What a weekend!
I would like to start with the ending and thank all my fellow players, particularly the eleven I got to play with, who made the weekend so fantastic! I received the probably nicest possible compliment at such an event: that the game against me was their best of the weekend. And I heard it several times, which makes me quite confident that several of my opponents had as good of a time as me! Of course, the objective of the game is to win – and my goal for the tournament most definitely was to make cut. But the point of the game is always to have fun.
I will only write about Saturday, the hyperspace main event. First, I start with a quick note about my list and obstacles. Then I will finally go into the 6 games. I don’t have as many pictures as I’d like. My personal policy is to sneak in a picture when I have the time, and to never interrupt my opponent with it. As a result, I ended up with fewer pictures than I’d have liked, and I am not able to do the usual turn-by-turn here.
i5: Zizi Tlo (45/23), Heroic (1), Advanced Optics (4)
i5: Tallissan Lintra (37/19), Heroic (1)
i4: Greer Sonnel (41/21), Heroic (1), Advanced Optics (4)
i2: Ronith Blario (39/20), Heroic (1), Advanced Optics (4)
i1: Blue Squadron Recruit (37/19), Heroic (1), Advanced Optics (4)
The inclusion of Zizi, Greer and at least one Blue Squadron Recruit (BSR from now on) is pretty much a given. The first two are the best A-Wings, and the BSR is necessary due to points. The other two A-Wings are not as obvious. Tallie is just another i5, but the lack of Optics cost me at least one game. Ronith is a constant discussion: I used his ability several times over the course of the day and am convinced that he provides an extra layer of decisions for my opponent where they can make mistakes. An alternative list would have a second BSR instead of Ronith, which allows me to give Tallie another Optics. And yet another version includes an Intimidation-Zari, paying for it with – no joke! – complete lack of Heroic. I think that this last version might be amazing in the current meta where ships with high agility+initiative give me the most trouble.
Whatever the exact list, the core is made up of five small ships with pseudo-3-red-dice guns due to optics, with a free boost and a rear arc for great time on target.
Their defence is built by focus plus three agility dice, and two shields to eat the occasional early crit. That might be a trivial side remark, but they almost exclusively care about crits like direct hit, structural damage, damaged engine, and maybe weapons failure.
I also want to point out that the list has way better chances at System Opens: it wins, but it does not crush. As a result, the MoV is usually rather bad. That makes it good for events where the MoV does not matter.
The obstacles with a short example
I went with three debris from the YT2400 set, for those who want specifics. The reason is a mix of different factors:
- I don’t care about the stress myself (all obstacles lose your action), but many opponents do care;
- The crit is very unlikely to happen at 1/8th chance, while the strain or hit of cloud and asteroids, respectively, are way more likely and just as bad;
- The clouds give my opponents a defensive bonus, which is particularly bad against 2dice guns;
- I can pick three reasonably large obstacles.
My setup depends on my opponent’s list and where he placed one, but I have an obstacle that is almost always at the same position: range 5 from my edge, and range 3 or even a bit less from the side. A pivot rock, basically. The idea is this: one of my ships will always be 1 range from the side (Zizi), and another one roughly half a base next to it on the outside (Tallie). Their preferred opening maneuvers are 5 straight for Tallie on the outside, and 4-5 straight for Zizi.
Now, I know that the following fits: I can do a 1bank boost in turn 1. And then I can do a 4-5 straight plus 1bank boost for Tallie, and a 3bank for Zizi. That fits always. I don’t have to do it, but I know that it will fit. You can even see nicely on the vassal image with the yellow range 1 bubble that there is nothing my opponent can do to prevent this sequence of maneuvers.
The very realistic danger is that I do not actually look at the board anymore – because I just know that it fits, right? So why bother guessing the maneuvers. We’ll get back to that point in game two… yeah, I know…
Often, I place the second obstacle in a way that allows Tallie to turn away with a 2hard to the north, or that makes the approach a bit more difficult for my opponent. I just want to point out that the 2 hard around the obstacle fits for both Tallie and Zizi anyway, due to the bubble.
These are things to practice for a list. And I started to use the same placement for other lists, too. All I need is the 5 straight, 3 bank, and a boost on a ship to make use of that position.
