Battle Report: ImperialAceHunters vs ImperialFours, vassal, extended, 9.5.20

VaderSoontirHomiebro
vs
ImperialFours: Fifth Brother, Seventh Sister, Ved Foslo, Maj Vermeil

Opponent’s determining action and my target priority (including “Plan Red”): Seventh Sister can crackshot every other turn, independent of bullseye. On top, she has magpulses. They can easily jam my own FifthBrother. He has the same FifthBrother as me. Those two are the most dangerous ships to my list. Vermeil can hit hard, sure, but his 1agility will take a lot of damage from Vader and Soontir. Ved… I don’t know, to me this is the least threatening ship, and also the cheapest, and also the most durable. That seems like a small flaw in the list, now that I think about it. So my final priority is not as sharp as I would like it. The two v1 are more important, but I can also take shots on Vermeil if the opportunity arises.

Deployment: I gave him first player – in hindsight a mistake. For obstacles, he placed the bacon in the SW field, the big asteroid in the SE field, and the hook cloud in the S field. I placed first the hat debris at 3E-5S, then the croissant cloud with a distance of 3 from the bacon, and finally the small cloud.
His ships were setup in almost a finger four in the NW corner. I placed my 5th and Vader along my edge, and Soontir 1range from the eastern edge.

The gameplan for the first turns (“Plan Blue”): I try to set up a proper doubleflank. Fifth should remain in the back and pounce on an opportune target later on. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen from myself so far is to engage him too early.

How it went:

Turn 1

Turn 1: He slowed Vermeil down a bit and moved the FingerFour to the edge some more. My Fifth turned in, and Vader crept along the edge. Soontir did the 5 straight+bank boost. I know that I can 5 straight or 3 bank past the debris – if I set it up correctly…

Turn 2: My ships with the red dots are the result of better alternative maneuvers.

Turn 2: This turn, Vermeil slowed down Fifth. The squad changed formation a bit, but prepared itself to turn into the board. My Fifth did a fast 4 forward and a bank boost. That was a blunder because I should have done a 5 straight with a 1hard next turn. I want to be barely in range or out of range, not in arc and range of all ships for the next turn. Now I’ve set myself up for failure already. The 1bank didn’t fit anymore (I tested it, it actually didn’t fit), and anything else would be too fast. Vader did the 2bank right. That was an inaccuracy, a 3bank would have allowed me to roll left and then 5straight or 3bank in the next turn. Now I’ve made it harder for myself. Soontir did a 5 straight and a straight boost. The fast maneuver fit – but it was a bit too close! I have to make sure to take a thinner obstacle or move it a bit further into the board. But I was set up nicely with all 3 of my ships in a line. FifthBrother should be a bit further back. An option would have been to realize my blunder and roll right or boost straight for more distance and better options in the next turn.

Turn 3: His ships turned in with 2turns, Vermeil with a 1bank-1bank barely onto the cloud. My Fifth had to do a 2bank – which was way too far forward. You can see the 1hard or 3hard for the alternate moves (the image with the red ships), and they had only 7th and Vermeil in range. That would have been perfect! Instead I jousted him against 4 ships… Soontir had to boost and roll to arcdodge Ved and maybe SeventhSister. Vader did a fast maneuver, also dodging all arcs. At this point, we could have stopped the game. I blundered the approach with FifthBrother so hard that I was clearly going to lose him. But on the other hand, both Vader and Soontir were pretty ok. Vader could be a bit better, sure. But I was still ok with my position. So, Soontir and Vader didn’t deal any damage, and my FifthBrother died without dealing anything either. At least he neutralized one missile each, so that was something positive… 0-50 so far.

Now look at the described alternative positions, indicated by the ships in red below. Small differences, large impacts. I think the rest of the game should have been a decisive loss for me. The opening is what I am most interested here. I think I made some nice and some stupid moves later on, and they should be considered for my lessons. But the debriefing focus point should be the opening.

Turn 4: “So, here’s the deal: I start the game with -50 points, but in turn I get an ok position and you reduce some force and missile charges?” That might as well have been our agreement. I completely misread Vermeil and Ved Foslo here. I expected Vermeil to move towards Vader, but he went north and coordinated a lock for Ved. And I did not take the 1hard from Ved into account either. But he rolled, and my 2hard with Soontir still fit. I took a lock, as the position was otherwise perfect – 4 double modified red dice against 0 green dice for outmaneuvered Vermeil at range 1! On the southern side, I was pretty sure that Vader was going to get blocked somehow and shoot SeventhSister anyway (which was ridiculously close in the end…). That was fine for me because I had the lock already. Unfortunately the results were a bit extreme. Soontir dealt 4 damage to Vermeil, including a loose stabilizer. And Vader removed both shield from SeventhSister, plus dealt a blinded pilot, rendering the (only) return shot toothless. 7 damage dealt, 0 taken. 2/2 shots fired, 1/4 received. This flipped a game that I should have lost already. 51-50.

Turn 5

Turn 5: Vermeil banked left, taking a damage and jamming Soontir. Ved Foslo once more used his ability and 2tallon-rolled. That ability was really getting a lot of use here! FifthBrother demonstrated the superb knifefighting abilities with a 1hard and roll left, trying to block Vader I guess, and SeventhSister did her 4k. She got the lock last turn, and even though she was still blinded, that might come in handy later on. I kept Soontir conservative, just a 2straight past the cloud. I initially wanted to follow up with some repositions, but his Fifth changed that. I just took a focus to remove the jam, and rolled out of arc and behind the cloud. I almost got bullseye, but not quite. Vader did a 3hard in front of Fifth (so close!), but also barely touched the gas cloud. However, Afterburners are awesome, so I boosted close to Vermeil, took a lock and a focus, and that was that. The 4v2 from Soontir took 2 shields off Fifth, and Vader obliterated Vermeil. On the return, Ved used his crackshot to strip a shield from Soontir, 7th shot her Magpulse into Soontir (I blanked out, he might have died to a primary shot…), and Fifth somehow hit Vader, added his crit, and stripped both shields. 5 damage dealt, 4 taken. 2/2 shots fired, 3/4 received. Almost flipped the game again! 101-85 at that moment.

