Ever since buying the tickets in late January or early February, whenever it was, I have been preparing for this event.
My initial plan at the beginning of the year regardless whether I was going to Yavin or not was to not overtly deviate massively from the list I had started using. With the purchase of the ticket this made the plan easier to stick with.
As Nationals falls when I go on holiday which I literally booked a week before the dates were released for it, the Yavin Open is the big one. In some ways, especially with the player numbers it is probably bigger. The pure basic odds on winning are currently around 450-1 as that is the number of players currently entered into the event. To get into the top eight you can only afford one loss in the nine rounds before that. Nine rounds means that the potential for a bad match-up is very likely as well as no hiding place from a large selection of good players. I will need to be on top of my game each round as the margin for error is so low.
After the initial run of three tournaments early in the year at Aldershot, Milton Keynes and Tolworth I started a bit more experimentation in the lists to try different combinations and ships. The results at both Woking and Basingstoke left food for thought around the Tie Advanced Prototype Inquisitor and whether he is right for me or the style of build and play I like.
It was very tempting when I realised I had left the Inquisitor card at home and upon scanning the room that Soontir Fel looked a better option. I resisted temptation and borrowed a card and persevered with the main object of trying out the inquisitor and new builds on Whisper and Zeta Leader. The Basingstoke tournament was useful in that all lists that I faced were strong Meta lists whereas the Woking event at Ibuywargames had more odd ball lists, which are in fact just as hard to deal with.
The Banana Skin
Long time tournament experience in both X wing and notably Warhammer 40K has taught me one important lesson which is to never under estimate your opponent and their list. When on paper it looks poor or utilises uncommon units or ships it can be the most deadly if you do not give it respect and come up with a suitable strategy.
Back in November 2009 I returned to Warhammer World to participate in the Grand Tournament Heat 3 as the previous year’s Heat 3 defending champion. You needed four wins to qualify for the final and my target was simply qualification. Having won my first game then narrowly losing the second I then proceeded to draw the next three games, the first two of which came against lists that would easily be deemed as a bit out there and not meta power builds. Granted there was some hilarious dice rolling going on where I was getting the short end of Lady luck, (but I did have the reverse of that in the first round victory), but in many ways I had played two of the draws not optimally and in all three drawn games I spent it on the back foot.
A month prior to this tournament I was within one bad decision of winning a major tournament in the London area in the last round and had played in my opinion better players and better lists. So why a reversal from 4 wins, 1 loss and 1 draw to 1 win, 3 draws and 2 losses? I was using near enough the same army with only minor tweaks and a friend and less able general copied my list with a couple of minor changes for the worse for personal taste and came away with a 4 wins 2 loss record and qualified.
Back on track to X-Wing and the Open, so what does this all mean?
I went from a semi local 70 man Warhammer 40K tournament to one double in size and notably drawing people from not just all over the country but Europe and other parts even further afield. Local meta vary and when combined into one big cooking pot can through up some interesting builds and styles. True they may not win but they can down the unprepared or cocky.
Worse still they could be flown by someone with no intent on winning the event, possibly playing for fun, (how dare they). This could lead to the player trying to prove a point and see how well they will do with something out of the ordinary. They provide a big banana skin for anyone with eyes on the prize. With the above 40K example I was prepared for the meta lists and build archetypes but having slipped into the mire of the midfield after the first two games I came up against all kinds of random weirdness. With a tournament of 450 or so participants that is a likely event.
A recent discussion with Man of Monkey was about his Z 95 missile caddy in his Dengar and Zuckass list led me to suggest something a bit out of the box. Having considered how blocking is an effective tool against the Loo-Boats he swapped Leeachos for a binayre pirate. Then went full circle and considered Leeachos again with deadeye to counter Imperials. I suggested something out of the ordinary, a M3-A interceptor with Mangler cannon.
I’ll give everyone a moment to stop laughing but then consider this. For Scum the best two blocking options are the binayre pirate and the Cartel Spacer. Although the cartel spacer is PS 2 it does have a barrel roll which for blocking is really useful. Combine that with the fact that most of the tough meta lists like Loo-boats and crack swarm will rock in at PS 3 or PS 4 you have a perfect little blocking ship in the cartel Spacer. Slightly more durable than a Tie fighter and with the addition of the mangler cannon for a total of 20 points, another three attack ship which will be useful against ‘Ghost Meta,’ another potential banana skin. Also it will continue to have a useful damage output unlike the Z 95.
Whether you agree with the merits for this or not, (Man Of Monkey did not agree, he still thinks it is some kind of Sith mind trick), it is worth bearing it in mind as with a field of 450 players or so there will be some rather interesting and curious builds out there which will catch you out. From thinking about the humble Cartel Spacer I then moved it a stage further in my head and wondered could you build a useful all comers list from it?
The Banana Skin Swarm
3 x Tansaril Point Veterans with crack shot, Heavy Syck title and Mangler Cannon.
2 x Binayre Pirates with Feedback array
You have blocking options with the two Z 95s for Loo boats and Imperial aces, as well as crack swarms plus the versatility of two feedback arrays. Also the Tansaril veterans are PS5 which bumps them above crack swarms of either rebel or Imperial and gives you a crit mechanic as well as a three dice attack. My Caveat would be that I have not flown it but do have the ships to try it, so maybe for Hanger Bay if it all goes to pot on the Saturday.
Last preparation tournament
I have the London Regionals at Warboar games in the Paradice gaming café coming up and this is my last chance to blood a squad at an event prior to Yavin. Further complicating the build up for me is the normal post tournament ruling which bans flying the week after an event from air traffic control. Then the following week due to half term for the kids I have a mini break in the middle of the week, crushing all flying. It is in the middle of Cardiff, and in Cardiff is Firestorm games but I reckon the suggestion would go down like a cup of cold sick.
The net result is a highly likely no more X wing for the two weeks before Yavin. I am happy with the latest incarnation of the squad but it needs flying time. My options are to either use this as a bedding in run, try a more safer and tested squad combination or something completely different. I prefer the old adage of flying what you know and whilst the squad contains two of those elements the other portion is new, to an extent.
Whisper Fel to Academies
Tie Phantom Whisper: Veteran Instincts, rebel captive, Fire control systems, advanced cloaking device
Tie Interceptor Soontir fel: Push the limits, royal guard title, auto thrusters, targeting computer.
2 X Tie Fighter: Academy Pilot
The key to success is to use the two academy Tie Fighters to effectively block and do damage against all opponents, not just Jumpmasters and other Imperial aces. The Doom Shuttle is another consideration although I am looking at the blocking options of two Tie fighters over one ponderous shuttle. That being said it is an option if Saturday does not net the performance I am hoping for. My concern is the lack of damage output the Tie fighters may have against some builds but then Whisper and Soontir often do most of the heavy lifting regardless.
Further to the testing of the list it is a good dry run to work out mentally if I will be able to sustain the concentration after an early start and drive. A car load of Womp Rats and Zombie Squadron are heading off early doors on the Saturday morning to Yavin and the journey time is similar to the Regional. I know that I will be vulnerable in the first game until I get to bed in mentally and fatigue could easily set in as the day goes on. It could be an indication of constructing an easier to use list if the tiredness hampers performance. Mind you on the flip side I have two young children so I constantly live in a world of sleep deprivation. It may work for me as much as it works against me.
In many ways whatever happens on Saturday is a net win. With 100 players it will give a broad spread of lists to face and a lot of information to feed back on. I would like to make the cut but not making it will provide indications about which direction to pursue, even if it is just to fly better or drink more coffee.