In other articles, I have written about a way to approach the pregame: Turn 0, to identify target priorities; thinking about plan blue and plan red, deployment and obstacles are in every battle report.
I’ve also touched on principles and examples for your after-action-review. Every training is only as good as the lessons you draw from it, after all.
But inbetween, for those 75min of game play? I hope to add something here to help during the game.
If I look through my battle reports, my most impactful mistakes are misidentifying my win condition, followed by choosing the wrong maneuver (including opening/closing options for the following turn), and sometimes mixing up activation order is a problem, too. Only rarely do I forget crits or stress, and also using my pilot abilities and upgrades or other types of resources are not often forgotten by now.
How could I more easily remember all of these things? I try a mnemonic device!
The great benefit of well practiced mental checklists is that you can stick to something when you have no idea what to do, when you get emotionally tilted in either direction, or most importantly for me when getting tired.
Win Conditionimagine the sound of an F1 car passing you: Wwwwwrrrraaammmmm
At the start of each turn, I should go through these letters and what they stand for.
How will I win this game? This changes whenever a player gains or loses points. But it is good to remind myself every turn how I can still win this game.
The first step for that is to identify points. What is the current score?
Knowing the score, what ship is the best target in this situation?
This is the worst possible way to lose a game: if you are ahead on points, don’t count, and then target the wrong ship, or charge head-on even though you should run. It cost me the cut at UK SOS in February 2020, for example. The 5th game is precisely the moment of tired autopilot where I should make use of a mnemonic device.
As resource I count by now every ability with a “may” trigger. Initially I started with charge-based ones due to bombs, Leia, or crackshot. But I adjusted over time to also take a glance at things like force tokens. Important is to look at both sides of the table!
How many players forget about their crackshots? I know I once did in an absolutely crucial moment that cost me an important game. Luckily, that is a rare problem by now, but it is still important. Do you remember Tallie’s charge? That Kylo could actually assign ISYTDS?
On top of that, I should also consider upgrades or resources of my opponent! How many bomb tokens are left? Do I have to expect a reload here? Can this Fifth Brother fire a homing? Is it a bad idea to stress myself next to a RAC carrying 7th Sister? Do I remember Darth Vader crew with the range 2 band? That Nom Lomb will only turn his turret arc, not his equipped cannon? Is Leia ready again? How many forces are active?
These mistakes are frustrating and unnecessary. Take a moment before setting dials to remember what abilities are on the board.
The order of activation is often crucial and probably deserves its own step, even if it is technically part of the maneuver.
Who is first, and does that close down general choices for the rest?
I also use this step to get generally aware of movements on a larger scale. You don’t have to compare nitty-gritty details of individual maneuvers and how they interact. Instead, pick out the large brush and describe where they could move. This is often surprisingly accurate and allows you to reduce the number of actual maneuvers in the next step. In the example below, it is a clear option that one silencer moves in and chain-blocks all T70s. Keep that in mind when moving on to the individual maneuver choices.
This step is not complex or long. Just make yourself aware of the activation order.
You have now reviewed the immediate goal (letter W) and remembered limitations (R, A). Time to pick the correct maneuvers:
What do you want to do, where do you want to end up?
Guess what your opponent might do: where will he end up?
Now combine them in your mind and think where you get the best of both?
Only after reminding myself of the win condition, resources, and activation order can I go to maneuvers.
I can split the ships into blue and red, friendlies and opponents, mine and theirs and think about them in those groups. In that case, a good approach is to go blue-red-blue:
What do I want?
What does he want?
How do I get most of what I want, while also disrupting his choice?
A different way is by activation order. This has the added benefit of really making sure you remember the order of activation. But it has the potential downside of being long and complicated.
I prefer the former for most of my games. Sometimes however it might be a good idea to think through maneuvers one by one, for example if the ship count is relatively low or if the maneuvers are very obvious. My personal shortcoming in this step is that I tend to overthink my own maneuvers and underthink my opponent’s. I have to make sure to really look at the field from my opponent’s perspective and think through some of their choices.
The goal of this article was not to convince you of my version. The goals is that you see an example and can make a version for yourself. If you do, please let me know! And if you think this one helps you, then let me know about that, too.
This is a tool where practice makes perfect. You’ll eventually realize that you don’t have to go through them in detail for every single turn. Your win condition might remain the same all throughout the game. The activation order could be really simple. Maybe there are no relevant resources on the field.
But there are also the other games. And in those, you will be glad if you practiced this thoroughly!
My advice: Watch a stream and open something to take notes. Take the perspective of one player, and write down the entire WRAM for every turn. That way you can get used to it without having to grind out a ton of games yourself. And over time, you will get so used to it that you can also
This was one of many, almost completed articles that I have. I got the idea a year ago from the guys over at X-Wing Debrief, where dsul413 introduced FACT. Head over there to see another take on this.
Until next time!