487 players started, all presumably with a list that let them enjoy the weekend. Every round my routine is the same: after greetings, I type the list into LaunchbayNext. The reason is to memorise the list, or at least the most important pieces.
What I did not do, unfortunately, was to reflect a bit about the list. Not once did I think about the threat maps, or how they move, or how many reds and greens are coming at me here, and I did not even look at the half points. Ideally, I would do all of that before. It is a reason why I really like to play single games at a time: that gives me enough time to do so thoroughly.
Round 1 – Chris C.
I know that matchup relatively well. You can find bat reps I wrote from the 10th and 17th of February 2019, for example. The key is to plink and plink and plink… Do not get caught in 14 red dice, and do not give up a green die to Arvel! It’s really tough in the sense that it’s unforgiving. A mistake and a ship plops.
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): He should take out Zizi and Greer first. But way more important is to focus all shots on the same ship – whichever that may be! The jousting XXXXA have to get shots – and I have to prevent them. I do not care one bit about Arvel, as he is unlikely to punch through my greens. I win the game as soon as I have taken out the 4 X-Wings.
Deployment: I do not remember the order of obstacles. You can see that my pivot rock is on the east – and wandered a bit further northwest than it should. My opponent should want to get a fight in the SW part of the map, while I am way more happy to drag him through the obstacles.
The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): Plink! It’s simple, yet difficult. Arcdodging is the key: just don’t get shot.
How it went:
I pulled Zizi and Tallie from the center to the east. I wanted to go all around to the northern field with them. But I realized soon that the timing would be completely off. So I did what we all prefer to do: I jousted. The reason it worked anyway was because a) I did not have to do damage, just survive, b) because he opted into shooting Ronith, and c) because he could not get the focused shots he wanted. I “win” as long as I don’t lose an A-Wing here.
His moves are overlaid in the image here. An X-wing and Arvel turned east, the rest came into the middle. The two breakoffs convinced me to add Zizi and Tallie to the mix. He had lost a single X-wings after 3 or so rounds of shots and 50min game time. The more he loses the less careful I have to be, and the more aggressive I can be. He has to chase, and I can opt in or out of shots, just as I want. It is that moment when the list is at its strongest. And once you’re there you won.
I want to share this beautiful image, too, where 6 A-Wings draw circles around the X-Wings like hungry sharks! Never mind that Arvel in the SE corner is not actually mine…
The last turn was just enough to seal the deal, with a 200-39 win.
I used Ronith quite a bit, I want to say five times at least?
Round 2 – Stephen G. (5-1 finish)
The horror! A mirror match, and my first ever! A slight variation of the list, with Zari and 5x Optics. But I had two i5s and Ronith, and both should give me an edge here. On top of that, I had choice for first player due to the 199 vs 200 – once again showing how nice a single point of bid can be!
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”) AND my gameplan: Get more shots? Joust better? I don’t know, just go with the flow!
Deployment: He went with a variation of the FingerFour setup, while I chose the 2-1-2. I was going to force the fight in the middle and see from there.
How it went:
My Zizi and Tallie in the SW corner pulled into the middle, Ronith and BSR from the SE corner pulled around that 2/2 obstacle. The first round of combat had 3 of my concentrated shots against 3 dispersed from him, so that was a small win already.
Then we went almost perfectly symmetrically into the next turns: we both got similar amounts of shots. It was this turn where Ronith was most valuable! I had a large number of focus tokens to spend with his ability, and it was the best target. Yet, he decided to shoot Tallie instead with 3 shots. It was the turn after where I made a really stupid mistake.
I was really confident with my maneuver choices, despite the scrum. Then I announced a left boost for BSR, because why not? I had completely forgotten which choice I had settled on with Tallie just seconds before: 3bank right or 2hard left were my options. Both would have fit, but 2hard was the safer choice. That is, if I wouldn’t block it myself. That hurts, of course, in a game as tight as this one.
The rest is a blur – we bobbed and weaved, traded shots, and eventually I had the upper hand. A fantastic game against a better player. I won 98-80, but he went on to finish his day 5-1. Sorry but not sorry for the small dent – maybe it gave you the better matchups in the end? I’d like to think so. In any case, well done!
