This is my look at a squad mechanic of utilising Kylo Ren crew with Lt Colzet which I opted to take to the Yavin System Open 2017.
It is a bit of a long one although I only run through some of my matches in brief including a slight alternative build that I tried.
Darth Vader Tie Advanced: Adaptability, Title, Engine upgrade, Advanced targeting Computer
Whisper Tie Phantom: Veteran Instincts, Kylo Ren, Fire Control systems, Advanced cloaking device
Lt Colzet: title, Fire control systems
Total: 99 points
Initially I was running with the ATC on Lt Colzet but with the possibility of running into black one title X-wings I felt Fire control systems would be a better option. It also allows for potentially slapping a target lock onto a higher PS ship earlier in the game as his damage output is not all that.
Whisper shows a ship the dark side, (blinded pilot), then either Whisper or Vader oblige with a crit to turn it on, (most likely Vader’s ATC crit). Colzet then flicks the bird in the end phase (or possibly the following end phase if I’m unlucky) and the blinded pilot is flipped back up. The plan from there is for Vader and Whisper to wipe out the other ship(s) whilst Colzet keeps on the blinded pilot ship re-flipping its one damage card face up in each end phase, LOL.
The handy thing about the pilot crits is that half of them, damaged cockpit (reduce pilot skill to zero) and stunned pilot (take a damage if you bump), remain face up. If you want to keep the pressure on just the blinded ship assigning a damaged cockpit and stunned pilot or two will limit the chance of face down damage cards occurring. Especially useful on ships with lots of hull to cut down the chances of the random draw for re-flipping, another blinded pilot card wouldn’t hurt either on a ship with a lot of hull.
Against two ship builds it is particularly effective, even Dengaroo, just don’t shoot Dengar in its front arc though once blinded. This will take one turn longer to set up because of counter measures and Dengar will get one shot at one of the ships.
The Downside (or dark side?)
It is still not a forgiving list and weighing up the decision to show someone the dark side over other options with the phantom can be tricky. If you can plant a blinded pilot on two of the opposing ships early then you have a foot in the door but it’s still easy to mess it up by making the wrong call on positioning and the dice going astray. It is still a high variance list.
I recently put it out to the facebook page about whether the constant flipping of the blinded pilot card is a negative experience, especially as you bypass the normal constraint on Lt. Colzet by not having it as a random draw for the large part of the game. I expected at least one person to say it is, but actually no one felt that it was. Annoying yes, but still not insurmountable, especially when the advantage is not capitalised on.
After a practice tournament and going 2-2 I looked at my openings and rock placements and have improved them as a result. I haven’t had the game play time in general this side of Christmas let alone with the list but figured it was worth a shot. My expectations would be four or five wins at the open on day one.
Is it a negative play experience? Due to how mechanically ‘I’ll show you the dark side’ bypasses shields, (bottom left of page nine in rules reference), stopping a ship from firing for a large portion of the game could easily be perceived as such. In fact the sole spectator for the Dengaroo match I tested against was most upset by Dengar not being able to shoot from turn three onwards.
I didn’t think popular opinion said it was politically correct to root for Dengaroo unless the player has a fantastic moustache.
Quad TLT will be a bit problematic but not impossible. I was tempted to swap Whisper for Echo as I find Echo easier to fly and has more options but the defensive buff of Whisper won out. For Quad TLT I would prefer to keep the ATC on Colzet but the chances of Quad TLT over the other top meta builds are much lower.
Triple Defenders and Palp Defenders are tricky and much relies on keeping Whisper alive for the end game. Dropping Vader to PS 8 for this match helps push the Crit through.
Could Determination be a good call? Unless Kylo Ren crew and shuttle explode across the scene I doubt it unless it’s a ship that the EPT slot is like a bonus such as Colonel Vessery . I feel you would lose more than you would gain by putting determination on as an EPT in most cases.
The proof is in the pudding and I did an interview for Ole Lindharsen on his blog about Yavin here.
The first question he asks is about preparation and I stated that I felt that my recent lack of game time would not adversely affect me too much. This was wrong as I made minor ropey decisions which cost me. The week before, after the practice tournament my gut was saying Echo would work mechanically better but with no more actual flying time against an opponent, left me sticking with Whisper and a reworked rock placement and deployment.
