling back as I moved my shuttle down his left flank. I surprised him by bringing my damaged, pilot skill "0" Whisper back into the fight in a desperate attempt to finish him off. In what would be the final round, I had my shuttle at range 1 with a focus and target lock and Whisper at range 3 with an evade and a target lock on Han. Since Han now held the pilot skill advantage on me, he tried to finish off Whisper before she could return fire only to blank on both shots (his first shot and then a follow up with Gunner) thanks to some lucky green dice on my part. The shuttle fired first, and even though he used C-3PO, I managed to get two damage through which took his remaining shield and dealt him a damage card. Now the moment of truth arrived: I had a range three shot with a target lock at Han with seven hull remaining. I rolled my four attack dice and wound up with two critical hits, one normal hit, and one blank that I used Palpatine to turn into a critical result for a total of three critical hits and one regular. Ira rolled his two defense dice and blanked on both of them. In a stroke of luck, two of the critical hits were Direct Hit! cards, giving me the seven damage need to destroy Han!

Win: 100-29


After the fifth and final round of Swiss, the field was cut to the Top 4 to continue in two single elimination rounds and the Top 8 were given prizes. I ended up placing fifth overall and just missed the cut to the Top 4. On the bright side, my friend's 13-year old son Anthony made the cut in third place! He went on to win his first round of elimination, beating my opponent from the first round. Unfortunately, he would go on to lose in the final round but it was a close game. (Also, it was his first ever Store Championship so a second place finish is something to be proud of!)
The fruits of my labor.
In the end, I walked away with a fifth place finish, a brand new 2016 Store Championship range ruler, and an awesome C-3PO alternative art card. At 4-1 on the day, this is a marked improvement for me, since my last Store Championship I was 1-3 and ended up dropping early. This outing was exactly what I need to shake the cobwebs off and reinvigorate my love for this game!

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