Round 3 – Steven C. (4-2 finish)
A cool list, and an interesting new iteration of the Avenger swarm. I like LeHuse and Rivas together, and Scorch is a known quantity. I like the addition of Longshot, personally, and Vonreg might not be a meta powerhouse – but definitely brutal against me!
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): His squad is pure efficiency, and has that one cool trick with Rivas and LeHuse. Rivas can constantly gain locks on my ships, whenever I stress one of them. And LeHuse can use that lock for his 3 dice attack.
The two main ships to take out are LeHuse and Vonreg. LeHuse because of the 2 agility, and Vonreg because damaging him is as difficult as the others, but he yields about twice as many points per damage threshold with 59 vs 33 or 31. Rivas can be largely ignored. Scorch would be third, so he will collect stray shots. I have to stress though, a list with that many green dice is tough to crack!
Deployment: His setup had Rivas in the middle. Vonreg and Scorch were in the NE corner, Longshot started in the NW corner. LeHuse came close to Rivas. I went with a 2-1-2. Oh, and you see my pivot rock? Two problems: First, it’s wider than the hat debris. Second, I moved it a bit south after placing it, for no reason at all.
The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): Concentrate all my arcs on LeHuse in the middle. Take him out, then we see how things are standing. The low ini ships will rush into the middle. Tallie and Zizi can to the practiced opening. Greer delayed a bit with barrel rolls, banks and straights.
How it went:
Turn 1: 5 straight + bank boost for Tallie, 4 straight + bank boost for Zizi. The others as mentioned. LeHuse did some fast straight and rolled in front of the debris, making space for Rivas. The combo does not require them to be that close, but Steven chose to keep them close, anyway.
Turn 2: Uh, “practiced” opening? I know that bank+boost is like a larger turn, so BSR and Ronith did that. Greer went close to that debris – but not too close. Tallie did the straight + bank boost. And Zizi… let’s just say, I still would guess from the image that a 3 bank fits. That, paired with my knowledge of the opening, had me not one second doubting my choice.
And the worst happened.
Zizi landed in range 1 of Rivas and LeHuse on the rock. That ultimately decided the game, and it was entirely my mistake. My four shots almost took LeHuse out, and I paid with 3 HP on Greer I think?
I took out LeHuse in the next turn. Vonreg put in some pain, we kept going. He went after Greer, but couldn’t finish her yet. There was a second crucial moment where I blundered: I set the wrong direction for Tallie, with a one hard into the bump instead of away. At some point I tried shooting Vonreg, and lo and behold, I took off 2 shields. I have to wonder why I didn’t try earlier, just to keep pressure up.
Anyway, we kept shooting and dodging. Finally, I had 79 points scored (LeHuse, half Vonreg, half Scorch) while only giving up Greer and the BSR for a total of 78. He was pursuing Ronith and Zizi, both at 1 shield. A quick glance at the clock showed 3 minutes left. I got greedy – or stupid – and did a 3hard with Tallie in the NE corner. And he turned all his 4 ships onto Tallie! I took half of Scorch (just 1 more had been necessary) for 96 points total. But already half Tallie would reverse the end to 96-97! Four shots were coming, completely unnecessarily. I could and should have gone 5 straight into the corner where not a single shout would have reached me. But I was convinced that we’d get in another turn, and then that move was suicide. That thought might be correct, because no shots are much faster than four of them. Whatever I think about it now, he got Tallie, of course, and I lost the game 96-115.
It was tense to the very end, but at the same time very friendly. He gave me a sweet Ahsoka drawing made by @fwilkoart on instagram. I don’t have instagram myself, but take a look if you do.
My take-away is 100% that I really should not do the opening on outopilot. The targeting was fine, though I might have rather shot Vonreg earlier than I did. Taking him out wins me the game. That’s probably why a Silencer is still the better choice, but I fully understand the allure of Vonreg. My other mistake might have been the result of a tilt on my part.
Round 4 – Dan X. (3-3 finish)
This was a hilarious coincidence! I played against Dan online in the X-wing Vassal Tournament round 2, where I lost the exact same matchup in a 154-161 battle. The same list made by the way top16 in the end, so it is clearly a good one.
