After a quick flapjack break and a Vanilla Latte I was back on to round four:This time I’ve re-enacted some of the crucial moments with ships, templates and rocks. It’s worth pointing out that this is from memory and the exact positioning and rocks were possibly slightly different in the actual game. Part one of the report is here.
Darth Vader: Veteran instincts, title, Advanced Targeting Computer, Engine Upgrade
Whisper: Veteran Instincts, Fire Control System, Agent Kallus, Advanced Cloaking Device
Zeta Leader: Wired, Comms Relay.
Craig Bradford: Rear admiral Chiraneau & Soontir Fel
Rear Admiral Chiraneau: Expose, Emperor Palpatine, Ysanne Isard, Experimental interface.
Soontir Fel: Push the Limit, Tie Royal Guard Title, Auto thrusters, stealth device.
Kallus targeted Rear Admiral Chiraneau
I’ve played Craig twice before in tournaments and lost each time. I was hoping to amend that score line. I choose the rear admiral as he was going to be pumping out a lot of dice and I was certain that I would lose either Vader or Whisper before I could drop one of his ships. It’s a tricky one for target priority with a three ship build as trying to burn down Chiraneau to remove the Emperor would make it easier to destroy Fel, but you don’t want to give Fel a free reign by ignoring him and realistically I needed Vader to kill Fel in the end game.
I choose the initiative to allow Whisper to re-cloak before Fel attacked as I didn’t want to take a three dice Palpatine modified attack from Fel on just two evade dice. We set up with Fel on my left and the rear Admiral a third of the way in to power down towards me through a gap in the rocks. I had Vader and Zeta set up opposite Fel with Whisper in the middle.
My thinking at this point was to burn down Chiraneau and keep Vader alive to take out Fel later. We both piled forward and the initial engagement had Whisper at range 1 of Chiraneau, Fel turned in on Zeta Leader who had arc on Chiraneau whilst Vader had crept up behind Fel.
I deliberated about whether to shoot Fel at range one having boosted behind him or Chiraneau at range three. I decided to put the lock on Fel who had boosted and tokened up. The resulting exchange of fire where Vader Rolled well and Fel badly, saw me sneak a direct hit through which dropped the stealth device and Fel to one Hull. Whisper emerged unscathed and combined with Zeta Leader to strip the shields and a Hull from Chiraneau.
Whisper then broke off from Chiraneau and Fel decided to chase Whisper down, whilst Vader chased Fel. Chiraneau went off to turn around in my right corner, but not before combining with Fel to knock whisper down to one hull, See below:
The next choice of manoeuvres had a telling effect on the game, which encompasses what can happen in X-wing. I was deliberating which way to move Zeta Leader. Do I Segnors loop to the right, maybe hard 2 turn left or right, or maybe just 2 bank right to possible block Sontir Fel? This is what I did as well as 4K turning Whisper.
Craig was considering doing a 4 straight but changed his mind and did a 3 straight instead, which caused him to bump Zeta Leader.
Vader then moved in for the kill, Craig obliged by rolling two blanks to my three hits.
Had he moved in front of Zeta Leader he could have probably arc dodged the Phantom and shot at it or slide off behind the rock to the left to hide from Vader. It certainly would have changed the game. As it were I then effectively lined the three ships up abreast of each other and jousted Chiraneau as he came back down the board and burned him down in two rounds of firing.
This is always one of the interesting things with X-Wing in trying to predict what your opponent is going to do. You can end up changing your mind countless times, possibly over thinking it and it can all go Pete Tong. Craig was unlucky too as Vader shot at Fell three times at range one and on two occasions he rolled at least two blanks.
Chris Stokes: Dash Rendar and Z95 Swarm
Dash Rendar: Predator, Chewbacca, Mangler Cannon, Outrider title.
4 bandit squadron Z 95s
Kallus Targeted Dash
My plan was simple, I would either take dash out early if presented with him as a target or keep away and whittle the Z95s down. I was the only undefeated player in the tournament at this stage and although part of me suggested that my MOV might be good enough to soak up a defeat if it were not a heavy one, I also felt that I had one hand on top spot with this match up. The benefit of having Whisper instead of Echo looked clear and became apparent when playing.
Chris set the Z swarm up about range3 in from my left with Dash in the top right corner. I had Whisper in the centre and Vader and Zeta Leader on my right facing Dash. We both initially crept forward before putting the foot down with Chris bringing the Z swarm into the middle of the board. I thought I might have an opportunity to gang up on Dash but he feinted away back towards hi board edge.