Turn 6: Run, Forest, run!

Turn 6: Now I had to run and regroup. This is where a tournament game will start to differ a lot for me. Soontir did his fastest straight, and boosted behind the cloud with a focus. The better choice was to roll right and boost right/straight, taking me out of Ved’s arc. My idea was to keep Soontir and Vader in the same half of the map. Shots were fired, but no damage taken.

Turn 7: Soontir died for my sins, his sacrifice in vain.

Turn 7: Here I intentionally did the more fun move. I told my opponent that I should be turning Soontir right, but instead I went left, and boosted in. I felt like I should have lost the game long ago, and I wanted to finish in style instead of dragging out a technical win on time. Still, my irrational hope was to take out Fifth with a heroic sacrifice from Soontir. That would put us at 126-120, but also remove the huge threat of Homings for Vader in the endgame. I know from my own experience that FifthBrother in the endgame against a 2-3 hull arc-dodger like Vader is just the best threat you can hope for! My Vader by the way did a 4k, ready to turn around and take them on. What happened in the end was that Soontir put 1 meaningless crit into Fifth and died. Now I was again behind at 101-120. Oh, and Soontir did die in style. His hull breach, a direct hit and two fuel leaks meant that he collected 8 damage cards!

Turn 8: His three ships turned against the dark lord, who got rid of strain and stress with a 2bank. Vader has a range 2 shot on Fifth, the other two are obstructed. He shoots, he scores! 126-120.

Turn 9: Now here I was not sure what he was going to do, because it was a really tough position. He ended up blocking Vader into a nice position where I arc-dodged his shots while giving me a range 1 shot into SeventhSister. Who wins, the Dark Lord of the Sith, or the junior partner? Actually, neither.

Turn 10: Another difficult turn. I decided on a talon roll, SeventhSister took a 4k, and Ved moved away. The important part: Vader had another range 1 shot into SeventhSister. And this time he did it! 152-120.

We played 60min + 2, and we had now at just two more turns to go. That’s short enough for me to practice running away, even in a friendly game.

Turn 11: I arc-dodged him here. One more to go.

Turn 12: There was no way to get out of the arc. The best was a range 3 shot, 3v4 dice. That is a 58% chance to win the game for me, and a 44% chance to lose it. Ved took the shot, crit-hit-focus, spends the focus for three. Vader rolled evade-evade-blank-blank and that was it. 152-158! Such a cool game, close until the very end with several reversals! And on top, a really nice opponent!

The whole game in 12 seconds.

Lessons/Conclusion:

As mentioned, my DFP is the messed up opening with FifthBrother and Vader. The contributing factors were my wrong maneuver choices. For Vader, it was a lack of flexibility. I should have thought about the option of rolling left when I planned the maneuver. For FifthBrother, I simply didn’t stick to my chosen strategy, and I see that as the root cause. I know that I want to bring the v1 later in the game, and yet he ended up way too close on the first engagement. I had better options, even with my chosen maneuver. That makes the instructional fix a bit frustrating: I repeated a mistake that I have made before, and that I have made too often already.

Going through the principles:

  • Objective: I stuck to my target priority. First everything onto SeventhSister, with the opportunistic shots into Vermeil. Vermeil died first, SeventhSister second, and FifthBrother third. The part of my plan that I did not stick to is the mentioned opening, and I keep mentioning it because it was the key blunder of this game on my part.
  • Simplicity: I kept it simple. There were no fancy maneuvers, nothing too convoluted. If anything, the opening with FifthBrother was not simple enough! Straight, then turn. That’s it, and it could have been great.
  • Security: There were some risky decisions on my part. Running Vader into the block almost went wrong. And obviously, turning Soontir into the list on turn 7 is not something you should do when you want to win the game, so I disregard that one. But I think I did quite ok on this part. I had options to react to the surprises.
  • Surprise: I didn’t make any surprising maneuvers. However, I did get surprised quite a few times. Ved Foslo used his ability a lot, and I also didn’t think about the jam from Vermeil.
  • Maneuver: Many good choices, I think, with some bad ones. Aside from the opening: Turn 5 Soontir… I don’t know what other maneuver I should have chosen, except maybe a 2hard right to run away without firing a shot? Vader in the same turn with his 3turn was a bit too risky. I could have chosen a 5straight, boost right, and roll right. That might have drawn the shot from Ved while my shot on Vermeil was the same. I mentioned turn 6 maneuver for Soontir in the text, he should have dodged the arc entirely.
  • Mass: My focus fire was pretty bad, to be honest. Both FifthBrother and SeventhSister got down to 1hull because I spread the damage across 3 ships. I think that is a bit of an inherent problem with arc-dodgers. Dodging is simply more important for Soontir than taking the shot at the right ship. Obviously, doing both would be even better, but also requires a better player.

My lesson learned here is to practice a proper opening. I have bits and pieces, but I never went through the whole process. Granted, arc-dodgers are a bit too flexible to stick to a practiced plan, but it should help me a bit. There’s a week left until SpaceJam, where I’ll pick this list. I should be able to test at least some few.

That’s it for now. I have a small piece on target priority and maybe one or two small tactical things if I get to it. Until next time!

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