I knew what was coming. And he had told me after all that he lost games where people went for the Hyena. So I knew what to do – and what not to do!
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): Keep the Hyena safe in the back and behind the vultures, use the obstacles to slow down, focus down one A-Wing at a time.
Deployment: We had an obstacle cluster that was a bit too tight. He used the same setup, and I went again with the 2-1-2. I think he took first player? I don’t remember, but it was anyway just the one ship.
The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): Of course, I’d prefer to engage in the SW quarter of the board. So: turn in the i1-4, go fast with the i5s. Circle all around if necessary. This game has to be extremely patient on my part – but always ready to pounce if the opportunity is presented! Don’t try to win 200-X here, just win.
How it went: Much better! I was relatively confident that I would win if we had to play with time constraints, but I think I’d have won 200-X if we went for 15 turns again.
Turn 1: Ronith and BSR did their 1hard and rolled, as did Greer. Tallie and Zizi did their 4 and 5 straights, respectively, with Zizi on the outside for once. Dan has a beautiful and practical opening where he moves 4/3/2 straight, and rolls behind them with the Hyena. That leads to a nice, staggered formation and gives more options for turning in.
Turn 2-3 : In our online game, he already banked on the second turn. I was tempted to keep Ronith in the corner. But there is ultimately no point: even a lone fighter behind enemy lines would not just remove the Hyena fast enough. More likely, I’d throw away a ship. So, he bailed, too. That turned out to be correct. On turn 3, I caught up Ronith to BSR, and Greer to Tallie.
Turn 4: I couldn’t turn in with both Tallie and Zizi, because I messed up a bit. There were two fights going on: Tallie, Zizi and Greer against 3 drones in the northern part, and Ronith+BSR against 2 drones in the southern part. Much of it arc-dodged or at range 3. That is almost perfectly the opening engagement that I want, and most follow-up moves are crystal clear to me. I took out the first vulture already, and we went into turn 5. By the way, Greer shot at some buzz droids who were right in front of Tallie. I could have left them in the end, but better safe than sorry. Zizi (NW) obviously does a 5 straight and goes after the Hyena. Ronith (S left) does a 3 hard left and rotates, while BSR does either a hard 1 or hard 3 right with a rotate. Greer, too, will hard left and likely boost for a better angle. But Tallie… I thought about several options, and settled for…
Turn 5: … a 5 straight! Through everything, right into the maw. I could have stayed and taken a 3v4 shot from that stressed drone, but I opted to roll left and concentrate shots with 3 ships on a drone. I removed a second drone, I believe, and got damage into a third and into the Hyena.
We played another 3 turns, I believe. It was theoretically possible to win by taking out Tallie entirely. But just two shots made that very unlikely, and I closed the game with a 54-19 win, not managing to get half the Hyena in the end.
My mistake here was that I started very well, but then went into spreading damage a bit too much. On the other hand, I have to take the shots with more dice, especially at Drones with just 3 hull. A blank out gives me points, even if it’s just 10 at a time. I had two of his ships just 1 hull away from points/destroyed.
We talked some more when the pairings got announced, and he told me that my next opponent kicked him out of a cut once. The name sounded familiar…
Round 5 – Craig Reed (top8 finish)
Reed? Sounds familiar. I don’t know what the connection to the rather well known Tom Reed is, I think my opponent is the father? I heard that the top8 finish was not all that unexpected for this gentleman, and at least his won dice over several seasons and the 2016 templates certainly reinforced that idea. Unfortunately, this was my worst game in several ways. The headache was already going strong, I felt tired and my focus started slipping. I went into the game with a defeated attitude. I was sure I would lose, as soon as I saw the ships. That name with those ships? No way!
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): He has Fenn, Boba, and that incredibly annoying Nomlumb. My first mistake of the game: I did not realize that the turret was, of course, the primary while the ion cannon would always point to the front. An ion cannon that meant certain destruction. Second, I know I have to remove Fenn before Boba. But the addition of that third ship would make that so much harder. As such, I went with 1) Nomlumb due to the ion, 2) Fenn, and 3) Boba for my priority.