I readjusted towards the incoming Z95s but made a critical mistake with Vader, who was hugging my right flank. I barrel rolled and boosted forwards to get a better position to turn in towards the Z95s the following turn but it put me into range 3 of Dash by a few millimetres. The fire from Dash and a couple of Z95s the following turn dropped Vader to one Hull point. Dash may have strip two shields and a hull of him in that exchange.
Vader went from hunter to hunted very quickly but I got Whisper and Zeta Leader to start clearing out the Z95s whilst Dash circled around to make an approach, keeping a healthy distance from Whisper. Vader circled round in the top right corner and came running back down towards me. Dash moved into the middle from my left and took out Zeta leader whilst Whisper finished off the Z95s and ended up in the top right corner.
We then began a game of Dash chasing Vader with Whisper chasing Dash. It culminated in my bottom right corner with Dash and Vader colliding.
The choice of manoeuvres then became crucial and like in the previous game it came to a crucial selection. Dash has to turn towards the left so if I decloak and hard one I will keep him in my sights, but if he purposely bumps vader I will end up bumping Dash with Whisper. I was also considering doing a K turn with Vader, so if he did bump, it would leave Vader tokenless and in range of Dash.
I opted to decloak the other way and soft one with Vader so I could either token up or barrel roll and boost to get a bead on Dash.and if he did bump, I would be safe. As it was, Chris selected a hard 1 turn and bumped into Vader. Whisper at this point was chewing into Dash’s Hull.
The next turn I thought he would move out although I still hedged my bets with Vader. I didn’t decloak towards my board edge just in case he bumped Vader again as I think I would have had to barrel roll across to get Dash into arc and there may not have been enough room to do so.
De-cloak to the right
Another hard one
I feel the hard 2 turn with Vader was a mistake and that maybe another soft 1 or soft 3 or a straight manoeuvre would have been better to attempt to re-engage on my terms a few round latter. It didn’t matter as this was the last turn as Whisper had Dash at range one with a target lock and a focus with three hull left and blew him away.
A Stupid Manoeuvre
Chris was baffled how I had guessed that he was going to bump Vader with Dash as he said its technically a stupid manoeurve. All I could say in return is that it was probably what I would have done in his position. I thought it was a good thing to do and probably the best option. It was always going to be tricky for him and he rightly said that he feared coming up against Whisper, even though phantoms have tailed off the scene a bit.
All part of the rich tapestry of X-Wing.
So I finished top of the pile. Luke the tournament organiser ran the event well and it all went smoothly. I came away with a medal, a dice bag, alternate art cards and some tokens.
So what did I learn? There was a varied amount of ships at the event and there were more Imperials than rebels with a splattering of scum. I managed to avoid any TLTs and Miranda Doni which is a shame as it would be useful to get a game or two against them with my next event being an ETC team England qualifier in Milton Keynes.
That being said I am still deliberating about the EPT on Zeta Leader. Wired was useful, especially in round 2 but veteran instincts and crack shot are still appealing. The problem with Wired on Zeta Leader is the timing at which it occurs. Zeta leader can only boost his attack when making it, not at the start of the combat phase so if shooting second against other PS7 aces or against anything of higher PS, it has little benefit defensively.
Crack shot would be useful as Zeta leader is the finisher when attacking and from memory it would have meant downing a Tie Fighter a round earlier in the first game, saving some incoming damage on Vader. It’s tempting and I’ll probably give it a go just to see how it works out.
The issue with veteran instincts is that it would have made little difference in some games. I can see it being useful if coming up against Miranda Doni or Dash Rendar but little effect against say a Veteran instincts Poe plus swarm. It would have made a difference in the first and last game as well as against Poe in round two. It could have had a bearing in rounds three and four especially if my opponents elected to take initiative to hopefully be able to shoot at Whisper before it recloaks with their PS 9 aces.
The other benefit is flexible movement if in close proximity. It’s very tempting as for one point for any of the EPTs they can all have benefits.
Agent Kallus worked out very well. One other option I have is to drop the Comms Relay and Kallus for a gunner on Whisper but I found the Comms Relay useful on Zeta Leader and Gunner is not so useful against low agility ships. Fire control worked a treat as always, especially when combined with Kallus. Getting used to the decloak is still something I need to work on. Although easier to visualise it was difficult getting the 2 bank decloak out of my head and coping with the limitations of the normal decloak.
Darth Vader was probably my least effective ship overall, but he did take out Sontir Fel when required and helped deal with the T70 Aces. I probably need to look at how I am flying with him in combination with the other ships. I could do a straight swap for Sontir Fel but when I fly interceptors, my green dice seam to really hate me. Also Vader fore fills a niche in the list for dealing with PS9 and PS10 aces.
Time for a bit of practice.