Zombie Squadron have entered the UK Team Championships and after playing with Imperials all year its time to change pace and try something different, Rebels, but why?
Imperials are the faction I gravitate to the most and all being normal in my world of X wing I would be running a Countess Ryad, Whisper and Zeta leader list at the moment or some other variation. Yet now needs necessitate a change of pace and direction. Zombie Squadron have entered three teams into the UK Team Championship which means switching factions. Fifty one teams have entered into this years event comprising of six rounds of Swiss pairings
UK Team Championship
In a nut shell each team comprises of three players, one playing each faction. When teams play each other the team with the team initiative gets to choose the first match up between teams then the second team gets to arrange the last two. The aim is to win at least two of the games to win the round.
This also means it makes some builds more viable as you can cherry pick your best match up although it also leaves you vulnerable to being stomped on. This can be either by being easy prey for the opposition or gallantly taking one for the team if your team mates can take the other two wins. It is debatable whether picking first is the better option a bit like selecting a slice of cake first rather than waiting to pick last. Most people when offered will try to avoid selecting the biggest slice of cake as to avoid looking greedy so picking last can have its merits.
Most, not all mind.
Choosing our teams
Thankfully one team picked themselves which left us with six people to split down into two teams. The tricky bit in some respects is whether do you pick your best three players in general into a team or play to each person’s strengths or preferences in what to fly. We opted for the second and asked who would like to fly what and juggled it that way. Rebels were naturally not on everyone’s radar and I didn’t mind taking the rebel bullet.
From a results perspective I’ve been off form of late and Tom took Imperials to top sixteen in the UK nationals with a 10th spot in the Swiss. Pete, our other Imperial candidate only owns and plays Imperials so it was an easy decision to live with unlike walking past the ice cream vendor at the garden centre and not purchasing one.
What to expect?
Always tricky trying to guess metas where the goal posts have been moved slightly and with wave nine droping before the list submission date at the end of September but I feel it would be reasonable to expect:
Scum: Triple scouts, Dengaroo, Double IG and possibly two scouts plus a friend.
Imperials: Palp aces or Decimator Palp ace, (I reckon Tie swarm might not be there as the lure of a Palp somethingtine might be too strong with this one).
Rebels: A-wing swarm, ghost plus one, Wes and Biggs plus one, others.
I love Poe
The hard bit has been working out what to fly and do I try and make a take on all comers list or set it up to take out particular threats. If we could guarantee the match up making it specific against one list type like palp aces, tailoring to a specific threat would be sensible although it could easily fall apart in an unfavourable match up. The general consensus is that you cannot deal with all threats at the moment with rebels but I feel that line of thinking is counterproductive and possibly wrong. I love a challenge after all.
Poe has been the main staple of my list building as I like flying the T-70 but I’ve switched up with who he flys with, with mixed results. A lot of this has been down to errors and I’ve found the margin of error is just the same as flying Imperial aces. One wrong move and the game is over, not as quickly but certainly a downward spiral opens up which is inescapable.
So far I’ve tried Poe with a Ghost and Poe with Wes Janson and Biggs. Both with a fifty-fifty success rate and all the losses have been down to mistakes even after getting a favourable first engagement. From an MOV perspective they both also leak MOV like a badly fitted nappy as the game will normally end with Poe as the last ship standing, even when heavily on top. I know that a Corran, Wes and Biggs build has been doing well in parts of the world but playing time to the event is short and I’ve flown with Coran very little.
Wave nine has offered the spanner in the works, with release just prior to list submission on the 25th of September, with the actual event two weeks later. I had been using R3-A2 on Wes with veteran instincts and integrated astromech but vectored thrusters could be a useful addition on him. One of my frustrations has been his limited maneuverability when shedding stress and this would offer a solution.
One of my dilemmas though is that I have found the damage output from Wes and Biggs to be slightly undesirable at times. I have now switched to running with Poe, Biggs and two missile boat Talas. Initially I tried Airen Cracken instead of Biggs but I needed something to keep Poe unharmed in the initial engagement.
A Bacon Burger Meal, Full fat Coke and an Ice cream, (Come on, most people come up with stupid squad names. If you are going to be stupid, why not fully commit).
Poe Dameron (PS8) T-70 X-Wing: Veteran Instincts, weapons guidance, R2-D2, Auto Thrusters
Biggs Darklighter T 65 X-Wing: R4-D6, Integrated Astromech
2 x Tala Squadron Z 95s: Concussion missiles, guidance chips
Weapons guidance on Poe is really strong in the early game and helpful when needing to cram damage through late on. Yes it can leave you a little vulnerable to return fire but offence wins games. I have enough of an alpha strike to drop a scout in one round whilst Poe can offer flexibility against Imperial aces. I was tempted with homing missiles just due to lowering the variance of the dice even though the averages on concussion and homing missiles are the same. I plumped for weapons guidance to boost the overall initial damage output.
Formation flying is certainly easier with ships with some form of re-positioning and a hard one turn and has so far it has been a bit of an Achilles heel at the moment. Even the notion of straight up jousting still leaves a bad taste in the mouth and recognising when it is a good option to take is a hard habit to break. My preference of Hammer and Anvil tactics although viable with Poe as the Hammer does not always suit Rebels in the same way as Imperials.
The problems I have come across are similar with all the other rebel builds in that it tends to leak MOV and a good win in general is one where Poe and one Tala are left on the board. Rebels are unforgiving to play, just like Imperials and one mistake or loss of actions and I am toast. Getting the formation and initial engagement right is more precise than Imperial aces as I lack re-positioning in all ships but Poe.
Getting my starting formation right and flying it right has been a constant piece of problem solving and evolution. Even rock placement and the conundrum of which rocks or maybe debris. Getting target priority right and even getting the decision about when to fire the missiles has become more crucial with the more variety of lists I have played against. I’ve been burned by dice variance such as four eyeballs when I have fired with just the target lock. Technically the average is four hits with guidance chips but a focus token would go a long way to dodge the variance going out the window.
Rebels in the Meta
I feel that Rebels are still strong but they now live on the same knife edge that Imperial ace lists do with one wrong or poor decision leading to disaster. You are not so reliant on defense dice not going south but the flip side is keeping the offence going and selecting the correct movement choices all the time as the ability to re-position is limited.
Its been a nice break from flying the good guys and opened my mind a bit on what to fly next although I like the squad and feel it has potential going forward. It certainly still needs a lot more practice.