Deployment: Unfortunately no picture here. I got first player. He set up in the NW corner: Nomlumb towards the edge, then Boba, and Fenn behind Boba – though I might misremember.
The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): I wanted to copy the success of my previous game. Circle around with two ships on the eastern flank, delay with the rest.
How it went: Horribly wrong!
I got cocky, no other way to put it. Way overconfident, when he played me like a fiddle! Turn 1 and 2, he went ahead along his edge, giving me the idea that he took the bait of Zizi and Tallie. And why wouldn’t he, those are very valuable ships, right?
Turn 3: He turned in! Nomlumb turned in, towards that debris. I had already dialled in a 5 straight with my BSR and Ronith, and BSR had already boosted on top of that! If Nomlumb turned in… and sure enough, Boba and Fenn did, too, the latter with a boost for a clutch range 1 shot. My Tallie did a 3 sloop – one of the very first I ever did with RZ2s, if not the first at all. The idea was simple: delay! Imagine if all his 3 ships had continued along the edge. Prime flanking for my low inis, while Greer, Zizi and Tallie were at a safe distance and ready to engage or disengage in the following turn, just as they wanted.
But as I said: played like a fiddle!
The BSR paid the price for my folly in the following turn.
Turn 5: Ronith had to circle around. Greer got past Nomlumb, as did Zizi and Tallie. All had a shot into him. Fenn basically disengaged. with a 2 hard left.
These next turns I started laying the hurt into Nomlumb. There was a situation in turn 6 where I disappointed myself a bit, and I attribute that to my tiredness. I did a 2hard with Zizi, taking a focus. It was really close past Tallie and on his side of the table. He was flying immediately after, so I told him to go ahead – without rotating! I asked him if I could still do it, pointing out that I would obviously do so and that there was no point for me not to do it. Don’t do that! Not when you are 3-1 and the win or loss decides over cut or drop. I caught myself very quickly, but it is entirely unfair to ask in the first place. My mistake, my consequence. It’s not a game I want to win – and it’s possibly a game I would have won.
The next mistake was in the same situation. Tallie had rotated – but I didn’t take the r1 shot at Fenn because of concordia faceoff. That, too, was my tiredness. He does not get faceoff. Like, I know that…
And one more, horrible, game deciding mistake. 5 minutes before time. I calculated the points with Launchbay. The total under my list was 74, under his list 78.
So, naturally, I told him: “You are ahead, 78 to 74”.
That’s not how any of this works! I was in a position to run for 5 minutes, without any problems. Nomlumb was dead, Fenn halved. Both Greer and Zizi had the possibility to face the different way than Boba and Fenn. It would take several turns for him to get to my ships – ships with 1hards, barrel rolls, and 5 straights plus boost. I don’t know how I could have lost that. I didn’t realize until after the game when we counted points. My one saving grace is that I didn’t maliciously trick him…
Instead of running I turned Greer and Zizi into Boba, chasing Fenn. I lost shields on Greer, and he managed to run well enough to give me just one last shot: 15% chance for victory, and I missed the range 3 shot into a focused Fenn on a single hull. A 78-95 loss, completely deserved. My entire game was really bad, and I’m more astonished that it was so close in the end. That turn when I forgot to rotate Zizi? When I didn’t take the rear arc shot into Fenn? There were several situations where I threw the game – and I would deserve the loss after each of them.
Round 6 – Scott N. (4-2 finish)
KrassisNomlumb and 2x IonSpacers
I was too exhausted, and too much on tilt, to really care. The realization had by then fully hit me that I had almost cheated my way into a 6th game for cut, as I took the 74-78 mistake rather badly. And really, does a 3-3 or 4-2 matter? Not to me.
Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): I don’t know, do what you want man. Not really, but that’s how I felt. Reararc ATP from Krassis feels bad man, and I also don’t need a plasma from Nomlumb. The cartel spacers are horrible for Awings, so dangerous and so resilient! This list is way worse for me than it might appear at first.
Deployment: You can tell from the turn 1 image: we had some weird obstacles. He set up mostly in the NW corner, and I did a last 2-1-2.
The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): Run around the NE obstacle with my 5s. The key is one last time an opening salvo that takes something, ideally a spacer, off the board. I can handle one, after all, as he has to get 2 hits to ionize one of mine.