Arron with mindlinked Fenn, manaroo and contracted scout
I didn’t get to pull the party trick in this match but we essentially traded Lt Colzet for Fenn Rau who I had given a damaged cockpit to. The contracted scout did manage to off load both its plasma torps, one at Colzet for the coup de grais and the other at Whisper, but once that was done it was relatively a done deal. Just having to watch the feedback array on Manaroo but I still made some iffy choices with Whisper at times.
Elizabeth with Dengar and VI party Bossk with engine upgrade and both ships with a tactican.
I dropped the ball over the line in this one having set up Dengar with the blinded pilot and dropping him without losing a ship. Positionally I was now all over the shop though and Whisper was cloaked but double stressed and in front of a debris cloud on one hull. I managed to let Bossk engage and chase Vader and ultimately kill Vader. By failing to play super safe as time was called I had Whisper dropped at range three behind an obstacle courtesy of rolling only two evades and our old friend Zuckuss.
On reflection when Whisper was double stressed I should have used the decloak to set up the possibility of ending up behind Bossk or at least pointing at it to leave Elisabeth with the choice of either finishing Whisper off or allowing it to get behind Bossk. It would have given Vader the time to cleanly disengage and get in behind later.
Tim with PTL Fenn, Quad jumper with tractor array Intel agent and pattern analyser, and Party Bossk with determination EPT
This was just after lunch and the rush into round three meant we lost some game time which came back to bite me later but I still had enough opportunities to close the game out. The rushed deployment to get things started resulted in Whisper going in the wrong place and I played it badly and paid for it as Whisper got tractor beamed onto a rock and then Zuckussed.
I had set up the blinded pilot on Fenn though and this enabled me to get Vader behind Bossk and drop him. Oddly the Determination EPT lost me a turn as with Bossk flagging on one hull and zero agility I blanked out with Vader and only had the crit to go through. Maybe I should have re rolled but I had no other modifers. A pilot crit came up and was discarded and cost me a turn.
I then made a couple of bad decisions with Colzet as I was now winning the game. The long and short of it was that Colzet got dropped and with only a couple of minutes left and I had Vader against the quad jumper on full health and Fenn on one hull. We ended up having a Fenn Vader face off at range one with time being called. I got four hits, he rolled three natural evades and added the title evade. I got blown away in return.
Sad times. Naturally if there was more time I could have made a better approach but at the same time I had missed opportunities earlier to close this out.
Simeon with Dellattani, (very similar to Parattani with the crucial difference in the name change)
Probably the only person to be genuinely excited by seeing how one of his ships, in this case Fenn Rau, will effectively not be firing for most of the game, (apart from when it really mattered).
We did a fair bit a flying around and with the initial engagement I missed a golden opportunity by not eye balling the possibilities fully to get Whisper to sit behind Fenn at range one. This would have been a target locked focus shot to an already winged ship. I did a safe straight four instead but we put the hard one template down just to see as we were both curious and it would have been tight but happy.
A couple of rounds later I made a poor choice with Whisper and got melted by Fenn at range three. I eventually got Fenn but then Ventress got Vader.
I did the previously unthinkable and dropped into a Hanger bay on the Saturday evening. I could of tried to keep going for a target lock but I felt an extra chance at trying to get the solid plastic Ghost card would be worth a shot and I wanted to test my gut theory out. The organisers got one of their staff to fill our pod up to even numbers.
LOL Colzet, LOL Colzet, (there is an Echo in it)
Darth Vader Tie Advanced: Adaptability, Title, Engine upgrade, Advanced targeting Computer, proton rockets
Echo Tie Phantom: Veteran Instincts, Kylo Ren, Fire Control systems, Advanced cloaking device
Lt Colzet: title, Fire control systems
Total: 100 points
On the plus side it has Echo which I love to fly and feel rather comfortable with. In some match ups it is superior to Whisper because of the re-positioning, others less so because of the pilot skill drop and the lack of the defensive focus. I did a spreadsheet between the two and with Vader and whilst there is not much between it, Vader has to pull more weight with Echo.
This list proved more successful as I won all three games whilst forgetting in each one about the Proton Rockets on Vader. I played Tom with Dengar and a decked out PTL Fenn with advanced Proton Torps and Tim the TO who used my Bossk, Old Teroch and Fenn mindlink build for the whole Hangar Bay. The tight game was against Mr Millhouse of the 186th with his RAC and PTL Ryad list with VI, Engine upgrade, Kylo, Gunner and hotshot pilot on RAC.