How it went:
Turn 1 is shown above. We clashed in the middle for some early shots. But I did not care about Krassis, not yet. I wanted the spacers.
One of his spacers k-turned, the other came in slowly. Krassis locked the wrong ship. But look at my arc! That semi circle around the spacer, completely cut off? I had a 42% chance to remove it from the table. Instead, I got the 4% chance of dealing 1 damage. It was just as likely to deal 7 damage. Anyway. I did not. And that changed my goal for the game, at least until the last turn: remove. that. ship!
The very next turn, he pulled off a beautiful block with the damaged spacer, getting both my BSR and Ronith who did a 1hard and 3 hard after Krassis. The higher initiative ships kept firing at the little guy, but he kept evading. That same turn, Krassis dropped a seismic charge. Now I honestly don’t know how that happened. I wanted him to measure the distances to the obstacles so we wouldn’t influence the outcome by our moves. But he pointed out that this information helps me, which is of course correct. I could have sworn that the debris is out of range. Looking at the image now, I want to confirm that: you can get a really good idea of the distances due to the medium base. Both the obstacles east and south of Krassis should be out. I can’t tell about the one north. We really tried to keep the bomb in place, with extra markers, but we must have nudged it at some point: only the debris south was in, in the end, dealing 1 damage to me and 3 to him. I repeatedly said that it wouldn’t make sense and we must have nudged it. But he insisted that we can’t tell anymore where it would have been, and so he has to blow up the debris. For that sportsmanship alone I’m happy that he won in the end…
Anyway, I kept firing at the spacer, he kept removing ships from me. A few minutes before time was up we counted 60-98. Here’s the thing: One more damage on Krassis would give me the 101-98 win. I tried to go for it, but got only one shot at range three and, if I recall correctly, obstructed at that. 2v4. Just another 14% chance, like the previous game. And again it didn’t happen. Just four more games like that and I’ll get one… We finished at the mentioned 60-98, and with that the day was over.
What a day!
About 5000 words so far, and if you take anything away from them then it should be how grateful I am to my fellow players. I had an absolute blast, way beyond expectations!
That was in equal parts due to:
- my squadmates and friends who travelled with me: magnificent seven we were!;
- but also due to previous contacts and strictly online acquaintances: you know who you are, and you rock!;
- and last but not least due to my opponents: I am as happy about my wins as I am about my losses, in a way that must sound cheesy.
But it is true, it really is about the way and the friends we make along it.
I freely admit, I want to be a nice opponent, someone you’d enjoy spending 75min with. However, I also want to play games I can enjoy, and a necessary part of that is an actual chance to win them. I wouldn’t pay $500 just to hand out 11 wins to someone. I am sure that a crucial part of the amazing games was that the games were so incredibly tight! So I’ll make sure to improve, and hopefully I’ll be back in Hannover. To get another challenge coin, and maybe the range rulers or even templates – while also letting you enjoy those 75 minutes. We’ll see! In the meantime I’ll keep writing my blog.
I want to boil it down to 6 take-aways for myself, things to improve:
- Openings: make sure to have more than one, with maneuvers for 2 turns;
- Obstacle placement: make sure to know when you can – and can’t – follow your routine on autopilot;
- Practice key matchups that I had or still have not yet played (Droid swarms; BoFrost; BobaFenn; the mirror; ResistanceJousters; FauxSwarm). And think through them! There is no reason I was surprised by BobaFenn or the FauxSwarm.
- Immediate Pre-Game
- Take a moment to think about the list at the table. There is no point in suffering through 70mins of play because you didn’t get that one upgrade, or didn’t realize how an ion cannon won’t ever turn. It’s a balancing act: games are already short enough. But I can and should take the time I need in the beginning, because the opening engagement is so important!
- I need to find a way to stay more focused. I lose games. And I mean it in the sense that I throw games. I make a lot of mistakes, and by now I get to play against opponents who recognize and exploit those mistakes. Time for a WRAM tattoo, or a better mnemonic.
- Count the points! It is such a rookie mistake, and one of the worst ways to lose is to realize that you were ahead in the penultimate turn without realizing it!
Until next time!