Fortunately he knew how Kylo Ren crew worked and when he asked me I said I did too. This was something we had spent the day double checking with our opponents. Oddly using Echo in this match up over Whisper is not a negative as RAC sits at PS10 so in many ways, as it turned out, Echo was better.
As seamed the norm, this game went to time as RAC lurched around the board unable to shoot for the most part whilst a one hull Echo and Vader played cat and mouse nibbling at a PTL Ryad. Chris only gesticulated offensively once every other turn at being unable to fire unlike my previous experience with one of our own squadron mates the week before who managed it every turn. After Hangar Bay we settled down to a couple of games of ‘A Fistful of Penguins,’ which is unrelated to ‘Hey that’s my Fish,’ other than the penguin thing.
I’m still unsure what the camel tokens do but if you have the chance to get multiple Lions that looks like the best route to go. Bear in mind that if you use Lions, nothing else scores.
Yavin was great fun. Granted if you take my recent tournament run with the list in total it works out at 6 wins versus 5 defeats, (warm up event, 4 rounds of Yavin, Hangar Bay). This suggests the list can’t be all that but then I would state that my playing has been off and the lack of practice with the list burnt me at crucial points. Without taking anything away from my opponents in the Yavin main event, (as they still had to make the right choices), I should have won two of the games in the main event but botched it. Even with the two defeats in the warm up event I had done the hard part but crucially failed to close out the games.
In sporting terms it was like winning the first half but failing to do the job in the second half.
Having read Bob Dee’s most excellent article on Taking the Sith about Yavin recently, I would draw one’s attention to the following quote about going to tournaments, ” What you can control is whether you have a good time. If you play the game in front of you and let the score take care of itself you can – in my experience – have an excellent weekend at every event you enter.”
It would be easy to walk away from the net result of the past two events and be disappointed in terms of pure results. Last year I was a bit annoyed with myself for being too tired whereas this year I knew going in that four or five wins on day one was a reasonable expectation which if you include hanger bay I made four wins on day one plus winning plastic ghost crack. I flew stuff that I wanted to fly, albeit a bit under prepared, and three of my opponents were top eight from the Sheffield Regionals in the Swiss. All four games were tight and that’s what I would rather play than handing out a 100-0 drubbing without breaking any sweat.
I even had a reasonable night’s sleep having driven up the night before. Being woken up at 4am by an alarm in the room next to us was not welcome though. The Yorkshire pudding with traditional fry up for breakfast was novel but I chose not to repeat that on the Sunday. Much in the same way as I love ice cream and I love jelly, but not in the same bowl.
Going Forward: A third way?
I like the Kylo Ren/Lt Colzet mechanic. Getting it to work is simple enough but are the ships I’m using adequate?
Dropping the Phantom for something more robust that will fit into the squad mechanic outside of the lumbering behemoths of the Upsilon or Lamda shuttles or the budget Tie Shuttle leaves as with that old Imperial stalwart the Firespray. Depending on your feel for it a bounty hunter or Krassis Trelix with Kylo crew, mangler cannon and potentially slave one title and long range scanners would be a bit more chunky. That being said from experience Fireprays still drop quickly despite being similar to the lancer pursuit craft in stats.
Another possible is a basic Decimator Patrol leader with Kylo crew at 43 points and it has a turret. The reason I didn’t run Kylo in a Decimator with a friend was that I felt that Kylo on RAC was suboptimal. Gunner Vader is more tool boxy comparatively as you have to weigh up whether to boost or Show the Dark Side. Most of the time boosting is better.
Outside of the Phantom as the Kylo carrier, is Vader a good partner for it? I was listening to the Mynock Squadron Podcast the other day about the decision to run Backdraft as the third ship in Ryan Farmer’s list which had Omega leader and Palpatine on the Upsilon Shuttle. It boiled down to a choice between Backdraft, Vessery and Vader. Reasons for not choosing Vader where simply that with Vessery and Backdraft it is easy to keep up the offence on the target once you have flown by.
It has got me thinking that essentially part of the issue is keeping the pressure on once the initial blinded pilot is laid down. Backdraft effectively has an ATC out of the rear arc and you could stick either calculation or ‘a score to settle,’ on either Vessery or Backdraft to make the front arc potent in crit dealing.
Certainly something to explore going forward.
Just to echo Bob Dee again, if going to a tournament, especially a large one, bring a tray.
Bob doesn’t stipulate a size though and I would recommend not going crazy and purchasing a simple 39cm by 17cm tea tray for £1.99 would be most adequate in most situations.